Vancouver-based Freegold Ventures is exploring claims in three Alaska locations this season - Golden Summit near Fairbanks, Rob in the Goodpaster Mining District, and Vinasale near McGrath, the company’s latest venture in the state.
At Golden Summit, Freegold has finished setting up a gravity-based processing plant, which will process 28,000 tons or more of material before winter sets in, Freegold President and CEO Steve Manz told Mining News in a recent interview.
At Rob, the junior exploration company has completed its first drill program and expects to receive assay results soon, Manz said.
At Vinasale, Freegold is evaluating acreage surrounding the deposit and ordered a high resolution aerial survey over the project. The company is also planning to return in 2008 to follow up on targets identified this year and to drill near historic holes in Vinasale’s central zone, Manz said.
Exploring Golden SummitThe Golden Summit project is in the Cleary Hill area, about 20 miles northeast of Fairbanks. The 18,000-acre gold project includes the historic Cleary Hill Mine, once the largest lode gold producer in the Fairbanks Mining District.
Cleary Hill Mine was shut down in 1942 by the War Powers Act, and has not been worked since.
Freegold acquired an interest in the Golden Summit project in 1991. Between 1991 and 2004 it spent $7.3 million in extensive mapping, soil sampling trenching, rock sampling, drilling, and geophysical surveys on the project, involving nearly 64,000 man hours. During this time the company completed more than 78,177 feet of drilling, over 18,000 feet of trenching, and took 7,729 soil samples. The major focus of the exploration during this period was bulk tonnage targets.
In October 2005, Freegold began a 1,270-foot trenching program to the south of the Cleary Mine. This marked a shift from bulk tonnage targets to defining high-grade surface targets, which had the potential for initial small-scale mining – to provide bulk samples and generate cash for the company.
In July 2006, after analyzing the results of the earlier trenching program, an additional 2,200 feet of trenching was completed to the east and west of the previous work to further delineate the high-grade veins Freegold had discovered. This was the first phase of a three-phase program.
During phase two more trenching helped expand on structures found in phase one. Meanwhile, Freegold launched phase three of the program, stockpiling 10,000 tons of the highest-grade materials identified during the earliest trenching work.
The materials, separated into eight different piles based on their origin, are to be processed separately to further define the gold mineralization of each area being tested.
Bulk sampling was completed in November 2006.
Freegold started a new drill program in January 2007 - the first systematic drill program on the property for bulk tonnage of gold mineralization. Most of the drilling was done in the area that Freegold focused on in its 2006 exploration program.
Three rows were drilled, 15 feet apart, each with 31 holes limited to 51 feet in depth and placed at 20-foot increments. A total of 4,700 feet was drilled in this phase.
Next, Freegold began a 20,000-foot drilling program that also consisted of closely spaced shallow holes with fences crossing the width of the mineralization zone.
On Sep. 13, the company announced that 674 holes had been drilled at Golden Summit for a total of 40,093 feet. Drilling is currently suspended to allow the company to catch up on assay results. Manz said that it is likely that drilling will resume and continue through the winter, and that the stockpiling of bulk sample material, to be run beginning next spring, may continue into November.
Bulk sample processing has begun at Golden SummitIn July of this year Freegold received its permits from the state to process about 130,000 tons of material a year until May 2012.
The processing of bulk samples will not only provide a better idea of material grades at Golden Summit, but also will provide the company with capital from the gold recovered, Manz said.
Freegold has completed construction of a 1,200-ton per day gravity-based processing plant at the property. The self-contained, mobile processing plant boasts a recovery rate of more than 70 percent and consists of a portable crusher and a three-stage gravity circuit.
Prior to processing a 10,000-ton bulk sample, the plant was tested and optimized by processing 3,000 tons of mineralized dump material from historic mining on the property. If the dump material proves economic to process, then Freegold will run Golden Summit’s remaining mineralized dump material through the plant.
In addition to material used to test the plant, Freegold hopes to process at least 25,000 tons of rock during the next two months, before shutting down the plant for the winter.
“We will run the plant for as long as we can before we get frozen out,” Manz said.
Following two veins at RobThe Rob property, about 110 miles southeast of Fairbanks and 12 miles east of Teck Cominco/Sumitomo’s Pogo gold mine, comprise 106 state mining claims totaling 4,240 acres.
Freegold acquired the property in 2002. Initial work at Rob included mapping, soil sampling and reconnaissance work, followed by additional surface sampling and top of bedrock auger drill sampling.
On Aug. 30, Freegold reported completion of an initial 17-hole (3,514 foot) drill program on the property. The company said it was following two vein systems. Eight of the holes were drilled on the Grey Lead vein system, and nine on the O’Reely vein system.
Freegold said it expects to receive assay results from these drill samples soon.
Follow-up work at Vinasale in 2008Freegold’s most recent exploration program in Alaska is under way at the Vinasale gold project, 16 miles south of McGrath. Vinasale sits on Doyon Ltd. land.
Freegold announced in March that the company had entered into a mining exploration agreement with the Fairbanks-based Alaska Native regional corporation that includes an option to lease.
Work at Vinasale began this past spring with the staking of 12,000 acres of state mining claims to the northeast, expanding the project acres to 140,000 acres from 128,000. Drilling conducted in the early 1990s indicates that the gold mineralization may trend in that direction, Freegold said.
The 2007 exploration program is focused on evaluating the acreage surrounding the deposit. Reconnaissance has involved the completion of initial stream, soil and rock sampling, Freegold said in early September.
The company also commissioned a 1,788-line-kilometer high-resolution EM and magnetic aerial survey over the property in late September.
Freegold said it will follow up in 2008on targets found this year, as well as conduct new drilling aimed at confirming and expanding on gold mineralization around 36 holes previously drilled in the central zone of the deposit.