Ivanhoe locks down employees in DRC

Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. [IVN-TSX; IVPAF-OTC] said it has adopted rigorous measures to protect the health of employees, contractors and communities while ensuring business continuity at its huge Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It said the announcement is a response to the fast-evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to government-imposed travel restrictions and emergency protocols being introduced worldwide, Ivanhoe said strict quarantine and lock-down procedures have been implemented at all three of the company’s projects – Kamoa-Kakula, Platreef and Kipushi – to prevent the virus from spreading to the mine sites. To date, no COVID-19 cases have been discovered, the company said in a press release.

Kamoa-Kakula is one of three projects that the company is advancing in Southern Africa. The others include mine development at the Platreef platinum-palladium-gold-nickel copper discovery on the Northern Limb of South Africa’s Bushveld Complex. The company is also developing the high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine in the DRC.

At Kamoa-Kakula, the mine site has been locked down and all key personnel remain on site, except for the supply of food and critical equipment under strict delivery protocols. A total of 881 employees, who were previously based in surrounding communities and Kolwezi, have been moved to permanent mine site accommodation.

Up to 250 additional employees will be moved to the mine site once accommodations have been expanded and subject to appropriate and stringent quarantine protocols. At present, a total of 3,535 employees and contractors are based at the mine site, which ensures operational continuity and minimizes the impact on the development schedule.

Platreef, meanwhile, has temporarily suspended its shaft-sinking operations until at least April 16, 2020, in compliance with the 21-day country-wide lock-down imposed by the South African Government effective March 26. The project is maintaining a small workforce to conduct care and maintenance activities in order to have the operations ready for when project development resumes.

Kipushi has also suspended operations in order to reduce the risk to the workforce and local communities. The project is maintaining a small workforce to conduct care and maintenance activities, and to maintain pumping operations.

On Friday, Ivanhoe shares eased 2.9% or $0.07 to $2.30. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $1.80 and $4.54.

Ivanhoe is led by Singapore-based mine financier Robert Friedland, who holds a 17% interest in the company. CITIC Metal Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned CITIC Group, recently agreed to invest an additional $612 million in Ivanhoe at $3.98 a share, raising its stake in Ivanhoe to 29.9% from just under 20%.

Ivanhoe recently said the Kamoa-Kakula project is on track to start production in the third quarter of 2021.

The forecast is among the highlights of the company’s 2019 full year results, which also contain a review of mine construction progress and exploration activities.

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), China’s Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd. (0.8%), and the DRC government (20%). It already ranks among the world’s biggest copper mines, with peak annual production expected to exceed 700,000 tonnes.

The Kamoa Deposit – originally discovered by Ivanhoe Mines’ geologists in 2008 – is one of two very large, near-surface, flat-lying, stratiform copper deposits discovered on a 400 km2 mining license. The other major deposit – Kakula is being fast-tracked to commercial production, with the initial 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum mining operation scheduled to produce first concentrate in the third quarter of 2021.

Rockcliff up 37.5% on Manitoba copper update

Rockcliff Metals Corp. [RCLF-CSE; ROO FSE; A2H60G-WKN] shares rallied Tuesday March 31 after the company released an updated resource estimate for its 100%-owned Rail deposit in central Manitoba.

Rockcliff is a well-funded Canadian resource development and exploration company with a fully functional 1,000 tonne-per-day leased processing and tailings facility as well as several advanced stage high-grade copper and zinc dominant VMS (volcanogenic massive sulphide) deposits in the Snow Lake area of Manitoba.

In May, 2019, Rockcliff said it has raised $20.8 million in flow-through funding and another $7.8 million in hard dollar funding, bringing the total raised to $28.7 million.

Rockcliff is the largest junior landholder in the area, controlling over 4,500 km2. It’s portfolio of properties includes eight of the highest-grade, undeveloped volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits and five lode-gold properties held by Goldpath Resources Corp., a unit of Rockcliff, including the historic Rex-Laguna gold mine, which has been optioned to Kinross Gold Corp. [K-TSX; KGC-NYSE].

The Rail Deposit is located within trucking distance of Rockcliff’s processing facility and is part of the company’s property portfolio in Snow Lake. The company said highlights from the updated estimate include a 42% increase in the indicated tonnes to 1.17 million tonnes, grading 3.52% copper equivalent.

The inferred tonnage has also increased to 730,000 tonnes at 4.09% copper equivalent (containing 50 million pounds of copper).

Rockcliff shares advanced on the news, rising 37.50% or $0.015 to 5.5 cents on volume of 260,581. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of 19 cents and $0.04.

“We are very pleased that the successful drill program at Rail has added substantially to the Rail Indicated classification tonnage,” said Rockcliff President and CEO Alistair Ross.  “They have also identified over 730,000 tonnes of new, high-grade inferred tonnage,” he said.  Ross said the Rail deposit remains open along strike and at depth and several additional nearby copper targets remain untested.

“We look forward to the completion of a preliminary economic assessment of the Rail deposit before the end of the second quarter of 2020,” he said.

In September, 2019, Rockcliff said it had commenced a 100,000-metre drilling program on its Snow Lake Project, marking the first step in implementing a strategy aimed at gaining sufficient knowledge of several resources that will allow the company to choose the optimal project to take into production at the earliest opportunity.

“Our aim is to begin treating material through our leased mill as soon as possible,” Ross said.

The company said the 16-month drill program would initially focus on enhancing several advanced-stage deposits.

On Tuesday, Rockcliff said the new mineral resource estimate considered drilling information available up to February 10, 2020. It said a total of 97 drill holes (totalling 32,767 metres) were reviewed from the entire database.

Zinc miners expected to restart operations on strong prices

Strong zinc prices are increasingly prompting miners to bring idled capacity back online and invest in new projects. The latest ‘Global Zinc Mining Outlook’ report shows that the return of some stalled capacity and new projects in key countries will drive growth over the coming quarters, despite some capacity taken offline over 2015 to 2016 owing to permanent mine closures.

Alexco raising $7.5 million for Keno Hill silver mine

Alexco Resources Corp. [AXR-TSX; AXU-NYSE] said Monday March 24 that it is raising $7.5 million from an offering of 4.05 million shares priced at $1.85 per share. The company said it has struck a deal with an underwriting syndicate co-led by Cormark Securities Inc., Cantor Fitzgerald Canada Corp. and including Canaccord Genuity Corp.

Alexco has granted the underwriters a green shoe option to purchase up to an additional 608,175 shares at the offering price, potentially increasing the proceeds to $8.6 million. The green shoe option will remain open for 30 days after the date of closing.

The company said it intends to use the net proceeds of the offering for preservation and measured advancement of mine development activity at its flagship Keno Hill silver project in the Canadian Yukon. Part of the proceeds is also earmarked for exploration and general working capital.

Alexco advanced on the news, rising 1.9% or $0.04 to $2.10. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $1.00 and $3.74.

The 100%-owned United Keno Hill Mine ranks as Canada’s second largest producer of silver, behind Cobalt, Ontario.

During an illustrious history, it produced 217 million ounces of the precious metal. On March 28, 2019, Alexco released the results of an independent pre-feasibility study (PFS), which puts the Keno Hill Project “on a clear path to production,” the company said.

The PFS contemplated production of approximately 1.2 million tonnes 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).

The average processing rate during the proposed 8-year mine life was estimated at 430 tonnes per day and Keno Hill was expected to produce approximately 4.0 million ounces of silver annually, contained in lead and zinc concentrates.

In 2020, the company has said it plans to conduct a $3.5 million exploration campaign to complete 11,500 metres of surface drilling to target Bermingham Deep, the Inca Vein and other targets in the district. In addition, the company plans to conduct an airborne survey across the district and a 3,500-metre RAB generative drilling campaign at multiple targets in the district.

The pre-feasibility study was based on total Probable Reserves of 30.4 million ounces of silver, of which roughly half is hosted by Flame & Moth. Bermingham is estimated to host 11.3 million ounces. Of the balance, Lucky Queen has 2.8 million ounces and Bellekeno has approximately one million ounces.

The pre-feasibility study estimated initial capital costs at $23.2 million, consisting of $17.9 million on surface and underground development costs to reach mill commissioning, plus an additional $5.3million of net working capital for two months of mill operations ramp-up prior to positive cash flow.

First Quantum jumps 35% on operations update

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. [FM-TSX] shares rallied Tuesday March 24 after the company released an operations update, saying its production and sales remain stable in the current environment. The company also said it is maintaining its production guidance for the year.

First Quantum shares advanced on the news, rising 35% or $1.78 to $6.82 on volume of over 5.0 million shares traded. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $4.72 and $16.63.

First Quantum is a diversified mining company that is engaged in the production of copper, nickel, gold and zinc. It has operating mines in Zambia, Finland, Turkey, Spain and Mauritania. The company’s portfolio of assets includes the Kansanshi Mine in Zambia, which ranks as the largest copper mine in Africa.

The company is working to develop its Panama copper-gold mine in Panama, the world’s largest new copper mine.

Cobre Panama is located in the Panama jungle, about 120 km west of Panama City. The concession consists of four zones, covering 13,600 acres. First Quantum recently increased its stake in the open pit project to 90%. Having reached the commercial production stage in early September 2019, Cobre Panama continues to ramp up amid expectations that its forecast copper production will amount to between 285,000 and 310,000 tonnes this year.

“Our key priorities are the health of our employees and to ensure the business remains robust in the midst of a challenging commodity price environment,” said First Quantum CEO Philip Pascall. “We are doing everything we can to care for our staff, their families and the communities around us in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “It is also our responsibility that we continue our contribution to the economies of the countries in which we operate and supply the products on which our customers depend. We will continue to operate our mines responsibly, providing employment and generating revenues, and we will ensure that our business withstands this period of downturn.”

First Quantum said several members of the contractor workforce at the Cobre Panama operation have been confirmed as having the COVID-19 virus. The affected personnel are being cared for in the public healthcare system as per the Panama Ministry of Health requirements. First Quantum said Cobre Panama has already implemented the appropriate control, isolation and quarantine measures in line with Government guidelines and site-specific conditions.

However, the company said the Government of Panama has decreed that Cobre Panama is specifically authorized to continue operating, albeit with strict adherence to protocols established by the Ministry of Health, which will require a reduced labour force operating on 12-hour shifts.

As a result of the implementation of the health protocols at the operation, the pace of ramp-up may be slightly slower than originally planned and will impact first half production, the company said. “At this stage, it is expected that the annual production expectation can still be met with better than planned second half production levels,” it said. “The Punta Rincon international airport at Cobre Panama remains open for import and export.”

Lundin Mining suspends zinc expansion project

Lundin Mining Corp. [LUN-TSX; LUMI-Sweden] said Monday March 16 that it has temporarily suspended construction and commissioning activities at the Zinc Expansion Project (ZEP) at its Neves-Corvo copper-zinc mine in Portugal.

Lundin attributed the decision to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, the zinc expansion project was on track for a phased start-up beginning in the second quarter of 2020, with $155 million earmarked by Lundin to spend in 2020 to complete the project

On Monday, Lundin shares eased 12.2% or 71 cents to $5.11 on volume of 1.87 million. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $8.08 and $4.91.

Lundin is a diversified Canadian base metals mining company with operations in Chile, the United States, Portugal, Sweden and Finland, primarily producing copper, nickel and zinc.

Despite the softer fourth quarter operational results, total 2019 consolidated copper, zinc and nickel production of 235,000 tonnes, 152,000 tonnes and 13,500 tonnes respectively all met or slightly exceeded the most recent annual guidance ranges of 227,000-245,000 tonnes, 149,000-157,000 tonnes and 12,000-15,000 tonnes respectively.

Lundin has recently said it anticipates strong growth in its metal production.

The company said copper production is expected to rise by over 20% in 2020 compare to 2019, with full year contributions from the Chapada copper-gold mine and Candelaria mining complex.

It said zinc production is forecast to increase by over 15% in the same period while nickel production will jump by over 25%.

Neves-Corvo is mainly a copper and zinc mine, producing copper, zinc and lead concentrates. The operation is owned and operated by Lundin Mining’s Portuguese subsidiary Sominor. Neves-Corvo mines underground from five major orebodies. The processing facility consists of two plants. The copper plant processes copper ores and has a capacity of 2.6 million tonnes annually.  The zinc plant, which can process zinc or copper ores, has a capacity of approximately 1.1 million tonnes per annum. The capacity is currently being expanded to 2.5 million tonnes.

ZEP was approved in 2017. Its aim was to increase the zinc mining and processing capacity at Neves-Corvo to approximately 2.5 million tonnes annually, generating an average of 150,000 tonnes annually of zinc concentrate over 10 years.

New mine infrastructure for the ZEP includes a new crusher station, a conveyor system connecting this to the 700 shaft hoisting facilities, an upgrade to the main hoisting shaft, together with extensions to the mines’ ventilation, pumping and electrical distribution systems.

Much of the zinc ore for the ZEP will be mined in deep areas of the Lombador orebody using primarily bench and fill mining methods, with limited amounts of drift and fill.

In 2020, the Neves-Corvo is expected to produce between 38,000-43,000 tonnes of copper and 95,000 to 105,000 tonnes of zinc.

Lundin suspends construction at Portugal zinc project, confirms positive Covid-19 case in Chile

Toronto-headquartered Lundin Mining has suspended construction and commissioning activities at the Zinc Expansion Project (ZEP) at the Neves-Corvo operation, in Portugal, to reduce the risk of its workforce and the local community contracting the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease. Announcing the decision on Sunday, Lundin explained that the workforce for the project included many contract employees who travelled from other regions of Portugal and internationally.

Lundin suspends construction at Portugal zinc project, confirms Covid-19 case in Chile

Toronto-headquartered Lundin Mining has suspended construction and commissioning activities at the Zinc Expansion Project (ZEP) at the Neves-Corvo operation, in Portugal, to reduce the risk of its workforce and the local community contracting the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease. Announcing the decision on Sunday, Lundin explained that the workforce for the project included many contract employees who travelled from other regions of Portugal and internationally.

Hecla Reports Record Silver, Lead and Zinc Reserves

Hecla Mining Company [HL-NYSE] today reported the highest silver, lead, and zinc reserves in its 129-year history and provided an update on its exploration programs during the fourth quarter of 2019.

Highlights

  • Company-wide reserves increased 11% for silver ounces including 22% more silver ounces at Greens Creek, reflecting a commitment to exploration and improved data use.
  • High-grade intersections drilled at Greens Creek and Casa Berardi.
  • Reserve price assumptions of $14.50/oz silver (expected to be among the lowest in the industry), $1,300/oz gold, $1.15/lb zinc and $0.90/lb lead.

“The foundation of value creation for any mining company is increasing reserves, and Hecla’s silver, lead and zinc reserves are the most in our 129-year history,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., President and CEO. “Despite using what we believe is the industry’s most conservative price assumption and spending our second lowest amount on exploration in the last 10 years, Hecla grew silver reserves 11% last year with Greens Creek having its most reserves since 2001. We expect our exploration programs over the next few years to further add reserves across the Company.”

RESERVES AND RESOURCES

Hecla replaced silver production in 2019 (15.4 million silver ounces contained) and proven and probable reserves increased 11%, despite using $14.50/oz for the reserve calculation. In the last 12 years, Hecla has not only replaced silver production but added another 234 million ounces through exploration (Figure 1). Both zinc and lead production were replaced, and reserves increased by 8% and 5%, respectively. About 60% of gold production was replaced (341,064 gold ounces contained) and proven and probable reserves decreased only 5% over 2018; gold reserves were calculated at $1,300/oz.

Measured and indicated silver ounces increased 4% to a record 217 million ounces, an increase of 9 million ounces over 2018 with increases at Greens Creek, Lucky Friday, and San Sebastian. Measured and indicated gold ounces decreased 19% to 5.8 million ounces, a reduction of 1.34 million ounces over 2018 due to conversion and reclassification of some resources at Casa Berardi and Fire Creek to inferred. Inferred silver resources decreased 2% to 457 million ounces, a reduction of 8.3 million ounces due to decreases at Greens Creek, San Sebastian, and the Nevada properties. Inferred gold resources increased 35% to 4.9 million ounces with the 1.3 million ounce gain primarily due to reclassification of some resources at Casa Berardi and Fire Creek.

Greens Creek

At Greens Creek, the 846,076 tons processed at the mill in 2019 contained 12.4 million ounces of silver, 81,223 ounces of gold, 62,863 tons of zinc, and 24,704 tons of lead. Silver, gold and base metal production was replaced, and silver, gold, zinc, and lead reserves increased by 22%, 11%, 10%, and 16%, respectively, over 2018 reserves. The current proven and probable silver and gold reserves are the highest total reserve since 2001.

The current mine plan accesses higher-grade ore in the earlier years of the mine plan from existing workings which reduces the required development investment. In addition, the mine life from only reserves is expected to be to 2031.

Casa Berardi

At Casa Berardi, the 1,378,065 tons processed at the mill contained approximately 165,368 ounces of gold, with 57% of the milled tonnage coming from underground and 43% of the milled tonnage coming from the East Mine Crown Pillar (EMCP) Pit. Proven and probable gold reserves decreased approximately 10% to 1.72 million ounces and reserve tonnage at Casa Berardi decreased 4% to 20.6 million tons over 2018. There was an overall reduction in underground reserves of 105,600 gold ounces and a decrease of open pit reserves of 83,100 gold ounces compared to 2018. Most of these decreases were due to mining depletion. Hecla has mined over 1 million ounces of gold at Casa Berardi since acquisition in 2013.

Measured and indicated gold resources decreased 12% from 2018 levels as gains from underground drilling were offset by decreases in the Pit areas. The largest decreases were a result of conversion to underground reserves of the 148 Zone and reclassification of some resources to Inferred below the 160 Pit. Inferred gold resources increased 49% from 2018 levels.

San Sebastian

At San Sebastian, the 174,713 tons processed at the mill contained 2.06 million ounces of silver and 18,520 ounces of gold. Proven and probable reserves are currently 881,400 ounces of silver and 7,600 ounces of gold. At the end of the year there was an ore stockpile containing 165,800 silver ounces and 2,700 ounces of gold. The total underground reserves in the Middle Vein are 597,800 ounces silver and 2,400 ounces gold and represent 68% and 32% of the silver and gold reserves, respectively. The total open pit reserves in the North Vein are 117,800 ounces silver and 2,500 ounces gold and represent 13% and 33% of the silver and gold reserves, respectively.

Indicated resources increased from 2018 by 44% to 17.9 million ounces for silver and 42% to 154,500 ounces for gold. Indicated resources are separated into ‘Oxide’ and ‘Polymetallic’ mineral styles; oxide is cyanide-amenable material and polymetallic is base-metal-sulfide-rich material amenable to a flotation milling process. The ‘Oxide’ portion of the measured and indicated resources contain 56% of the silver (9.98 million oz) and 88% of the gold (135,400 oz). The recently discovered El Toro Vein system south of the main mining area contains 52% of the ‘Oxide’ silver (5.23 million oz) and 38% of the ‘Oxide’ gold (51,800 oz) in the measured and indicated class. Polymetallic resources represent 44% of the silver and 12% of the measured and indicated gold resources and have associated lead, zinc, and copper. Inferred resources are essentially unchanged from 2018 with 22.2 million ounces of silver and 147,300 ounces of gold. ‘Oxide’ resources account for 84% of the silver and 95% of the gold in the Inferred resource.

Open pit mining continued in 2019 in the expanded North Pit to the west and at depth and an additional smaller ‘satellite pit’ to the west and mining of this pit is expected to continue into 2020. New high-grade, precious metal resources on the El Toro Vein south of the main mining area are being evaluated for open pit and underground mining. Test mining and milling of the polymetallic resource in the Hugh Zone of the Francine Vein during 2019 produced encouraging results for possible conversion to reserves during 2020.

Lucky Friday

At Lucky Friday, the 57,091 tons processed at the mill contained approximately 675,387 ounces of silver, 4,487 tons of lead, and 2,426 tons of zinc. Proven and probable reserves are currently 80.3 million ounces of silver, 505,740 tons of lead and 223,520 tons of zinc and are essentially unchanged from 2018. Measured and indicated resources have increased 10% to 82.4 million ounces for silver, 8% to 523,670 tons for lead and 7% to 276,660 tons for zinc. Inferred resources increased slightly year-over-year and include 26.2 million ounces of silver (+5%), 190,500 tons of lead (+5%) and 82,250 tons of zinc (+11%).

Nevada

Mill production in Nevada during 2019 was 210,397 tons containing 75,953 ounces of gold and 345,051 ounces of silver.

Proven and probable reserves at Fire Creek are 54,100 ounces of gold and 50,600 ounces of silver and are a reduction from year-end 2018 of 22% for gold and 11% for silver. Measured and indicated underground resources are 182,400 ounces of gold and 176,100 ounces of silver and inferred resources are 278,200 ounces of gold and 294,900 ounces of silver.

There are currently no mineral reserves at Hollister or Midas. At Hollister, measured and indicated resources are 164,300 ounces of gold and 785,800 ounces of silver and inferred resources are 184,800 ounces of gold and 1.25 million ounces of silver. At Midas, measured and indicated resources are 287,500 ounces of gold and 3.99 million ounces of silver and inferred resources are 182,800 ounces of gold and 1.49 million ounces of silver.

A breakdown of the Company’s reserves and resources is set out in Table A at the end of this news release.

EXPLORATION

Exploration (excluding corporate development) expenses were $2.2 million, and $15.2 million for the fourth quarter and full year 2019, respectively. This represents a decrease of 74% and 58% from the fourth quarter and full year 2018, respectively. These decreases were primarily the result of reductions in exploration in Nevada with smaller decreases in exploration at all other sites.

Greens Creek – Alaska

At Greens Creek, strong definition drilling assay results received in the fourth quarter have upgraded and expanded the East Ore and 200 South zone resources (Figure 2). In the East OreZone (Figure 3), intersections at the north end of the zone, including 56.6 oz/ton silver, 0.13 oz/ton gold, 4.5% zinc and 1.5% lead over 4.3 feet, confirm previously modeled Inferred resource estimates along 150 feet of strike length. In the 200 South Zone, drilling intersections at the northern end of the 200 South Bench over 200 feet of strike length include 16.8 oz/ton silver, 0.24 oz/ton gold, 12.7% zinc and 6.1% lead over 22.4 feet. The focus of the first quarter of 2020 is to further define the East Ore and 200 South zones.

Exploration drilling in the fourth quarter focused on the 200 South Zone (Figure 4) and expanded upper bench mineralization 350 feet and lower contact mineralization 800 feet down plunge from the current resource model. Recent intersections from the upper bench mineralization includes 11.5 oz/ton silver, 0.06 oz/ton gold, 6.6% zinc and 3.6% lead over 15.3 feet and 50.5 oz/ton silver, 0.05 oz/ton gold, 1.5% zinc and 0.7 lead over 12.0 feet. Recent intersections from the lower contact mineralization include 4.5 oz/ton silver, 0.05 oz/ton gold, 7.7% zinc and 3.6% lead over 4.0 feet. Drilling in 2020 is planned to continue defining the East, 9A, West, Upper Plate and 200S zones and explore down-plunge of the Gallagher Zone.

More complete drill assay highlights from Greens Creek can be found in Table B at the end of this release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available at the following: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q4-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.

Casa Berardi – Quebec

During the fourth quarter, up to seven underground drills were used to refine stope designs, expand reserves and resources in the 113, 118, 119, 124, 128 and 148 zones and confirm further potential at depth and to the east and west (Figure 5). One drill on surface completed in-fill and exploration drilling within and near the proposed 160 Pit (Figure 5) and continues to confirm continuity with the pit outline and expand resource outside of the current pit design.

Drilling in the East Mine focused on defining continuity and expanding mineralization in the high-grade 148 Zone and open pit mineralization within and outside the proposed 160 Pit. Within the 148-01 lens in the 148 Zone, high-grade intersections include 0.48 oz/ton gold over 11.8 feet, 0.89 oz/ton gold over 14.8 feet and 0.47 oz/ton gold over 29.8 feet confirming continuity within the lens (Figures 6 and 7). Drilling in the 160 Zone within and below the current pit outline continues to define broad intervals of mineralization and adding resources with recent intersections including 0.11 oz/ton gold over 113.2 feet and 0.13 oz/ton gold over 68.6 feet.

In the West Mine area, drilling in the 113 and 118 zones targeted multiple lenses along the Casa Berardi Fault in order to extend known mineralization at depth and to the east outside of the current resources. Recent intersections including 0.11 oz/ton gold over 26.2 feet suggest this zone continues to be open at depth. High in the mine, drilling targeted the eastern extension of the stacked 119 Zone ore lenses at the contact between the sediments and volcanics associated with pyritic chert and stacked quartz veins south of the Casa Berardi Fault. Recent intersections include 0.25 oz/ton gold over 29.5 feet including 0.42 oz/ton gold over 5.9 feet and 0.12 oz/ton gold over 37.1 feet.

In the first quarter of 2020, underground drilling is expected to expand and refine resources in 123 Zone in the West Mine and the high-grade 148 Zone in the East Mine. Underground exploration drilling during the year is planned to evaluate the lower extension of the 113-118 and 128 zones in the West Mine and the 146, 148, and 152 zones in the East Mine.

More complete drill assay highlights from Casa Berardi can be found in Table B at the end of the release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available at the following: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q4-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.

San SebastianMexico

During the quarter, three surface core drill rigs operated at San Sebastian focused on an in-fill drilling program along the shallow, potentially open pit minable, portions of the El Toro and El Toro Hanging Wall veins (Figure 8). Mineralization at the El Toro Vein has been identified over 5,000 feet of strike length and over 900 feet down dip. Recent core drilling includes intersections of 10.7 oz/ton silver and 0.14 oz/ton gold over 16.3 feet, 18.5 oz/ton silver and 0.14 oz/ton gold over 10.6 feet, and 12.1 oz/ton silver and 0.10 oz/ton gold over 14.4 feet (Figure 9).

In the first quarter of 2020, grid pattern Short Vertical Reverse Circulation (SVRC) drilling is planned to continue to explore through cover for new veins and near-surface oxide mineralization by sampling overburden and bedrock west of the current El Toro resource area. During the year, additional exploration core drilling will follow up on additional vein systems near El Toro.

More complete drill assay highlights from San Sebastian can be found in Table B at the end of this release and a presentation showing drill intersection locations is available at the following: http://ir.hecla-mining.com//interactive/newlookandfeel/4130678/Hecla_Q4-2019_ExplorationUpdate.pdf.