Wesdome discovers new gold zone at Kiena ahead of restart decision

Kiena mine complex. Credit: Wesdome Gold Mines

With a prefeasibility study (PFS) expected to be complete in the second quarter, gold miner Wesdome Gold Mines (TSX: WDO) has announced the discovery of a high-grade gold zone at its past-producing Kiena mine in the Val d’Or area of Quebec.

The latest discovery is in the footwall of the higher-grade Kiena Deep A zone. Drill highlights from this area include 22 metres of 11.9 g/t gold; 5.9 metres of 59.7 g/t gold; and 18 metres of 34.2 g/t gold. The mineralization is within 50 metres of the existing A2 zone and appears to be in an ultramafic host unit with “good geotechnical properties.”

The orientation and geometry of the new zone are not yet known, the area is interpreted to include two lenses that remain open.

In the press release, Duncan Middlemiss, Wesdome president and CEO, noted how this latest discovery is expected to positively impact existing resources, ounces defined per vertical metre (currently at 1,000 oz. a metre) and the economics of the project.

“Its early days with only a few holes, but this drilling highlights the potential to add ounces not only in this area but illustrates the untested potential of the entire gold system around the Kiena mine.”

The executive also added that final reconciliation results for a bulk sample are expected shortly, with positive initial results, both in terms of grades and tonnages. With the PFS expected to be completed in the coming months, Middlemiss expects the company to make a restart decision for the underground project shortly after.

“The pre-production timeframe is less than six months, potentially driving the Kiena Mine into commercial production in Q4 of this year.”

The producer has also released assay results from expansion drilling of the Kiena Deep A zone, reporting notable intercepts such as 24.2 metres of 46.2 g/t gold; 7.5 metres of 135.8 g/t gold; and 22.2 metres of 142.4 g/t gold. These are outside of the boundaries of the resource estimate reported in December.

Since the September close-out date for the December resource, Wesdome has drilled 35,000 metres. The company has recently shifted its focus to exploration from infill work.

In addition to follow-up drilling of this latest zone in the footwall, the gold producer plans to test the existing VC and B zones at depth – they would be accessible from the ramp. A surface exploration program is also ramping up.

The December resource outlined total indicated resources of 1.8 million tonnes at 13.8 g/t gold, that contain 795,900 gold oz. and 3.4 million inferred tonnes grading 6 g/t gold, for an additional 656,200 oz. The Kiena Deep A zone contributes 1.3 million indicated tonnes grading 17.5 g/t gold and 325,700 inferred tonnes at 11.5 g/t gold to the inventory.

In November, Wesdome restarted the 2,000 t/d Kiena mill. The 65-sq.-km Kiena complex has been on care and maintenance since 2013 and also includes a 930-metre shaft with a ramp system that extends down to 1,050 metres.

A May 2020 preliminary economic assessment on a restart of the mine outlined an eight-year operation, producing an average of 85,931 oz. gold annually at AISCs of $512 per oz with an initial capital cost estimate of C$35 million.

Between 1981 and 2013, Kiena generated 12.5 million tonnes grading 4.5 g/t gold.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)