U.S. Markets closed

Pretium bulk sample tops gold target by 47 pct

VANCOUVER, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Pretium Resources Inc said on Friday that gold output from a bulk sample program at its flagship Brucejack project in British Columbia topped its target by about 47 percent, sending its shares up as much as 12 percent.

The Vancouver-based miner said it produced 5,865 ounces of gold from 10,302 dry tonnes of ore from the Valley of the Kings deposit at its Brucejack project, implying an average grade of 17.7 grams of gold per tonne across the sample.

That exceeded its target of 4,000 ounces of gold for the 10,000 tonne sample program.

Shares climbed as high as C$6.58 on Friday before closing at C$5.99. The stock has been battered in recent months by tumbling gold prices and the resignation of independent consultant Strathcona Mineral Services from the project.

Strathcona, best known for its role in exposing problems at fraudulent miner Bre-X in the late 1990s, quit the Valley of Kings program in October, saying there were "no valid gold mineral resources" there.

A second independent consultant, Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, stayed on, expressing "significant concerns" with Strathcona's conclusions.

Joseph Ovsenek, Pretium's chief development officer, told Reuters on Friday that the richer-than-expected sample program results prove the project is sound.

"This just shows that the global resource model does its job," he said. "It predicted that we would hit extreme grade where we hit extreme grade and overall delivered better than we actually expected."

Pretium plans to release an updated resource estimate for the Valley of the Kings before Dec. 25, and plans to file its environmental assessment application in the first quarter of 2014.

The company is also updating its Brucejack feasibility study to include the new resource estimate at the Valley of the Kings, with that expected in the first half of 2014.