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Alaska 2010--mining in review.


Sherlock Holmes said "it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data" but we now have the past year's data on the world's and Alaska's mining industry so we can now look back with clarity and perhaps theorize a bit looking forward. As 2009 came to a close, worldwide exploration spending was off a whopping 42 percent over the year previous.

However, by early 2010, exploration spending was on the upswing and we will likely see mine-site, late-stage and grass-roots exploration spending all up significantly over 2009. With the exception of gold, commodities prices showed the same sort of trend with strongly depressed prices in 2009, followed by a slow but steady recovery to levels near and in some cases above all-time highs. And these increased commodity prices are being felt in villages, towns and cities across Alaska. In fact, here are some factoids from a recent Alaska Miners Association report: in 2009 the Red Dog mine paid the Northwest Arctic Borough $7.8 in property taxes, representing 100 percent (that's right Dorothy, 100 percent) of the Borough's tax revenue. The Fort Knox mine was the largest Fairbanks North Star Borough taxpayer in 2009, shelling out $2.8 million in property taxes while the Greens Creek mine was the largest City and Borough of Juneau taxpayer, contributing $1.4 million in property taxes. When the Kensington mine reaches full production, Greens Creek will fall to second place as the City and Borough of Juneau's largest taxpayer.

Another barometer of the rebound in the mining industry in the last year is the number of firms who acquired their first mineral interest in Alaska, a tally which stands at 12 new companies at last count. While mining's impact on Alaska is both demonstrable and significant, just where Alaska's mining industry fits into this global supply and demand puzzle is anything but clear. Professors, prognosticators and pundits have all weighed in with forecasts on the future of Alaska's mineral industry. Unfortunately, all such forecasts seem to be couched in Nostradamus-like jargon that makes it hard for the rest of us to understand what's being said, and equally hard for us to prove that the prognosticators were dead wrong! There is one thing even Sherlock Holmes would feel justified in theorizing: Alaska will continue to play a vital role in supplying the world's growing demand for minerals.


Teck Resources Ltd. and partner NANA Regional Corp. announced year-end 2009 and first half 2010 results from its Red Dog mine. For 2009, the mine produced 582,500 tonnes of zinc in concentrate from ore grading 20.9 percent while mill recoveries decreased slightly to 82.4 percent. The mine also produced 131,500 tonnes of lead in concentrate from ore grading 5.9 percent while mill recoveries decreased slightly to 65.9 percent. These 2009 production figures records for the mine. The mine posted a $399 million operating profit during 2009 versus a $171 million operating annual profit for 2008. The mine shipped 1.020 million tonnes of zinc concentrate and 220,000 tonnes of lead concentrate during the 2009 shipping season. During 2009, the mine paid partner NANA Inc. and the State of Alaska royalties of $144 million versus royalties of $111 million in the year-previous period. During the first half of 2010, the mine produced 270,800 tonnes of zinc in concentrate from ore grading 18.5 percent while mill recoveries dropped slightly to 82.4 percent. The mine also produced 66,300 tonnes of lead in concentrate from ore grading 5.8 percent while mill recoveries remained steady at 64.3 percent. The mine posted a $94 million operating profit for the quarter, down significantly from the $61 million profit in the year's previous period. The mine plans to ship 1.025 million tonnes of zinc concentrate and 235,000 tons of lead concentrate from the port facility this shipping season. Eleventh-hour efforts finally brought resolution to the mine's water-discharge-permit issues and production from the Aqqaluk deposit commenced in late May as planned.


NovaGold Resources also announced year end 2009 results and 2010 plans for its Rock Creek gold project near Nome. During 2009, expenditures at the project totaled approximately $27.7 million. NovaGold worked to improve the project's water management structures and action plan to ensure the project remains in compliance with all environmental regulations. The company has budgeted $19.1 million for 2010, primarily for water management and completing a detailed review to determine future developments at the project.

Zazu Metals Corp. announced completion of a Preliminary Assessment study on its Lik South deposit. The study considered both Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources in Lik South deposit amenable to open-pit mining. The life of mine open-pit production plan includes the production of 16 million tonnes grading 8.08 percent zinc, 2.57 percent lead and 47.9 grams of silver per tonne. The pre-production capital cost estimate was $352 million including 22 percent contingency for a 5,500 tonne per day mine and mill with an eight year mine life. The estimated life of mine operating costs were $75 per tonne. The operation demonstrated a pre-tax internal rate of return of 9 percent. This work was based on zinc recovery of 85 percent with silica levels less than 5 percent through standard froth floatation recovery.

TintinaGold Resources also announced 2009 and initial 2010 exploration results at its Kugruk copper-gold-iron project on the Seward Peninsula. The property consists of a 15-kilometer-long magnetic high along the eastern margin of the Kugruk pluton where limited historic drilling returned magnetite with associated chalcopyrite and pyrite. Further east, a halo of silver-lead-zinc prospects occurs and further outboard gold prospects ring the intrusive system. Activities in 2009 included 16.4 line kilometers of IP geophysics and 11 gravity profiles which helped target initial drilling at the Billiken prospect, a 3-kilometer-long magnetic anomaly with coincident high gravity, low resistivity, and high-induced polarization anomalies. Drilling encountered massive magnetite and copper-sulfide mineralization within prograde garnet-pyroxene exoskarn, actinolite-chlorite retrograde alteration, endoskarn, and variably altered granodiorite dikes. Significant drilling results include 22 meters grading 0.065 parts per million gold, 2.6 parts per million silver, 0.44 percent copper and 48.8 percent iron in hole KU10-003 and an additional 31.3 meters grading 0.104 parts per million gold, 4.1 parts per million silver, 0.30 percent copper and 12.1 percent iron in hole KU10-003.

NovaGold Resources Inc. and 50:50 JV partner Barrick Gold announced the results from 2009 work programs and plans for 2010 at its Donlin Creek project. During 2009, expenditures totaled approximately $25.3 million. Work focused on geotechnical drilling, environmental-baseline data collection, pre-permitting community advisory meetings and various optimization studies. For 2010, the partners approved a budget of approximately $47 million. The 2010 work program will complete the majority of the environmental and engineering studies required to review the feasibility of constructing a natural gas pipeline to supply energy for the project. The plan envisions construction of a 12-inch diameter underground pipeline over a 525 kilometer route from upper Cook Inlet to the project. Updated resources, based 1,740 drill holes totaling 370,000 meters of drilling, include proven and probable reserves of 467.7 million tonnes grading 2.23 grams of gold per tonne, containing 33.59 million ounces, measured and indicated resources of 39.8 million tonnes grading 3.36 grams of gold per tonne, containing 4.29 million ounces and inferred resource totals of 58.4 million tonnes grading 2.35 grams of gold per tonne, containing 4.41 million ounces. This brings total Donlin Creek resources to 42.29 million ounces. To my knowledge, that makes Donlin Creek Alaska's first more than 40 million ounce primary gold deposit and one of only a hand-full of more than 40 million ounce occurrences worldwide.

Fire River Gold conducted extensive exploration and pre-development work at its Nixon Fork copper--gold project. The $1.25 million 2009 work program included confirmation of past geological work, confirmation of gold grade in the tailings pond. Additional metallurgical test work and re-assaying some previously drilled intervals. Significant results from this work include 4.2 ounces of gold per ton over 8.2 feet in hole N07U065, 3.15 ounces of gold per ton over 9.8 feet in hole N07U063, 15.52 ounces of gold per ton over 9.8 feet in hole N07U061, 2.21 ounces of gold per ton over 22 feet in hole N07U049, 2.95 ounces of gold per ton over 14.8 feet in hole N07U056, 3.7 ounces of gold per ton over 16.7 feet in hole N07U048, 2.28 ounces of gold per ton over 15.8 feet in hole N07U050 and 1.47 ounces of gold per ton over 16.5 feet in hole N07U052. The company also plans to conduct 20,000 meters of underground drilling and 8,000 meters of surface drilling in 2010. It also announced it had recovered 900.5 ounces of gold worth $1.08 million from a cleanup of the ball mill at the project. A preliminary economic assessment for reprocessing mine tailings is evaluating three options: 1) use an existing thickener after the CIL process to recycle cyanide solution, 2) installation of a new filter to further increase cyanide recycle, and 3) assess the benefits of installing a Merrill-Crowe system for gold recovery. As this article was being compiled, the company began a preliminary economic assessment to determine the viability of bringing the mine back into production. In February 2010, Northern Dynasty Minerals announced an updated mineral resource estimate for the Pebble deposit. At a 0.3 percent copper equivalent cutoff grade, the new estimates include measured resources of 527 million tonnes grading 0.33 percent copper, 0.35 grams of gold per tonne and 178 parts per million molybdenum, indicated resources of 5.4 billion tonnes grading 0.43 percent copper, 0.35 grams of gold per tonne and 257 parts per million molybdenum and inferred resources of 4.8 billion tonnes grading 0.24 percent copper, 0.26 grams of gold per tonne and 215 parts per million molybdenum. All-in the deposit contains 80.6 billion pounds of copper and 107.3 million ounces of gold. The partners are preparing a prefeasibility study under a $72.9 million 2010 budget. Total project expenditures include $180 million spent in 2001 to 2007 prior to formation of the joint venture and $250 million since 2007, bringing total project expenditures to $430 million.



Kinross Gold announced year-end 2009 and first-half-2010 results from its Fort Knox mine. During 2009, the mine produced 263,260 ounces of gold produced at a cost of $546 per ounce with exploration more than replaced this production by moving 369,000 ounces of gold to the reserve category. For the first half of 2010, the mine produced 155,910 ounces of gold at a cost of $587 per ounce. Gold grades for mill-feed ore ranged from 0.71 to 0.76 grams of gold per tonne and mill recovery averaged 80 percent. Heap leach ore averaged 0.34 grams of gold per tonne and recovery on the heap leach pad was not released. Total tons processed in the first half of 2010 increased to 11.73 million tons with more than one-third of this tonnage going to the valley leach. The company also tabled year-end 2009 resource updates that included proven and probable reserves of 252.9 million tonnes grading 0.45 grams gold per tonne, equivalent to 3.7 million ounces of gold. An additional 105.8 million tonnes grading 0.50 grams gold per tonne, equivalent to 1.7 million ounces, are classified as measured and indicated resources. An additional 12.8 million tonnes grading 0.55 grams gold per tonne, equivalent to 226,000 ounces, are classified as inferred mineral resources. The company also reached a milestone--three years and 3 million hours without a lost-time injury. Teryl Resources Corp. and joint-venture partner Kinross Gold Corp. announced 2009 and 2010 drilling results from their Gil gold project. Results from the Sourdough Ridge prospect from 2009 include 65 feet grading 3.42 grams of gold per tonne in hole GVR09-521, 105 feet grading 1.37 grams of gold per tonne in hole GVR09-523, 75 feet grading 3.08 grams of gold per tonne in hole GVR09-534, 105 feet grading 4.79 grams of gold per tonne in hole GVR09-540, 35 feet grading 3.42 grams of gold per tonne in hole GVR09-526 and 35 feet grading 3.77 grams of gold per tonne in hole GVR09-529. Significant results from its 16,000 foot 2010 program from the North Gil zone include 50 feet grading 0.0363 ounces of gold per ton in hole GVR10-569, 50 feet of 0.0458 ounces of gold per ton in hole GVR10-551 and 45 feet of 0.0427 ounces of gold per ton in hole GVR10-558. Sumitomo Metal Mining reported that the Pogo mine produced 389,808 ounces of gold in 2009, making it Alaska largest gold producer. The mine produced at a cash cost of $423 per ounce and is projecting 2010 production at more than 385,000 ounces of gold. International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. announced voluminous data on drilling, resource estimates, metallurgical work and preliminary economic analyses on its Livengood gold project. In mid-2010 the company announced results from its preliminary economic assessment which indicated that a combined milling and heap-leach facility would produce an average annual production of 504,000 ounces of gold for 21 years, at a 1:1.07 strip ratio (ore to waste), indicating a pre-tax net present value of $813 million and an internal rate of return of 15.4 percent using a $950 per ounce gold price. Average gold recovery was 76 percent for heap leaching and 81 percent for milling with an average processing rate of 81,000 tonnes per day. Cash costs came in at $560 per ounce and initial capital costs were pegged at $635 million without the mill and an additional deferred capital cost of $750 million with the mill complex. The combined heal leach milling analysis incorporates 420 drill holes totaling 121,212 meters. At the 0.3 gram per tonne cutoff, indicated resources now stand at 15.7 million ounces of gold in 788.9 million tonnes grading 0.62 grams of gold per tonne while inferred resources now total 4 million ounces of gold in 229.1 million tonnes grading 0.55 grams of gold per tonne. The most recent metallurgical tests indicate that an average 88 percent of the gold reported to the concentrates during initial combined gravity and flotation tests, resulting in an 80 percent reduction in the volume of material requiring further treatment. Initial tests of conventional milling using gravity-recovery combined with intensive CIL (Carbon in Leach) treatment of gravity-recovered gold concentrate and CIL leaching of the tails produced gold recoveries averaging 86 percent. All of this work was supported by a 20,000 meter winter-drilling campaign and an ongoing 45,000 meter summer drilling program in the Core and Sunshine zones as well as new drilling in the Lillian Frontier and Olive zones. Alaska newcomer Contango ORE Co. announced it has acquired the option to conduct on approximately 580,000 acres of Alaska Native and State lands in Interior Alaska. The 2009 field program totaled $1.3 million and included collection of 1,076 rock, soil, pan concentrate and stream silt samples. Of this total, 567 rock and soil samples were taken over a 40-acre area of exploration interest, with 348 samples showing measurable amounts of gold and 30 samples with measured gold of 0.5 grams of gold per tonne or higher. The project has not been extensively explored for gold and covers several geologic terranes, which are prospective for gold, base metal and platinum group element deposits. The 2010 exploration program was directed toward additional rock sampling, trenching and core drilling.




Usibelli Coal Mine released 2009 operating results from its coal-mining operations near Healy. Total permitted reserves at the mine are 30.6 million tons of sub-bituminous coal with total defined reserves of approximately 500 million tons. Total resources in the Nenana Basin are pegged at an amazing 7 billion tons of coal. During 2009 the mine produced 975,578 tons of coal for Alaska consumption and an additional 803,751 tons of coal for the export market, more than half of which went to Chile. Pure Nickel Inc. and joint-venture partner ITOCHU Corp. announced results from its 2009 exploration season and plans for their $7.5 million, 8,000-meter 2010 exploration program at the MAN project. The 2009 drill program completed 4200 meters of drilling in seven holes, a new Z axis Tipper electromagnetic airborne survey, geological mapping and a time domain ground electromagnetic survey. Significant drill results include hole PNI-09-24 which returned 1 meter grading 0.528 percent nickel, 0.302 percent copper, 110 parts per billion platinum and 60 parts per billion palladium and hole PNI-09-25, which returned 0.5 meters grading 0.455 percent nickel, 0.196 percent copper, 70 parts per billion platinum and 250 parts per billion palladium. The partners have commenced their 2010 drilling program and indicated their intent to explore the deeper source of the conductive bodies underlying the Alpha and Beta complexes. Millrock Resources announced preliminary chip-channel rock sampling results from its Estelle gold project. At the Shoeshine prospect, stockwork veining and pervasive alteration returned 1.2 grams of gold per tonne over 12.1 meters. A nearby zone of sheeted quartz veinlets returned grades of 11.7 grams of gold per tonne over 1.5 meters in one area and 9.9 grams of gold per tonne over 1.5 meters in another area. At the Oxide Ridge prospect, chip channel sampling returned 1.0 grams of gold per tonne over 22.86 meters. The zones appear to be structurally controlled and consist of quartz stockwork with arsenopyrite. The company later announced that it has signed a letter agreement with a subsidiary of Teck Resources Ltd. for a private placement financing for further exploration of the project. Kiska Metals Corp. announced 2009 drilling and prospecting results from its Whistler copper-gold project in the western Alaska Range. Hole IM09-001 at the Island Mountain prospect returned 0.68 grams of gold per tonne over 382.9 meters including an upper interval of 150.0 meters grading 0.72 grams of gold per tonne, 2.37 grams of silver per tonne and 0.16 percent copper and a lower interval of 106.9 meters grading 1.22 grams of gold per tonne, 0.69 grams of silver per tonne and 0.05 percent copper. The upper gold-bearing intersection corresponds to a breccia targeted on surface, consisting of an actinolite-magnetite-altered hydrothermal breccia with pyrrhotite, pyrite and chalcopyrite mineralization. The deeper gold-bearing zone consists of net-textured and vein pyrrhotite. Drill hole IM10-004 intersected two zones, including an upper zone of 129.8 meters grading 0.70 grams of gold per tonne, 2.5 grams of silver per tonne and 0.16 percent copper and a lower zone of 151.6 meters grading 0.78 grams of gold per tonne. At the Old Man Breccia target, saw-channel sampling returned 3.34 grams of gold per tonne over 28 meters As this article was being compiled, the company announced, subject to a retained royalty, it had acquired a 100 percent interest in the project from Kennecott Exploration Co. In late 2009, Full Metal Minerals announced it had entered into an option agreement with Alaska newcomer Harmony Gold Corp. on the Lucky Shot gold project. Significant results from 4,200 meters of drilling completed in 2009 include hole C09-152, which intersected 3.6 meters averaging 24.14 grams of gold per tonne; hole C09-153, which intersected 0.9 meters averaging 102.00 grams of gold per tonne; hole C09-169, which intersected 3.7 meters averaging 19.23 grams of gold per tonne; and hole C09-171, which intersected 7.3 meters averaging 36.38 grams of gold per tonne. This drilling extended the high-grade mineralization in the Coleman block at least 50 meters up-dip of historic workings. The partners also began underground development and bulk sampling in the second quarter of 2010 in order to complete engineering studies, metallurgical test work and environmental studies. Subject to positive results from this effort, the partners plan to construct underground access to the Coleman block, complete additional surface drilling, process a bulk sample within the Lucky Shot shear, complete a resource estimate for the Coleman deposit and complete all required environmental-baseline studies and engineering/metallurgical studies in preparation for submission of full mine permit applications.


In early 2010 NovaGold Resources Inc. announced it had entered into an agreement to purchase a 100 percent interest in the Ambler polymetallic-sulfide deposit from Kennecott Exploration Co. Current resources at Ambler include indicated resources of 16.8 million tonnes grading 4.1 percent copper, 6 percent zinc, 0.94 percent lead, 0.83 grams of gold per tonne and 59.6 grams of silver per tonne and additional inferred resources of 11.9 million tonnes grading 3.6 percent copper, 5 percent zinc, 0.80 percent lead, 0.67 grams of gold per tonne and 48.4 grams of silver per tonne. The company has budgeted $1.5 million at Ambler for 2010. Work at the property is focused on initiating the environmental and engineering studies necessary to complete a pre-feasibility level study to assess project economics.

In late 2009, Goldrich Mining Co. announced the results of alluvial gold production at its Chandalar property north of Fairbanks. Pit-run gravel processed through the 500-to-700-cubicyard-per-day plant produced 522.3 ounces of raw gold bullion from 8,905 cubic yards of material for a recovered grade of 0.059 ounces per yard. Gold fineness was approximately 870. Gold recovery rates were estimated at 98 percent, partly due to the coarse nature of the gold and partly due to the low-volume of associated heavy minerals. By mid-2010 the company had commenced full-scale commercial production and indicated that it expects to produce 5,000 to 7,000 ounces of gold by late September and reach 30,000 ounces of gold per year at full production. Drilled resources are in excess of 10.5 million cubic yards grading 0.02456 ounces of gold per cubic yard. The company also began a 20,000-foot diamond-core-drilling program to evaluate lode mineralization occurring in a stratabound structure estimated to be approximately 5 miles long by 1,800 feet wide by 300 to 400 feet thick. There has been historic hard-rock mining on some of the high-grade veins at various locations along this trend and seven placer deposits have been mined in streams draining this trend. The drill program will consist of approximately 40 holes averaging 500 feet deep.


Hecla Mining announced yearend-2009 and first-half-2010 production results from the Greens Creek mine. For 2009, the total cash cost per ounce of silver produced at Greens Creek for the year was $0.35 per ounce with total production costs of $7.65 per ounce. The average grade of ore mined was 13.01 ounces of silver per ton and the mine produced 7.5 million ounces of silver, 67,278 ounces of gold, 22,253 tons of lead and 70,379 tons of zinc. Milled tonnage averaged 2,167 tons per day. For the first half of 2010, the cash cost per ounce of silver was a negative $5.45 per ounce of silver and the average grade of ore mined was 11.7 ounces of silver per ton. The mine produced 3.4 million ounces of silver, 34,742 ounces of gold, 13,215 tons of lead and 39,161 tons of zinc. Total production costs were $2.48 per ounce of silver produced. Tonnage milled rose to 2,227 tons per day and capital expenditures totaled $5.75 million. The company announced revised resource estimates for the mine to include probable reserves of 8.3 million tons grading 13.9 ounces of silver per ton, 0.102 ounces of gold per ton, 3.6 percent lead and 10.3 percent zinc, mineralized material of 789,800 tons grading 4.1 ounces of silver per ton, 0.063 ounces of gold per ton, 2.0 percent lead and 4.6 percent zinc, and other resources of 2.4 million tons grading 11.5 ounces of silver per ton, 0.092 ounces of gold per ton, 2.7 percent lead and 6.8 percent zinc. On the exploration front, the mine completed approximately 39,000 feet of underground in-fill and exploration drilling in 2009 in the 5250, Deep 200 South and NWW-South area resulting in a replacement of all tons mined during 2009. Additional surface and underground drilling continued in 2010.

Earlier this year, Alaska's newest large mine producer, Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., announced that production has commenced ahead of schedule at its Kensington gold mine. The company anticipates 50,000 ounces of gold production for 2010, with production of 125,000 ounces of gold annually over the mine's 12.5 year life. Cash costs are expected to average approximately $490 per ounce. Coeur also announced it has entered into a contract with China National Gold Group Corp., China's largest gold producer, for the purchase and processing of gold concentrates produced at Kensington. This agreement is the first of its kind between a state-owned corporation of the People's Republic of China and a U.S. precious metals mine. Second-quarter production results indicate that the process plant is operating at design tonnage of 1,250 tons per day, ahead of schedule. Recovery rates during the initial month of ramp-up were consistent with plan and expected to climb as processing of higher-grade ore begins. Exploration at the mine was focused on the Horrible vein structure, a prominent gold-bearing quartz vein and vein swarm situated about 650 meters west of the current production. A total of 9,941 feet of core drilling was completed at Horrible in the second quarter. Drilling has cut multiple quartz-vein structures down-dip and on-strike of the known zone. In late 2009 the company discovered the Kimberly vein in the main production decline driven between the mill and the mine workings. Results of a 14 hole, 4,080-foot drilling program returned high-grade intercepts, including 2.8 feet grading 0.462 ounces of gold per ton in hole KMB-001, 26.9 feet grading 0.322 ounces of gold per ton in hole KMB-007, 5.5 feet grading 1.293 ounces of gold per ton in hole KMB-007 and 4.6 feet grading 0.536 ounces of gold per ton in hole KMB-013. This drilling defined gold mineralization over a north-south strike length of 600 feet and nearly 600 foot down dip to the southwest.


Constantine Metal Resources announced 2009 and initial 2010 drilling results and a new resource estimate for its Palmer copper-zinc-gold-silver project. The 10-hole, 4,643-meter 2009 drill program expanded the South Wall zone mineralization by 80 meters along strike, 90 meters vertically down-dip, and 40 meters up-dip, for a total horizontal strike length of 380 meters and a total vertical extent of 410 meters. Drill hole CMR09-26 intersected 4 meters grading 2.09 percent copper, 9.19 percent zinc, 0.22 grams of gold per tonne and 22.0 grams of silver per tonne. Strongly oxidized and leached RW zone mineralization was intersected in the upper portion of hole CMR09-24, which returned 9.14 meters grading 0.23 percent copper, 3.08 percent zinc, 0.49 grams of gold per tonne and 46.8 grams of silver per tonne. Significant 2010 results from the RW Zone include hole CMR10-35 which intersected 7.1 meters grading 2.10 percent copper, 1.52 percent zinc, 0.18 grams of gold per tonne and 16.8 grams of silver per tonne. The recently announced inferred resource estimate came in at 4.75 million tonnes grading 1.84 percent copper, 4.57 percent zinc, 0.28 grams of gold per tonne, and 29.1 grams of silver per tonne, using a royalty cut-off value of $50 per tonne.

Niblack Mineral Development Inc. and joint-venture partner Heatherdale Resources Ltd. announced 2009 and 2010 drilling results from their Niblack massive sulfide deposit. The partners completed 25,000 feet of drilling since initiating their Phase 1 work program in the fall of 2009 and began a second phase of drilling designed to complete an addition 50,000 feet of drilling in 2010. Significant results include hole U29 which returned 61.4 feet grading 1.40 percent copper, 2.40 grams of gold per tonne, 2.81 percent zinc and 48 grams of silver per tonne, hole U30 which returned 32.7 feet grading 1.83 percent copper, 3.39 grams of gold per tonne, 2.56 percent zinc and 57 grams of silver per tonne, hole U31 which returned 143.9 feet grading 2.25 percent copper, 3.01 grams of gold per tonne, 5.52 percent zinc and 76 grams of silver per tonne, hole U35 which returned 51.5 feet grading 1.88 percent copper, 2.52 grams of gold per tonne, 1.56 percent zinc and 51 grams of silver per tonne and an additional 36.5 feet grading 1.24 percent copper, 3.53 grams of gold per tonne, 3.18 percent zinc and 43 grams of silver per tonne, hole U37A which returned 49.3 feet grading 1.23 percent copper, 1.53 grams of gold per tonne, 1.06 percent zinc and 22 grams of silver per tonne and hole U44 which returned 40 feet grading 1.51 percent copper, 2.14 grams of gold per tonne, 1.1 percent zinc and 41 grams of silver per tonne.

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (formerly Ucore Uranium) announced 2009 final reports and ongoing 2010 exploration results from its Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare-earth element project. Surface samples from the Dotson trend collected in 2009 returned total rare-earth element values ranging from 2.2 percent to 18.8 percent with maximum light rare-earth element values of 5.9 percent and maximum heavy rare-earth element values of 17.3 percent. The 2009 drilling program also included 2,84,0 meters of core drilling in 27 holes, mostly on the Dotson Trend with lesser footage on the Geoduck, Cheri, and Sunday Lake-Geiger prospects. Significant results include hole LM09-56, which returned 1.2 meters grading 1.2 percent light rare-earth elements and 0.6 percent heavy rare-earth elements; hole LM09-61, which returned 1.1 meters grading 0.9 percent light rare-earth elements and 2.0 percent heavy rare-earth elements; hole LM09-65, which returned 4.8 meters grading 0.1 percent light rare-earth elements and 1.73 percent heavy rare-earth elements; hole LM09-68 which returned 1.68 meters grading 1.57 percent light rare-earth elements and 0.61 percent heavy rare-earth elements; and hole LM09-71, which returned 1.47 meters grading 1.11 percent light rare-earth elements and 1.02 percent heavy rare-earth elements and an additional 1.59 meters grading 1.75 percent light rare-earth elements and 1.37 percent heavy rare-earth elements. Mineralization at the Dotson Trend consists of multiple subparallel rare-earth element-bearing dykes and veins localized by shear zones. Mineralogical work completed by the company indicated that a wide variety of rare-earth element-bearing minerals have been identified, including apatite, iimoriite, kainosite, gadolinite, allanite, bastnaesite, parisite, brannerite, thalenite, xenotime, fergusonite, synchysite (Y), and monazite. The 2010 drilling program will consist of 4,000 meters of core drilling on the combined I&L and Dotson Shear zones and an additional 1,000 meters in shallow holes along the Cheri, Geoduck and Sunday Lake trends. The company hopes to complete a Canadian National Instrument compliant mineral resource estimate by the end of 2010.

Curtis J. Freeman is president of Avalon Development Corp., a mineral exploration consulting firm based in Fairbanks ( He is a U.S. Certified Professional Geologist (CPG #6901) and a licensed geologist in the State of Alaska (Lic. #AA 159).
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Author:Freeman, Curtis J.
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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