Anchored by strategic investments from Kinross Gold Corp., Osisko Royalties and McEwen Mining, Nighthawk Gold Corp. is focused on expanding the 2.1-million-ounce gold resource at Indin Lake and investigating other high-grade gold opportunities across the 899-square-kilometer (222,200 acres) property located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Indin Lake hosts a number of gold deposits, including zones that extend out from the historical Colomac open-pit mine, which produced 527,908 ounces of gold during the 1990s.
Nighthawk President and CEO Michael Byron believes that former mine operators and others misunderstood the geology and the potential for higher grade zones just beyond the historically mined deposits.
“That led us to find an opportunity for exploration, that’s led to the high-grade story we talk about at Colomac now,” he said during a presentation in September.
From 2012 through 2016, Nighthawk completed roughly 25,000 meters of drilling focused on Colomac and Goldcrest, parallel trends of gold-bearing dikes and sills on the Indin Lake property.
In 2013, the last time a resource was calculated for Indin Lake, the project hosted 39.8 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 1.64 grams per metric ton (2.1 million oz) gold.
Roughly 2 million ounces of this gold resource is found at Colomac and Goldcrest, parallel trends of dikes and sills within a larger greenstone belt.
Closing a C$25-million financing in March, the Toronto-based exploration company launched a 26,000-meter drill program roughly equivalent to the total meters drilled over the previous five years.
Most of the 2017 drilling focused on expanding the resources identified along the Colomac trend. But the company also was excited to apply what it has learned about the geology there to other targets across the district-scale property.
“We are confident that our new understanding of the Colomac system will lead to additional discoveries of magnitude, even beyond those ounces that will be delivered into the planned 2017 resource update,” said Byron.
Expanding ColomacColomac Zone 1.5, where drilling in 2016 cut long sections of high-grade gold adjacent to previous mining, was the first target of the 2017 program and the most extensively drilled zone this year.
Highlights from 2016 drilling at Zone 1.5 include: 52.07 meters of 7.72 g/t gold; 72.65 meters of 5.58 g/t gold; 31.45 meters of 4.14 g/t gold; and 39.6 meters of 2.38 g/t gold.
The 2017 program continued to expand Zone 1.5.
Highlights from early 2017 drilling at Zone 1.5 include: 55.35 meters (51 meters true width) of 3 g/t gold; 51.4 meters (44 meters true width) of 2.46 g/t; 145.75 meters (25 meters true width) of 3.33 g/t gold; and 34.75 meters (15 meters true width) of 3.12 g/t gold.
“We remain encouraged by the breadth of the mineralized zones that we continue to intersect, and are confident in our ability to continue tracing and expanding the high-grade mineralization at Zone 1.5,” said Byron.
In fact, the company is showing the likelihood that zones 1.5 and 2.0 link up, forming one continuous high-grade gold deposit more than 300 meters long.
Drilling between these deposits, south of Zone 1.5, has cut nice gold intercepts that include: 66.6 meters (50 meters true width) of 1.04 g/t gold; and 86.3 meters (30 meters true width) averaging 1.45 g/t gold.
Nighthawk’s CEO said linking zones 1.5 and 2.0 “would represent a key turning point for Nighthawk as both zones have only seen relatively shallow drilling, and remain open for expansion to depth.”
In fact, the 2017 drilling indicates the gold-bearing zone here is getting substantially thicker at depth.
Hole C17-15C cut gold mineralization over a true width of 155 meters, triple the widths being cut in shallower holes.
Highlights from hole 15C include 235.05 meters (88 meters true width) of 0.99 g/t gold and 13.25 meters of 2.06 g/t gold.
“This represents an astonishing three-fold increase relative to widths at shallower levels,” said Byron.
This year’s expansion of these two zones, along with drilling completed over the previous three years, will be included in a resource update planned for after the 2017 drilling.
“The fact that (Zone 1.5)can now be accurately tracked and expanded, and that it maintains its higher-grade character, are both important features that will positively impact our upcoming resource estimate,” said Byron.
Indin Lake gold campZones 1.5 and 2.0 have the capacity to host substantial ounces of gold, and given their impressive true widths, it’s not surprising that the search for similar targets has quickly become Nighthawk’s principal focus.
“The discovery and delineation of high-grade zone 1.5 … emphasizes the incredible high-grade opportunities that have only recently been realized,” said Byron.
Towards the goal of “developing Canada’s next gold camp,” Nighthawk has six regional targets that it plans to investigate across the Indin Lake property.
The highest-priority targets are still in the immediate Colomac project area.
The structure that hosts the Colomac deposits extends for 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) providing a lot of prospective area.
“There is plenty of real estate to pack in a lot of ounces in that structure, so that became our game plan – to go and prospect at that scale,” said Byron.
Goldcrest, another large structure just west of Colomac, and Nice Lake, a similar but undrilled structure to the east, add to this highly prospective area at the heart of the Indin Lake property.
Byron can’t think of a much better place to develop a gold camp than Northwest Territories.
“I have worked a number of years in this industry, and I find them among the easiest and most supportive governments out there,” he observed.