• Phase 3 underground drilling is proceeding as planned at Variscan’s San Jose mine in the Cantabria region of northern Spain
  • Assay results from this drilling will feed into a maiden resource estimate expected to issue in October
  • A San Jose mine restart study also underway is expected to be completed in Q1 CY2024
  • Surface drilling to test priority targets to start in Q1 CY2024


Underground drilling at the San Jose mine within Variscan’s Novales-Udias project in northern Spain is well advanced as Variscan prepares to produce a mine restart study.

The previously producing San Jose underground zinc mine is in the same rocks as the nearby Reocin mine, which has a reported resource of 62Mt at 8.7% zinc and 1% lead.

Since maiden drilling in early 2021 confirmed that there’s much more zinc to be mined at San Jose, Variscan Mines (ASX:VAR) exploration activities have mapped out a path towards a potential mine restart.

A review of historical data, combined with its own drilling has also extended mineralisation along strike to the southwest beyond the immediate workings at San Jose and onto the wider 9km Novales-Udias Trend.

“We’re cracking on with our focused work program to deliver our stated objectives,” Variscan Managing Director and CEO Stewart Dickson told Stockhead.

“The San Jose Mine is without a doubt a very high grade zinc deposit and we look forward to reporting assay results from our ongoing underground drilling campaign very soon.”

“Zinc is an essential, sustainable and versatile metal is that plays an important part of the energy transition”.

“Global zinc demand for renewable energy technologies is forecast to continuously increase during the next decade, rising more than 3x between 2020 to 2030. Solar energy is expected to account for the largest share of this zinc consumption.”

“Variscan is excited about moving forward to re-ignite zinc production in Northern Spain with a project that is permittable as the San Jose Mine already has an exploitation licence and permissible as the local community and regional government want to see operations restarted.”


Phase 3 underground well advanced

Variscan has now said that its Phase 3 drill program is progressing according to expectations with 17 holes totalling about 359m completed to date.

This program is designed to test in-mine prospective zones identified from the 3D model of mineralisation and mine development as well as expanding zones of mineralisation via infill and step-out holes.

First assays from this program are expected imminently and information from this program will be used in the production of a maiden resource estimate and assist with mine re-opening assessments.

The company had recently commissioned ERM to produce this resource estimate by pulling together drilling carried out by the company as well as the extensive historical database compiled by its staff. This is expected to be completed in October 2023.


Taking another step towards mine restart

Variscan has also contracted Perth-based Piran Mining to produce a mine restart plan for the San Jose mine.

Site visits to Spain have already been conducted and preliminary work has commenced.

Additionally, the company has compiled samples for metallurgical test-work for shipping to external laboratories for analysis.

The mine restart study is expected to be completed in the first quarter of calendar 2024.


Other activity

The company has also started a structural geological assessment and targeting study after confirming that further structural geological investigation is crucial to provide a more complete understanding of the influences giving rise to the ore bodies accessed in both the San Jose and Udias underground mines.

Outputs from this work will serve as a valuable exploration vectoring tool for the discovery of additional lenses of mineralisation along and across strike.

Findings from this study will be delivered before the end of this year.

Looking ahead, Variscan continues to liaise with local government authorities to expedite the necessary approvals required to start its 2024 surface drilling campaign efficiently.

The latter campaign  will test a number of high-priority exploration targets that Variscan has identified along the 9km Novales-Udias Trend.

“We have been advancing a wide-ranging and busy program of drilling, exploration field work and studies to deliver on our stated objectives,” Dickson continued.

“These are catalysts which materially progress some key milestones in our stated development plan for San Jose and advance this high grade zinc project towards production.

“We now look forward to publishing the results flowing from current San Jose-related activities over coming months.”



This article was developed in collaboration with Variscan Mines, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.