The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Winter a perennial surprise

Uptick in acquisitions brightens gloomy reality of Alaska minerals sector

By the time this summary reaches your eyes, termination dust (aka "snow") will have started to cover mineral projects across Alaska. At a recent project site visit, one of the project owner's representatives was listening to local Alaskans talk about not being ready for winter, how many things planned for the summer remained un-done, etc. After some cogitation on this, he asked me "Does everyone in Alaska get surprised by winter every year?" My response was simple: When you are in denial, everything is a surprise!

While we might be in denial about the coming of winter, Alaska's mineral industry swallowed a distasteful spoonful of reality over the first three quarters of 2015.

Exploration expenditures for Alaska's summer season were few and far between, likely coming in at the same levels as our most recent market bottom in 2002.

At mine sites, continued depressed metals prices resulted in belt tightening, deferral of some capital costs and reduced mine exploration programs as the mines look to establish new cost structures that will allow them to weather the price storm.

One bright spot in the sea of gloom was the rapid increase in the number of new project acquisitions.

Some of these acquisitions have been announced and some have not, while still others are nearing completion and are likely to be announced before year-end.

This sort of acquisition activity normally presages an uptick in the markets, a re-stocking of the shelves in anticipation of growing demand to convert mineral resources into mined products.

I don't think it is out of line to say that Alaska's mineral industry is ready, willing and able to meet that demand for new resources.

Interior Alaska

Northern Empire Resources Corp. and Sonoro Metals Corp. announced results from their phase-1 exploration program on the Hilltop project in the Richardson District.

The program confirmed and expanded the known gold footprint, with channel samples grading up to 19.45 grams per metric ton gold and rock grab samples grading as high as 26.55 g/t gold.

The work included collecting 61 confirmation soil samples, 336 expansion soil samples, 228 rock samples, and 213 meters of trenching.

Soil sample results outlined a 400-meter-by-1,000-meter soil anomaly with values above the 85th percentile, ranging from 13 to 480 parts-per-billion gold.

More widely spaced soil sampling expanded the zone of previously defined anomalous gold results 400 meters to the west and defined a zone of interest measuring 2.4 kilometers by 2.4 kilometers.

Significant channel sample results from five trenches included 7 meters at 1.41 g/t gold in trench 3 and 10 meters at 2.29 g/t gold in trench 5, with the best 1 meter sample grading 19.45 g/t gold.

Rock grab samples from trenches returned values as high as 26.55 g/t gold.

Gold was strongly correlative with arsenic, bismuth and tellurium.

Other anomalous associated elements included lead, antimony and tungsten, suggesting a possible intrusive-hosted affinity similar to other gold prospects in the Tintina Gold Belt of Alaska - Yukon.

Results of the subsequently approved phase-2 work program are pending.

Contango ORE Inc. announced today that its joint venture with a subsidiary of Royal Gold Inc. has approved a phase-2 exploration program at its Tetlin gold project near Tok.

The project is located on lands leased from Tetlin Village.

Phase 1 was completed in August and consisted of 7,500 meters of new core drilling, primarily on locations outside of the previously discovered Peak gold deposit.

Phase 2 will provide up to 6,000 meters of core drilling to follow up results from phase 1.

This second phase of work, budgeted at US$4 million, will bring 2015 expenditures to about $9 million.

At a 0.5 grams of gold per metric ton cutoff, previously published indicated resources include 5.97 million metric tons grading 3.46 g/t gold, 11.0 g/t silver and 0.25 percent copper.

Using the same cutoff, inferred resources include 3.85 million metric tons grading 2.07 g/t gold, 14.28 g/t silver and 0.235 percent copper.

Alaska Range

Brazil Resources Inc. announced an updated mineral resource estimate for its 100 percent-owned Whistler gold-copper project The Whistler deposit hosts an indicated resource of 79.2 million metric tons grading 0.51 g/t gold, 1.97 g/t silver and 0.17 percent copper.

In addition, the deposit contains an inferred resource of 145.8 million metric tons grading 0.40 g/t gold, 1.75 g/t silver, 0.15 percent copper.

This new estimate largely agrees with previously conducted estimates published by Kiska Metals Corp., from whom the project was acquired earlier this year.

The resource estimate is based on 48 diamond drill holes (19,870 meters).

The Whistler deposit is a structurally controlled porphyry copper-gold deposit with gold, copper and silver as the primary economic metals.

There have been three major intrusive episodes that define the mineralization with the earliest diorite phase being associated with the majority of the mineralization.

A major northwest trending fault ("Divide Fault") separates the mineralization into two domains, which were modeled separately during the resource estimate.

The conceptual pit delineated resource is reported within a conceptual pit shell with 45-degree pit slope angles, resulting in a stripping ratio of 1.3 metric tons of waste for every 1 metric ton of ore.

Coventry Resources Inc. announced additional diamond core drilling results from its Caribou Dome copper project in the Valdez Creek District.

Drill holes CD15-12 and CD15-13 were confirmatory holes drilled to evaluate shallow mineralization at Lenses 5 and 6.

Significant results include 8.9 meters at 5.0 percent copper from 33.6 meters in CD15-12 and 3.3 meters at 10.1 percent copper from 5.9 meters and an additional 10.6 meters at 5.4 percent copper starting at 30.6 meters in hole CD15-13.

Hole CD15-11 was a 40-meter step-out of previously drilled holes designed to test a 250-meter-long corridor where outcropping mineralization coincides with a strong induced polarization geophysical anomaly at Lense 2.

Significant results include 0.3 meters at 3.0 percent copper from 100.7 meters in CD15-11.

The company also reported thick, high-grade mineralization in the first holes drilled to evaluate the Lense 7/8 target.

Significant results include 0.8 meters at 12.4 percent copper from 128.7 meters, 14.1 meters at 9.9 percent copper from 134.6, 2.4 meters at 3.7 percent copper from 159.8 meters and 0.4 meters at 13.6 percent copper from 167.4 meters in CD15-14.

The mineralization in hole 14 is thought to be part of a new, previously undiscovered, lense of mineralization.

A phase two 4,000-meter drilling program has been approved and will focus on first-pass exploration of five very-high-priority IP anomalies - the Lense 2, Lense 6 East, Lense 4 West, Caribou South and Lense 7/8 targets.

Additional drill results are pending.

Northern Alaska

Goldrich Mining Co. announced that placer gold production commenced at the Little Squaw placer deposit at its Chandalar gold project in the Brooks Range.

Updates to plant and facilities were completed by the company and its partner in late July and production began in early August, continuing through Sept. 12.

Average daily production rose to about 103 ounces per day of fine gold for the production season.

The 2015 production season was 35 days but the normal production season is about 107 days, subject to weather.

A total of roughly 4,400 ounces of alluvial gold, equivalent to some 3,600 ounces of gold, were produced.

To date the partners have completed about 15,000 feet of drilling at Little Squaw and outlined 10.5 million cubic yards of mineralized material at an average head grade of 0.025 ounces of gold per cubic yard for an estimated total of roughly 250,000 contained ounces.

Southeast Alaska

Pure Nickel Inc. has indicated that it is seeking to joint venture or sell its 100 percent -owned Salt Chuck copper-palladium project on Prince of Wales Island.

The property covers a northeast-trending mafic-ultramafic igneous complex covering a seven by 1.6-kilometer area.

The mafic-ultramafic complex occurs in a folded succession of Paleozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks and Paleozoic to Mesozoic intrusive rocks, which are part of the Alexander Terrane.

Reported production from 1916 through 1941 was 296,000 metric tons of copper sulfide ore grading 0.95 percent copper, 2.0 g/t palladium, 1.1 g/t gold and 5.7 g/t silver with recovery of 2.81 million kilograms of copper and 9,000 kilograms of palladium with credits in gold and silver.

There has been no production from the complex since 1941.

In 2012 the company conducted a six-hole drilling program that encountered high-grade gold mineralization in a previously unidentified gold-bearing structure in the western part of the property, an area known locally as North Pole Hill.

High-grade intersections include 127.8 g /t gold, 57.6 g/t silver and 2.78 percent copper over 0.35 meters apparent width.

Follow-up drilling was conducted in 2014 but no new results have been released.

Additional drilling targets have been outlined within the area of the old copper-palladium mine workings, particularly at depth below previous mine workings.

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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