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Prairie Creek project sees success
New vein discovered as Canadian Zinc considers all-season road

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 20, 2015

A 10-month underground exploration program has yielded results for mining company Canadian Zinc at the company's Prairie Creek project.

NNSL photo/graphic

An aerial shot of Prairie Creek, the Canadian Zinc Corporation owned mine in Nahanni National Park near Nahanni Butte. Recent discoveries include a new vein containing lead, zinc and silver, which could extend the life of the mine. - NNSL file photo

The mine, surrounded by the Nahanni National Park, has been the site of a drilling program since October 2014.

On Aug. 11, the company released "encouraging results" from the program.

As early as June 23, the company was reporting the discovery of a new quartz vein system discovered at the site.

Now that the exploration program has wrapped up, Canadian Zinc has stated the previously unknown vein was discovered in the footwall of the mine's main quartz vein.

The exploration program drilled a cumulative 5,484 metres in 21 holes from three drill stations at the end of the decline of the mine's 870-metre level.

Underground services have since been decommissioned and demobilized.

Drillholes intercepted varying resource levels including lead, zinc and silver, with the northernmost hole drilled in 2015 returning some of the program's highest grades and thicknesses.

Those include a vein of 7.5-metre grading, 17.77 per cent lead, 33.67 per cent zinc and 247 grams per tonne silver.

Canadian Zinc's vice president of exploration, director and chief operating officer Alan Taylor said when the project was originally opened its target was silver.

"This (discovery) adds life to the mine," he said. "We saw some very positive results from the drilling (program), but we have to do some 3-D modelling to determine if the reserves are mineable."

Taylor said modelling will likely be finished in September.

In order to make resource extraction cheaper and easier, Canadian Zinc is in the process of evaluating the possibility of an all-season road.

Currently, the company is approved for a winter road out to the mine, which only operates three months out of the year.

"Whatever you take out of the ground has to pay for itself," Taylor said, referencing the costs of mining, milling, transportation and smelting.

"From an economic point of view, this is extremely difficult with a winter road ... (because) the rest of the year our inventory can't be sold."

Second-quarter financial results for Canadian Zinc provide a new mineral resource estimate for measured and indicated resources of 6.5 million tonnes at a combined grade of about 20 per cent lead and zinc, with 150 grams per tonne of silver. That is a 21 per cent increase from 2012 figures.

Additionally, total inferred resource tonnage increased by 13 per cent to 7.1 million tonnes, grading 9.6 per cent lead, 11.7 per cent zinc and 177 grams per tonne of silver.

In April 2014, Canadian Zinc submitted an application to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and to Parks Canada for permits allowing upgrades of the winter road to an all-season one.

Taylor said the company has done numerous environmental assessments and does not expect to hear a decision until 2016.

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