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Drills test larger Illinois Creek potential

North of 60 Mining News - June 18, 2024

Aggressive step-outs aim to confirm continuous CRD zone between past producing gold mine and high-grade silver-zinc-lead deposit.

Western Alaska Minerals Corp. June 18 reported that it has already nearly completed the first hole of an initial 4,000-meter drill program focused on demonstrating that the high-grade silver-zinc-lead mineralization outlined at the Waterpump Creek carbonate replacement deposit (CRD) extends more than 3.5 miles (six kilometers) to the past producing Illinois Creek gold-silver mine.

CRD deposits are created when mineralized fluids enriched with metals percolate through carbonate rocks, dissolving and replacing the original minerals. These types of deposits typically drop out copper, gold, and some silver from higher-temperature fluids near the source, and then silver, lead, and zinc as the hydrothermal fluids cool at a distance. This zonation is part of a continuous mineralized horizon that extends from the source of the fluids to their outermost reaches, a continuous state known as original continuity.

At Illinois Creek, this lateral continuity is believed to extend from the past-producing Illinois Creek mine, which still hosts 357,000 oz of gold and 13.4 million oz of silver in the indicated and inferred resource categories, to the newly defined Waterpump Creek deposit, which hosts 2.39 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 279 grams per metric ton (21.4 million ounces) silver, 11.25% (592 million pounds) zinc, and 9.84% (518 million lb) lead.

"Original continuity of mineralization is a hallmark of CRDs and the high grades and lateral consistency of mineralization shown by our new resource study tells us that there should be potent mineralization extending across Illinois Creek from Waterpump to the old open pit mine, which we think marks the source of the system," said Western Alaska Minerals CEO Kit Marrs.

The company's primary objective for this year is to demonstrate the continuity of mineralization at Illinois Creek by drilling into the mineralization at two targets along the trend from the past producing mine and the Waterpump Creek deposit.

Linking the zones

Drillers began this investigation of Illinois Creek's much larger CRD potential on June 6 with a hole at Last Hurrah, a target separated from Waterpump Creek by a fault that is believed to have cut across and slightly shifted the mineralized horizon.

In 2006, Novagold Resources intersected oxidized zinc-lead mineralization to the east of strong soil anomalies at Last Hurrah. This mineralization was found within and below a layer of schist that is similar to what lies above the Waterpump Creek deposit.

Last year, Western Alaska completed exploration drilling at Last Hurrah north of the Novagold holes and closer to the Waterpump Creek deposit. This drilling cut strong CRD-style alteration characterized by broad zones of fugitive carbonate veins and sanding that indicates proximity to the CRD horizon being sought.

Information from the drilling, coupled with geophysical data, indicate that the CRD horizon is further down-dip (to the east) of previous drilling, which is the target of Last Hurrah drilling currently underway.

The conductive zone outlined by 3-D resistivity and induced polarization geophysics at Last Hurrah increases in size toward the Illinois Creek mine and the Warm Springs zone to the south and west.

Warm Springs, which lies about 1,100 meters east of the Illinois Creek mine and about 2,200 meters southwest of the Last Hurrah zone, is the second zone to be targeted this season.

Evidence from past drilling, surface geology, and modeling of geophysical surveys indicate the potential for a large hydrothermal system at Warm Springs that has only been touched by a few holes to date.

The 2024 drill program at Warm Springs includes several holes to test the potential of this target, interpreted to be near the source of the hydrothermal system that is believed to extend to Waterpump Creek.

"We are excited to undertake linking the known mineralization zones along this trend through aggressive step-outs guided by our exploration model, mineralization cut in historic drilling and our recent geophysical and geochemical studies," Marrs said.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Author photo

Over his more than 16 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.


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