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Press release from Marketwire

Sandspring Announces Significant Increases in Life of Mine Grade and Cash Flow; Reduces Initial Capex for Toroparu Project

Increase in Measured and Indicated Resource to 6 million ounces gold. Updated PEA projects average fresh rock head grade of 1.2g/t gold and 0.18% copper for first five years of production. Expected five-year cash flow of US$750 million from US$482 million initial investment.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sandspring Announces Significant Increases in Life of Mine Grade and Cash Flow; Reduces Initial Capex for Toroparu Project07:30 EST Monday, January 30, 2012TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 30, 2012) -Sandspring Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:SSP) ("Sandspring" or the "Company") is pleased to announce it has completed an updated NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate (the "Updated Resource Estimate") and an updated NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment (the "Updated PEA") for its 100% owned Toroparu Gold Property ("Toroparu") in Guyana. The Updated PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. There is no certainty that the results of the Updated PEA will be realized. All currency amounts in this press release are denominated in United States Dollars ($) unless otherwise noted.Highlights include:Mining of 1.0 million ounces gold at an average grade of 1.2 g/t and 101 million pounds copper at an average grade of 0.18% from the fresh rock mining operation over the first five years of operation. $750 million cumulative cash flow during first five years of production at December 31, 2011 three-year trailing average gold price of $1,255/oz. Pre-production capital costs of $482 million through development of more capital efficient operation for the first five years of mine life. Average cash costs including royalties of $450/oz. gold (net of copper credits) in first five years of operation and $600/oz. gold (net of copper credits) over the 14-year mine life. Mining of 4.0 million ounces gold from fresh and saprolite mineralization at an average grade of 1.0 g/t Au over a 14-year mine life at 4.1: 1 strip ratio, and 5.0 million ounces gold over 22-year life of project. Definitive Mineral Agreement signed with government of Guyana on November 9, 2011, the terms of which have been incorporated into the Updated PEA. Environmental authorization reviewed by Guyana Environmental Protection Agency with no fatal flaws found; and final approval is pending. Open pit operations anticipated to commence in 2015. In commenting on the study update, Richard Munson, CEO of Sandspring stated, "The Updated PEA reflects the results of various engineering tradeoff studies the Company has conducted as part of the ongoing pre-feasibility engineering program conducted by SRK, Jacobs Minerals Canada and P&E Mining Consultants Inc. The higher-grade starter pit scenario has attractive economics that serve to begin the process of unlocking the full potential of Toroparu and Sandspring's holdings in Guyana. The robust financial results highlight the viability of the project and the various build-out options available for the development of the large resource base defined at Toroparu. The Updated PEA indicates life of mine after-tax free cash flows of approximately $1.2 billion at an attractive rate of return while reducing the up-front capital investment required in developing the deposit, all without compromising our ability to expand the project to beyond 30,000 tpd. Drilling conducted since September 2011 which has not been included in the PEA looks promising and could add to the growing resource and potential mine development. The Updated PEA will serve as the basis for further detailed engineering and we look forward to rapidly advancing the Toroparu project in 2012."The Updated PEA defines a multi-step development of mining and milling capacity from a conceptual mine plan that is focused on higher grade mineralization located in the main east zone of the deposit. The plan is based on an initial mine capacity of 90,000 tpd and mill capacity of 18,000 tpd. Mine expansion begins in year four, ramping up to 175,000 tpd by year six. Mill capacity is scheduled to expand from 18,000 to 33,000 tpd in year seven, and run at 30,000 tpd after saprolite mineralization is mined out in year twelve. Pre-production capital expenditures of $482 million are repaid from internal cash flow within the first 4.7 years of production, and reinvested in the expansion of capacity for the transition to larger resource development without compromising the strong financial results obtained in the 2011 PEA. The Updated PEA is based on the Updated Resource Estimate that incorporates 110,000 metres of drilling data in 181 diamond drill holes, including 40,320 metres of drilling conducted from January 1, 2011 to September 11, 2011. The Updated Resource Estimate and Updated PEA have also indicated the following:72% increase in measured and indicated resources to 6.0 million ounces gold contained in 241 million tonnes of mineralized rock at an average grade of 0.78 g/t gold using a higher cut-off grade of 0.28 g/t Au. An inferred resource of 4.0 million ounces of gold contained in 179 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.69 g/t gold using a cut-off of 0.28 g/t gold including replacement of 2.5 million ounces gold converted to the Measured and Indicated category. $2.6 billion life of mine operating and $1.7 billion pre-tax free cash flow at three-year trailing average gold price of $1,255/oz. effective December 31, 2011. Pre-tax and post-royalty net present value (discounted at 5%) of $805 million and pre-tax internal rate of return of 21%. After tax net present value (discounted at 5%) of $540 million and after tax internal rate of return of 18%. 90% weighted average gold recovery over a 14-year mine life yielding 3.7 million ounces of gold at a rate of approximately 255,000 ounces per year, and 88% weighted average gold recovery yielding 4.4 million ounces over the 22-year project life. By-product copper production of 192 million pounds at an average grade of 0.11% Cu and 74% mill recovery over 14-year mine life at average annual production rate of 13.7 million pounds of copper per year, and 262 million pounds at an average grade of 0.09 % Cu and 71% mill recovery over the 22 year project life.Financial Results for the Higher Grade Startup Case at a Range of Gold PricesSelect Financial Projections1Life of Project (14 year LOM + 8 year stockpile)BaseGold Price SensitivitiesGold Price ($/oz)2$1,255$1,400$1,550$1,700$2,000Undiscounted Pre-Tax Free Cash Flow (Millions USD)$1,743$2,322$2,921$3,520$4,718Gold Royalty Cost ($/oz)3$100$112$124$136$160NPV @ 5% (Pre-Tax)(Millions USD)$805$1,125$1,455$1,786$2,447IRR (Pre-Tax)21.3%26.3%31.1%35.6%44.1%NPV @ 5% (After Tax)(Millions USD)$540$859$1,190$1,520$2,181IRR (After-Tax)17.9%23.6%28.9%33.8%42.7%Up-Front Capital4(Millions USD)$482$482$482$482$4821Base case and gold price sensitivities make use of Inferred resources. The Updated PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves.2Copper price set at 3-year trailing average effective January 31, 2011 of $3.25 per pound for all sensitivity cases.3Gold royalty set at 8% of gold receipts as per Mineral Agreement between Government of Guyana and Sandspring Resources Ltd. dated November 9, 2011.4Up-front capital includes all pre-production development capital and 15% capital contingency prior to commencement of commercial production. Points of Comparison between Updated PEA and 2011 PEA 28% increase in potentially mineable Measured and Indicated fresh rock gold resource to 3.3 M oz. Au from 2.6 M oz. Au in 2011 PEA, and 18% increase in life of mine average fresh rock grades to at 1.07 g/t from 0.91 g/t Au. 32% improvement in potentially mineable average gold grades for fresh rock to 1.17 g/t Au from 0.89 g/t Au in 2011 PEA over first six years of production. 105% increase in potentially mineable Measured and Indicated saprolite gold resource to 160,000 oz. Au from 78,000 oz. Au in 2011 PEA. 30% decrease from 2011 PEA in pre-production capital costs to $482 million (based on 15% contingency included to both studies) as a result of a smaller scale, more capital efficient operation for the first six years. Pre-tax and pre-royalty 5% net present value of $1,050 million vs. $850 million in the 2011 PEA (pre-tax and pre-royalty) based on operating and capital cost escalations experienced since the 2011 PEA, including higher equipment costs and 15% capital contingencies, increased heavy fuel oil costs to $100/bbl. from $70/bbl., and industry and local wage escalations. Updated Resource Estimate The Updated Resource Estimate for the Toroparu gold deposit is based on an additional 40,320 metres of drilling in 87 core boreholes drilled from January to September 11, 2011 targeting the existing resource area as infill with the objectives of i) improving the confidence in the geologic continuity of the mineralization, ii) providing better delineation of the continuity of higher grade mineralization within the east main domain of the resource area, and iii) identifying extensions of the existing gold mineralization envelope through step-out drilling.The Updated Resource Estimate incorporates 110,000 metres of drilling data in 265 diamond drill holes of which 181 diamond drill holes were utilized in the Updated Resource Estimate. All remaining data in the database were not in the area modeled for the resource estimate. A total of 123,003 metres from 273 boreholes have been reported from Toroparu to date. A surface drill map is available through the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/SSP3001PEASurfaceMap.pdf. Updated Mineral Resource Estimate in Optimized Pit at cut-off grade of 0.28 g/t Au1, 2, 3Resource Classification(All rock types)Tonnes (000's)Au (g/t)Au oz (000's)Cu %Cu (M lbs)Measured43,9930.911,2880.103100Indicated196,8970.754,7460.074320Measured & Indicated240,8910.786,0340.079420Inferred179,1830.693,9720.043169Cut-off Sensitivity of Measured & Indicated Tonnes & Grade Cut off Grade (g/t Au)(All rock types)Tonnes (000's)Au (g/t)Au oz(000's)Cu (%)Cu (M lbs)0.20295,9710.686,4560.0734760.28240,8910.786,0340.0794200.50142,1011.064,8330.0952971.0051,6291.682,7970.1211381.5022,7122.291,6740.136682.0011,3452.871,0460.144361The Updated Resource Estimate was prepared by Frank Daviess, (Registered SME) of SRK Consulting (US) Inc. Mineral resource estimates reported in this press release were estimated using the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), Standards on Mineral Resources and Reserves, Definitions and Guidelines prepared by the CIM Standing Committee on Reserve Definitions.2Mineral resources, which are not mineral reserves, do not have demonstrated economic viability. Environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, sociopolitical, marketing, or other relevant issues may materially affect the estimate of mineral resources. The quantity and grade of reported Inferred resources in this estimation are uncertain in nature and there has been insufficient exploration to define these Inferred resources as an Indicated or Measured mineral resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in upgrading them to an Indicated or Measured mineral resource category.3All resources in the Updated Resource Estimate are in-pit resources reported within a single optimized open pit shell above an economic cut-off grade of 0.28 g/t Au. The economic cut-off grade was determined using a gold price of $1,200 /ounce, average metallurgical recoveries of 88.5% for gold & 80% for copper, processing + G&A costs of $9.60/tonne (including $0.20/t for smelting deductions, treatment, refining, and freight charges, and $0.69/t for royalties).The Company's next mineral resource update is expected to include additional expansion and infill drilling conducted from September to December 2011, targeting the conversion of remaining Inferred resources within the potentially mineable portion of the resource and the continued delineation of higher-grade mineralization within the main east zone for incorporation into the Company's pre-feasibility study. Potentially Mineable Portion of the Resource The Updated PEA is based on an updated potentially mineable portion of the resource summarized in the table below. Potentially Mineable Portion of the Mineral Resource at an average cut-off grade of 0.54 g/t Au1, 2, 3Potentially Mineable ClassificationTonnes (000's)Au g/tAu oz (000's)Cu %Cu (M lbs)Saprolite Measured2,2130.73520.052Saprolite Indicated5,0080.671080.044Saprolite Measured & Indicated7,2210.691600.046Saprolite Inferred5,2400.56940.045Fresh Rock Measured20,5671.248200.1464Fresh Rock Indicated75,2131.032,4910.10166Fresh Rock Measured & Indicated95,7801.073,3110.11230Fresh Rock Inferred13,1250.974090.0720Fresh Rock Stockpile Measured & Indicated69,8990.398760.07108Fresh Rock Stockpile Inferred17,5370.372090.0519Total Measured & Indicated172,9000.784,3470.09344Total Inferred35,9020.627120.05441The potentially mineable mineral resources are reported at an average cut-off grade of 0.54 g/t gold which is intentionally elevated above an optimized cut-off grade of 0.28 g/t Au) used to determine the in-pit optimized resource estimate for the Property to enhance the economics of production.2Mineral resources, which are not mineral reserves, do not have demonstrated economic viability. Environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, sociopolitical, marketing, or other relevant issues may materially affect the estimate of mineral resources. The quantity and grade of reported Inferred resources in this estimation are uncertain in nature and there has been insufficient exploration to define these Inferred resources as an Indicated or Measured mineral resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in upgrading them to an indicated or measured mineral resource category.3The potentially mineable portion of the mineral resource estimate was prepared by Eugene Puritch, P. Eng (PEO #100014010) of P&E Mining Consultants Inc. Mineral resource estimates reported in this press release were estimated using the CIM, Standards on Mineral Resources and Reserves, Definitions and Guidelines prepared by the CIM Standing Committee on Reserve Definitions. Production Schedule Drilling and exploration success in 2011 identified higher grade mineralization in the central area of the main east zone of the project allowing for a production schedule that focuses on mining the higher grade mineralization in earlier years while stockpiling lower grade mineralization to be processed at the end of the open pit operation. Toroparu Pit Production Schedule - Saprolite 3,000 tpd and Fresh Rock - 15,000 to 30,000 tpd SaproliteFresh RockProductionTotal MinedMilled from mine & stockpileMinedProcessed from mine & stockpileWasteStripMiningYearTonnesAug/tCu%AuEqg/tTonnesAug/tCu%AuEqg/tTonnesAug/tCu%AuEqg/tTonnesAug/tCu%AuEqg/tTonnesRatiotpdPre-Strip5,790,9750.690.070.8010,409,0251.890,00011,043,6230.850.060.941,050,0000.690.070.805,250,0001.050.171.355,250,0001.050.171.3518,776,0133.090,00021,050,0000.720.070.835,250,0001.140.171.435,250,0001.140.171.4320,705,7603.990,0003447,5560.520.020.561,050,0000.720.070.835,250,0001.250.191.585,250,0001.250.191.5822,149,8803.990,0004210,1970.520.080.661,050,0000.700.060.805,250,0001.370.191.695,250,0001.370.191.6944,012,3268.1150,00051,050,0000.680.060.795,250,0001.190.141.435,250,0001.190.141.4347,583,1349.1165,00061,050,0000.690.060.805,250,0000.990.081.125,250,0000.990.081.1249,338,1999.4175,0007858,5470.650.030.711,050,0000.690.060.8010,500,0000.990.101.1510,500,0000.990.101.1541,932,7293.7175,000849,1010.420.010.431,050,0000.650.040.7110,500,0001.070.111.2510,500,0001.070.111.2544,138,4214.2175,00091,050,0000.490.010.501,050,0000.490.010.5010,500,0001.050.101.2310,500,0001.050.101.2343,765,2043.8175,000101,050,0000.520.010.531,050,0000.520.010.5310,500,0000.910.071.0310,500,0000.910.071.0339,493,3333.4175,000111,963,0880.540.010.561,050,0000.530.010.5510,500,0001.050.071.1710,500,0001.050.071.1741,039,4593.3175,00012913,0880.550.010.5710,500,0001.050.071.1610,500,0001.050.071.1642,712,6644.1175,0001310,500,0001.020.061.1210,500,0001.020.061.1232,989,1893.1150,400143,905,4371.010.071.1210,500,0000.620.070.73520,4840.146,3891510,500,0000.380.070.491610,500,0000.380.070.491710,500,0000.380.070.491810,500,0000.380.070.491910,500,0000.380.070.492010,500,0000.380.070.492110,500,0000.380.070.49227,341,6830.380.070.49Total12,463,0880.640.040.7112,463,0880.640.040.71108,905,4371.060.111.24196,341,6830.760.090.91499,565,8194.1 PEA Parameters Based on the revised mine plan to facilitate the higher-grade startup scenario, the daily mining rate and the concentrator rate are ramped up over a six-year period from 90,000 to 175,000 tpd and from 18,000 to 33,000 tpd, respectively. The expansion is financed from operating cash flow in years 4-6 providing the Company with additional financing flexibility not available under the development plan in the 2011 PEA.Production and Throughput ParametersProject Parameters (M = millions)High Grade Start-up(initial five years)Life of MineLife of ProjectTonnes Milled - Saprolite5.25 Mt12.46 Mt12.46 MtTonnes Milled - Fresh Rock26.25 Mt108.9 Mt196.3 MtProcessing Rate18,000 tpd26,115 tpd28,030 tpdMine Life5yrs14 yrs22 yrsAverage Gold Grade - Saprolite0.70 g/t0.64g/t0.64g/tAverage Gold Grade - Fresh Rock1.17 g/t1.06 g/t0.75 g/tTotal Gold Mined1.3 M oz.4.0 M oz.5.0 M oz.Average Mill Recovery (Gold)91%90%88%Total Gold Recovered1.2 M oz.3.65 M oz.4.43 M oz.Average Annual Production Rate (Gold)213,350 oz.255,370 oz.197,250 oz.Average Grade (Copper)0.18%0.11%0.09%Average Mill Recovery (Copper)77%74%71%Total Copper Produced86 M lb.192 M lb.262 M lb.Cost ParametersProject Parameters (M = Million)Life of MineHeavy Fuel Oil Price (Thermal Generation)$100.00/BblGenerated Electricity Price$0.132/k WhrDiesel Fuel Price$1.14/LitreMining Costs - Saprolite$0.69/tMining Costs - Fresh Rock$1.71/tMining Costs - Reclaim$0.86/tMilling & Processing$7.21/tGeneral & Administrative$1.43/tCapital Expenditure ParametersProject Parameters (M = Million)Pre-Production Project Capital (Direct Costs)$446 MPre-Production Project Capital (Indirect and Owner's Costs)$36 MMine / Mill Expansion Capital$225 MSustaining Capital Life of Mine$146 M Areas of Upside Potential in Projected Financials There are a number of areas that have the potential to positively impact project economics as the company continues to develop the project through feasibility and into production, including: The development of the larger resource potential currently defined at Toroparu that would be made possible through continued expansion of the potentially mineable resources; Incorporation of results from the ongoing pre-feasibility infill drill program received after the September 11, 2011 cut-off date. This drilling has the potential to expand the continuity of higher grade mineralized lenses within the deposit as highlighted by several recent press releases reporting infill drill results; Lower long-term operating costs derived from the development of western Guyana's hydroelectric power generation potential; The addition of silver as a payable metal once sufficient assay work is complete to define the extent of this potential by-product metal; and The improvement in metallurgical recoveries for both gold and copper in the flotation process utilized in the early stages of development of the property, and a possible improvement in gold recovery economics from leach process optimization as the amount of by-product copper in the mill feed is reduced in later years of the mine life. Note about Resource Definitions Mineral resources, which are not mineral reserves, do not have demonstrated economic viability. Environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, sociopolitical, marketing, or other relevant issues may materially affect the estimate of mineral resources. The quantity and grade of reported Inferred resources in this estimation are uncertain in nature and there has been insufficient exploration to define these Inferred resources as an Indicated or Measured mineral resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in upgrading them to an Indicated or Measured mineral resource category. Qualified Persons The Updated Resource Estimate was prepared by Frank Daviess, (Registered SME) of SRK Consulting (US) Inc. Additional information was provided by Brian Ray, P. Geo, of Sandspring Resources Ltd. The Updated PEA was prepared by P&E Mining Consultants, Inc. (P&E) with contributions from Jacobs Minerals Canada, and other industry consultants. The contents of this press release have been reviewed and approved by Eugene Puritch, P.Eng. (PEO #100014010) and David Orava, P.Eng. of P&E, Graham Holmes and Ernie Burga of Jacobs Engineering Canada Ltd., and Frank Daviess of SRK Consulting Inc. all of whom are Qualified Persons under the definitions set out under NI 43-101. The full updated 43-101 technical report will be filed under the Company's profile at www.sedar.com within 45 days of the date of this press release.Sandspring is a well-funded junior mining company currently exploring and developing the NI 43-101 Toroparu gold project in the Republic of Guyana, South America. Additional information on Sandspring can be viewed on SEDAR under the Corporation's profile at www.sedar.com or on Sandspring's website at www.sandspringresources.com. This news release includes certain forward-looking statements concerning the future performance of our business, financial performance and condition, as well as management's objectives, strategies, beliefs, expectations and intentions, including realizing the results of the Updated PEA, obtaining final environmental approval for Toroparu from the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency, rapidly advancing the Toroparu project in 2012, meeting the objectives of the Updated Resource Estimate, continued expansion of the potentially mineable resources, lowering operating costs as a result of the development of western Guyana's hydroelectric power generation potential, adding silver as a payable once sufficient assay work is completed to define the extend of this potential by-product metal and improvement in metallurgical recoveries for both gold and copper based on processing techniques. Forward-looking statements are frequently identified by such words as "may", "will", "plan", "expect", "anticipate", "estimate", "intend" and similar words referring to future events and results. Forward-looking statements are based on the current opinions and expectations of management. All forward-looking information is inherently uncertain and subject to a variety of assumptions, risks and uncertainties, including the speculative nature of mineral exploration and development, fluctuating commodity prices, the Company's successful expansion of its mining team and the advancement of the Toroparu deposit toward feasibility and obtaining positive results from ongoing evaluation and testing of multiple gold targets located elsewhere in the Company's landholdings, the Updated PEA not being realized, not satisfying the objectives of the Updated Resource Estimate, the success of the ongoing pre-feasibility infill drill program, not being able to obtain all permits, approvals and licenses as necessary on a timely basis, or at all, through the advancement of the Toroparu project, among other risks as described in more detail in our recent securities filings available at www.sedar.com. Actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in the forward looking-statements and we caution against placing undue reliance thereon. Sandspring Resources Ltd. has an ongoing obligation to disclose material information as it becomes available.FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Investor RelationsSandspring Resources Ltd.(416) 792-7139info@sandspringresources.comwww.sandspringresources.com