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By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Northern Empire lays claim to Richardson

Led by explorers with big finds in Yukon's White Gold District, prospect generator targets Tintina Gold Belt property in Alaska

 

Last updated 4/12/2015 at Noon



Northern Empire Resources Corp. has laid claim to Richardson, a 52,000-acre gold property in Alaska's Interior and has formed an alliance to begin exploring a segment of this vast parcel.

Northern Empire is a prospect generator with early-stage gold properties in Alaska and Nunavut and a silver property in Mexico. The company was formed as part of a restructuring of Prosperity Goldfields Corp., a Nunavut-focused exploration company headed by Adrian Fleming.

As part of a re-organization completed late in 2014, Prosperity cut a deal to acquire Richardson and a gold properties in Nunavut. The junior also consolidated its shares, completed a C$1 million financing and changed its name to Northern Empire.

Among the renamed company's first moves was cutting a deal with Sonoro Metals Corp. on Hilltop, a prospect at the western end of the Richardson property.

Northern Empire Chairman John Robins said, "The Hilltop Gold project is a very compelling gold project located in the Tintina Gold Belt, one of North America's most prolific gold regions. With the signing of this agreement, Northern Empire is executing on its business strategy to identify high-quality projects and mitigate its risk profile through the joint venture model."

Big gold footprint

"Big gold footprint, superior location" is how Northern Empire describes its Richardson Gold project in Interior Alaska.

Situated just north of the paved Richardson Highway in the heart of the Tintina Gold Belt, the expansive project fits this description. A network of secondary roads stretching into the property adds to accessibility, a feature that should drive down exploration costs.

Richardson is prospective for intrusive-related gold deposits such as those mined at its gold-producing neighbors, Sumitomo Metal Mining's Pogo gold mine some 45 miles to the east and Kinross Gold's Fort Knox Mine roughly 85 miles to the northwest.

Roughly 118,640 ounces of placer gold and 2,357 oz of lode gold have been mined in the Richardson District since 1905.

The lode gold was recovered from the Democrat prospect at the southern end of the Richardson property early in the 20th Century. Though a mill was set up at Democrat in 1921, very little gold is believed to have been recovered during this early period. All of the gold attributed to the lode discovery was recovered from bulk sample programs conducted by Tri-Valley, a former explorer of the Richardson property in 1989 and 1998.

Pouring over records of past exploration on the property, Northern Empire's geological team has identified a number of distinct gold targets, including: Hilltop; Shamrock and the Richardson Lineament. The company says each of these prospects have a large footprint and "offer multimillion-ounce discovery potential within a 'drive-to' proven Alaskan gold province."

The Hilltop option

Hilltop, which was optioned to Sonoro Metals in March, is the westernmost of these targets. Originally a separate 8,000-acre block lying to the west of the remaining Richardson claims, Hilltop was expanded to 31,720 acres through the staking of state mining claims.

"We have effectively quadrupled the size of our land position because of an opportunity identified by our technical team," said Robins. "Hilltop now covers a significant geophysical magnetic and resistivity anomaly generated by a State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys airborne survey completed in 1994 and also consolidates claims covering prospective structural extensions."

Hilltop now extends to the western border of Northern Empire's 20,000-acre Richardson property.

To exercise its option and earn a 60 percent interest in Hilltop, Sonoro must invest C$3 million into exploring the gold prospect and issue 1 million of its shares to Northern Empire by the end of 2019. Northern Empire will be the operator of the project during the earn-in period.

Historic sampling of Hilltop has turned up rock samples ranging from 0.1-55.5 grams per metric ton gold and geochemistry reminiscent of intrusive-related deposits in the Tintina Gold Belt such as Pogo and Fort Knox.

Rise of Northern Empire

Northern Empire Chairman Robins believes that the recent and ongoing tough market for mineral explorers is the perfect time to pick up quality prospects at rock bottom prices.

"Northern Empire's mandate will be the identification and low-cost acquisition of high-value assets," he said in announcing company's formation in November.

In addition to Richardson, the project generator's beginning portfolio includes three gold properties in Nunavut - Kiyuk Lake, Noomut River and Eric Lake.

Kiyuk Lake, a gold property that was a part of Prosperity's portfolio prior to the re-organization, is located in southern Nunavut.

A 14-hole drill program completed by Prosperity in 2011 discovered strong gold intersections at three separate locations.

Highlights from this drilling include: 32.1 meters grading 2.41 g/t gold at the Cobalt discovery; 63.6 meters averaging 2.8 g/t gold at the Gold point discovery; and 52.4 meters of 3.3 g/t gold at the Rusty discovery.

The mineralization at Rusty, which was hit at five meters below surface, was the primary target of a 12-hole program completed in 2012 expanded the zone, including a 61.5-meter intercept averaging 3.3 g/t gold.

A follow-up program in the spring of 2013 added to the tantalizing evidence of a high quality, near surface gold zone with one hole returning 35.9 meters of 4.95 g/t gold from a depth of 134 meters and another hole tapping 24 meters of 3.4 g/t gold from 34 meters.

The Eric Lake and Noomut River gold properties also are found in southern Nunavut roughly 300 kilometers (190 miles) northeast of Kiyuk Lake. Historic drilling has intersected significant gold on both properties, including: 29.62 g/t gold over 3.2 meters at Eric; and three meters of 18.3 g/t gold at Noomut.

Northern Empire management has a history of finding and expanding large gold deposits along the Tintina Gold Belt.

"Our team has a solid track record in project generation and wealth creation, thus we believe Northern Empire is very well-positioned to capitalize and reward our shareholders by investing in the sector now," said Robins.

Fleming, who is now the CEO and exploration vice president of Northern Empire, is familiar with seeking gold-rich deposits in the Tintina Belt. Prior to forming Prosperity Goldfields, Fleming was president of Underworld Resources, the company credited with the 2008 discovery of the Golden Saddle deposit at its White Gold Project in the Yukon and sparking the subsequent exploration rush to the region.

Kinross bought out Underworld in 2010 for a cash and stock deal worth C$139 million.

Robins also knows his way around Yukon's White Gold District. Kaminak Gold Corp., a company Robins also chairs, is currently advancing a feasibility study for the 4.15-million-ounce Coffee gold project.

He also serves as director of Grayd Resources Corp., an exploration company bought by Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. for C$275 million in 2011. The La India gold project in Mexico was the primary reason for this purchase. Grayd, which now operates as a subsidiary of Agnico, also holds Delta, a precious metals-enriched volcanogenic massive sulfide project about 110 miles southeast of Richardson.

 

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