Casa Berardi La Sarre, Quebec

Hecla’s 100% owned Casa Berardi mine, is an underground/open pit gold mine located in western Quebec, a politically stable and mining friendly region, with good geology and infrastructure. In 2021, the mine produced 134,511 ounces of gold. The mine is expected to produce 125,000 to 132,000 ounces of gold in 2022.

Map - Casa Berardi
Overview & History

The Casa Berardi mine is situated 95 kilometres north of La Sarre, Quebec and straddles a 37 kilometre section of the Casa Berardi fault.

The Casa Berardi gold deposits are located along a five kilometre east-west mineralized corridor. They include the East and West mines, and the Principal Zones. The Casa Berardi gold deposits can be classified as an Archean sedimentary-hosted lode gold deposit. The gold mineralization is superimposed on a continuous graphitic mudrock unit corresponding to the Casa Berardi Fault plane. Gold occurs mainly south of the Casa Berardi Fault, and occasionally on both sides of the fault.

The West Mine shaft deepening project, which included construction of loading pockets and other related infrastructure, was completed in the fourth quarter of 2014, and is improving mine operations by providing additional access to the 118 and 123 zones for transporting ore and waste from underground. Excavation of the 985 drift (previously referred to as 1010) from the deepened shaft is complete. This drift is expected to improve ventilation and material handling and also provide a platform for deeper exploration drilling.

The Company began producing ore from the East Mine Crown Pillar (EMCP) pit in July 2016. Located near the East mine, the capital for this shallow pit project is expected to be $39 million over 5.5 years. The project has an expected IRR of 90%.

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Production

Casa Berardi is an underground trackless mine accessed by declines and a shaft. The mining methods are longhole transversal stoping in 10 metres or more mineralization width, and longitudinal retreat stoping in narrower ore bodies. The mineralized zones put in reserves are of varying thickness, ranging from a few tens of meters to 3 meters, which is the minimum mining width. Most of the hanging walls are sub-vertical (55° to 85°), with typically the graphitic Casa Berardi fault at the footwall. In addition, ore in being produced from the East Mine Crown Pillar (EMCP) pit located near the East mine

The mine has produced approximately 2.0 million recovered gold ounces since commencing production in 1988, including about 1.0 million recovered ounces since production recommenced in November 2006.

(years ended December 31)
2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Silver (ounces) 36,566 38,086 31,640 24,142 33,517
Gold (ounces) 156,653 162,744 134,409 121,492 134,511

Year-End Production PDF

Technical Report Summary – S-K 1300 Report

Technical Report Summary on the Casa Berardi Mine, Northwestern Québec, Canada

Reserves & Resources

Information with respect to proven and probable ore reserves, measured, and inferred resources is set forth below.

Mineral Reserves & Resources
(As of December 31, 2021 unless otherwise noted)
 Tons Silver Gold Lead Zinc Silver Gold Lead Zinc
(000) (oz/ton) (oz/ton) (%) (%) (000 oz) (000 oz) (Tons) (Tons)
Open Pit - 
Proven Reserves (1,2) 4,763 0.10 453
Probable Reserves (1,2) 13,371 0.07 928
Proven and Probable Reserves (1,2) 18,134 0.08 1,381
Underground -
Proven Reserves (1,2) 923 - 0.16 - - - 143 - -
Probable Reserves (1,2) 1,695 - 0.15 - - - 259 - -
Proven and Probable Reserves (1,2) 2,618 - 0.15 - - - 403 - -
Open Pit -
Measured Resources (3,4) 96 0.04 4
Indicated Resources (3,4) 420 0.03 14
M&I Resources (3,4) 516 0.03 18
Underground -
Measured Resources (3,4) 2,272 - 0.15 - - - 351 - -
Indicated Resources (3,4) 4,976 - 0.14 - - - 685 - -
M&I Resources (3,4) 7,248 - 0.14 - - - 1,036 - -
Open Pit - 
Inferred Resources (3,4) 7,886 0.05 383
Underground -
Inferred Resources (3,4) 2,239 - 0.18 - - - 408 - -
(footnotes)
Note: All estimates are in-situ. Resources are exclusive of reserves. Totals may not represent the sum of parts due to rounding.

(1) Mineral reserves are based on $17/oz silver, $1600/oz gold, $0.90/lb lead, $1.15/lb zinc, unless otherwise stated.

(2) The average reserve cut-off grades at Casa Berardi are 0.101 oz/ton gold (3.47 g/tonne) for underground and 0.037 oz/ton (1.27 g/tonne) for open pit. Metallurgical recovery (actual 2021): 84.82% gold; US$/CAN$ exchange rate: 1:1.275.

(3) Mineral resources are based on $1700/oz gold, $21/oz silver, $1.15/lb lead, $1.35/lb zinc and $3.00/lb copper, unless otherwise stated.

(4) The average resource cut-off grades at Casa Berardi are 0.089 oz/ton gold (3.06 g/tonne) for underground and 0.036 oz/ton (1.22 g/tonne) for open pit; metallurgical recovery (actual 2021): 84.82% gold; US$/CAN$ exchange rate: 1:1.275.

Reporting requirements in the United States for disclosure of mineral properties as of December 31, 2020 and earlier are governed by the SEC’s Securities Act Industry Guide 7, entitled “Description of Property by Issuers Engaged or to be Engaged in Significant Mining Operations” (Guide 7). Effective January 1, 2021, the SEC has issued new rules rescinding Guide 7. Mining companies are not required to comply with the new rules until the first fiscal year beginning on or after January 1, 2021. Thus, the Company will be required to comply with the new rules when filing its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021. The Company is also a “reporting issuer” under Canadian securities laws, which require estimates of mineral resources and reserves to be prepared in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101). NI 43-101 requires all disclosure of estimates of potential mineral resources and reserves to be disclosed in accordance with its requirements. Such Canadian information is included herein to satisfy the Company’s “public disclosure” obligations under Regulation FD of the SEC and to provide U.S. holders with ready access to information publicly available in Canada.

Reporting requirements in the United States for disclosure of mineral properties under Guide 7 compared to the new SEC rules (Item 1300 of Regulation S-K under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934) and the requirements in Canada under NI 43-101 standards are substantially different. This document contains a summary of certain estimates of the Company, not only of Proven and Probable reserves within the meaning of Guide 7, but also of mineral resource and mineral reserve estimates estimated in accordance with the new SEC rules and definitional standards of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum referred to in NI 43-101.  Under Guide 7, the term “reserve” means that part of a mineral deposit that can be economically and legally extracted or produced at the time of the reserve determination. The term “economically”, as used in the definition of reserve, means that profitable extraction or production has been established or analytically demonstrated to be viable and justifiable under reasonable investment and market assumptions. The term “legally”, as used in the definition of reserve, does not imply that all permits needed for mining and processing have been obtained or that other legal issues have been completely resolved. However, for a reserve to exist, Hecla must have a justifiable expectation, based on applicable laws and regulations, that issuance of permits or resolution of legal issues necessary for mining and processing at a particular deposit will be accomplished in the ordinary course and in a timeframe consistent with Hecla’s current mine plans.  The terms “Measured resources”, “Indicated resources,” and “Inferred resources” are mining terms as defined in accordance with the new SEC rules and NI 43-101. These terms are not defined under Guide 7 and prior to January 1, 2021, were not normally permitted to be used in reports and registration statements filed with the SEC in the United States, except where required to be disclosed by foreign law. The term “resource” does not equate to the term “reserve”. Under Guide 7, the material described herein as “Indicated resources” and “Measured resources” would be characterized as “mineralized material” and is permitted to be disclosed in tonnage and grade only, not ounces.  The category of “inferred resources” is not recognized by Guide 7.   Investors are cautioned not to assume that any part or all of the mineral deposits in such categories will ever be converted into Proven or Probable reserves. “Resources” have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence, and great uncertainty as to their economic and legal feasibility. It cannot be assumed that all or any part of such a “resource” will ever be upgraded to a higher category or will ever be economically extracted. Investors are cautioned not to assume that all or any part of a “resource” exists or is economically or legally mineable. Investors are also especially cautioned that the mere fact that such resources may be referred to in ounces of silver and/or gold, rather than in tons of mineralization and grades of silver and/or gold estimated per ton, is not an indication that such material will ever result in mined ore which is processed into commercial silver or gold.

2021 Reserves & Resources PDF

Exploration

In 2022 of the $45 million planned exploration spend, 16% is planned for Casa Berardi. Exploration will be focused on replacing production and expansion of high-grade underground reserves and resources through drill testing and conversion of inferred resource to reserves.

Underground definition drilling will focus on the following areas: 1) the 118 and 119 zones expanding resources to the west and east of the current reserves, 2) the high-grade plunge at depth and to the east in the Lower 123 Zone in addition to infilling the gap between the Lower 123 and Upper 123 zones, and 3) upgrading resource at depth in the 148 Zone.  Exploration drilling will focus on testing the high-grade up and/or down plunge extensions of the 113, 116, 118, 123, 128, 134, 146 and 148 zones as defined from the recent 3D geological modeling and targeting completed in 2021.  In addition to these underground exploration programs within the mining lease at Casa Berardi, surface sonic drilling is planned for initial testing of regional target areas in the west, central, and east claim blocks along the Casa Berardi Break.  This drilling will enhance historic till sampling in addition to mapping the subsurface bedrock lithologies, alteration, and structures.

Future Plans

The Company has been focused on long-term operational improvement at Casa Berardi. These investments have yielded results:  mill performance is consistent with >approximately 90% availability; ~10% increase in underground active time, leading to improved productivity; reduced underground maintenance backlog by 2.5 weeks which translates to higher equipment availability; and increased operator accountability to decrease operator driven downtime.