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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Alexco explores restart of Keno Hill Mine


Last updated 3/27/2020 at 3:44am

Alexco Resource Corp.

Crews carry out underground development at Flame & Moth, a deposit expected to be the centerpiece of a resumption of silver production at Keno Hill.

With a pre-feasibility study that details a small but financially robust mine at its Keno Hill Silver District project in the Yukon, Alexco Resource Corp. focused its summer 2019 work on building infrastructure to support the mine plan and exploration focused on Bermingham, the first deposit to go into production.

"After filing the positive PFS for Keno Hill last month, we have turned our attention to our 2019 exploration campaign while we wait for authorization of the final amendment of our Water Use License for ore production from the Bermingham deposit," Alexco Resource Chairman and CEO Clynt Nauman said in June.

At an average rate of about 430 metric tons per day, the mill at the revamped Keno Hill Mine is expected to produce a total of 27.2 million ounces of silver, 67.2 million pounds of zinc, 65.4 million lb of lead over an eight-year mine life.

These payable metals will be recovered from 1.18 million metric tons of reserves averaging 804 grams per metric ton silver, 4.13 percent zinc, 2.98 percent lead and 0.34 g/t gold.

Most of these reserves – 704,211 metric tons averaging 672 g/t silver, 5.73 percent zinc, 2.71 percent lead and 0.49 g/t gold – are found in the Flame & Moth deposit.

While this represents the lowest grades of the four deposits to be mined, a consistent orebody and portal adjacent to the mill makes Flame & Moth the centerpiece of the initial eight-year plan.

At any one time, however, the company plans to have two deposits delivering ore to the mill. As a result, higher grade ore from Bellekeno, Bermingham and Lucky Queen will supplement the ore from Flame & Moth.

The higher grade Bellekeno, which hosts 40,109 metric tons of these reserves at an average grade of 843 g/t silver, 11.79 percent lead and 6.31 percent zinc, will be the first deposit mined.

And, a more than 7,500-meter drill program that got underway in June is looking for more of the high-grade ore at Bellekeno.

Roughly half of the 20 surface holes slated for this program targeted extensions of the shallower Northeast Zone, as well as systematically testing the continuity and tenor of the high-grade Bermingham mineralization at depth. Other holes will test other promising targets in the immediate area.

In addition to the priority drilling at Bermingham, Alexco tested blind mineralized structures, with signatures similar to that of Bermingham, that extend under shallow cover as identified by the detailed aerial geophysical survey conducted in late 2018. These high-priority exploration targets are located on the northern slopes of Galena Hill, an area where 137 million ounces of silver has been historically produced from the Hector–Calumet, Elsa-Dixie, No Cash, Bermingham and Ruby mines. This does not count the 32.9 million oz of indicated silver resource at Bermingham.

Infrastructure projects carried out this year focused on what needs to be completed for ore production from Bermingham. This includes the installation of a portal cover at the entrance of Bermingham; construction of a coarse ore storage pad and facility; and a lined pond for a future water treatment plant; preparation for building the Bermingham maintenance shop; completion of a haul road from Bermingham to the Keno District mill; and establishing additional camp bunkhouse facilities.

These projects are included in the PFS and completion of these improvements in 2019 will further de-risk the project in anticipation of the receipt of an amended water license for Keno Hill, which is key to Alexco's decision to resume mining in this historic high-grade silver district.

"As promised, we are continuing our measured and disciplined approach toward a final production decision pending completion of the permitting process," said Nauman.

The Yukon Water Board is expected to complete the final Keno Hill license amendment by the end of 2019.

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.

Phone: (907) 726-1095


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