OceanaGold Corporation (TSX & ASX: OGC) remains optimistic the mine life at Waihi in the central North Island can be extended, following the latest round of further underground test drilling results.
Since announcing an upgrade of inferred gold estimated resource at Waihi in August, to a total 339,000 ounces, OceanaGold had recently completed another total 10 kilometres of test drilling.
The drilling was at multiple points along two underground drives along sections of the Martha, Royal, Empire, Dreadnought and Rex veins.
Company chief executive Mick Wilkes said the latest underground test drilling results “continue to increase our confidence” in the potential gold resource at Waihi and continued to identify areas of “high-grade mineralisation,” which sit deeper and laterally to our exploration targets.
“We're confident of defining a sizeable resource that will further support the extension of the mine life at Waihi,” Wilkes.
He has in the past estimated adding a decade to Waihi's mine life.
OceanaGold is several months into the consenting process for the Martha underground project, which could potentially be operational by 2020.
As with some previous underground operations, some of the proposed drive development would be under the Waihi township.
While noting exploration targets were “conceptual in nature,” Wilkes estimated there was a potential volume of between 5 million tonnes and 8 Mt of ore within the target region, at a grade of between 4 grams/tonne-6 g/t gold.
“Recent drilling has intersected significant gold mineralisation both deeper in the central Martha area and eastward towards the current mining fronts approximately 200 metres away on the Empire Vein,” he said.
Last week OceanaGold announced strong third quarter production and upgraded its expected calendar year production, to between 515,000 and 545,000 oz.
As with Waihi, recent encouraging drilling results at its mainstay Macraes mine in East Otago has prompted the company to consider starting a second underground operation there.
There will be a bigger market spotlight placed on the Waihi operations following a tour of operations by invited parties today (see slide attachment).
The focus of this visit will not only be on the gold-silver promise below and lateral to the Martha open cut but also the rapidly emerging WKP prospect in the district.
-additional reporting by Ross Louthean.
*Simon Hartley is senior business reporter and assistant chief reporter for the Otago Daily Times.