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Pictured above: CLYNTON NAUMAN

Mining company eyes production by mid-2018

Alexco Resource Corp. wants to have its Keno Hill Silver District back in production by the middle of next year, says the company president.

By Chuck Tobin on April 19, 2017

Alexco Resource Corp. wants to have its Keno Hill Silver District back in production by the middle of next year, says the company president.

Clynton Nauman said Tuesday the company’s board of directors decided recently to begin developing its newest and highest-grade deposit, following the completion of an updated preliminary economic assessment of the Keno Hill project.

Achieving production by the summer of 2018 will largely depend on the ability to secure the necessary permits, he said.

Once the company goes back into production, Nauman said, it will remain in production for at least eight years, based on the plan approved by the board of directors.

“My whole aim here is to get back into production and keep it in production,” he said.

He emphasized he wants to avoid firing back up and then shutting down.

Shutting down unexpectedly, as was the case in 2013, is too hard on the workforce, Nauman added.

The discovery of the Bermingham deposit has made it possible to move forward with a mining plan that’s now able to withstand fluctuations in the price of silver because of Bermingham’s high grades, he explained.

“It’s a great project,” Nauman said of the eight-year plan.

“There is no doubt this project can compete with any in the world in terms of silver production.

“We have made a decision to initiate development moving toward production and we are currently in the permitting process.”

Alexco suspended mining at its Bellekeno deposit and milling at its Keno City mill in 2013 after two years of production amid a sharp decline in world silver prices.

In the years since, the company has continued its exploration work and proved up additional silver resources, Alexco points out in its announcement regarding its updated preliminary economic assessment.

The discovery of the Bermingham deposit has been described as a game changer. Its discovery is being credited to the persistence of a young geologist who convinced the company to do additional exploration on the deposit.

“Bermingham is the key to this whole thing,” Nauman said. “It’s a reasonable size and very high grade.”

Its grade, Nauman insisted, is head and shoulders above anything else in the world today.

He said the company has filed its proposal for an advanced exploration permit to construct a 650- metre decline at the Bermingham deposit.

The intent is to go underground this year to conduct more exploration drilling to tighten up the deposit profile, he explained.

“It’s so high-grade, our planning has to be precise.”

Once officials get approval for the advanced exploration work, Nauman said, they’ll immediately file the proposal for a mining permit.

Whether Alexco achieves its goal of being back in production in the summer of 2018 is dependent on the permitting process, he emphasized.

Nauman said the long-term mining plan is based primarily on the Bermingham and Flame and Moth deposits.

It’s expected approximately 260 to 270 tonnes of ore per day to feed the mill will come from the Flame and Moth deposit. Another 130 to 140 tonnes per day will come from Bermingham, he explained.

Nauman said the necessary approvals for mining the Flame and Moth deposit are in place except for a water licence, but the public hearing for the water licence is scheduled for the end of May.

The board of directors’ decision to move into the development phase comes with anticipated expenditures of $12 million to get the two deposits ready for production, he said.

The board of directors will still have to make a final production decision, Nauman said.

But with more than $12 million spent getting ready, at that point, the company will be well invested in going forward, he added.

Alexco plans to have a work force of about 40 this summer, with continued surface exploration estimated at $3 million and the underground work estimated at $2 million, he explained.

Nauman said the 30,000 tonnes of ore left at Bellekeno will be used to re-commission the mill.

The preliminary economic assessment puts the cost of producing one ounce of silver over the first three years after startup at $12.18 US.

Silver was trading this morning at $18.16 US.

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