Harte Gold’s (TSX: HRT) Sugar Zone mine is 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 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 20,000-24,000 oz. gold, increasing to 60,000-65,000 oz. in 2021.
Harte is also transitioning to owner-operator mining from contract mining services, with the changeover expected to be completed in 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 restart, Harte is evaluating a mill expansion to 1,200-tonnes per day, up from the current 800-tonnes per day 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 oz. gold at all-in sustaining costs of US$1,951 per oz., with an average daily processing throughput of 575-tonnes per day.
Harte wholly owns the 793-sq.-km Sugar Zone mine, 80 km east of the Hemlo gold camp. The underground operation began commercial production in January 2019.