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

By Sarah Hurst
For Mining News 

RDN still waiting to hit its home run

Rimfire Minerals and Northgate Minerals seek VMS deposit like Barrick's Eskay Creek in same area of northwest British Columbia


Last updated 10/29/2006 at Noon

If a company has explored a property for three years and not found any economic mineralization, it will often cut its losses and find a new place to go. The RDN property in northwest British Columbia is in its third consecutive year of exploration. Assay results from this season's drilling could determine whether or not two Vancouver-based companies, Rimfire Minerals and Northgate Minerals, invest any more of their time and money here.

Rimfire is a junior mining company with exploration properties in Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia and Nevada. Northgate is the operator of the Kemess South open pit gold-copper mine in north-central British Columbia and the owner of an underground gold exploration property, Young-Davidson, in northern Ontario.

A group from the Alaska Miners Association visited RDN in August and was treated to a geological presentation by project consultant Murray Jones, as well as a delectable spread of chocolate-covered strawberries and éclairs prepared by the camp cook. As yet, there is no sugar-coating on the RDN property itself, but Jones hasn't given up hope. "There's still some real mystery out there in terms of what the rocks are doing. We know the target is small," he said. "A home run to Northgate on this property would be a sniff that there is something more going on here."

RDN close to Eskay Creek gold mine

RDN is close to Barrick's Eskay Creek gold mine and there are signs that some areas on the property are geologically similar to Eskay Creek. "Eskay Creek has a very small footprint," Jones said. "You don't find a sign of it more than a few meters from the deposit." More sleuthing is required to find a VMS (volcanogenic massive sulfide) deposit like Eskay Creek than to find a porphyry deposit, for example, Jones added.

"Massive sulfide bodies form good conductors and show up well on geophysical surveys, but so do graphitic sediments, so that can get confusing," Jones said. Northgate spent $125,000 on an airborne geophysical survey at RDN this year, focusing on an area of the property known as Arctic. The remainder of an exploration budget of C$1 million was spent on drilling four holes totaling 1,350 meters, with one rig. "You don't get a lot of work for $1 million in this area," Jones said. "If I had more money I would definitely close the spacing and do more mapping."

Exploration in 2005 showed that the rhyolites - igneous volcanic rocks - at Arctic were very similar geochemically to those that host the Eskay Creek deposit, including being the same age. A previous exploration program at RDN in 1989-92 focused on gold-rich quartz sulfide veins. At Eskay Creek, such high-grade veins were the target of exploration for 50 years prior to the discovery of the stratiform ore bodies, according to Rimfire. It remains to be seen whether investors will maintain their interest in RDN for another half-century.


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