A new vison for Brewery Creek gold mine
Mining Explorers 2020 - Published January 19, 2021
Last updated 1/18/2021 at 11:16am
With local support from the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation and financial backing from noted resource investor Eric Sprott, Golden Predator Mining Corp. is rapidly carrying out its vision of reestablishing a gold mine at the Brewery Creek project in Canada's Yukon Territory.
Located about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Dawson City, Brewery Creek is the home to a mine that produced 280,000 ounces of gold over seven years of mining that began in 1996. This operation used seasonal heap leaching – a method of gold recovery that involves stacking ore in a lined facility and using cyanide to separate the gold from the rock – to recover gold mined from a series of seven open pits spanning the property.
Despite the abundance of rich, near-surface gold mineralization remaining along the six-kilometer- (3.7 miles) corridor at Brewery Creek, Viceroy Resource Corp. opted to wind down operations due to gold prices hovering around US$300/oz in 2002.
With the price of gold now more than six times higher than when the mine was shuttered, Golden Predator is eager to pick up where Viceroy left off.
"Much of the original infrastructure was left intact and is in excellent condition, providing significant cost savings for a project restart while also significantly advancing timelines to a resumption of mining at Brewery Creek," said Golden Predator Mining CEO Janet Lee-Sheriff.
In addition to the gold Viceroy left in the ground, it is estimated that roughly 248,000 oz of unrecovered gold remains in about 9.5 million metric tons of material Viceroy stacked on the heap-leach pad.
This already mined and stacked material is a key piece to Golden Predator's vision of beginning a new era of operations at Brewery Creek at much favorable gold prices.
In 2019, Golden Predator formerly informed the Yukon government of its plans to resume operations at Brewery Creek. With the territory's acceptance of this notice, the junior mining company has the permits and authorizations needed to begin development in areas covered by the previous permits for the project.
This move has the support of Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, which passed a formal council resolution in support of resumed mining and processing at the Brewery Creek Mine under the existing licenses.
This plan also garnered the interest of noted mining investor Eric Sprott, who participated in a C$9.3 million Golden Predator financing that closed in mid-2019 and owns roughly 8% of the company issued shares.
Golden Predator originally considered three phases – reprocessing the material on the heap leach pad; phasing in the processing of new oxide ore from areas of the Brewery Creek property already permitted for mining; and then expanding the operation to include mining gold mineralization the company has identified outside of the currently permitted area.
The company now sees the combination of phases 1 and 2 would result in the best returns on the initial capital expenditures to establish the processing facilities and other infrastructure required to reprocess the heap leach material, especially when considering the current price of gold.
"Since most of the project's CAPEX is required for startup in phase 1, combining the added potential of higher-grade new material should produce significantly more ounces and a better economic return," Golden Predator Mining CEO Janet Lee-Sheriff said in mid-2020.
According to a calculation completed in August, Brewery Creek hosts 22.2 million metric tons of indicated leachable resource averaging 1.11 grams per metric ton (789,000 ounces) gold, plus 16.8 million metric tons of inferred leachable resource at 0.92 g/t (497,000 oz) gold.
The new calculation also includes 30.6 million metric tons of inferred sulfide resource at 0.84 g/t (828,000 oz) gold, which will be considered for mining in later phases of Brewery Creek operations.
The updated resource and new geological model confirmed that Golden Predator's 2019 drill program successfully connected and combined the Fosters, Canadian, Kokanee and Golden deposits into a single 3,500-meter-long deposit that has been renamed Keg.
Drilling in 2019 indicated that Keg could by extended by roughly another 1,000 meters to the northeast by drilling a 400-meter gap between Keg and the Lucky deposit that is well mineralized and oxidized but requires increased drill density to calculate a resource.
With infill drilling this gap as its primary objective, Golden Predator launched a roughly 60-hole drill program in September.
This drilling also tested the Classic area, which is the single largest exploration target at Brewery Creek. Surface gold mineralization was identified in 2019 approximately 1,000 meters southeast from the open-ended resources at both Classic and adjacent Lone Star.
"Based on our knowledge of the Classic and Lone Star zones, this porphyry-style system has the advantages of near-surface expression and extensive oxidation when compared to many similar targets attracting attention in the Golden Triangle of BC," said Sheriff.
Classic and Lone Star, however, are outside the scope of a feasibility study reprocessing material stacked on the heap leach pad and mining new oxide gold mineralization within the already permitted areas around historical mining.
This economic and engineering study for establishing a new era of mining at Brewery Creek was imminent but had not been released at the time this report was written.