Coeur Mining Inc. is highly encouraged by the results from the 2022 drilling at its Silvertip silver-zinc-lead mine project in Northern British Columbia and Kensington gold mine in Southeast Alaska early in 2022.
In fact, early 2022 results at these two northern assets, along with the Palmarejo silver-gold mine in Mexico, prompted the Chicago-based mining company to boost its exploration budget to more than US$50 million last year.
“During a period of underinvestment within our industry, we have remained steadfast in our strategy of investing in expansions and near-mine exploration to position the company to deliver high-return, sector-leading growth in production and free cash flow from operations containing expanded reserve and resource bases and located in mining-friendly jurisdictions,” said Coeur Mining President and CEO Mitchell Krebs.
Readying for Silvertip restart
At Silvertip, Coeur is building resources that it can upgrade to reserves to support plans for a higher throughput operation at the high-grade silver mine.
Going into 2022, Silvertip hosted 2.82 million tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 9.35 ounces per metric ton (26.3 million oz) silver, 10.46% (389.4 million lb) zinc, and 5.55% (312.6 million lb) lead; plus 2.35 million tons of inferred resource averaging 7.57 oz/t (17.8 million oz) silver, 8.98% (422.3 million lb) zinc, and 4.27% (200.7 million lb) lead.
Coeur had up to four drills turning at Silvertip during 2022 – two underground core rigs focused on infill drilling within the Discovery and Southern Silver zones and two surface rigs carrying out resource expansion and exploration drilling.
The company also logged and shipped core samples from late 2021 drilling to labs for assaying.
This includes a hole drilled west of the Camp Creek zone that returned one of the highest grade-thickness intervals ever encountered at Silvertip.
Highlights from the drilling at the Camp Creek West discovery include: 12 meters averaging 459.6 grams per metric ton (13.4 ounces per ton) silver, 15.1% zinc, and 8.7% lead in hole CCF21-PAD03-015; and 6.2 meters averaging 778.3 g/t (22.7 oz/t) silver, 13.6% zinc, and 14.7% lead in hole CCF21-PAD05-026.
“Recent assays from the newly discovered Camp Creek West zone of Silvertip are among the best results ever returned at the property and underscore the potential of what we believe is a truly world-class deposit,” said Krebs. “In addition to the impressive grade and thickness of the Camp Creek West discovery, its location across a fault zone not previously known to contain ore-grade material has the potential to significantly expand the extent of this deposit.”
It had previously been assumed the rock that typically hosts high-grade silver had eroded away on the west side of the Camp Creek fault, so no drilling had ever been carried out in this area before.
CCF21-PAD03-015, however, encountered a new chimney, or pipe-like, system carrying high-grade silver in this underexplored area of the Silvertip property.
The company says modeling of data from a SkyTEM geophysical flown last year suggests that the new Camp Creek discovery may extend more than a mile (two kilometers) from current drilling.
Going into the second half of the year, Coeur had underground rigs carrying out infill drilling at the Southern Silver zone, as well as rigs exploring Discovery and Camp Creek from the surface.
High-grade Kensington gold
Coeur’s 2022 drilling at Kensington, which lies about 180 miles southwest of Silvertip, focused on infill drilling of the Elmira, Eureka, Kensington Zone 30, and Jualin deposits from underground, while a surface rig targeted expansion drilling at Kensington main and Jennifer, along with scout drilling of new prospects
Infill drilling at Kensington Zone 30 tapped strong gold mineralization in the upper reaches of the main Kensington orebody.
Coeur Mining Inc.
Hole K21-2050-216-X01A, drilled in the uppermost area of Kensington Zone 30, cut 2.5 meters averaging 85.8 g/t (2.5 oz/t) gold and 5.2 meters averaging 21.6 g/t gold.
Coeur says these grades are similar to the higher-grade Jualin deposit but are the tellurium-type ore typically encountered in the Kensington deposit, which provides the bulk of Kensington’s gold production.
The company also reported that drills tapped strong gold mineralization at Elmira, a zone associated with the Kensington deposit that has recently been added to the mine plan.
EL21-0850-156-X22, an Elmira expansion hole, cut three meters averaging 25.7 g/t gold and 2.6 meters averaging 6.2 g/t gold.
Going into 2022, Kensington hosted 1.35 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 0.194 oz/t (261,000 oz) gold.