Mining Explorers 2017: Coeur Mining Inc.
Coeur Mining Inc.ís high-grade Kensington gold mine in Southeast Alaska is becoming a hub for expansion into British Columbia and Yukon Territory. In September, Coeur cut a deal to acquire the Silvertip Mine in northern British Columbia. Just south of the Yukon border and about 150 miles east of Kensington, Silvertip hosts 2.35 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 352 grams per metric ton silver, 9.4 percent zinc and 6.7 percent lead; and 460,000 metric tons of inferred resource averaging 343 g/t silver, 9.8 percent zinc and 6.2 percent lead. JDS Silver Inc. began operations at the newly constructed Silvertip Mine late in 2016. Coeur has agreed to buy JDS Silver and the high-grade silver mine for US$250 million and plans to resume operations early in 2018. Once ramped up to 1,000 metric tons per day, Coeur expects Silvertip to produce roughly 3 million ounces silver, 45-50 million pounds zinc, and 40-45 million lbs. lead annually over an initial 7.5-year mine life.
Early in 2017 Coeur acquired 3.75 million shares of Rockhaven Resources Ltd., a junior exploring the Klaza gold-silver project in southern Yukon. Situated about 225 miles north of Kensington, Klaza hosts 9.42 million metric tons of inferred resource grading 4.48 g/t (1.36 million oz) gold, 89.02 g/t (26.96 million oz) silver, 0.75 percent (155.4 million lbs.) lead and 0.95 percent (197.8 million lbs.) zinc.
Exploration at Kensington in 2017 focused on resource delineation and expansion at Jualin, a deposit with gold grades substantially higher than the operationís historic average. According to a 2015 technical report, the Jualin Vein 4 deposit contains 289,000 tons of inferred resource averaging 0.619 oz/t (179,000 oz) gold, roughly triple the grades currently being mined at Kensington. During the past two years, Coeur has been expanding Jualin with surface drilling and completing underground development needed to begin mining this higher grade deposit, which is separate from but near the Kensington deposits currently being mined.
During the first half of 2017, Coeur invested roughly US$3 million on exploration at Kensington, which included 17,677 meters of drilling primarily focused on upgrading and expanding the Jualin deposit. Going into the second half of the year, two surface rigs continue to target extensions of Jualin Vein #4 and underground drilling is targeting the Raven South structure and Zone 12 of the Kensington main deposit. Coeur anticipates feeding higher grade Jualin ore into the Kensington mill by the end of the year. This, along with the higher grades material that has been identified at Raven and Zone 12, is expected to result in more gold production at lower costs at Kensington moving forward.