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Vol. 22, No. 26 Week of June 25, 2017
Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry

Mining News: Polaris on the rise

Australian explorer to merge stellar high-grade copper projects in Alaska

Shane Lasley

Mining News

Australia-based Polaris Minerals Ltd. is set to debut as a new exploration company focused on advancing Caribou Dome and Stellar, high-grade copperand copper-gold projects in Alaska.

This new exploration company will be the product of a merger between Coventry Resources, a Perth-based junior that has focused on exploring and expanding Caribou Dome for the past two years, and Vista Minerals Pty Ltd., a privately owned Down Under explorer that owns rights to the adjacent Stellar copper-gold project.

The merger, along with an associated financing and share consolidation, will need to be approved by Coventry shareholders before the deal can be finalized. This approval is expected to be reached at shareholder meeting in West Perth, Australia, on June 30.

Once the deal is finalized, Polaris will own two high-grade copper properties that blanket roughly 22 miles of highly prospective ground along the south flanks of the Alaska Range and just north of the Denali Highway.

Polaris formation

In addition to Coventry and Vista, the property merger involves Millrock Resources, the owner of the Stellar property.

To bring these neighboring properties into one well-funded exploration company, Millrock has agreed to sell Stellar to Vista Minerals in exchange for 25.14 million Vista shares, or 27.7 percent of the Australia-based explorer. This outright exchange of property for shares terminates a 2015 agreement under which Vista was earning an 80 percent stake in the copper-gold property.

The transaction also simplifies the formation of Polaris, the new company that will arise when Vista shareholders, including Millrock, exchange their shares for Coventry shares.

To complete the Polaris formation, Coventry plans to raise AU$10 million and consolidate its shares on a 1-for-5 basis.

As a result of the transaction, Millrock would own roughly 25.65 million Polaris shares, or about 9 percent of the expected 284 million shares of the new explorer after consolidation and funding. Mark Bojanjac, who started out as an accountant in the resource sector before rising to top executive positions and is currently the chairman of Coventry, will serve as Polaris’ executive chairman.

Frazer Tabeart, a geologist with 30 years of experience, including his work for Vista, will be the CEO of the new company.

With the money raised, the merged Polaris team plans to invest US$6 million – about US$3.1 million at Caribou Dome and US$2.9 million at Stellar – on exploration and prefeasibility work over the next two years.

Expanding Caribou Dome

In April, Coventry published the first resource for the high-grade, sediment hosted copper deposit at Caribou Dome that meets modern standards.

Using a 0.5 percent cut-off grade, 2.8 million metric tons of total resource (measured, indicated and inferred) averaging 3.1 percent (190 million pounds) copper has been outlined at Caribou Dome.

This resource conforms to JORC standards, the Australian standard for reporting exploration results that is similar to Canada’s NI 43-101.

The overall Caribou Dome resource includes 1.6 million metric tons of near surface material considered to be amenable to open pit mining that averages 3 percent (107.8 million lb) copper; and 1.2 million metric tons of underground mineable resource averaging 3.2 percent (82.3 million lb) copper.

This high-grade deposit is found along an 800-meter-long area of the property that is centered on a historically explored area at Caribou Dome.

Over the past two years, Coventry has identified a number of other areas of high-grade mineralization along a strike length of 11 miles at Caribou Dome, including lateral and depth extensions of the deposit. Expanding the near surface resource ahead of the prefeasibility level work slated for later this year is a priority for Polaris.

The near-surface resource is amenable to mining in two small open pits. An undefined area between these pits is one of the priority drill areas; an area immediately northeast of these pits is another.

The resource area is also open to the southwest and at depth.

The second deepest hole Coventry drilled at the Caribou Dome deposit cut 15.4 meters averaging 7 percent copper about 260 meters below the surface, which demonstrates the potential for adding high-grade copper to the underground resource.

Together, these areas provide compelling expansion targets as Polaris considers the best approach to mining this high-grade copper deposit.

More high-grade copper

Beyond expanding the delineated copper deposit, Polaris also plans to investigate some of the other targets Coventry has discovered across the 14-mile prospective trend blanketed by the Caribou Dome property.

Sampling and geophysical surveys carried out over the previous two years has turned up a number of exploration targets extending northeast and southwest of the resource area. In fact, this work has identified extensive copper-in-soil anomalies over the entire 7,000 meters of strike tested, including a highly prospective area stretching northeast from the deposit.

Frazer told Mining News that Senator, a 5,000-meter-long prospect at the northeastern end of the property, will be a priority exploration target Polaris if the company is successful in raising the funding.

Soil samples collected from Senator have returned up to 0.17 percent copper and select rock chip samples from outcrops in the area have returned up to 12.1 percent copper.

Polaris has outlined plans to complete mapping and induced polarization geophysical surveys at Senator prior to drilling this prospect that borders the Stellar property immediately to the northeast.

Stellar exploration

While gathering data for a prefeasibility study at Caribou Dome, Polaris plans to complete similar, though slightly earlier staged work, at the neighboring Stellar gold-copper property.

Situated immediately northeast and along the same trend as Caribou Dome, the Stellar claims cover the Zackly copper-gold skarn deposit, which hosts a historical resource of 218,944 ounces of gold and 66.9 million pounds of copper contained in a deposit of 1.54 million metric tons grading 4.5 grams per metric ton gold and 2.9 percent copper.

The exploration work at Stellar will likely be managed by Millrock, which has an agreement in place to carry out the program.

One of the primary goals for Polaris is to elevate the historic gold-copper resource at Zackly to modern JORC standards.

To do this, the companies are planning to carry out additional IP geophysical over Zackly and areas immediately to the east and west and then drill twin holes within the main Zackly skarn to confirm the historical resource.

The resource area at Zackly covers less than a third of a 3,000-meter-long stretch of known gold-copper skarn mineralization that has been identified by Millrock and Vista. In 2016, Vista conducted IP surveys over the west flank of Zackly and Jupiter, a separate but related copper prospect about 1,800 meters north of the main Zackly skarn.

Millrock collected one sample from the Jupiter prospect area in 2013 that returned 23 percent copper. Mars a large copper-gold prospect at the western edge of the property and immediately northeast of the Senator prospect on the Caribou Dome claims, is Polaris’ top Stellar exploration target outside of the Zackly-Jupiter area.

Polaris would also like to explore Gemini, a 2,000-meter-long copper-gold soil anomaly north of Jupiter; Moonwalk, a “Tintina-style” gold anomaly at the northern end of Stellar.

By upgrading and expanding Zackly-Jupiter and testing some of the other prospects, Polaris hopes to have the information needed to complete a Stellar prefeasibility study in 2018.

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