JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – In addition to rehabilitating several historic silver-gold mines at its Las Chispas project, located in Sonora, Mexico, TSX-V-listed SilverCrest Metals plans to start a surface drilling programme of about 3 000 m this month, which will be followed by a 2 000 m underground drilling programme later in the year.
The company announced on Wednesday that it was currently exploring the Las Chispas area to assess the potential for new economic discoveries. Las Chispas spanned a prolific mining area that included current precious metal producers Santa Elena mine – operated by First Majestic Silver – and Mercedes mine – operated by Yamana Gold.
SilverCrest president and CEO Eric Fier highlighted La Chispas as a “very exciting” brownfields exploration story. “The project area consists of a district-size target with multiple historic surface and underground mines that reportedly produced an estimated 100-million ounces of silver and 200 000 oz of gold between 1880 and 1930,” he said, adding that the project’s reported average production grades from limited public information were about 15 g/t gold and 1 700 g/t silver, over widths of 1 m to 5 m.
“Our initial underground channel sampling of exposed mineralisation has shown grades up to 15.1 g/t gold and 1 340 g/t silver over 1.3 m. To our knowledge, all mineralised zones in the district, which include multiple epithermal veins, have not previously been drilled.”
Fier added that the underground rehabilitation programme would help further assess the potential for near-surface deposits and deeper extensions of mineralisation. He noted that most of the underground workings had been inaccessible for over 80 years, with historic records suggesting that several previously developed areas were not mined owing to closure around 1930.
“The company is well financed with over $6.5-million and the 2016 exploration expenditures are expected to be in the range of $1-million to $1.2-million," added Fier.
PLANS FOR 2016
SilverCrest planned to spend 2016 accessing and evaluating most of the estimated 6 km of historic workings at Las Chispas. Currently, about 2 km of these workings were easily accessible with good ground conditions, reported the company.
SilverCrest further noted that initial rehabilitation would take several months to complete and would consist of cleaning and securing all underground areas, removing historic backfill and stockpiling for possible future processing, building a ladder system to access multiple levels, detailed mapping and sampling of accessed workings, and implementation of overall safety protocols. The estimated cost of this initial programme was between $150 000 and $200 000.
Meanwhile, with regard to the surface- and underground-drilling programmes, SilverCrest explained that the initial drilling programme would test near-surface targets, underground lateral extensions of previously mined areas, and deeper extensional targets of potential mineralisation below the historical workings. The estimated all-in cost for this initial drilling was $1-million.