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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Freegold gets jump on 2012 exploration

Despite minus 40F temperatures, junior works to add to 1.3-million-ounce resource at Golden Summit; upgrade also imminent at Vinasale

 

Last updated 1/22/2012 at Noon



While most companies exploring the mineral potential of Alaska and other Far North locales have stacked their drills, winterized camps and are poring over data from their 2011 programs in preparation for the upcoming exploration season, Freegold Ventures Ltd. continues its field program with drills turning at its Golden Summit project in the heart of Interior Alaska.

"We just resumed drilling this week with one rig and expect to add the second one early next week," Freegold Ventures President and CEO Kristina Walcott told Mining News Jan. 14.

Though the mercury has retreated to around 40 degrees below zero at Golden Summit, this project has the distinct advantage of being located alongside a paved highway some 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Fairbanks. With grid power, vehicle access and cell phone service, it is possible to overcome the challenges of exploration in one of the coldest regions of Alaska.

"Winter drilling is possible because of the excellent infrastructure in place," Walcott explained.

This early start on 2012 exploration follows 15,000 meters of drilling that the Vancouver-based junior carried out on its three Alaska gold properties in 2011 - an effort that is resulting in updated resource estimates on the junior's two most advanced projects, Golden Summit and Vinasale, and the first drilling completed on its Rob property in four years.

Building on the success of the 2011 exploration programs, Freegold plans to top 25,000 meters of drilling on its three Alaska gold properties in 2012.

1.3M ounce resource

Located a short 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Kinross Gold Corp.'s Fort Knox gold mine, Freegold's Golden Summit property blankets 80 known gold occurrences, including three high-grade, past-producing gold operations. Combined, these historical mines - Cleary Hill, Hi Yu and American Eagle - turned out more than 450,000 ounces of gold from ore that averaged about 1.6 ounces per short ton gold.

Although remnants of these high-grade vein systems remain, Freegold's exploration at Golden Summit is focused on outlining large bulk tonnage targets more akin to the Fort Knox Mine to the south or Kinross' True North Mine about 3.5 kilometers (two miles) to the west.

The 2011 drill program at Golden Summit was carried out in two stages. Phase 1 - carried out from March to August - focused on increasing the near-surface gold resource at the Dolphin Zone. Phase 2 - which began in August and has continued into 2012 - will further expand Dolphin as well as investigate Cleary Hill and other targets across the property.

Highlights from the 6,328 meters of drilling completed during the phase 1 drilling include:

• GSDC-11-29 cut 172.4 meters averaging 0.82 grams per metric ton gold, starting at 71 meters;

• GSDC-11-32 cut 452 meters averaging 0.68 g/t gold, starting at surface;

• GSDC-11-38 cut 207 meters of 1 g/t gold, starting at 2.6 meters, and includes 74 meters averaging 2.3 g/t gold;

• GSDC-11-43 cut 200.5 meters averaging 0.85 g/t gold, starting at surface; and

• GSDC-11-47 cut 516.2 meters averaging 0.53 g/t gold, starting at surface, including 1.03 g/t gold over the lower 149.2 meters of the hole.

Freegold said holes 32 and 47 bottomed out mineralization, indicating the depth potential of the Dolphin zone.

In mid-December the company produced an updated mineral resource for the Dolphin zone. At a 0.35 cut-off, Dolphin contains an NI 43-101-compliant indicated resource of 14.84 million metric tons averaging 0.66 g/t for 316,000 oz gold. Additionally, Dolphin has an inferred resource of 50.46 million metric tons averaging 0.61 g/t for 991,000 oz gold.

Golden Summit phase-2

Freegold started the phase-2 drill program at Golden Summit by investigating the Cleary Hill Mine prospect where 15 holes were completed by early November. Walcott said around 5,000 meters of the phase-2 program was completed before the company took a short hiatus at the end of 2011.

The Cleary Hill Mine area has been the focus of past exploration at Golden Summit - including trenching, extensive rotary air blast drilling and some 6,400 meters of reverse circulation and core drilling.

Past results of drilling at Cleary Hill prospect include:

• CHD9704 cut 55.2 meters averaging 1.95 g/t gold;

• CHD0301 cut 124.5 meters averaging 1.02 g/t gold; and

• CHD001 cut 61 meters averaging 1.87 g/t gold, including 14.3 meters averaging 6.4 g/t gold.

Incorporating its 2011/2012 drilling Freegold hopes to develop an inaugural NI 43-101-compliant resource for the Cleary Hill Mine area.

Originally slated to be a 10,000-meter program, Walcott told Mining News that Freegold anticipates phase-2 to top 20,000 meters by the end of 2012.

Freegold also plans to return to the Dolphin zone during the phase-2 program. The deep mineralization intersected in holes 32 and 47 will be among the targets of the early 2012 program. In addition to expanding the resource at depth, this drilling also will help upgrade some of the nearly 1 million ounces of gold in the inferred resource to the higher confident indicated category.

"We will be completing some additional infill drilling as well as expansion drilling - both of these, we expect, will upgrade the resource at Dolphin," Walcott said.

Goose Creek - where historical drilling intersected 48 meters averaging 4 g/t gold and 56 meters of 29 g/t silver - is another prospect Freegold hopes to explore in 2012. No drilling has been completed there since 1998.

Vinasale resource imminent

The Vinasale gold project - found on the northern end of the Kuskokwim Gold Belt of Southwest Alaska about 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of McGrath - was another key target of Freegold's 2011 exploration season. An NI 43-101 resource calculated in March outlines an inferred resource at Vinasale of 37.3 million metric tons averaging 1.11 g/t gold at a cut-off of 0.5 g/t.

With it sights set on upgrading this 1.33-million-ounce gold resource hosted in the property's Central zone, Freegold completed 3,502 meters of drilling in 2011.

Highlights from the 12 holes drilled last year include:

• VM11-08 cut 66.8 meters averaging 1.06 g/t gold starting at 2.4 meters and 68.3 meters averaging 0.75 g/t gold from a depth of 113.7 meters;

• VM11-09 cut 115.8 meters averaging 1.48 g/t gold;

• VM11-12 cut 57.5 meters averaging 3.94 g/t gold starting at 11.1 meters and 34.7 meters averaging 2.01 g/t gold from a depth of 141.1 meters; and

• VM11-13 cut 67.1 meters averaging 0.95 g/t gold (including 15.8 meters averaging 3.03 g/t gold) starting at 4.3 meters and 45.4 meters averaging 2.44 g/t gold from a depth of 131.7 meters.

All four of the best holes of the 2011 drill program at Vinasale were drilled in the southern portion of the Central zone, indication the potential for expansion of the deposit to the south and at depth.

In a Jan. 14 email, Walcott told Mining News that Freegold anticipates delivery of an updated resource estimate for Vinasale within a month.

Though the Central zone remains open to expansion, Freegold's 2012 drill program at Vinasale will focus on a larger prospective area about 1,200 meters to the northeast.

An induced polarization survey conducted during the 2011 exploration season outlined a significant geophysical anomaly in the North East zone, and the limited drilling that has been completed there has cut mineralization of similar character to the Central zone.

Walcott told Mining News that Freegold plans to return to the Central zone in due course, but the primary focus of a planned 10,000-meter program at Vinasale in 2012 will be to build a gold resource at the North East zone.

Return to Rob

Freegold also conducted a small exploration program at its 19,000-acre Rob gold project located 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd.'s Pogo gold mine.

The program involved a 909-meter diamond drill program to expand upon previously intersected high-grade zones and to test other strong geochemical anomalies over bulk-tonnage targets.

All three holes drilled at Rob in 2011 targeted Michigan, a prospect that has produced grab samples with assay values up to 971 g/t gold.

Previous prospecting in the Michigan area identified a large stockwork vein system.

Other future target areas at the Rob property include the Blue Lead area where sampling of the vein zone returned values of up to 871 g/t gold. Drilling at the Grey Lead zone in 2007/2008 returned several high-grade intercepts including 5.3 meters grading 15.8 g/t; 5.7 meters grading 19.2 g/t; and 3.4 meters grading 43.2 g/t gold.

Grab samples from the Hilltop prospect returned values of18.7 g/t gold with elevated levels of bismuth and tellurium similar to that seen in the Grey Lead vein about 183 meters to the northwest. Historical sampling in this area returned values of up to 101 g/t gold.

Walcott said the 2012 exploration program at Rob will hinge on the pending assay results from the drilling conducted at the Michigan prospect.

 

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