Purpose-driven junior eyes rich deposits
Granite Creek amasses large Minto Copper Belt land package North of 60 Mining News – November 25, 2020
Last updated 11/25/2020 at 3:16pm
When Granite Creek Copper Ltd. decided to refocus its energies on finding copper in Yukon Territory in October 2018, it swung into action, aggressively tackling its vision of becoming a leading copper exploration company. Just over two years later, the junior has acquired the advanced Carmacks Copper Project and is hoping to establish a mineral resource estimate on its larger Stu Project next door.
To begin its transition, the junior changed its name from Granite Creek Gold Ltd. to reflect its new direction and graduated from the NEX Exchange to the TSX Venture Exchange by completing a C$1.8 million financing and purchasing the 111 square-kilometer (42.85 square miles) Stu copper-gold-silver project from Yukon prospector Bill Harris. The Stu property is located 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Whitehorse and 47 kilometers (29 miles) north of Carmacks.
Granite Creek also teamed up with other companies in the Metallic Group of Companies, a collaboration of precious and base metals exploration companies, with a portfolio of large, brownfields assets in established mining districts adjacent to some of the industry's highest-grade producers of silver and gold, platinum, palladium, and copper.
Granite Creek President and CEO Tim Johnson, a 25-plus years mining industry veteran, said the Metallic Group's members share resources, including the expertise of managers and technical teams.
One member, for example, is Metallic Minerals, a junior exploring for silver in Yukon's Keno Hills Silver District. Metallic's president and CEO is Greg Johnson, co-founder of Novagold Resources Inc., former president & CEO of Wellgreen Platinum and South American Silver and winner of PDAC's Thayer Lindsley Award for International Mineral Discovery of the 40 million-ounce Donlin gold deposit in western Alaska.
Exploring the past
In early 2019, Granite Creek acquired an extensive private database compiled from work performed by previous operators on the Stu property, dating back to the 1980s.
By analyzing the data and carrying out initial field work at Stu, the junior identified four multi-kilometer target areas, including a newly identified "East Target" defined by soil geochemistry. The field work in 2019 included ground truthing of the identified targets, collecting surface samples, and staking claims. The company also staked additional claims, expanding its land package to 115 square kilometers (44.4 square miles).
The Stu property is on trend with Pembridge Resources Ltd.'s' high-grade Minto Copper-Gold Mine to the north and Copper North Mining Co.'s advanced-stage Carmacks copper-gold-silver project to the south. Stu also has excellent access to infrastructure with the nearby paved Yukon Highway 2, along with grid electrical power within 12 kilometers (seven miles) of its border.
Pembridge re-started production of copper-gold ore at Minto in October 2019, further bolstering Granite Creek's aggressive strategy.
Shortly afterward, Granite Creek acquired a 30% interest in Copper North Mining Corp., owner of the Carmacks Copper Project, which is adjacent to the Stu property to the south.
Major advances in 2020
Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which included costly operating requirements and drilling equipment shortages, Granite Creek made substantial progress in exploring the Stu property. A phase 1 exploration program, launched in mid-July, included re-logging and re-sampling of historic core, multi-element soil sampling to determine the precious metal response in soils, and the refinement of target sites for potential follow-up diamond drilling later in the year.
The explorer found that past operators at Stu selectively sampled only 20-30% of the core obtained in drilling the highly prospective Zone A in 1980.
Granite Creek located a significant portion of the highest-grade core and completed an extensive program of re-logging and re-sampling, including analysis of core that had not been previously sampled.
"We were able to go back and resample the bulk of that core," Johnson said in October. "We also suspect the process used in the '80s missed a lot of precious metals, at least, that's our hope."
The company took multiple measurements consisting of near-infrared spectral analysis, magnetic susceptibility, conductivity, and x-ray fluorescence on more than 1,400 meters of core systematically collected over entire holes. The samples were shipped to the assay lab for full multi-element analysis, including fire assay for gold.
"Basically, we did a 1,400-meter drill program without turning any steel, and we're pretty pleased with that," Johnson told investors.
He said the company found significant gaps in the earlier analysis and hopes "to convert trace indicators into a resource."
Granite Creek will use data from this program to further its understanding of structural controls, alteration, and metal distribution within the mineralized zones on the Stu property, Johnson added.
Drilling and acquisition
In October, the explorer mobilized a diamond core drill rig and crew to the Stu copper-gold project for the company's inaugural drilling and trenching program. The program is following up and expanding upon drilling completed on the high-grade A Zone in 1980. Once completed, the Granite Creek results will be tabulated with results from the summer re-logging and re-assay program to form the basis of a 2021 resource delineation drill program. Core samples from the initial holes have been sent to Bureau Veritas for assaying, with results expected in the latter part of November and over the ensuing weeks.
"With the data obtained from the current program added to historic drilling on the Stu project, we will be in a strong position to launch a resource definition drill program in 2021," Johnson said in an Oct. 29 statement.
Granite Creek also agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Copper North Mining in a transaction slated to close on Nov. 30. The deal gives the junior control of a large land package, including the advanced-stage Carmacks copper project and the Stu copper-gold project, within the Minto copper district.
"We're now working to get a better understanding of the Minto Copper Belt," Johnson told investors in October.
Granite Creek said it expects synergies from the combination to include:
• Consolidating the second-largest land position at 17,580 hectares (43,440 acres) in the highly prospective Minto Copper belt;
• Combining the PEA-stage Carmacks deposit with 23.76 million metric tons (oxide and sulfide combined) grading 0.85% copper, 0.31 grams per metric ton gold, 3.14 g/t silver, with the "blue sky" potential represented by the Stu project with multiple kilometer scale targets, including 3,800 meters of historic drilling with several high-grade intercepts of more than 1% copper;
• Improving the potential to quickly build resources on the combined land packages, including mineralized zones near and potentially overlapping existing claim boundaries between the projects; and
• Strengthening and consolidating management and technical teams, including resources made available through the Metallic Group.
Favorable exit strategies
Johnson said Granite Creek feels good about its approach to Yukon exploration because it gives the company multiple exit strategies.
"If we find something modest, we can hand it over to the Minto Mine; or if we find something larger, we can become a takeover target; or if we find something larger still, combined with our neighbor to the south (and we think we can get there fairly quickly), we can attract a big player to the belt," he added.