Harte reopens Sugar Zone, plans August mill restart

Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone gold mine in northern Ontario. Image from Harte Gold.

Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone mine in Ontario is now back up and running, following a temporary shutdown at the end of March due to the covid-19 pandemic.

According to the company, longhole blasting and ore haulage rates underground are improving and development and backfill activities are meeting or exceeding expectations. With a mill restart planned for early August, Harte has built up a stockpile of feed for the plant.

As mining and processing activities ramp back up, the company has also provided production guidance: this year, it expects to deliver 20,000 oz. to 24,000 oz. of gold, increasing to 60,000 oz. to 65,000 oz. in 2021.

Sugar Zone churned out 8,597 gold oz. at all-in sustaining costs of $1,951 per oz. in Q1 2020

Harte is also transitioning to owner-operator mining from contract mining services, with the change-over expected to be completed over the coming months.

“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,” Sam Coetzer, the company’s president and CEO, said in a release.

“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.”

Beyond the re-start, Harte is evaluating a mill expansion to 1,200 t/d, up from the current 800 t/d nameplate capacity, with a feasibility study expected in the fourth quarter.

Grade control and extension drilling has also restarted at the Sugar Zone North and South areas, with 16,000 metres planned for 2020. Near-mine exploration drilling is expected by August, targeting extensions of near-mine mineralization as well as parallel structures and geophysical anomalies.

In the first quarter of this year, the Sugar Zone mine churned out 8,597 gold oz. at all-in sustaining costs of $1,951 per oz., with an average daily processing throughput of 575 t/d. Harte wholly owns the 793-sq.-km Sugar zone mine, 80 km east of the Hemlo gold camp. The underground operation achieved commercial production in January 2019.

Midday Wednesday, Harte’s stock was up 11% on the TSE. The company has a C$126 million market capitalization.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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