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By Shane Lasley
Data Mine North 

Assays results are pending at this time

Robust exploration, COVID hangover trigger painful backlog Mining Explorers 2021 - January 27, 2022


Last updated 2/10/2022 at 2:54pm

North of 60 Mining News Data Mine North magazine COVID Alaska Canada assays

Skeena Resources Ltd.

Taking a closer look at core from drilling at Skeena Resources' Eskay Creek project in Northern British Columbia. According to North of 60 Mining News calculations, more than 600,000 meters of drilling was completed in Northern BC last year.

"Due to significant backlogs at assay labs, the results from this program are pending" is the theme for the 2021 mineral exploration season across Alaska and Canada's North. The turnaround times for assay results descended from long during the first half of the year to ad absurdum during the latter half.

Backlogs at assay labs are nothing new for mineral explorers in the North of 60 Mining News coverage area. In fact, the ability to completely overwhelm the sample prep facilities and assay laboratories with more samples than they can handle is a badge of honor that marks a robust exploration season across Alaska, Northern British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

While 2021 earns such a badge, the massive assay backlog goes beyond the more than 1 million meters (1,000 kilometers or 620 miles) of drill core North of 60 Mining Explorers delivered to labs for analysis last year.

The mineral assay lab infrastructure in Alaska and Northern Canada, which has never been nimble enough to adjust to the fluctuations of a mineral exploration driven by capital markets and seasonal exploration, was further hampered this year by the labor restrictions and protocols brought on by the hangover effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Delayed laboratory results are an annual challenge in our industry. However, this year has been much worse than usual," said Victoria Gold President and CEO John McConnell.

In November, the Yukon's biggest gold miner had yet to release any assay results from an exploration program that got underway in late May.

While historic delays at assay labs are less than ideal for a gold-producing company such as Victoria, it is even more frustrating for junior mineral exploration companies that want to hail their successes to current and future investors and depend on early-season results to help target late-season exploration.

At least one junior exploration company in Alaska, Nova Minerals Ltd., took the initiative to help relieve some of the pain caused by slow turnaround times by building its own assay prep facility at its Estelle gold project.

"While assay lab turnaround times and supply chain disruptions continue to frustrate, the newly commissioned on-site prep-lab is already helping to alleviate some of the challenges in relation to assay turnaround," said Nova Minerals CEO Christopher Gerteisen.

This proactive move seemed to have helped. By October, Nova announced that one hole drilled at its RPM discovery cut 373 meters averaging 3.8 grams per metric ton gold. The fact that the Australia-based gold explorer received this and other RPM assay results just four short months after drilling at this discovery target began is nearly as impressive as the long section of robust gold cut in the hole.

Though less than ideal for Nova Minerals, Victoria Gold, and every other mineral explorer, the painfully slow assay turnaround times has a silver lining – the historic backlog is the product of the most robust exploration season across Alaska and Canada's North in nearly a decade.

North of 60 Mining News Data Mine North magazine COVID Alaska Canada assays

Data Mine North Executive Director Rebecca Lasley and North of 60 Mining News Publisher Shane Lasley.

A season that is encapsulated in Mining Explorers 2021 – a magazine that covers more than 60 mining companies overwhelming assay labs with core from more than 1 million meters of drilling across Alaska, Northern BC, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon during 2021.

And, like the companies we follow, North of 60 Mining News must publish the disclaimer – "Due to significant backlogs at assay labs, results are pending for nearly every company in Mining Explorers 2021 at the time of the writing of this magazine."

The good news is North of 60 Mining News continues to deliver these results as soon as they arrive in its weekly newsletters and monthly print editions.

Thank you, and we look forward to continuing to provide you with the most comprehensive information on the Alaska and Northern Canada mining and mineral exploration companies delivering core to backlogged assay labs during 2022!

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 15 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: [email protected]
Phone: (907) 726-1095


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