Canadian zinc junior Titan Mining on Tuesday officially reopened the historic Empire State zinc mine, in the US, at a ceremony attended by company director George Pataki, who is the former Governor of New York state.
The mine, which has more than 100 years of previous operating history, was placed under care and maintenance in 2008. Titan is reviving the #4 mine at Empire State and in November started refurbishing the mine, leading to the restart of operations in early 2018.
Titan is aiming to produce 80-million pounds a year of zinc concentrate from the #4 mine, which has an indicated mineral resource of 2.16-million tons, at an average grade of 13.29% zinc containing about 574-million pounds of zinc metal, and an inferred mineral resource of 2.28-million tons, at an average grade of 13.37% zinc containing about 609-million pounds of zinc metal.
The first ore from the #4 mine was hoisted in late January and Titan has ramped up mill throughput from 443 t/d in March, at an average grade of 10.4% zinc, to 584 t/d in April, at an average grade of 8%. In May, the average throughput was 776 t/d, at a grade of 8.1% zinc and a recovery rate of 93.7%.
The company is aiming to achieve a throughput rate of 1 800 t/d by early next year.
Exploration is also continuing to achieve a targeted production rate of 3 000 t/d, which is within the existing shaft capacity of 3 800 t/d.
On Tuesday, TSX-listed Titan announced that it had identified two new zones – the #2 Deep zone, immediately below the historic #2 mine, and the NE Streeter zone located less than a mile to the east of the #4 shaft. The #2 Deep and NE Streeter zones, and the previously-known #1 Deep zone, which is immediately below the historic #1 mine, will be tested for down-plunge extensions.
As part of the plan to expand throughput to 3 000 t/d by 2020, engineering work has started on several fronts to support the economic analysis of the updated mineral resource. The #2 Deep and NE Streeter zones are not included in the current mineral resource at Empire State, and there is potential for all three zones to provide additional mineral resources for the updated life-of-mine plan, which Titan expects to publish before year-end.
“Our new life-of-mine plan will reflect productivity improvements related to short interval control and operating through shift change, which we have already started to implement. One of the proven new technologies that we are considering is a rail-veyor, which appears well-suited to our operation. As we work closely with the exploration team on the remnants and other near-mine exploration targets at Empire State, the path to 5 000 t/d in 2022 is becoming clearer,” said VP for projects and innovation Eric Strom.