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 J. Freeman
For Mining News 

Miners head into second half of 2008

As commodities prices slide and costs increase, evidence mounts that industry's economic 'super-cycle' wasn't especially 'super'


Last updated 8/31/2008 at Noon

Several drilling programs started in the last month and several others began reporting initial results from programs commenced earlier in the summer. Two of Alaska's operating mines reported strong operating results and two new mineral resource estimates have been released. Alaska's seasonal exploration efforts are entering the second half of the season, while commodities prices continue to slide, inflation rates increase and operating costs increase. While nobody likes to admit it, there is mounting evidence that the mining industry has already witnessed the peak in the current economic "super-cycle". If we have seen the peak, it was not a very super cycle!

Western Alaska

Full Metal Minerals and JV partner Freeport-McMoRan Exploration Corp. announced that drilling has commenced at the Pebble South project. Multiple drill targets have been identified through surface mapping, sampling and induced polarization geophysics. The companies are planning an initial 2,000 meter core drilling program, testing several of these targets.

Alix Resources and JV partner Millrock Resources Inc. announced that drilling has begun at its Divide gold project near Nome.

Total drilling of 3,300 meters in 25 drill holes is planned.

Primary targets are located at the intersection zones of the two main structural trends in the Stoneman, Saddle and South zones.

Recent trenching, mapping and sampling have revealed a strong east-west trending structurally controlled vein system that intersects the northeast trending system that has been the focus of most of the prior exploration effort. Additionally, a flat lying structural trend with strong arsenopyrite mineralization has been identified.

The company intends to conduct additional blast trenching at the Stoneman prospect and collect a bulk sample if preliminary results are encouraging.

Eastern Interior

Kinross Gold announced second quarter results from the Fort Knox mine near Fairbanks.

The mine produced 85,609 ounces of gold at a cost of $454 per ounce.

Production decreased in the second quarter of 2008 when compared to the same period in 2007 as a result of lower grades and lower recoveries in the mill.

Operating costs increased 11 percent over the year-previous due to increased costs for fuel, electricity and consumables.

During the quarter, the mill processed 3,398,000 metric tons of ore grading 0.95 grams per metric ton of gold.

Gold recovery averaged 82 percent.

The company indicated that construction efforts were 57 percent complete on its valley leach project.

The pad liner construction was delayed due to unusually wet weather experienced in Interior Alaska this summer.

The company also indicated that Phase 7 pit expansion program was nearing completion with 7,137 meters of drilling completed by three core drills and one reverse circulation drill.

Drilling was initiated on the South Wall target testing extensions of mineralized structures beyond the current pit design.

Exploration drilling commenced along the Fort Knox trend at the YPS and Johnsons Saddle targets late in the quarter.

Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. announced an updated mineral resource estimate for its Ester Dome gold project in Fairbanks. The new estimate included indicated resources of 631,600 tons grading 0.21 oz/t of gold (126,700 ounces) and inferred resources of 2,553,400 tons grading 0.08 oz/t of gold (214,100 ounces). Data used to complete the resource estimate included 18,705 feet of trenching, 11,758 feet of overburden geochemical sample drilling, 58,396 feet of rotary drilling, 60,011 feet of surface diamond drilling, 3,740 feet of underground diamond drilling, and 7,917 feet of drift, raise, and sub-drift activities in the Grant Mine.

The company also noted that all reclamation work has been completed on the project and the company is working towards completion of the closure of the Grant Mill tailings pond. This pond, which is filled to capacity with tailings, will be capped and decommissioned after final approval of the tailings pond closure plan is received from Alaska state regulatory authorities.

Freegold Ventures announced results from 2008 exploration on its Rob gold project in the Goodpaster District.

The company indicated that its initial mapping and geophysics have identified new prospective targets on the property, and that the initial step-out drill holes at Grey Lead are continuing to extend the vein intersected in last year's program.

Mapping west of the Grey Lead vein found multiple occurrences of quartz rubble outcroppings suggesting the presence of multiple veins in the Grey Lead hanging wall.

During this reconnaissance work, grab sampling at the Hilltop prospect, located 600 feet southeast of the Grey Lead saddle, returned 18.7 g/t of gold, with elevated levels of bismuth and tellurium.

IP surveys were commenced in June at Grey Lead and Michigan prospects and core drilling at Grey Lead commenced in August with three holes already completed.

Drill assays are pending.

International Tower Hill Mines announced additional drill results from its Livengood gold project.

The company has received results from 48 holes drilled to date that are part of this year's 150-hole, 45,000-meter program.

Significant intersections include hole MK-RC-011 which returned 140 meters of 1.0 g/t of gold (including 4.6 meters of 5.9 g/t of gold), and hole MK-RC-023, which intersected multiple horizons of gold mineralization -including 67 meters of 0.95 g/t of gold and 57.9 meters of 2.5 g/t of gold.

Both holes are from the southeastern extension of the Lillian zone.

These latest results continue to expand the northwest-trending higher-grade core zone of the deposit, which remains open in all directions.

The higher grade core zone, as currently defined, has an average width of approximately 300 meters and has been intersected for some 500 meters of strike length with holes in higher grade mineralization at either end.

The company also reported that step-out drilling to the west and east of the high grade core continued to return encouraging results, including hole MK-RC-0006 (collared on the east), which returned 178 meters of 0.71 g/t of gold, and hole MK-RC-013 (collared on the west), which returned 88 meters at 1.07 g/t of gold.

Northern Alaska

Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. announced new drilling results for its Nolan Creek project in the Brooks Range.

The company has completed 16 drill holes totaling 4,823 ft. as part of its 2008 exploration drilling at Workman's Bench prospect.

Drilling has extended the known lateral extent of the antimony-gold vein systems on Workman's Bench from to 1,000 feet.

Visible gold was observed in drill core from two holes.

The company also collected four large underground samples of stibnite and gold mineralized rock from the main vein in Tunnel D, which assayed as high as 2.02 troy oz/t of gold, and 40.39 percent antimony.

The company also announced an updated mineral resource estimate for the project.

Significant drilling results include 2 feet grading 0.04 oz/t of gold per ton and 0.86 percent antimony and 1 foot grading 0.09 oz/t gold and 37.92 percent antimony in hole 08SH02.

The company also released an updated mineral resource estimate for the project, which included inferred mineral resources at Workman's Bench of 24,090 short tons grading 38.69 percent antimony and 0.446 oz/t of gold, which contains 9,321 short tons of antimony metal and 10,737 ounces of gold.

The company also released estimates for the Nolan Creek placer gold deposit, which included indicated resources of 66,800 cubic yards grading 0.095 ounces per cubic yard of gold (6,250 ounces) and inferred resources of 185,670 cubic yards grading 0.033 oz/CY of gold (6,177 ounces).

Southeast Alaska

Hecla Mining Co. announced second quarter 2008 production from the Greens Creek mine on Admiralty Island.

The cash cost per ounce of silver for the quarter was a $2.10/oz of silver.

The average grade of ore mined during the quarter was 15.88 oz/t of silver.

During the second quarter the mine produced 1,744,341 ounces of silver, 15,257 ounces of gold, 4,701 tons of lead and 13,445 tons of zinc.

Total production costs for the quarter were $7.22/oz of silver produced.

The first six months of production from the mine averaged about 1,950 t/d.

Performance during June was the best of the year at 2,369 t/d, reflecting a 21 percent improvement due to the opening of the long-hole stopes and improved mine planning.

Capital expenditures during the second quarter totaled $10.2 million and were targeted primarily at tailings facility expansion, purchase of underground mining equipment, underground mine development, and definition drilling.

Second quarter exploration emphasis was in the Gallagher zone where drilling pinpointed the location and extent of the resource that dips to the west and plunges to the south.

The mineralization is now better defined for over 200 feet and transitions from two bands of mineralization with widths totaling 63 feet to one thick band of mineralization with a 105-foot width.

This adds 200 feet to the Gallagher zone that earlier was 700 feet in strike length, potentially adding 20 percent to the existing resource.

Targets in the SW and East zones are the focus for the remaining 2008 underground exploration program.

Exploration drilling will focus on historic underground higher-grade intercepts in the SW zone and on results from recent surface drilling in the vicinity of the East zone.

Constantine Metal Resources announced additional drilling results from the South Wall prospect on its Palmer massive sulfide project near Haines.

Drilling to date has intercepted significant grade and thickness mineralization in three stacked zones.

Highlights include Hole CMR08-11 which intersected 36.3 meters of Zone I mineralization grading with 1.54 percent copper, 5.45 percent zinc, 0.45 percent lead, 0.47 g/t of gold and 28.5 g/t of silver.

The intersection includes 26.5 meters grading 1.8 percent copper, 6.61 percent zinc, 0.62 percent lead, 0.63 g/t of gold and 37.0 g/t of silver.

This also intercepted 14.52 meters of Zone II mineralization grading 1.21 percent copper, 9.74 percent zinc, 0.44 percent lead, 0.44 g/t of gold and 88.6 g/t of silver and 12.59 meters of Zone III mineralization grading 0.47 percent copper, 6.27 percent zinc, 0.15 percent lead, 0.30 g/t of gold and 24.3 g/t of silver.

Additional drilling has been completed on the South Wall target with stacked massive sulfides from this drilling still at assay.

Ucore Uranium Inc. announced initial drilling results from its Bokan Mountain uranium and rare earth element project on Prince of Wales Island. Results include 10.67 meters grading 0.23 percent U3O8 including 2.57 meters grading 0.50 percent U3O8 in hole LM08-10 and 1.1 meters grading 0.26 percent U3O8 from hole LM08-11. These holes were drilled about 100 meters apart in the I&L prospect. Additional drilling is in progress.


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