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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Northern Star expands Pogo gold, mill

Makes another gold discovery, to invest US$30M in expansion

 

September 20, 2019

Shane Lasley

The production plant at Pogo currently has the ability to process around 1 million metric tons of ore per year. A US$30 million investment by Northern Star is expected to increase the annual throughput by 30 percent.

With the success of mining optimization at Pogo and drills confirming another major gold zone on the property, Northern Star Resources Ltd. has decided to invest US$30 million (A$43 million) into upgrades of the Pogo processing plant that will increase the annual throughput capacity by 30 percent.

These upgrades are a follow-up to the investments the Aussie miner has already made into improving underground production at the Interior Alaska gold mine, including roughly US$35 million on state-of-the-art equipment delivered to Pogo earlier this year.

"The extensive changes we have implemented and our ongoing optimization program, including the introduction of long-hole stoping and the use of bigger, more efficient mobile mining equipment, have been highly successful," said Northern Star Executive Chairman Bill Beament.

The Australian gold miner will begin this mill expansion with a US$10 million investment during its current fiscal year, which ends in June 2020. When these upgrades are complete, expected by early 2021, the annual plant throughput will be increased from the current one million metric tons to 1.3 million metric tons.

"We now know that Pogo in the future can comfortably sustain a mining rate of 1.3 million tonnes a year. The progress we are making and the visibility we now have, shows that this is the optimal run-rate for Pogo in terms of sustainability and cost-effectiveness," said Beament. "With this confidence in the mining operation now well-established, we will move quickly to begin expanding the plant, driving further efficiencies in the process."

The Northern Star Resources executive chairman said the company's confidence in Pogo's future is also underpinned by the strong exploration results from Goodpaster, a large gold discovery about 1,000 meters northwest of the existing mining areas.

Goodpaster was discovered by the Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo team in 2017 and one hole drilled by the former mine owner cut four meters averaging 64.5 grams (2.07 ounces) per metric ton gold.

Since acquiring Pogo last year, Northern Star has traced the Goodpaster zone for 2,300 meters along strike and to a depth of 500 meters with drilling. The company said the drills have tapped both the flat-lying stacked Liese-style and the vertical North Zone-type vein structures currently being mined at Pogo.

Highlights from Northern Star's drilling at Goodpaster include:

• 2.1 meters of 44.5 g/t gold in hole 18-050;

• 5.2 meters of 15.7 g/t gold in 18-051

• 2.2 meters of 28.1 g/t gold in 18-052;

• 8.1 meters of 5 g/t gold in 18-057;

• 0.6 meters of 100.1 g/t gold in 18-058;

• 0.3 meters of 170.2 g/t gold in 18-069;

• 0.3 meters of 129 g/t gold in 19-080;

• 5.2 meters of 9.5 g/t gold in 19-083;

• 1.3 meters of 27.5 g/t gold and 1.8 meters of 13.2 g/t gold in 19-084; and

• 1.7 meters of 19.4 g/t gold in 19-083.

Northern Star said the Goodpaster zone is considered a continuation of the main Pogo mineralization located just across a major northeast trending fault system that roughly runs along the Goodpaster River valley.

The company's initial Goodpaster drilling is focused on an area roughly 1,000 meters west of Central Veins, a large gold discovery Northern Star announced earlier this year.

Based on drilling completed by mid-year, Central Veins hosted roughly 500,000 oz of gold in a resource that averages 7.9 g/t gold. This gold is found in horizontal stacked vein structures very similar to the Liese zone veins that have historically provided the bulk of the gold at Pogo.

Northern Star said the results from drilling at Goodpaster supports its view that this newest discovery zone also hosts extensive gold mineralization similar to the Pogo deposit.

"We have owned Pogo for only a year and our exploration results already provide strong evidence that it is an emerging camp-scale system with huge potential to grow the inventory and mine life beyond the current 10 million oz endowment," Beament said.

Northern Star Resources Ltd.

The fleet of new mining equipment delivered to Pogo this year includes jumbos that can also do the bolting and meshing required to stabilize the underground mine, which increases efficiency and reduces the number of drills needed.

From hole 18-052, which is located next to the western boundary of the Pogo property, to 18-057, the northeastern-most hole reported, the Goodpaster discovery zone has been traced for 2,300 meters. For comparison, this is roughly the combined length of the Liese and Central Vein zones.

Geophysics indicates that this mineralization could extend both to the east and off the Pogo property to the west.

Surface drilling is continuing with four diamond drill rigs in operation from road and helipad positions across the project. Northern Star said assay results are pending from numerous holes completed during the current program.

In conjunction with the Central Veins discovery, permitting has been established to allow the development of initial underground access into the Central Veins and potentially the Goodpaster area for further exploration and pre-development activities.

"The combination of the exploration success at Goodpaster and the effectiveness of the operational changes made in the mine leaves us in no doubt that investing in the plant expansion will generate strong returns for our shareholders and local stakeholders at Pogo," said Beament.

 

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