For those who have been tracking Dolly Varden Silver Corp. (TSXV: DV) (OTC:DOLLF) and its flagship property in the Golden Triangle of northwestern British Columbia, it should come as no surprise that the company’s latest update has further strengthened our belief that there is a large silver district emerging in this prolific part of the province.
This week, DV announced encouraging results from this year’s regional exploration and reconnaissance drilling on its 100% owned Dolly Varden project, which is host to two past-producing silver mines (Dolly Varden and Torbrit) and two other historically active mines (North Star and Wolf).
In short, the new drill results, encompassing 10 drill holes testing five regional exploration targets during the 2021 field season, demonstrated “excellent exploration and resource expansion potential on the property,” as DV stated in its news release.
Results are pending for the 21 holes drilled near Dolly Varden’s existing resource.
About Dolly Varden Property
The Dolly Varden silver project comprises 8,800 hectares (88 sqkm) of land in the Stewart Complex of northwestern BC, which is known to host base and precious metals deposits. The property has four historically active mines: Dolly Varden, Torbrit, North Star and Wolf.
Mining activity at the Dolly Varden property can be dated back to 1910, when the original Dolly Varden mine was discovered by Scandinavian prospectors.
In its early days, it was among the richest silver mines in the British Empire. The other deposit in the area to see production later was Torbrit, which, at one time, was the third-largest silver producer in Canada.
Historical records show these two deposits together have produced more than 20 million ounces of high-grade silver between 1919-1959, with assays of ore as high as 2,200 oz (over 72 kg) per tonne.
Production subsequently ceased due to low silver prices, and the assembled property was eventually acquired by DV with a view of re-awakening the historic silver mine.
An updated NI 43-101 resource estimate completed by the company in 2019 revealed 32.9Moz silver in indicated resources and 11.477Moz inferred, for a total of 44Moz Ag, all adjacent to the historical deposits.
Drilling and underground work that went into the resource estimation confirmed that the mineralization occurs as two styles.
The first is a bedding-parallel VMS similar to that mined at Eskay Creek to the north. Once the highest-grade gold mine in the world, Eskay Creek produced 3.3Moz gold and 160Moz silver at average grades of 45/g/t Au and 2,224 g/t Ag respectively between 1994 and 2008.
The second is a cross-cutting epithermal mineralization similar to that being developed at Pretium’s Valley of the Kings deposit (Brucejack mine).
The southern part of the Golden Triangle is the least explored of all. Only 3% of DV’s property has been explored in detail up until now, leaving plenty of potential exploration/discovery upside.
According to DV, both the Eskay Creek and Valley of the Kings deposits are located on the same structural trend to the north of the company’s ground. So, it is entirely possible that Dolly Varden represents the southern end of a large silver district that extends northward.
To prove this, the company went out and completed 40 drill holes (11,397m) last year, 19 of which were in the Torbrit area. The rest were reconnaissance and exploration drill holes, testing multiple areas on the property.
Highlights of the 2020 drill program include 310 g/t over 6m, a stand-out 304 g/t over 45.82m, and 306 g/t over 5.10m. Higher-grade core within those intercepts featured 648 g/t over 6.06m, 1,595 g/t over 1.06m, and 1,290 g/t over 0.6m.
“We are seeing consistent intervals of high-grade silver mineralization at the Torbrit silver deposit that has the potential to support economically attractive underground bulk-mining techniques, while at the same time each successive drill program continues to demonstrate that the deposit is open for expansion,” CEO Shawn Khunkhun said in a news release back in February.
And now, those results have been followed up by even better ones from the 2021 drilling.
2021 Exploration Results
This summer, the company kicked off an initial surface diamond drill program on the Dolly Varden property. A total of 31 drill holes (10,506m) were completed during the 2021 field season.
This drill program is part of an aggressive two-year campaign to infill and expand the high-grade silver resource at the Torbrit deposit, and to test multiple highly prospective targets throughout the property.
The drill results announced this week encompass 10 holes that tested five regional exploration targets on the property, including the Wolf Vein extension and Western Gold-Copper belt.
The highlight was drill hole DV21-273, which tested the southwest projection of the Wolf Vein, 94m down plunge from the current mineral resources at the Wolf deposit.
This drill hole intersected 1,532 g/t Ag, 0.44 g/t Au, 2.11 % Pb and 1.07% Zn over 1.22m core length, within a brecciated sulphide-rich quartz vein hosted within a broader pyrite stockwork breccia zone of 17.50m averaging 214 g/t Ag and 0.47% Pb.
The current resource estimate for Wolf is 3.83 million ounces of silver at 296 g/t in the indicated category. The deposit is located approximately 2 km northwest of the Torbrit deposit, which hosts most of Dolly Varden’s resources at 25 million ounces of silver indicated and an additional 10.5 million ounces inferred.
Hole DV21-273 is also significant as it tested the prospective Hazelton volcanic rock that underlies the sedimentary units of the Upper Hazelton for the Wolf Vein extension.
Discovering that the strong potassic alteration associated with silver mineralization within the volcanogenic Torbrit deposit continues beneath the sediment suggests that the mineralizing system continues to the west of the 4.5 km long surface alteration anomaly.
According to DV, this opens up exploration potential of the entire bottom of the Kitsault Valley north of Wolf towards the property boundary and onto the Homestake Ridge property, which the company recently acquired from Fury Gold Mines (TSX: FURY).
Wolf is the northernmost deposit found at the Dolly Varden project. Modelling of the epithermal vein style deposit indicates a stepped vein system, offset by steep faults. The hanging wall of the deposit has a strong barium signature and the veins contain barite and quartz. There are historic underground drifts at Wolf, but no historic production was reported.
Drilling at other silver prospects also returned promising results. At the Syndicate target, a near-surface vein in DV21-270 returned 126 g/t Ag and 1.31 g/t Au over a core length of 1.10m.
Hole DV21-272 was drilled to test the potassic alteration zone at Silver Horde, located approximately 900m north of Wolf. This intersected two zones where diffuse sheeted veinlets were found carrying dark silver sulphosalts. The structure returned 9.0m core length averaging 126.7 g/t Ag within the volcanic host.
In other regional exploration drilling, DV’s technical team is highly encouraged by long intervals of stockwork quartz with strongly anomalous gold (>100 ppb) over wide intervals (up to 303m) along with silver and copper at the Western Gold Belt area.
Hosted within early Jurassic volcanic rocks, this style of stockwork and alteration is analogous to numerous alkalic gold-copper deposits and mines found throughout BC’s Golden Triangle. These include: KSM, Treaty Creek, Saddle (GT Gold), Red Chris and Snowfield.
Such a finding could be a game changer for DV, given it was previously positioned as a pure silver-focused explorer sitting on a high-grade, potentially bulk-mineable resource.
The Western Gold Belt is located on the west side of the Kitsault Valley and trends from near the Dolly Varden mine northward for several kilometers towards Homestake Ridge.
According to DV chief executive Shawn Khunkhun, the strong indicator of porphyry-related gold-copper-silver style indicators is perhaps the most significant exploration breakthrough on the property in years.
Therefore, the next phase of exploration drilling will prioritize connecting the historic mines and current deposits of the Dolly Varden trend with the deposits at Homestake 5.4 km to the northwest along the Kitsault Valley trend.
Of course, the high-grade silver intercept at Wolf is also significant, as it confirmed Dolly Varden’s resource expansion potential. Assays are still pending for the 21 holes completed at the high-grade Torbrit and Kitsol Silver deposits.
Given the quality of DV’s flagship project and the amount of work the company has done leading up to the current drilling campaign, it was hardly a surprise to have high-grade silver intercepts from the 2021 program.
Still, the first batch of drill results probably still surpassed everyone’s expectations. Not often do we see silver grades exceeding 1,500 g/t.
Numbers aside, what’s more significant is the location of the drill intercept; it occurs at the northernmost part of the Dolly Varden property. This means that the silver mineralization is potentially on the same northerly trend as the deposits located at the newly acquired Homestake Ridge property.
The next step is to focus exploration efforts on “making the connection” between the two projects. DV has already combined the two into a single large property known as Kitsault Valley, with a combined mineral resource base of 34.7Moz silver and 166,000 oz gold indicated and 29.3Moz silver and 817,000 oz gold inferred.
According to the company, this combination would solidify the Kitsault Valley project as among the largest high-grade, undeveloped gold-silver assets in all of Western Canada.
And with drill results from the past-producing Torbrit area to be released shortly, this resource base may just get even bigger.
Dolly Varden Silver Corp.
Shares Outstanding 130.6m
Market cap Cdn$83.7m
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