North of 60 Mining News - The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Pebble Partnership copper gold molybdenum mine project Alaska Northern Dynasty NAK NDM

By Curt Freeman
PNA Columnist 

Mining news summary: Final tally suggests exploration expenditures for 2002 will come in at about the same or slightly higher than 2001

The big spenders in 2002 are Donlin Creek, Pebble and Pogo; properties that moved toward more advanced exploration include Rock Creek, Divide, Golden Summit, Rob, Shulin Lake, MAN and Duke Island; Pogo gold project passes milestone


Last updated 11/17/2002 at Noon

Information continues to trickle in from 2002 exploration programs around the state with the final tally suggesting exploration expenditures for 2002 will come in at about the same or slightly higher levels as in 2001.

As is most years, a few major projects expend the majority of the funds while many smaller projects move either forward toward increased funding or backward to the project bone yard.

The big spenders in 2002 will be Donlin Creek, Pebble and Pogo while properties that moved toward more advanced exploration in future include Rock Creek, Divide, Golden Summit, Rob, Shulin Lake, MAN and Duke Island.

With gold prices stabilized above $300 per ounce and platinum prices moving in the high $500 per ounce range, exploration budgets for these metals look to be more robust in 2003. On the other side of the ledger, base metals prices remain dismal while forecasts for tantalum, nickel and palladium suggest these metals will continue to trade in the lower end of their price range for the near future.

Western Alaska

Teck-Cominco's Red Dog mine continued fighting depressed zinc and lead prices in the third quarter which contributed to a $10 million loss during the quarter. For the quarter, the mine generated 143,200 tonnes of zinc in concentrate, a 7 percent increase over the third quarter of 2001. The mine also sold 177,300 tonnes of zinc in concentrate. Zinc prices average $0.34 per pound during the quarter versus $0.37 per pound in the third quarter of 2001. The company estimated that shipping of concentrates this season will total 1,046,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 193,000 tonnes of lead concentrate, both significant increases over 2001.

Novagold Resources announced additional drilling results from its ACMA zone at its Donlin Creek deposit in southwestern Alaska.

Results include hole DC02-859 which intersected 31.6 meters grading 7.4 grams gold per tonne and 34.0 meters grading 5.6 grams gold per tonne, hole DC02-860 which intercepted 20.3 meters grading 7.9 grams gold per tonne, hole DC02-861 which intersected 16.0 meters grading 6.4 grams gold per tonne, 30.0 meters grading 9.0 grams gold per tonne and 15.5 meters grading 4.5 grams gold per tonne, hole DC02-863 which intersected 15.4 meters grading 6.3 grams gold per tonne, 41.0 meters grading 6.1 grams gold per tonne and 26.2 meters grading 5.9 grams gold per tonne and hole DC02-864 which intersected 27.2 meters grading 4.2 grams gold per tonne, 12.0 meters grading 7.8 grams gold per tonne and 22 meters grading 3.6 grams gold per tonne.

Additional assays are still pending from this area and the mineralization remains open to expansion.

Additional drilling at the Akivik zone intersected high-grade gold mineralization including hole DC02-856 which intersected 6.9 meters grading 20.8 grams gold per tonne and hole DC02-858 which intersected 3.9 meters grading 12.6 grams gold per tonne and 7.7 meters grading 3.9 grams gold per tonne.

Further follow-up drilling is planned in this area.

Through early October the company had completed 31,300 meters of drilling in 102 core and 133 rotary holes.

Drilling was accelerated in October and the company expects to complete an additional 30,000 meters of drilling by the end of December.

The company anticipated that by the end of October it will have expended $10 million on the project and will have earned a 70 percent in the project from joint venture partner Placer Dome.


Northern Dynasty Minerals announced additional results from its Phase 2 drilling at its Pebble copper - gold project near Iliamna.

Broad-spaced drilling of 16 holes at its 38 zone discovery has rapidly expanded the size of the prospect.

Since discovery in June the prospect has increased in size to more than 1000 meters along strike and up to 600 meters in width.

The prospect remains open in both strike directions and at depth.

Drill highlights include hole 49 which intersected 149 meters grading 0.42 percent copper and 0.41 grams gold per tonne, hole 50 which encountered 30 meters grading 0.30 percent copper and 1.12 grams gold per tonne, hole 45 which intersected 31 meters grading 0.41 percent copper and 0.31 grams gold per tonne and hole 44 which returned 34 meters grading 0.40 percent copper and 0.36 grams gold per tonne.

Additional drilling of the 25 zone high grade gold discovery encountered structurally-controlled gold mineralization.

Drill hole 62 intersected strong silicification and multiple stages of brecciation in three intervals totaling 3.1 meters with an average grade of 15.3 grams gold per tonne.

A strong, northeast-trending coincident gold-lead-zinc soil geochemical anomaly is situated immediately east of the high-grade gold mineralization and represents a priority target for follow-up drilling.

Phase Three drilling is now being planned and permitted for early spring to delineate additional higher-grade copper-gold resources within the 38 zone, 25 zone and the 37 skarn zone.

Rio Fortuna Exploration Corp. announced results from its Divide gold project in the Nome District.

The company completed 18 drill holes totaling 1,357 meters that tested the central portion of the property.

Two types of mineralization were encountered: quartz-albite-arsenopyrite mineralization with or without visible gold and silicified zones within graphitic schists.

The flat lying veining may be related to wider zones of mineralization in graphitic schist.

These zones can be traced through nine of the eleven drill holes drilled in the area and mineralization remains open to the north and west.

Drilling highlights include hole 02RF-5 containing 12 meters of 1.66 grams gold per tonne and hole 02RF11 containing 16 meters of 1.60 grams gold per tonne.

Additional work is planned for 2003.

Eastern Interior

Teck Cominco announced that the Pogo gold project passed a milestone with the issuance of the Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Statement by the Environmental Protection Agency on August 29. The permitting process is continuing and public release of this document is expected in the near future. The company anticipates that a construction permit will be issued by the end of 2003. Condemnation and infill drilling that was completed in the third quarter is being incorporated into an updated resource model that is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

Freegold Ventures Ltd. announced additional results from trenching conducted on its Golden Summit project in the Fairbanks District.

Prior to reclamation activities, the farthest east trench was extended to determine the extent of gold mineralization discovered near its northern end.

This extension exposed additional mineralization including an 18-inch thick quartz vein which contained abundant coarse visible gold with assays grading up to 428 grams per tonne (12.5 ounces per ton).

The vein exposed contained disseminated and leaf gold in a polyphase white to gray quartz vein with textures indicated multiple periods of quartz and gold introduction.

Mineralization associated with this new vein discovery is open along strike and at depth.

The company is planning to conduct 4,000 feet of diamond drilling in late 2002 or early 2003 to determine the extent of mineralization encountered in trenching.

Northern Alaska

Silverado Gold Mines announced resumption of underground placer mining operations at its Nolan Creek mine in the southern Brooks Range. Placer resources at Nolan total 114,760 ounces of gold. Previous mining on the property has produced coarse gold nuggets up to 31 troy ounces.

Southeast Alaska

Coeur Alaska has amended its Kensington Mine plan of operations to reduce wetlands impacts, reduce air emissions, reduce energy consumption, eliminate permanent habitat alterations and eliminate barge and fuel handling problems in Lynn Canal. The project is expected to create 225 full time jobs during production and generate $7.5 million in local purchases during construction and $1.5 million per year following start-up.

Quaterra Resources announced completion of an independent review of its 2002 airborne geophysical program on its Duke Island project. The review focused on a four kilometer square area and identified nine discrete, multi-anomaly zones with strike lengths ranging from 400 meters to 1,500 meters. The report indicated that these zones could be indicative of massive sulfide mineralization similar to that discovered by Quaterra at the Marquis zone in 2001. The company indicated that its 2002 program at Duke Island focused on prioritizing targets for the next drilling campaign, now projected for spring, 2003.


Gold Fields Mineral Services (GFMS) in its most recent half-yearly report predicts gold production in 2002 will drop by 3 percent, the first decrease in world gold production since 1995. Decreases are due to fewer new mine start-ups and falling production at mature operations, especially in North America. Global mine production fell to 1,216 tons, a decrease of 63 tons or 5 percent during the first half of 2002.

Copper Ridge Explorations Inc. announced that drilling is planned at its Yukon Olympic project north of Dawson by joint venture partner Canadian Empire Exploration Corp. Canadian Empire is earning a 51 percent interest in the project by funding the first $1.5 million in exploration expenditures.

Three gravity anomalies ranging in amplitude from 2.0 to 4.0 milligals have been defined over an 8-kilometer strike length.

A large magnetic anomaly has been defined adjacent to the gravity anomalies.

Peripheral to the overburden covered geophysical targets are occurrences of hematite breccias carrying copper values.

These geological and geophysical targets are similar to the two billion tonne Olympic Dam copper-gold deposit in Australia.

Initial drilling will test the presence of iron-oxide-copper-gold mineralization in one of three targets in preparation for additional exploration planned for 2003.


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