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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

2010 Mining Explorers: Kiska gains sole ownership of Whistler

Kennecott backs out of gold-copper property, options nearby prospect to junior


Last updated 10/31/2010 at Noon

When Rimfire Minerals Corp. and Geoinformatics Exploration Inc. joined forces to form Kiska Metals Corp. in the fall of 2009, the primary objective of the amalgamated junior was to resolve the tenure of the Whistler Project. A year later the junior explorer achieved this goal, gaining sole-ownership of the expansive gold-copper property in Alaska.

Rio Tinto subsidiary Kennecott Exploration Co., which optioned Whistler to Geoinformatics in 2007, had the right to buy back a controlling interest in the 203-square-mile, or 527-square-kilometer, project after certain exploration milestones were achieved.

In mid-August Kiska delivered a geological and geophysical report detailing the results from 264 line-kilometer induced polarization survey and 23-hole drill program to Kennecott, completing the junior's obligations under the back-in agreement.

Knowing Kiska was eager to advance Whistler, Kennecott promptly returned its decision not to buy back into the project, clearing the way for the junior to advance exploration as sole-owner of the enormous property.

Kennecott retains a 2 percent net smelter royalty on the porphyry gold-copper project.

"With our 100 percent ownership of the Whistler gold-copper project, Kiska will move forward with further exploration and development of the project. In particular, our work will focus initially on doing more work on the Whistler resource as well as some of our new discoveries, including the Island Mountain Breccia," Kiska President and CEO Jason Weber said.

Geophysics unveil hidden porphyries

Most of the past exploration at Whistler had focused on a porphyry outcrop known as the Whistler Zone. An NI 43-101resource calculated in 2008 estimated the properties namesake deposit contains an indicated resource of 30 million metric tons grading 0.87 grams per metric ton gold, 2.46 g/t silver and 0.24 percent copper, and an inferred resource of 134 million tons grading 0.64 g/t gold, 2.18 g/t silver and 0.20 percent copper.

In making its decision to exercise its back-in rights at Whistler, Kennecott did not want to expand on the 5.75 gold-equivalent-ounces gold resource. Instead, the major wanted to make a property-wide evaluation of the Southwest Alaska project.

To investigate the larger potential at Whistler a technical committee made up of two geologists from each Kiska and Kennecott laid out an extensive3-D induced polarization survey over the Whistler corridor, a 162-square-kilometer, or 62.5-square-mile, region that hosts the Whistler deposit.

"Because this survey covered such a big area - we actually covered the Whistler deposit as well - we could take geophysical signature from Whistler and just apply that elsewhere in our survey area to pick our targets," Weber explained.

The survey unveiled more than 25 distinct new targets with a similar geophysical signature as Whistler hidden beneath the glacial gravels that cover much of the corridor. Ten of these targets, all of comparable scale and geophysical response to the Whistler deposit, were drilled during the Kennecott trigger program.

Trigger drilling makes new discoveries

The Raintree West prospect, located about 1,500 meters east of the defined resource, is one of the Whistler corridor deposits Kiska is particularly excited about. WH09-002, drilled during the trigger program, cut 471.6 meters that averaged 0.93 g/t gold-equivalent (0.38 g/t gold, 4.7 g/t silver, 0.09 percent copper, 0.35 percent zinc and 0.15 percent lead).

The bottom 40 meters of this hole, which was angled toward the west, intersected higher temperature veining, suggesting a trend toward the core of a large porphyry system and an improved likelihood of higher copper-gold grades. The 3-D IP survey confirmed that the signature of these elevated grades continues 300 meters further west.

The trigger-program drilling also turned up an exciting new discovery at Island Mountain about 14 miles, or 23 kilometers south of the Whistler Deposit.

IM-09-001, the Island Mountain discovery hole, cut two distinct mineralized zones. The upper 150 meters - which averaged 1.06 g/t gold equivalent (0.72 g/t gold, 2.37 g/t silver and 0.16 percent copper) - is similar to the mineralization found at the Whistler deposit. The mineralization in the lower 106.9 meters of the hole - which averaged 1.32 g/t gold-equivalent (1.22 g/t gold 0.69 g/t silver and .05 percent copper) - more closely resembles the gold-dominant mineralization being investigated about 2 kilometers, or 1.2 miles, southeast at the Shoeshine Zone on Millrock Resources Inc.'s Estelle property.

Kiska and Kennecott returned to Island Mountain in the spring. Hole IM10-004, collared about 50 meters northeast of the discovery hole, cut two zones of similar mineralization.

Two additional trigger-program holes, drilled 750 meters and 1,500 meters southeast of IM10-001 intersected anomalous copper-gold mineralization believed to be peripheral to the higher temperature breccia core intersected in the discovery hole.

This combination of geophysics and property-wide drilling has provided Kiska with a trove of geological information about the enormous Whistler land-package.

"We are extremely pleased to have made additional porphyry discoveries at Whistler. This firmly supports our exploration concept that the Whistler Project is host to several individual gold-copper porphyry systems of which the Whistler resource is but one example," Weber said.

Post Kennecott drilling

Upon completing the requirements to gain a decision by the Rio Tinto subsidiary, Kiska immediately set out to expand the Whistler Deposit.

"It is a very nice situation for us to go into Whistler and be drilling on the deposit itself," Weber told investors Sep. 1.

The Kiska leader told Mining News that the drilling is focused on better defining the margins of the resource as well as expanding the deposit at depth. To accomplish this, the rigs are setting up on the outskirts of the defined mineralization and drilling back toward the deposit.

The holes drilled by Kiska during the fall of 2010 along with eight holes completed Geoinformatics after the completion of the 2008 resource estimate, are being incorporated into an updated resource for the Whistler Deposit.

Kiska's second drill continued to expand on the discovery made at the Island Mountain. To target additional drill holes at this prospect, Kiska geologists completed extensive mapping and sampling of the breccia zone.

At the beginning of September nine holes had been completed in the breccia zone at Island Mountain and two holes had drilled peripheral targets at the exciting new gold-rich zone.

"Island Mountain is a compelling target that we have only just begun to explore," Weber said.

New Kahiltna Terrane prospect

Kiska optioned a second Kahiltna Terrane property from Kennecott in May. The copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry prospect, Copper Joe, is about 50 kilometers, or 31 miles, south-southwest of Whistler.

"Our option to acquire Copper Joe is a good, strategic fit with our plans to further the development of our flagship Whistler Property and gives us yet another porphyry copper-gold target in the belt. The target was only recently discovered by Kennecott and has yet to be tested by drilling," Weber said.

Since Kennecott staked the Copper Joe property in 2006, it has completed 70.4 line-kilometers of ground magnetic survey, which revealed a northeast trending mineralized showing. Kennecott collected 28 rock samples yielding peak values of 0.73 percent copper, 0.415 g/t gold, 7.9 g/t silver and 0.125 percent molybdenum.

Kiska completed an IP survey and geological mapping and sampling in order to generate drill targets at Copper Joe. Kiska has indicated that it may drill this new prospect in 2011.

Other northern assets

In addition to Whistler, Kiska has a large portfolio of properties located in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia.

In Alaska, Kiska's exploration portfolio includes the Goodpaster Project, which consists of more than 700 square kilometers of claims surrounding and on trend with Pogo. Rubicon Minerals Corp. has an option to earn an initial 60 percent interest in the project.

In British Columbia, Kiska owns interests in nine properties, including 100 percent of the Williams Project in the north-central region, which has a gold vein and porphyry copper-gold prospects. Fourteen holes drilled at the T-Bill vein prospect within a 300-by-300-meter area have intersected 11 separate intercepts averaging more than 12 grams per metric ton gold. Drilling is targeting a set of parallel vein corridors underlying a 2-by-3-kilometer gold-arsenic soil geochemical anomaly.

In June Kiska optioned its Thorn gold-silver-copper property in northwest British Columbia to Brixton Metals Corp. (see Brixton Metals). Exploration by Kiska has identified three main types of high-grade copper-gold-silver mineralization within altered porphyry, as well as high-grade gold-silver mineralization that occurs in the surrounding sediments and volcanics.

In September Kiska consolidated the Kliyul porphyry copper-gold project in northcentral British Columbia, giving the junior 100 percent interest in the 45.3-square-kilometer property subject only to a 1.5 percent net smelter royalty reserved for Rio Tinto. Drilling by Geoinformatics at Kilyul in 2006 cut 217.8 meters averaging 0.23 percent copper and 0.52 g/t gold from a hole depth of 22 meters; including 0.30 percent copper and 0.81g/t gold over the bottom 131.8 metres of this interval.

In Yukon Territory, Kiska owns the Boulevard Property, a gold target located 35 kilometers, or 23 miles, south of Underworld Resources' recent Golden Saddle gold discovery. Silver Quest Resources Ltd. has optioned Boulevard to earn 100 percent interest of the project. Kiska also holds a 20 percent interest in a joint venture with Fronteer Development Group Inc. in a 374-square-kilometer, or 144.4-square-mile land, package prospective for iron oxide copper-gold deposits in Yukon's Wernecke Mountains.

Many of the some 20 projects in Kiska's portfolio are part of joint ventures with majors and other juniors, which enables the junior to participate in upside potential while limiting exploration spending.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 13 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (907) 726-1095


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