Marathon Gold hits more high-grade intercepts in Newfoundland

Marathon Gold geologists examining quartz-tourmaline-pyrite-VG veining at the Frank zone at Valentine Lake. Credit: Marathon Gold.

Infill drilling in the southwestern part of the Marathon deposit in Newfoundland continues to return high-grade gold intercepts, Marathon Gold (TSX: MOZ) reports.

The company recently completed its 41,000-metre step-out and infill drill program for 2018, and assays include 5.36 grams gold over 11 metres from 26 metres below surface in hole MA-18-330; 3.63 grams gold over 10 metres from 134 metres downhole in MA-18-323; and 18.40 grams gold over 6 metres from 99 metres downhole in MA-18-334.

Marathon says its 2018 drill program has been successful in upgrading inferred resources to the measured and indicated categories and discovering new zones of high-grade gold for further drilling within the pit shells.

The drill plan next year will focus primarily on expanding open pit resources at the Marathon deposit and the Sprite Zone as well as infill drilling to reduce the amount of inferred resources in the pit shells.

Marathon’s Valentine Lake gold camp has four known near-surface, mainly pit-constrained deposits with measured and indicated resources of 45.15 million tonnes grading 1.85 grams gold for 2.69 million ounces of contained gold and another 26.86 million inferred tonnes grading 1.77 grams gold for 1.53 million ounces of gold.

The lion’s share of resources are in the Marathon and Leprachaun deposits, which also contain resources below their pit shells, and both open to depth and on strike. Gold mineralization has been traced down over 350 metres vertically at Leprechaun and almost a kilometer at Marathon.

The four deposits found to date occur over a 20-km system of gold-bearing veins, and the company notes that there has been little detailed exploration on its 24,000-hectare property.

An updated preliminary economic assessment completed at the end of October envisioned developing the Valentine Lake gold camp by open-pit mining, with gold recovery a combination of a milling circuit and heap leaching. Gravity and flotation circuits would be used to leach the concentrate and tails. Initial production is estimated to start in 2022.

The study outlined initial capex of US$355 million and average annual production over an initial 12 years of 225,100 ounces of gold. Life-of-mine average cash costs are estimated to run to US$603 per oz. and all-in sustaining costs to US$666 per oz.

Based on a gold price of US$1,250 per oz., the PEA forecast an after-tax payback of two and a half years. Post-tax net present value and internal rate of return are estimated at US$493 million and 30%, respectively.

The updated PEA improves upon the May 2018 PEA as it is based on 20,000 more metres of drilling and the addition of 9,000 metallic screen assays, which were used to better measure the coarse gold that is common on the property.

The mine development plan excluded the Sprite deposit, which requires additional exploration drilling to increase its resource.

The company says the Marathon deposit has the potential to develop an underground mine but for now management believes it’s more cost-effective to find open-pit resources at US$10 per ounce rather than more costly underground resources.

Marathon Gold’s currently trade at $0.69 within a 52-week range of $0.65 and $1.28.

The company has about 160 million common shares outstanding for a market cap of $110 million.

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