i-80 Gold Corp. reported the initial rehab of the underground workings has been completed at its Granite Creek mine, located in Humboldt County, Nevada, and an underground test mining program is now under way.

Granite Creek hosts both open pit and underground resources and is located at the north end of the Battle Mountain-Eureka Trend at its intersection with the Getchell gold belt in Nevada. The underground deposit at Granite Creek represents one of the highest-grade gold deposits in North America with resource grades greater than 10 grams per metric ton (g/mt) of gold.

The primary goal of the 2021 program is to advance underground drilling and test mining with a target to make a production decision. Underground drilling and advancements will be focused on delineating sufficient resources for near-term mine development and initial mined material from Granite Creek is expected to be trucked for processing at the nearby Twin Creeks processing facility via an interim processing arrangement with Nevada Gold Mines (NGM).

“The interim processing arrangement with Nevada Gold Mines represents a key milestone event for i-80, removing uncertainty of our ability to process refractory ore from the Granite Creek,” i-80 President and COO Matt Gili said. “As a partner of NGM for several years at South Arturo, which will be transferred to NGM as part of the broader transaction, we have built a strong working relationship and we look forward to continuing to build on this relationship as we realize our plan to develop multiple projects in the state of Nevada”.

The test mining program at Granite Creek is verifying the appropriate mining methods, cycles, and sequences for advancing the underground ore headings, while controlling open excavations and maintaining safe mining conditions. Testing will include both mechanical cutting and conventional mining methods.

In addition to the underground drill program at Granite Creek, the surface drilling program testing near‑surface mineralization for metallurgical purposes and open-pit definition is now complete. This part of the program was competed primarily to advance permitting for open-pit mining including heap leach processing on-site. The company said the preliminary economic assessment for Granite Creek is nearing completion and they expect it to be released in the near future.