McEwen fo­cused on Fox mine life

COO speaks to busi­ness au­di­ence in Tim­mins about ag­gres­sive ex­plo­ration plans at Black Fox

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - RON GRECH

The com­pany that owns the Black Fox mine east of Tim­mins is ap­ply­ing the same method­ol­ogy that helped ex­tend the op­er­at­ing life of Kirk­land Lake Gold.

Chris Ste­wart, pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of McEwen Min­ing, was the guest speaker at a Tim­mins Cham­ber of Com­merce lun­cheon Thurs­day where he pro­vided an over­view of the com­pany’s op­er­a­tions.

Ste­wart, who was pre­vi­ously vice- pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions with Kirk­land Lake Gold, came on board with McEwen last Au­gust.

The Black Fox prop­erty in Black River- Math­e­son was pur­chased from Primero Min­ing in Oc­to­ber 2017 for $ 35 mil­lion.

At the time it was a money- los­ing op­er­a­tion with a year and a half of pre­dicted life­span.

McEwen wasted no time with ex­plo­ration drilling.

Ste­wart spoke about five dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties that have min­ing po­ten­tial, but the McEwen’s fo­cus has been on two of them.

McEwen spent $ 18 mil­lion in ex­plo­ration on the Black Fox and ad­ja­cent Stock prop­erty in 2018 and have com­mit­ted an­other $ 20 mil­lion for this year.

“We’re com­ing in at just over 48,000 ounces for 2018 ( from the un­der­ground Black Fox mine) so our fo­cus, we need to grow the re­source and in­crease mine life,” said Ste­wart. “Right now we’re sit­ting with a year and a half, prior to my ar­rival … That’s why our fo­cus is re­ally on ex­plo­ration and drilling this de­posit be­cause we know there’s gold there, we just don’t know ex­actly where it is.”

With the strong fo­cus right now on ex­plo­ration, Ste­wart an­tic­i­pates “sim­i­lar gold pro­duc­tion in 2019 as we did in 2018” from the Black Fox min­ing op­er­a­tion.

“Last year, we did a very suc­cess­ful ex­plo­ration pro­gram and we’re tak­ing that data and putting it into the re­source data­base and ba­si­cally build­ing out now what we have so we can build that into the mine plan and hope­fully see an ex­ten­sion in the mine life just based on 2018 work. And then again, we’re in­vest­ing $ 20 mil­lion more this year to build that out, hope­fully a cou­ple more years of mine life com­ing out of that.”

Ste­wart said their mine plan will be pre­sented to the board of di­rec­tors in Fe­bru­ary.

Both Ste­wart and com­pany chair­man Robert McEwen have a track record of reignit­ing min­ing op­er­a­tions and ex­tend­ing their life­span.

“No dif­fer­ent from when I got to Kirk­land Lake Gold and they had 1,350 peo­ple work­ing there,” Ste­wart re­called. “When I left, we were down to about 900 but that op­er­a­tion is now hugely suc­cess­ful and is go­ing to run for many, many years.

“My in­ter­est in Black Fox and the Tim­mins camp is es­sen­tially the same thing. I didn’t want to see 260 peo­ple work for an­other year and then work stop. I’d rather have 210 peo­ple work for the next 20 years, if that’s what it is go­ing to be.

“I think we can step back, make a bit of money, in­vest that and then start to grow this and start adding peo­ple back in a more re­spon­si­ble fash­ion. So that’s kind of our fo­cus at Black Fox right now.”

RON GRECH/ THE DAILY PRESS

Chris Ste­wart, pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of McEwen Min­ing, spoke to a busi­ness au­di­ence in Tim­mins Thurs­day, pro­vid­ing an over­view of his com­pa­nyís op­er­a­tions with an em­pha­sis on the Black Fox min­ing com­plex in Black River- Math­e­son. The com­pany also has min­ing op­er­a­tions in Nevada, Mex­ico and Ar­gentina.

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