Since agreeing to acquire the Alaska portfolio of South Africa major AngloGold Ashanti in August 2006, International Tower Hill Mines of Vancouver, B.C., has been exploring the state and expanding its claims as it goes.
A total of nine properties were involved in the junior exploration company’s agreement with AngloGold. In the 15 months since, International Tower Hill has purchased 100 percent interest in seven of the properties and entered into joint ventures with AngloGold on the two most advanced holdings, Terra and LMS.
International Tower Hill also added two other Alaska properties, BMP and West Tanana, to its claims.
Of the 11 properties now in the company’s Alaska portfolio, the company considers seven of them as primary — Livengood, Terra, BMP, West Tanana, LMS, Chisna and Coffee Dome. The other four properties — West Pogo, Gilles, Caribou and Blackshell — are being pursued as joint venture opportunities.
Junior earns ownership at Terra propertyTerra, near Rainy Pass in the Alaska Range, is a high-grade low-tonnage property discovered by Kennecott Minerals Co. in the late 1990s.
AngloGold acquired the property in 2004 and followed up with a drill program in 2005. This summer, International Tower Hill drilled 15 holes on the Ben and Ice veins at Terra. Most of the drilling (12 holes) penetrated the Ben vein. All the holes drilled at the Ben intersected the main vein. The high-grade zone of the Ben vein averaged 1.27 meters (4.17 feet) at 23 grams per ton.
All three holes drilled into the Ice vein intersected a previously unknown high-grade gold zone. The drilling also showed a shallow zone that assayed up to 4 grams per ton over 5 meters (16 feet). The initial results suggest that Ice has the potential to add to the overall resource at Terra, company officials say.
International Tower Hill sent notice to AngloGold that it has spent the $3 million in exploration necessary to earn 60 percent interest in Terra. AngloGold has the right to earn back 20 percent interest in the project by spending $4 million at Terra during the next two years. AngloGold has 90 days to let the junior know what it plans to do.
South Estelle similar to TerraAbout 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the west of Terra is the South Estelle project, a high-grade gold system that is believed to be similar in structure to Terra. Exploration on the property has discovered three prospects, Shoeshine, Train and Portage.
International Tower Hill took rock and soil samples at South Estelle this summer, and the best results came from the Train and Shoeshine prospects.
“It is an impressive system, especially in percentage of veins that are mineralized,” according to Russell Myers, president of TalonGold Alaska Inc.
West TananaInternational Tower Hill has entered a lease option agreement with the Doyon Native Corp. on the West Tanana property 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of Fairbanks on the Yukon River. The company drilled 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) in nine holes at the West Tanana property this summer.
Due to faulting, core recovery on some of the drill holes on the project was poor. Drilling did intersect a 0.3 meter per 1-foot section of 15.6 grams of gold per ton and a wider breccia zone assaying 2.5 grams of gold per ton over 4.3 meters (14.1 feet). The company said it is working to define the mineralized zone to plan future drilling on the property.
Chisna shows promiseInternational Tower Hill staked 100 state claims about 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Paxson. The Chisna project is a copper-gold target. The company worked this summer on collecting soil and rock chip samples on the property. The average results on the rock samples averaged 2.5 grams of gold per ton and 0.68 percent copper mineralization.
Internationally renowned geological consultant Dr. Richard Sillitoe visited Chisna, as well as Livengood and Terra, this summer.
“The geologic characteristics at Chisna Southeast are those commonly observed in gold-rich porphyry copper system,” he wrote in a report.
Exploration surprisesInternational Tower Hill said it found more than it expected at the BMP project located to the north of Terra. The average rock sample taken from the 6120 prospect at BMP assayed at 3.4 grams per ton gold, 33 grams per ton silver and 2 percent copper. The surprising thing, according to Meyers, was that the samples also showed 0.16 percent nickel and 0.07 percent cobalt.
The junior said it has the opportunity to earn a 60 percent partnership with AngloGold on the LMS property by investing $3 million in exploration over four years.
LMS consists of 92 state mining claims near the Pogo Mine, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Delta Junction in the Goodpaster Mining District. The company began drilling on the high-grade gold property in the fall of 2006.
Expansion at Coffee DomeInternational Tower Hill expanded the Coffee Dome project about 37 kilometers (23 miles) north of Fairbanks in March when it optioned to lease 3,215 acres from the University of Alaska. This property lies to the south of 7,030 acres that the company acquired from AngloGold.
To maintain an option on the property, the company is required to pay the university $117,500 over five years and complete $400,000 in exploration over the same period.
The junior has found significant gold anomalies in the 819 soil samples and 111 rock samples it has taken from the property.
Junior targets exploration at LivengoodInternational Tower Hill also discovered high-grade sediment-hosted mineralization while drilling at the Livengood project, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Fairbanks. This type of mineralization is not only a new discovery for Livengood, but is believed to be the first of its kind in Alaska, company officials say. The extension of mineralization into the sediment rock has the potential to considerably expand the project beyond the central zone of volcanic hosted mineralization. The company drilled 7,998 meters (26,240 feet) in 15 holes at Livengood this year.
The company plans to spend $7 million in 2008, drilling 150 holes totaling 50,000 meters (164,000 feet) at Livengood. According to Meyers, this will be the company’s primary focus of exploration for the upcoming year.