Rubicon Minerals expects to start test mining this summer to take a massive bulk sample at its mothballed Phoenix Gold Project at Red Lake.
A 15,000 to 25,000-tonne chunk of gold-bearing material will be extracted from some test stopes at its main F2 gold deposit at the mine site in Bateman Township.
The company has budgeted between $15 million and $18 million in 2018 to take the bulk sample and do more exploration drilling for an updated mineral estimate to be released later this year.
Rubicon continues to dig itself out of a big hole it dug in 2015.
The company tried to fast-track the F2 deposit into production before it had a full understanding of where the gold was in the notoriously complex geological structure of the Red Lake camp.
About $770 million was spent on a headframe, hoist, processing mill, tailings facility, power lines, access road and nine kilometres of underground development before the trial stoping was stopped.
More than 300 miners and contractors were laid off, and the management team was sacked. The company entered creditor protection in 2016.
Under new leadership, the restructured and refinanced company began the project reboot last year and went back to the geological drawing board, conducting 28,500 metres of exploration drill work.
Rubicon has another 14,000 metres on tap for this year with an underground infill and step-out program.
The company said it continues to gather data to determine the geological structure and makeup of the deposit to see if there’s more gold to be found on 510-hectare property.
Rubicon reports it has now advanced 153.6 metres in exploratory underground development on the mine’s 122- and 244-metre levels.
Once the development work is done, they’ll start test mining during the middle of this year.
From that, they can figure out the best way to mine the deposit, confirm their geological model, do a new resource calculation, and gather data toward a more detailed feasibility study of the project.
It’s estimated that the gold grades in the test stopes are between 4 and 6 grams per tonne based on a 2016 block model.
"We are halfway through the 18- to 24-month plan that we outlined when we completed the restructuring of the company in December 2016, and we are encouraged by our progress to date,” said Rubicon president George Ogilvie in a news release.
“We will continue to gather important observations and data from test mining and drilling activities this year. More importantly, we will be providing a new preliminary structural interpretation and geological model for the F2 Gold Deposit, and deliver an updated mineral resource estimate, which remains on schedule for the second half of 2018."
"Our test mining plans are focused on stopes located in the main F2 Gold Deposit mineralized envelope that has been substantially developed and drilled, allowing us to take advantage of sunk capital. The objective of the test mining is to collect data to refine and validate the updated geological model and mineral resource estimate, as well as to substantiate components of a potential feasibility study on the project in the future."
Rubicon has a substantial land package in Red Lake with more than 28,000 hectares of prospective gold bearing properties.