MINING NEWS: Millrock banking on giants in Alaska
New company exploring its first property on the Seward Peninsula is headed by local geologists with big company background
For Mining News
Greg Beischer is a familiar face in Alaska’s mining industry, but he’s wearing a new hat now. For the past few years he’s played a peripheral role, working for Bristol Environmental and Engineering Services, advising parent company Bristol Bay Native Corp. on mineral, oil and gas developments in the Bristol Bay region, including the Pebble project. He’s also the outgoing chairman of the Alaska Miners Association’s Anchorage branch. This summer Beischer has gone back to breaking rocks in an entirely new job.
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Beischer is now president and CEO of Vancouver-based junior Millrock Resources, formerly known as First Factor Developments. As Beischer himself says, First Factor was a shell company that had “something to do with computers,” but it was listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, which made it a convenient springboard for conversion into a mining exploration company. The company has recently completed the paperwork for the official change of business and acquired its new name Aug. 14. Beischer, in consultation with partner Philip St. George, another prominent member of Alaska’s mining community, chose the name. It is a prospectors’ term for a coarse volcanic breccia sometimes containing massive sulfide boulders.
Prospectors recognized that such rocks often occur in very close proximity to valuable deposits of massive sulfide ores. “Though we both like to utilize highly technical, innovative approaches to mineral exploration, Phil and I are practical, prospecting geologists with the ability to recognize the signs and capitalize on our observations. The name seemed to fit well,” Beischer said.
Full Metal has optioned Inmachuk property to First FactorMillrock’s creation came about because some Canadian resource sector venture capitalists wanted to start a new mineral development company. Introductions between the financial people and the technical and management group were made by mutual friends and colleagues Rob McLeod and Michael Williams, the management team for Full Metal Minerals. Full Metal is investing heavily in Alaska, but at the same time, actively encouraging others to join the hunt. For the change of business the new company needed a property of its own, so Full Metal agreed to option its Inmachuk property on the north side of the Seward Peninsula to First Factor, which occurred April 4.
“The financiers needed someone with technical and management ability to develop mining projects, and assist with raising venture capital,” Beischer explained. “I decided to take a chance; this was a challenge I couldn’t pass up. When Phil St. George agreed to join me, there was no question. We are a team that will discover and develop ore bodies. It was a tough decision personally though — I had it pretty darn good with BBNC and Bristol Environmental. These are excellent companies. I think we accomplished a lot, and there are some great people at the company and throughout the region.” Beischer will continue to live in Alaska, commuting to Vancouver for seven to 10 days a month. He will continue to consult for Bristol Environmental and Engineering on a much reduced scale in addition to running Millrock.
The 4,338-hectare Inmachuk property is accessible by road — it’s 17 miles southwest of the community of Deering — and comprises a sediment-hosted gold prospect and a carbonate-hosted silver-lead-zinc prospect. To earn a 60 percent interest in the property, Millrock must incur US$2.5 million in exploration expenditures (US$335,000 in the first year), issue 600,000 shares (100,000 in the first year), and pay Full Metal $90,000 cash ($25,000 in the first year).
Gold found at Inmachuk in 1900; diamond core holes drilledGold placers were discovered on the Inmachuk River and some of its tributaries in 1900. State of Alaska historical production records report that the Fairhaven-Inmachuk district produced 348,089 ounces of placer gold from 1909 to 2002. No systematic lode gold exploration had been conducted in the district until work done by Gold Fields in 2002, resulting in the discovery of a 1,800-meter-long, northwest-trending Au-As-Sb soil anomaly, according to Full Metal’s Web site.
In 1966, Bunker Hill Mining completed 15 diamond core holes at Inmachuk totaling 608 meters. Due to an underpowered drill rig, the deepest hole was only 75 meters deep and the targets at depth remained untested. Work completed by Full Metal in 2006 identified a 1,100-meter by 400-meter, northwest-trending silver-lead-zinc anomaly between Harry’s Creek and Hannum Creek. Lead values reached a range from trace to 4,220 parts per million, with zinc values ranging from trace to 5,390 parts per million.
This summer Millrock has been clearing the airstrip at Inmachuk, as it was badly overgrown. A drill rig will soon be mobilized for a three-week drill program. “We will drill the anomalous structure on broadly spaced centers. We are targeting large-scale deposits, and the program will give us a very good indication whether or not a large massive sulfide deposit is present at the site,” Beischer said. The near-surface mineralization that was drilled by Bunker Hill is very strongly oxidized, according to Beischer, and because of that the historical results probably do not accurately reflect the true metal content in the ground.
Alaska will be initial focusAlaska will be Millrock’s primary exploration focus, at least initially. The company will be making a number of key property acquisitions over the coming weeks and months, Beischer told Mining News. “But we will also be looking to develop mining projects elsewhere in the continent,” he added.
Beischer took the job because of the excitement, he said: “I have an absolute belief in the mineral potential of Alaska; we’ve just barely scratched the surface — the mining industry here will find many more ore deposits. I think at least one of them has Millrock’s name on it. To me that’s what it’s all about; it’s the big hunt.”
Recent campaigns and lawsuits against Alaska mining projects don’t deter Beischer. “Alaska has got its challenges, but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome; there’s risk everywhere in the world. The rewards here in Alaska are enormous,” he said. Millrock will be seeking deposit types that typically fall into the “giant” category, Beischer added — like porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum deposits (Pebble is one of these), or Sedex deposits (the most important source of lead, zinc and barite - the type mined at Red Dog), or Besshi volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits (the undeveloped Windy Craggy deposit in British Columbia is one). In other words, “large tonnage, long-lived mines that big companies will be interested in. But having said that, we’ll also be targeting high-grade precious metal deposits that we can put into production ourselves.”
Beischer has a big company background, having worked for Inco for many years before he joined BBNC, and so does his partner at Millrock, Phil St. George. St. George formerly worked for Cominco and is best known as the discoverer of the Pebble deposit. He’s now Millrock’s vice president for exploration. Beischer got experience raising venture capital when he was with Inco, which had a number of joint ventures with juniors, so he would promote the merits of projects to analysts and brokers. He has already raised $1.1 million for Millrock in a private placement.
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