North of 60 Mining News - The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

By Shane Lasley
Metal Tech News 

Western Alaska drills Waterpump feeder

North of 60 Mining News - September 23, 2022


Last updated 9/23/2022 at 12:12pm

Drill core shows purple with web of neon red silver-zinc-lead veins in UV light.

Shane Lasley

Under UV light, the sulfide mineralization encountered in hole WPC22-21 drilled at Waterpump Creek glows bright red against the duller purple color of the carbonate host rock.

Hole 18 cuts 102m of 160 g/t silver, 5.4% zinc, and 5.3% lead next to Illinois Creek fault

Western Alaska Minerals Corp. Sept. 22 reported that its 2022 drilling has encountered a zone that fed multiple stages of alternating zinc-dominant sphalerite and lead-silver-dominant galena sulfide mineralization in the high-grade Waterpump Creek carbonate replacement deposit at the company's Illinois Creek project.

Previous exploration carried out by Anaconda Minerals Company and Novagold Resources Inc. outlined 166,000 tons of historical resource at Waterpump Creek averaging 295 grams per metric ton silver, 16.1% lead, and 5.5% zinc.

Drilling by Western over the past two years has shown that Waterpump Creek is larger and likely higher grade than the historical resource indicates, and the latest batch of results has encountered 102 meters of high-grade mineralization that appears to be a feeder to the high-grade mineralization at this growing CRD deposit at Illinois Creek.

"Our 2022 drilling program at Waterpump Creek has now outlined a 400-meter-long trend of high grade silver-lead-zinc mineralization. This is a significant step towards defining an economic CRD deposit," said Western Alaska Minerals CEO Kit Marrs. "Mineralization has thickened and become wider as the drilling has moved south along trend."

Growing Waterpump Creek

Western began its investigation of Waterpump Creek last year with a nine-hole drill program that included one hole that cut 10.5 meters (9.1 meters true-thickness) averaging 522 g/t silver, 22.5% zinc, and 14.5% lead from a depth of 109.4 meters in hole WPC21-09.

Encouraged by the results of its initial drilling, the company focused its 2022 program on expanding the high-grade mineralization with closely spaced holes to identify the ore controls and trends of the bonanza grade sulfides tapped in hole WPC21-09.

Assays reported by Western Alaska in August show this drilling encountered multiple zones of high-grade mineralization, and the deposit is getting thicker as the holes step out to the south. Highlights from this first batch of 2022 drill results include:

5.1 meters averaging 459 grams (14.8 ounces) per metric ton silver, 12.1% zinc, and 14.8% lead from a depth of 136.4 meters in hole WPC22-07.

14.3 meters averaging 54 g/t (1.7 oz/t) silver, 10.3% zinc, and 1.9% lead from a depth of 150.1 meters in hole WPC22-07.

10.9 meters averaging 157 g/t (5 oz/t) silver, 9.9% zinc, and 6.4% lead from a depth of 114.6 meters in hole WPC22-08.

11.5 meters averaging 337 g/t (10.8 oz/t) silver, 16.7% zinc, and 10% lead from a depth of 139.1 meters in hole WPC22-11.

3.5 meters averaging 151 g/t (4.9 oz/t) silver, 22.3% zinc, and 5.1% lead from a depth of 152.7 meters in hole WPC22-11.

2.8 meters averaging 1,304 g/t (41.9 oz/t) silver, 2.5% zinc, and 37.1% lead from a depth of 150.1 meters in hole WPC22-13.

2.4 meters averaging 820 g/t (26.4 oz/t) silver, 15% zinc, and 13% lead from a depth of 158.4 meters in hole WPC22-13.

In July, Western reported that visual observations of core showed that hole WPC22-17 cut 47 meters of massive sulfide mineralization a little more than 200 meters south of hole WPC21-09 and hole WPC22-18, drilled 50 meters further south, cut 101.7 meters of similar massive sulfide mineralization.

Now the assay results from these wide zones are in and include:

48.8 meters averaging 144 g/t (4.6 oz/t) silver, 9% zinc, and 5.5% lead in hole WPC22-17, including a 9.8-meter subsection averaging 428 g/t (13.8 oz/t) silver, 15.9% zinc, and 14.1% lead.

101.7 meters averaging 160 g/t (5.1 oz/t) silver, 5.4% zinc, and 5.3% lead in hole WPC22-18, including an 18.5-meter subsection averaging 335 g/t (10.8 oz/t) silver, 2.2% zinc, and 13.5% lead.

With three intervals of high-grade lead-silver and silver-lead-zinc mineralization, WPC22-18 is by far the thickest and most mineralogically complex hole drilled so far at Waterpump Creek.

High-grade CRD feeder zone

Western says the abrupt thickening and multi-stage complexity of mineralization strongly indicates hole WPC22-18 cut an important feeder zone at Waterpump Creek.

"It is remarkable to have cut a sulfide feeder zone so early in a CRD exploration program and this opens up a number of very exciting targets along the Illinois Creek Fault," said Peter Megaw, a Western Alaska Minerals technical advisor with more than 30 years of exploration-focused studies of carbonate replacement deposits. "Having WPC22-18 to ground-truth geologic models and geophysical interpretations should greatly facilitate efficient exploration throughout this apparently very large scale CRD system."

The feeder zone encountered in WPC22-18 appears to lie at the intersection of the Waterpump Creek graben (or down-dropped block of crust between faults) and the Illinois Creek Fault, which suggests similar intersections identified elsewhere on the property may also host feeders that guided mineralizing fluids into the favorable carbonate host rocks.

"Following progressively thicker and more complex mineralization encountered in WPC22-17 and 18 and then seeing it thin again as we drilled further southward along the WPC graben strongly suggests we hit a feeder chimney located at the intersection with the Illinois Creek Fault," said Western Alaska Minerals Chief Exploration Officer Joe Piekenbrock. "Combining this with the extensive historical mining five kilometers to the southwest along the Illinois Creek Fault strongly reinforces our interpretation that it is one of the major mineralization controls in the district and increases the importance of drilling along it, especially where it intersects other similar structures now seen in the CSAMT survey."

Map showing Western Alaska Minerals, historical drill holes at Waterpump Creek.

Click on image for larger map.

This CSAMT (controlled-source audio-magnetotellurics) geophysics program completed earlier this year over the roughly five miles (eight kilometers) between the Illinois Creek oxide gold-silver mineralization and the Waterpump Creek target area shows a complex interplay of stacked thrusts and high-angle and possibly post-mineral faulting.

Western Alaska says a fence of three holes drilled south of WPC22-18 and the apparent Illinois Creek fault have all cut massive sulfide mineralization. From west to east, WPC22-21 cut four meters; WPC22-22 cut three intervals for a total of 67.3 meters; and WPC22-20 cut two intervals totaling 32.1 meters of mineralization.

Assays are pending for all three holes.

To avoid wetlands to the south of these holes – that will need to be drilled with special equipment during the spring – Western has taken a large 200-meter step out to the south to continue its ongoing 2022 drill program at Waterpump Creek.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 14 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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