November 2006

Alexis Minerals goes for the gold

By A. Nichiporuk

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 through 2007.

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.

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