The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Rumors of mining's demise are premature

Still, industry will likely be happy to see third year of falling minerals prices, near-zero investor interest in rearview mirror

The nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away." As 2014 quickly slip-slides away, these normally melancholy lyrics by Paul Simon take on a surprisingly upbeat meaning for Alaska's mining industry.

Unlike watching most years slip by, seeing 2014 in the rearview mirror will bring a smile to most in the mining industry, not only in Alaska, but worldwide.

This was our third consecutive year of declining commodities prices, near-zero investor interest and the ever-present drone of financial talking heads claiming that mining, in general, is dying and that some commodities, coal, gold and copper in particular, have already shuffled off their mortal coil.

Yet, amid the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, many in the mining industry are openly stating that they believe 2015 is going to be considerably better than 2013 or 2014.

Is this just blind optimism, or is it a longer view of reality enjoyed by the mining industry, a view that clearly recognizes the growing demand for mined products? Ascribe it to whatever you will, the demise of the mining industry or of commodities it supplies, has been predicted by many experts on many occasions in the past and in each case, our expiration has been greatly exaggerated.

Western Alaska

Graphite One Resources Inc. announced results from the first 10 holes of its 22-hole, 2,296.6-meter 2014 drill program at the Graphite Creek graphite project.

All 10 holes intercepted significant widths of high-grade, near-surface graphite mineralization, including 7 meters grading 20.98 percent graphite carbon, 50 meters of 6.13 percent graphite carbon, 38 meters of 10.57 percent graphite carbon and 23 meters of 8.70 percent graphite carbon.

Geology and assays confirm excellent vertical and lateral continuity of the mineralization within the 1,000-meter strike length of the 4.8-kilometer-long Graphite Creek deposit.

2014 drilling will be utilized to move a portion of the resource from inferred to indicated status.

Additional results are pending.

Southern Crown Resources Ltd. announced additional results from its Luna-Quicksilver project in southwestern Alaska.

The company reported on geological mapping and geochemical results from 57 top of bedrock auger samples, 151 channel samples, 10 rock chip samples and 350 biogeochemical samples collected primarily over the Luna-Luna East area of the project.

This work outline anomalous silver with associated gold, arsenic, antimony, bismuth and copper values over a 1.3 kilometer length of the Luna-Luna East trend.

These anomalous metals are spatially related to the sulfide-rich stockworks evident on the river bank at Luna and the south side of Luna East as well as the massive sulfide vein present at Luna East.

Anomalous metals tend to form linear anomalies suggesting that second order structural splays off the main Luna fault are the primary host for mineralization.

Biogeochemical sample results tend to agree with existing rock and soil geochemistry and outlined a possible 800-meter northeast extension of the Luna-Luna East trend.

The company is contemplating a 2015 drilling program on the project.

Redstar Gold Corp. it has agreed to assume the obligations of Full Metal Minerals Ltd. under its agreement with The Aleut Corp. on the Unga Island gold project near Sand Point.

The company has agreed to pay to The Aleut Corporation an initial option payment in the amount of US$135,000 and later option payments totaling US$175,000 over three years, as well as annual payments in the amount of US$20,000.

Additionally, the company will incur annual exploration expenditures totaling US$3,400,000 over four years.

In addition, the company may enter into a Mining Lease with The Aleut any time prior to Dec. 31, 2019.

Upon entering into the mining lease, the company will make annual advance royalty payments escalating from US$25,000 in the first year to US$400,000 on the 16th anniversary and subsequent years.

In the event the company delivers a feasibility study, the company will issue 500,000 common shares of its common stock to The Aleut Corp., subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.

Upon commencement of commercial production, the company will pay to The Aleut Corp. a sliding scale net smelter returns royalty of 2-5 percent, depending on the price of gold, and a 2.5 percent net smelter returns royalty for all other commodities.

Alaska Range

Kiska Metals Corp. and funding partner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. announced results from a drill program concluded on the Copper Joe copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry prospect located in the western Alaska Range.

The fall program totaled 885 meters in two holes, spaced 740 meters apart. The drilling targeted coincident geological, geochemical and geophysical anomalies.

The drilling did not return any significant assay results, but confirmed the presence of a strong porphyry-hydrothermal system.

Hole CJ14-01 targeted a zone of magnetite breccia and banded quartz-magnetite veins mapped at surface.

This hole intersected two separate zones, about 80 to 100 meters wide of heterolithic, magnetite flooded breccia cross-cutting a porphyritic quartz monzonite.

The quartz monzonite is moderately to strongly sericite-pyrite altered, and contains local magnetite and k-feldspar alteration with trace chalcopyrite mineralization.

The hole ended at 450 meters depth in rock-flour breccias with sericite-pyrite alteration and patchy magnetite alteration.

Drill hole CJ14-02 targeted a large conductivity anomaly coincident with anomalous copper soil geochemistry.

This hole intercepted moderately to strongly chlorite-epidote altered quartz monzonite breccia intruded by weakly altered biotite-feldspar porphyry.

Numerous intervals of anomalous copper, molybdenum, zinc and silver occur throughout the hole; the best of which are hosted in strongly chlorite-epidote altered quartz monzonite and magnetite altered breccia containing fragments of biotite altered porphyry with disseminated chalcopyrite.

This hole ended at 435 meters depth within a late-mineral, biotite-feldspar porphyry which contained sparse copper mineralization in narrow hematite-pyrite-chalcopyrite veins.

The companies are conducting an alteration and mineral chemistry study of rocks from surface and drill core to further evaluate the property and potentially identify vectors towards the core of the porphyry system.

Nortec Minerals Corp. announced that it has terminated two previously signed Memoranda of Understanding to directly acquire 100 percent interest in the Golden Zone project near Cantwell. One agreement was signed with Chulitna Mining Co. while the second was signed with Mines Trust Co. and Hidefield Gold, Limited/Hidefield Gold (Alaska) Inc. The company indicated that it was terminating its interest in the project due to the current difficult markets for junior exploration companies wishing to raise sufficient venture capital for a project like Golden Zone.

Southeast Alaska

Hecla Mining Co. announced third-quarter production results from its Greens Creek mine on Admiralty Island.

The cash cost per ounce of silver for the quarter was US$3.75 compared to US$5.00 in the third quarter of 2013.

The average grade of ore mined during the quarter was 13.04 ounces-per-ton silver compared to 13.15 oz/t silver in the year previous period.

Average by-product grades were 0.11 oz/t gold, 3.22 percent lead and 7.91 percent zinc.

During the third quarter the mine produced 1,890,929 ounces of silver, 13,524 ounces of gold, 5,033 tons of lead and 14,149 tons of zinc.

Mining costs per ton were up by 3 percent due to higher labor cost while costs per ton were down by 2 percent due to lower energy costs, in the third quarter, as compared to the same period in 2013.

The per-ounce cost of silver was beneficially impacted by lower energy costs, higher silver production levels, and higher prices for zinc and lead.

On the exploration front, definition drilling continued to upgrade the lower NWW, West Wall and Deep 200 South resource areas.

Exploration drilling tested the upper limits of both folds of the NWW zone and confirmed the fold limbs to the north beyond the current resource.

Drill intercepts of the West Wall suggest thicker and more consistent mineralization than currently modeled and intercepts 100 feet further down dip than currently modeled, including 34.7 oz/t silver, 0.17 oz/t gold, 18.5 percent zinc and 5.6 percent lead over 9.6 feet.

Exploration drilling on the southern extension to the Deep 200 South extended the high-grade upper bench mineralization another 300 feet to the south, including 63.6 oz/t silver, 0.15 oz/t gold, 5.6 percent zinc, and 2.6 percent lead over 6.6 feet and 34.4 oz/t silver, 0.14 oz/t gold, 5.5 percent zinc, and 2.8 percent lead over 16.3 feet.

Surface drilling of Killer Creek, located a mile west-northwest of the mine, is being reviewed in order to prioritize drilling in 2015.

Author Bio

Author photo

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).


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