Since its official mine opening on Oct. 24, Harte Gold (TSX: HRT; US-OTC: HRTFF) has finished commissioning its process plant and says it is on schedule to declare commercial production by the end of December at its Sugar Zone mine.
Mill throughput at Ontario’s newest gold producer has reached the initial target rate of 575 tonnes per day, and the tailings management facility and paste fill plant will be finished in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, in November, the first production blast was completed and underground stope production has begun.
“Stephen has done a fabulous job with this mine, and I’ve invested in all three of his mines,” long-time investor Jennifer Jackson said of Harte Gold’s president and CEO, Stephen Roman, referring to Gold Eagle, which was sold to Goldcorp (TSX: G; NYSE: GG), Belo Sun Mining’s (TSX: BSX)Volta Grande project, and now, Sugar.
Before Jackson’s investments, Roman also built the Black Fox mine, now owned by McEwen Mining (TSX: MUX; NYSE: MUX).
“I didn’t want to invest in a gold company run by a finance guy, and I like the team, they’ve been together a long time,” Jackson told The Northern Miner during the mine’s opening ceremony last month in White River in Ontario’s Algoma district, east of Lake Superior.
Harte Gold is carrying out a 100,000-metre drill program on near-mine and exploration targets, and the results will fold into an updated resource estimate and mine plan targeted for 2019.
Deep drilling below the Sugar Zone is also underway to test down-dip mineralization. The deeper drilling is 1,500 metres below surface and 500 metres below the mine’s current inferred mineral resource.
Exploration on the Sugar Zone property includes 838.5 sq. km encompassing a significant greenstone belt, and Jackson has faith Roman can find more gold there.
“Stephen can find gold with an Ouija stick,” she said.
Sugar has an indicated resource of 2.61 million tonnes grading 8.52 grams gold per tonne for 714,200 contained oz. gold, and an inferred resource of 3.59 million tonnes grading 6.59 grams gold for 760,800 oz. gold.
Harte Gold plans to apply in the first quarter of 2019 to increase its permits for underground mining and mill processing rates, which sit at 550 tonnes per day and 575 tonnes per day, to 800 tonnes per day.
The company intends to complete a feasibility study in the first three months of 2019.
In terms of its balance sheet, Harte Gold raised $6.95 million in a flow-through private placement that closed on Oct. 31. During the third quarter, it also bought down the royalty on the Sugar Zone property from 3.5% to 2%.
Sugar is the province’s first high-grade gold mine built in over a decade, and, based on estimates, could run for 12 years and recover 904,000 oz. gold.
“When I was asked by my friend George Onuska in the fall of 2008, 10 years ago at this time, to look at a company called Harte Gold and try to resurrect it from the abyss, I decided to take on the challenge,” Roman told guests assembled outside the mill. “With my initial team of George Flach, Tim Campbell and Rein Lehari, we saved the property and consolidated it under Harte Gold, and moved forward with an aggressive and unrelenting plan to explore and develop an economic gold deposit and build a new mine that would revitalize White River, Horne Payne and its surrounding communities.
“In 2009, we engaged with our First Nations partner, Pic Mobert, who has been with us all the way and provided Harte Gold management with tremendous support. The culmination of all our combined efforts is what you see here today: an efficient, clean and tidy mining operation that will create hundreds of new jobs and provide countless benefits to the region and province of Ontario. It has been a team effort getting here. We have a tremendous team of creative individuals who made this project a reality.”