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Mining the Northwest: Wesdome chasing more ounces at Wawa-area mine

High-grade drill returns could prolong Eagle River mine life
Eagle River gold mine

The high-grade drill hits from Wesdome Gold Mines's exploration program could prolong the operating life of its Eagle River Mine.

The Toronto gold company said the results of a drilling program have extended the trail of gold mineralization in three zones at the underground mine.

Eagle River, located 50 kilometres west of Wawa, has been a consistent producer on the Mishibishu greenstone belt since 1996. Exploration has been key to its sustained success.

Wesdome wants to see if there’s more gold to be found close to where it’s currently mining.

With $10 million in this year’s exploration budget, the company is drilling above and below grow to expand the gold resource. This month, Wesdome released some high-grade results from three known or newly discovered zones, dubbed 6 Central, Falcon 311 and 300, that are close to existing mine infrastructure.

The assay results will be incorporated into technical studies that could extend Eagle River’s operating life. Wesdome wants to boost throughput at its 1,200-tonne-per-day mill.

“These drilling results at Eagle River underscore the prospectivity across this asset,” said Wesdome president-CEO Anthea Bath in a July 3 statement, “particularly as the high grade 6 Central Zone continues to expand down-plunge to the east, and the continuity and extension potential of the Falcon 311 and 300 zones is now being confirmed in follow-up drilling.

“This year’s exploration program at Eagle River is expanding the existing resource base of known zones and identifying targets near existing infrastructure. In the coming months, our objective is to integrate results from this drill program with recently initiated asset optimization studies to potentially extend mine life, leverage existing development more effectively and increase utilization of Eagle River’s 1,200-tonne-per-day mill.”

Last year, Eagle River produced 87,800 ounces of gold in 2023, close to three quarters of  Wesdome’s total gold production. Its other mine is the restarted Kiena operation outside Val d’Or, Que.

The gold production target for Eagle River this year —  known as guidance — is between 80,000 and 90,000 ounces.

In its first quarter financial results, reported in May, Wesdome made a $10.7 million profit, up to $11.1 million from the same period last year, largely on the back of mining higher grade material at Eagle River and Kiena.