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By Curt Freeman
For Petroleum News, The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

'Termination dust' prods explorers to wrap up busy exploration season


Last updated 9/30/2007 at Noon

Even though the concept of global warming is a welcome idea to many companies working in Alaska, its effects are not being felt fast enough to allow companies to complete all of the work they had hoped to finish in 2007. Drills are still turning all over the state, but the first signs of "termination dust" are showing on the higher peaks and the smell of fermenting berries fills the air, giving us all a not-so gentle prod to get ready for winter.

Western Alaska

Teck Cominco Ltd.'s Red Dog mine saw continued strong operating profits in the second half of 2007.

Operating profits rose to $265 million versus $240 million during the same period of 2006.

For the first half of 2007, the mine generated 287,000 metric tons of zinc and 64,000 metric tons of lead in concentrate.

The first concentrate shipment left the Red Dog mine on July 5, 19 days earlier than in 2006.

Total shipments for the 2007 shipping season are expected to be about 1 million metric tons of zinc concentrate and 260,000 metric tons of lead concentrate.

Average zinc grade mined was 20.6 percent versus 22.2 percent a year ago.

Mill throughput of 1,687,000 metric tons in the first half of 2007 was significantly up from the 1,539,000 metric tons milled in the first half of 2006.

TNR Gold Corp. said it has begun exploration at its Shotgun Hills project north of Dillingham. Mapping and sampling efforts will focus on a 6.5-kilometer-long ridgeline on the Winchester prospect where previous drilling intersected sill-hosted gold mineralization.

Andover Ventures Inc. said an induced polarization geophysical survey was completed at its Kamishak copper-gold prospect on the Alaska Peninsula. The survey consisted of 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles) in three reconnaissance lines across the known mineralized area and in adjacent areas where previous geochemical anomalies were detected. Response over the known mineralized area was only modest; however, strong, relatively shallow chargeability and resistivity anomalies were detected along the hillside north of the area previously drilled. Additional work is planned for this area.

Andover Ventures Inc. reported drilling results from its Bulk Gold project near Nome. The 2007 drill consisted of 650 meters of core drilling in 7 holes. Hole BG-07-05, drilled in the Dorothy Creek soil anomaly, intersected 14.6 meters grading 1.02 grams of gold per metric ton while hole BG-07-07 on the same prospect returned 10.5 meters grading 0.59 grams of gold per metric ton. Additional drilling results are pending.

NPN Investment Group and JV partner Andover Ventures Inc. Also announced initial results from exploration at the Alaska Peninsula project on lands leased from Bristol Bay Native Corp. At the KUY prospect, four core holes totaling 793 meters were drilled with holes KUY-08-07 and KUY-09-07 encountering significant clay alteration with up to 15 percent sulfides.

Silica flooding and quartz stockwork veining were common in both drill holes.

Mineralization was primarily pyrite but included zones of chalcopyrite in both disseminated and veinlet form within altered dacitic volcanic rocks.

Assay results are pending.

The company also reported on re-logging and re-analysis of old drill core from the Kemuk platinum group metal prospect.

Kemuk was initially explored as an iron deposit, but analyses of mafic intrusives hosting the iron-oxide mineralization returned significant platinum group metal anomalies.

The 2007 work included re-assay of 344 samples totaling 2,920 meters of core.

While additional anomalies were found, no significant platinum group metal mineralized zones were detected.

Liberty Star Uranium & Metals Corp. said it has entered into a letter of intent with Millrock Resources Inc. on the former's Bonanza Hills project on the Alaska Peninsula. Under terms of the deal, Millrock will have an option to earn up to 60 percent interest in the project by spending $3.5 million dollars on exploration work and issuing 1 million shares of their stock over four years. Previous efforts on this property returned gold values exceeding three ounces of gold per ton from surface samples of quartz vein material. Immediate exploration plans were not announced.

Eastern Interior

Freegold Ventures Ltd. said it has completed the commissioning of its 1,200 ton per day gravity recovery plant at its Golden Summit project.

The plant is designed to generate gold recoveries in excess of 70 percent from a circuit that contains a crushing plant and a three-stage gravity circuit using variable-sized concentrators.

After completion of the plant optimization, Freegold plans to begin processing a 10,000 ton bulk sample collected last fall and another 8,000 tons of bulk sample from mineralized material recently excavated and stockpiled from the Beistline shaft and eastern Cleary Hill mine areas.

The company also reported completion of initial rotary air blast drilling, which included 674 holes totaling 40,093 feet.

Additional drilling will be conducted this winter.

Teck Cominco Ltd. and partners Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Corp.'s Pogo gold mine reached commercial production in the second quarter of 2007 and produced 121,300 ounces of gold during the first half of 2007.

Mill throughput was 297,000 metric tons with a recovery of 84 percent.

First half production costs were not reported but second quarter 2007 production costs were $460 per ounce.

Gold production of 76,900 ounces in the second quarter was lower than full capacity as mill operations are still being optimized.

Ore grades were also below plan due to stope sequencing and higher than expected dilution.

Efforts to improve mine production and optimize mill recoveries are ongoing and gold production is expected to improve in the third and fourth quarters.

Full Metal Minerals announced initial drilling on the Fish polymetallic prospect at its Fortymile project under option from DOYON LTD. Significant drilling results include hole Fish 07-09 which returned 8.01 meters averaging 12.3 percent zinc 6.9 grams of silver per metric ton and hole Fish 07-10 which returned 5.62 meters averaging 4.2 percent zinc 19.4 grams of silver per metric ton Ten drill holes have been completed at the Fish prospect, testing a 1500 meter long gossan that is interpreted to have been derived from intensely weathered massive to semi-massive sulfides replacing carbonate rocks.

To date, drilling has tested approximately 600 meters of strike length and 375 meters down dip.

The deepest hole drilled (hole Fish 07-09) was targeted at mineralization below the oxide zone however the mineralized interval in this hole was still in the oxide zone at 250 feet below surface.

Mineralization is also strongly anomalous in bismuth, arsenic and antimony, suggesting potential for intrusive-related gold mineralization that is unrelated to the sulfide replacement mineralization targeted by drilling.


International Tower Hill Mines announced initial drilling results from its West Tanana gold project under option from Doyon Ltd. Highlights include a 10 centimeter quartz vein with visible gold in quartz within a 0.3 meter interval assaying 15.6 grams of gold per metric ton and a broader breccia zone returning 2.5 grams of gold per metric ton over 4.3 meters.

The initial phase of diamond drilling encountered both high-grade quartz veins and broad zones of potentially stratabound mineralization.

Difficult drilling conditions within major fault zones resulted in poor recoveries in a number of the holes, all but one being lost prior to testing the proposed target zones.

The mineralized zones appear related to a series of stacked low angle shear zones.

High angle quartz vein/breccia zones were identified in one drill hole and may have acted as feeders to the low angle shear zones.

Freegold Ventures Ltd. also announced completion of 3,514 feet of drilling in 17 holes at its Rob gold project in the Goodpaster District.

Drilling was conducted on the Gray Lead and O'Reely, prospects, both of which returned quartz vein intervals averaging true widths of 4 to 10 feet.

A total of 8 holes (1,529 feet) were drilled at Gray Lead from two separate drill pads and 10 holes (1,985 feet) were drilled at O'Reely from four separate drill pads.

Drilling at both targets encountered sugary textured quartz veins containing fine-grained bismuthinite and arsenopyrite.

Veins were hosted in altered biotite granodiorite at O'Reely and biotite augen paragneiss at Grey Lead.

Analytical results on this drilling are pending.

The company also reported on surface rock sampling conducted on the project in 2006 and 2007.

Results included gold values up to 46.7 grams of gold per metric ton from the Blue Lead prospect, 11.5 grams of gold per metric ton from the Michigan prospect, 6.61 grams of gold per metric ton from the O'Reely prospect, 49.88grams of gold per metric ton from the Grey Lead prospect and 37.78 grams of gold per metric ton from the Grizzly mine prospect.

Alaska Range

Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. said it has applied for permits to expand operations at its current Two Bull Ridge open pit coal mine to allow access to reserves capable of extending the mine life out an additional 25 years at an anticipated average production rate of 2 million tons of coal per year.

Max Resource Corp. announced initial drilling results from its Gold Hill molybdenum project in the Valdez Creek District. Hole DH07-1 returned 540 feet grading 0.054 percent molybdenum disulfide starting at surface. This interval represents only the upper half of the drill hole with assays from bottom half still outstanding. Assays are pending for the bottom of hole 1 and an additional 4 holes drilled at the prospect in 2007.

International Tower Hill Mines announced discovery of a porphyry copper-gold system at its Chisna prospect. Preliminarily sampling has returned highly anomalous gold and copper values from surface soil and rock chip sampling over an area of approximately 1 square kilometer presently centered on a partially exposed mineralized porphyry system. Mineralization is open in all directions. Initial rock samples from this area average 2.9 grams of gold per metric ton and 0.68 percent copper. The new zone of mineralization is related to a porphyry system with a gold-rich upper zone transitioning into a copper-gold zone at depth.

Northern Alaska

Andover Ventures Inc. announced initial results from its Sun project on the Ambler Mining District. Over 760 soil and rock chip samples were collected in June and July and revealed anomalies ranged up to 400-plus parts per million copper, 300-plus ppm lead and 450-plus ppm zinc. The anomalies extend the mineralized trend another 3 miles southwest of the Main Sun deposit where past drilling has outlined resources. The company also reported that ten drill holes (6,837 feet) have been completed on the project in 2007. Of the ten drill holes, seven intersected 9.8 to 41 foot thicknesses of massive sulfide. Assays are pending and drilling continues.

Little Squaw Gold Mining reported on placer and lode exploration results from its Little Squaw gold project in the Brooks Range.

The company reported placer results from 14,500 feet of drilling in 90 holes completed in 2007.

Drilling has so far outlined potentially economic mineralization over approximately 500 linear feet along the creek between drill lines 3 and 4.

Mineralization occurs over an average width of 800 to 1,000 feet.

The pay horizon on Line 3 averages 90 feet thick with a weighted average recoverable gold value of $14.51 per cubic yard, versus a thickness of 82 feet with a weighted average recoverable gold value of $15.80 per cubic yard for Line 4.

Glacial overburden on Line 3 averages 71 feet thick compared to a thickness of 74 feet on Line 4.

The highest grade interval was one five-foot intercept of $1,917.74 per cubic yard in Hole 7 East (based on a gold price of $600 per ounce).

In addition, the company announced that lode gold exploration on the Pallasgreen prospect intersected a 30-foot-wide structure that assays 11.43 grams of gold per metric ton.

The structure is composed of a strong fault zone in schist containing clay fault gouge, several sulfide-bearing quartz veins and breccia composed of iron-stained quartz fragments.

Additional trenching is in progress.

Silverado Gold Mines said it has so far recovered 2,811 ounces of gold from its placer gold operation at its Nolan Creek project in the Brooks Range. The largest nugget recovered to date weighed 18.32 troy ounces.

Southeast Alaska

Landmark Minerals Inc. and partner Ucore Uranium Inc. announced that five holes have now been completed at their Bokan Mountain uranium-rare earth property near Ketchikan. Drill results are pending and drilling is continuing on the project.


Alaska State Rep. Jay Ramras stepped into hot water earlier this month by sending a letter to the State Attorney General indicating that he had heard rumors while on a fishing trip that residents of the Iliamna area were being improperly paid to support development of Northern Dynasty's Pebble copper gold project. (See full article on this elsewhere in this publication.) Alaska Native corporations in the region responded quickly and angrily over the allegations that they had been bribed to support the project. Northern Dynasty officials did the same. News articles and press conferences were coming fast and furious, so stay tuned, there will be more on this issue in the press!

Author Bio

Curt is President of Avalon Development Corporation, a mineral exploration consulting firm based in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is a U.S. Certified Professional Geologist with the American Institute of Professional Geologists (CPG #6901) and is a licensed geologist in the State of Alaska (Lic. # AA 159).

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 907-457-5159
Contact Curt Freeman


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