Exploration drilling and field prospecting programs, many of them driven by newcomers, have popped up across Alaska this summer.
The summer solstice has come and gone, but the Alaska mining industry has paid little attention to the decreased amount of daylight because it is high summer in the high latitudes, time to be out completing work programs that have been in the planning since last fall. Exploration drilling programs have sprouted in the Brooks Range, Interior, Alaska Range, Southeast, Southwest and the Alaska Peninsula.
In addition, the sounds of tire-kicking are being heard over a wide area of the state with most of the interest focused on gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc prospects. Many of those thumping those tires are new to the Alaska mining scene, coming to elephant country to look for elephants. We will likely hear more from these new players later in the year.
Equal partners Novagold Resources and Barrick Gold announced a US$8 million budget for project optimization at their 39-million-ounce Donlin gold project. The partners determined that a more cost-effective project execution plan could substantially reduce upfront capital costs related to mine construction and have approved a drill program designed to collect geologic and geotechnical data this year to accomplish that goal.
On the permitting front, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with cooperating agencies to complete a final environmental impact statement, with anticipated publication in early 2018. Work also continues with state and federal agencies to advance all other required permits for the project.
CopperBank Resources Corp. reported the start of a diamond drilling program on its 100 percent controlled Pyramid project located on Aleut Native Corporation lands on the Alaska Peninsula. The planned drilling program will comprise a minimum of 1,500 meters and will focused on areas of higher grade such as in the Main Zone around hole 11PY016 which returned 155 meters of 0.71 percent copper, 0.18 grams per metric gold and 0.018 percent molybdenum starting at 94 meters. This hole bottomed in 34 meters of 0.844 percent copper.
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