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By Curt Freeman
For Mining News 

Drizzle follows perfect storm of news as 2008 mining season gets under way


Last updated 4/27/2008 at Noon

Last month's perfect storm of news from around the state has blown itself out so that this month we are getting only a drizzle or two. Why? Seems straightforward to me. If you have a budget, you already have started working on it, and you are too busy working to have anything much to report. If you don't have a budget yet, it is unlikely that you will be getting one at this late date so you have even less to say. Time to put boots on the outcrops!

Western Alaska

Novagold Resources Inc. and partner Barrick Gold Corp. have announced that drilling in 2007 identified high-grade gold mineralization in the East Acma area of the Donlin Creek deposit. This discovery has the potential to improve the average grade of the deposit and increase the net present value of the Donlin Creek Project. An initial 21,000-meter drill program in the East Acma area is under way and a report of preliminary results is expected in mid-2008. The partners also are incorporating the remaining 20,000 meters of 2007 drilling into the resource model and will update the deposit resource estimate in the first half of 2008.

Novagold Resources announced an update on the Rock Creek gold project outside of Nome.

In the mill, both dry and wet process facilities have been commissioned.

As part of the commissioning process, the operations crew has operated the mill and circulated slurry through key concentrator, flotation, gravity and leach circuits, with a test gold pour completed during commissioning of the refinery.

No material issues were identified through the commissioning process that could potentially impact commercial start up activities.

As a result of high snowfalls and ongoing severe winter storms, external earthworks activity and tailings storage facility construction has been slower than expected, but should be finished to allow for commercial production in mid-2008.

Millrock Resources announced analytical results from the 2007 drilling program at its Inmachuk polymetallic project on the Seward Peninsula.

The company drilled five holes totaling 644.1 meters to test the Hannum Zone where oxidized lead-zinc-silver mineralization had been discovered by previous workers.

Oxidized sulfide mineralization was intersected in three of the five holes drilled.

The mineralization is approximately stratiform and stratabound, and occurs in carbonate schist, dipping shallowly northeast.

The zones are generally narrow and low grade with the best intercept returning 6.61 meters grading 2.06 percent zinc in hole 1004IM. The company has terminated its option on the project and returned it to its joint venture partner, Full Metal Minerals.

Liberty Star Uranium and Metals announced that it is seeking to joint venture its Big Chunk porphyry copper-gold project near Iliamna. The company also reported that expressions of interest in the project have been received from more than one global mining company.

Millrock Resources announced that it has signed an agreement with International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. to acquire its rights to the South Estelle gold property in the Rainy Pass district.

The deal between Tower Hill and Millrock is an outright purchase of Tower Hill's rights in an underlying agreement.

Consideration is 650,000 Millrock shares.

Tower Hill will retain a 1 percent net smelter returns production royalty.

By virtue of the purchase, Millrock will have the option to earn up to an 80 percent interest in the property from underlying property owners Hidefield Gold Plc and Mines Trust.

Millrock can earn a 51 percent interest by expending US$2 million by the end of 2009, a 70 percent interest by expending a cumulative US$5 million by the end of 2011, and 80 percent by tabling a positive feasibility study.

A further 2.5 percent net smelter returns production royalty may become payable to Hidefield/Mines Trust under certain conditions.

Two of the most interesting prospects on the property are the Shoeshine and Train prospects which have produced numerous high-grade gold values ranging up to 238 grams of gold per metric ton and 56.9 grams of gold per metric ton, respectively.

The property also has potential to host bulk-tonnage copper-gold porphyry mineralization.

International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. announced that it has acquired additional lands around its BMP polymetallic project from Alaska native corporation Cook Inlet Region Inc. Two holes drilled by Anaconda intersected a shale hosted massive sulfide body which returned grades of 4.0 percent copper, 0.3 percent lead, 1.0 percent zinc and 370 grams of silver per metric ton over a true thickness of 3.5 meters and 0.9 percent copper, 1.0 percent lead, 6.0 percent zinc and 177 grams of silver per metric ton over a true width of 5.5 meters.

Sampling by the company on the 6120 target returned average grades of 2.3 percent copper, 3.4 grams of gold per metric ton, 33 grams of silver per metric ton, 0.16 percent nickel and 0.07 percent cobalt from 20 samples of an outcropping skarn zone 5 kilometers south of the Anaconda drilling.

Under terms of the acquisition, during the 5-year exploration portion of the agreement Tower Hill must make annual rental payments of $20,000 per year for the first 2 years, increasing to $40,000 per year for years 3 through 5.

At the end of year 2, the company will be required to reduce the lands subject to the agreement by 50 percent unless otherwise justifiable geologically, in which case a bonus of $5 per acre is payable upon the renewal for all lands retained in excess of 3,100 hectares.

Tower Hill must expend $275,000 in year 1, escalating to $500,000 in year 5.

Once Tower Hill has expended a minimum of $800,000, drilled 2,500 feet of core and produced a positive pre-feasibility study over an area within the Cook Inlet Region lands, Tower Hill may elect to enter into a mining lease over the ground that is the subject of the positive pre-feasibility study.

Eastern Interior

Freegold Ventures Ltd. announced rotary air blast drilling results at its Golden Summit project. The initial results from the planned 40,000-foot exploration program included intervals of 39 feet grading 8.9 grams of gold per metric ton, including 6 feet of 31.5 grams of gold per metric ton, and 6 feet grading 13.9 grams of gold per metric ton. The company indicated that the structures within this particular swarm of veins exhibit good continuity over a 550-foot strike length and a uniform width of about 150 feet. Individual mineralized structures within this 150-foot-wide shear zone can also be traced from fence to fence.

Millrock Resources announced that it has acquired the Ketchem gold property in the Circle District from Spectrum Resources.

Under terms of the agreement, Millrock has an option to purchase a 100 percent interest in the property in exchange for $3 million of exploration work over a four-year term.

Cash payments totaling $200,000, including $20,000 on signing, and $30,000 at the first anniversary are scheduled.

Spectrum will be issued 160,000 Millrock shares with 15,000 issued upon receipt of approval of the transaction, and 25,000 at the first anniversary.

The option may be exercised at any time while the agreement is in effect for the purchase price of $1.5 million.

The owner would retain a 2.5 percent overriding royalty that may be reduced to 0.5 percent by payment of an additional $3 million.

Gold mineralization on the property occurs in quartz veins and stockworks both in granitic intrusions and in surrounding sedimentary rocks.

At the 88 Prospect, three structurally controlled zones of gold bearing quartz veins and stockworks have been identified by prior workers, which include Placer Dome in 1990 and AMAX Gold in 1992.

Widths of the zones range between 3 and 25 meters.

One of the zones is reported to average 8.92 grams of gold per metric ton over a width of 4.6 meters in altered granite.

A grab sample from the zone is reported to contain over 36 grams of gold per metric ton.

Three reverse circulation drill holes were drilled in 1995, but appear not to have fully intersected the mineralized structures observed at surface.

Gold mineralization at the Silver Chalice prospect occurs in quartz-sulfide veinlets in altered sedimentary rocks.

Grab samples collected by the property owner are reported to have returned values up to 32.0 grams of gold per metric ton.

Southeast Alaska

Ucore Uranium Inc. reported that it has received its drilling permits for its planned $5.2 million exploration program at its Bokan Mountain uranium project on Prince of Wales Island. The company expects to commence drilling in May where it will focus on expanding the high grade uranium mineralization identified at the I&L prospect during the 2007 drill program.

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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