Harte Gold is backing mining and stockpiling gold ore at its Sugar Zone Mine, north of White River, in preparation to restart the mill next week.
The once-furloughed workforce appears to have picked up the pace as the Toronto-based miner said in a July 29 operations update that activities are "ahead on all key mining metrics" with backfill, waste and ore development either "meeting or exceeding expectations."
The pandemic put a halt to all mining, milling and exploration operations at the end of March. The Sugar Zone Mine, 25 kilometres north of White River. The phased restart of operations began July 17.
The company said a significant stockpile has been built up for the planned start up of the processing mill scheduled for early August.
Harte's post-pandemic gold production target for this year has been set at between 20,000 and 24,000 ounces, with the 2021 target ranging between 60,000 and 65,000 ounces.
The company reported that its transition from contract mining to an owner-operater model is "progressing smoothly." "Significant interest" has come from contractors looking to become full-time Harte employees or from potential new hires. More than a 1,000 resumes have been received.
“During my visit to the Sugar Zone mine earlier this week, I was encouraged by the focus and commitment of the team to effect a positive restart," said Sam Coetzer, president-CEO of Harte Gold in a statement.
"The underground team is highly motivated to achieve its goals and the processing team is eager to turn on the mill, which is expected to occur next week. Mine management is also well underway to deliver a seamless transition to owner-operator, which is expected to be completed over the next few months. Further updates will be provided to the market as this work progresses.”
Harte has been hatching plans to boost gold production next year by improving mine development rates and entering higher grade zones.
A mine expansion feasibility study is underway to move from an 800-tonne-per-day operation to 1,200 tonnes per day. The study is expected in this year's fourth quarter.
Thanks to a recent infusion of capital, the company has budgeted for 16,000 metres of definition and extension of its Sugar Zone North and South extension. Near-mine drilling begins in August to explore gold mineralization along strike into the Sugar Zone South and Wolf Zone areas.