IDAHO - The Sunshine silver mine, once the richest silver producer in the United States, is back in production with the announcement by owner STERLING MINING that it has begun processing ore through the mill. Sterling, of Wallace, Idaho, optioned the property in 2003 with the intention to put it back into production for the long term. During its heyday, the Sunshine mine produced over 300 million oz of silver, more than the famed Comstock Lode in Nevada.
Ore stockpiled from approximately 90 metres of drifting on a new portion of the Sunshine vein between historic Polaris and Sunshine mine workings is being milled. This ore, accessed from the new Sterling tunnel, was exposed during exploration cross-cutting in June and July. Sampling by Sterling's geologists indicates a vein grade of 1,155 g/t Ag (33.7 opt) over 0.27 metre true vein width over the entire length of the exploration drift.
The mill is currently using the No.3 ball mill to process ore while renovation of the No.1 and No.2 ball mills is completed prior to full production in December.
The last remaining milestone is rehabilitation of the Silver Summit shaft, said Sterling. So far, the shaft repair crew has completed work on and above the top shaft station and approximately 60 metres vertically down the shaft since recommissioning the hoist on Sept. 10. Once rehabilitation of the Silver Summit shaft is complete to the 3000-level, the mine's secondary escapeway, required by federal law, will be back in place. At that time, crews will restore utilities, re-establish repair shops, and move diesel-powered mining equipment underground.
Returning the Sunshine mine to sustained production is forecasted for December with ore production from 3100- and 2700-level mining areas. More information is available at www.SterlingMining.com.