Infill drilling at Skeena Resources’ (TSX: SKE; US-OTC: SKREF) past-producing gold-silver Eskay Creek project in the Golden Triangle of northwestern B.C. hit high-grade mineralization at surface within the 22 Zone resource pit.
Drill highlights from the 22 Zone included 26.3 metres of 3.05 grams gold per tonne and 221 grams silver per tonne (6 grams gold-equivalent per tonne) and 14.5 metres of 4.44 grams gold per tonne and 228 grams silver per tonne (7.48 grams gold-equivalent per tonne).
The 26.3-metre intercept started at surface, is from the southeastern portion of the 22 Zone, in an area previously classified as waste, and includes higher-grade sub-intervals. In the 2019 resource estimate, inferred mineralization estimated in this portion of the 22 Zone was based on widely spaced historical drilling. Two holes completed up-dip of this discovery intercept confirm the presence of mineralization in this area.
“This new discovery within the pit-constrained 22 Zone resource model was originally considered an area of unmineralized waste due to a lack of drilling and as such was not incorporated into Skeena’s 2019 PEA (preliminary economic assessment),” Paul Geddes, Skeena’s VP of exploration and resource development, said in a press release. “The grade and location of these recent intersections are expected to translate into additional resources when the 2020 drilling data is incorporated into the new resource model during Q1 2021.”
Additional infill intercepts from the 21 B and C zones included 29.4 metres of 3.23 grams gold and 9 grams silver (3.35 grams gold-equivalent) and 28.7 metres of 5.34 grams gold and 7 grams silver (5.44 grams gold-equivalent).
In addition to the infill results, Skeena provided assays from the Tom MacKay zone, 2.5 km southwest of the Eskay Creek deposits, from a near-surface, historical gold-silver occurrence, where it completed nine surface holes. This initial program hit replacement-style mineralization; intercepts included 10.5 metres of 4.99 grams gold and 5 grams silver (5.05 grams gold-equivalent) and 14.5 metres of 2.02 grams gold and 14 grams silver (2.21 grams gold-equivalent).
Infill drilling at Eskay Creek is ongoing with six rigs to upgrade resources for an upcoming pre-feasibility (PFS) – expected in the second quarter of 2021. Once the infill program is completed, the drills are scheduled to start a 5,000-metre program testing near-mine targets. All of the infill drilling is expected to be included in the first-quarter resource update.
At the end of 2019, Skeena released the results of a PEA on Eskay Creek, which outlined an open pit mine producing an average of 306,000 gold-equivalent oz. annually at all-in sustaining costs of US$757 per oz. The associated net present value estimate, at a 5% discount rate, came in at $638 million with a 51% internal rate of return, based on US$1,325 per oz. gold and US$16 per oz. silver.
Current open-pit resources for Eskay include 12.7 million indicated tonnes at 4.3 grams gold and 110 grams silver for a total of 1.7 million oz. of gold and 44.7 million oz. of silver. Additional inferred pit resources total 14.4 million tonnes at 2.3 grams gold and 47 grams silver for 1.1 million gold oz. and 21.7 million silver ounces.
Mining analyst Craig Stanley of Raymond James has a ‘strong buy’ rating on Skeena and a $4.35 price target on the stock, and Michael Pettingell, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity has a ‘speculative buy’ rating and $5.00 per share target price.
At presstime in Toronto the company was trading at $3.32 per share within a 52-week trading range of $0.50 and $3.62 per share. With about 217 million common shares outstanding, Skeena’s market cap is just over $719 million.
This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal, part of Glacier Resource Innovation Group.