Mineral Exploration

Winter 2019

Mineral Exploration is the official publication of the Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1189730

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Page 54 of 63

W inte r 20 1 9 55 Geochemical Survey (RGS) caught his eye. The interesting results, part of the ongoing project RGS project launched in 1976 to collect and analyse lake and stream sediments from across the province, were collected in the Ashcroft map area in 1981. They were initially analysed for a few elements at the time but in 1994 were re-analysed for gold and the characteristic epithermal pathfinder elements: arsenic, antimony and mercury. "If you have gold plus one of those, you are on the right track," says Balon. "It was a good indicator that there was epithermal-style mineralization in that belt of rocks. But none of these anomalies had ever been explored because, in addition to there being no MINFILE occurrences, there were no mineral claims either. The whole belt was wide open." With the support of Almaden, Balon and colleague Wojtek Jakubowski began investigating promising RGS anomalies on the ground. In the summer of 2001, they discovered gold-bearing quartz veins and breccia float that showed classic epithermal textures and had significant gold grades, so they staked the Prospect Valley property for Almaden. In the fall of 2004, a sampling team under Balon's direction uncovered an outcrop of the first high-grade in-situ epithermal vein mineralization in the belt. He quickly staked this Skoonka prospect for Almaden, which optioned the property to Strongbow Exploration. The following year, Strongbow undertook the first drill program in the SBGB and intercepted 12.8 metres of 20.2 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, confirming high-grade epithermal gold in the belt. These and other promising discoveries inspired a flurry of staking, drilling and other exploration activity in the SBGB between 2005 and 2008, but the global industry downturn largely halted exploration in the region until 2016. Exploration in the SBGB resumed soon after Westhaven Ventures, where Balon is an adviser (having semi-retired in 2007), hired epithermal specialist Peter Fischl as its exploration manager in 2016. Fischl reviewed the historic drill records and studied clay alteration minerals at the Shovelnose property. He determined that previous explorers had modeled the mineralization in the wrong orientation. With this new perspective, Westhaven drilled the highest-grade gold assays in the SBGB to date in 2018, including 1.65 meters of 175 g/t gold and 249 g/t silver, which included a 65-centimetre bonanza grade zone of 285 g/t gold. The discovery sparked a second staking rush in the belt. Today, 86 per cent of the SBGB is held by Westhaven, which is advancing the Shovelnose, Prospect Valley, Skoonka and Skoonka North properties, and its strategic partner, Talisker Resources. Talisker is focused on high-density regional sampling and systematic mapping across the entire belt, following up on known anomalies to identify new drill targets. "It is still early days for this whole district," says Balon. "I believe that several significant, potentially economic epithermal gold-silver deposits other than the Shovelnose-South Zone will be discovered in future years." G R O W I N G T O G E T H E R T H R O U G H P A R T N E R S H I P Established in Burnaby, B.C. in 1992, Procon proudly builds and operates safe and highly efficient underground mining and civil infrastructure projects for our clients across Canada and select international locations. Many of our projects and operations are in remote northern regions, and often on the traditional territories of our partners. With a comprehensive and experienced workforce, we deliver an unsurpassed level of safety-focused resources and technical expertise. Procon continues to foster strong partnerships and joint venture agreements with Indigenous peoples in Canada. Our mutual respect, trust and friendship allows for successful and progressive relationships at our mining operations, wherever we go. Burnaby 604.291.8292 Nisku 780.955.3622 Saskatoon 306.651.3400 Val-d'Or 819.824.2074 ITL Diamond Drilling.indd 1 2019-11-18

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