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Australians look to build ounces at White River gold mine

Silver Lake Resources emphasizing exploration at high-grade Sugar Zone Mine
Sugar Zone (Mike Mantha Facebook photo) 1
Sugar Zone Mine processing plant (Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha Facebook photo)

Exploration and building up gold ounces will be a priority for the new Australian owners of a White River-area mine.

Silver Lake Resources delivered an update this week on activity at the Sugar Zone Mine and released some gold production numbers since the company’s take-over of the struggling underground operation last winter. 

The South Perth-headquartered miner released its fiscal 2022 year-end statement for the period ending June 30.

With 81,287 hectares at its disposal, Silver Lake said investment in exploration will be a particular focus for the upcoming 2023 fiscal year with both surface and underground drilling programs queued up. The company didn’t provide an exploration budget in its update.

After reviewing the entire operation, the company said there had been “limited drill coverage and inadequate exploration work,” but is finds there is significant gold production opportunities within the mine, near the mine. and further out across its extensive land holdings, on a district-scale level that can create an “organic growth pipeline” of discoveries.

The company pointed out that the main Sugar Zone deposit appears open for expansion laterally and deeper down along a three-kilometre trend.

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Silver Lake picked up Sugar Zone in an insolvency sale from Toronto’s Harte Gold. The deal was closed last February. 

Sugar Zone is considered one of Ontario’s newest and highest grade gold mines. It began production in 2019. This is Silver Lake’s third gold mine asset and it’s first outside of Australia.

Earlier this month, the company indicated its willingness to invest in the mine in replacing older equipment with more modern drills, loading and haulage machines. It should improve operating efficiencies, increase mine productivity and reduce costs.

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Since the February takeover, the company said it’s redesigned the mine and eliminated one of two haul ramps down into the middle zone deposit. The focus will be to reduce development metres and instead emphasize operating efficiently and cutting costs.

By way of gold production since the company’s Feb. 18 acquisition, Sugar Zone generated 15,812 ounces of gold at an average grade of 5.4 grams per tonne (g/t) from 91,519 tonnes.

Mill throughput for this period was 89,741 tonnes at 5.5 g/t gold for 14,901 recovered ounces. Total gold recovery was 94.6 per cent. The company said mill throughput is expected to average 900 tonnes per day in the next year with throughput to match mining rates.

The Sugar Zone Mine is 30 kilometres north of the town of White River, about roughly halfway between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.