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Australians ramp up resource drilling at mothballed White River mine

Silver Lake Resources sees open-ended gold potential at bottom of Sugar Zone Mine
The Sugar Zone Mine, north of White River, under the Harte Gold flag (Company photo)

It’s an exploration drilling frenzy at Silver Lake Resources’ dormant Sugar Zone Mine, outside White River.

The Australian company is conducting resource definition drilling to enlarge the size of the deposit at the site of the former Harte Gold mine, 30 kilometres north of town.

Silver Lake acquired the underground asset in early 2022 following a CCAA sales process.

The company made the decision last summer to halt mining operations for the balance of its current 2024 fiscal year, which ends at the end of June. Management wanted to get a better understanding of the geology in and around the mine, address inefficiencies and come up with a new operating model.

In its latest quarterly activities report, Silver Lake said five drill rigs, three underground in the mine and two up top, are on the scene this winter.

The exploration focus is on a 200-metre vertical zone of mineralization below the existing mine, the results of which will feed a new mine plan to provide 18 to 24 months of mining once operations resume.

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The company said underground drilling is only “in its infancy,” but the deposit at depth appears to be “open in multiple directions.” 

The surface drill rigs will moved to target areas known as the Middle Zone and Sugar South. Silver Lake said the Sugar Zone south target has the potential to become a new shallow mining front that can be accessed by existing underground mine workings.

The company spent $5.1 million (Australian dollars) at Sugar Zone during the quarter. So far, 27,380 metres have been completed.

Drill results have been slow coming back from the assay lab, Silver Lake said, but they were trickling in at the end of the quarter.

Silver Lake management has been non-communicative to queries by Northern Ontario Business, in providing any information on the status of its workforce, what are their plans for 2024 in providing a date to resume operations, and when an updated mineral resource estimate might be released.

The company did announce it was relocating its worker accommodations camp from White River to the mine site to reduce travel time on the highway.