By Curt Freeman
For Mining News 

Miners usher in 2011 with new urgency

As metals prices climb toward recent, and in some cases, historical highs, Alaska industry gears up for another busy 12 months


Last updated 1/23/2011 at Noon

The last half of December and the first half of January are normally relatively slow for business in the mining industry, in general, and in Alaska, in particular. The last two weeks this December were a bit slower than the first two weeks of the month but if anyone was thinking that January 2011 was going to creep silently into being, they were sadly mistaken!

With metals prices heading toward recent and, in some cases, historical highs, there seems to be a sense of urgency in every conversation about what is being planned or dreamed of in the next 12 months.

With State of Alaska forecasts predicting another strong year for mining, oil and gas, fishing and even timber, the rush is on for labor and services across the state.

The only thumbs-down thing I've seen relating to mining was the Discovery Channel's criminally moronic "Gold Rush Alaska" which aired in early December and portrayed six dim bulbs from Oregon doing things that no miner in their right mind would ever do.

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

Alaskans know how hokey this series was but many outside Alaska do not.

Rumor has it that Discovery might be back, looking to sensationalize more Alaska mining stories.

If they contact you, show them the door and give them the boot!

Western Alaska

Fire River Gold Corp. announced the additional results from its 28,000-meter drill program at the Nixon Fork copper-gold mine. Significant intercepts include N10-009, which returned 25 g/t gold over 3.2 meters, hole N10-008 which returned 12 g/t gold over 7.4 meters and N10-002 which returned 14 g/t gold over 2.5 meters including 52 g/t gold over 0.6 meters. Previous mining took place in the 3100 Zone above the 380 level and the current program continues to extend the mineralization below the 380 level.

Interior Alaska

International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. announced that a 55,000-meter 2011 winter drilling program will commence in February at their Livengood gold project.

The program will include a US$7.5-million, 45,000-meter resource expansion and in-fill drill program focused on the Money Knob deposit as well as a US$2.4-million, 10,000-meter district-scale exploration program involving major geophysics targets.

The company also is planning to publish a year-end 2010 resource update during the first quarter.

With current all-in resources pushing the 20-million-ounce mark, I am anticipating the new Livengood deposit resources to push over that benchmark, making Livengood only the second pure-gold deposit to top that number (Donlin Creek was the first).

Aurora Geosciences geology and geophysics 35 years of experience in the North

Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. provided additional geochemical sampling results from its Eagle Creek gold-antimony project in the Fairbanks District. Three grab and chip rock samples from the Eastgate zone returned 4.71 g/t to 14.5 g/t gold, a 4-foot chip sample from the Vein Fault #2 returned 7.48 g/t gold, two samples from drill hole 83518 on the Scrafford Vein Fault returned 5.41 g/t gold from 155 to 160 and 4.02 g/t gold from 160 to 165 feet. Sampling suggested that a low-grade cap-rock covered the mineralized zones and may have influence gold deposition. The company plans to conduct diamond drilling and trenching during 2011.

Contango ORE, Inc. announced that the company, formed to explore for gold and rare earth elements in Alaska, began trading in late December. The company has leased or staked mining claims on 759,800 acres in Alaska, with approximately 650,000 acres focused on gold and related minerals and approximately 100,000 acres focused on rare earth element properties. The company anticipates exploration expenditures of US$2.75 million for 2011, with approximately US$2.25 million for gold and related mineral exploration and US$0.5 million for rare earth element exploration.

KSM gold-copper project, Golden Triangle British Columbia, Courageous Lake gold, Northwest Territories

Alaska Range

Corvus Gold Inc. announced a new discovery at its Chisna gold-copper project in the central Alaska Range.

Surface exploration results from 2010 discovered the Golden Range prospect, where bedrock values of up to 50.4 g/t gold and soil values of up to 6.5 g/t gold have been found along a 9-kilometer-long zone of gossanous iron carbonate alteration.

The company plans to conduct detailed geological mapping, expansion of bedrock and soil sampling grids, and drill target definition.

A second newly discovered target, the Southwest Grubstake, consists of a series of parallel quartz-dolomite-barite veins up to 2 meters wide defined over a 600-meter-long trend containing metal values from rock chip sampling of up to 46.5 g/t gold, 17.9 g/t silver, 1.3 percent lead and 0.19 percent zinc.

Mapping of vein lengths and density, and determination of the relationship between this veined mineralization and the adjacent Grubstake copper-gold porphyry system, will be a primary focus of 2011 exploration in advance of drilling.

Pure Nickel Inc. announced final results from its 2010 MAN project exploration program.

The 2010 drill program revealed the presence of stratigraphic horizons in the Alpha and Beta Complexes that have elevated platinum and palladium.

Cyclical and laterally extensive patterns for platinum and palladium have been recognized over a distance greater than 2.7 kilometers in the Alpha complex.

In addition narrow intersections (0.11 meters) of high grade semi-massive sulfide lenses were discovered returning grades of 3.42 percent nickel and 4.27 percent copper.

During the 2010 exploration program the Company completed approximately 6700 meters of drilling, in a total of nine holes, six holes on the Alpha Complex and three holes on the Beta complex.

Significant results include hole PNI-10-028 in the Alpha complex which returned 70 meters grading 0.25 percent nickel and hole PNI-10-036 in the Alpha complex which returned combined platinum plus palladium assays of 252.8 parts per billion over 165.9 meters, including 318 parts per billion over 24 meters.

Kiska Metals Corp. reported a revised mineral resource estimate on its Whistler project in southwestern Alaska.

A pit-constrained resource using approximately 0.3 g/t gold-equivalent cut-off yields an indicated resource of 79.2M metric tons at 0.51 g/t gold, 0.17 percent copper and 1.97 g/t silver (2.3M oz, gold-equivalent) and an inferred resource of 145.7Mt at 0.40 g/t gold, 0.15 percent copper and 1.75 g/t silver (3.5M oz, gold-equivalent).

The new estimate substantially increases the size of the in-pit indicated resource with a 164 percent increase in metric tons and a 72 percent increase in contained metal by gold-equivalent ounces relative to the 2008 open pit resource estimate and substantially reduces the strip ratio of the resource from 1.93 to 1.32.

In the inferred open pit category, the new estimate reports a 19 percent increase in metric tons with a 13 percent decrease in contained gold-equivalent ounces due to lower grades.

The 2011 exploration program at Whistler is planned to commence in early March.

The intent of this program is to increase our understanding of the size-potential of the four early stage porphyry discoveries (Island Mountain, Raintree West, Raintree East and Rainmaker) and to test, by drilling, for additional porphyry discoveries at the highest priority of the 20 grassroots targets that exist on the property.

Corvus Gold Inc. announced drilling plans for its Terra gold project in the Southern Alaska Range. The project is a joint venture with Terra Mining Corp. whereby Terra has the right to earn an initial 51 percent interest in the property by incurring US$6 million of exploration expenditures to Dec. 31, 2013. In 2011, Terra has indicated that it plans a program to consist of confirmation drilling, underground access and bulk sampling on the property. In addition to the Ben Vein, previous drilling has identified additional high-grade mineralization over a strike length of 5 kilometers from the Fish Creek area in the north to the Ice area in the south.

17 helicopters, Cessna 206 support plane, mining and oil exploration,  precision long line, core and seismic drills

Northern Alaska

Andover Ventures Inc. announced commencement of a new resource calculation for its Sun massive sulfide project in the Ambler Mining District. The volcanogenic massive sulfide mineralization has been drilled on approximately three rocks have been traced approximately another 16 kilometers across the Sun claim block. This years drilling program is being designed to test the Southwest Sun prospect and to further extend the Main Sun deposit to the northeast.

Southeast Alaska

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. announced additional results from its Bokan - Dotson Ridge project. Significant new channel sample results from the Dotson zone include 2.19 meters grading 0.2.13 percent total rare earth oxides, 4.48 meters grading 1.55 percent total rare earth oxides and 2.95 meters grading 1.44 percent total rare earth oxides. The heavy rare earth component of thee channel samples ranged from 26.6 percent to 42.0 percent. The company expects to release its first-ever industry-compliant resource estimate shortly.

Tri-Valley Corp. announced that it had sold its Admiral Calder calcium carbonate deposit on Prince of Wales Island to Columbia River Carbonates for US$2.5 million. The company continues to look for operational partners to develop its Shorty Creek and Richardson projects in Interior Alaska.

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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