Freegold strikes bonanza gold in Alaska
Mining Explorers 2020 - Published January 19, 2021
Last updated 1/17/2021 at 1:35pm
Freegold Ventures Ltd. struck gold in Alaska, both literally and figuratively, during 2020.
While it is no surprise that the Vancouver, British Columbia-based mineral explorer tapped gold at Golden Summit – the company had already outlined nearly 3 million ounces of precious metal on the property bordering Kinross Gold Corp.'s Fort Knox Mine – the bonanza grades encountered in the first hole of the 2020 season reminded investors of the project's high-grade roots.
Situated alongside the Steese Highway about a 30-minute drive north of Fairbanks, the Dolphin deposit at Golden Summit hosts 61.5 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 0.69 g/t ton (1.36 million ounces) gold; and 71.5 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.69 g/t (1.58 million oz) gold.
With grades reminiscent of the ore feeding the mill and heap leach facility at the neighboring Fort Knox Mine, this deposit holds promise for future bulk tonnage mining.
Freegold, however, was thinking more along the lines of the ounces per ton historically mined from Golden Summit when it formulated plans for 2020 exploration.
A winter drill program that got underway in early March tested Freegold's theory that higher grade gold mineralization extends west from the historic Cleary Hill Mine, which produced 281,000 ounces of gold from ore averaging 1.3 oz per ton before the operation was shuttered during World War II.
The first hole of the winter program, GSDL2001, cut 188 meters averaging 3.69 g/t gold from a depth of 360 meters. This includes a two-meter intercept from 365.2 meters that averaged 169.5 g/t (4.9 oz/t) gold – reminiscent of the bonanza grades historically mined at Cleary Hill.
The bottom 20 meters of this hole averaged 9.87 g/t gold, indicating that some of the highest-grade gold encountered in this hole drilled nearly 600 meters southwest of Cleary Hill Mine extends to depth.
"Management is tremendously excited with these results," said Freegold Ventures President Kristina Walcott. "The drill program is testing our interpretation that the high-grade CVS (Cleary vein system) extends to the west and these results are confirming our interpretation."
Freegold was about 165 meters down the second 2020 hole targeting the Cleary Hill veins when drills were idled down due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 1.5 holes drilled in March, however, was enough to spark the imagination of investors who bought up C$34.5 million of Freegold shares in July. The biggest buyer, Eric Sprott, bought C$20 million of the shares, increasing his interest in the company to 32%.
With its treasury full, Freegold continued to test its postulate that the Cleary vein system extends west toward the Dolphin intrusive, which hosts a bulk tonnage resource at Golden Summit.
The summer drilling picked up where the COVID-interrupted winter program left off.
GSDL2002, drilled 150 meters east of GSDL2001, cut 12 meters of 2.3 g/t gold from a depth of 156 meters before the winter program was suspended.
Continuing hole GSDL2002 deeper, when drilling resumed, encountered 136 meters averaging 1.02 g/t gold from a depth of 370.6 meters.
Drilling through the summer and fall continued to cut both long sections of bulk tonnage mineralization with grades higher than the current resource and shorter sections of bonanza grade vein mineralization.
One such hole, GSDL2005, cut 573 meters averaging 1.21 g/t gold from a depth of 18 meters, including 119 meters of 3.78 g/t gold from 472 meters. The bottom three meters of this hole drilled about 150 meters north of GSDL2001, averaged 131.5 g/t (4.2 oz/t) gold.
Freegold says determining the orientation of the higher-grade zone tapped requires considerable additional drilling. Toward this goal, by late November, the company had three drills turning at Golden Summit.
The expanded program is also expected to test other areas of historical high-grade mining from early in the 20th century.
Among the top targets for this high-grade gold exploration are American Eagle, which produced 60,000 oz of gold from ore grading 44.5 g/t (1.3 oz/t); and Hi Yu Mine, which produced 110,000 oz from ore grading 54.8 g/t (1.6 oz/t).
All told, Freegold has identified 80 documented but relatively unexplored high-grade gold occurrences within the Golden Summit project.
After taking a break just before Christmas, the drilling at Golden Summit is slated to get back underway in early February and continue throughout the year.
While the bonanza gold tapped at Golden Summit captured investors' attention, Freegold's Shorty Creek property about 75 miles northwest of Fairbanks had already attracted the interest of South32 and entered into an option agreement with Freegold to acquire 70% interest in Shorty Creek for US$30 million, less any money the Australia-based major invests in exploring the copper-gold-silver-tungsten targets identified across the property.
To keep the option in good standing, South32 agreed to fund up to US$10 million on exploration over a four-year span beginning in 2019.
The Australia-based miner invested roughly US$2.3 million for the 2019 exploration program at Shorty Creek, which included a five-hole drill program; induced polarization and magnetic surveys; and geochemical sampling.
The best hole, SC 1901A, cut 99.1 meters averaging 0.29% copper, 0.014 g/t gold and 1.61 g/t silver northeast of Hill 1835, the primary target of previous drilling at Shorty Creek.
Freegold has drilled 12 holes at the Hill 1835 target since 2015. Highlights from this drilling include 91 meters of 0.55% copper, 0.14 g/t gold and 7.02 g/t silver; 93.5 meters of 0.38% copper, 0.07 g/t gold and 8.96 g/t silver; 360 meters of 0.24% copper, 0.07 g/t gold, 4.04 g/t silver and 0.03% tungsten trioxide; and 442.2 meters of 0.24% copper, 0.09 g/t gold, 4.74 g/t silver and 0.02% tungsten trioxide.
The 2019 program included three other holes at Hill 1835 and one hole at Hill 1710, a very large porphyry target about 2,000 meters northwest of Hill 1835.
The 2020 program at Shorty Creek was severally restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.