Twin scoops at Lac Herbin
What is the saying about experience? It only comes with age?
Although Alexis Minerals is the new kid on the block, having been
formed in 2003, it is proving the expression wrong. This is one junior
company that is giving the big boys a run for their money.
Alexis Minerals Corporation has interests in more than 1,035
square kilometres of property in the Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or
mining camps. It is partnering with major companies such as
Xstrata, conducting extensive surface and underground exploration
in search of gold and base metal
deposits, and has recently purchased
the 1,400 tonne per day Aurbel gold
mill. Currently under development are two gold projects – Lac
Herbin in Val d’Or and Lac Pelletier in Rouyn-Noranda. David
Rigg, president and CEO of Alexis Minerals, spoke to us about
this exciting time for the company.
CIM: What’s in the cards for Lac Herbin this coming year?
DR: We started a $12.8 million three-phase program of underground
exploration at Lac Herbin in September 2005. The program
consists of a 1.4-kilometre ramp at 15 per cent, 550 metres
of drifting on the 165-metre and 200-metre levels, and 28,000
metres of underground drilling, which leads to a bulk sampling
program that will generate
a 17,000-tonne bulk
sample in October 2006.
Lac Herbin will then be
the focus of a feasibility
study with the objective
of reaching a go-ahead
production decision in
early 2007. The Aurbel
gold mill forms the centre
of the Alexis Gold strategy.
If all goes well, the
mill should be in operation
by the third quarter
of 2007, in time for the
commencement of commercial
operation of the Herbin underground mine. Herbin can
produce approximately 700 tonnes per day, and Alexis will offer
custom milling services with its available milling capacity
CIM: Meanwhile, what will be the 2007 focus for Lac Pelletier?
DR: Alexis purchased the Pelletier property in Rouyn-Noranda
in September 2005, with an earn-in agreement that would
allow the Pelletier mine to enter operation in 2008 to supplement
Lac Herbin mill feed. Lac Pelletier was subject to an
underground program in the early 1990s and has ramp access
to two levels developed in the known resource area. The original
120,000 ounce acquisition is far more robust than initially
imagined. An eight-month detailed compilation of historical
work on the project area, combined with a new geological
model of the deposit, has allowed establishment of over
320,000 ounces of gold in resources accessed from the old
ramp. Recent exploration drilling from a barge on Lac Pelletier
has proven the model and also shown that much is still to be
learned with zones remaining open to expansion, not just
down dip and down plunge, but also up dip towards surface
trenching to the west of the ramp. We are sure the resource
will continue to grow.
Lac Pelletier will be advanced during 2007 through exploration
and engineering studies towards a production decision later in
2007. Cash flows from Herbin will pay for dewatering and pre-production
development at Lac Pelletier with Pelletier commercial
production scheduled in the second quarter of 2008. Combined,
the two projects should allow Alexis to attain approximately
55,000 ounces of gold per year—35,000 ounces from Herbin and
20,000 ounces from Pelletier.
CIM: When will the delineation drilling on the recently discovered vein environments at Lac Herbin wrap up? Is exploration drilling on these veins scheduled to begin soon?
DR: Delineation drilling will be completed by mid-October, with
exploration drilling continuing until at least the end of the year.An
underground program certainly focuses on known resource areas,
in order to develop the delineated resource/reserve and support
the production decision. It also leads to a huge increase in understanding
of the geology and controls of mineralization. This is the
case with the current program.We have upwards of 11 exploration
targets in the immediate vicinity of the deposit that require testing
and could significantly enhance the immediate potential of
this area. These are the targets we want to focus on after delineation
drilling is completed.
CIM: When are the feasibility studies scheduled to begin on the hangingwall and S1W zones at Lac Herbin?
DR: Several aspects of the study are in progress—environmental
studies, rock mechanics, metallurgy, engineering of mill rehabilitation,
and resource calculation. Mine planning and engineering for
pre-production development are just commencing.Completion of
bulk sampling and mill testing on this material is only a month
away; I expect it to confirm our mine grade. Both zones will contribute
significantly to production with startup scheduled for the
third quarter of 2007.