Dundee Precious Metals Inc. announced a maiden Mineral Resource Estimate of 1.78 million ounces for its 100% owned Čoka Rakita gold project in eastern Serbia, where DPM announced a high-grade discovery in January 2023.
“The initial Mineral Resource estimate marks a significant milestone for DPM’s future growth and confirms Čoka Rakita’s potential as an attractive, high-quality gold project,” said David Rae, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dundee Precious Metals.
“Since we announced the initial discovery only 11 months ago, Čoka Rakita has rapidly grown into a 1.8 million ounce deposit, a remarkable achievement over such a short period of time, and we plan to continue aggressively exploring at Čoka Rakita and the surrounding licences to generate new discoveries.
“We are continuing to accelerate the project through our development pipeline, including advancing a PEA which is targeted for completion in the second quarter of 2024. We are excited by Čoka Rakita’s potential in a region where we have had a presence for many years and where we have developed strong relationships with local stakeholders.”
Maiden Mineral Resource Estimate
The Inferred MRE is comprised of 1.78 million ounces of gold contained within 9.79 million tonnes grading 5.67 g/t Au and assumes an underground mining scenario.
Gold-rich skarn mineralization is hosted within carbonate rich sandstones and conglomerates, located on the hanging wall of a sill-like body and abutting a monzonite intrusive body to the west. The mineralization forms a shallow-dipping tabular mineralized body located between 250 and 450 metres below surface, measuring 650 metres long, up to 350 metres wide, and with variable thickness from less than 20 metres in the margins to more than 100 metres in the core of the mineralized zone. Coarse gold is often observed in areas of intense retrograde skarn alternation and is found mainly in proximity to syn-mineral diorites within the higher-grade core of the deposit. The current MRE has been conducted on the portion of the prospect where gold-rich skarn mineralization occurs.
The drillhole database was handed over as of November 16, 2023. A total of 173 drill holes totalling 80,723 metres were included in the estimation of the Mineral Resource. The current drillhole spacing within the mineralized domains is approximately 30 metres by 30 metres in the core of the system, with an up to 60-metre by 60-metre grid on the periphery. Gold grades within skarn domains have been determined systematically using a screen fire assaying technique, which is preferred for mineralization with coarse gold. Grade capping was applied to composites to limit the influence of anomalously high-grade values.
Mineral resource domains were created within volumes of moderate to intense skarn alteration and guided by economic composites at a 1 g/t Au cut-off value. Detailed lithology and structural models were developed and used to constrain domain extents, as well as to incorporate post-mineralization diorite sills which cut across the mineralization. Block grade estimates have been undertaken for Au, Ag, Cu, S and As using ordinary kriging at a 10mE x 10mN x 10mZ parent block size with sub-celling to honour domain volumes.
A break-even cut-off value of 2 g/t Au and a minimum width constraint of 5 metres by 5 metres by 2.5 metres was used to define optimized mineable shapes using Datamine’s Mineable Shape Optimiser (“MSO”). These shapes were subsequently smoothed and used to constrain continuous zones of mineralization for reporting the final Mineral Resource statement.
The application of MSO shapes at the MRE stage provides a robust estimate for the purposes of a PEA, and a higher confidence in the potential for the conversion of Mineral Resources into mineable tonnes and grades for the purposes of a mine plan for the PEA. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The MSO shapes have been used to ensure Mineral Resources demonstrate reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction.
Material within the reporting MSO constraints (smoothed) was classified as Inferred Mineral Resources according to Mineral Resource confidence categories defined in the CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves. Data quality and quantity, geological and grade continuity, and confidence in the grade, density and reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction (“RPEEE”) criteria were considered when classifying the MRE. Given the relatively continuous and stratified mineralization style at Čoka Rakita, the Company has reason to expect that the majority of Inferred Mineral Resources could be upgraded to Indicated Mineral Resources with infill drilling.
Higher-Grade Core of Mineralization
Within the core of the Čoka Rakita deposit is a zone of continuous higher-grade mineralization hosted within intense retrograde skarn alteration. By digitizing an outline of spatially contiguous blocks within the Mineral Resource that have an estimated grade value higher than approximately 5 g/t Au and including internal dilution, the block model reports 2.81 Mt at a grade of 10.12 g/t Au for 0.914 million ounces of gold. Once sufficient drilling has been completed to upgrade the Mineral Resource confidence, this higher-grade core has the potential to drive strong economics by accessing higher than average grades during the early years of a mine plan.
Due to the presence of coarse gold and the confidence level of Inferred Mineral Resources, there is inherent uncertainty in the level of mining selectivity that can be achieved as the cut-off grade is increased. Further drilling, and potentially bulk sampling, is required to assess the short-range grade continuity of the higher-grade mineralization.
DPM is planning an aggressive exploration program for 2024 including:
Approximately 30,000 metres of infill, hydrological and geotechnical drilling, with the goal of re-classifying the current Mineral Resource to the Indicated Mineral Resource category. This also includes infill drilling to test the extents of Čoka Rakita, which remains open to the northeast and to southwest; and
55,000 metres of additional exploration drilling at existing skarn targets and to test for manto-like copper-gold skarn identified across four licences held by DPM, including Čoka Rakita, Potaj Čuka, Pešter Jug, and Umka.
Exploration and evaluation expenditures for the above drilling programs, PEA and related technical work is expected to be US$30 to US$35 million in 2024, which will be updated in early Q1 2024 as part of the Company’s detailed 2024 guidance and updated three-year outlook.
Attractive Organic Growth Opportunity
With a sizeable maiden MRE and significant additional exploration potential, Čoka Rakita is an attractive organic growth opportunity that DPM will be prioritizing for advancement.
The project is located approximately 35 kilometres from the city of Bor in Serbia, is proximal to existing roads and power lines and is approximately 320 kilometres northwest of DPM’s Chelopech mine in Bulgaria which will allow easy access to existing technical support functions. The project is a strong fit with the Company’s underground mining and processing expertise, with metallurgical testwork demonstrating gold recoveries of approximately 90% by gravity concentration and conventional flotation.
As previously reported on November 15, 2023, metallurgical testwork confirmed the viability of a combined gravity concentration and flotation circuit at different target grades.
In parallel to its exploration and infill drilling activities, DPM has advanced activities to accelerate the project, including initiating geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling, the next phase of metallurgical testwork, evaluating locations for potential site infrastructure, as well as stakeholder engagement and permitting activities.
The Company has already commenced certain scoping level activities and expects to complete a PEA on the project in the second quarter of 2024, targeting a throughput rate of 850,000 tonnes per annum.
The next phase of metallurgical testwork will focus on the variability at Čoka Rakita to ascertain the metallurgical and comminution performance of the different subtypes of mineralization present, including testing on more copper-rich areas of the prospect.
Permitting preparation activities are underway, with good support and engagement from key regional and national authorities.
Consistent with its approach across all operations and projects, DPM seeks to build and maintain strong partnerships with local communities and governments. The Company has had a local presence in Serbia since 2004 and has developed strong relationships in the region and will continue to proactively engage with all stakeholders as the project advances.
Planning for the project will be highly focused on ensuring responsible environmental management and social development in-line with industry best practices. DPM is committed to working closely with local communities around the Čoka Rakita project to understand and support local development opportunities, with a focus on maximizing benefits of the project for Serbia.
Source: Global Newswire