Two years after explorers stampeded to Yukon Territory in search of gold and other minerals the rush is showing no sign of abating. In fact, the exploration frenzy appears to gather fresh steam with every new mineral discovery reported in the territory. And the pipeline of discoveries is flowing, fast and furious.
Junior mining companies and prospectors also continued to stake hordes of claims in 2010 right up to Dec. 23, stopping only when Government of Yukon mining recorders called a halt for the holidays.
The excitement sustaining this activity is almost palpable as more and more new projects begin to deliver on promises made to investors.
While the much-heralded White Gold Project, gobbled up by Kinross Gold Corp. in July, and Kaminak Gold Corp.’s Coffee Project grabbed headlines in 2009-2010, along with Atac Resources Inc.’s Rau Project where the Carlin-style Osiris gold discovery last summer sparked a strong round of interest in a different part of the territory, other explorers zeroed in on impressive prospects far from the glare of the media spotlight.
The players varied, from juniors seeking big deposits to advance toward development themselves to companies assembling groups of properties in hopes of enticing others to explore them.
Companies such as Tarsis Resources Ltd., Silver Quest Resources Ltd., AM Gold Inc., Valdez Gold Inc. and Ansell Capital Corp. reported impressive exploration results and aggressive positioning to capitalize on future exploration opportunities.
White River discoveryTarsis, for example, is a project generator and early-stage exploration company that envisions advancing projects with joint venture partners and through early stage exploration programs.
Among the dozen or so Yukon properties it has amassed, Tarsis acquired the White River Property by staking of 168 claims covering about 3,500 hectares, or 8,645 acres in western Yukon several kilometers from the Alaska Highway. Working from a 2009 Yukon Geological Survey regional exploration database, the junior made a very promising discovery at White River in August.
Follow-up prospecting within the prospect’s 350-meter-by-600-meter main discovery zone in October yielded one select float sample containing 19.3 grams per metric gold, 0.21 percent copper and 16.9 g/t silver. Another float sample contained 8.52 percent copper and 6.0 g/t silver, while a third contained 1,310 g/t silver, 0.51 g/t gold and 2.02 percent copper. Within the main discovery zone, assay results have been received and verified for 111 select rock samples (including the original 47 samples reported Aug. 3). The samples returned values ranging from 8 parts per million to 8.52 percent copper, below detection to 19.3 g/t gold and below detection to 1,310 g/t silver. The main discovery zone is unglaciated.
“We are delighted to have early success with our generative exploration, making a new grassroots discovery. The property is extremely well located with respect to infrastructure, and we look forward to finding a partner who would like to option the project from us,” Tarsis’ President and CEO Marc G. Blythe said in a statement.
Tarsis also reported drilling results on its Mor property in southern Yukon, including discovery of low-grade copper and gold over an apparent 600 meters of mineralization and said it intends to option that property to a joint venture partner.
Aggressive property acquisitionIn 2009 Tarsis optioned up to 70 percent interest in the Prospector Mountain Project to Silver Quest, after reporting the discovery of high-grade gold, silver, copper samples on the property.
Silver Quest has rapidly become one of the largest land holders in the Dawson Range, with about 4,800 quartz mineral claims covering in more than 100,000 hectares, or 247,000 acres (pending acceptance from the Yukon Mining Recorder). In November Silver Quest acquired two more properties in the White Gold Area – Poker and Rude Creek – which will be evaluated for future exploration in 2011. The junior purchased 11 exploration properties in 2009 from Atac Resources Inc., including Birdman, CDN, Citlec, EMC, Gemini, Hanna, Ladue, Matson, Moose, Dozen and Wolf Creek. These claims were all staked based on regional geochemical anomalies or as the potential source region of placer operations in the area. Silver Quest also opted to earn up to 100 percent interest in four exploration properties: Sizzler, TAK, CC and VO from a syndicate of vendors who are active geologists and prospectors in Yukon. The four properties are early stage exploration plays with favorable geology.
In addition, Silver Quest acquired the right to earn a 100 percent interest in the Boulevard Property, where it intersected gold mineralization in drill core, including 10.55 meters of 1.65 g/t) gold. Boulevard is located 135 kilometers, or 84 miles, south of Dawson City and 10 kilometers, or 6 miles, southwest of Kaminak’s Coffee gold discovery in the White Gold District.
Silver Quest also drilled eight diamond drill holes totaling 1,463 meters at Prospector Mountain in 2010, and assay results are pending.
Exploration near MayoAM Gold Inc. capped an aggressive 2010 exploration season by upgrading an NI 43-101-compliant resource estimate for the Red Mountain Gold Property in central Yukon, nearly doubling the property’s inferred resource to about 1.32 million troy ounces gold (79.3 million metric tons grading 0.52 g/t gold) A June 2010 estimate pegged the inferred resource at about 542,000 contained troy ounces gold (23.6 million tons grading 0.7 g/t gold). Results of 24 drill holes covering 6,609 meters completed in 2010 were incorporated into the latest resource estimated.
AM Gold Vice President of Exploration Neil Downey said the junior is especially encouraged by the promising results from its first hole drilled off the known mineralized trend at Red Mountain this season. “Based on the large step-out to the north, ICE10037 intersected mineralization separate and distinct from the gold mineralization focused along strike of the Jethro Structure,” he said
ICE10037 is the first hole of the program drilled north of the resource area and the first to cut consistent gold mineralization away from the trend. Poor weather conditions at the end of the season forced the early termination of ICE10037 with 0.83 g/t gold over 5.48 meters at the bottom of the hole.
The Red Mountain Gold Project is situated in the midst of a number of better known exploration projects, including Dublin Gulch, Brewery Creek, Clear Creek and Keno Hill, consists of 52 Ice and JC claims blocks that cover a 1,087-hectare, or 2,700-acre, contiguous area, about 55 kilometers, or 34 miles, northwest of Mayo. AM Gold has earned an 80 percent interest in the property subject to a 2 percent royalty and retains rights to earn 100 percent of the project and reduce the NSR to 0.5 percent.
Looking ahead in YukonOther companies jockeyed for more solid footing to participate in future Yukon exploration seasons. These include Valdez Gold and Ansell Capital.
Just before Christmas Valdez Gold completed a merger with Ryan Gold Inc. and a private placement financing that raised about C$1.4 million. The company’s shareholders approved a 3.5 to 1 common share consolidation and changed its name to Ryan Gold Corp.
The company is focused on gold exploration in Yukon Territory and Alaska, including the Ida Oro Property located 60 kilometers, or 37 miles, to the east of Dawson City and 25 kilometers, or 16 miles, to the east of Brewery Creek Mine. To the west of Dawson Ryan Gold is also earning interest in a joint venture with Valley High Ventures on the Flume Property, located at the head waters of Ten Mile Creek, where active placer mining is taking place, and is exploring its Fifty Mile Project located 60 kilometers, or 37 miles, south-south west of Dawson City. In Alaska, exploration is centered on the Bluff Project located about 90 kilometers, or 56 miles, east of Nome on the Seward Peninsula. The company is earning an interest in the project through a joint venture with Millrock Resources Inc.
At Ida Oro, Ryan Gold conducted soil sampling and airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys at Ida Oro as well as up to 6,000 meters of drilling on the property late in the 2010 season.
Michael Skead, formerly President and CEO of Valdez Gold and CEO of the combined company, told Mining News that Ryan Gold will continue with systematic exploration of all of its properties in 2011.
“We’ve got sort of a big company approach with small company flexibility,” he said.
Ryan Gold staked additional claims around Ida Oro after reviewing results of trenching and other historic exploration by Noranda. “I have no idea why no one went back there. We’ve got a very interesting anomaly that backed up Noranda’s results, only it got a little bigger,” Skead said.
Ansell Capital entered into a letter of intent with Eagle Trail and Guinness Exploration Inc. in October in which Ansell Capital will provide funding for development of the Charlotte (formerly Mt. Nansen) Project, in return for the right to acquire up to an 85 percent undivided interest in the venture in staged increments.
The Charlotte Project comprises 2,336.14 square hectares are in south-central, 180 kilometers, or 92 miles, northwest of Whitehorse and 60 kilometers, or 37 miles, west of the Village of Carmacks. Last fall, Guinness reported results of 14 drill holes it completed on the Flex Zone at the Charlotte Project. The drilling indicated the presence of significant gold and silver mineralization, over considerable widths, and over at least 450 meters of strike length, which is open both along strike and down dip. Intersection included 31.25 meters starting at 59.60 meters grading 1.66 g/t gold and 67.90 g/t silver, 28.90 meters starting at 19.45 meters grading 5.06 g/t gold and 138.10 g/t silver, and 5.35 meters starting at 57.400 meters grading 20.91 g/t gold and 131.50 g/t silver.
Professional geologist Chris M. Healey, an Ansell director, said, “We are continuing to see very encouraging and consistent results from the drilling. With these drill holes it is clear that the Flex Zone is open both along strike and at depth. In addition, the grade profile in each hole as quite consistent, with little evidence of a significant nugget effect.”