From wide zones of high-grade copper and zinc in resource expansion drilling to a discovery hole with grades worthy of being compared to Greens Creek, Constantine Metals Resource and Dowa Metals & Mining’s 2017 drill program at the Palmer volcanogenic massive sulfide project in Southeast Alaska is off to a great start.
After investing US$22 million into Palmer over the previous four years, Dowa Metals & Mining Alaska Ltd. earned a 49 percent joint venture interest in the project in January.
The newly formed Palmer JV decided to broaden the scope of this year’s drill program to include discovery drilling at some of the high-grade volcanogenic massive sulfide prospects identified across the wider Palmer property to the ongoing resource expansion drilling at South Wall-RW, a VMS deposit rich in copper and zinc.
“2017 marks an exciting new chapter for the Palmer project and our shareholders as we commence a major drill program to test some of the many high-quality prospects at Palmer,” said Constantine President and CEO Garfield McVeigh.
With the four holes of this program cutting long sections of high-grade copper, zinc and silver, this chapter of the Palmer story is off to a great start.
World-class potentialWith the South Wall-RW resource at 8.1 million metric tons and growing, Constantine and Dowa are now investigating the district-scale potential of the 108,000-acre Palmer property.
Jim Franklin, a VMS authority who advises some 50 companies exploring these metals-rich deposits around the globe, believes Palmer could be a world-class VMS district.
“The chances of this (Palmer) being a camp, as opposed to a one-off, are excellent,” he said. “I’ll bet you can develop three deposits in the area eventually, and maybe this fits a ‘camp-scale’ model of one giant deposit (larger than 30 million metric tons), one or two middle sized deposits (6 to 15 million metric tons) and a bunch of smaller, 1- to 5-metric-ton deposits.”
To begin exploring this camp-scale potential, Constantine and Dowa drilled Nunatak, a prospect about 3,000 meters south of the South Wall-RW deposit.
The discovery hole at Nunatak, CMR17-89, cut 9.2 meters of massive barite-sulfide averaging 312 grams (10 troy ounces) per metric ton silver and 0.9 g/t gold.
This intersection is approximately 50 meters below a surface showing where a continuous chip sample returned 127 g/t silver over 4.7 meters.
Constantine said this high-grade silver intercept confirms the potential for Palmer to host significant precious metal mineralization, which is characteristic of other VMS deposits in the region, such as Hecla Mining’s Greens Creek, one of the largest and lowest cost primary silver mines in the world.
Jag, a showing about 425 meters southeast of hole 17-89 is a prospect associated with Nunatak that will likely see further exploration this year.
Samples collect at Jag have returned up to 20 percent zinc, 10.4 percent lead, 537 g/t silver and 0.73 g/t gold.
Cap-HG, another silver-rich massive barite sulfide target area about 1,000 meters northwest of Nunatak, is also slated for drilling this year.
Two holes previous drilled at Cap cut 23.2 meters of 134 g/t silver and 90.6 meters of 31 g/t silver.
Westward expansionWhile testing Palmer’s wider potential, drilling continues to find new areas to expand the copper- and zinc-rich South Wall-RW deposit.
By 2015, Constantine and Dowa have outlined 8.125 million metric tons of inferred resources in the averaging 5.25 percent (940.4 million pounds) zinc, 1.41 percent (252.6 million lb) copper, 0.32 grams per metric ton (83,600 ounces) gold and 31.7 g/t (8.3 million oz) silver.
Most of this resource is located within South Wall, which consists of three VMS zones that run nearly vertically through Mount Morlan; the balance is found in RW, a fault separated section of this same mineralization lying at the top of the mountain.
Three of the first holes of the 2017 program, drilled in poorly tested area along the western edge of South Wall, cut wide intervals of massive sulfide rich in copper and zinc.
Highlights from the South Wall expansion holes include:
• 45.4 meters grading 2.5 percent copper, 7.4 percent zinc, 39 g/t silver and 0.3 g/t gold in hole CMR17-82;
• 18.7 meters grading 2.3 percent copper, 6.9 percent zinc, 33 g/t silver and 0.3 g/t gold in hole CMR17-84; and
• 14.3 meters grading 0.4 percent copper, 7.6 percent zinc, 45 g/t silver, 0.3 g/t gold in hole CMR17-86.
Constantine said these intersections dramatically increase the width and grade of mineralization in this area and indicate excellent potential for further westward expansion of the South Wall resource.
“The new South Wall intercepts will enhance the resource and demonstrate the ability of the South Wall to produce thick intersections that build tonnes quickly,” said MacVeigh. “The new Nunatak drill discovery shows great potential and we look forward to further advances in both areas in the current drill program.”
If the first four holes are any indication, the 2017 program could go a long way toward confirming the world-class potential of Palmer.
“We are excited to have such a successful start to this year’s drilling,” said MacVeigh.