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By Shane Lasley
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Tectonic goes public, makes gold discovery

Alaska focused explorer lists on TSX-V, drills gold at Tibbs

 

Last updated 11/29/2019 at 6:13am

Shane Lasley

The 2019 exploration camp on Tectonic Metals' Tibbs property in Alaska was located adjacent to the M1 structure, where one hole cut 28.95 meters averaging 6.03 g/t gold.

Investors looking for mineral exploration companies boasting a team with a proven track record and gold properties in safe and mineral-rich jurisdictions have a new choice with the Tectonic Metals Inc. symbol, TECT, listed on the TSX Venture Exchange at the opening of trading on Nov. 18.

While Tectonic may be the newest mineral explorer on the TSX Venture Exchange, the company has been acquiring and assessing gold properties in Alaska for the past two years as a privately held company founded by a seasoned team that have already made their mark on the gold exploration space.

Tony Reda, former vice president of corporate development of Kaminak Gold Corp., is the president and CEO of Tectonic Metals. He is joined by Eira Thomas and Rob Carpenter, both former president and CEOs of Kaminak, who are Tectonic founders and strategic and technical advisors to the new gold explorer.

While with Kaminak, this team raised C$165 million to acquire and advance the Coffee Gold project from a grassroots discovery in Yukon's White Gold District to a roughly 5-million-ounce gold mine project that Goldcorp Inc. (now Newmont Goldcorp) acquired in 2016 for C$520 million.

Reda, Thomas and Carpenter did not rest on their laurels following the half-a-billion-dollar sale of Kaminak. Instead, they put together a private company and headed west into Alaska where they quietly picked up three promising, yet overlooked, gold properties.

This foray into Alaska was aided by Avalon Development Corp. President Curt Freeman, a renowned Alaska geologist who has been exploring the state for nearly four decades. Freeman, who is also a founding member and director of Tectonic, provides the company a wealth of information on the geology, companies and people in Alaska.

"It was clear from day one that Eira, Rob, Curt and I shared a passion for mineral exploration and discovery and the desire to bring something different to the mineral industry," said Reda. "Behind every successful company is a great team, and I am blessed to be working with such esteemed professionals dedicated and committed to working for our shareholders and making Tectonic a success."

This commitment to Tectonic's success is already paying off. On Nov. 21, the company announced that its inaugural drill program has tapped 28.95 meters averaging 6.03 grams per metric ton gold in a newly discovered zone at Tibbs, one of the company's three Alaska gold projects.

"This is our first-ever drill campaign, both as a company and at Tibbs, and we could not have asked for a better start," said Reda. "In just over two years, we moved into the forgotten Goodpaster District and quickly identified Tibbs as an exceptional exploration project that could be advanced cost-effectively and quickly to discovery."

In addition to Tibbs, the Tectonic team has picked up two other properties with multi-million-ounce gold potential on or near the highway system in eastern Alaska – Northway and Seventymile – raised the cash to carry out significant exploration on all three projects and launched the burgeoning exploration company into the public domain.

"I am extremely proud of our team and their ability to execute on all fronts," said Tectonic Metals Chairman Mel Benson. "2019 was a stellar year for Tectonic that involved raising C$5.8 million, taking Tectonic public, bolstering our team, safely executing three exploration programs and two drill programs in a timely manner while respecting the communities and environment in which we work."

Exciting new gold zone

While any of Tectonic's Alaska properties have the potential to emerge as the company's flagship project in the future, Tibbs currently holds that status due to being more advanced than the others, as well as the exciting discovery made this year.

Situated about 20 miles east of Northern Star Resources' Pogo gold mine property in Alaska's Goodpaster Mining District, Tibbs has shown high-grade gold potential in the past but previous explorers only carried out intermittent investigations of the property and never put together a cohesive deposit there.

The "on and off' exploration at Tibbs over the past two decades is largely due to not finding the horizontal high-grade "Pogo-style" gold veins that have historically framed the exploration model for companies seeking high-grade gold across the Goodpaster District.

While the past exploration programs did not discover the flat lying veins that have provided the bulk of gold at Pogo, they did tap vertical veins at Tibbs that are reminiscent of the higher-grade vertical "feeder veins" more recently discovered and now being mined 20 miles west of Tibbs.

Tectonic's technical team, led by Vice President of Exploration Eric Buitenhuis, did not approach Tibbs with preconceived models. Instead, they used the historical exploration data as the start of a systematic exploration program on the yet to be fully understood high-grade gold property.

This work culminated in a 20-hole rotary air blast drill program that tested nine targets on the property this summer. Tectonic selected RAB drilling as an efficient means of rapidly testing the bedrock at as many targets at Tibbs as possible.

The most promising target identified with this drilling was M1, a high-grade gold structure at the Michigan zone.

One historical sample collected from a blast pit at Michigan averaged 988 g/t (31.8 ounces per metric ton) gold. Tectonic collected a sample from the same pit this year that averaged 226.9 g/t (7.3 oz/t gold).

Michigan hosts a roughly 1,000-meter-long northeast-trending deformation zone defined by several mineralized structures, including M1 where the 28.95 meters of 6.03 g/t gold was encountered during this year's drilling.

"Given the broad width, tenor, and scale of the Tibbs Michigan zone, we are excited to get back in the field and find more gold at not only Michigan but elsewhere on the property now that our knowledge and understanding of how these zones/structures at Tibbs are related has increased," said Reda.

One aspect of the M1 discovery that the company is particularly excited about is there is evidence that the deformation zone that it lies within could extend well beyond Michigan.

At Upper Trench, which is about 1,500 meters north of Michigan, one hole drilled this year confirmed the presence of a mineralized structure similar to M1. Though the drilled interval was lower tenor, 12.2 meters of 0.52 g/t gold, surface rock grab samples at Upper Trench have returned grades as high as 135 g/t gold. These surface samples, which include visible gold, validate the potential for high-grade mineralization within the interpreted deformation zone.

Wolverine, a prospect about 1,000 meters further north, appears to host a further extension of the deformation zone. The 1,200- by 600-meter soil anomaly at Wolverine is the largest at Tibbs and also hosts the highest-grade soil sample collected on the property, 1.39 g/t gold.

It appears that the deformation zone at these three target areas were once a continuous 3,000-meter long structure that is now offset by faulting, providing Tectonic with a large area for follow-up drilling.

"The discovery of the M1 Structure at Michigan has validated our newly refined structural interpretation and suggests that additional northeast-trending, kilometer-long structures at Upper Trench and Wolverine are also prospective for high-angle, mineralized structures previously unrecognized at the project," said Buitenhuis. "We look forward to aggressively testing this thesis in 2020."

In addition to Michigan, Upper Trench and Wolverine, Tibbs hosts numerous other high-grade gold targets. Blue Lead, Connector, Gray Lead and Johnson Saddle are among the zones tested with shallow RAB holes this year. These holes, however, did not encounter subsurface mineralization that reflects the high-grade gold encountered in trenches and rock samples. Tectonic geologists are re-evaluating these targets in order to identify the source of the prevalent high-grade gold found at surface.

In the meantime, Tectonic has M1 and the 3,000-meter zone that hosts it to keep the drills busy at Tibbs next year.

Very large gold potential

While Tibbs is currently Tectonic's flagship, Northway and Seventymile have the potential for very large gold deposits and have other advantages that could catapult them to the top of the exploration priority list.

While historical exploration demonstrated big gold potential at Seventymile and Northway, tough market conditions cut short past programs before this prospectivity could be fully realized. As a result, both properties on lands owned by Doyon Inc., the Alaska Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska, have sat idle and overlooked for nearly two decades.

In 2018, Tectonic cut an agreement with Doyon that covers all phases of mining – mineral exploration, mine development and production – providing surety for a future company that wants to mine any deposits Tectonic turns up on the properties.

"The agreements we have with Doyon, from a de-risking perspective, are huge – to have that sort of production agreement at the onset brings confidence to everyone, including a potential partner down the road," Reda said.

Northway also happens to have the advantage of having the Alaska Highway running through its entire 25-mile (40 kilometers) length, with large and robust gold-in-soil anomalies along this main road access to the state.

Stream sediment, soil and rock sampling carried out by Tectonic in 2018 validated two of the largest and most prospective Northway targets – Area 6 and Area 7 – just off the highway.

Area 6, an undrilled target toward the northwest end of the property, hosts a 1,200-meter-long soil anomaly that has returned soil samples with as much as 597 parts per million copper and 253 parts per billion gold.

Area 7 hosts an 800-meter-long gold-in-soil anomaly toward the southeast end of the Northway property where soil sampling in 2018 returned assays with as much as 2.12 g/t gold, which is exceptionally high grade for a soil sample.

"This is one of the best undrilled gold targets I have come across in quite some time," Reda said.

Being located about 2.5 miles off the highway makes this target even more appealing to the Tintina Gold Belt explorer.

Areas 6 and 7 also coincide with robust geophysical anomalies that indicate large mineralizing systems.

To further prepare these targets for drilling, Tectonic hired Dawson City, Yukon-based GroundTruth Exploration, which also carried out the RAB drilling at Tibbs, to collect top of bedrock samples with its track-mounted GT Probe during the 2019 field season.

Used extensively in the Yukon in recent years, the GT Probe pushes a casing through the soil to collect a sample from the top of the bedrock. With less environmental disturbance than trenching and much less expensive than drilling, the GT Probe provides geologists a glimpse of the bedrock that is typically hidden by wind-blown glacial sediment and tundra that commonly mask the rocks across the Tintina Gold Belt.

Excited about the results turned up by the GT Probe, Tectonic returned to Northway late during the 2019 season to carry out 854 meters of RAB drilling to further test the bedrock and prepare the property for further drilling in 2020.

Assays from the late-season drill program are pending.

The GT Probe was also used to test the bedrock at Seventymile, a property that blankets a 25-mile-long gold trend between Yukon's Klondike District to the east and Alaska's Circle Mining District to the west.

While 83 historical holes tested seven prospects across Seventymile, Tectonic believes this drilling was targeting the wrong style of mineralization.

"The previous explorers applied a Motherlode, California model to this property. We are looking at it from a structural, high-grade shear zone lens," Reda said.

Flume is a 7,000-meter-long trend on the Seventymile that could host the high-grade shear zones Tectonic is looking for. Historical drilling along this trend did not test for the lithological contacts – where two rock types come together – that could provide channels for the gold-rich fluids to form deposits.

Tectonic Metals Inc.

Tectonic Metals Vice President of Exploration Eric Buitenhuis investigates the Flanders target at Seventymile in 2018.

Power auger sampling and other exploration carried out during 2018 found evidence of the gold enriched shear zones Tectonic was seeking at Flume and GT Probe sampling completed this year further validated the company's gold mineralization model.

This work has identified multiple targets for follow-up drilling at Seventymile, including the more than 1,500-meter-long Flanders prospect within the Flume trend, where previous drilling cut 1.1 meters averaging 187.9 g/t gold.

This prospect, coupled with the drill targets at Northway and Tibbs, has the entire Tectonic team eager to have drills turning on all three properties next year.

"I am excited about the new drill discoveries and what 2020 has in store for Tectonic," said Benson.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 11 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.

Email: publisher@miningnewsnorth.com
Phone: (907) 726-1095
https://www.facebook.com/miningnewsnorth

Tibbs high grade gold exploration map Goodpaster AlaskaNorthway gold copper exploration map Alaska Highway DoyonSeventymile gold exploration map Tintina Belt Doyon

 

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