Mountain Boy Minerals (TSX.V: MTB; Frankfurt: M9UA) has completed the first phase of its 2020 exploration program at American Creek, in BC’s Golden Triangle. Diamond drills will soon be spinning on Phase 2, a 4,000-meter campaign aimed at high-grade silver and gold mineralization.
This year’s fully funded exploration program includes:
Designed to confirm the geological model, ie., that the various mineralized occurrences are surface expressions of a large geological system, analogous to the nearby Premier District, and expected two drills will target three areas:
The property, which has a rich mining history, is road accessible and is 22 kilometres north of Stewart, a deep-water seaport.
The 4,000-meter drill program will involve 20-30 holes spread across these three areas. Like all veins systems, the intensity of the mineralization varies along the vein.
The company has consolidated a 26-square-km land position, assembled an experienced geological team, and compiled a wealth of historic information. The big game-changer came in the summer of 2018. Poring over the historical results, CEO Lawrence Roulston wondered how there came to be such high-grade mineralization so far (the very high grades throughout the Mountain Boy mine area extend east of American Creek to the old Terminus and Ketchum mines) from what had generally been seen as the source of the mineralization, the Premier District, immediately west.
Furthermore, the rock textures and style of mineralization all pointed to a nearby mineralizing source. Closer examination of some gossanous rocks, found in the course of a soil grid, resulted in finding an intrusion that had never previously been mentioned.
Geochron analysis (dating) confirmed an Early Jurassic age, similar to the Premier porphyry and other major deposits in the Golden Triangle. The Premier District hosts the past-producing Premier underground mine which opened in 1918 and was the largest gold mine in North America until its closure in 1952, producing 2 million ounces of gold and 45 million oz of silver.
Further prospecting and mapping demonstrated that the intrusion runs along American Creek. Exactly how far remains to be seen, but the fact that Pretium, on their American Creek project, bordering MTB’s property to the north, has hit good results, has Roulston thinking this trend could extend all the way through to the Pretium property.
Outlining this intrusion has been a game-changer for MTB. It is the same age as the Early Jurassic intrusion at the heart of the Premier District, the same mineralogy, similar alteration and a similar scale.
“For the first time we’re looking at this on a comprehensive basis. We’re seeing compelling evidence that what we have on the ground is similar to the other gold-silver systems in the Golden Triangle,” says Roulston. “In particular, it looks very much like the geological setting at Premier, with its high-grade silver and gold values extending over kilometers. We know there is something there of real significance. The challenge now is to demonstrate that potential in the most effective manner.”
To get an in-depth knowledge of the drill program and how the geophysics line up with the drill targets as well as previous hits and surface samples (geochemical surveys), Ahead of the Herd spoke with Mountain Boy’s VP Exploration, Lucia Theny. A geologist with expertise in the Golden Triangle, Theny has been working with MTB since 2018. We reached her in the field.
First, the geophysics. To support the drill targeting, an airborne LiDar survey (“laser imaging, detection, and ranging”) has been flown over the entire property. LiDar provides accurate topographic information, useful for structural mapping and interpretation, topographic control for drill targets, and tying together the results from earlier work that has been conducted by multiple operators working independently on small portions of the current property. Given the steep nature of the eastern portion of the property, the LiDar survey is invaluable for providing ground control for drilling the epithermal veins, which have yielded high-grade silver in the past.
“It really defines all the lineaments, so we can see all the different structures, that’s where the Lidar really comes in for us – you get a little peak and then you can make interpretations and then you can go and ground-truth it,” said Theny, referring to the process of validating, via boots on the ground (or in the air, in a helicopter) data obtained remotely.
In addition to completing the LiDar survey, the company has done a Volterra 3D IP survey, which outlined several northwest-trending anomalies.
Theny says the field team recently got a weather window in northwestern BC, which experienced a miserable August, affecting the geophysical studies.
“Out of 25 days we only had two days when it didn’t rain. For LiDar blue skies are really important so they just wrapped it up in the last week. Luckily we’ve been given this amazing break in weather and it’s really set us up for success.
“We’ve already got two pads completed on two of our different target areas. And a third one going onto our third area now, the pad builders are going to be able to stay ahead of the drill and hopefully we’ll have a second drill spinning not long after the first drill.”
The company is anticipating drilling on MB Silver, home to the historic Mountain Boy mine.
In 2006, Mountain Boy conducted a 19-hole drill campaign around the old silver mine that lies at the center of American Creek. A small underground drill was used. The average hole length was 47 meters – barely scratching the surface. The focal point was the aptly named High Grade Vein, which was the heart of the historic mining. Six holes in that vein intercepted more than a kilogram of silver over at least a meter, with the highlight being hole 2006-10 which hit 5,258 g/t over 5.18 meters. These results have never been followed up, till now. (5 kg is 160 troy ounces)
In 2011, the company put in an access road to the lower workings of the mine and drilled some of the other veins around the mine, with highly encouraging results, including 396 g/t Ag over 4.5 meters in DDH-MB-2011-1. At that time, MTB did not have a comprehensive geological model and the property was limited in size.
Previous operators at the MB Silver target were also limited in how much they could step out, based on the topography.
“That’s what prompted us to do the LiDar survey so we could have better ground control,” says Theny.
The east side of Bear River ridge, where Mountain Boy’s claims at MB Silver straddle, is steep. Drilling it requires setting up a drill pad and a helicopter pad (heli-pad). According to Theny, “This year we’ve spotted our first pad on the MB Silver target, we’re targeting a high-grade vein, we’ve set it up so we have a heli-pad and a drill pad about 60m apart, so we’re going to use them interchangeably. Once we’re finished on the drill pad if we like what we’re seeing, we’ll hop over to the heli-pad, and do a step-out that way.”
She added: “When pads are costing you thousands of dollars you want to be as efficient as you can.” I couldn’t agree more.
The drill pad and heli-pad will be situated higher up the mountain from an existing adit, with the drill pointing down towards the old workings.
What does MTB expect to find at the MB Silver target? Obviously another 5,000 g/t Ag hit would be ideal. Theny notes that the dilations in the veins are where the high-grade mineralization often occurs.
“It kinda forms ore shoots within the vein itself. We’re trying to show some continuity in the vein system, so we’re stepping away from where it’s been drilled in the past and really looking to intercept that high-grade mineralization again.”
The first area to be drilled is the Wolfmoon target. Because Wolfmoon is situated at a higher elevation than the other two targets, Mountain Boy wants to ensure that drilling is completed prior to the first snowfall.
The newly-found Wolfmoon zone is believed to be at a higher stratigraphic level than the veins around the old mine. Notably, the Wolfmoon mineralization is found at the transition between volcanic and sedimentary rocks. This stratigraphic position hosts volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits such as Eskay Creek elsewhere in the Golden Triangle.
Surface samples with high gold and silver grades were identified within an extensive alteration zone, which has recently emerged from ice cover. The best grab samples were 28.5 g/t gold and 1,200 g/t silver.
At Ascot Resources’ Silver Hill property, about 4 km away, a surface sample returned an off-the-charts 15 kg/tonne silver assay. A 2019 IP survey followed by drilling revealed +1 kg silver values in a drill hole.
That setting is very similar to Wolfmoon. Mountain Boy therefore used IP to target vein orientation beneath the high-grade surface samples.
“So far we’ve ground-truthed a bunch of the resistivity anomalies, and what we found is that a number of the resistivity highs correspond with a number of felsic dykes that are really common in the area,” says Theny, adding that data from the IP survey matches up with the surface samples taken from the area last year – this is a very good sign.
Over at the Dorothy target, the drill will pierce the northern extension of the silver-bearing veins onto the recently optioned property. Ongoing geological work, including mapping and structural interpretation, is enhancing the understanding of the mineralization and the orientations of these multiple silver-bearing veins.
According to Theny, “Dorothy is so exciting because it’s an amazing opportunity to drill an area that has never been drill-tested before.”
There are 15 discovered vein occurrences within the Dorothy property and Mountain Boy has interpreted them to be part of the same hydrothermal system that deposited high-grade silver at the Mountain Boy mine. Could the High-Grade Vein, and others in the system at MB Silver Mine extend north 2km onto Dorothy? The possibility is intriguing.
That brings us to an explanation of the geological model at American Creek. According to Theny, Mountain Boy is operating under the hypothesis that the property hosts at least two phases of mineralization, categorized by geological epoch.
The first phase likely took place around 185 million years ago during the Early Jurassic period. Mountain Boy believes the intrusion found in 2019 – remember it is the same age as the porphyry intrusion discovered at the Premier District – is the heat source for the epithermal veins, found at the two lower-elevation targets, MB Silver and Dorothy.
However at Wolfmoon, MTB geologists encountered a different type of mineralization. Surface rock samples assayed high grades of both silver and gold. How did this mineralization, associated with felsic dykes, get there? Theny believes they were deposited much later than the Early Jurassic epoch. Their exact age is yet to be determined.
“We haven’t put our finger on what the mineralogy is, in terms of what’s carrying the gold and silver, but because I think it’s a younger phase of mineralization, I believe it’s quite distinct from the silver mineralization we’re seeing in the epithermal system.”
As for the epithermal veins, Theny can barely contain her enthusiasm, telling me, “The veins are really beautiful. Because they are epithermal they have multiple pulses of hydrothermal fluids, and what that produces are these beautiful textures, so we’ll be going through the Hazelton volcanic rock, we’ll hit the vein, we’ll see the beautiful layering in it, it should be pretty obvious when we hit.”
Mineral exploration is a scientific process. It’s all about coming up with hypotheses and testing them. If the first theory is wrong, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means the geological team must head back to the drawing board, to come up with a better explanation of why mineralized expressions on a property are there, and how the minerals traveled. That’s how companies delineate resources and tonnage.
Mountain Boy’s theory of multiple mineralizing events at American Creek is about to be tested. We know that two of the targets on the property are likely there because of an intrusive heat source discovered to be Early Jurassic, the same age as the nearby intrusive at Premier – this is another really good sign that MTB is onto something BIG.
We have a second mineralizing event at Wolfmoon, and possibly a third – at the Chris adit, shear-hosted copper and gold mineralization was found, suggesting that the shearing, or deforming of the rock, happened after all the volcanic activity that occurring during the Early Jurassic-Hazelton period. Testing that is beyond the scope of this exploration program, but it shows that MTB’s geological model is ever evolving.
For Theny and her team, including husband Andrew, also a geologist, drilling the property is the culmination of two years of intense study at American Creek.
The company appears to have some excellent intel and personnel behind it. Another bonus: the drilling contractor was on the MB Silver target when it was last drilled. He has a good idea of what he needs to do, to be successful there.
I can’t wait to see what Mountain Boy’s drills pull up at American Creek – investors, myself included, have what I consider 3 excellent shots at discovery.
After several years of exploring American Creek, Mountain Boy Minerals is finally ready to get results on multiple targets, which hopefully will provide evidence of a large-scale opportunity that will create an enormous amount of interest, from the market and larger mining companies.
Mountain Boy Minerals
Shares Outstanding 49,168,051m
Market cap Cdn$26.05m
Richard (Rick) Mills
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