COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) today provided an update of its exploration and drilling programs during the second quarter.
There were up to 21 drills operating at 5 mines in North America, with spending of $4.2 million, a $3.3 million reduction over the second quarter of 2018. Exploration activity is expected to decline to 12 drills in the third quarter as expenditures are reduced.
- High-grade lenses defined in the upper East Mine have a strike length of over 2,000 feet and may be added to the 2020 production plan.
- Underground drilling in the West Mine continues to define high-grade mineralization trends down-plunge, near the bottom of the mine and along strike.
- The large, potentially bulk-mineable area beneath the proposed 160 open pit continues to expand.
- Further consolidation of the Casa Berardi land position.
- Potential extension of oxide mine life through the new El Toro Vein with over 4,000 feet along strike and within 525 feet of surface.
- Confirmed and expanded the high-grade resources in the upper and central parts of the mine with the in-fill drilling that compares well in thickness and location to existing trends.
- Drilling in the southern part of the mine on the 200 South Zone is evaluating southern extensions to the mineralized trends.
- High-grade intersections at Spiral 2 at Fire Creek to be evaluated.
- Drilling in Spiral 4 confirmed mineralization along the margins of steeply dipping dikes.
- Surface drilling on Fire Creek and the Hatter Graben mineralization is underway.
- Several large outcrops of silicified vein material discovered east of Hatter Graben along trend.
“Because of the momentum of our exploration program, we have made a number of discoveries of higher-grade material that could impact mine plans next year and extend the mine lives, despite lower spending levels,” said Mr. Phillips S. Baker, Jr., President and CEO. “At Casa Berardi underground exploration has been successful on several fronts. In the newly accessed, historically high-grade East Mine, recent half ounce grade intersections have defined a series of lenses over a long strike length. Some of those lenses appear to have potential for bulk mining. Drilling has also defined high-grade extensions in the West Mine. In Mexico, the discovery of additional mineralization on the newly discovered El Toro Vein could extend oxide production. The future of Greens Creek remains bright as we continue to find high-grade mineralization and upgrade resources.”
Casa Berardi – Quebec
During the second quarter, up to six underground drills were used in the East and West mine areas with the goal of upgrading and expanding resources in several promising areas and potentially extending the underground mine production (Figure 1). Up to three surface drills completed in-fill and exploration drilling at the high-grade 128 Zone at depth of the Principal Pit and extensions to the West Mine Crown Pillar (WMCP) to the west and the eastern potential of the 160 Pit.
The East Mine has a history of high-grade mine production. Since access has been re-established in the last six months, underground drilling confirmed and expanded a series of high-grade lenses from the 148 to 160 zones. Recent drill intersections in the 148 Zone include 0.45 oz/ton gold over 16.1 feet, 0.65 oz/ton gold over 22.3 feet and 0.63 oz/ton gold over 26.6 feet (Figure 2). Drill intersections in the last couple of weeks continue to show quartz veins with some visible gold grains that suggest the lenses remain open at depth. Exploration drilling of the 152 Zone is evaluating the down-plunge potential of the area between the 148 and 160 zones. A series of steeply plunging, high-grade lenses were defined by recent intersections of 0.50 oz/ton gold over 5.9 feet, 0.48 oz/ton gold over 2.8 feet and 0.37 oz/ton gold over 9.8 feet. Results of this drilling suggest the lenses are en echelon (along strike and down-dip) and may represent a series of zones similar to what has been observed in the 123 Zone.
Definition drilling continues in the upper part of the East Mine and has defined multiple lenses that include discrete quartz veins and massive sulfide styles of mineralization that contain good gold grades. Recent intersections in the 160 Zone include 0.67 oz/ton over 7.2 feet, and 0.42 oz/t gold over 4.8 feet and suggest mineralization is steeply plunging to the west and at depth. Exploration drilling east of the 160 Pit has intersected mineralization that may extend the resource to the east.
Drilling at depth in the Principal area of the West Mine focused on the western extension of the 118 Zone (Figure 3). This drilling has confirmed the continuity of multiple mineralized lenses to the west and at depth outside the current resource boundary. Recent intersections, including 0.25 oz/ton gold over 9.8 feet and 0.19 oz/ton gold over 9.3 feet, suggest an extension of the resources over 400 feet below the 1200-level at depth and to the west. There is potential at depth for the 113 Zone to intersect or link with the 118 Zone to the east. In the lower part of the 123 Zone, in-fill and step-out drilling from the 1010 and 1030-levels to the west shows the continuity of high-grade mineralization down-plunge for over 400 feet and remains open to the west and at depth. Recent intersections include 0.35 oz/ton gold over 32.0 feet. In the Upper Principal Zone of the mine, drilling from the 290-level confirmed the upward extension of the 124 Zone with an intersection of 0.25 oz/ton over 6.9 feet.
Drilling from surface below the proposed Principal Pit in the 128 Zone has defined a series of high-grade, steeply plunging lenses south of the Casa Berardi Fault that have been defined vertically for over 600 feet and extend from surface to below the 290 Level. These drill holes contain quartz veining with sulfides and localized visible gold. Recent drill intersections include assay intervals of 0.78 oz/ton gold over 7.9 feet and 1.15 oz/ton gold over 5.6 feet (Figure 3). Step-out drilling suggests the high-grade mineralization is open at depth to the west and near-surface to the east.
A small surface drill program at the WMCP, included an intersection of 0.03 oz/ton gold over 68.9 feet that shows mineralization extends west of the current WMCP Pit. Within these broad mineralized zones there are higher-grade intervals including 0.19 oz/ton gold over 8.5 feet and 0.26 oz/ton gold over 3.3 feet. This drilling is part of an update of resources and pit optimizations of the series of pits across the Casa Berardi property (Figure 4). During the third quarter, drilling is planned in the Principal area and East Mine to follow on the recent successes below the proposed open pits. In the fourth quarter, exploration is planned to evaluate the west down-plunge of the lower 118 Zone and the depth extensions of the 128 and 148 zones.
The purchase of the Dieppe Claims to the west of the Casa Berardi Mine from Agnico Eagle Mines has been concluded. The Dieppe East Block consists of eight claims that cover 219.0 hectares (0.85 square miles) and the Dieppe West Block consists of 44 claims for 1,836.44 hectares (7.1 square miles) for a total of 52 claims for 2,055.47 hectares (7.9 square miles) (Figure 5). This acquisition is important because it will add another 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to the Casa Berardi deformation corridor that is the loci of many orebodies.
More complete drill assay highlights from Casa Berardi can be found in Table A at the end of the release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available by copying and pasting the following URL into your Internet browser: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q2-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.
San Sebastian – Mexico
During the quarter, one underground and two surface core drill rigs at San Sebastian successfully added new mineralization to the Middle and El Toro veins, respectively, potentially adding oxide mine life to San Sebastian. One reverse circulation (RC) drill continued to define promising near-surface targets in the El Toro area (Figure 6).
The El Toro Vein is located approximately 1.2 miles southwest of the San Sebastián Mine. Near-surface mineralization has been defined by core drilling for over 4,000 feet along strike and from surface to 525 feet of depth (Figure 7). During the quarter, drilling was focused primarily on the central portion of the El Toro Vein where mineralization was extended significantly at depth. Recent high-grade intersections include 28.1 oz/ton silver and 0.37 oz/ton gold over 7.9 feet, 12.8 oz/ton silver and 0.06 oz/ton gold over 4.9 feet, and 7.6 oz/ton silver and 0.11 oz/ton gold over 11.2 feet.
The El Toro Hanging Wall Vein is oriented northeast-southwest (Figure 6) and intersects the El Toro Vein in the widest and highest-grade portion of both structures. There are wider vein intercepts (up to 30 feet wide) in the intersection area that include significant intervals of higher-grade mineralization, including 18.1 oz/ton silver and 0.08 oz/ton gold over 3.8 feet, 10.6 oz/ton silver and 0.05 oz/ton gold over 5.8 feet, and 8.8 oz/ton silver and 0.03 oz/ton gold over 4.8 feet. To date, mineralization with over 650 feet of strike length has been identified at the El Toro Hanging Wall Vein, and the vein remains open to the southwest. In cross section (Figure 8), the El Toro and El Toro Hanging Wall veins appear to merge, with the El Toro Vein continuing to depth. Preliminary engineering studies have begun to evaluate the potential of both open pit and underground mining options at El Toro and drilling in this area is planned to continue through the third quarter.
More complete drill assay highlights from San Sebastian can be found in Table A at the end of this release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available by copying and pasting the following URL address into your Internet browser: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q2-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.
Greens Creek – Alaska
At Greens Creek, drilling in the second quarter and strong assay results from previous drilling have upgraded and expanded the NWW, 9A, East Ore zones resources (Figure 9). In the East Ore Zone, drill intersections targeted over 200 feet along the central portion of the resource confirmed mineralization. Strong assay results included 21.57 oz/ton silver, 0.25 oz/ton gold, 8.44% zinc and 2.59% lead over 16.2 feet and 64.09 oz/ton silver, 0.18 oz/ton gold, 8.08% zinc and 2.10% lead over 9.5 feet (Figure 10). Drilling is planned for the remainder of 2019 with the goal of continuing to upgrade this resource to the north.
Drilling continued at the southern-most and lower portions of the NWW Zone evaluating over 400 feet of strike length. Recent assay results include 40.00 oz/ton silver, 0.04 oz/ton gold, 29.07% zinc and 14.56% lead over 5.8 feet and 130.44 oz/ton silver, 0.28 oz/ton gold, 8.33% zinc and 5.2% lead over 1.4 feet (Figure 11). The drilling shows the mineralization is generally contained within argillites with a precious metal-rich zone identified west of the current resource and a base metal-rich zone (16-20% zinc) extending beyond the current resource. This drilling also shows a second band of mineralization that extends to the east of the current resource.
Definition drilling of the 9A Zone targeted 200 feet of strike length in the middle of the zone. Recent results included 29.41 oz/ton silver, 0.35 oz/ton gold, 8.88% zinc and 4.31% lead over 20.1 feet and 35.75 oz/ton silver, 0.37 oz/ton gold, 13.65% zinc and 6.76% lead over 10.0 feet. The 9A Zone is structurally complex and multiple drill holes intersected mineralization across several bands. A drill has moved to the M390 drift at the south end of the mine where exploration drilling is planned to evaluate three flat-lying, high-grade lenses that are folded to the west. Importantly, this drilling will evaluate the interaction of the 200 South Zone with the Gallagher Fault and could provide important information in the determination of Extralateral Rights.
Definition drilling for the remainder of 2019 is planned to focus on the East Ore, 200 South and 9A zones. Definition drilling of the Upper Plate has stopped but is expected to resume in the fourth quarter. Exploration drilling later in 2019 is planned to target the southern extension of the 200 South Zone and the Deep Southwest.
More complete drill assay highlights from Greens Creek can be found in Table A at the end of this release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available by copying and pasting the following URL address into your Internet browser: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q2-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.
Up to four drill rigs were used in the quarter at Fire Creek to further evaluate areas of Spiral 2, Spiral 4 and Spiral 9 for near-term production (Figure 12). High-grade intersections in Spiral 2 and Spiral 4 are being evaluated.
In-fill drilling in the lower part of Spiral 2 is being used for stope design and to look for splays between the Joyce and Vonnie veins to the south. Most of the high-grade intersections consisted of calcite/quartz breccias and stringers within argillic altered basalts that had good correlation with the resource model. The location of high-grade intersections such as 5.36 oz/ton gold over 2.2 feet (Vonnie), 1.39 oz/ton gold over 2.4 feet (Vonnie) and 1.16 oz/ton gold over 1.5 feet (Vein 40) are shown in Figure 13. Recent drilling has defined narrow, high-grade (0.30 to 0.40 oz/ton gold) veins in broader altered zones containing moderate grade material (0.10 to 0.20 oz/ton gold). In the third quarter additional drilling along the upper projections of these veins to determine their continuity is planned.
Drilling in the lower portions of Spiral 4 indicates that mineralization at the Joyce, Vonnie and Vein 06 is along the margins of multiple north-striking, steeply dipping dikes. Recent drilling focused on in-filling along the Joyce and Vonnie veins between the Spiral 2 and Spiral 4 areas (Figure 14). The quartz vein and breccia mineralization are consistent with the resource model and are characterized by thicker, lower-grade intercepts that include 0.20 oz/ton gold over 14.5 feet and 0.21 oz/ton gold over 18.2 feet. Higher grades, including an intersection of 0.51 oz/ton gold over 1.8 feet, are confined to increased quartz/carbonate veining or intense argillitic alteration within the Joyce structure.
Drilling of Vein 79 and Vein 75 at Spiral 4 appears to define semi-continuous calcite/quartz veining in structural zones that show higher grades than predicted. Recent drill intersections include 1.64 oz/ton gold over 3.6 feet (Vein 75), 0.35 oz/ton gold over 9.0 feet (Vein 75) and 1.41 oz/ton gold over 0.8 feet (Vein 79). In general, results in this area were consistent with grades in the resource model and could be incorporated into the LOM plan. Drilling also intersected Vein 21 (0.21 oz/ton gold over 3 feet and 0.11 oz/ton gold over 4.5 feet) farther to the south than previously modeled.
Drilling targeting the upper, southern portion of the resource on Vein 24 in the Spiral 9 area is planned to provide geotechnical and hydrological information and samples for metallurgical test work. The focus of the remaining Fire Creek drilling for the year is on upper projections of veins in Spiral 2 and Spiral 9.
Early in the quarter two drill rigs at Hollister focused on definition drilling at West Gloria and in Central Hollister at the 5190 Pump Chamber and a third rig was advancing the geotechnical drilling in the Hatter Graben decline (Figure 15). The definition drilling programs were completed in June and the drills were removed. Drilling continues with one drill completing a geotechnical hole in the Hatter Graben decline.
At West Gloria, the drilling from the end of the 5265-level targeted down-dip extensions of the Gloria Veins to the west and north. Recent intersections of the Gloria Vein below the 5265-level include 196.4 oz/ton of silver over 3.4 feet and 0.49 oz/ton gold and 0.8 oz/ton silver over 0.6 feet (Figure 16). Additional drilling will be required to determine continuity of the localized high-grade mineralization.
A 1,500-foot geotechnical hole in the Hatter Graben decline was completed (Figure 15) and has provided information concerning faults and identified mineralized veins that have a similar orientation to the Hatter Graben veins to the east past the Clementine Fault. Surface drilling of the Hatter Graben is expected to begin soon. The two surface exploration drill holes are designed to test the eastern strike of the veins where they may be offset to the north. Part of the recent field reconnaissance program was spent examining surface silicification in the southeastern part of the Hollister claim block. The most interesting observation from this preliminary field review was the discovery of an east-west striking, steeply dipping, two-meter-wide, high-level vein structure or intensely silicified dike hosted in intensely silicified Ordovician rocks (Figure 17). This structure is located on strike 1.3 miles east of the eastern end of the known Hatter Graben veins and could represent the upper levels of a significant vein at depth and additional detailed mapping and sampling is needed in the area.
More complete drill assay highlights from Nevada (Fire Creek and Hollister) can be found in Table A at the end of this release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available by copying and pasting the following URL address into your Internet browser: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q2-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.
Founded in 1891, Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) is a leading low-cost U.S. silver producer with operating mines in Alaska, Idaho and Mexico, and is a growing gold producer with operating mines in Quebec, Canada and Nevada. The Company also has exploration and pre-development properties in eight world-class silver and gold mining districts in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward Looking Statements
Statements made or information provided in this news release that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities laws. Words such as “may”, “will”, “should”, “expects”, “intends”, “projects”, “believes”, “estimates”, “targets”, “anticipates” and similar expressions are used to identify these forward-looking statements. The material factors or assumptions used to develop such forward-looking statements or forward-looking information include that the Company’s plans for development and production will proceed as expected and will not require revision as a result of risks or uncertainties, whether known, unknown or unanticipated, to which the Company’s operations are subject.
Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, anticipated, expected or implied. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, metals price volatility, volatility of metals production and costs, litigation, regulatory and environmental risks, operating risks, project development risks, political risks, labor issues, ability to raise financing and exploration risks and results. Refer to the Company’s Form 10K and 10-Q reports for a more detailed discussion of risk factors that may impact expected future results. The Company undertakes no obligation and has no intention of updating forward-looking statements other than as may be required by law.
Cautionary Statements to Investors on Reserves and Resources
Reporting requirements in the United States for disclosure of mineral properties are governed by the SEC and included in the SEC’s Securities Act Industry Guide 7, entitled “Description of Property by Issuers Engaged or to be Engaged in Significant Mining Operations” (Guide 7). Although the SEC has recently issued new rules rescinding Guide 7, the new rules are not binding until January 1, 2021, and at this time the Company still reports in accordance with Guide 7. However, the Company is also a “reporting issuer” under Canadian securities laws, which require estimates of mineral resources and reserves to be prepared in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101). NI 43-101 requires all disclosure of estimates of potential mineral resources and reserves to be disclosed in accordance with its requirements. Such Canadian information is included herein to satisfy the Company’s “public disclosure” obligations under Regulation FD of the SEC and to provide U.S. holders with ready access to information publicly available in Canada.
Reporting requirements in the United States for disclosure of mineral properties under Guide 7 and the requirements in Canada under NI 43-101 standards are substantially different. This document contains a summary of certain estimates of the Company, not only of proven and probable reserves within the meaning of Guide 7, but also of mineral resource and mineral reserve estimates estimated in accordance with the definitional standards of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum referred to in NI 43-101. Under Guide 7, the term “reserve” means that part of a mineral deposit that can be economically and legally extracted or produced at the time of the reserve determination. The term “economically”, as used in the definition of reserve, means that profitable extraction or production has been established or analytically demonstrated to be viable and justifiable under reasonable investment and market assumptions. The term “legally”, as used in the definition of reserve, does not imply that all permits needed for mining and processing have been obtained or that other legal issues have been completely resolved. However, for a reserve to exist, Hecla must have a justifiable expectation, based on applicable laws and regulations, that issuance of permits or resolution of legal issues necessary for mining and processing at a particular deposit will be accomplished in the ordinary course and in a timeframe consistent with Hecla’s current mine plans. The terms “measured resources”, “indicated resources,” and “inferred resources” are Canadian mining terms as defined in accordance with NI 43-101. These terms are not defined under Guide 7 and are not normally permitted to be used in reports and registration statements filed with the SEC in the United States, except where required to be disclosed by foreign law. The term “resource” does not equate to the term “reserve”. Under Guide 7, the material described herein as “indicated resources” and “measured resources” would be characterized as “mineralized material” and is permitted to be disclosed in tonnage and grade only, not ounces. The category of “inferred resources” is not recognized by Guide 7. Investors are cautioned not to assume that any part or all of the mineral deposits in such categories will ever be converted into proven or probable reserves.