Vancouver-based Andover Ventures Inc. launched an aggressive acquisition and exploration campaign when it entered Alaska in the spring of 2006, starting with a $42 million deal with Full Metal Minerals on the Kamishak property in southwest Alaska.
Today, the ambitious junior holds interests in eight Alaska mining properties, less than two years after incorporation. Six of the properties are located in Southwest Alaska, one in the Nome mining district and, arguably, the most exciting is situated in the Ambler mining district in northwest Alaska.
Andover focused exploration in 2007 on the Sun property, which it considers the flagship of its prospects. The company says Sun contains a world-class volcanic massive sulfide deposit.
In the fall of 2006, Andover purchased a 50 percent interest in 25 state mining claims from Hastings Base Metal Corp., which included the Main Sun and the Southwest Sun deposits, about 175 miles west of Kotzebue on the southern slope of the Brooks Range. This past spring Andover bought Hastings’ remaining interest, giving it 100 percent ownership in the claims, the company said in a statement.
Andover believes the Sun deposit continues to the west of the Hastings claims, so it staked an additional 87 state claims in that direction.
Ellis part of Sun discovery in 1974The Sun Property was first explored in 1974 by Sunshine Mining Co. Andover’s project manager Bill Ellis was part of the exploration crew that originally discovered the Sun deposit. Sunshine drilled the 10 exploratory holes on the property. The results of this drilling revealed a substantial copper, zinc and silver deposit.
“After being part of the Sun deposit discovery team in the mid ‘70s, it is very exciting to be managing this project,” Ellis said.
During the 1970s and 1980s Anaconda Gold Corp., Cominco Inc., and Noranda Inc. explored the Sun property. In its 2007 exploration program Andover hoped to confirm results from historic drilling done on the Main Sun deposit.
First Equipment dropped in MarchWith the help of Alaska Earth Sciences, an Anchorage-based exploration support group, Andover began moving a 20-man camp, fuel and supplies to Sun in March. The first equipment and supplies were delivered by helicopter, so the crew could clear snow for a temporary landing strip on a frozen lake. By May a 1,500-foot land airstrip and camp were in place for the summer exploration season.
In June and July the geology crew collected over 760 soil and rock chip samples. The results indicate that the deposit could extend over three miles, well into the additional claims Andover staked to the west of the Main Sun deposit, the company said.
Sun drilling started in July. A second rig went to work in August. Twenty holes were drilled between July and early October, totaling 14,750 feet. Andover said several of the holes were twinned to historic holes on the property.
One of the more significant discoveries at Sun was 900 feet to the north of the main deposit. The holes intersected mineralization matching what was found in the main deposit, indicating the deposit continues towards discoveries made in the Picnic Creek area 1100 feet to the north.
Of the 20 holes drilled in 2007, Andover said 19 intersected mineralization; of these, seven crossed two mineralized zones, while two others traversed three zones.
Andover expects to be wowedAndover said assay results are still coming in from the drill program. So far, the results show significant quantities of copper, zinc, silver, gold, and lead. Moreover, the results from the most impressive massive sulfide samples weren’t in as of Oct. 17, Ellis said.
Though hesitant to talk about assay results that are still pending, Ellis said, “The results are going to knock your socks off.” He also hinted at zones of mineralization containing in excess of 10 percent copper concentration.
Ready to drill in 2008“As all assay results from the holes drilled are received from the labs, coupled with the data from the 49 holes drilled by Anaconda, Cominco and Noranda in the late 1970s, we hope to calculate a new resource calculation that complies with Canadian regulations for the Main Sun deposit,” said Andover director David Hedderly-Smith. “This drill data will also help us to plan our next drill program, expected to start in April 2008.”
With a camp, equipment and two drill rigs already in place, Andover officials say they are looking forward to an early and robust 2008 exploration season.
Before leaving the property this year, crews erected three drill pads for 2008.
“All we need to do is shovel off the pads, and we are ready to drill,” Ellis said.
A third rig will be moved to the site next spring, he said. Two rigs will drill at the Main Sun deposit, and the third one will begin drilling in the SW Sun area.
Andover also plans to conduct an airborne geophysical survey of the mineralization trend at Sun next year. The survey will include the Main Sun area, SW Sun, and anomalies found during this past season’s exploration. It also will follow the mineralization trend into a 17,920-acre block of claims to the west of Sun, the company said.
Substantial exploration at other propertiesAndover’s Bulk Gold property is located about 22 miles north of Nome at the head of three historic placer producing streams. Andover agreed to purchase the property from Altar Resources in July 2006. It was able to complete eight holes before the weather became too cold in mid-October.
Andover drilled seven holes at Bulk in 2007, totaling about 2,000 feet. Only a portion of the assay results from the 2007 program are currently available. Out of the results that have come in, one hole showed a 48-foot section of more than one gram of gold per ton.
The Kamishak property about 50 miles south of the Pebble deposit consists of 49 state mining claims. Like Pebble, Kamishak is a porphyry copper-gold deposit. The property has particularly high gold grades.
In March 2006, Andover signed an agreement with Full Metal Minerals to invest $2 million in exploration work at Kamishak over four years to gain 60 percent ownership in the property.
This year Andover completed 3.9 miles of IP survey at Kamishak. The survey crossed areas of known mineralization as well as areas of interest discovered during geology work done in 2006.
Native corporation properties in mixAndover made an agreement with Bristol Bay Native Corp. to explore five properties covering about 44,500 acres near Iliamna Lake in southwest Alaska. According to Andover, the geological setting for these properties is similar to those found at the Pebble project.
Andover paid particular attention to the KUY property south of Iliamna Lake in 2007. Gold/silver mineralization was discovered on KUY in the early 1970s. Exploration continued on the property until 1981. Since then, the property has been virtually ignored.
A year ago, Andover began preliminary exploration at KUY. Geologists from Alaska Earth Sciences took samples from exposed quartz veins on the property, and the samples showed high concentrates of both gold and silver. The company followed up with two induced polarization geophysical survey lines. The first line covered a sampled quartz vein and the second was done 980 feet to the south.
The 2007 exploration program on KUY began with two additional IP geophysical survey lines. Then four core holes were drilled that totaled 2,602 feet. Assay results are still pending.
“The system at KUY covers a very large area. From a geological perspective the property is very interesting,” said Rob Retherford, president of Alaska Earth Sciences.
In July, Andover conducted initial geological and geochemical work on two other properties in its pact with BBNC. They are Samuelsen and Chilikat, both of which are located to the north of Lake Iliamna. A total of 542 samples were taken from the properties. Assay results are pending.
Chilikat and Samuelsen are both prospective properties. Very little prior exploration work has been done on them. But gold and copper have been found in stream sediments at Chilikat, with visible gold turning up when prospectors did some panning.
On the Kemuk property north of Iliamna Lake, Andover is taking a closer look at core samples from drilling done by Humble Oil Co. in the late 1950s. Humble’s mineral exploration division was looking for an iron deposit based on a highly magnetic anomaly located with airborne magnetic surveys. Sampling of the drill core identified broad zones of anomalous platinum. The airborne survey suggested that the ore body could be quite large.
The Fog Lake property east of KUY was explored in the 1970s. That work identified it as a copper/gold deposit with zinc, lead and silver showings. Andover elected not to explore this property in 2007.
In July Andover said it entered an option agreement with Vancouver-based NPN Investment Group Inc. for that company to acquire a 50 percent share in BBNC properties under Andover’s control. NPN has committed C$3.5 million toward exploration of the properties.
Andover is waiting for all assay results to finalize its exploration program for 2008, but work at Sun, Bulk and Kamishak is already planned.
NPN, meanwhile, plans to focus on KUY and Fog.