Kinross Gold Corp. has a two-pronged exploration strategy – focus its own efforts on high-quality brownsfield assets, including the discovery of new resource surrounding its existing operations; and nab a foothold on promising greenfield opportunities through partnerships with high-quality junior exploration companies.
The Fort Knox Mine in Interior Alaska is an example of the success the company has had in expanding resources near its mines. In its 21st year of operation, this open-pit mine is now 13 years past the original mine plan. When Kinross began mining at Fort Knox in 1996, the deposit had 4.1 million ounces of gold reserves. Going into 2017, the mine continues to boast 1.51 million oz of reserves.
The property also hosts another 1.44 million oz of gold in the measured and indicated resource categories. Kinross said drilling in the East and South Wall regions of the open pit at Fort Knox has encountered potentially mineable grade intercepts, including 35 meters averaging 0.9 g/t gold; 13.7 meters of 1.7 g/t gold; and 24.4 meters of 1.8 g/t gold. Kinross has indicated that it plans to update resource for Fort Knox soon. There also is potential to expand the pit to the west, into the Gilmore area. In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management authorized Kinross to carry out exploration on a 709-acre prospective parcel of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration land just west of the pit. NOAA has relinquished this land to the state, opening the door for pit expansion in this area.
The Gil gold property, located about five miles east of Fort Knox, is another source of potential ore to extend the life of the mine. According to a 2015 technical report for Fort Knox, Gil has 29.5 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.56 g/t (532,700 oz) gold. About 80 miles northeast of Fort Knox, Kinross is quietly carrying out early-stage gold exploration at its PB and NPB claims in the Circle Mining District.
This year, Kinross cut two deals that advance its greenfield strategy – partnering with Millrock Resources on the Liberty Bell gold project in Interior Alaska and vending its White Gold property in the Yukon to White Gold Corp., a major new gold explorer associated with prospector Shawn Ryan. Located about 70 miles southwest of Fairbanks, Liberty Bell is prospective for skarn gold deposits similar to those identified at the Tetlin gold project in eastern Alaska and potentially porphyry copper-gold deposits. An initial program of soil sampling, mapping and prospecting was carried out on the property this year by Millrock. The gold miner is looking for other exploration prospects in the area. “Kinross also continues to look for new opportunities in the region, particularly those in close proximity to infrastructure,” Anna Atchison, Fort Knox’s external affairs manager, told Mining News.
In May, Kinross cut a deal to trade its White Gold project and other properties in the Yukon to White Gold Corp. in exchange for a 19.9 percent stake in the junior gold explorer. Following the deal, White Gold owned nearly 1 million acres of gold prospective lands in the Yukon. In a separate transaction, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. also acquired a 19.9 percent interest in White Gold Corp. Both Kinross and Agnico are expected to leverage their technical and operational experience to support White Gold’s exploration in the Yukon. The White Gold property hosted 9.79 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 2.7 g/t (840,000 oz) gold; and 2.17 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 1.8 g/t (125,000 oz) gold at the end of 2016.