A feasibility study on a mothballed Red Lake mine project is due out in the second half of 2020.
By that time Rubicon Minerals expects to prove up more ounces at its shuttered Phoenix Gold operation as underground drilling continues to expand the gold resource base.
The Toronto mine developer’s updated estimated gold count for the project shows 811,000 ounces of gold in the measured and indicated category, up 38 per cent from 589,000 ounces.
That jump is attributed a successful 13,000-metre infill drilling program at its main F2 Gold Zone.
The drilling program is designed to shift the classification of the mineral resource base from the inferred category (a lower degree of confidence) to indicated and measured (higher degrees of confidence), covering aspects like grade, tonnage, characteristics and mineral content of the gold occurrence.
The estimate reflects all the drilling information results up to the end of last September.
"The expansion of the measured and indicated mineral resource estimate above 800,000 ounces has given us the confidence to begin mine planning and engineering work at the Phoenix Gold Project, with the goal of demonstrating the project's commercial viability,” said Rubicon president-CEO George Ogilvie in a Jan. 7 news release.
Infill drilling still continues between the 976-metre level and the 1,098-metre of the mine.
Since September, the company said more than 3,000 metres of additional infill drilling has been done on the F2 Zone between the mine’s 976 and 1,098 metre levels.
Rubicon expressed confidence the deposit’s resource base can be upgraded to produce grades between 5.5 grams per tonne (g/t) and 7.5 g/t.
The updated results will be included in the mine plan and the feasibility study to determine the project’s commercial viability.
A preliminary economic assessment of Phoenix Gold posted in August projected a mining life of 6.2 years.
The Phoenix Gold project was closed in 2017 and the workforce of 300 was laid off after the management team fast-tracked the mine into production without fully understanding the deep and narrow vein geological environment at Red Lake. This became evident during the trial stoping period.
A revised resource calculation revealed gold estimates had shockingly dropped from 3.3 million ounces to just 413,000 ounces. The management team was sacked and the company entered creditor protection.
A new management group went back the drawing board and re-established the resource base with more than 500,000 metres of exploration drilling and more than a 1,000 drill holes.
The mining camp has a fully functioning hoist, processing plant, electric substation and distribution system, a 200-person camp, a tailings dump and a water treatment plant.