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Detour Lake Mine has the grades and ounces to grow

Kirkland Lake Gold's new estimate for Cochrane-area mine shows 200+ per cent increase in ounces
Detour Lake open pit (trucks)
(Kirkland Lake Gold photo)

A massive exploration drilling program at the Detour Lake Mine is delivering rewards for Kirkland Lake Gold.

The Toronto-based mining company released an update mineral estimate for the northeastern Ontario open-pit operation showing a 216 per cent increase in resources - more than a 10,000,00-ounce - since last December.

In a Sept. 2 news release, the company said this is the first mineral resource update since Kirkland Lake Gold acquired Detour Gold in January 2020. The mine is situated near the Quebec border, 185 kilometres northeast of Cochrane.

The resource now sits at 14,718,000 ounces with 12,718,000 ounces in the measured and indicated category at an average grade of 0.80 grams per tonne (g/t). There's an additional 2,505,000 ounces in a lower grade category at 0.42 g/t that the company plans to stockpile and process in later years.

The inferred mineral resources sit at 1,115,000 ounces at average grade of 0.81 g/t.

A majority of this resource is situated in a previously underexplored area called the Saddle Zone, an area between the Main Pit and a planned West Pit operation.

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The estimate is based on the results of 365 holes for 185,000 metres of surface diamond drilling. About 100,000 metres of additional drilling will take place before the end of the year.

In a statement, company president Tony Makuch said these results are validation to the potential they always believed could be realized at Detour Lake to make it a more efficient operation, boost production, and find more gold on the 646-square-kilometre property.

A life-of-mine plan, released in March, intends to turn Detour into an 800,000-ounce operation by 2025 with plans to increase annual production to more than 900,000 ounces over the next five years.

"With today’s results, we have now clearly demonstrated both the tremendous exploration potential at Detour Lake as well as the considerable success being achieved through our drilling programs," said Makuch.

"Based on ongoing work, we are targeting further operational improvements that, in aggregate, are expected to deliver between $750 million and $1.0 billion of value enhancement benefits over the next two to five years. These include a variety of initiatives that should improve mill availability and throughput, metallurgical recovery, grade control, automation, innovation and site optimization.”

Detour Lake is one of three of the company's anchor operations, the others being Macassa at Kirkland Lake and Fosterville in Australia.