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Hecla silver reserves at 238 million oz

North of 60 Mining News - February 14, 2024

Alexco Resource Corp.

This core from 2018 shows the very high-grade silver mineralization often drilled at Keno Hill.

Company expands Keno Hill and Lucky Friday reserves, readies Greens Creek for the next jump.

Hecla Mining Company Feb. 13 reported that its 2023 exploration resulted in the second-highest silver reserves and the largest gold resource ever for the Idaho-based company.

"Hecla's silver reserves are the second highest in our 133-year history at 238 million silver ounces and only 1% less than last year's all-time highest reserve, and gold resource is the highest in our history," said Hecla Mining President and CEO Phillips Baker, Jr.

With growth at both its Keno Hill mine in Canada's Yukon and Lucky Friday mine in Idaho, Hecla goes into 2024 with 34.21 million tons of proven and probable reserves containing 238.3 million oz of silver, 2.17 million oz of gold, 1.88 billion pounds of zinc, and 1.6 billion lb lead.

In addition, the company now has 69.03 million tons of measured and indicated resources containing 219.3 million oz silver, 4.43 million oz gold, 2.18 billion lb zinc, 1.46 billion lb lead, and 29.3 million lb copper; plus 341.4 million tons of inferred resource containing 504.2 million oz silver, 6.3 million oz gold, 1 billion lb zinc, 1.05 billion lb lead, and 2.8 billion lb copper.

"The 2023 exploration program successfully expanded our reserves at Keno Hill and Lucky Friday and expanded mineralization at Greens Creek," Baker said.

Expanding Greens Creek

While reserves at Greens Creek dropped slightly over the past year, the Southeast Alaska mine still accounts for roughly a third of Hecla's proven and probable reserves tonnage and approximately 44% of the silver contained in these categories.

Going into 2024, Greens Creek hosts 10.02 million tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 10.05 ounces per ton (105.2 million oz) silver, 0.09 oz/t (881,000 oz) gold, 6.6% (1.32 billion lb) zinc, and 2.5% (501.2 million lb) lead.

This is enough for roughly 14 years of operations at 2023 mill throughput rates.

"At Greens Creek, Hecla's exploration efforts spanning 37 years consistently yield remarkable results in both grade and width across the four key metals: silver, gold, zinc, and lead, and we still have many potential targets to drill," said Baker. "It's almost as if we get a jump in reserves every few years that further extends mine life."

Hecla Mining Company

Click on image for larger map.

Toward the next jump in reserves, Hecla drilled 79 holes during the fourth quarter of 2023, focused on upgrading and expanding resources in the 9a, 200 South, East, West, Gallagher, and Gallagher Fault Block zones of the high-grade underground mine.

Highlights from this drilling include:

7.9 meters averaging 63.4 oz/t silver, 0.64 oz gold, 8.3% zinc, and 4.3% lead (West Zone).

8.3 meters averaging 35.2 oz/ton silver, 0.08 oz/ton gold, 10% zinc, and 6.3% lead (West Zone).

7.3 meters averaging 28.3 oz/ton silver, 0.01 oz/ton gold, 2.6% zinc and 1.3% lead (Upper Plate Zone).

8.5 meters averaging 19.6 oz/ton silver, 0.05 oz/ton gold, 10.9% zinc, and 5.4% lead (Upper Plate Zone).

8.2 meters averaging 18.7 oz/ton silver, 0.05 oz/ton gold, 11.4% zinc, and 3.6% lead (5250 Zone).

6.4 meters averaging 7.4 oz/ton silver, 0.02 oz/ton gold, 4.1% zinc, and 3% lead (200 South Zone).

Hecla Mining Company

Click on image for larger map of fourth quarter drilling in the Greens Creek West Zone.

Growing Keno Hill silver reserves

Hecla has substantially expanded the reserves at Keno Hill since acquiring the historic Yukon mine from Alexco Resource Corp. toward the end of 2022.

"Keno Hill's 2023 exploration provided an 11% increase in reserves, now 45% higher since the acquisition, and does not reflect much of the drilling reported this quarter, so we expect the reserve to grow," said Baker.

This expectation is based on the high-grade silver encountered with resource upgrade and expansion drilling of the Bermingham Bear Zone Veins – Bear, Footwall, and Main – as well as the discovery and definition of newly discovered mineral resources.

During the fourth quarter, two underground rigs completed more than 3,900 meters of definition and geotechnical drilling.

Highlights from the underground drilling include:

12 meters averaging 54 oz/ton silver, 4.8% lead, and 2.5% zinc (Footwall Vein).

Three meters averaging 58.6 oz/ton silver, 3.6% lead, and 4.3% zinc (Footwall Vein).

4.6 meters averaging 32.7 oz/ton silver, 1.7% lead, and 1.7% zinc (Main Vein).

2.8 meters averaging 32.4 oz/ton silver, 8.3% lead, and 4.1% zinc (Main Vein).

3.6 meters averaging 21.4 oz/ton silver, 2.8% lead, and 0.5% zinc (Bear Vein).

"Drilling has intersected wider zones and higher grades – such as 54 ounces per ton silver over 39 feet – than are currently in the reserve model and has encountered high-grade mineralization more than 1,000 feet deeper than any previous drilling; both are changing the potential size of the deposit," said Baker.

Hecla Mining Company

Click on image for larger map of fourth quarter drilling in the Keno Hill Bermingham Footwall Vein.

Two surface rigs completed more than 4,390 meters of exploration drilling targeting the Deep Bermingham, Bermingham Townsite, Inca, and Coral Wigwam targets. In addition to the traditional suite of Keno Hill metals, the fourth quarter drilling cut intriguing quantities of the critical mineral indium.

Highlights from the surface drilling include:

1.4 meters averaging 73.5 oz/ton silver, 1.4% lead, and 0.2% zinc (Bermingham Townsite Vein).

6.9 meters averaging 4.7 oz/ton silver, 0.5% lead, 2.7% zinc, and 1.6 oz/ton indium (Inca Vein).

2.3 meters averaging 5.8 oz/ton silver, 0.2% lead, 1.6% zinc, and 0.9 oz/ton indium (Inca Vein).

Hecla further expanded its Yukon portfolio with the 2023 acquisition of ATAC Resources Ltd. As a result, the company's mineral resources received a 2.25-million-oz gold boost (inclusive of measured, indicated, and inferred resources) from the addition of the Tiger and Osiris deposits on the district-scale Rackla gold project about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Keno Hill.

The company also received Connaught, an earlier staged but road-accessible silver-gold-copper-zinc property about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Dawson City, as part of its buyout of ATAC.

"With the recent acquisition of ATAC and its massive 700-square-mile land package, we now have 20 district-sized properties with excellent exploration potential to explore and grow our resource base, primarily in the U.S. and Canada," said Baker.

This resource growth will help the Idaho-based mining company hold its position as North America's largest producer of silver, a precious metal needed for the clean energy transition.

"Hecla produces almost half of silver in the U.S., and we expect to be Canada's largest silver producer in 2024. With half a million ounces of silver required to produce 1 gigawatt of solar, Hecla is playing a key role in mining the silver the world needs," Baker added.

CORRECTION: This article was updated due to a reversal of the gold and silver ounces in reserves and an updated mine life for Greens Creek based on Hecla estimates.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Author photo

Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


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