As SilverCrest Metals (TSX: SIL; NYSE: SILV) prepares to put its Las Chispas project in Sonora, Mexico into production by the second half of 2022, latest infill and expansion drill results suggest 1.3 km of strike continuity across the three veins in the Babicanora area.
The results included assays for 78 holes, totalling 29,308 metres of drilling, completed at the Babi Vista veins and splays, the Granaditas veins as well as at the adjacent hangingwall and footwall veins at Babicanora. Although the drilling was completed in areas with existing mineral resources and close to planned underground development, the Splay and Granaditas veins contain inferred resources that are outside of the mine plan outlined in the February 2021 feasibility. This study outlines underground development within 180 metres of high-grade intercepts from the Splay.
The results included 31 drillholes from the Splay and seven intercepts from the Granaditas 1 vein.
Highlights (in true widths) included 2.3 metres of 87.05 grams gold per tonne and 6,469.2 grams silver per tonne (14,034 grams silver-equivalent per tonne) from the Splay; 3.7 metres of 40.42 grams gold per tonne and 6,089.4 grams silver per tonne (9,602 grams silver-equivalent per tonne) from the Granaditas 1 vein; and 0.4 metres of 114 grams gold per tonne and 78,872 grams silver per tonne (88,779 grams silver-equivalent per tonne), also from the Granaditas 1 vein.
The 31 drillholes completed in the high-grade section of the Splay featured a true width estimated at 0.9 metres, grading 16.12 grams gold and 1,351.5 grams silver (2,752 grams silver-equivalent), while the Splay’s inferred resource currently stands at 211,363 tonnes grading 13 grams gold and 909.4 grams silver (2,039 grams silver-equivalent) with an estimated true width of 1.3 metres. Seven latest holes at the Granaditas 1 vein averaged out to a true width of 1.6 metres grading 19.24 grams gold and 5,095.1 grams silver (6,767 grams silver-equivalent), compared with the existing inferred resource of 63,157 tonnes grading 3.2 grams gold and 260 grams silver (538 grams silver-equivalent) with a true width of 0.6 metres.
Drilling has also discovered two new veins in the hangingwall and footwall of the Babi Vista and Splay veins and confirmed the southeast convergence of the Babi Vista, Splay and Granaditas veins.
“We are very encouraged by the results from the Babi Vista and Granaditas areas, including the Babi Vista Vein Splay, which support our goal to target potential resource conversion proximal to planned and existing underground workings,” CEO N. Eric Fier said in a news release. “Our systematic and aggressive approach to exploration continues to yield positive drill results in areas outside of the mine plan and further improves our knowledge of Las Chispas geology and mineralization.”
Fier added that the main goal of the company’s 2021 exploration program is growing the mineral inventory to optimize the economics of Las Chispas mine plan and support additional studies on potential throughput and mine life expansions.
Infill drilling at the Splay, 90% complete, is expected to wrap up by the end of the second quarter. Nine rigs (six surface drills at Las Chispas and three at the nearby Picacho property acquired in August) are turning at the company’s holdings.
Based on the February feasibility, Las Chispas could be an 8.5-year underground mine, producing an average of 5.2 million oz. of silver and 56,000 gold oz. annually (10 million oz. of silver-equivalent) at all-in sustaining costs of US$7.07 per oz. of silver-equivalent. The initial capital cost is estimated at US$137.7 million.
Only 15 of at least 45 known veins are included in the Las Chispas reserve.
In January, SilverCrest entered into a fixed price, turnkey US$76.5 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with Ausenco for the construction of a 1,250 tonne-per-day process plant; ramp up is expected in the second half of next year.