Alexco Resource Corp. is a primary silver company that provides exceptional exposure and leverage to silver in one of the safest mining jurisdictions in the world. Alexco owns the majority and most prospective part of the Keno Hill Silver District, located in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Keno Hill is located within the traditional territory of the First Nation Na-Cho Nyak Dun and is one of the highest-grade silver districts in the world, having produced historically more than 214 Moz of silver at an average grade of approximately 1,373 g/t or 44 oz/t from the early 1900’s through the late 1980’s.
In June 2020, following the receipt of the amended and renewed draft WUL from the Yukon Water Board, Alexco made a decision to advance Keno Hill to production. The Company is a proven explorer, developer, and mine operator and is fully financed for production.
Alexco expects to start concentrate and silver sales in Q4 2020 and incrementally scale up to reach design-capacity in early 2021 per the Keno Hill PFS.
Keno Hill PFS(1) Highlights
|Mine life||8 years|
|Mine plan||1.18 million tonnes at average 805 g/t Ag|
|Mining operation||Underground mining – cut and fill/longhole|
|Annual Ag production||~4 million ounces Ag/year|
|Processing rate||400 tpd; increasing to 550 tpd in year 3/4|
|All-in Sustaining Costs2||~US$11.94/oz Ag (net of by-product credits)|
|Pre-production Capex||$17.9 M|
|Working Capital||$5.3 M|
|Average LOM net smelter return||$554/tonne of ore|
|Direct operating costs||$321/tonne of ore|
|After tax NPV||$101.3 M|
|After Tax IRR||74%|
1 Refer to news release dated March 28, 2019 entitled “Alexco Announces Positive Pre-Feasibility Study for Expanded Silver Production at Keno Hill Silver District
2 AISC is a non-GAAP measure calculated on a produced (contained) basis net of by-products, as defined by the World Gold Council. Calculated using the following Average Prices: Ag US$ 17.91/oz, Au US$ 1,325/oz, Pb US$ 1.00/lb, Zn US$ 1.22/lb. and US$/CDN$ FX of $0.76.
The Keno Hill PFS contemplates ore production of approximately 1.2 Mt at an average grade of approximately 805 g/t silver, 2.98% lead, and 1.13% zinc from four deposits (Bellekeno, Flame & Moth, Bermingham, and Lucky Queen) over an eight year period. The average processing rate during the eight year mine life is estimated to be 430 tpd and Keno Hill is expected to produce approximately 4 Moz of silver annually, contained in high-quality lead-silver and zinc concentrates.
In 2019 and the first half of 2020, Alexco advanced construction of surface infrastructure at Keno Hill including the new Bermingham mine portal, upgrades to haul roads, workshops, construction of ore storage pads, and mill refurbishment. The Company is currently ramping up its operations workforce to start the final underground development necessary to reach the production areas of the Flame & Moth and Bermingham deposits. In addition, work continues to upgrade the existing mill, finalize the employee camp accommodations, administrative offices and ancillary facilities.
Along with the production decision, in June 2020 the Company announced amendments to its silver streaming agreement with Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. wherein the production payment made by Wheaton to Alexco on the 25% silver stream will increase by approximately 70% in the first two years of silver production and more than 27% in the longer term.
Without a doubt, Alexco’s exploration success has been the backbone of the Company’s success over the last ten years. Moving to production will not alter the Company’s exploration philosophy of systematic ranking and testing of near-surface silver targets across the 230 square km district; with only ~10% of the district having been explored in detail to date. Following a successful exploration program in 2019, which intersected high-grade mineralization below the known Bermingham deposit, also known as the “Bermingham Deep” target, and also discovered a new mineralized area, the Inca Vein, the Company plans to continue exploration in 2020 and beyond to unlock the significant geological and resource potential of the District. In July 2020, Alexco will commence an exploration program, which will be focused on the Bermingham Deep target. In addition, in March 2020 the Company extended the 2018 airborne geophysical survey across the upland parts of the District and generated data that will guide future brownfield exploration efforts in the District.
Over the last ten years, Alexco has been rewarded with discovery and documentation of 30 Moz silver in Probable Mineral Reserves, 74 Moz silver in Indicated Mineral Resources (inclusive of Probable Mineral Reserves) and a further 24 Moz silver in Inferred Mineral Resources. Notably, in the last six years Alexco geologists have added more than 58 Moz silver in Indicated Mineral Resources to the Company’s Mineral Resource base at an average silver grade in excess of 800 g/t (26 oz/t) and a discovery cost of under $0.55 per ounce.
The Company’s founders, Chief Executive Officer, Clynt Nauman, and President Brad Thrall, were named the recipients of the 2011 E.A. Scholz Award for Excellence in Mine Development due to the development of the Bellekeno mine, which took only three years from discovery to production, a feat rarely seen in the mining industry. This prestigious Association for Mineral Exploration (AME BC) award recognized them for their technical skills, environmental control expertise and cooperative relationship with the local First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun.
In 2018, Al McOnie, Seymour Iles and Jared Chipman won the 2018 H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for Excellence in Prospecting and Mineral Exploration for the discovery and delineation of over 60 Moz silver in the Flame & Moth and Bermingham deposits.
Alexco is committed to the responsible and sustainable development of Keno Hill. Our culture and values drive us to achieve excellence in all that we do, while supporting the communities and organizations in the areas in which we work.