Skeena aimed the programme at the 21B, 21C and 21E Zones to convert openpit constrained resources to higher-confidence categories ahead of a resource update slated for release in the second quarter. The new resource statement will feed into an upcoming pre-feasibility study as the company works towards a development decision for the former Barrick Gold mine.
Skeena characterised results from the 21C Zone as "exceptional".
Among the highlights was an intercept of 58.5m grading 3.27 gram per tonne gold and 59g/t silver for 4.06g/t Au-eq. This intercept is 25m east of the previously reported 49.6m intersection of 7.17g/t Au and 146g/t Ag for 9.12g/t Au-eq.
At the 21E Zone highlight results included 40m grading 2.62g/t Au, 143g/t Ag for 4.53g/t Au-eq, including 1m grading 12.15g/t Au and 2,260g/t Ag for 42.28g/t Au-eq, and another intersection of 1.15m at 2.29g/t Au and 889g/t Ag for 14.14g/t Au-eq.
Early last month Skeena reported high-grade intersections at surface within the 22 Zone in the openpit.
Among the highlights were 26.3m at 3.05g/t Au and 221g/t Ag for 6g/t Au-eq, and 14.5m grading 4.44g/t Au and 228g/t Ag for 7.48g/t Au-eq. Skeena said in December results demonstrated the phase one infill programme continued to "verify the expected grades, thickness and continuity of mineralisation modelled in the 22 Zone".
Skeena said one drill rig was currently active at Eskay Creek to finalise a 5,000m near-mine exploration initiative.
It said recently metallurgical testwork in support of its PFS resulted in an improved process flow sheet that delivered better results than those contemplated in a 2019 preliminary economic assessment. It now includes a desliming stage to improve the flotation response for coarser material, resulting in the option of producing a higher gold concentrate grade and opportunities to reduce capex.
The PEA outlined initial capex of US$223 million, after-tax NPV of $491 million and IRR of 51%, for an 8.6-year mine producing an average annual 236,000 ounces of gold and 5.8 million ounces of silver, or 306,000oz gold-equivalent. The PEA was based on a $1,325/oz gold price and $16/oz for silver, well below current spot prices around $1,840/oz and $27/oz, respectively.
Skeena is also exploring its Snip project, another former mine in the province it acquired from Barrick.
Shares in the company (TSX:SKE) gained as much as 5.6% on Wednesday in Toronto, giving it a market cap of C$694 million (US$543 million).