VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – TSX- and NYSE-listed precious metals explorer Seabridge Gold is mobilising crew and equipment to start an exploration campaign at its 100%-owned Courageous Lake project, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, in February.
The Toronto-based explorer plans to drill 36 holes over 7 200 m to test seven separate targets along a geophysical and stratigraphic break that hosts the Walsh Lake deposit, which Seabridge discovered in 2012.
The Courageous Lake project covers almost all of the 53-km-long Mathews Lake greenstone belt, which hosts Seabridge’s Felsic-Ash-Tuff (FAT) deposit and which, according to a July 2012 prefeasibility study, contains 6.46-million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves, at an average grade of 2.2 g/t gold.
According to Seabridge, the Walsh Lake deposit was discovered as part of a campaign designed to extend the Courageous Lake project’s mine life, thereby improving capital efficiency for this remote project.
Drilling confirmed a near surface inferred resource at Walsh Lake, estimated in March 2014, of 482 000 oz of gold, held in 4.6-million tonnes grading 3.24 g/t gold. The ore looks to be free milling, with cyanide recoveries as high as 95%. Based on these factors, the Walsh Lake deposit could be mined prior to construction of the processing plant required for the larger, refractory FAT deposit.
Seabridge believes that this order of development could have significant economic benefits for the Courageous Lake project, not only by extending mine life, but also by generating cash flow to pay for some capital costs as the FAT deposit ramps up.
“Our aim is to find more Walsh Lake-style deposits, which could be added to the front end of a revised mine plan at the Courageous Lake project, where they have the potential to make a significant economic impact. We have a lot of confidence in this programme, which we have been planning for several years, but spectacular results at [the Kerr-Sulphuets-Mitchell project] kept pushing it back in the queue,” Seabridge chairperson and CEO Rudi Fronk noted.
“Winter is the best season for moving in supplies on the ice road and also moving drills around the property.”
Walsh Lake is located about 10 km south of the FAT deposit and is connected to that deposit by a local road network. The Walsh Lake resource appears to be the southern extension of the historical Tundra mine, a high-grade producer that was abandoned in 1999, as the gold price fell to a 25-year low.
The Courageous Lake programme will be funded from current cash on hand.
The company’s business plan is to increase its gold ounces in the ground but not to go into production on its own. Seabridge will either sell projects or participate in joint ventures towards production with major mining companies.