The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Miners get busy in elephant country

Exploration drilling and field prospecting programs, many of them driven by newcomers, have popped up across Alaska this summer.

The summer solstice has come and gone, but the Alaska mining industry has paid little attention to the decreased amount of daylight because it is high summer in the high latitudes, time to be out completing work programs that have been in the planning since last fall.

Exploration drilling programs have sprouted in the Brooks Range, Interior, Alaska Range, Southeast, Southwest and the Alaska Peninsula.

In addition, the sounds of tire-kicking are being heard over a wide area of the state with most of the interest focused on gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc prospects.

Many of those thumping those tires are new to the Alaska mining scene, coming to elephant country to look for elephants.

We will likely hear more from these new players later in the year.

Western Alaska

Equal partners Novagold Resources and Barrick Gold announced a US$8 million budget for project optimization at their 39-million-ounce Donlin gold project.

The partners determined that a more cost-effective project execution plan could substantially reduce upfront capital costs related to mine construction and have approved a drill program designed to collect geologic and geotechnical data this year to accomplish that goal.

On the permitting front, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with cooperating agencies to complete a final environmental impact statement, with anticipated publication in early 2018.

Work also continues with state and federal agencies to advance all other required permits for the project.

CopperBank Resources Corp. reported the start of a diamond drilling program on its 100 percent controlled Pyramid project located on Aleut Native Corporation lands on the Alaska Peninsula.

The planned drilling program will comprise a minimum of 1,500 meters and will focused on areas of higher grade such as in the Main Zone around hole 11PY016 which returned 155 meters of 0.71 percent copper, 0.18 grams per metric gold and 0.018 percent molybdenum starting at 94 meters.

This hole bottomed in 34 meters of 0.844 percent copper.

This area also contains hole 12PY019, which intersected 70 meters at 0.717 percent copper and 0.1 g/t gold from 22 meters, including 42 meters at 1 percent copper and 0.16 g/t gold from 24 meters to 66 meters.

The North Zone also will be further t¬¬ested to verify the lateral extensions of the known mineralization particularly around hole 11PY007, which intersected 0.56 percent copper and 0.13 g/t gold over 104 meters starting from 6.0 meters.

Redstar Gold Corp. reported initial results of its 2017 exploration efforts at its Unga gold project near Sand Point.

Following a ground-based magnetics and induced polarization survey completed in April, the company recently completed an initial 12-hole, 2,287.8-meter drilling program.

Drilling was performed along approximate 100-meter centers, with a goal of tracing Shumagin-style breccias/veining previously drilled at the Shumagin Gold Zone along strike to the southwest, as well as to complete additional infill drilling to further confirm continuity of mineralization.

The Shumagin Gold Zone has now been traced by drilling for roughly 1,350 meters, an increase of 42 percent over known strike length at the end of 2016.

Assays are pending on this work.

Interior Alaska

Freegold Ventures Limited reported initial results from its 27-hole oxide-zone core drilling program north of the current resource area at its Golden Summit gold project in the Fairbanks District.

Significant results include 39 meters grading 0.72 g/t gold in hole GSDL17-10; 56.5 meters grading 0.51 g/t gold in hole GSDL17-11; 52.5 meters grading 0.56 g/t gold in hole GSDL17-13; and 54 meters grading 1.40 g/t gold in hole GSDL17-16.

The 50-meter spaced drilling was designed to test the upper 70 meters of ground north of current resources.

Hole GSDL 17-16, in which visible gold was noted in drill core, intersected a high-grade, east-west trending vein in an area previously untested for gold mineralization.

In addition, holes GSDL 17-17 and 17-18, the northernmost holes drilled during this program, intersected intrusive mineralization in an area where intrusive mineralization has not previously been encountered.

Additional assays are pending.

Endurance Gold Corp. announced that it has commenced its summer exploration program at its Elephant project.

The planned programs include 20 line kilometers of magnetics and induced polarization surveys over the South Zone, North Zone and Central Zone.

In addition, soil and rock sampling, trenching and prospecting will be conducted on the Elephant, Trout and Wolverine prospects.

Results from the ground geophysical program will be used to plan a drill program, which the company hopes to commence in the fall.

The combined targets cover over 6 kilometers of strike and include kilometer-scale gold in soil with values greater than 100 parts-per-billion gold with rock grab samples up to 11.98 g/t gold.

Endurance Gold Corporation also announced that it has signed an option to acquire 100 percent interest in nine claims adjoining the company's McCord gold project near Livengood and has staked an additional eleven new claims, bringing the property to 5,178 acres in size.

The project has only been evaluated by the vendor for its placer gold potential.

An previous auger drilling program discovered one location in the McCord Creek valley where the auger drilling recovered fine gold, gold-in-quartz, gold-in-oxide wad, and significant quantities of cinnabar in concentrates recovered from auger drill holes down to 20 feet in depth.

The gold show limited wear, suggesting it was close to its original lode source.

The company plans to evaluate concentrate samples collected by the vendor and conduct a soil sampling program on the newly acquired portions of the property.

Prior programs completed by the company have identified seven gold and multi-element soil anomalies, the two largest of with values exceeding 10 ppb gold, are about 1,500-by-400 meters and 1,100- by-500 meters in size.

Contango ORE, Inc. announced updated mineral resource estimates from the Tetlin project, a joint venture with a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Gold, Inc. The measured and indicated resources for the combined Main Peak and North Peak deposits were calculated with resource cones at a gold price of US$1,200 per ounce, with a cut-off grade of 0.5 g/t gold and at US$1,400 gold with a cut-off grade of 0.43 g/t gold.

At the 0.5 g/t gold cut-off, the revised estimate includes a measured resource of 484,000 metric tons grading 6.25 grams of g/t gold, 16.73 grams per metric ton silver and 0.15 percent copper.

Indicated resources at the same cut-off came in at 10,117,000 metric tons grading 3.51 grams per metric ton gold, 14.06 grams per metric ton silver and 0.6 percent copper.

Adding in additional mineralized materials, which Canadian and Australian companies call inferred resources but which U.S. companies lump into the catch-all called "mineralized materials", the total gold resources at Tetlin, using the 0.5 g/t gold cut off comes to 15,650 metric tons grading 2.98 g/t gold, 14.68 g/t silver and 0.16 percent copper containing 1,502,000 oz. gold and 7,387,000 oz. silver.

The new resource constituted a 59 percent increase in total gold resources over the previous resource estimates of early 2014.

The companies indicated that summer 2017 efforts, which began in May, are targeted towards more exploratory prospects in the general area of the Main and North Peak deposits.

Northern Alaska

Trilogy Metals Inc. and funding partner South32 Limited reported the start of its Bornite deposit drilling program at its Upper Kobuk Mineral project, a business relationship owned and controlled by Trilogy and NANA Regional Corporation Inc. The US$10 million, 12,000-meter core drilling program will be focused on drilling the extensions of zones last drilled in 2013, including hole RC13-224 which intersected two mineralized intervals, starting at 513.3 meters and ending at 754.6 meters for a combined 236.0-meter composite interval with a weighted average grade of 1.90 percent copper.

Trilogy also announced that it has retained Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc. to complete a pre-feasibility study on its Ambler volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit, also part of the Upper Kobuk Mineral project, a business relationship owned and controlled by Trilogy and NANA Regional Corporation, Inc. The company also engaged Amec Foster Wheeler to complete mine planning and SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. to complete tailings and waste design, hydrology and environmental studies.

The pre-feasibility work is targeted for completion in early 2018.

The company is proposing a 10,000 metric-tons-per-day, open- pit mining operation with a typical crush-grind-float flow-sheet producing significant tonnages of copper and zinc concentrates and lessor lead concentrate containing significant quantities of precious metals.

This summer, the contractors will work with the company's team members to complete the site investigation work to determine the optimal location for the mill and power plant, tailing and waste design, and other supporting infrastructure and facilities.

Goldrich Mining Company announced that Goldrich NyacAU Placer LLC has commenced mining at the Chandalar gold project in the Chandalar District.

Mining of pay gravel is expected to continue through mid-September.

The forecast for 2017 production is about 13,500 oz. of fine gold at a cost of roughly $700 per ounce.

The company also plans to conduct a 122-hole sonic drill program expected to total 7,700 feet with an average hole depth of 63 feet.

The drill plan is designed to further define mineralized placer material between Line 8.6 to Line 12 as well as test for potential mineralized material from Lines 13 to 17.5.

Each line is about 500 feet apart and drill lines will be spaced roughly 250 feet apart.

Southeast Alaska

Constantine Metal Resources Ltd. announced commencement of a 7,000 meter, US$7 million program with two drills at its Palmer volcanogenic massive sulfide project near Haines.

Inferred mineral resources at the project total 8.1 million metric tons grading 1.41 percent copper, 5.25 percent zinc, 0.32 g/t gold and 31.7 g/t silver.

The majority of 2017 drilling is dedicated to discovery of new mineral deposits with the balance for expansion and upgrade of the existing South Wall-RW Zone resource, and geotechnical studies.

Property-wide airborne electromagnetic geophysical surveying, geological mapping and prospecting work are also included in the summer exploration plans, data from which will be used to help guide future drilling.

Priority exploration targets include the Cap, Nunatak, HG, and JAG prospects that collectively define a several kilometers long, stratigraphically linked corridor of mineralization that is parallel to the South Wall-RW Zone trend.

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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