With the PFS progressing towards completion in 2014, Continental is rapidly advancing on a number of critical items required ahead of the formal construction decision, which will be based on the success of the PFS.
The Company remains on track to submit to Corantioquia, at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2013, the second and final modification to its existing Environmental Impact Assessment. Corantioquia is the Autonomous Regional Corporation responsible for issuing and controlling environmental permits in Antioquia, and is the same agency that approved the Company's first environmental permit modification on August 30, 2012. The Company continues to meet with Corantioquia on a regular basis in order to update them on the modification plans ahead of the formal submission in the fourth quarter.
Empresas Publicas de Medellin ("EPM") approved the Company's proposal to connect to EPM's substation at Chorodo, Antioquia, located 32.5 kilometres from the proposed infrastructure site, with a 110-kilo volt line and an estimated power consumption requirement of up to 12 megavolt amps. Pre-feasibility stage engineering for this project is underway.
Engineering is progressing ahead of schedule on the selected water management solutions for the future infrastructure site in the Higabra Valley, and costing will be completed ahead of the PFS in 2014.
A preliminary geotechnical study concluded that the processing plant foundations in the Higabra Valley will not have to be piled to bedrock. The colluvium in the Higabra Valley is consolidated enough for in-situ cement-based reinforcement. Engineering will begin shortly to design and cost this initiative ahead of the PFS and it is expected that this alternative will be less costly than piling to bedrock depths of up to 60 metres.
Underground development at the Veta Sur ramp and the Higabra Valley tunnel continues with advances completed to date of approximately 525 metres and 300 metres, respectively. The overall development budget is in line with the Veta Sur ramp being approximately 15% under budget and the Higabra Valley tunnel being 20% over budget. Although difficult ground conditions were anticipated in the Higabra Valley, development has progressed slightly slower than expected. The Higabra Valley tunnel will continue to advance slowly for another 300-350 metres in fractured basalts until encountering the Tonusco fault, which will require an additional 50-60 metres of development to cross. At this point, the development will enter the same highly-competent andesitic rock package currently present at the Yaragua Mine, where 4,000 lateral metres x 150 vertical metres of development has been completed on a small scale since 1992. Once development crosses the Tonusco fault, the Company does not anticipate any future requirement to advance in fractured basalts (see Figures 1 and 2).
The third working front at Buritica, located at the Yaragua Mine, is currently on schedule for ramp development beginning early in the fourth quarter of 2013. Presently, an access road to the portal is being constructed and pre-development work for the portal box-cut is underway. The size of this ramp will be 3.5-metres x 3.5-metres at a -13% gradient and, in similar fashion to the other two working fronts presently advancing, will provide vital underground drill-access locations. Drilling is expected to commence from this ramp in early 2014. The Yaragua ramp is the third and final access point from surface required to prepare Buritica for eventual production subject to a positive PFS in 2014 (see Figures 1 and 2).
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