Vista Gold is planning to increase near-surface gold resources and further evaluate a staged development strategy for its fully-owned Mt Todd gold project in Northern Territory, Australia.

The company’s plans are supported by extensive data underlying the 2022 feasibility study (2022 FS), 2023 internal scoping-level study, and previous drilling near the Batman deposit.

According to the 2022 FS, the project contains an estimated 7.9 million oz of gold in the measured and indicated resource and seven million oz within proven and probable reserves.

It shows a mine life of 16 years with an average annual production of 479,000 oz of gold and estimates the capital expenditure (capex) requirement at $892m.

The 2023 Scoping Study suggested a nominal five million tonne per year project with an initial capital expenditure of less than $350m using contract mining.

Vista Gold said that staged development offers certain advantages, including lower initial capital and longer-term potential to achieve world-class production levels.

Vista Gold president and CEO Frederick Earnest said: “The internal scoping-level study completed last year confirmed to us that a smaller-scale project is technically viable and economically attractive.

“We see significant value in advancing the evaluation of this alternative development strategy. A smaller initial operation followed by staged development offers opportunities for substantially reduced initial capital, lower development risk and future growth supported by project cashflows.”

The Mt Todd gold project is one of the largest and most advanced undeveloped gold projects in Australia, located around 250km southeast of Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Vista is planning to begin a 6,000 to 7,000m targeted drilling programme at the project, focusing on the area immediately adjacent to the Batman deposit.

The drilling programme will be conducted along the strike of the Batman main core zone and extending around 400m north of the existing Batman pit.

The area is said to hold inferred gold resources, which were classified as waste in the 2022 FS.

Vista’s drilling programme aims to upgrade the inferred gold resources to the measured and indicated resource categories and to further define the uncategorised mineralisation in this area.

With the progress in the drilling programme, the company intends to undertake additional technical studies to advance the staged development strategy.

Earnest added: “We believe Mt Todd is one of the largest development stage opportunities in Australia and continues to demonstrate compelling economics.

“The program we are announcing today is expected to add significant value and further de-risk Mt Todd while we continue to pursue our strategy to seek an appropriate transaction that maximises shareholder value and reduces development risk.

“We expect that adding shallow gold resources adjacent to the pit would add substantial value to Mt Todd by enhancing the mine plan in earlier years, extending the life of the mine and providing additional ore to support staged expansion.”