Cortez is one of the world’s largest and lowest cost gold mines, and the property also has excellent upside exploration potential.
The Cortez mine is located 100 kilometers southwest of Elko, Nevada in Lander County. The Cortez Pipeline property is 11 kilometers northwest and the Cortez Pediment property (which includes the Cortez Hills deposit) is 4 kilometers southeast of the original Cortez milling complex. The Pipeline and South Pipeline deposits are mined by conventional open-pit methods. The Cortez property covers approximately 2,800 square kilometers on one of the world’s most highly prospective mineral trends.
Cortez employs three different metallurgical processes to recover gold. Lower-grade oxide ore is heap leached, while higher-grade non-refractory ore is treated in a conventional mill using cyanidation and a carbon-in-leach (“CIL”) process. Heap leached ore is hauled directly to leach pads for gold recovery. Carbonaceous mill ore is mined intermittently during the mining of the Pipeline/South Pipeline deposits.
The Cortez Hills underground mine is accessed by twin declines portaled in the old Cortez Gold F canyon pit. The breccia ore zone employs underhand cut and fill mining methods with cemented rock fill as backfill. The top cut of the underground mine will eventually be the bottom bench of the Cortez Hills open pit.
In the first nine months of 2013, the mine produced 1.09 million ounces of gold at all-in sustaining costs of $416 per ounce1. Production in the fourth quarter of 2013 is expected to decline on lower grades as anticipated in the mine plan. In 2014, production is expected to decline to about 0.9-1.0 million ounces, primarily due to a decrease in ore grades, which will result in an associated increase in costs.
Proven and probable mineral reserves as at December 31, 2012, were 15.1 million ounces of gold2.