Dozens of small explorers mounted exploration campaigns in 2010 in and around the historic Stewart Gold Camp in northwestern British Columbia, and as assays trickle in from samples and core sent to labs this spring and summer, many of them are reporting encouraging results.
The Stewart Gold Camp, located about 20 miles, or 35 kilometers, from the B.C./Alaska border, is an emerging, world-class mining district that continues to offer discovery opportunities for major gold-copper and precious metal polymetallic deposits.
The Hazelton stratigraphy in the area hosts prominent historic deposits, including Granduc (Besshi-type volcanogenic massive sulphide), Premier Silbak (epigenetic, intrusive-related), and Eskay Creek (Kuroko-type precious metal VMS).
Recent attention has focused on immense gold-copper porphyry deposits in the region such as the Snowfield/Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell Project and on new VMS environments in proximity to the Stewart Highway corridor, including the Todd Creek, Decade, BA, Poly, and Surprise projects.
Strategic infrastructure such as the 335-kilometer-, or 208-mile-long Northwest Transmission Line scheduled for construction startup this fall, and the ice-free Port of Stewart offer potentially substantial cost advantages for developing mineral deposits in the area.
Economists forecast potential near-term investment of C$15 billion in up to a dozen existing mine projects in the Stewart area and the creation of 11,000 new jobs. Further, the participation of First Nation communities in exploration and mining development ensures sharing of the economic benefits by all stakeholders.
Scientists also note that evolution of the Stewart Gold Camp is being enhanced by environmental change as ice fields and glaciers retreat, significant new exploration targets are recognized and important discoveries are made.
Iron Cap signals new potentialSeabridge Gold Corp. ignited a new blaze of industry interest in the Stewart area in July when it confirmed the discovery of Iron Cap, a new large potentially bulk minable deposit at its giant KSM Project, which could substantially improve the project’s economics.
The KSM project is one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world with proven and probable reserves totaling 30.2 million ounces of gold and 7 billion pounds of copper. Seabridge’s drill program objectives in 2010 were to add 2-3 million ozs of gold reserves and explore Iron Cap, which it said had the potential to be KSM’s fourth large deposit.
The junior reported wide intercepts of gold, copper and silver grades above the KSM average from new and historic drilling and said it would proceed with infill drilling at Iron Cap to establish new proven and probable reserves to be included in mine plans for the project. It also said the new deposit, located immediately adjacent to the Mitchell zone, is at least 900 meters in strike length, 400 meters wide and up to 350 meters thick.
“The Stewart Gold Camp offers a tremendous opportunity for an exploration company,” Walter Henry, president and CEO of Frontline Gold Corp, in August. “The immediate economic implications are illustrated by Seabridge’s 2010 discovery of the Iron Cap deposit immediately adjacent to the Mitchell Zone.”
Newcomers tackle area prospectsFrontline, a Nova Scotia-based junior, optioned the Stewart and Poly gold projects in August. The 3,281-hectare, or 8,104-acre, Poly gold project and 28,000-hectare, or 69,160-acre, Stewart gold project are believed to host significant potential for gold-copper porphyries and precious metals-rich VMS deposits.
Frontline is entering the Stewart camp with ongoing gold exploration projects in West Africa, Turkey and Ontario along with the Jubilee zinc-lead project in Nova Scotia.
“Our strategic alliance with Geofine Exploration Consultants Ltd. provides Frontline with an exploration team well experienced in both the Stewart Gold Camp region and in the Red Lake region of northern Ontario where Frontline holds some land claims,” said Henry.
Frontline planned to spend about C$320,000 on VTEM Time Domain EM and magnetic surveys this fall, covering about 1,958 line-kilometers (305 line-kilometers on the Poly claims and 1,653 line-kilometers on Stewart Claims).
The VTEM airborne surveys are being conducted by Geotech Ltd. and are designed to follow up on outcropping precious and base-metal mineralized systems, including precious metal rich massive sulphides, copper gold veins and breccias, and porphyry gold-copper. In addition, significant EM anomalies associated with Eskay Creek-type precious metal VMS mineralization will be further examined to prioritize geophysical and diamond drill targets for the next phase of exploration.
Explorers report early successesJayden Resources Inc., formerly Pinnacle Mines Ltd., is one explorer working on an advanced-stage gold-silver deposit in the Stewart area, the Silver Coin gold-silver-zinc project.
As of July, Jayden had drilled 714 drill holes totaling about 85,844 meters in recent year on Silver Coin, which covers about 1,255 hectares, or 3,100 acres. A NI 43-101-compliant mineral resource estimate released Sept. 16 calculates measured and indicated resources at Silver Coin of nearly 27.2 million metric tons (grading 0.96 grams per metric ton) containing 835,700 ozs of gold using a cutoff grade of 0.30 g/t gold, and 5.2 million ozs of silver, and an inferred resource of 29.65Mt (grading 0.69 g/t) containing 655,200 ozs gold and 5.72 million ozs silver. The calculation also includes potentially recoverable zinc during processing of gold and silver ore in an inferred resource of 56.8 Mt zinc grading 0.19 percent for a total of 242.45 million lbs zinc.
Jayden said it planned to complete a 2,000- to 3,000-meter drill program at Silver Coin this fall and a new resource estimate based on assay results in early 2011.
Nanika Resources Inc is exploring several properties near Silver Coin where Nanika’s Indi 9 to 12 claims are part of the eastern edge of the Silver Coin property. The four Indi claims are part of a joint venture agreement between Nanika, Jayden and Mountain Boy Minerals Ltd. The Indi 9 claim has NI 43-101-compliant measured and indicated resources of 692,000 metric tons containing 20,000 ozs gold at a cutoff of 0.30 g/t gold, 134,000 ozs silver, and 3,015 lbs zinc. Inferred resources on the Indi 9 claim were reported as 5.26 million metric tons containing 130,000 ozs gold at a cutoff of 0.30 g/t gold, and 1.274 million ozs silver, and 34,497 lbs. of zinc. Nanika also said its encouraging 2009 drill results on the Indi 9 claim were not included in the estimate.
Jayden also holds the Surprise Creek Project, which consists of 19 claims covering about 7,472 hectares, or 18,455 acres, located between Todd and Surprise creeks. In May, the company optioned the property to Great Bear Resources.
Great Bear, meanwhile, reported encountering multiple zones of high-grade silver-zinc-lead mineralization in exploration this summer on its BA VMS project in the Eskay Creek mining district near Stewart. The junior Sept. 9 said 11 of 16 holes successfully intersected silver mineralization with an average drill intersected width of 6.9 meters and a weighted average grade of 104 g/t silver. Seven of these holes intersected higher grade mineralization with an average drill indicated width of 5.2 meters and weighted average grade of 153 g/t silver.
Teuton Resources Corp., which is exploring the Clone gold project near Stewart, B.C. Sept. 13 said it encountered visible gold in four of the first five holes it drilled this season on the property. Exploration at Clone in 2009 returned drill results grading as high as 44.75 g/t gold over 12.80 meters. Teuton said a Kubota excavator has been flown to the site and preparations are underway for a planned bulk sampling program. Assay results from the holes, which are pending, are expected to guide the bulk sampling program.
Pacific North West Capital Corp. Aug. 30 said it aimed to begin exploring the Rock and Roll gold-silver-polymetallic project in September and focus primarily on re-sampling the old drill core and geological mapping and prospecting that will target airborne conductors, geological targets, overburden sampling and MMI geochemical results. The field work will be supported by further compilation of data from the 1990-97 programs. The 2010 program will also include the completion of an updated NI 43-101 report with resource estimate. In 2009, PFN conducted a drilling program that consisted of a total of 540 meters of core drilling in five holes.
Juniors work periphery of big projectsA little farther north, Romios Gold Resources Inc. reported completion in August of a 3,000-plus-meter drill program on its Trek copper-gold property. Trek consists of 5 land tenures covering 2,693.27 hectares, or 6,654.98 acres, in the Galore Creek Area of the Liard Mining Division and is located within the large parcel of land (approx. 118,912 hectares/293,838 acres) which encompasses the Galore Creek Project, a large, undeveloped, porphyry-related, copper-gold-silver deposit jointly held by NovaGold Resources Inc. and Teck Resources Ltd.
Romios’ 2010 diamond drilling program was designed to further delineate the pervasive porphyry-style copper and gold mineralization on the Trek property and to assess the significance of airborne magnetic trends that parallel zones of known copper-gold-silver mineralization outlined by the junior’s drill programs in 2008 and 2009.
In addition Romios has commissioned a Titan 24 deep imaging induced polarization survey over the North and Tangle zones on the Trek property in identifying and measuring porphyry ore bodies and extensions to known ore bodies to depths of at least 700 meters. Assay results are pending.
The Rock & Roll project hosts precious metals rich, VMS mineralization in a volcano-sedimentary host rock package. The mineralization shows similarities to the gold- and silver-rich mineralization of Barrick Gold’s past-producing Eskay Creek mine. Mineralization on the Rock and Roll Property occurs in multiple stacked sulphide lenses in two zones, the Black Dog and SRV zones, over a strike length of about 950 meters. A total of 14,000 or so meters of core drilling in 110 drill holes were completed on the property from 1991 to 1997. Only six drill holes tested the host stratigraphy outside of the known mineralization, but at least 5 kilometers of strike length of the prospective lithologies is present on the property.
Among other juniors working in the region:
TAD Mineral Exploration is seeking gold and silver on the Hazelton Property located 7 kilometers, or about 4 miles, northeast of Hazleton, B.C. and about 325 kilometers, or 200 miles, due east of Ketchikan, Alaska;
REC Minerals Corp. is pursuing surface exploration on its MC Dalhousie gold-silver-copper-zinc-lead property located a few miles north of Stewart, B.C.;
Bolero Resources Corp. is hunting for signs of copper and gold on the Red Chris “South” prospect adjacent to Imperial’s Red Chris Project; and
American Creek Resources Ltd. is exploring for gold and silver on the Electrum Property near Stewart.