Group behind Felix excited about Alaska
MDF companies explore for gold, copper, and critical minerals Mining Explorers 2023 - January 2024
Last updated 1/17/2024 at 11:21am
Since emerging on the Alaska mineral exploration scene in 2021, Felix Gold Ltd. has amassed more than 150 square miles of gold-enriched properties in the Fairbanks Mining District and is working toward establishing an inaugural resource at one of the most prospective gold targets discovered so far on this enormous land package.
As Felix carries out systematic drilling to outline an at-surface gold-antimony resource at the NW Array target on its Treasure Creek property about 12 miles west of Kinross Gold Corp.'s Fort Knox Mine, the Mine Discovery Fund team behind the Australia-based explorer is investigating the incredible and underexplored metals potential America's Last Frontier has to offer.
The brainchild of a group of geologists and mine builders with more than 200 years of combined experience, Mine Discovery Fund was formed to identify Tier 1 mineral assets in favorable jurisdictions around the globe and spin these prospective projects into junior exploration companies purpose-built based on the jurisdiction and commodity being pursued.
Since the formation of Felix Gold, MDF has incubated three more companies to explore for zinc, copper, and other metals in Europe and the Americas.
While the scope of MDF is global, the junior exploration company incubator keeps coming back to Alaska due to the largely untapped potential for precious, base, and critical metals found across the northern state.
"We love Alaska, we think it is an extraordinary minerals belt and we think it is totally underexplored," Mine Discovery Fund Managing Director Joe Webb told Data Mine North. "We think it has potential for all the critical minerals in the world – it hasn't been known as a big copper jurisdiction yet, we think it will be."
Seeing copper as the "main game in this world," MDF formed Wiseman Metals to explore for copper, rare earths, and associated metals on three land packages owned by Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native corporation for Interior Alaska.
"At Wiseman East there is a potential to unlock a new copper porphyry district and the REE project is a carbonatite with evidence of niobium and heavy rare earths," Webb said.
Felix discovers Fairbanks
Mine Discovery Fund's foray into Alaska began with Felix Gold, which is a tip of the hat to Felix Pedro, the Italian prospector who made the 1902 placer gold discovery that put Fairbanks on the map.
Recognizing the underexplored gold potential around Fairbanks and the hungry Kinross Alaska mill at Fort Knox, Felix Gold picked up a large land package that was assembled by Millrock Resources Inc., a longtime Alaska mineral project generator. Building off this already substantial land position, Felix amassed additional properties covering some of the most prospective lode sources for the nearly 10 million ounces of placer gold recovered so far from the streams in the Fairbanks District.
Felix Gold began its exploration of the Fairbanks District with a compilation of historical data followed by comprehensive mapping, sampling, and prospecting across its newly assembled properties during the summer of 2021. This work revealed NW Array at Treasure Creek as a promising target to begin building a multi-million-ounce gold resource near the discovery made by its namesake about 20 miles north of Fairbanks.
With NW Array elevated to drill-ready status, MDA took Felix Gold public on the Australian Securities Exchange with an A$10 million (roughly US$7 million) initial public offering at the beginning of 2022.
Before the snow was completely melted, Felix Gold had reverse circulation rigs drilling shallow holes to begin to understand the near-surface gold mineralization at Northwest Array.
Highlights from the 2022 drilling at NW Array include:
• 29 meters averaging 1.4 grams per metric ton gold from a depth of 24.4 meters in hole 22TCRC002.
• 33.5 meters averaging 1.63 g/t gold from a depth of 1.5 meters in hole 22TCRC005.
• 35 meters averaging 1.81 g/t gold from a depth of 16.8 meters in hole 22TCRC075.
• 41.1 meters averaging 1.72 g/t gold from a depth of 59.4 meters in hole 22TCRC078.
Based on its initial drilling, an exploration target of 1.1 million to 3.6 million oz of gold in 76 million to 92 million metric tons of material averaging 0.4 to 1.1 g/t gold was calculated for the top 200 meters of NW Array.
With its sights set on upgrading this target to a resource compliant to Australia's Joint Ore Reserve Committee (JORC) reporting standards, Felix completed a 4,695-meter drill program in 2023 that included 4,278 meters of resource delineation drilling in 45 holes at NW Array and 419 meters of exploration drilling in the Scrafford extension areas about 2,000 meters to the southeast.
Highlights from the 2023 drilling include:
• 100.5 meters averaging 1.14 g/t gold from a depth of 21.3 meters in hole 23TCRC135.
• 70.1 meters averaging 1.6 g/t gold from a depth of 6.1 meters in hole 23TCRC138.
• 53.3 meters averaging 1.88 g/t gold from a depth of 30.5 meters in hole 23TCRC153.
• 54.9 meters averaging 1.8 g/t gold from a depth of 1.5 meters in hole 23TCRC155.
• 39.6 meters averaging 0.71 g/t gold from a depth of 1.5 meters in hole 23TCRC158.
Critical antimony association
While building a million-ounce-plus gold deposit has been Felix's primary objective at Treasure Creek, this property also happens to be rich in antimony, a metalloid critical to military hardware and emerging renewable energy storage technologies.
The historic Scrafford Mine at Treasure Creek property has produced an estimated 2,800 tons of ore averaging 38.6% stibnite, an antimony mineral, mostly during the World Wars.
Former U.S. Bureau of Mines geologist James Barker, who did much of the early-stage exploration of Treasure Creek prior to Felix's acquisition, told Data Mine North that antimony historically mined from Scrafford "was sacked and transported by cable tram up to the ridge top and then by horse-drawn wagons into Fairbanks to be shipped south by river steamer" to support the war effort.
This historic mine is located about 2,000 meters southeast of NW Array, where Felix has identified strong antimony mineralization alongside the gold and is beginning to investigate this critical metalloid.
"We think the antimony-gold association is going be pretty critical," Webb told Data Mine North.
Recognizing that its drilling at NW Array was encountering stibnite, Felix had its 2023 drill samples tested for the critical mineral.
• 1.5 meters averaging 26% antimony from a depth of 22.9 meters, and 16.76 meters averaging 1.91% antimony from a depth of 51.8 meters in hole 23TCRC135.
• 6.1 meters averaging 13% antimony from a depth of 30.5 meters in hole 23TCRC155.
• 6.1 meters averaging 7.69% antimony from a depth of 3.1 meters in hole 23TCRC176, including 1.5 meters averaging 28% antimony.
"While antimony is often found in lower concentrations alongside gold deposits, the extraordinary high-grade nature of this antimony discovery presents opportunities to assess the independent potential of antimony operations," said Webb.
Discovering Wiseman Metals
As Felix builds a near-surface gold-antimony deposit at Treasure Creek, Wiseman Metals is carrying out discovery-level exploration to accumulate modern geological information that will demonstrate the highly prospective nature of its copper and critical mineral projects in Alaska before going public.
And the results of the sampling, geophysics, and other preliminary exploration carried out so far indicate that Wiseman Metals is ready for an IPO as soon as the market is ready and understands its story.
The privately held exploration company's portfolio is anchored by Wiseman East, a 530-square-mile project just east of the Dalton Highway about 250 miles north of Fairbanks that hosts multiple high-grade copper-gold-silver skarn occurrences and shows evidence of multiple porphyry intrusions associated with these skarns.
Wiseman Metals geologists have identified the potential for at least three large copper porphyry centers associated with the high-grade skarns on the property.
The largest of these prospective porphyry intrusions is the 7.5-mile-long Venus-Evelyn Lee-Horace trend.
Rock samples collected from the Venus target at the south end of this trend returned grades as high as 6.4% copper, 6.92 g/t gold, and 9 g/t silver; and 4.9% copper, 2.77 g/t gold, and 135.2 g/t silver.
One RC hole drilled at Venus in 2022 cut 12.2 meters averaging 0.7% copper, 7.6 g/t silver, and 0.37 g/t gold.
Even more impressive copper grades were sampled from Evelyn Lee, which lies along the trend northeast of Venus.
The best skarn samples from Evelyn Lee returned assay of 6.1% copper, 6.64 g/t gold, and 60.7 g/t silver; 24.2% copper, 2.19 g/t gold, and 37 g/t silver; and 30% copper and 35 g/t silver.
Wiseman Metals geologists are also excited about Ginger-Hurricane, a five-mile-long trend about 3.5 miles north of Evelyn Lee.
Mapping and sampling of this trend identified coherent zones of strong copper anomalism in soil samples of up to 0.74% copper at Ginger at the southwest end of the trend and up to 1.2% copper at Hurricane at the northeast end.
Rock chip samples from Ginger-Hurricane returned grades as high as 8% copper, 1.38 g/t gold, and 91.9 g/t silver; and 17% copper, 0.2 g/t gold, and 18.9 g/t silver.
Wiseman West, a 116-square-mile land package on the opposite side of the Dalton Highway, hosts intriguing zinc, lead, and gold potential.
Exploring Tofty Tin Belt
The Wiseman Metals portfolio is rounded out by Kazeene, a road-accessible critical minerals project enriched with rare earths and niobium in the Tofty Tin Belt about 100 miles northwest of Fairbanks.
The alluvial tin in the streams of this area was so abundant that it was burdensome for placer gold miners.
Sampling of the tailings from the historical placer mining in this district has turned up as much as 7% niobium oxide.
Carbonatites – carbonate-rich igneous rocks that often carry rare earths and other critical minerals – have been identified at Kaazene. Geophysical surveys flown over the area have identified a magnetic anomaly coincident with the carbonatites that extends for 19 miles.
The Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys investigated the carbonatite in 1984 and again in the 1990s.
The 1984 program included shallow drilling that cut magnetite-rich, niobium-bearing carbonatite with rare earths and yttrium.
In a 1998 report, DGGS said the carbonatite body running across the Tofty Belt "is much more extensive than previously thought; it thus is likely that the niobium resources of the area were underestimated by several orders of magnitude."
Wiseman Metals struck a deal with Doyon for a 23,000-acre land package covering a section of the carbonatite trend and staked state mining claims covering another 39,000 acres along trend and over a strong magnetic anomaly to the south.
"We think there is a parallel series of carbonatites that run through here as well," Webb said of the southern group of claims making up the larger Kaazene property.
During 2023, Wiseman Metals began early staged exploration aimed to gain a better understanding of the critical mineral potential at Kaazene.
All three properties are being explored under an agreement with Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native regional corporation that owns both Wiseman properties and the core of Kaazene.
"Doyon Limited entered into a lease agreement with Wiseman Metals to undertake exploration for metals critical for transition to renewable energy, like copper and niobium, on the Wiseman East, Wiseman West, and Kaazene projects," the Interior Alaska Native corporation wrote in a mid-June update on the projects.
The Alaska Native corporation says it is encouraged by Wiseman Metals' dedication to the heritage of its people, as well as the exploration carried out that will add value to the properties and unlock new opportunities for its shareholders.
As Felix Gold builds an initial resource at Treasure Creek and Wiseman Metals explores the copper and critical minerals potential on Doyon lands, the MDF team continues to scan Alaska for new opportunities in a Tier 1 mining jurisdiction that remains vastly underexplored.
"We love Alaska and are trying to get the right balance sheets to support what we believe is a jurisdiction where metals critical to the security of supply chains will come from," Webb told Data Mine North.