The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

HighGold looks to head underground at JT

Mining Explorers 2023 - January 18, 2024

Launching a multi-year initiative to unlock the potential of its Johnson Tract gold project in Southcentral Alaska, HighGold Mining Inc. began with an exploration and development program in 2023 that truly showcases the methodical efficiency with which the company aims to push the property to feasibility.

Getting drills turning at the end of June, HighGold targeted an 8,000-meter program that is part of its larger multi-year plan designed to de-risk the project and support future engineering, environmental and economic studies that will ready the target for advanced exploration and eventual mine development.

"Our plans include significant exploration drilling to grow the property-wide mineral resource base and to continue testing new targets that are ripe for new discoveries," said HighGold Mining President and CEO Darwin Green.

Located on the west side of Cook Inlet, about 125 miles southwest of Anchorage, Johnson Tract is a 20,942-acre property owned by Cook Inlet Regional Inc., an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regional corporation.

Since optioning Johnson Tract in 2018, HighGold has been focused on upgrading and expanding the historical JT deposit and exploring some of the exciting but earlier-staged prospects across the property.

According to a 2022 calculation, JT hosts 3.49 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 5.33 grams per metric ton (598,000 ounces) gold, 6 g/t (673,000 oz) silver, 5.21% (400.8 million pounds) zinc, 0.59% (43.1 million lb) copper, and 0.67% (51.5 million lb) lead.

However, this calculation does not include any of the more than 18,000 meters of drilling completed in 2022 and 2023.

The company's 2023 exploration focused on building the resource at Ellis, a zone that is similar to JT and has turned up some very high-grade gold intercepts over wide widths.

Highlights from 2022 and 2023 drilling at Ellis Zone include:

42.8 meters averaging 3.4 g/t gold, 23 g/t silver, 0.21% copper, and 2.06% zinc in hole DC22-036.

11.9 meters averaging 21.68 g/t gold, 30 g/t silver, 0.61% copper, and 4.2% zinc in hole DC22-043.

35.2 meters averaging 4.2 g/t gold, 6.1 g/t silver, 0.12% copper, and 3.19% zinc in hole DC22-045.

2.3 meters averaging 0.16 g/t gold, 0.5 g/t silver, and 3.55% copper in hole DC23-069.

2.2 meters averaging 49.85 g/t gold, 24.6 g/t silver, 1.5% copper, and 8.4% zinc in DC23-70.

"Hole DC23-070 is a near-surface 50-meter step out to the west of the Ellis Zone and is the eighth intersection to date from the recent discovery to yield a 'grade-thickness' greater than 100 gxm AuEq (grams times meters gold-equivalent)," Green said.

Aside from Ellis Zone, additional drilling was planned in and around JT, where HighGold geologists identified a significant east-west fault south of the deposit. Work at JT also tested South Valley, a blind geophysical target about 1,000 meters along strike to the south of the deposit.

Larger Johnson Tract plan

A key component of HighGold's multi-year initiative at Johnson Tract is to determine the viability and possibility of an exploration ramp for year-round underground drilling of the JT deposit.

"Step one of this plan is to establish an expanded airstrip for larger aircraft and to build a 2.6-mile (4 km) road connecting the airstrip and camp to a proposed portal site for which permitting is now underway," the HighGold Mining CEO explained. "Step two consists of developing an underground exploration ramp to support both detailed definition drilling of the JT Deposit and exploration drilling for mineralization to depth and along trend."

To accomplish step one, the company filed an application with the US Army Corps of Engineers for the federal permit needed to lengthen and realign the existing airstrip and construct the access road connecting the airstrip and Johnson Tract camp to the proposed exploration portal site.

The permitting process for the road and airstrip is anticipated to take eight to 12 months to complete, with the objective of having approvals in hand in advance of this year's field season.

Step two is the exploration ramp. This will provide lateral underground access from a proposed portal site located at the base of the mountain to an area immediately adjacent to the lowermost portions of the currently defined JT deposit.

"Plans are to initiate permitting of the exploration ramp in early 2024," said Green.

 

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