17 CFR § 229.1302 - (Item 1302) Qualified person, technical report summary, and technical studies.

§ 229.1302 (Item 1302) Qualified person, technical report summary, and technical studies.

(a)

(1) A registrant's disclosure of exploration results, mineral resources, or mineral reserves, as required by §§ 229.1303 and 229.1304, must be based on and accurately reflect information and supporting documentation prepared by a qualified person, as defined in § 229.1300. As used in this section, the term information includes the findings and conclusions of a qualified person relating to exploration results or estimates of mineral resources or mineral reserves.

(2) The registrant is responsible for determining that the person meets the qualifications specified under the definition of qualified person in § 229.1300, and that the disclosure in the registrant's filing accurately reflects the information provided by the qualified person.

(3) If a registrant has relied on more than one qualified person to prepare the information and documentation supporting its disclosure of exploration results, mineral resources, or mineral reserves, the registrant's responsibilities as specified in this paragraph (a) pertain to each qualified person.

(b)

(1) The registrant must obtain a dated and signed technical report summary from the qualified person that, pursuant to § 229.601(b)(96), identifies and summarizes the information reviewed and conclusions reached by the qualified person about the registrant's mineral resources or mineral reserves determined to be on each material property. At its election, the registrant may also obtain a dated and signed technical report summary from the qualified person that, pursuant to § 229.601(b)(96), identifies and summarizes the information reviewed and conclusions reached by the qualified person about the registrant's exploration results.

(i) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section, if more than one qualified person has prepared the technical report summary, each qualified person must date and sign the technical report summary. The qualified person's signature must comply with § 230.402(e) or § 240.12b-11(d) of this chapter. The technical report summary must also clearly delineate the section or sections of the summary prepared by each qualified person.

(ii) A third-party firm comprising mining experts, such as professional geologists or mining engineers, may date and sign the technical report summary instead of, and without naming, its employee, member or other affiliated person who prepared the technical report summary.

(2)

(i) The registrant must file the technical report summary as an exhibit to the relevant registration statement or other Commission filing when disclosing for the first time mineral reserves or mineral resources or when there is a material change in the mineral reserves or mineral resources from the last technical report summary filed for the property.

(ii) If a registrant files a technical report summary to support the disclosure of exploration results, it must also file a technical report summary when there is a material change in the exploration results from the last technical report summary filed for the property. In each instance, the registrant must file the technical report summary as an exhibit to the relevant Commission filing.

(3)

(i) A registrant that has a royalty, streaming, or other similar right is not required to submit a separate technical report summary for a property that is covered by a current technical report summary filed by the producing mining registrant. In that situation, the registrant holding the royalty, streaming, or other similar right should refer to the producing registrant's previously filed technical report summary in its filing with the Commission. Such a reference will not be deemed to incorporate by reference, pursuant to § 230.411 or § 240.12b-23 of this chapter, the previously filed technical report summary into the royalty company's or other similar company's filing absent an express statement to so incorporate by reference the previously filed technical report summary.

(ii) A registrant that has a royalty, streaming, or other similar right is not required to file a technical report summary for an underlying property if the registrant lacks access to the technical report summary because:

(A) Obtaining the information would result in an unreasonable burden or expense; or

(B) It requested the technical report summary from the owner, operator, or other person possessing the technical report summary, who is not affiliated with the registrant, and who denied the request.

(4)

(i) The registrant must obtain the written consent of the qualified person to the use of the qualified person's name, or any quotation from, or summarization of, the technical report summary in the relevant registration statement or report, and to the filing of the technical report summary as an exhibit to the registration statement or report.

(ii) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(4)(iii) of this section, if more than one qualified person has prepared the technical report summary, the registrant must obtain the written consent required by this section from each qualified person pertaining to the particular section or sections of the technical report summary prepared by each qualified person.

(iii) If, pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section, a third-party firm has signed the technical report summary, the third-party firm must provide the written consent. If a qualified person is an employee or person affiliated with the registrant, the qualified person must provide the written consent on an individual basis.

(iv) For Securities Act filings, the registrant must file the written consent as an exhibit to the registration statement pursuant to §§ 230.436 and 230.601(b)(23) of this chapter. For Exchange Act reports, the registrant is not required to file the written consent obtained from the qualified person, but should retain the written consent for as long as it is relying on the qualified person's information and supporting documentation for its current estimates regarding mineral resources, mineral reserves, or exploration results.

(5) The registrant must state in the filed registration statement or report whether each qualified person who prepared the technical report summary is an employee of the registrant. If the qualified person is not an employee of the registrant, the registrant must name the qualified person's employer, disclose whether the qualified person or the qualified person's employer is affiliated with the registrant or another entity that has an ownership, royalty, or other interest in the property that is the subject of the technical report summary, and if affiliated, describe the nature of the affiliation. As used in this section, affiliate or affiliated has the same meaning as in § 230.405 or § 240.12b-2 of this chapter.

(6)

(i) A qualified person may include in the technical report summary information and documentation provided by a third-party specialist who is not a qualified person, as defined in § 229.1300, such as an attorney, appraiser, and economic or environmental consultant, upon which the qualified person has relied in preparing the technical report summary.

(ii) The qualified person may not disclaim responsibility for any information or documentation prepared by a third-party specialist upon which the qualified person has relied, or any part of the technical report summary based upon or related to that information and documentation.

(iii) A registrant is not required to file a written consent of any third-party specialist upon which a qualified person has relied pursuant to paragraph (b)(6)(i) of this section.

(c)

(1) A registrant may disclose an exploration target, as defined in § 229.1300, for one or more of its properties that is based upon and accurately reflects information and supporting documentation of a qualified person. The qualified person may include a discussion of an exploration target in a technical report summary.

(2) Any disclosure of an exploration target must appear in a separate section of the Commission filing or technical report summary that is clearly captioned as a discussion of an exploration target. That section must include a clear and prominent statement that:

(i) The ranges of potential tonnage and grade (or quality) of the exploration target are conceptual in nature;

(ii) There has been insufficient exploration of the relevant property or properties to estimate a mineral resource;

(iii) It is uncertain if further exploration will result in the estimation of a mineral resource; and

(iv) The exploration target therefore does not represent, and should not be construed to be, an estimate of a mineral resource or mineral reserve.

(3) Any disclosure of an exploration target must also include:

(i) A detailed explanation of the basis for the exploration target, such as the conceptual geological model used to develop the target;

(ii) An explanation of the process used to determine the ranges of tonnage and grade, which must be expressed as approximations;

(iii) A statement clarifying whether the exploration target is based on actual exploration results or on one or more proposed exploration programs, which should include a description of the level of exploration activity already completed, the proposed exploration activities designed to test the validity of the exploration target, and the time frame in which those activities are expected to be completed; and

(iv) A statement that the ranges of tonnage and grade (or quality) of the exploration target could change as the proposed exploration activities are completed.

(d)

(1) A registrant's disclosure of mineral resources under this subpart must be based upon a qualified person's initial assessment, as defined in § 229.1300, which includes and supports the qualified person's determination of mineral resources.

(i) When determining the existence of a mineral resource, a qualified person must:

(A) Be able to estimate or interpret the location, quantity, grade or quality continuity, and other geological characteristics of the mineral resource from specific geological evidence and knowledge, including sampling; and

(B) Conclude that there are reasonable prospects for economic extraction of the mineral resource based on his or her initial assessment. At a minimum, the initial assessment must include the qualified person's qualitative evaluation of relevant technical and economic factors likely to influence the prospect of economic extraction to establish the economic potential of the mining property or project.

(ii) For a material property, the technical report summary submitted by the qualified person to support a determination of mineral resources must describe the procedures, findings and conclusions reached for the initial assessment, as required by § 229.601(b)(96).

(iii)

(A) When determining mineral resources, a qualified person must subdivide mineral resources, in order of increasing geological confidence, into inferred, indicated, and measured mineral resources.

(B) For inferred mineral resources, a qualified person:

(1) Must have a reasonable expectation that the majority of inferred mineral resources could be upgraded to indicated or measured mineral resources with continued exploration; and

(2) Should be able to defend the basis of this expectation before his or her peers.

(iv) The qualified person should refer to Table 1 to paragraph (d) of this section for the assumptions permitted to be made when preparing the initial assessment.

(2) A qualified person must include cut-off grade estimation, based on assumed unit costs for surface or underground operations and estimated mineral prices, in the initial assessment. To estimate mineral prices, the qualified person must use a price for each commodity that provides a reasonable basis for establishing the prospects of economic extraction for mineral resources. The qualified person must disclose the price used and explain, with particularity, his or her reasons for using the selected price, including the material assumptions underlying the selection. This explanation must include disclosure of the time frame used to estimate the commodity price and unit costs for cut-off grade estimation and the reasons justifying the selection of that time frame. The qualified person may use a price set by contractual arrangement, provided that such price is reasonable, and the qualified person discloses that he or she is using a contractual price when disclosing the price used. The selected price required by this section and all material assumptions underlying it must be current as of the end of the registrant's most recently completed fiscal year.

(3) The qualified person must provide a qualitative assessment of all relevant technical and economic factors likely to influence the prospect of economic extraction to establish economic potential and justify why he or she believes that all issues can be resolved with further exploration and analysis. As provided by Table 1 to paragraph (d) of this section, those factors include, but are not limited to, to the extent material:

(i) Site infrastructure (e.g., whether access to power and site is possible);

(ii) Mine design and planning (e.g., what is the broadly defined mining method);

(iii) Processing plant (e.g., whether all products used in assessing prospects of economic extraction can be processed with methods consistent with each other);

(iv) Environmental compliance and permitting (e.g., what are the required permits and corresponding agencies and whether significant obstacles exist to obtaining those permits); and

(v) Any other reasonably assumed technical and economic factors, including plans, negotiations, or agreements with local individuals or groups, which are necessary to demonstrate reasonable prospects for economic extraction.

(4)

(i) A qualified person may include cash flow analysis in an initial assessment to demonstrate economic potential. If the qualified person includes cash flow analysis in the initial assessment, then operating and capital cost estimates must have an accuracy level of at least approximately ±50% and a contingency level of no greater than 25%, as provided by Table 1 to paragraph (d) of this section. The qualified person must state the accuracy and contingency levels in the initial assessment.

(ii) If providing an economic analysis in the initial assessment, a qualified person may include inferred mineral resources in the economic analysis, provided that the qualified person:

(A) States with equal prominence to the disclosure of mineral resource estimates that the assessment is preliminary in nature, it includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have modifying factors applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that this economic assessment will be realized;

(B) Discloses the percentage of the mineral resources used in the cash flow analysis that was classified as inferred mineral resources; and

(C) Discloses, with equal prominence, the results of the economic analysis excluding inferred mineral resources in addition to the results that include inferred mineral resources.

Table 1 to Paragraph (d) - Summary Description of Relevant Factors Evaluated in Technical Studies

Factors 1 Initial assessment Preliminary feasibility study Feasibility study
Site infrastructure Establish whether or not access to power and site is possible. Assume infrastructure location, plant area required, type of power supply, site access roads, and camp/town site, if required Required access roads, infrastructure location and plant area defined. Source of all utilities (power, water, etc.) required for development and production defined with initial designs suitable for cost estimates. Camp/Town site finalized Required access roads, infrastructure location and plant area finalized. Source of all required utilities (power, water, etc.) for development and production finalized. Camp/Town site finalized.
Mine design & planning Mining method defined broadly as surface or underground. Production rates assumed Preferred underground mining method or the pit configuration for surface mine defined. Detailed mine layouts drawn for each alternative. Development and production plan defined for each alternative with required equipment fleet specified Mining method finalized. Detailed mine layouts finalized for preferred alternative. Development and production plan finalized for preferred alternative with required equipment fleet specified.
Processing plant Establish that all products used in assessing prospects of economic extraction can be processed with methods consistent with each other. Processing method and plant throughput assumed Detailed bench lab tests conducted. Detailed process flow sheet, equipment sizes, and general arrangement completed. Detailed plant throughput specified Detailed bench lab tests conducted. Pilot plant test completed, if required, based on risk. Process flow sheet, equipment sizes, and general arrangement finalized. Final plant throughput specified.
Environmental compliance & permitting List of required permits & agencies drawn. Determine if significant obstacles exist to obtaining permits. Identify pre-mining land uses. Assess requirements for baseline studies. Assume post-mining land uses. Assume tailings disposal, reclamation, and mitigation plans Identification and detailed analysis of environmental compliance and permitting requirements. Detailed baseline studies with preliminary impact assessment (internal). Detailed tailings disposal, reclamation, and mitigation plans Identification and detailed analysis of environmental compliance and permitting requirements finalized. Completed baseline studies with final impact assessment (internal). Tailings disposal, reclamation, and mitigation plans finalized.
Other relevant factors 2 Appropriate assessments of other reasonably assumed technical and economic factors necessary to demonstrate reasonable prospects for economic extraction Reasonable assumptions, based on appropriate testing, on the modifying factors sufficient to demonstrate that extraction is economically viable Detailed assessments of modifying factors necessary to demonstrate that extraction is economically viable.
Capital costs Optional. 3 If included:
Accuracy: ±50%.
Contingency: ≤25%.
Accuracy: ±25%
Contingency: ≤15%.
Accuracy: ±15%.
Contingency: ≤10%.
Operating costs Optional. 3 If included:
Accuracy: ±50%.
Contingency: ≤25%.
Accuracy: ±25%
Contingency: ≤15%.
Accuracy: ±15%.
Contingency: ≤10%.
Economic analysis 4 Optional. If included: Taxes and revenues are assumed. Discounted cash flow analysis based on assumed production rates and revenues from available measured and indicated mineral resources Taxes described in detail; revenues are estimated based on at least a preliminary market study; economic viability assessed by detailed discounted cash flow analysis Taxes described in detail; revenues are estimated based on at least a final market study or possible letters of intent to purchase; economic viability assessed by detailed discounted cash flow analysis.

1 When applied in an initial assessment, these factors pertain to the relevant technical and economic factors likely to influence the prospect of economic extraction. When applied in a preliminary or final feasibility study, these factors pertain to the modifying factors, as defined in this subpart.

2 The relevant technical and economic factors to be applied in an initial assessment, and the modifying factors to be applied in a pre-feasibility or final feasibility study, include, but are not limited to, the factors listed in this table. The number, type, and specific characteristics of the applicable factors will be a function of and depend upon the particular mineral, mine, property, or project.

3 Initial assessment, as defined in this subpart, does not require a cash flow analysis or operating and capital cost estimates. The qualified person may include a cash flow analysis at his or her discretion.

4 An initial assessment does not require capital and operating cost estimates or economic analysis, although it requires unit cost assumptions based on an assumption that the resource will be exploited with surface or underground mining methods. An economic analysis, if included, may be based only on measured and indicated mineral resources, or also may include inferred resources if additional conditions are met.

(e)

(1) A registrant's disclosure of mineral reserves under this subpart must be based upon a qualified person's preliminary feasibility (pre-feasibility) study or feasibility study, each as defined in § 229.1300, which includes and supports the qualified person's determination of mineral reserves. The pre-feasibility or feasibility study must include the qualified person's detailed evaluation of all applicable modifying factors to demonstrate the economic viability of the mining property or project. For a material property, the technical report summary submitted by the qualified person to support a determination of mineral reserves must describe the procedures, findings and conclusions reached for the pre-feasibility or feasibility study, as required by § 229.601(b)(96).

(2) When determining mineral reserves, a qualified person must subdivide mineral reserves, in order of increasing confidence, into probable mineral reserves and proven mineral reserves, as defined in § 229.1300. The determination of probable or proven mineral reserves must be based on a qualified person's application of the modifying factors to indicated or measured mineral resources, which results in the qualified person's determination that part of the indicated or measured mineral resource is economically mineable.

(i) For a probable mineral reserve, the qualified person's confidence in the results obtained from the application of the modifying factors and in the estimates of tonnage and grade or quality is lower than what is sufficient for a classification as a proven mineral reserve, but is still sufficient to demonstrate that, at the time of reporting, extraction of the mineral reserve is economically viable under reasonable investment and market assumptions. The lower level of confidence is due to higher geologic uncertainty when the qualified person converts an indicated mineral resource to a probable reserve or higher risk in the results of the application of modifying factors at the time when the qualified person converts a measured mineral resource to a probable mineral reserve. A qualified person must classify a measured mineral resource as a probable mineral reserve when his or her confidence in the results obtained from the application of the modifying factors to the measured mineral resource is lower than what is sufficient for a proven mineral reserve.

(ii) For a proven mineral reserve, the qualified person must have a high degree of confidence in the results obtained from the application of the modifying factors and in the estimates of tonnage and grade or quality.

(3) The pre-feasibility study or feasibility study, which supports the qualified person's determination of mineral reserves, must demonstrate that, at the time of reporting, extraction of the mineral reserve is economically viable under reasonable investment and market assumptions. The study must establish a life of mine plan that is technically achievable and economically viable, which will be the basis of determining the mineral reserve.

(i) The term mineral reserves does not necessarily require that extraction facilities are in place or operational, that the company has obtained all necessary permits or that the company has entered into sales contracts for the sale of mined products. It does require, however, that the qualified person has, after reasonable investigation, not identified any obstacles to obtaining permits and entering into the necessary sales contracts, and reasonably believes that the chances of obtaining such approvals and contracts in a timely manner are highly likely.

(ii) In certain circumstances, the determination of mineral reserves may require the completion of at least a preliminary market study, as defined in § 229.1300, in the context of a pre-feasibility study, or a final market study, as defined in § 229.1300, in the context of a feasibility study, to support the qualified person's conclusions about the chances of obtaining revenues from sales. For example, a preliminary or final market study would be required where the mine's product cannot be traded on an exchange, there is no other established market for the product, and no sales contract exists. When assessing mineral reserves, the qualified person must take into account the potential adverse impacts, if any, from any unresolved material matter on which extraction is contingent and which is dependent on a third party.

(4) For both a pre-feasibility and feasibility study, a qualified person must use a price for each commodity that provides a reasonable basis for establishing that the project is economically viable. The qualified person must disclose the price used and explain, with particularity, his or her reasons for using the selected price, including the material assumptions underlying the selection. This explanation must include disclosure of the time frame used to estimate the price and costs and the reasons justifying the selection of that time frame. The qualified person may use a price set by contractual arrangement, provided that such price is reasonable, and the qualified person discloses that he or she is using a contractual price when disclosing the price used. The selected price required by this section and all material assumptions underlying it must be current as of the end of the registrant's most recently completed fiscal year.

(5) A pre-feasibility study must include an economic analysis that supports the property's economic viability as assessed by a detailed discounted cash flow analysis or other similar financial analysis. The economic analysis must describe in detail applicable taxes and provide an estimate of revenues. The qualified person must use a price for each commodity in the economic analysis that meets the requirements of paragraph (e)(4) of this section. As discussed in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, in certain situations, estimates of revenues must be based on at least a preliminary market study.

(6) The qualified person must exclude inferred mineral resources from the pre-feasibility study's demonstration of economic viability in support of a disclosure of a mineral reserve.

(7) Factors to be considered in a pre-feasibility study are typically the same as those required for a final feasibility study, but considered at a lower level of detail or at an earlier stage of development. The list of factors is not exclusive. For example, as provided in Table 1 to paragraph (d) of this section, a pre-feasibility study must define, analyze or otherwise address in detail, to the extent material:

(i) The required access roads, infrastructure location and plant area, and the source of all utilities (e.g., power and water) required for development and production;

(ii) The preferred underground mining method or surface mine pit configuration, with detailed mine layouts drawn for each alternative;

(iii) The bench lab tests that have been conducted, the process flow sheet, equipment sizes, and general arrangement that have been completed, and the plant throughput;

(iv) The environmental compliance and permitting requirements, the baseline studies, and the plans for tailings disposal, reclamation, and mitigation, together with an analysis establishing that permitting is possible; and

(v) Any other reasonable assumptions, based on appropriate testing, on the modifying factors sufficient to demonstrate that extraction is economically viable.

(8) A pre-feasibility study must also identify sources of uncertainty that require further refinement in a final feasibility study.

(9) Operating and capital cost estimates in a pre-feasibility study must, at a minimum, have an accuracy level of approximately ±25% and a contingency range not exceeding 15%, as provided in Table 1 of this section. The qualified person must state the accuracy level and contingency range in the pre-feasibility study.

(10) A feasibility study must contain the application and description of all relevant modifying factors in a more detailed form and with more certainty than a pre-feasibility study. The list of factors is not exclusive. For example, as provided in Table 1 to paragraph (d) of this section, a feasibility study must define, analyze, or otherwise address in detail, to the extent material:

(i) Final requirements for site infrastructure, including well-defined access roads, finalized plans for infrastructure location, plant area, and camp or town site, and the established source of all required utilities (e.g., power and water) for development and production;

(ii) Finalized mining method, including detailed mine layouts and final development and production plan for the preferred alternative with the required equipment fleet specified. The feasibility study must address detailed mining schedules, construction and production ramp up, and project execution plans;

(iii) Completed detailed bench lab tests and a pilot plant test, if required, based on risk. The feasibility study must further address final requirements for process flow sheet, equipment sizes, and general arrangement and specify the final plant throughput;

(iv) The final identification and detailed analysis of environmental compliance and permitting requirements, and the completion of baseline studies and finalized plans for tailings disposal, reclamation, and mitigation; and

(v) The final assessments of other modifying factors necessary to demonstrate that extraction is economically viable.

(11) A feasibility study must also include an economic analysis that describes taxes in detail, estimates revenues, and assesses economic viability by a detailed discounted cash flow analysis. The qualified person must use a price for each commodity in the economic analysis that meets the requirements of paragraph (e)(4) of this section. As discussed in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, in certain situations, estimates of revenues must be based on a final market study or letters of intent to purchase.

(12) Operating and capital cost estimates in a feasibility study must, at a minimum, have an accuracy level of approximately ±15% and a contingency range not exceeding 10%, as provided by Table 1 of this section. The qualified person must state the accuracy level and contingency range in the feasibility study.

(13) If the uncertainties in the results obtained from the application of the modifying factors that prevented a measured mineral resource from being converted to a proven mineral reserve no longer exist, then the qualified person may convert the measured mineral resource to a proven mineral reserve.

(14) The qualified person cannot convert an indicated mineral resource to a proven mineral reserve unless new evidence first justifies conversion to a measured mineral resource.

(15) The qualified person cannot convert an inferred mineral resource to a mineral reserve without first obtaining new evidence that justifies converting it to an indicated or measured mineral resource.

(f)

(1) The qualified person may indicate in the technical report summary that the qualified person has relied on information provided by the registrant in preparing its findings and conclusions regarding the following aspects of modifying factors:

(i) Macroeconomic trends, data, and assumptions, and interest rates;

(ii) Marketing information and plans within the control of the registrant;

(iii) Legal matters outside the expertise of the qualified person, such as statutory and regulatory interpretations affecting the mine plan;

(iv) Environmental matters outside the expertise of the qualified person;

(v) Accommodations the registrant commits or plans to provide to local individuals or groups in connection with its mine plans; and

(vi) Governmental factors outside the expertise of the qualified person.

(2) In a separately captioned section of the technical report summary entitled “Reliance on Information Provided by the Registrant,” the qualified person must:

(i) Identify the categories of information provided by the registrant;

(ii) Identify the particular portions of the technical report summary that were prepared in reliance on information provided by the registrant pursuant to paragraph (f)(1) of this section, and the extent of that reliance; and

(iii) Disclose why the qualified person considers it reasonable to rely upon the registrant for any of the information specified in paragraph (f)(1) of this section.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 230.436(a) and (b) of this chapter, any description in the technical report summary or other part of the registration statement of the procedures, findings, and conclusions reached about matters identified by the qualified person as having been based on information provided by the registrant pursuant to this section shall not be considered a part of the registration statement prepared or certified by the qualified person within the meaning of Sections 7 and 11 of the Securities Act.