The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Alaska mining roars back in recent weeks

No one seems to have predicted this sudden 'change in momentum,' but reasons for the industry revival may be revealed in hindsight

If you have ever played or followed sporting events, you are probably familiar with that bizarre and often game-changing event known as the "change of momentum". This is when the team that was on the ropes suddenly comes to life and often roars to victory, putting smiles on the faces of coaches, fans and bookies alike.

Well, unless I am mistaken, the Alaska mining industry has been the beneficiary of just such a change of momentum over the past month.

After taking head shots for the past four years, the industry suddenly came to life over the past month, with new budgets, new players and new targets invigorating Alaska's mining scene.

For whatever reason, everyone wants to get back to business - now! Hindsight being 20:20, we will no doubt hear from pundits in a month or so just why this happened, but I am not aware of anyone who actually predicted this sea change ahead of time.

If such a person does exist, come fall, I know who I am voting for as our next President.

Mind you, I am not holding my breath waiting for this genius to step forward, I suspect the reasons will only become clear, if they can be discerned at all, in the rearview mirror.

Regardless, the game is afoot in Alaska.

If you were waiting to get in at the bottom of the market, I recommend you get moving, it's about to become a seller's market for the first time in five years.

Western Alaska

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. reported closing of a previously announced financing that netted it $17.1 million. These funds are earmarked for the company's Pebble copper-molybdenum-gold deposit. Among the items the company intends to work on include the U. S. Environment Protection Agency's proposed pre-emptive regulatory action under the United States Clean Water Act and preparation of the project's initial federal and state permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act. The company also indicated it was continuing efforts to find a partner to aid in advancement of the project.

Alaska newcomer Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd. has acquired the Iditarod gold project in the Iditarod District in southwestern Alaska. The 16.5 square mile project covers anomalous gold and antimony in rocks and soils and a large magnetic anomaly that was defined by a 2010 airborne geophysical survey of the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Survey. The claim block also contains the Golden Ground and Nelson prospect, two previously noted prospects. Plans for a 2016 summer field program include collection of 2,000 soil samples along with rock chip sampling and geologic mapping designed to move the project to the drill-ready status for 2017. Welcome to Alaska Mineral Mountain!

Redstar Gold Corp. announced that it has commenced drilling at its Unga gold project near Sand Point.

The 2016 program will include programs at the Shumagin, Empire Ridge and Orange Mountain prospects.

At the Shumagin prospect, drilling will focus on delineation of new drill targets to expand previously drilled targets.

The Shumagin prospect is characterized by multi-phase gold and silver-bearing quartz - adularia - rhodochrosite-bearing breccia bodies that occur within favorable zones over a distance of more than 1,200 meters.

High-grade gold-silver mineralization is open at depth and other undrilled but potentially significant gold-silver bearing breccia bodies exist along strike.

At Empire Ridge, the southwest extension of the historic Apollo gold mine, the company plans to conduct detailed structural mapping and drill targeting.

Select samples of exposed vein gossans are enriched in silver up to 157 grams per metric ton silver.

Reconnaissance mapping and sampling will be conducted at the Orange Mountain prospect to bring this target to the drill stage.

The one-square-kilometer alteration zone at Orange Mountain is interpreted as a high-level lithocap above an intermediate sulfidation state epithermal gold-silver system.

Interior Alaska

Northern Empire Resources Corp. said it has raised $1.05 million and intends to use a portion of this money to explore its Richardson gold project in the Richardson District. Detailed exploration plans for the project were not released.

Endurance Gold Corp. announced plans to drill its Elephant Mountain gold project.

Three targets are being prioritized for drilling within the 1,800 meters by 600 meters intrusive-hosted gold target.

The South Zone target has very few outcrop exposures but has yielded the highest gold values in rock samples from the property.

Surface grab rock samples from the South Zone target include 12.98 g/t gold, 5.21 g/t gold, 4.44 g/t gold, 3.02 g/t gold, and 2.59 g/t gold associated with iron oxide stained and altered granitic rocks.

The 2015 exploration program confirmed a continuous 1,000-meters-long soil anomaly exceeding 100 parts per billion gold with peak values up to 320 ppb gold.

Associated with the gold-in-soil anomaly are coincident pathfinder elements arsenic (with a peak value of 1,660 parts per million) and antimony (with a peak value of 267 ppm).

Three drill holes are currently planned for this target.

The company plans to drill one hole in the North Zone soil anomaly, which covers an area approximately 1,200 meters by 500 meters wide, with peak values of up to 1,540 ppb gold.

One drill hole also is planned for Central Zone where a chargeable IP anomaly with dimensions of about 1,500 meters by 500 meters was identified.

Alaska Range

White Rock Minerals Ltd. announced that it has commenced compiling historical surface geochemical and geophysical surveys in order to define new high-grade zinc - silver exploration targets in the vicinity of its Red Mountain project in the Bonnifield District.

The company has commenced a multi-disciplinary compilation of all available data sources, combined with interpretation of these data and drill target prioritization.

This body of work will be used for vector analysis and 3D processing.

The process will allow definition of a variety of target types, including specific extensions to known mineralization as well as district wide targets that could represent additional zinc - silver deposits.

Coventry Resources Ltd. said the first drilling rig has arrived at its Caribou Dome copper project in the Valdez Creek District.

The company plans to complete 8,000 meters of drilling in 2016.

The drilling program will include initial testing of the Menel, Guardian, Lense 9 and Lense 3 induced polarization geophysical targets, located along strike from the 700 meters-long mineralized zone drilled to date.

All four of these targets consist of strong IP anomalies that coincide with outcropping and/or sub-cropping mineralization and strong copper geochemical anomalies at surface, including rock chip samples that assayed up to 16.5 percent copper at the Guardian target.

In addition to drilling, new IP data will be acquired over extensive soil anomalies delineated for more than seven kilometers of strike.

The company plans to bring a second drill rig to the project after completion of the IP surveys.

Kiska Metals Corp. announced that its partner First Quantum Minerals has indicated its intent to conduct a diamond drilling program on the Copper Joe copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry project in the western Alaska Range. A magnetotelluric geophysical survey conducted by the partners in 2015 identified a discrete, one-kilometer-wide conductivity low anomaly that is coincident with an extensive zone of intense phyllic alteration at surface. The core of this anomaly will be the focus of this summer's drilling program. The specific details of the drilling program have not been released.

Northern Alaska

Goldrich Mining Co. announced that its partner Nyac Gold LLC has commenced placer gold mining at the Chandalar gold project in Alaska. Favorable spring weather conditions allowed processing of stockpiled pay gravel about three weeks ahead of the normal mid-June start of production. Mining is expected to continue through early September, subject to weather conditions. To date about $24 million has been invested by Nyac Gold to develop the project. The partners are targeting production of 20,000 ounces of gold per year over a mine life in excess of 25 years.

Southeast Alaska

Ucore Rare Metals announced a further update on the commissioning of the SuperLig-One rare earth elements separation pilot plant.

The first tranche of pregnant leach solution derived from the company's Bokan-Dotson Ridge project in Alaska has been subjected to a series of tests, the most recent of which was separation of the light and heavy rare earth elements into two products.

The processed created two classes, heavy rare earth elements comprised of samarium to lutetium and light rare earth elements comprised of lanthanum to neodymium plus yttrium.

The class separations have been achieved at greater than 99 percent purity and at greater than 99 percent recovery of contained rare earth metals.

The next stages of the SuperLig-One Plant operation will demonstrate the separation and recovery of critical heavy rare earth elements dysprosium, terbium and europium at the 99.99 percent purity level and the separation and recovery of a heavy rare earth sub-group containing holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium at greater than 99 percent purity levels.

The final step will be separation and recovery of a heavy rare earth sub-group containing samarium and gadolinium at greater than 99 percent purity levels.

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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