Management at Harte Gold is intent on getting more production out of its expanding Sugar Zone Mine heading into 2021.
The Toronto-headquartered miner released its third quarter results on Nov. 12 showing $12.2 million in net revenues from the 4,882 ounces of gold sold. That's 18 per cent lower in revenue that during the same period last year, prior to the pandemic, when the mine operated over the full three-month period.
The Sugar Zone Mine is located north of White River.
COVID-19 forced the closure of the mine for an extended period in last spring and summer before operations resumed in mid-July to stockpile ore for the startup of the processing plant in early August.
Sugar Zone produced 6,218 ounces of gold during the quarter, processing 36,367 tonnes at an average head grade of 5.7 grams per tonne. It's the fourth consecutive quarter that there's been an improvement in grade.
Coming out of the shutdown, the processing plant averaged 649 tonnes per day (tpd) during the quarter, but the company said it's shown the capability of reaching 800 tpd, or better, for up to seven days.
Achieving a consistently increased run rate is crucial heading into 2021 as the mine is set to springboard into a next phase of production.
Harte is currently mining ore from its Sugar Zone North and South areas. Ramp development continues into a new production area, the Middle Zone. The start of the first ore production there is expected by the middle of 2021.
As mine expands, the company is working on a feasibility study, due out early next year, to boost the run rate to 1,200 tonnes per day.
To do that, the company expects underground mine development to increase from nine metres per day to more than 13 by early next year, and increasing the number of active mining areas from four to six.
Harte's gold production target for this year is 20,000 to 24,000 ounces. It jumps to 60,000 to 65,000 ounces in 2021.
The company said also it's started the transition from a contractor workforce to company-run employees. That resulted in adding 84 new full-time employees during the quarter.
On the financing side, Harte was successful in raising US$30 million for continued mine construction and for general working capital. As of Sept. 30, the company had $21.4 million cash on hand.
On the exploration front, Harte's field crew was sampling a prospective area of their massive 79,355-hectare property, called TT8, which yielded five new mineralized showings. On the map, they're tracking a gold mineralization trend at TT8 that extends for 11 kilometres.
In a news release, the incoming new boss at Harte, Frazer Bourchier, seemed generally pleased with the results over the abbreviated 75-day operating period during the quarter.
"Since joining Harte Gold as president and CEO on Sept. 21, I have been focused on operational oversight and providing support to the team in order to achieve 800 tpd at a sustainable rate during Q1 2021, delivering a realistic and executable pathway to future financial growth supported by 1,200 tpd and looking to significantly unveil the untapped mineral potential of the property through a systematic approach thereby increasing the probability of exploration success.
"I am excited and energized with what I have seen so far, which has merely reconfirmed my findings during my initial due diligence. I am highly committed to the task at hand to deliver value for all stakeholders and will communicate a clear and enhanced strategy with focus on accountable delivery of key milestones in the coming quarters.”