Keno Hill mine on pace for 2020 start
Final water license issued; momentum builds at silver mine North of 60 Mining News – July 31, 2020
Last updated 7/31/2020 at 4:20am
Alexco Resource Corp. July 27 announced that it has received the final water use license for Keno Hill Silver District and is advancing the Yukon silver mine toward production.
Issued by the Yukon Water Board on July 23, the final water use license authorizes Alexco to source and use water as well as discharge water into approved facilities in and around the Bellekeno, Flame & Moth, and Bermingham underground mines, as well as the Keno Hill mill facility. The license is good for 17 years and the conditions of the final license are substantially the same as the draft license issued in June.
With silver prices breaking about US$20 per ounce earlier this month and moving higher, the restart of operations at Keno Hill is well-timed.
"With the final WUL now issued, construction and development operations advancing, and other commercial arrangements advancing on schedule in a strengthening silver pricing environment, we are well on our way to become Canada's only primary silver producer," said Alexco Resource Chairman and CEO Clynt Nauman. "As scheduled, we look forward to commencing mine production and expect to be shipping concentrate in Q4 2020."
With this goal of feeding ore into the centralized mill at Keno Hill by the end of the year, Alexco has rapidly ramped up its work program at the mine.
A pre-feasibility study completed last year details a 430-metric-tons-per-day operation at Keno Hill slated to produce 27.2 million oz of silver, 67.2 million pounds of zinc and 65.4 million lb of lead over an eight-year mine life.
These metals will be recovered from 1.18 million metric tons of reserves averaging 804 grams per metric ton silver, 4.13% zinc, 2.98% lead, and 0.34 g/t gold.
Most of these reserves – 704,211 metric tons averaging 672 g/t silver, 5.73% zinc, 2.71% lead, and 0.49 g/t gold – are found in the Flame & Moth deposit.
Mining, however, is slated to begin at Bellekeno, a higher-grade orebody that hosts 40,109 metric tons of the Keno Hill reserves at an average grade of 843 g/t silver, 11.79% lead, and 6.31% zinc.
To ready Bellekeno for delivering ore to the mill later this year, underground activities are focused on rehabilitation and services at this underground mine.
Underground development at Flame & Moth will begin in August, and Bermingham in September once surface facilities including the water treatment plant are commissioned.
Alexco says a new underground mining fleet that includes loaders, trucks, jumbos, and bolters has begun arriving at the mine site, and all major underground equipment units are on schedule for delivery consistent with the underground development schedule.
Surface construction at Keno is currently focused on expanding the camp, administration complex, and support facilities, as well as upgrades and modifications to the mill.
A secondary ball mill has been installed at the facility and Alexco said the new concentrate regrind mills and tailings filter press have been delivered to site. With all other long lead time equipment either on order or in transit, the company said construction timelines remain consistent with the overall development schedule.
In addition to mine development work, Alexco has begun surface exploration drilling targeting the down plunge extensions of Bermingham, a high-grade deposit that hosts 1.1 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 930 g/t (32.9 million oz) silver.
The initial 4,200-meter program will test for extensions of the previously discovered silver mineralization approximately 200 meters below NE Zone of Bermingham, where 2019 drilling cut 8.15 meters averaging 1,414 g/t (45.5 oz/t) silver in the Bermingham Footwall vein structure.
As equipment arrives and site activities increase, Alexco continues to recruit and mobilize the Keno Hill operations team.
The senior management team at Keno Hill is in place and key supervisors, operators, miners, and certified maintenance trades continue to be recruited. There are currently 65 Alexco employees and 25 contract personnel at the developing mine site. Alexco says most of the vendors providing goods and services at Keno Hill have partnership or joint venture arrangements with Na-Cho Nyak Dun Development Corp., which was established to provide economic and employment opportunities for citizens of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation.
In order to safeguard the health of employees, contractors and nearby communities during this time of increased activity at Keno Hill , Alexco has implemented a COVID-19 management plan with strict prevention measures consistent with the guidelines of the Yukon government and health officials.