Coeur invests heavily in 2020 exploration
Mining Explorers 2020 - Published January 19, 2021
Last updated 1/17/2021 at 1:31pm
Coeur Mining Inc. invested heavily in exploration during 2020, including robust programs at its Kensington gold mine in Alaska and Silvertip mine project in British Columbia.
After investing US$21 million in exploration at six projects in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico during the first half of the year, the Chicago-based miner increased its total 2020 exploration budget to US$54 million.
"We significantly increased our investment in exploration to test these targets in 2020, seeking to provide stockholders with upside exposure to new potential discoveries and mine life extensions at our existing operations," said Coeur Mining Senior Vice President of Exploration Hans Rasmussen.
Going into 2020, Kensington had 1.68 million tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 0.218 oz/t (366,000 oz) gold.
In addition to reserves, this Southeast Alaska mine hosted 3.23 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.236 oz/t (762,000 oz) gold; and 1.56 million metric tons of inferred resources averaging 0.229 oz/t (358,000 oz) gold.
Looking to add higher-grade resources with the potential to be incorporated into the mine plan, Coeur invested US$4.5 million into 21,908 meters of drilling at Kensington during the first half of 2020.
The company said this drilling tapped high-grade gold mineralization at upper Kensington Zone 30, Raven, Elmira, and Eureka, all of which are located near existing infrastructure and represent new potential resource growth areas.
One hole drilled from the southern portion of upper Kensington Zone 30 (K20-1400-125-X02) cut multiple high-grade intercepts, including 1.6 meters of 54.2 grams per metric ton gold; 1.4 meters of 29.8 g/t gold; 1.2 meters of 25 g/t gold; and 0.4 meters of 68.8 g/t.
Coeur reports new mineralized intervals are being logged in holes from the surface drill program at Raven, suggesting that the upper portions of the Kensington and Raven zones may have wider, splayed veins.
Additionally, expansion drilling at the Elmira, Jualin, Eureka, and the newly discovered Bear veins all have intersected mineralized material with most intercepts well above Kensington's current inferred resource grade.
Coeur's top priorities at Kensington for the second half of 2020 included underground expansion drilling at Elmira and Johnson; surface expansion drilling of upper Raven and Johnson; step out drilling at Big Lake, a new target southeast of the current mineralized zones; and infill drilling at Elmira.
At Silvertip, Coeur temporarily suspended production early in 2020 to accelerate investment in exploration and mill expansion at this Northern BC mine.
Going into 2020, Silvertip hosted 1.8 million tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 8.26 oz/t (14.98 million oz) silver, 8.3% (295.4 million pounds) zinc and 5.4% (196.5 million lb) lead.
In addition to reserves, the property hosts 1.7 million tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 6.75 oz/t (11.6 million oz) silver, 8.9% (305 million lb) zinc and 4.2% (143.9 million lb) lead; and 976,000 tons of inferred resource averaging 8.4 oz/t (8.2 million oz) silver, 9.3% (182.2 million lb) zinc and 5.4% (105.3 million lb) lead.
Through the first half of 2020, Coeur invested US$3.1 million into 17,429 meters at this silver mine project.
This resource expansion drilling encountered stack horizons of resource-grade mineralization north, east, and south of the Discovery zone, and in the new South Camp Creek zone.
New holes demonstrate the potential for resource growth with over two miles (3.5 kilometers) of north-south strike length, more than triple the previous resource strike length.
Highlights of the 2020 program include 5.9 meters of 21.5 oz/t (736 g/t) silver, 21.2% zinc and 18.2% lead in hole DSC19-Pad1-006 at Discovery East; and 3.8 meters of 24.9 oz/t (855 g/t) silver, 12.2% zinc and 14.7% lead in hole DSC20-Pad8-004 at Discovery North.
In parallel with drilling, Coeur's geological team continued its regional exploration program at Silvertip, developing high-priority polymetallic carbonate replacement targets from several legacy geological, geophysical, and geochemical data sets.
As a result of these efforts, three new mineralized zones have been discovered representing multi-year growth targets with the potential to significantly expand Silvertip's resource base.
This includes Keda, a new zone roughly 1,500 meters north of the Discovery and Silver Creek resources.
Within one month, almost two miles (3.2 kilometers) of new mineralization had been drilled with wide step-out holes. Silvertip drilling continued into winter months with three rigs testing near-mine resource expansion targets at lower elevations.
In February, Coeur optioned the Tim silver property in southern Yukon from Alianza Minerals Ltd.
Situated just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of Silvertip, Tim is an early staged exploration property with similar high-grade silver-lead-zinc mineralization.
Historical chip sampling from a trench cut across a zone of carbonate replacement mineralization at Tim averaged 352 g/t silver and 9.1% lead across four meters.
Targeting high-grade silver mineralization reminiscent of Silvertip, the 2020 exploration program at Tim included detailed mapping, soil geochemical surveys, and reopening the old trenches on the property.
Coeur can earn an 80% interest in Tim by funding C$3.55 million in exploration over five years and paying C$575,000 to Alianza in scheduled cash payments over eight years. Coeur must also fund a feasibility study and notify Alianza of its intention to develop a commercial mine on the property on or before the eighth anniversary of receiving the primary permit needed to begin exploration.
Coeur also holds a roughly 7% stake in Rockhaven Resources Ltd., a junior exploring the Klaza gold project in southern Yukon.