MINING NEWS: Prepare for ‘wild and woolly’ 2008
Curt Freeman’s Alaska mining news summary: Expect high commodity prices, worldwide demand for metals, strong investment
Curtis J. Freeman
For Mining News
For any of you who have experienced that odd quiet before a big storm hits, I’d suggest you grab Toto and head for the root cellar because the “quiet” is about to end and the perfect storm is about to begin! I say this because the mining industry took its collective breath during the last month and recharged its batteries in preparation for what looks to be a wild and woolly 2008. Commodities prices remain high; worldwide demand for metals and energy minerals remains strong, and investment capital is there for quality mining projects. The gloomy outlook on the U.S. economy only serves to highlight the opportunities presented by the mining industry.
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Western AlaskaNovaGold Resources announced that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in the company’s favor on all counts regarding an appeal challenging the Clean Water Act permit previously issued for their Rock Creek mine near Nome. As a result of this ruling, there will be no interruption in construction at the mine site where final stages of construction are being completed and testing of processing circuits is underway. Development of the open pit and ore stockpiling also are on schedule. With the completion of the tailings storage and process water recycle facilities, the main mill processing complex should be ready for commercial level production by the end of the first quarter, with the objective to achieve full commercial production in the second quarter of 2008.
Pacific North West Capital announced that it has finalized the Option - Joint Venture Agreement on the Goodnews Bay platinum project with Stillwater Mining Co. Stillwater is entitled to earn a 50 percent interest by spending $4 million by Dec. 31, 2010. Stillwater may elect to increase its interest to 60 percent by incurring an additional $8 million in exploration expenditures within an additional two year period or upon completion of a Feasibility Study, whichever occurs first. Stillwater may increase its interest to 65 percent by arranging for 100 percent of the project financing required to place the property into commercial production within an additional three years. A $1 million exploration budget has been approved for 2008 with the objective to drill one or more established targets and to define additional new platinum mineralization.
Geoinformatics Exploration Inc. announced an initial independent mineral resource estimate on its Whistler project in southwestern Alaska. The report states that the greater Whistler zone holds an Indicated Resource of 840,000 ounces of gold plus an Inferred Resource of 2.74 million ounces of gold. Consideration of the silver and copper mineralization associated with the gold, produces a gold equivalent resource of 1.31 million ounces in the indicated category and 4.44 million ounces in the inferred category. The indicated category contains 30 million metric tons grading 0.87 grams of gold per metric ton, 2.46 grams of silver per metric ton and 0.24 percent copper, while the Inferred category contains 134 million metric tons grading 0.64 grams of gold per metric ton, 2.18 grams of silver per metric ton and 0.20 percent copper. The resource estimates assume that 93 percent of the current total tonnage is extractable through an open pit operation and the remaining 7 percent is potentially extractable by bulk underground mining methods following development of the open pit. The company plans to advance the project by continued drilling that will move resources into more assured categories. The company also intends to conduct a comprehensive exploration program on other high-priority targets on the claim block in 2008.
Alaska newcomer Zazu Metals Corp. announced recently completed financings will allow it to continue development of its Lik lead-zinc-silver project, 22 kilometers from Teck Cominco’s Red Dog mine. Zazu has the right to increase its current 50 percent ownership interest to 80 percent by incurring additional expenditures by January 2018. The Lik property was drill tested in the late 1970s and early 1980s and sporadically through the early 1990s. During the 2007 summer field season, Zazu completed a diamond drilling program of 11 holes with an aggregate depth of 1,394 meters. Results of the 2007 drilling program returned zinc values, averaging about 9 percent and ranging up to 19.10 percent and lead values averaging about 3 percent and ranging up to 14.90 percent. This effort confirmed pervious drilling results and provided additional information that will allow industry standard resource estimates to be completed on the project. The two most recent historic resource estimates on the project date to 1985 and include 10.85 million metric tons grading 10.51 percent zinc and 3.42 percent lead on the South deposit and 4.73 million metric tons grading 10.59 percent zinc, 3.50 percent lead and 53 grams of silver per metric ton on the North deposit. Welcome to Alaska Zazu Metals Corporation!
Eastern InteriorLittle Squaw Gold Mining announced that is has signed an exclusive agreement to allow it to conduct a 2 month due diligence review on the Livengood Bench placer gold project near Livengood. After completing due diligence and mining studies, Little Squaw will have the right to enter into a definitive agreement to purchase the property. The purchase terms are $8.35 million in three annual payments, each consisting of nearly equal values of cash and the company’s common shares. Should Little Squaw decide to proceed with the purchase, it will pay out $4.45 million in cash and roughly 4.33 million shares over the next three years, assuming a 90-cent stock price. Livengood Bench has produced over 400,000 ounces of gold since 1914. This mine was placed on care and maintenance in 2000 due to low gold prices. The existing database includes 2,370 drill holes, which outline 12.8 million cubic yards of gold-bearing gravel. This mineralized material is believed to contain about 355,000 ounces of recoverable gold.
International Tower Hill Mines announced additional results from its LMS project near Delta Junction. During the 2007 field season, an extensive deep auger drill soil sampling program was completed across the property and defined two previously unknown areas of mineralization (at Liscum and NW Camp) and better defined the known NW and South Ridge anomalies. The 2007 exploration program collected a total of 1,735 samples, including traditional pit soil samples, deep auger drill soil samples and mobile metal ion soil samples. This work has outlined five other high priority target areas, in addition to the Camp Zone, which warrant further exploration and drill testing. The company anticipates focusing its future exploration on the expansion of the Camp Zone toward the NW Camp and South Ridge targets, as well as initial drilling of the Liscum target. The company also reports that it is on schedule to complete a resource calculation for the Camp Zone area of the property. Gold mineralization within the Camp Zone is associated with a siliceous breccia horizon within a metamorphic schist unit. This siliceous breccia and surrounding gneiss units host both broad, lower grade, gold-silver mineralization and later high-grade gold veins. The mineralized breccia zone is shallowly dipping and remains open along strike and at depth. The Camp Zone has been defined by 36 core and RC holes which have outlined mineralization over a strike length of 300 meters and downdip approximately 500 meters.
Full Metal Minerals announced that several regional exploration targets have been advanced at its Fortymile project. At the Drumstick prospect, three samples of mineralized rock were collected from prospect pits. Two of these samples returned 21.6 percent zinc, 19.1 percent lead, 222 grams of silver per metric ton and 11.6 percent zinc, 8.1 percent lead and 863 grams of silver per metric ton, in addition to anomalous gold and copper. The third sample returned anomalous values. Drumstick occurs within a 1,100 meter-long by approximately 120-meter-wide soil anomaly, with lead values in soil exceeding 100 parts per million. At the Oscar prospect, samples from prospect pits include: 17 percent copper and 521 grams of silver per metric ton, 1.1 percent copper and 441 grams of silver per metric ton and 6.2 percent zinc, 4.4 percent lead, and 99 grams of silver per metric ton. Outcrop exposure is limited at Oscar however; two chalcopyrite-magnetite mineralized outcrops were located 600 meters apart and systematically sampled on one to two meter centers. A total of 38 samples from the upper outcrop range from trace amounts to 2.3 percent copper, averaging 0.6 percent, and trace amounts to 356 grams of silver per metric ton, averaging 30.7 grams of silver per metric ton. A total of 62 samples from the lower outcrop range from trace amounts to 1.0 percent copper averaging 0.16 percent copper and trace amounts to 34.1 grams of silver per metric ton, averaging 4.6 grams of silver per metric ton. In addition, 222 soil samples were collected at Oscar during 2007, outlining a 1,000-meter-by-1,250-meter-anomalous area open for expansion to the north (greater than 100 parts per million zinc, greater than 50 ppm copper, and greater than 100 ppm lead). The company intends to drill the Drumstick and Oscar targets concurrently with its previously explored Eva and LWM drill prospects.
Alaska RangeMAX Resource Corp. announced a summary of 2007 results and plans for 2008 at its Gold Hill molybdenum project in the Alaska Range. The five-hole drill program in 2007 tested a 700 meter by 800 meter magnetic anomaly. All of the holes, except one, encountered mineralization starting at surface and ending at depth. Highlights include DH-07-01 which intercepted 250 feet of 0.080 percent molybdenum disulfide, DH-07-03 which intercepted 1000 feet of 0.058 percent molybdenum disulfide and DH-07-05 which intercepted 352 feet of 0.706 percent molybdenum disulfide. A 12-hole drill program is scheduled to begin in June 2008 and is aimed at expanding the known area of intrusive mineralization. A secondary target that emerged from the 2007 program was mineralization identified in sediments to the east that indicate a skarn system may be present on the project.
Hemis Corp. and joint venture partner Aspen Exploration Corp. announced initial results from its Anchor alluvial gold project in Cook Inlet. Geophysical surveys to determine sediment type and thickness and a Vibracore drilling program were completed in September and October 2007. Gravels made up the basal sediments in 9 of the 11 cores recovered. These samples currently are undergoing heavy mineral separation processing to determine the size fractions and overall gold content of the gravels sampled.
Northern AlaskaLittle Squaw Gold Mines reported additional hardrock gold exploration results from its Chandalar gold project in the Brooks Range. Trenching at the Mikado prospect yielded the most promising results. A small historic mine on this prospect produced about 6,800 tons of ore averaging about 1.5 ounces of gold per ton. A series of trenches cut in 2007 across a portion of the 8-mile-long structure that hosts the Mikado mine mineralization traced the zone over 2,500 feet of strike length. The average mineralized trench intercept is 24 feet grading 0.023 ounces gold per short ton. Additional work is planned on this prospect in 2008.
Silverado Gold Mines Ltd. announced drilling results from the Workman’s Bench prospect on its Nolan Creek project. Highlights include 19 feet grading 2.69 grams of gold per metric ton and 3.24 percent antimony in hole 07SH01, including 6 feet grading 6.55 grams of gold per metric ton and 8.81 percent antimony, 11.4 feet grading 1.96 grams of gold per metric ton and 4.99 percent antimony in hole 07SH14, and 5 feet grading 1.95 grams of gold per metric ton and 3.45 percent antimony in hole 07SH015, including 0.5 feet grading 19 grams of gold per metric ton and 34.51 percent antimony.
Southeast AlaskaNiblack Mining Corp. announced exploration results from its Cayenne massive sulfide property on Prince of Wales Island. The project encompasses the former producing Khayyam and Stumble-On mines, last operated in 1907. Work completed in 2007 includes reconnaissance geological work, limited rock sampling and a 2.5-line-kilometer controlled source audio-magnetotellurics (CSAMT) geophysical survey. The CSAMT survey revealed multiple strong conductors at depth, some of which correlate well with known sulfide lenses mined near surface, while others may represent new targets. Chip sampling across a 2-meter-wide surface outcrop of massive sulfide yielded 9.66 percent zinc, 0.88 percent copper, 6.2 grams of silver per metric ton and 0.30 grams of gold per metric ton. Sampling of 0.3 to 0.5 meter boulders from the mine dump assayed up to 14.6 percent zinc, 15.4 percent copper, 109 grams of silver per metric ton and 5.72 grams of gold per metric ton. Mineralization at the Cayenne property consists of at least six near-vertical stratiform massive and semi-massive sulfide lenses of coarse grained pyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, and pyrrhotite. Sulfide lenses are elongate and are as much as 6 meters thick and 170 meters long.
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