The more Probe Mines (TSXV: PRB; US-OTC: PROBF) drills out its Borden Gold project near Chapleau, Ont., the more it looks like it may have Ontario’s next big gold deposit on its hands.
The company released results from 29 diamond drill holes, 10 of which were infill drill holes from its recently discovered High Grade zone (HGZ).
The holes confirmed the continuity of HGZ, with a highlight intercept from one hole of 44.4 metres grading 4 grams gold, 100 metres southeast of that hole. Another hole cut 41 metres assaying 5.1 grams gold, including 11.6 metres at 15.1 grams gold.
In an interview with The Northern Miner, Probe CEO and president David Palmer spoke not only of the zone’s impressive grades, but also of its continuity and consistent zonation.
“It makes for an easier mine plan, and it makes for easier metallurgy and processing,” Palmer says. “We can do it all around a consistent deposit, which is a more cost-effective development.”
Part of what makes the zone consistent is that the High Grade zone has an even higher-grade zone within it. That means that in a future mining scenario, the company would have the option to bulk mine the broader High Grade zone, but also mine more selectively from the higher-grade core, depending on the mill’s needs.
“It allows for adjusting on different days,” Probe’s chief operating officer Mike Petrina adds. “So when the mill is humming along a bit better — say if it can get through 3,500 tonnes per day — then mining the higher-grade core is an easy way to get more cheap ounces.”
But the size of the higher-grade inner core and broader HGZ is anyone’s guess.
The most recent drilling at HGZ had the drill rigs close to the shore of Borden Lake, where the zone trends beneath. Palmer says the rigs will test the structure underneath the Lake after the winter freeze sets in, likely in January.
There are another 800 metres of strike length that can be drill tested before rigs would run into the other side of the shore, where several cottages are located.
So far Probe has outlined 950 metres of strike length at HGZ, and that amount joins up with the 2 km of strike length from the original discovery, which is a lower-grade, bulk-tonnage deposit that extends northwest of the HGZ.
In total, the company has outlined close to 3 km of continuous strike length.
The lower-grade zone also met with the drill bit in the latest drill program. Infill drilling there proved up the bulk-tonnage potential of the deposit, with intervals ranging between 0.9 gram gold and 3.3 grams gold, including intercepts of 50 metres averaging 1.4 grams gold and 19 metres grading 2.2 grams gold.
Borden Lake’s pit-constrained resource estimate for the bulk-tonnage area stands at 37.6 million tonnes grading 1.64 grams gold for 1.98 million oz. It also has inferred resources of 6.4 million tonnes grading 1.77 grams gold for 361,000 oz.
However, since Probe has already put most of the tonnage into the inferred category, motivation to spend big dollars on a thorough drill program is on the wane.
Still, Palmer says there is one drill at the zone that is putting holes in an area to improve and upgrade higher-grade ore in a “surgical and specific” fashion.
“Even in the bulk-tonnage area, we see zonation with a higher-grade zone within a lower-grade envelope,” he says. “Infill drilling lets you highlight that core so that it starts to show more influence on the resource estimate.”
And while drilling will go into the updated resource estimate as well, investors are anticipating an estimate on HGZ the most. Palmer says the estimate should be out by year-end.
Until then, Probe won’t let poor market conditions rain on its parade. Palmer asserts that there are no exploration budget cuts being made, even with today’s tight capital markets.
In fact, the downturn in the industry is helping Probe on the cost side, as all-in drilling costs, including drilling and assaying, have fallen to $140 per metre from the previous $172.
That’s a 19% reduction in the last year and a half, and should ensure that the $38 million in its treasury will see it through the next two years, which includes a preliminary economic feasibility study.
Moving material onto a conveyor at Orbite Aluminae’s Grande-Vallée aluminous clay project in Gaspé, Quebec.
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