Tectonic builds Alaska partnerships, lands
Mining Explorers 2020 - Published January 19, 2021
Last updated 1/17/2021 at 2:08pm
A relatively young mineral exploration company led by a veteran team noted for their success in advancing Coffee Gold in the Yukon from a grassroots discovery to a roughly 5-million-ounce gold mine project, Tectonic Metals Inc. is exploring the overlooked gold potential Alaska has to offer.
Formed as a private company in 2018 and taken public on the TSX Venture Exchange towards the end of 2019, Tectonic has already built an impressive portfolio of gold properties and strong alliances in Alaska.
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 presidents and CEOs of Kaminak, as Tectonic co-founders and strategic and technical advisors to the gold explorer.
Reda, Thomas, and Carpenter did not rest on their laurels following the C$520 million sale of Kaminak to Newmont Corp. in 2017. Instead, they put together Tectonic to investigate the underexplored gold-rich geology that lies just across Yukon's western border.
This foray into Alaska was aided by Curt Freeman, a longtime and highly respected Alaska geologist, who joined as a founding member and director of Tectonic.
One of the first stops for the esteemed Tectonic team was to talk to the largest private landowner in Alaska – Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regional corporation for Interior Alaska.
Much of the 12.5 million acres of land owned by Doyon was selected for its mineral potential, including two district-scale mineral exploration properties a few miles west of the Yukon border – Seventymile and Northway – that Tectonic leased from Doyon in 2018.
Spanning a 30-mile-long district centered at Northway Junction on the Alaska Highway, Northway is prospective for porphyry copper-gold and related mineralizing systems.
Situated between two prolific placer gold mining districts – Yukon's Klondike to the east and Alaska's Circle Mining District to the west – Seventymile is a large land package where exploration carried out two decades ago has shown the potential for multiple gold deposits.
While historical exploration demonstrated intriguing gold potential at both properties, tough market conditions cut short past programs before this prospectivity could be fully realized.
Tough market conditions, though this time due to uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, put 2020 exploration on these and other Tectonic lands in question. That is, until Doyon stepped up to make a US$1.5 million (C$2.1 million) strategic investment to acquire 10.5 million Tectonic shares, as well as warrants to increase its Tectonic shareholdings in the future.
"With Doyon as a significant shareholder, Tectonic is positioned to build value during one of the most challenging economic climates the world has ever experienced," said Tectonic Metals President and CEO Tony Reda.
Proven geological acumen and an earned social license weighed on Doyon's decision to become a strategic partner and the single largest shareholder of Tectonic.
"We saw the work they have done with the First Nation communities in the Yukon, just across the border; we saw the geologic success and the creativity they have on their team; and we talked about ways to get more done on Doyon land, and that resulted in Doyon making a direct investment in Tectonic in April of 2020," said Doyon President Aaron Schutt.
After two summers of surface exploration and geophysics at both Doyon properties, Seventymile emerged as the target for the company's 2020 drilling on Doyon lands.
While gold has been identified across the breadth of Seventymile, the 8,000-meter-long Flume trend is one of the most intriguing target areas.
Previous drilling at Flanders, a 1,500-meter-long target within Flume, has encountered grades as high as 187.9 g/t gold over 1.1 meters. About 5,000 meters northeast of Flanders, in the Bonanza zone, one historical hole cut 44.2 meters of 1.34 g/t gold.
With new geological ideas, Tectonic carried out early staged exploration at Seventymile during the 2018 and 2019 field seasons in preparation for an initial 26-hole rotary air blast drill program targeting six highly prospective top-of-bedrock gold targets along the Flume trend – Flanders, East Flanders, Deep Creek, Bonanza Creek, and Flume-Bonanza Link.
The company says the 2020 program, which marks the first drilling at Seventymile in two decades, intersected gold mineralization where predicted by its new structural interpretation of the project.
Highlights from this drilling include: 19.81 meters averaging 1.37 g/t gold in blind shear-hosted mineralization discovered at Bonanza; 6.1 meters averaging 2.07 g/t gold in the previously undrilled Flume-Bonanza connector zone; and 4.57 meters averaging 1.2 g/t gold in a previously unrecognized structure south of historical drilling at Flanders.
Additionally, an infill hole testing extensional, tension-gash quartz-pyrite-arsenopyrite veins at Flanders cut 6.1 meters averaging 4.38 g/t gold. The company says the relationship between the tension veins and the parallel shear zones has yet to be determined, with the possible intersection between the two structures presenting a priority drill target.
Anomalous gold mineralization was intersected at every hole that tested Tectonic's newly defined shear-hosted targets along a 6,000-meter stretch of the Flanders trend.
Tectonic Metals Vice President of Exploration Eric Buitenhuis said this reconnaissance drilling "successfully confirmed our hypothesis of previously unknown, shear-hosted gold mineralization directly below our 2018 and 2019 soil and top-of-bedrock anomalies."
In addition to the Doyon properties, Tectonic's initial Alaska portfolio included the Tibbs gold project about 22 miles (35 kilometers) southeast of Northern Star Resources Ltd.'s high-grade Pogo gold mine in Alaska's Goodpaster Mining District.
The first target of the 27-hole RAB drill program carried out at Tibbs in 2020 was Michigan zone, where Tectonic's 2019 discovery drilling cut 29 meters averaging 6.03 g/t gold.
Highlights from the 11 holes drilled at Michigan last year include 9.1 meters averaging 6.71 g/t gold, 12.9 meters averaging 2.61 g/t gold, and 7.6 meters averaging 3.73 g/t gold.
The remaining 16 holes of the 2020 Tibbs drill program focused on Lower Trench and Wolverine, adjacent zones along a 3,000-meter prospective corridor that also encompasses Michigan.
Tectonic reports that this year's drilling at Lower Trench encountered gold mineralization identical to Michigan but 1,500 meters to the northwest, indicating a significant hydrothermal system across the larger structural corridor.
The best intercept at Lower Trench is 7.6 meters averaging 4.5 g/t gold, including 3.05 meters averaging 10.78 g/t gold in hole TBRB20-032.
Doyon also owns property in the Goodpaster District and further strengthened its partnership with Tectonic when it leased the junior 65,600 acres of lands adjacent to or near Tibbs.
These new properties include Carrie Creek, 15,800 acres of gold prospective lands divided in two blocks immediately north and south of Tibbs, and Mount Harper, a 49,800-acre polymetallic exploration property about 10 miles southeast of Tibbs.
Much like Seventymile and Northway, there has been no exploration at Carrie Creek and Mount Harper in more than two decades and Tectonic believes the new geological models it has successfully applied at Tibbs, combined with modern day exploration techniques, can unlock the potential of these newly acquired properties.
Tectonic's foray into Goodpaster also includes the addition of Maple Leaf, a gold exploration project added to its portfolio through the staking of 11,840 acres of state mining claims about nine miles northeast of Tibbs.
"The Maple Leaf property exhibits potential for intrusion-related mineralization within a favorable structural corridor, and Tectonic is excited to apply our understanding of structurally-hosted mineralization to analyze the project and other accretive opportunities in the district," said Buitenhuis.