More deep ‘bonanza’ grade silver sees Silver Mines fast track study to take Bowdens underground
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Silver Mines’ is hitting the gas at its Bowdens silver project, kicking off a Scoping Study on a potential underground operation to add to its existing open-pit plan much earlier than expected after deep drilling delivered even more extremely high-grade silver at depth.
An expanded 30,000m drilling program at Bowdens returned additional ‘bonanza’ grade hits like 4m at 980 grams per tonne (g/t) silver from 311m, including 2m at 1,825g/t from 313m, from the Aegean Zone.
Drilling at the Northwest High-Grade Zone, meanwhile, also returned high-grade intercepts, like 1.6m at 324g/t silver equivalent (149g/t silver, 1.38% lead and 2.6% zinc) from 81m; and 5.2m at 369g/t silver equivalent (317g/t silver, 0.32% lead, 0.01% zinc and 0.12g/t gold) from 274m.
Such intercepts have given Silver Mines the confidence to move forward not only on a resource estimate encompassing areas outside the existing planned pit shell at Bowdens, but also to concurrently move forward with a Scoping Study.
The Scoping Study, which is being led by GR Engineering Services, will consider a couple of alternatives including the potential for underground development to start in years 3-4 of the open pit development to supplement plant feed with high-grade material at a rate of up to 500,000 tonnes per year.
Just last week, Silver Mines announced very high-grade results of 2m at 443g/t silver equivalent (146g/t silver, 3.8% lead, 3.43% zinc and 0.25g/t gold) from 212m from the same zone.
These new results extended the Northwest High-Grade Zone 40m closer to the Aegean Zone, cementing Silver Mines’ belief these two zones are linked.
“That gap between the Northwest Zone and the Aegean Zone is about 200m, which has not been drilled yet, so that’s a pretty significant upside if those two zones actually connect, which it looks like they do,” Managing Director Anthony McClure told Stockhead.
“Because the results have been so successful and we see something that is particularly attractive from an underground mining point of view, we’re moving full steam ahead.
“Rather than waiting for the drill out to complete, we’ve already engaged H&S Consultants to advise us further on the drill out and preliminary work on the resource assessment, and also we’ve obviously commissioned already for the Scoping Study.
“We’ve got so much confidence in the drilling to date and what we expect to come out in the coming months, we’ve decided to move rapidly with the concept. This is a potential gamechanger for the company.”
Silver Mines’ (ASX:SVL) Bowdens project in NSW is the largest undeveloped silver deposit in Australia.
The company is already in the final stages of development approval for a 2-million-tonne-per-annum open pit operation that would have an initial mine life of 16.5 years producing about 66 million ounces of silver, 130,000 tonnes of zinc and 95,000 tonnes of lead.
Mr McClure said the Scoping Study is separate to and does not affect the current late-stage approval processes for the Bowdens silver open-pit development.
But these further high-grade drill results at depth do further open up the potential for Silver Mines to eventually take the mine underground.
The Northwest Zone starts about 30m below the base of the proposed open pit and so far, is up to 20m thick, 200m wide and continues down plunge for at least 300m. But it’s not closed off, meaning Silver Mines hasn’t yet hit the edges of this potentially very big system.
The Aegean Zone, meanwhile, is located below the Main Zone, and is so far only defined over 170m of strike. It is some 50m wide and ranges from 2m to 8m thickness.
Four drill rigs are spinning, with drilling expected to run through until at least the end of this year to prove the continuity between the Northwest High-Grade and Aegean zones.
The resource assessment and Scoping Study are slated for completion in the March quarter of 2022, once the current expanded drilling program is completed.
“Assuming the ongoing success of the current drilling, the mineral resource assessment and the Scoping Study, we would then look to do a potential feasibility study and other assessments for a potential underground development,” Mr McClure said.
This article was developed in collaboration with Silver 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.