Northern Star positions Pogo for success
Mining Explorers 2021 - January 27, 2022
Last updated 1/26/2022 at 4:18pm
Looking to expand resources and build reserves for the expanded mill at its Pogo gold mine in Alaska, Northern Star Resources Ltd. carried out surface drilling across the Goodpaster discovery zone and Central Gap prospect, along with underground drilling that focused on most of the ore systems at this high-grade underground mine.
As of the end of March 2021, Pogo hosted 12.86 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 9.5 grams per metric ton (3.95 million oz) gold, plus 10.03 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 9.1 g/t (2.95 million oz) gold.
Of these resources, 5.85 million metric tons averaging 8 g/t (1.5 million oz) gold has been elevated to reserve status.
To expand and upgrade these resources, Northern Star continued to carry out surface drilling at Goodpaster, a large discovery about 1,500 meters northwest of the underground workings at Pogo.
An exploration hole drilled at Goodpaster in 2017 cut four meters averaging 67.5 g/t gold.
Since its acquisition of Pogo in 2018, Northern Star has continued to expand this discovery. High-grade highlights from this Goodpaster expansion drilling include: 2.2 meters of 28.1 g/t gold in hole 18-052; 0.6 meters of 100 g/t gold in hole 18-058; 0.3 meters of 170 g/t gold in hole 18-069; and 1.3 meters of 27.5 g/t gold in hole 19-084.
After cutting back on exploration at Pogo due to COVID-19, Northern Star returned to Goodpaster late in the third quarter of 2020. This program, which continued into 2021, involved in-fill drilling to upgrade resources at this large deposit.
Surface drilling during 2021 also targeted Central Gap, an earlier staged target area between the current mining area and Goodpaster.
Underground drilling focused largely on upgrading resources and building reserves in the Liese, South Pogo, and Fun zones.
While drills focused on building resources and reserves, crews put the finishing touches on US$55 million in upgrades at Pogo that included increasing the mill throughput capacity to 1.3 million metric tons per year; accelerating underground development to access more ore to feed into the higher capacity mill; and improve both surface and underground infrastructure to support the company's growth vision for the mine.
Despite being slowed by a rash of COVID cases that swept through the camp at the remote Alaska mine during 2020, these upgrades to Northern Stars' only mine outside of Australia were completed in September.
"I would like to extend a massive thank you and recognize the efforts of our workforce and business partners over in Alaska," said Luke Creagh, Northern Star Resources' chief operating officer of Pogo and the Yandal operation in Australia. "Like so many others around the world, they worked diligently and responsibly through the coronavirus pandemic to continue operations and have set Pogo up for continued success going forward."
With these upgrades complete, Northern Star forecasts Pogo will produce 220,000 to 250,000 oz of gold during fiscal year 2022, which got underway on July 1, and around 300,000 oz during FY2023.
The Alaska operation produced 209,647 oz of gold during FY2021.