Probe Metals (CVE: PRB) has drilled the highest-grade core yet at its Val-d’Or East project’s Monique deposit in Quebec as it prepares to expand its mineral resource estimate next month.
Expansion drill hole MO-22-475 cut 22.9 metres grading 4.9 grams gold per tonne cut and 19.2 grams gold uncut (with a 100 grams per tonne cap) from 22.6 metres down hole, Probe said in a news release on Tuesday. The core sample included 427 grams gold over 1 metre, 227.8 grams gold over 1 metre and 17 grams gold over 4 metres, Probe said.
Infill drill hole MO-22-499 returned 37.3 metres grading 2.4 grams gold from 90 metres down hole; hole MO-22-484 cut 44 metres grading 1.8 grams gold from a depth of 76 metres, and hole MO-22-482 found 3.2 grams gold over 21.6 metres, data show.
“The holes released today have provided us with yet another record gold interval and we are in the enviable position of having a deposit that remains open in all directions,” Probe chief executive officer and president David Palmer said in the release.
“In 2023 our goal will be to demonstrate the phenomenal growth potential that we see in this project by continuing to grow resources, as well as stepping out to test some of the regional targets we have been developing over the past two years.”
Toronto-based Probe has outlined a gold system 2.2 km long, 1 km wide and 600 metres deep that will inform a new resource estimate scheduled for January. The strong drill results follow a base metals discovery announced last week at its La Peltrie joint venture also in Quebec, broadening Probe’s success while some analysts rate the company as a leading explorer.
Probe has completed 165,000 metres in the drilling program at the gold project 25 km east of Val-d’Or and will resume drilling in January, Palmer said. This year a total of 85,000 metres of drilling across 299 holes has been completed at Monique. The Val-d’Or East property, which includes the Monique, Pacalis and Courvan deposits, lies among three past-producing mines: Beliveau, Monique and Bussiere. Updates for the Pascalis and Courvan deposits are expected in the first quarter of 2023, the company said.
BMO Capital Markets said Probe’s drilling will increase the amount of ore in an open-pit concept and likely expand the mine’s processing capacity.
“The continued success at Monique is clearly growing the pits, and in our view will increase the contribution to the resource, and likely to the future mine plan, from open pit mining versus underground,” mining analyst Andrew Mikitchook wrote in a note on Tuesday.
“We also see the potential for a larger throughput at the project in addition to a longer mine life, thanks to the continued expansion of mineralization at Monique both inside and beyond the preliminary economic assessment (PEA) pit shells.”
The 2021 PEA suggested an open-pit and underground project capable of producing more than 200,000 oz. gold a year for a 13-year mine life.
Canaccord Genuity said Probe is its top pick among gold developers because of how it’s increased its resource estimate by 434% since 2016, as well as the project’s cost-effectiveness, output potential, and low geopolitical risk. Analyst Michael Fairbairn welcomed the strong drilling results.
“Importantly, gold intercepts were relatively shallow at an average depth of 206 metres versus about 250 metres from previously released intercepts,” Fairbairn said in a note on Tuesday. “Probe’s impressive results from Monique bodes well for the January 2023 resource update.
The results of 341 other holes at the project are pending as Probe continues with geotechnical, metallurgical and other studies to complete a pre-feasibility study due in autumn next year.
A July 2021 measured and indicated resource estimates for the Val-d’Or East property showed 29.78 million tonnes grading 1.81 grams gold per tonne for 1.73 million oz. contained metal.
The project’s other properties, Lapaska, Senore and Sleepy contain 2.67 million tonnes of 3.19 grams gold per tonne for 273,900 oz. gold in an inferred resource estimate from the same time.
The analysts’ support of the drilling results follows the discovery this month by Probe and Midland Exploration (TSXV: MD) of a new copper-gold-silver-molybdenum deposit at the La Peltrie project in Quebec’s Detour Lake region. Drill hole LAP-22-012 intersected 345.5 metres grading 0.2% copper equivalent from surface.
“This first set of drill results highlights the potential of Probe’s substantial Detour project,” Fairbairn said in a Dec. 6 note. “Although low grade, the mineralized zone contained higher grade intercepts and management believes it has the potential to extend laterally and at depth.”
The La Peltrie or Detour gold project lies across 777 sq. km about 190 km north of Rouyn-Noranda in the mineral-rich Abitibi region.
Probe shares rose 4.7% on Tuesday to trade at $1.24 in Toronto. The stock touched a high of $2.31 this year in March and April and is valued at about $187 million.