Niblack expectations: Southeast project advances.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
Southeasterners experienced several tense hours this spring after learning that a small plane transporting personnel during a crew change from the Niblack Project exploration site crashed on Prince of Wales Island Prince of Wales Island, Canada
Prince of Wales Island, c.12,800 sq mi (33,150 sq km), Nunavut Territory, Canada, between Victoria and Somerset islands. in March. The pilot and passenger both made it out safely.
Such incidents are a reminder of the challenges--both historic and contemporary--that come with laboring in remote, rugged terrain to pull minerals from the earth. In Alaska--Southeast, in particular--mining was the impetus that opened the region to northwest-ward migration from the Lower 48. Evidence of the early rush for minerals still litters a handful of backcountry back·coun·try
A sparsely inhabited rural region. coves and forest inlets, where the final vestiges of old miners' cabins and rusty metal equipment from over a century ago melt back into the Tongass.
Today, projects like Niblack help keep the fire of the early Alaskan mincal rushes alive. For the residents of Prince of Wales Island and nearby commercial center of Ketchikan, the influx of supply dollars to support the project is a glint of hope as the region struggles to maintain a diverse industrial landscape and population base. In the long term, the prospect of skilled jobs and financially healthy livelihoods is on the horizon, yet not for some time, company leaders caution. That said, Heatherdale Resources Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Smith Patrick Smith is the name of
Now UNDER SOLE OWNERSHIP
In January, Vancouver, British Columbia-based exploration and development company Heatherdale Resources Ltd., an affiliate of global development company Hunter Dickinson, announced it had acquired a 100 percent interest in the Niblack copper-gold-zinc-silver project in Southeast. "Consolidating the ownership of the Niblack Project in Heatherdale will provide more flexibility for development and financing options, and enable us to move forward more aggressively with the project to the benefit of all shareholders," announced Chairman Scott Cousens at the time.
The Niblack Project site is located along Moira Sound on southeastern Prince of Wales Island, about 30 miles southwest of Ketchikan. Heatherdale Resources Ltd. began its involvement with the Niblack project back in 2009 with a three-year agreement with Edmonton, Alberta-based CBR (1) (Computer-Based Reference) Reference materials accessible by computer in order to help people do their jobs quicker. For example, this database on disk!
(2) (Constant Bit Rate) A uniform transmission rate. Gold Corp. Through the agreement, Heatherdale was able to increase its stake in the venture to the eventual full acquisition earlier this year. The company name may be familiar to those living in central Alaska as well, given its 60 percent interest--with option to acquire 100 percent interest--in the Delta copperlead-zinc-gold-silver project.
The Niblack Project's corporate lineage to present day is reasonably complex. Originally, Niblack Mining Corp. initiated underground development on the Niblack Project in September 2007, with completion on July 12, 2008, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the project's 2008 annual report filed with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Many sub-national governments have a Department of Natural Resources or similarly-named organization:
A subsidiary whose parent company owns 100% of its common stock.
In other words, the parent company owns the company outright and there are no minority owners. Abacus Alaska Inc.
After CBR, now known as CBG CBG
corticosteroid-binding globulin. , acquired Niblack Mining Corp. and the project's initial phase of underground development and exploration was completed, the entities placed the property into a temporary closure status. Crews left the property in early December 2008 and temporary closure occurred in February 2009.
It was at that time when Heatherdale Resources made its debut with the project--a move viewed by industry insiders as positive and reflective of boding well for the site's likelihood of success toward actual production, according to industry media coverage.
PAST AND PRESENT
For locals, mining exploration and activity on Prince of Wales Island has been a constant for over a century, with the level of interest rising and falling alongside the ups and downs ups and downs
Alternating periods of good and bad fortune or spirits.
ups and downs
alternating periods of good and bad luck or high and low spirits of the world mineral markets. For the property encompassed in the scope of the current Niblack Project, exploration and development similarly began years ago. The Niblack site itself reportedly saw its first mineral exploration activity in the late 19th century.
According to Heatherdale Resources, 235 surface core boreholes and 164 underground core boreholes were drilled on the Niblack property between 1975 and late 2011, identifying six volcanogenic vol·ca·no·gen·ic
Of volcanic origin. massive sulphide deposits within one-fourth of the six miles of a prospective horizon that lies on the property. Of those totals, greater than 143,000 feet in 146 holes--136 underground and 10 surface--were drilled by Heatherdale since 2009 when the original Niblack Joint Venture was initially established. From a technical standpoint, the company's work expanded both the Lookout and Trio deposits, outlining significant mineral resources that laid the foundation for engineering and scoping studies initiated last year.
"The project has improved with each level of work completed and I am excited to take Niblack into the next stage of work that includes advanced engineering and economic evaluation," CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. Smith announced earlier this year.
While ramp up Ramp Up
To increase a company's operations in anticipation of increased demand.
A company might 'ramp up' operations if they just signed a contract creating substantially more demand for their product.
See also: Demand, Economies of Scale to actual mining is likely many years away yet; for the current year, the company announced plans to complete the preliminary economic assessment, continue geotechnical studies and conduct additional metallurgical test work for its pre-feasibility study. Surface exploration is also on tap for 2012, including drill-test of priority targets.
"Right now, as of sometime in early December, we had drilled for close to two years straight from the underground operations Underground Operations is a Toronto-based independent punk rock record label. Operated by Mark Spicoluk, former Closet Monster member, this label is one of the most cutting edge independent labels in Canada. ," Smith tells Alaska Business Monthly. The project then took a breather from its underground drilling program as it reached a planned threshold in the project plan, essentially moving from the exploration phase to the engineering and planning phase. While the project site itself has largely been in a "care and maintenance" status since December, project staff back at headquarters focused on engineering and economic planning, according to Smith.
"Our next milestone will be publication of a preliminary economic assessment, which is, in a way, a scoping study of sorts," he says. Scheduled for publication in late spring, the report is produced and audited by a third party and will be available to the public. "That will describe more completely how many people will be at the site, the capital costs, the operating costs," Smith says. "It will be out there for people to read." The report will also more fully delineate and interpret the project's potential economic impact to the region.
The flow-down from any large-scale mining operation like that of the Niblack Project comes initially in the form of supplies bought locally, accommodation and travel costs for company crews and support staff, and transportation dollars spent locally to move personnel to and from the remote site by sea and air. In the case of Niblack, the site is not currently connected to the Prince of Wales Prince of Wales
switches places with his double, poor boy Tom Canty. [Am. Lit.: The Prince and the Pauper]
See : Doubles extensive network of former logging roads. Ultimately, when a project reaches production, the potential is for highly skilled mining jobs, related operations employment and mill-site work. It's that long-term employment potential that, while still in the speculative stage yet, prompts many residents, merchants and government leaders to speak positively of the project and its future.
From a scope standpoint, Smith describes the project's potential as in the realm of the Kensington and Greens Creek mines located elsewhere in Alaska. "It's similar to that in order of magnitude A change in quantity or volume as measured by the decimal point. For example, from tens to hundreds is one order of magnitude. Tens to thousands is two orders of magnitude; tens to millions is three orders of magnitude, etc. ," he says. "We believe that it will be like Greens Creek, where they started with a 10-year mine life," and are still mining years later.
Should all the years of site work, engineering and economic planning eventually prove itself, "those jobs that come to (Niblack)--both the mine ... and the mill, which will most likely be offsite--will be long-term, highly skilled jobs," says Smith. "There is a resolution by the Prince of Wales council and entities supporting ... a road to Niblack. So there is a push, if you will, to connect the existing road network on POW to the mining operations. It would facilitate bringing those jobs closer to the communities that need those jobs."
While the project site itself is on Prince of Wales Island, the resulting ore would likely be shipped to an offsite location. That aspect of the production is more energy intensive and would be benefited by closer access to the hydro power provided by the intertie system connecting Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell. "That would mean a lot to the operating costs of milling the ore," Smith says. The result would be lower energy costs for mine operators and better access to communities for the labor force "People can get back and forth to work every day and raise their families in communities," Smith says. The company is studying possible sites, including several in the Ketchikan area.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Smith qualifies his enthusiasm and the positive local response to the project with a reminder that his job is also to manage expectations. "There is so much positive support for this project, it's wonderful," he says. "But we still have to make a business out of this. It's not a done deal. There is still a long way to go. But we're moving it along in the right direction."