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Northern Vertex First Gold Pour at the Moss Mine, Arizona

 -- Published: Monday, 9 April 2018 | Print  | Disqus


By Nicholas LePan,


The town of Oatman, Arizona sits in the middle of region that has a long history of gold mining, having produced ~2 million ounces of gold over its history. Northern Vertex (TSX-V: NEE) is the latest company that has explored, defined a resource, started operations and will be looking for more at its Moss Mine.


Goldseek came down for a very special moment in a mine’s career, its first gold pour, the equivalent to some mine engineers as having a first child, if not preferred because it means this one can pay its way.  About two hours south of Las Vegas is the Oatman district located in the northwestern pocket of Arizona.  A place that is a natural habitat for mines.


The Moss Mine Project area is located approximately 22 km by road to the east of Bullhead City, in the historically significant Oatman Mining District of Mohave County, Arizona.


The Moss Mine is the latest mine in a region that has a long history of mining. In 1863, prospector Johnny Moss discovered gold in the Black Mountains and staked several claims, one named the Moss, after himself, and another after Olive Oatman.


The opening of the Tom Reed mine, followed by the discovery of an incredibly rich ore body in the nearby United Eastern Mining Company's property in 1915, brought one of the desert country's last gold rushes. The boom of 1915-17 gave Oatman all the characters and characteristics of any gold rush town. For about a decade, the mines of Oatman were among the largest gold producers in the American West.


1924 would see United Eastern Mines, the town's main employer, permanently shut down operations after producing $13,600,000 worth of gold at the then-government-controlled market value of $20 per ounce; in today's gold market price of $1300 per ounce, the equivalent value is over $850,000,000.


The district had produced $40 million (or approximately $2,600,000,000 in today's market price) in gold by 1941, when the remainder of the town's gold mining operations were ordered shut down by the U.S. government as part of the country's war effort, since metals other than gold were needed. By the 1960s, Oatman was all but abandoned.


However, tourism has revitalized the area and the opening of Northern Vertex’s Moss Mine will bring new life to the region as the company employs locally and has its offices in Bullhead City Arizona, just down the road from Oatman and the Moss Mine.


Mining will bring prosperity back to the region, as housing starts in the area have bottomed out and are starting to pick up again. With strong State support mining will become again one of Arizona's main industries and Northern Vertex is helping to bring an old district back to life with its Moss Mine.  


Northern Vertex is focused right now on fine tuning production and mining the land it has approval for.  The company has built a mine that encompasses heap leaching of crushed and agglomerated ore, followed by a Merrill Crowe metal recovery plant and refinery to produce gold and silver doré bars on site.


The plant incorporates three stage crushing. The design is based on 350 days of operation per calendar year. The nominal crushing and ore stacking tonnage will be 2,500 tonnes per day (tpd) for the first two months of operation, increasing to 3,500 tpd in month three, followed by a tonnage increase to 5,000 tpd in month five through the end of the mine life.  The company envisions production of approximately 44,000 ounces of gold equivalent per year or approximately $57 million per year in cash flow according to a cocktail napkin calculation with a $1300 gold price assumption.  


The current ore heap consists of a completed pad area of 242,500 m2. The pad extension is constructed west of the Phase II pad, using the same pad design and operating criteria. A 450m3 /hr Merrill Crowe recovery plant will process the pregnant solutions to produce doré bars.


The Moss mineralization is unique in comparison to many other epithermal deposits subject to heap leaching because, within the depths being exploited for mine operations, as they do not exhibit the traditional oxide-transition-sulphide boundaries. The primary mineralization consists of free gold in quartz and calcite veins. The Moss mineralization does not contain any deleterious elements such as mercury or arsenic. The available test data shows that the Moss vein is metallurgically straightforward.


The Moss Mine site is remote from the main electrical grid that serves Mohave County, hence the 2015 Feasibility Study assumed diesel power generation. For the PEA, however, it is assumed that the mine can be connected to the local utility grid in a reasonable time frame. When the company receives the proper permitting for a power line and it is constructed, the company can save upwards of $10,000 per day.  


This is just the beginning for the company.  The company added Frank Hillemeyer and Perry Dunning as exploration advisors for the Oatman District through an agreement with La Cuesta International Inc. These are two geologists with an unparalleled track record with five discoveries to their record including several multi-million-ounce deposits.  In Mr. Berry’s words “now we are going to demonstrate the blue-sky potential” with the addition of two exploration advisors. 


As GoldSeek reported earlier, Northern Vertex, (TSX.V:NEE) (OTC- Nasdaq Intl.:NHVCF) is at an exciting stage for investors.  The company is fine tuning production and looking to expand its resources.  The company has demonstrated its ability to advance the Moss Mine through a tough gold cycle and will continue to push through to achieve its production and exploration goals. With a solid management, there is little excuse for the company to not continue with its success. 


The company has created momentum against low metal prices headwinds, as the mine starts generating cash flow, shares in the company should start appreciating. Any uptick in the gold price will be an additional bonus for investors and the Oatman district.


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