Argentex Mining (CVE:ATX) (OTCBB:AGXM) said Tuesday that a new report on its silver-gold Pinguino project in Santa Cruz, Argentina, indicates a 44% internal rate of return.
The updated NI 43-101 compliant preliminary economic assessment (PEA), which covers only nine of the 51 veins identified to date on the property, is based on the August 2009 report by Moose Mountain Technical Services, and was therefore limited to the indicated and inferred resource previously discovered.
The new report estimated that Pinguino's net present value, at a 5% discount rate, was US$21.9 million, with projected capital costs of US$20.7 million and a payback period of 23 months.
The open pit mine, with an anticipated life of 8 years, is also expected to have average annual production of 657,000 ounces of silver and 6,400 ounces of gold, with a net cash flow of US$29.7 million. The base case scenario assumed a silver price of US$16.96 per ounce, and a gold price of US$1,036 per ounce.
The Pinguino deposit hosts two types of mineralization, the first being a thick horizon of oxide material, enriched in silver and gold within the first 50 metres from surface. Meanwhile, below this is unoxidized material that is composed of polymetallic sulphide mineralization.
In 2009, Argentex shifted its focus away from polymetallic mineralization discovery to drill the near-surface silver-gold oxide horizon at the property, and plans to use data from discoveries made in 2010, as well as results from the current drill program, to update the PEA and 2009 technical report later this year.
The company said that additional veins have been tested since the last report, which contain "significant intersections of high-grade silver", and remain open along strike and to depth.
As it stands, the estimate reported today represents just seven line kilometres of a combined 75 line kilometres of vein strike length discovered to date, highlighting the potential for a future resource boost.
"We believe that the positive results from the 2010 exploration program, which are not included in the PEA, suggest that Pinguino holds the potential for a significantly larger resource," said president Ken Hicks.
Currently at Pinguino, Argentex is in the midst of a 17,000 metre drill program focused on finding extensions to high grade silver targets disovered last year, including the Tranquilo and Luna veins.
The Vancouver-based mineral explorer owns more than 35 projects located within approximately 307,981 acres of land in the Santa Cruz and Rio Negro provinces of Argentina.