05/02/2021 - 06:50

PolarX eyes development of Alaskan copper-gold assets

05/02/2021 - 06:50

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PolarX is edging closer to the development of its copper-gold deposits in Alaska, with results from its recent drilling campaign at the Zackly skarn discovery highlighting the potential of the project and triggering the planning of a scoping study. The new study will include metallurgical test work and an economic evaluation of the metal-rich assets in the mountains of the northern US state.

PolarX's Zackly Drilling in Alaska. Credit: File

PolarX is edging closer to the development of its copper-gold deposits in Alaska, with results from its recent drilling campaign at Zackly highlighting the potential of the project and triggering the planning of a scoping study across its metal-rich asset in the mountains of the northern US state.

The company’s Zackly and Caribou Dome deposits that lie within PolarX’s “Stellar” project, contain a wealth of precious metals and copper. The project area already hosts resources of more than 127,000 tonnes of copper, 213,000 ounces of gold and an impressive 1.5 million ounces of silver – three metals currently leading the charge in the developing mining boom.

PolarX is now planning a scoping study across its Alaska project with the key aim of its investigation being to examine the economic parameters required to initiate an operation in the region including the minimum tonnes, grade and metal recoveries required to green-light mine development.

The Stellar copper-gold project is nestled within the mountains of the Alaska Range in the central portion of the northern US state. The project is situated approximately six hours drive north of Anchorage and is accessed utilising a network of predominantly bitumen roads. The project area is readily accessible for exploration from May to the end of October each year.

Geologically, the project covers part of the revered Pacific Copper-Gold porphyry belt with the company’s tenure extending over a strike length of more than 35 kilometres, covering a wealth of prospective stratigraphy. The target mineralisation at Stellar includes massive porphyry copper-gold deposits and the related skarn-style of mineralisation, such as that found at Zackly.

The planned scoping study will focus on an evaluation of the Zackly deposits, with work expected to include an assessment of the expansion potential of the current resource and testing of its metallurgical characteristics.

PolarX is currently designing a metallurgical test program for bulk samples from Zackly that will evaluate the potential to recover the coarse, high-grade gold from the ore utilising a simple gravity circuit and the subsequent recovery of the copper and silver metal via conventional flotation to produce a saleable concentrate.

PolarX will look to use the results from this work to then conduct a comparison with the previous test work on the Caribou Dome ores to determine whether the same circuit might be used to process both deposits at a central milling operation which might also be fed by other discoveries as they are made across the region.

Whilst the Zackly Main Zone already hosts a resource of 3.4 million tonnes grading 2.0 grams per tonne gold, 14 g/t silver and 1.2 per cent copper, recent exploration has identified a new zone of mineralisation adjacent to the deposit, prompting the upcoming scoping study.

Extensional mapping and sampling show the Zackly East prospect extends along more than 4kms of strike, with diamond drilling of the prospect returning broad intercepts of both gold and copper, including an exceptional 55 metres at 2.8 g/t gold and 0.6 per cent copper and 47m at 3.1 g/t gold and 0.6 per cent copper.

Exploration at Zackly East is estimated to have tested less than half the strike length of the target, leaving plenty of room to extend the discovery and grow the resource inventory for both the Zackly and Zackly East discoveries. Analysis of the drilling data for both prospects indicates they remain open at depth, requiring ongoing drill testing.

The Caribou Dome deposit is located around 25km south-west of Zackly and is a slightly different beast to the skarn down the road. The sediment-hosted copper mineralisation at Caribou consists of outcropping lenses of massive sulphide that are rich in chalcopyrite, pyrite and bornite. The deposit hosts a near-surface, high-grade copper resource that weighs in at 2.8 million tonnes at an impressive 3.1 per cent copper and importantly, it remains open at depth.

A 2016 evaluation of the Caribou resource indicated that the ore system could be mined utilising conventional open pit methods, with the mineralisation also showing outstanding metallurgical characteristics.

It has produced a concentrate grading over 24.5 per cent copper and recovered more than 95 per cent of the contained metal from within the ores in previous test work.

Whilst scoping work will focus on the Zackly prospects and Caribou Dome, the company continues to evaluate its vast land holdings at Stellar. PolarX has identified a plethora of copper-gold targets across its tenure including porphyry targets at Jupiter, Gemini and Mars. However, with the recent acquisition of high-resolution geophysics across the project area, the company is likely to quickly add to this list as it looks to build a pipeline of copper-gold resources to feed its conceptual mining hub in the region.

With the prices of silver and copper showing strong performances in recent months and gold continuing to simmer along at over US$1,800 an ounce, the company’s economic assessment of its Alaskan assets is timely. Having recently added the Humboldt gold project in Nevada to the mix, PolarX now looks to be shifting through the gears in the US.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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