Exploring Western Alaska Minerals' silver
Mining Explorers 2023 - January 18, 2024
Last updated 1/17/2024 at 11:29am
With its 2022 drilling firmly establishing the Waterpump target at Illinois Creek as a significant carbonate replacement deposit carrying high-grade silver and zinc, Western Alaska Minerals Corp. focused its 2023 program on establishing an inaugural resource and demonstrating the deposit's expansion potential.
Discovered by Anaconda in 1982 and further explored by Novagold Resources Inc. in the early 2000s, Waterpump Creek hosts 166,000 tons of historical resource averaging 295 grams per metric ton silver, 16.1% lead, and 5.5% zinc.
Western Alaska began exploring this deposit toward the end of the 2021 season. WPC21-09, the final hole that year, cut 10.5 meters of CRD mineralization averaging 522 g/t silver, 22.5% zinc, and 14.5% lead.
The company's 2022 program involved systematic drilling that significantly expanded the silver-rich mineralization to the south. Highlights include:
• 5.1 meters averaging 459 g/t silver, 12.1% zinc, and 14.8% lead in hole WPC22-07.
• 2.8 meters averaging 1,304 g/t silver, 2.5% zinc, and 37.1% lead in hole WPC22-13.
• 48.8 meters averaging 144 g/t silver, 9% zinc, and 5.5% lead in hole WPC22-17.
• 101.7 meters averaging 160 g/t silver, 5.4% zinc, and 5.3% lead in hole WPC22-18.
• 5.1 meters averaging 789 g/t silver, 14.9% zinc, and 22% lead in hole WPC22-21.
• 22.7 meters averaging 293 g/t silver, 20.3% zinc, and 9% lead in hole WPC22-22.
The thick high-grade silver intercepts encountered toward the end of 2022 were from holes drilled near a fault that cuts across the southern end of the Waterpump Creek deposit.
Tracing Waterpump Creek
Western Alaska's 2023 drill program focused on infill holes to support an industry-compliant resource calculation for Waterpump Creek; tracing the high-grade silver mineralization to the Illinois Creek fault, a major structure that cuts off the southern end of the CRD; and exploration drilling to discover the fault-offset continuation of the mineralization in the Last Hurrah area immediately to the south.
Highlights from the resource upgrade and expansion drilling north of the fault include:
• 19.4 meters averaging 158 g/t silver, 11.5% zinc, and 5.3% lead in hole WPC23-0029
• 40.2 meters averaging 262 g/t silver, 4.5% zinc, and 10.9% lead in hole WPC23-030
Historical and Western Alaska drilling has traced high-grade CRD mineralization at Waterpump Creek for 495 meters.
There is geophysical and geochemical evidence that a much larger portion of the deposit lies in the Big Hurrah area on the south side of the Illinois Creek Fault.
Western Alaska began its exploration of Big Hurrah, a name given to the last target drilled by Anaconda in the 1980s, with a fence of exploration holes across an area believed to represent the offset deposit.
While none of these widely spaced holes hit the massive sulfides within the CRD itself, they did encounter pervasive and complex alteration that indicates this area was hammered by multiple pulses of hydrothermal fluids, as well as strong UV fluorescence that has traditionally proven to be a reliable tool for vectoring toward CRD mineralization at Waterpump Creek.
When the core from drilling close to the Waterpump Creek CRD is put under UV light, mineralization shows up with intense pink and orange fluorescence – holes nearest the CRD have the most intense fluorescence. The drill core that fluoresces the most intensely has been dubbed "Barbeque Rock" due to its resemblance to hot coals.
"It is always exciting to see this strength of BBQ fluorescence response in 'fugitive calcite' veining in a new area. It says you're getting into the halo around something important," said Peter Megaw, an expert on CRD mineralized systems and technical advisor to Western Alaska Minerals.
Hole LH23-0005, the westernmost hole of the fence drilled at Last Hurrah, cut a zone of BBQ rock very similar to what was observed last year in WPC22-021, a hole that was 30 meters away from the high-grade CRD mineralization cut in hole WPC22-022. This suggests that hole LH23-0005 was drilled very close to the mineralized zone Western Alaska is seeking at Big Hurrah.
"We welcome this proof that high-grade mineralization at Waterpump Creek remains open to the south and that the distinctive CRD alteration seen there is turning up in our drilling 700m farther south at Last Hurrah," said Western Alaska Minerals CEO Kit Marrs.
In September, the company closed a C$1.69 million (US$1.25 million) financing to close in on the CRD mineralization indicated by the BBQ rock encountered in LH23-0005.