Nevada-focused i-80 Gold on Tuesday announced that it had begun an underground test mining programme at its high-grade Granite Creek mine, in Humboldt county, with the goal of making a production decision.
Underground drilling and advancements at Granite Creek would be focused on delineating sufficient resources for near-term mine development, the company said, noting that mined material from Granite Creek would be trucked for processing at the nearby Twin Creeks processing facility.
i-80 last week announced an interim processing agreement with Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) as part of a broader transaction with the Barrick-Newmont joint venture (JV) company.
The transaction entails NGM acquiring from i-80 the remaining 40% interest in the South Arturo JV and the adjacent Rodeo Creek exploration property. In exchange, NGM offered i-80 the Lone Tree and Buffalo Mountain properties, as well as infrastructure which is currently in care and maintenance.
"The interim processing arrangement with Nevada Gold Mines represents a key milestone event for i-80, removing uncertainty of our ability to process refractory material from the Granite Creek mine project," stated president and COO Matt Gili.
The test mining programme at Granite Creek is verifying the appropriate mining methods, cycles and sequences for advancing the underground ore headings, while controlling open excavations and maintaining safe mining conditions.
Testing would include both mechanical cutting and conventional mining methods.