With roughly US$5 million of exploration being carried out on its projects in Alaska, British Columbia and Mexico this year, Millrock Resources Inc. is beginning to reap the benefits of the upswing in the mining sector.
“During the industry downturn, Millrock moved boldly to grow its property portfolio,” said Millrock President and CEO Greg Beischer. “Now that metal prices and investor sentiment have improved, we are ramping up exploration efforts significantly.”
This ramp up of exploration includes 2017 field programs at the Liberty Bell and Stellar projects in Alaska; Oweegee Dome and Willoughby projects in northern British Columbia; and La Navidad and El Picacho projects in Mexico.
Stellar drillingThe biggest exploration program slated for this year is being carried out on the Stellar gold-copper project in Southcentral Alaska.
Earlier this year, Millrock traded its full ownership of Stellar to facilitate a deal that merged Stellar with Caribou Dome, a high-grade copper property immediately to the east.
In exchange for Stellar, Millrock gained a 10.6 percent stake in Coventry Resources, an Australia-based junior that now owns both Stellar and Caribou Dome.
The main deposit at Copper Dome hosts 2.8 million metric tons of total resource (measured, indicated and inferred) averaging 3.1 percent (190 million pounds) copper.
Numerous other high-grade copper targets have been identified along an 11-mile stretch of Caribou Dome, prospects that trend onto the neighboring Stellar claims.
The Stellar claims cover the Zackly copper-gold skarn deposit, which hosts a historical resource of 1.54 million metric tons grading 4.5 g/t (218,944 oz) gold and 2.9 percent (66.9 million lb) copper.
Bringing these two assets together provides Coventry a roughly 22-mile-long stretch of highly prospective ground just north of the Denali Highway.
Upon completion of a three-company deal to merge the neighboring properties– which also involved Vista Minerals, another Australian explorer that was earning rights on the Stellar property – and raising roughly AU$5.5 million to explore them, Coventry is now in the process of changing its name to Polaris Minerals Ltd.
Millrock, which has decade of experience exploring Alaska and knows the Stellar property well, is managing the 2017 program. This work is expected to include 3,000 meters of drilling primarily focused on drilling in around the Zackly deposit with the aim to upgrade the historical resource to JORC standard, the Australian equivalent of the NI 43-101 standards in Canada.
“We've got pretty high-grade gold-copper historic resource in the ground at Stellar and we're going to re-drill that to bring it up to modern resource standards. Additionally, we'll use a second drill to test the geophysical conductors along strike,” Beischer told Resource Digest.
The second rig could expand upon the high-grade copper and gold.
Millrock and Polaris are also hoping to get drill to Mars, a large copper-gold prospect at the western edge of the property and right next to a promising copper prospect on the Caribou Dome side of the merged land package.
Kinross at Liberty BellAs drilling gets underway at Stellar, Millrock and Kinross are considering targets for a 2018 drill program at the Liberty Bell, a road assessable gold project about 70 miles southwest of Fairbanks.
In March, a subsidiary of Kinross Gold entered into an option to earn a 70 percent joint venture interest in Liberty Bell by investing US$5 million on exploration over a five-year span, as well as paying Millrock management and advance royalties over the same period.
Situated on the north side of the Alaska Range in the Bonnefield Mining District, Liberty Bell is prospective for skarns, which often host high-grade concentrations of gold and copper, and porphyry copper-gold, which are typically lower grade but much larger.
A small gold-rich skarn deposit with striking geological similarities to the high-grade Peak zone gold deposits being advanced by a partnership between Royal Gold and Contango Ore on their Tetlin property near Tok is already known to exist at Liberty Bell.
This year, the partners carried out a preliminary geochemical exploration program at Liberty Bell that included the collection of 1,600 soil samples, plus stream sediment and rock samples.
Results from this work will be used to narrow targets for a drill program being considered for next year.
Golden Triangle explorationMillrock is currently gearing up for drilling at Oweegee Dome and Willoughby, two of the company’s four mineral prperties in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle.
In June, the company optioned these two copper and gold properties to Sojourn Ventures Inc., a Vancouver, B.C.-based junior.
To earn full ownership of both properties, Sojourn must issue the 4.14 million shares to Millrock over the next two years and complete C$4 million of exploration on the property over the next three years.
If Sojourn fully exercises its option for full ownership of Oweegee Dome, Millrock would own roughly 15 percent of Sojourn’s shares.
Millrock will retain a 1.5 to 2 percent net smelter return royalty on the properties.
"Historically Millrock has made exploration agreements primarily with major mining companies. However, we anticipate that shares of junior gold exploration companies will do well in the coming years,” Beischer said.
Sojourn raised more the C$1 million to fund exploration on these northwestern B.C. properties
“(I)t looks like our new partner Sojourn Ventures has raised, actually oversubscribed, financing for work that will be done on our Golden Triangle British Columbia project so we're going to execute the exploration on behalf of Sojourn. In fact, we've already got a team mobilizing and we'll be in the field in the Golden Triangle next week,” said Beischer.
Sojourn plans to invest roughly C$300,000 this year on initial exploration at Oweegee Dome, a gold-copper property about 50 miles northeast of Stewart.
Past exploration at Oweegee Dome includes airborne geophysics, ground sampling and drilling. One hole drilled there in 2007 cut 138.7 meters averaging 0.189 g/t gold and 0.074 percent copper, including a 17.1-meter section that averaged. 0.468 g/t gold and 0.11 percent copper.
Sojourns 2017 program, which will be managed by Millrock, will include stream sediment sampling, mapping, and prospecting around conductive zones identified by geophysical surveys.
This program will narrow targets for drilling planned for 2018.
Sojourn is investing another C$200,000 on initial exploration at Willoughby, a high-grade gold property about 16 miles northeast of Stewart.
Willoughby has a long exploration history including two phases of drilling. Highlights from historical drilling there includes 20.5 meters averaging 24.99 g/t gold and 184.22 g/t silver; and 2.9 meters of 383 g/t gold and 213.6 g/t silver.
Millrock’s exploration team will focus this year’s work on prospecting the margins of glaciers that have receded substantially since the last exploration effort in 2008.
Growing Mexico portfolioAs exploration picks up in the north, Millrock continues its project generator strategy with the addition of two new gold projects in Mexico – La Navidad and El Picacho gold projects.
Both of these projects are located in Sonora, a northern Mexico state where Millrock has built a large portfolio of properties.
Right after acquiring La Navidad, Centerra Gold Inc. entered in an option to earn an 80 percent interest in the project.
An exploration program being carried out this summer includes soil sampling, geological mapping and geophysical surveys ahead of an expected drill program this fall.
A similar program is being carried out at El Picacho, which has been named a “designated project” under the terms of a strategic alliance agreement between Millrock and Centerra.
Millrock anticipates that Centerra will want to drill one or both of these projects later on this year, adding to an encouraging year for the project generator.
“With a number of exploration programs in place for the second half of 2017, we are excited and encouraged to see that the work and determination we had put in throughout the downturn is paying off,” Beischer added.