From early financing to final permitting, nothing about advancing the Sugar Zone project in northern Ontario to production has been easy or expedient. So the opening of the mine in October – the province’s first high-grade gold mine in a decade – was especially poignant for Harte Gold’s management and employees.
The operation near White River is expected to produce less than 50,000 ounces in 2019 but annual production will grow to 75,000 ounces by 2020 and average 106,000 ounces from then on as throughput expands. By mid-November, mill throughput had reached the initial target of 575 tonnes per day (tpd) and Harte expected it would reach commercial production and complete the tailings management facility and paste fill plant by the end of 2018.
Harte and former partner Corona Gold began exploring Sugar Zone 20 years ago, just after the Bre-X scandal decimated the junior mining market. They spent a decade outlining an NI 43-101 compliant, high-grade resource of almost one million tonnes grading about 10 grams per tonne (gpt) gold. But the project had trouble gaining traction.
In 2009, Stephen G. Roman – son of the late mining legend and Denison Mines founder Stephen B. Roman – took over management of Harte and began getting the company’s financial house in order. In March of 2010, Harte was given approval to buy the Corona’s 51 per cent stake in the Sugar Zone property.
By early 2011, the company had enough funds to begin a 10,000-metre drilling campaign, and in May the next year, with gold surging above US$1,600 an ounce, Harte released preliminary economic assessment for the project. It proposed a 750-tpd operation that would produce 66,000 ounces annually over six years.
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