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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Mining Explorers 2011: Alaska explorer goes year-round

Kiska drills Whistler Orbit targets in winter; summer at Island Mountain

 

Last updated 11/6/2011 at Noon



Kiska Metals Corp. is not only enduring Alaska's sometimes inclement winter weather but also embracing the ground-freezing conditions as a means to lower the costs of exploring the multitude of porphyry targets across its expansive Whistler copper-gold property about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Anchorage.

"Although it is Alaska, winter is one of the most efficient times of the year for us to be working up there," Kiska Metals President and CEO Jason Weber explained.

After spending the darkest and coldest winter months transporting supplies over a 175-kilometer (110-mile) ice road and relocating its camp next to a newly built 1,000-meter airstrip on the property, the Vancouver B.C.-based junior kicked off the first phase of a 31,000-meter drill program at Whistler in March.

The 527-square-kilometer Whistler property is anchored by its namesake deposit which has an indicated resource of 2.25 million ounces gold-equivalent and an inferred resource of 3.35 million ounces gold-equivalent, a resource Kiska aims to double.

"The goal for us is to essentially double the resource that exists on the property to date. We feel that once we reach that level, we can look at an economic scenario for this project," said Weber.

Peek below the till

Kiska's early season exploration focused on the Whistler Orbit, a 50-square-kilometer (19-square-mile) region that includes the 5.6 million-gold-equivalent-ounce Whistler deposit as well as the Raintree and Rainmaker discoveries.

While the Whistler deposit outcrops on a ridge the other prospects in the Whistler Orbit are largely covered with a 10-to-15-meter layer of glacial till, making the underlying geology tough to discern from the surface. For this reason Kiska has brought a light-weight rig to drill around 53 shallow holes to investigate the underlying bedrock.

The small rig is capable of drilling about one shallow hole per day and can be moved to a new site in about 15 minutes, making it an efficient tool for generating targets for a rig capable of deeper drilling.

"Whistler is a very large property with as many as 20 additional targets that have yet to be adequately tested by drilling. In the 2011 program, our shallow grid-based drilling program will provide us with a cost-effective method to rapidly assess and prioritize these targets and make new porphyry discoveries in the overburden-covered areas surrounding the Whistler deposit," Weber said.

Kiska has plotted lines of 200-meter-spaced holes over areas of interest identified with previous exploration, including an extensive 3-D induced polarization survey flown over the Whistler Orbit in 2009.

Though the company has plotted areas it wants to glimpse below the glacial sediments, Weber said the program was flexible enough to respond to the results of the drilling.

Information gleaned from these 75- to 100-meter-deep holes will assist Kiska in narrowing the choice of targets for deeper drilling during the second phase of the 2011 program.

"A lot of it is going to be using alteration to vector where we are going, and there is no shortage of alteration in that area, so I think we are going to have good data for targeting drill holes," he explained.

Deep mineralization

While the lightweight rig completed 3,505 meters of shallow drilling during the early-season program, a large drill sank six deep holes.

Four of these were drilled at Raintree West, a prospect situated about 1,200 meters east of the Whistler Deposit.

WH09-002, drilled by Kiska in 2009, cut 471.6 meters that averaged 0.93 grams per metric ton 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) at Raintree West. The lower 40 meters of this intercept graded 2.27 g/t gold-equivalent (0.98 g/t gold, 10.2 g/t silver, 0.21 percent copper, 0.85 percent zinc and 0.35 percent lead.)

WH10-24, collared about 250 meters southeast of WH09-002, cut 299 meters averaging 0.47 g/t gold, 5.4 g/t silver, 0.04 percent copper, 0.51 percent zinc and 0.23 percent lead; and includes 83 meters at 1.2 g/t gold 11.8 g/t silver, 0.06 percent copper, 1.08 percent zinc and 0.53 percent lead. This mineralization is dominated by lead-zinc-bearing veinlets interpreted as late-stage features developed peripheral to high-temperature porphyry style mineralization.

"Results to this point indicate we are drilling peripheral-style mineralization and alteration on the southern and eastern margins of the Raintree West porphyry centre," Kiska Vice President of Exploration Mark Baknes said after the 2010 season. "Our exploration efforts at Raintree West in 2011 will focus on expanding the target to the north where we see multiple lines of evidence suggestive of a productive porphyry system."

Following this evidence, the larger drill stepped out to the north and west from WH09-002 during the early season drilling.

Hole WH11-30, starting at a depth of 338 meters, cut 453meters averaging 0.72 grams per metric ton gold, 3.2 g/t silver, 0.12 copper, 0.04 percent lead, and 0.31 percent zinc (1.01 g/t gold-equivalent),.

WH11-29, which was drilled 100 meters south of hole 30, intersected two distinct styles of mineralization: An upper interval of low temperature gold-silver-lead-zinc mineralization and a lower zone of high temperature gold-copper mineralization and magnetite veining associated with potassic alteration The upper interval, from 404 meters, cut 162 meters averaging 0.52 g/t gold, 13 g/t silver, 0.04 copper, 0.38 percent lead and 0.94 percent zinc (0.81 g/t gold equivalent). The lower interval, from 566 meters, returned 208 meters averaging 0.54 g/t gold, 4.3 g/t silver, 0.09 percent copper, 0.06 percent lead and 0.29 percent zinc (0.80 g/t gold equivalent).

WH11-033, drilled during the summer program about 100 meters west of hole 30, cut 348 meters averaging 0.53 g/t gold, 2.78 g/t silver and 0.08 percent copper (0.78 g/t gold-equivalent) from a depth of 480 meters.

While the long sections of mineralization at Raintree West are encouraging, the 300- to 350-meter depth of the ore encountered here to date has caused Kiska to re-evaluate this target as a likely candidate for adding economic ore to the reserves at Whistler.

Weber said the company has some ideas of where this mineralization may come closer to surface and the company will test these hypotheses with skid-mounted drill rigs once the snows return.

Summer at Island Mountain

During the warmer summer months, Kiska shifted its attention to the more rugged mountainous terrain of Island Mountain and Muddy Creek, two gold-rich prospects situated in the southern half of the Whistler property.

Kiska sees Island Mountain, about 23 kilometers (14 miles) south of the Whistler deposit, as a likely candidate to add enough gold and copper resource to start considering the economic viability of the Whistler property.

"If you ask anybody in our group, this is probably where the next resource comes from at Whistler," Weber said. "We made the initial discovery here in 2009 with the first drill hole on the property."

The upper section of discovery hole IM09-001 cut 150 meters averaging 1.06 g/t gold equivalent (0.72 g/t gold, 2.37 g/t silver and 0.16 percent copper) and the lower 106.9 meters of the hole averaged 1.32 g/t gold-equivalent (1.22 g/t gold 0.69 g/t silver and .05 percent copper).

Through 2010, Kiska has drilled 15 holes at Island Mountain. The best hole to date is IM10-013 which cut 114.9 meters averaging 1.25 g/t gold, 4 g/t silver and 0.23 percent copper, beginning at a depth of 50.1 meters. This interval was contained within a larger drill intercept of 362 meters averaging 0.56 g/t gold, 2 g/t silver, and 0.11 percent copper beginning at a depth of 42 meters.

Hole IM11-018 - collared 100 meters west of IM10-013 - averaged 0.73 grams per metric ton gold, 2.50g/t silver, 0.11 percent copper (1.00g/t gold-equivalent) over 135 meters. Hole IM11-020 - drilled from the same set-up and steeper (below) hole 18 - cut 161 meters averaging 1 gram per metric ton gold, 2.29 g/t silver and 0.12 percent copper(1.28 g/t gold-equivalent) within a 344-meter interval that averaged 0.56 g/t gold, 1.62 g/t silver and 0.08 percent copper (0.75 g/t gold-equivalent).

With these holes, the mineralization at Island Mountain has now been intersected over a 450-by-350-meter area and to depths of 400 meters.

"These results demonstrate a broad and deep gold-copper system that is impressive in its strength and complexity," said Baknes. "Island Mountain is emerging as a significant target at the Whistler Project."

Rock and soil sampling at Island Mountain have defined a 2,000-by-1,500-meter geochemical footprint encompassing the Discovery Breccia that has only been partly drill tested and a second, comparable anomaly further to the north that has yet to be drilled.

A detailed magnetic survey, flown over the prospect in March, outlined two large and strongly conductive anomalies at Island Mountain, Tea Cup and Super Conductor. Tea Cup lies immediately south of the primary drill focus, whereas Super Conductor covers a large area measuring 1,100 meters by 2,100 meters on the east flank of Island Mountain in largely overburden covered terrain near the river.

Targeting Super Conductor, hole IM11-21 cut two gold-bearing intervals;.61 g/t gold-equivalent over 21 meters and 0.45 g/t gold-equivalent over 30 meters.

Weber said this anomaly near the foot of mountain will be accessible earlier in the season than the targets upslope and the company plans to conduct follow-up drilling here when they return Island Mountain in the spring.

Muddy Creek, an exciting gold target about 10 kilometers (six miles) northwest of Island Mountain, seems more akin to the 65 million year old mineralization at Millrock Resources Inc.'s neighboring Estelle project than the 75 million year old intrusive suite being explored at the Whistler Orbit and Island Mountain.

Muddy Creek's potential is underscored by the 4.72 g/t gold average grade of 150 rock samples collected over a 4-square-mile, or 10.5-square-kilometer, area. This geochemical work in conjunction with a geophysical survey has outlined seven prospects.

Kiska drilled three holes at this gold target during the summer season.

"That could be another standalone project for a junior company if we get some good results out of that drilling," Weber said.

"For us the next steps here (Whistler) are building out on targets like Island Mountain," the Kiska CEO said. "As we go forward here, we are making great strides in reaching that goal of the next 225 million tons (ore), and I think that bodes well for us as far as future development in this camp."

 

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