VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – TSX-listed project developer Eastmain Resources has started a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on the Eau Claire deposit, located on its 100%-owned Clearwater property in James Bay, Quebec.
The news follows the company's release on Monday of an updated mineral resource estimate for Eau Claire, reporting stronger grades, more conservative parameters, and a new understanding of the high-grade schist (HGS) veins, which was made possible by tighter drill spacing in the core of the deposit.
“This new high-quality mineral resource estimate illustrates true opportunity to develop an openpit and underground deposit in an emerging gold camp, supported by excellent infrastructure,” said Eastmain Resources president and CEO Claude Lemasson in a statement.
Using a Whittle constrained pitshell and a truer underground wireframe model, the updated mineral resource consists of 826 000 oz of gold held in 4.2-million tonnes at 6.16 g/t gold in the measured and indicated category, and 465 000 oz of gold held in 2.2-million tonnes at 6.49 g/t gold in the inferred category.
Despite the new mineral resource estimate reporting 15%, or 126 000 oz, fewer gold ounces in the measured and indicated categories, and 36%, or 168 000 oz, fewer ounces in the inferred category, management stated its belief that the selected pit shell represents a robust, realistic and practical approach to a potential mining scenario at Eau Claire. The reason for the reductions are mainly owing to more conservative drill-supported wire-frame interpretation and the application of a smaller search radii for resource classification, Eastmain explained.
Importantly, the new interpretation and estimate demonstrates higher grades and continuity of gold mineralisation to a depth of 550 m and along strike for 1 100 m, remaining open at depth to the east.
The measured and indicated gold grade for the openpit operation has increased some 46% over previous 2015 estimates to 5.9 g/t gold, while the underground grade increased 31% to 6.26 g/t gold. The new mineral resource estimate is based on an improved interpretation and better understanding of the deposit, resulting in a significantly higher confidence level in the results.
“In addition to justifying advancing towards pre-development at Eau Claire, Clearwater’s exploration potential remains strong for expansion and growth of the deposit, as well as near the deposit with regional exposure to 40 km of the Clearwater Deformation Zone, within 50 km of Goldcorp’s Eleonore gold mine. Now, with the recent infill programme behind us, we look forward to expanding the deposit’s footprint and exploring the district potential,” Lemasson stated.
Eastmain’s TSX-listed stock fell by as much as 13% on Monday to C$0.34 apiece, in step with a 1.3% drop in spot gold prices to a bid price of $1 328.20/oz, mainly as a function of reduced perceived global geopolitical and environmental risk by investors.