An exploration gamble undertaken in southern Nunavut in late 2010 by Northquest Ltd. is proving to be a good bet.
The Toronto-based junior Sept. 4 reported results from three holes drilled in the Vickers Target on the Pistol Bay Gold Project in Nunavut, including 158.4 meters averaging 3.46 grams per metric ton gold from 9.95 meters depth in hole PB-13-03. Two intervals of high-grade mineralization were encountered including 16 meters averaging 9.47 g/t gold at 17.51 meters depth and 18 meters averaging 11.33 g/t gold at 70.51 meters depth. In addition, visible gold was documented four times from 24.67-110.71 meters (86.04 meters of core length).
The project covers 861 square kilometer (332 square miles) and encompasses a 90-kilometer (56 miles) strike length of the Pistol Bay Trend, a series of surface gold occurrences and gold zones that have been intersected by drilling in three field seasons.
The newly recognized trend is parallel to, and 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of, the Meliadine Trend of gold deposits, which is owned by Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. and reportedly contains 3.0 million ounces of gold reserves, plus 2.2 million oz of indicated and 2.9 million oz of inferred resources.
Veteran explorer Jon W. North, Ph. D., MSc, BSc, P. Geo, has led Northquest since the junior was organized in 2008. North is a specialist in area selection and target evaluation in exploration for a wide variety of mineral deposits, including Proterozoic nickel-copper deposits and iron-oxide-copper-gold ore (IOCG) deposits. He has distinguished himself over 25 years working around the world on various exploration projects for numerous major and junior mining companies including Western Mining Corp. International, Agip Mining Zambia Ltd. and BHP Minerals International.
The Pistol Bay area was brought to North’s attention in 2010, and after due diligence sampling, his company quickly snapped up options to acquire six claims covering about 4,500 square miles (17.4 square miles).
The company’s exploration concept was that a group of gold occurrences near the Hamlet of Whale Cove, Nunavut, seemed to line up in a west-trending cluster, parallel to the westerly, linear trend of the Meliadine gold deposits to the north. Located on the opposite side of a sterile, granitic gneiss block, the Pistol Bay Trend appeared to be a mirror image of the Meliadine Trend.
After two field seasons, Northquest has validated the hypothesis and appears to have further strengthened it in 2013 with additional exploration.
Rapidly expanding projectAs it explored the property, Northquest rapidly expanded its size, primarily through periodic claim staking, as it traced promising stratigraphy westward.
In April, the company reported staking 58 additional mining claims covering an about 500 square kilometers (193 square miles).These claims tie on to the west of the property’s former claim block and cover an additional 45-kilometer long (28 miles) strike length of the Pistol Bay Trend. The claims also increased the project’s size to 845 square kilometers (326.2 square miles).
Within these new claims, only a nominal amount of previous exploration work has been completed and most of the area is unexplored. However, assessment records and government summary reports indicate that minor surface exploration was completed in the 1980s in the central part of the new claims, an area some 10 kilometers (six miles) long and 3 kilometers (two miles) wide was mapped as a mixture of diorite, gabbro, basalt, and clastic sedimentary rocks, which is stratigraphy that is similar to that observed at the Vickers Target some 60 kilometers (31 miles) to the east. Within this new area, four rock samples were collected which contained 91 to 575 parts-per-billion gold.
Northquest said it is very likely that explorers in the 1980s emphasized sampling quartz veins; as a result, it is unlikely that rock types analogous to those at the Vickers Target, which is devoid of large quartz veins, would have been sampled, and in the western part of the new claims, government mineral occurrence maps indicate that there are four gold occurrences and one base metal occurrence. In addition, minor prospecting in the 1980s was carried out by an exploration company and some rock samples were collected. Assessment files indicate that in a sequence of basalt and chloritic clastic sedimentary rocks, glacially-transported boulders contain up to 2.0 g/t gold, and outcrops contain up to 960 ppb gold.
In August, the company reported staking two additional claims comprising 16 square kilometers (about 4,000 acres) to cover prospective stratigraphy, bringing the expanded Pistol Bay Gold Project to about 861 square kilometers (332 square miles).
Encouraging early explorationOver the 30 months since its field operations began in April 2011, Northquest has completed two airborne geophysical surveys and 9,113 meters of diamond drilling in 49 drill holes (including those drilled in 2013), of which 5,616 meters of drilling and 24 drill holes were completed at the Vickers Target.
The junior also obtained economically interesting drilling intersections at the Sako and Bazooka targets which occur over the 20-kilometer (12.4 miles) long segment of the Pistol Bay Trend. The best drilling intersection to date from the property is in drill hole PB-12-22 from the Vickers Target which intersected 156.48 meters grading 8.23 g/t gold.
In January Northquest said it is committed to increasing the rate of drilling and improving the continuity of news flow from the Pistol Bay Project. Accordingly, an all-weather camp facility was constructed on the site of its former summer camp, with the goal of commencing drilling operations on May 1. However, because of the difficulty in raising new capital for mineral exploration, the company postponed construction of the new camp. It was completed in June and occupied in July 2013.
The objective of the all-weather camp is to have drilling operations at the project for a minimum of eight months per year, which should be feasible given the available infrastructure of the project, including an all-season gravel road that runs through the center of the property, the Arctic Ocean coastline within the property boundary, and an airstrip with daily flights from Winnipeg situated just one kilometer (0.62 mile) from the property boundary.
Ambitious 2013 explorationThis season Northquest budgeted C$5 million for an exploration program that includes following up earlier exploration of the Vickers, Sako and Bazooka targets and investigating the Mauser Group of gold occurrences as well as prospect for other targets on the Pistol Bay property.
By August, the junior had completed ground HLEM geophysical surveying at the Bazooka Target, which contains gold in sulphidized iron formation. The best drilling intersection to date at Bazooka covered 11.17 meters grading 2.10 g/t gold in PB-12-04.
Induced polarization/resistivity surveys commenced in late August at the Sako Target, which consists of gold in silicified felsic volcanic rocks and iron formation. The best drilling intersection at Sako was in PB-12-02, which intersected 15.53 meters averaging 1.76 g/t gold.
Upon completion of the IP/Resistivity survey at Sako, additional surveying was planned for Vickers, which contains gold in the margin and footwall of a gabbro/diorite intrusion.
Northquest said the purpose of the geophysical surveys is to provide direction in the selection of future drill holes at the Bazooka, Sako, and Vickers Targets, particularly in areas covered by overburden.
The company conducted reconnaissance mapping and prospecting in July and August. The reconnaissance work has covered the entire property with traverses of varying spacing with the objectives of discovering and sampling all mineralized outcrops and boulders on the property, and sampling historical gold occurrences that are documented in government summary reports.
In July and August, Northquest completed an additional 10 drill holes covering 2,016 meters in the Vickers Target. The company had two drill rigs on the property in late August, ready to re-commence drilling contingent upon the results of the completed work.
Vickers is an elliptical gabbro-diorite intrusive complex with a long axis of 1,000 meters. The gabbro-diorite intrusion is within silicified felsic schist and mylonite of a linear zone referred to as the Pistol Bay corridor. Gold in surface outcrops occurs in a silicic, chloritic, breccia body exposed in the margin and footwall of the intrusion.
Nine of the drill holes intersected the V1 (Main) Zone which also was encountered in 14 drill holes in 2012. One drill hole intersected the V2 Zone which lies about 200 meters south of the V1 zone.
“The exploration that has been completed to date in 2013 has been multi-dimensional and very exciting,” North said in an Aug. 28 statement.
Reporting initial results of the drilling Sept. 4, Northquest said hole PB-13-01 is an overcut of PB-12-22 (156.48 meters grading 8.23 grams per metric ton gold), and there is close correlation of the geology of the drill holes. PB-13-01, which intersected visible gold at four locations in the drill hole between 172.93 and 210.28 meters, cut 77.5 meters averaging 1.2 g/t gold. PB-13-02 is an undercut of PB-12-22, and there is close correlation of the geology of the drill holes. This hole, which intersected visible gold at five locations between 104.8 to 280.8 meters, cut 75 meters averaging 1.05 g/t gold and 23.8 meters averaging 3.6 g/t gold. PB-13-03, which encountered the longest and highest grade intercepts in the 2013 drilling, so far, is an overcut of PB-12-20 (168.69 meters grading 2.15 g/t gold) with good geological correlation between the drill holes. Visible gold was documented four times from 24.67 to 110.71 meters (86.04 meters of core length).
“The objective of the 10 holes that have been drilled so far this year has been to test the continuity of the zone at relatively shallow depths with fill-in holes that complement the 14 drill holes drilled in 2012,” said North. “Upon completion of the ongoing geophysical survey at Vickers, the next phase of drilling will include deeper drilling and step-out holes to determine the limits of the zone, as well as more fill-in drilling.”
Northquest, meanwhile, curtailed its exploration activity in 2013 on its three gold projects in Mali, the company did apply for a exploration permit to also pursue its gold prospects in Myanmar.