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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Premier Stewart area gold-silver miner

Ascot advances toward development of two BC mines

 

Last updated 12/9/2019 at 10:32am

Ascot Resources Ltd.

The mill from 1990s operations at the Premier Mine provides Ascot Resources a head-start on its plans to restart mining around Stewart.

With the January acquisition of IDM Mining Ltd., Ascot Resources Ltd. adds to its already robust portfolio of high-grade gold-silver mine projects at the southern gateway to British Columbia's Golden Triangle.

"The combination of Ascot and IDM creates a very attractive opportunity in northwest British Columbia's Golden Triangle for our shareholders and stakeholders," said Ascot Resources President and CEO Derek White. "Based near the historic mining town of Stewart, this area has hosted several prominent, profitable, and high-grade gold mines and we see that similar potential going forward."

Ascot's mineral properties in the Stewart area now cover Premier, a 252-square-kilometer (97 square miles) land package that hosts the past producing Premier and Big Missouri mines; Silver Coin, an adjacent property that also provided ore to the mill at Premier; and Red Mountain, a gold-silver asset gained through the acquisition of IDM Mining.

"At this time in the gold sector, scale is important and together with the Red Mountain project, the larger company will hopefully become a prominent gold developer in terms of both grade and tonnage," said White.

Former IDM Mining President and CEO Rob McLeod, who is a third-generation resident of Stewart, hopes the resulting economies of scale will result in a new generation of mines that will revitalize his hometown at the southern tip of the Golden Triangle.

"(T)his combination provides a critical mass and optionality for development of multiple high-grade gold deposits which will result in significant stakeholder benefits for citizens of the Nisga'a Nation, for my hometown of Stewart and for my friends in the border town of Hyder (Alaska)," said McLeod.

Rapid expansion

Ascot's Premier property has a century of gold and silver production under its belt and already has the basic infrastructure needed to quickly and efficiently resume production.

An underground mine at Premier produced 2 million ounces of gold and 45 million oz of silver from 1918 to 1952; and an open-pit operation in the 1990s produced another 260,000 oz of gold and 5.1 million oz of silver.

The mill, assay lab, crusher, tailing storage area, underground workings and other infrastructure from historical mining provides Ascot with a head start on its plans to restart mining around Stewart.

"Our principal business objective is to maximize the utilization of the existing infrastructure, specifically with regard to the mill throughput of up to 3,000 tonnes (metric tons) per day," said White.

According to a calculation completed at the end of 2018, Premier hosts 2.78 million metric tons of indicated resources averaging 7.46 g/t (667,000 oz) gold and 26.2 g/t (2.34 million oz) silver; and 6.03 million metric tons of inferred resources averaging 7.18 g/t (1.39 million oz) gold and 24 g/t (4.65 million oz) silver.

This marks a 230 percent increase in the tonnage contained in the higher confidence indicated resources and the inferred resource tonnage has increased by nearly 370 percent, with higher gold grades in both categories, when compared to a resource calculated in May.

The ability to add so much gold to the Premier resources in just six months is the product of an aggressive drill program on the Premier property and the acquisition of Silver Coin, an adjacent property that historically provided ore for the Premier mill.

This Silver Coin property alone contributes 859,000 metric tons of indicated resource averaging 8.01 g/t (221,000 oz) gold and 20.5 g/t (566,000 oz) silver; and 1.16 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 7.78 g/t (289,000 oz) gold and 22.1 g/t (821,000 oz) silver to the Premier resource calculation.

With the high-grade gold-silver deposit at Silver Coin contributing to the resources, Ascot is quickly building enough gold and silver foundation to consider the re-opening of the Premier Mine.

Aggressive Premier drilling

Toward its goal of resuming mining at Premier, Ascot carried out aggressive drilling again this year, a roughly 46,000-meter program focused on upgrading and expanding the high-grade gold resources across three deposit areas – Northern Lights, Big Missouri Ridge and Silver Coin.

Big Missouri was the target of roughly 20,000 meters of this drilling.

According to the late-2018 resource calculation, Big Missouri hosts 539,000 metric tons of indicated resource averaging 8.19 g/t (142,000 oz) gold and 20.5 g/t (355,000 oz) silver; and 2.25 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 8.25 g/t (596,000 oz) gold and 18.4 g/t (1.33 million oz) silver.

One hole drilled early in the program, P19-1891, cut three zones of high-grade gold mineralization:

• one meter averaging 66.3 grams per metric ton gold and 23 g/t silver from a depth of 4.3 meters;

• 7.85 meters of 5.05 g/t gold and 4.18 g/t silver at 153.05 meters, including 1.9 meters of 16.2 g/t gold and 11 g/t silver; and

• 13.5 meters of 4.48 g/t gold and 4.61 g/t silver from 181.5 meters, including 1.2 meters of 33.2 g/t gold and 15 g/t silver.

While most of the mineralized intercepts tapped during this year's drilling at Big Missouri returned assays right around resource grade, some tapped very high-grade sections at open-pit mineable depths, including:

• 1.65 meters of 56.8 g/t gold in P19-1911;

• one meter of 320 g/t gold, within five meters of 66.3 g/t gold in P19-1949;

• one meter of 48.9 g/t gold within four meters of 12.8 g/t gold in P19-1954; and

• 0.85 meters of 69 g/t gold in P19-1981.

"These drill results continue to confirm our belief in the high-grade nature of the Big Missouri deposit," said White.

Once the Big Missouri drilling was completed, Ascot moved the drills to carry out roughly another 10,000 meters of drilling at Silver Coin and one drill was moved to the Premier deposit to target a gap in the existing resource related to the 602 and Prew zones.

With the results from this drilling, Ascot plans to update the resource estimates for the Premier, Big Missouri and Silver Coin areas in a staggered fashion. These upgraded resources will form the basis for advanced engineering studies towards the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2020.

Ascot plans to use the mine plans detailed in these studies to re-activate permits already in place to resume mining at Premier.

Advancing Red Mountain

While the Premier property has the infrastructure, Red Mountain is arguably more advanced in terms of engineering, permitting and social license.

A 2017 feasibility study details plans for a 1,045-metric-ton-per-day mill to process high-grade ore from the Red Mountain underground mine that is expected to average roughly 78,800 oz of gold and 228,800 oz of silver annually over an initial six-year mine-life.

This operation is based on 1.95 million metric tons of reserves, averaging 7.53 g/t (473,000 oz) gold and 21.86 g/t (1.37 million oz) silver.

Considering the drilling success IDM Mining had from the time the feasibility was completed and the buy-out by Ascot, however, this feasibility study is a bit outdated.

At the time the reserves were calculated for the 2017 feasibility study, Red Mountain hosted 2.07 million metric tons of measured and indicated resource averaging 8.75 g/t (583,700 oz) gold and 25 g/t (1.66 million oz) silver.

A 29,312-meter drill program completed in 2017 increased the overall resource and substantially expanded the gold reporting to the measured resource category, much of which would likely convert to reserves with an updated feasibility study.

By mid-2018, Red Mountain hosted 2.77 million metric tons of measured and indicated resource averaging 7.91 g/t (704,600 ounces) gold and 22.75 g/t (2.77 million oz) silver.

In addition, the underground mine project hosted 316,000 metric tons of inferred resource averaging 6.04 g/t (61,400 oz) gold and 7.6 g/t (77,200 oz) silver. Roughly 82 percent of this inferred resource is found in new zones – Smit, SF, Bray, Chicka and Cambria Zones – indicating the potential for future expansion at Red Mountain.

A 10,000-meter drill program completed in 2018 focused on expanding and upgrading the resources in these areas.

Ascot is finalizing the engineering work to produce an updated feasibility study for Red Mountain.

This high-grade gold-silver project has already received the provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals needed to begin mine development.

The issuance of the provincial environmental assessment was heralded by First Nations, municipal and provincial leaders from the area of northwestern British Columbia where the underground mine is to be developed.

"Nisga'a Treaty lands are rich with natural resources. We are confident that this decision and conditions will provide significant opportunities for our citizens, with strong protection of the land, water and wildlife," said Nisga'a Lisims Government President Eva Clayton.

Ascot Resources Ltd.

Underground drilling completed by IDM Mining in 2018 focused on upgrading and expanding the gold-silver resource at Red Mountain.

In the meantime, Ascot Resources is carrying out the advanced engineering studies need to elevate the existing permits for restart of operations at the Premier Mine to active status.

"Ascot has also progressed a significant amount of engineering and environmental studies as we continue to advance our Mines Act Permit Amendment application at Premier and engineering studies both at Red Mountain and Premier," said White. "This is a very busy and exciting year for Ascot, and I look forward to more promising results as we continue to progress the development and exploration of this part of the Golden Triangle."

CORRECTION: The previous version of this article stated that Ascot Gold's properties near Stewart covered 100 square kilometers. This calculation did not include the Red Mountain property. With Red Mountain, the Ascot Gold properties cover nearly 252 square kilometers.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 11 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.

Email: publisher@miningnewsnorth.com
Phone: (907) 726-1095
https://www.facebook.com/miningnewsnorth

 

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