Bonanza gold in Premier extension zones
Mining Explorers 2020 - Published January 19, 2021
Last updated 1/18/2021 at 11:49am
Bonanza gold grades tapped during Ascot Resources Ltd.'s 2020 drill program can only sweeten what is shaping up to be an economically robust operation at its Premier Mine project just outside of Stewart, British Columbia.
A 2020 feasibility study for the resumption of mining at Premier envisions four mines in the Stewart area – Silver Coin, Big Missouri, Red Mountain and Premier – providing ore to the existing 1990s era mill. At 2,500 metric tons per day, this operation is expected to produce roughly 1.1 million ounces of gold and 3 million oz of silver over an initial eight-year mine life.
This production is based on 3.63 million metric tons of probable reserves averaging 5.45 grams per metric ton (637,000 oz) gold and 19.1 g/t (2.23 million oz) silver within the Silver Coin, Big Missouri and Premier deposits; plus 2.55 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 6.52 g/t (534,000 oz) gold and 20.6 g/t (1.69 million oz) silver at Red Mountain.
At US$1,400/oz gold– the base case metals prices scenario – the operation outlined in the feasibility study generates an after-tax net present value (5% discount) of C$341 million, a 51% internal rate of return and a capital payback period of just 1.8 years.
At US$1,710/oz gold – much closer to the current price – the revamped Premier Mine would generate and after-tax NPV (5% discount) of C$602 million and a 78% IRR.
"The completion of the feasibility study marks an important milestone for Ascot in the progression of restarting the project," said Ascot Resources President and CEO Derek White. "The current strong gold price environment, robust projected economics and quick payback creates an attractive opportunity to build our mine."
Permits are already in place from previous mining at Premier. These authorizations, however, must be amended to accommodate the renewed mine plan.
In October, Ascot ordered the semi-autogenous grinding and ball mills, long lead-time equipment required for the restart of operations at Premier.
While advancing the finalization of permitting and weighing its funding options, Ascot had drills turning along a 2,000-meter-long expansion area west of the Premier deposit.
This drilling encountered some very impressive gold grades outside of the resource, including 3.23 meters of 20.06 g/t gold and 39.7 g/t silver in hole P20-2193; six meters of 9.21 g/t gold and 6.9 g/t silver in P20-2183; 24.15 meters of 3.74 g/t gold, including six meters of 40.78 g/t (1.31 oz/t) gold in P20-2202; and 4.5 meters of 15.75 g/t gold in P20-2197.
"These impressive results are rewarding our commitment to continued exploration on this property," said White.
Ascot's 2020 drilling also tested Day Zone, a new area about 300 meters west from the planned underground development at Big Missouri. The first two holes drilled at Day Zone encountered even higher gold grades than Premier West, including 4.1 meters of 20.62 g/t gold; and 2.05 meters of 54.6 g/t (1.76 ounces per metric ton) gold.
"We are excited about the discovery of another strategically located high-grade zone that could be transformative for Ascot," said White.
In addition to the gold-forward targets, Ascot's 2020 drill program targeted the aptly named Silver Hill, which is about 1,750 meters northeast of Big Missouri. One of the holes drilled at Silver Hill cut one meter averaging 1,320 g/t silver. Another cut 7.12 meters averaging 154.3 g/t silver.
"The results from Silver Hill are very exciting," said White.
Ascot says the northern part of the Premier property where Silver Hill is located hosts a volcanic-sedimentary contact similar to that which hosts the Eskay Creek deposit about 70 kilometers (40 miles) to the northwest.
With the high-grade mineralization at Silver Hill appearing to extend over an extensive area, Ascot is "extremely keen to conduct further follow-up work in this area" during 2021.