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PolarX seeking porphyry mammoth in US

At a glance, ASX-listed PolarX’s Alaska Range project in the US appears to tick a lot of boxes and it will be fascinating to find out just what might be lurking below ground when the rods start turning in this tier 1 global mining jurisdiction.

Firstly, it boasts some pretty impressive looking regional geology that, at face value at least, looks to be the goods and well worthy of an elephant hunt.

This type of tier 1 geology can, however, get expensive for a small cap when it comes to exploration – the rewards can be lucrative, but the outlays can also be significant as the hunt narrows in on the prize.

Which might explain why PolarX has teamed up with multi-billion dollar, TSX-listed, Lundin Mining Corporation who will earn into selected porphyry targets within the project courtesy of a number of payments to PolarX, in addition to funding an ongoing exploration effort, based on success.

It is curious that a multi-national mining heavyweight like Lundin Mining with operations on four continents has vectored in on this Perth-based $34m market cap junior explorer, who only listed on the ASX in September 2017.

Lundin Mining rarely does anything on a small scale which augers well for the potential of the Alaska Range project.

Alaska Range sits right at the intersection of two major geological faults where last year, PolarX outlined a 12km long mineralised corridor from a detailed aeromagnetic survey that terminates at an intriguing 2km x 1km magnetic feature it called “Saturn”.

Remember the name.

The company has interpreted Saturn to be a sizeable porphyry copper-gold target with more than just a passing similarity to the revered Grasburg mine in Indonesia.

That world-class deposit holds ore reserves of 2.8 billion tonnes grading 1.1% copper and 1g/t gold, which is the planet’s single largest known gold reserve and the second largest copper reserve.

Lundin Mining recently subscribed for 53.4 million shares in PolarX at 8 cents a share to raise $4.3m and in doing so, became the company’s largest shareholder with 12.9% of the register.

The present thinking is that the large circular magnetic anomaly at Saturn, which is suspiciously surrounded by a distinct magnetic low zone, might well be the source of the mineralised fluids feeding PolarX’s Zackly deposit, via faults some 4km to the northwest.

The same fault set also intersects the Mars porphyry target further west, which outcrops at surface and contains strongly anomalous copper-gold-molybdenum-arsenic geochemistry and geophysical features consistent with a porphyry target.

The Saturn and Mars targets are amongst a number of prospects that PolarX has agreed to fund for exploration from the recent $4.3m capital injection from Lundin Mining.

It shouldn’t take long for PolarX to start getting some market attention either with a 5,000-metre deep drilling program set to kick off at Saturn later this month.

PolarX has initiated an induced polarisation, or “IP”, geophysical survey at Saturn this week to assist in tweaking the final hole positions for the upcoming drilling campaign.

Based on the drilling results over the next few months, Lundin Mining will then decide whether to exercise its option to commence an earn-in over the selected claims.

The deal struck between Lundin Mining and PolarX, gives the Canadian miner an exclusive right to enter into an option for a 51% interest in PolarX’s “Stellar Claims” over three years, by spending USD$24m on exploration and paying PolarX staged cash payments totalling USD$20m.  

PolarX recently outlined a two-pronged approach to its exploration efforts in Alaska and plans to expand the Zackly resource for the evaluation of an economically viable project via feasibility studies to help underpin a robust company valuation.

Zackly already has an inferred mineral resource of 3.4 million tonnes grading 1.2% copper and 2g/t gold.

The company plans to commence a resource extension drilling program at Zackly in August, which will be funded by its own recent $3.5m capital raise via a share rights issue.

PolarX considers Zackly to have a low exploration risk due to the magnetic nature of its mineralisation, which can be directly drill targeted using geophysical interpretations.

Recent near‐surface, high‐grade, flat-lying drill intersections at Zackly which included 55 metres grading 0.6% copper and 2.8g/t gold, showed the mineralisation thickening to the east and still open in all directions.

The company has interpreted vectors from the Zackly copper-gold mineralisation towards Saturn, which provides a plethora of potential future drilling targets, given the areas are separated by nearly 4km.

PolarX is sitting on some pretty classy looking ground in Alaska, in a province surrounded by world-class mining operations like Northern Star’s Pogo mine, Kinross Gold’s Fort Knox mine and Coeur Mining’s Kensington mine that collectively hold nearly 11 million ounces of gold between them.

40 million ounces have been mined from the district to date, in an area that is widely considered to be an “immature” goldfield and by extension, grossly underexplored.

The internal pulses at PolarX no doubt quickened when its 3D modelling of magnetic data at the Saturn anomaly highlighted a potential porphyry system some 3km deep from surface with geological comparisons with Grasberg able to be whispered.

PolarX’s executive team is headed up by Managing Director, Dr Frazer Tabeart, a 30-year veteran in exploration and resource project development, which includes a long stint with Western Mining and significant technical exposure to porphyry copper-gold systems in the Asia-Pacific region, where this style of deposit is prolific. 

It was Tabeart that led a strategic re-interpretation of the Zackly deposit from the existing aeromagnetic data that led to the view that Zackly is likely to be an “overturned” geological fold structure that is narrow and steep-dipping to the south and thick and shallowly dipping to the north.

The northern part of the deposit is therefore considered fair game for a large, start-up, open pit mining operation, based on its width and potentially low stripping ratio.

Whereas, the originally defined, steep-dipping, narrow, high-grade deposits to the south are thought more suitable for a future underground mining scenario.

With an abundance of fascinating looking magnetic features, tier 1 type geology, a very long strike zone and a big brother with deep pockets, the PolarX story looks to be a rapidly developing one that should throw up a plethora of news flow over the next year or so.

Watch this space.

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