The mining industry is on the hunt for large deposits that have favorable grades and are in locations amenable to mine developments.
The Golden Triangle of northwestern British Columbia is an excellent place to shore up new copper supply and to build smelting and refining capacity. The GT is one of the most richly mineralized areas on the planet, hosting large deposits of copper, gold and silver. Of the triangle’s two operating mines and one to come, Brucejack has reserves of 4.2Moz gold, 30.1Moz silver, Red Chris contains 2.3 billion pounds of copper and 2.6Moz gold in reserves, while the Premier mine has a feasibility study specifying reserves of 1.2Moz gold and 4Moz silver. Several undeveloped deposits reinforce the enormous potential of the region.
Over 80% of the world’s copper production comes from large scale open-pit porphyry copper mines. A porphyry deposit is formed when a body of magma, or molten-rock, cools beneath the surface. Porphyry deposits are usually low-grade but large and bulk-mineable, making them attractive targets for mineral explorers. They typically contain between 0.4 and 1% copper, with smaller amounts of other metals such as gold, molybdenum and silver.
Major porphyry camps and porphyry-related gold deposits within the Golden Triangle include: Schaft Creek, Galore Creek, the Red Chris-GJ-North Rok-Tatogga cluster and the KSM-Brucejack-Treaty camps.
Mountain Boy Minerals (TSXV: MTB) (OTCQB: MBYMF) (FSE: M9UA) has six active projects spanning 604 square kilometers in this prolific region. News from field work over the past season supports the highly prospective nature of these projects. Further news is expected over the coming weeks that could potentially strengthen the geological story adding value to these projects. Two of the projects include porphyry targets, with work at Telegraph aimed at a porphyry system outlined by previous work.
Acquired by Mountain Boy in May 2021, the 236-square-kilometer Telegraph project has a similar geological setting to major gold and copper-gold deposits in the Golden Triangle. The MTB geological team assembled the results of work spanning several decades by more than 50 companies, each working on small target areas. Mountain Boy’s consolidation of previous claims means that for the first time, the area is under common ownership and is being explored comprehensively.
“I like to use the jigsaw puzzle analogy, these 50 companies each were looking at one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, we’re putting those pieces together and we’re getting very excited about what we’re seeing,” says Mountain Boy’s CEO Lawrence Roulston.
The first phase of a field program was carried out on the Telegraph property this summer. Field crews conducted mapping and sampling, and also examined the 2014 drill core.
The project now has a compiled and digitized data set of historical work and a fine-resolution satellite photo, both of which help with mapping structural and geochemical trends.
MTB is also collaborating with the Geological Survey of Canada, the BC Geological Survey and the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) at the University of British Columbia in a research program. The research is part of the Targeted Geoscience Initiative, a program that is fully funded until 2025 and focuses on critical elements including copper.
As part of that research initiative, samples from the 2014 drill core and surface samples from across the property are being analyzed by short wave infrared (SWIR) at MDRU. That technique provides valuable information about subtleties in alteration which can help vector within the geological system.
The area has received sporadic exploration over the past five decades, including silt, soil and rock geochemistry, geological mapping, geophysics and minor drilling.
The first exploration took place in the 1860s as an offshoot of the work on the Russian-American telegraph line, intended to link North America and Europe through Siberia. Supplies for the northern BC portion of the line were delivered by steamboats up the Stikine River as far as Telegraph Creek, giving the present town its name. However, the Telegraph project was abandoned when a cable was laid across the Atlantic, and interest in the region fell off for several decades.
There are currently 32 MINFILE occurrences on the property, including six ranked as prospects.
DOK is the most advanced exploration target on the property, and the neighboring DOK-35 prospect is considered part of the same mineralizing system. Until MTB consolidated the property, those prospects were separately owned.
DOK was first explored in the early 1970s with a focus on copper. That work identified numerous copper showings and outlined a substantial copper-in-soil geochemical anomaly measuring 1,200 by 850 meters in size and referred to as the Main target.
Subsequent trenching demonstrated that the system hosts copper and gold mineralization, and this finding was confirmed through drilling in 2014, which returned results of 0.327% Cu, 0.13 g/t Au and 1.92 g/t Ag over 18.3 meters and 0.113% Cu, 0.06 g/t Au and 1.64 g/t Ag over 54.9 meters. A leading authority on Golden Triangle porphyries described the holes as being on the fringe of a porphyry system.
This past summer, Mountain Boy collected samples from the drill holes completed in 2014 and is having a research associate at MDRU analyze the results and write a report that will help with vectoring for future drilling.
According to Lucia Theny, Mountain Boy’s VP, Exploration, findings from the initial field work at Telegraph this summer confirmed the validity of the prior work and is further evidence of an extensive porphyry system.
Another intriguing aspect of Telegraph is the two gossans shown in the photo below, Dok Main and Dok X. Previously these were separate claims but by consolidating them Mountain Boy is able to integrate the geophysics and the radiometrics that have been done at both gossanous areas —the company plans to evaluate this data over the winter and into the spring.
Mountain Boy is already confident it is dealing with a porphyry center at the Dok area and there may be another similar-type system at the Yeti target to the east, although that has yet to be confirmed. Roulston refers to Yeti as “a long-lasting system with multiple pulses of mineralization.”
While it is too early to call it, I am excited at the possibility of Telegraph being a new copper porphyry camp in the Golden Triangle. Remember, major porphyry camps and porphyry-related gold deposits within the GT include: Schaft Creek, Galore Creek, the Red Chris-GJ-North Rok-Tatogga cluster and the KSM-Brucejack and Snip Bronson camps.
While this project is still at an early stage, MTB’s geological team are building on decades of previous work. There are strong indications that this small company is holding a new porphyry camp.
We are encouraged in this hypothesis by Mountain Boy’s neighbor to the north, Libero Copper, whose Big Red property lies 45 km southwest of Telegraph Creek. An initial four-hole drill program late in 2020 discovered the Terry porphyry copper target. Each of the holes was mineralized from surface to end of hole including 120m of 0.43% copper equivalent (CuEq). A 5,000-meter diamond drill program started this past July 2021 to test the target at depth and step out. The first diamond drill assays from Big Red, including 118m of 0.33% CuEq, confirms the project’s large-scale bulk tonnage potential.
“[Telegraph has] seen a lot of work but it’s a really challenging place to work, so next year we’re going to go in and build a camp. We have submitted a notice of work, and it has been through the initial review. In addition to building a camp we also applied to conduct an IP survey, for drilling, so we can really give this project the amount of focus and time it deserves,” Theny told me over the phone last week.
The American Creek project located 20 km north of Stewart is centered on the historical Mountain Boy silver mine.
In 1999-2000, 51.6 tonnes of material were extracted from the High-Grade vein and sent to the Cominco smelter in Trail, BC. The documented grades were 18.854 kilograms per tonne silver, 1.1% zinc and 2.5% lead.
These exceptional grades demonstrate why American Creek is such a compelling target.
Results to date support a widely mineralized silver-lead-zinc-gold system similar to other deposits in the Stewart district and the Golden Triangle. A mere 6,000 meters of drilling has been done on this extensive property package, barely scratching the surface and leaving huge scope for a major discovery.
The 2021 drill program consisted of eight diamond drill holes, which tested 2 km of strike length along trend to the north from the main mineralized zone around the old mine area, referred to as MB-Silver. The holes encountered variable grades of silver, lead, zinc, copper and gold.
According to Theny, the two big highlights of the program were, first, they demonstrated that the system has large-scale potential; and secondly they were able to show that the system carries high-grade silver with high-grade base metals.
“It’s really exciting because it shows the potential of the system,” she said concerning the high grades. “We drilled less than 1,000m this year, all of our holes except for one hit the horizon, some had really good grades for base metals, and one had really high-grade silver, but that was for only eight holes. Can you imagine what we could find if we drilled 30 holes?”
At the historical High-Grade Zone, one drill hole intersected 1.7 meters of 414 g/t silver, including 0.8m of 763 g/t silver-equivalent. A second drill hole intersected 3.9m of 196 g/t AgEq.
The High-Grade vein was traced to the newly discovered High-Grade Extension (HGX), 310m to the north. Several surface samples from the High-Grade and HGX zones returned encouraging values, including 949 g/t silver, 2.77% lead and 0.33% copper; 17.57% zinc, 10.68% lead, 104 g/t silver and 0.38% copper; and 10.73% zinc, 6.16% copper, 5.14% lead and 242 g/t silver.
According to Mountain Boy, these samples demonstrate that this geological system hosts meaningful grades.
Mapping and sampling at the Maybe Zone, 2 kilometers to the north of MB-Silver, yielded a grab sample that assayed 3,444 grams per tonne silver and 1.5% copper.
Other newly found mineralized zones at American Creek are demonstrating the scale of this mineralizing system.
The Sturgeonmoon Zone yielded several surface samples in excess of one kilogram per tonne silver. The highlight was a grab sample that yielded 15,640 grams per tonne silver, 2.17 grams per tonne gold, 13.75% zinc, 3.23% lead, and 0.73% copper. A second sample yielded 3,240 grams per tonne silver, 1.34 grams per tonne gold, 2.05% zinc, 0.51% lead, and 0.18% copper. Narrow mineralized veins were traced for 400 meters on surface.
Seven hundred meters to the northeast, the Buckmoon Zone returned a highlight grab sample that yielded 0.14 grams per tonne gold, 66.7 grams per tonne silver, 0.58% lead, and 0.22% zinc. Another sample assayed 44.49 grams per tonne silver, 0.26% copper, and 0.9% lead. Mineralization has been traced for 150 meters and is visible in cliffs above.
At the Bench Zone, grab samples from 2020 assayed as high as 4.75 grams per tonne gold with 4.48% copper and a one-meter chip sample yielded 1.26 grams per tonne gold with 0.36% copper. A soil geochemistry survey at the Bench Zone collected 155 samples. Values from the soil samples range from background to highly anomalous, including a greater than 10 grams per tonne gold value in a soil sample.
According to Mountain Boy, the original MB-Silver Zones, the Wolfmoon Zone, the Bench Zone and the newly discovered Sturgeonmoon and Buckmoon zones occur proximal to a large east-north-east trending structure, traceable for over 3 km. Having successfully outlined the vein and replacement body system over 2 km, the next phase of work will focus on identifying the areas with favorable grades.
Mapping, prospecting, hand trenching and channel sampling are planned to further evaluate these three untested prospects in anticipation of potential drilling.
“The Sturgeonmoon Zone and the Buckmoon Zone have yielded incredible grab samples, they trend over a few hundred meters, so for our exploration potential it gives us a bigger haystack and it gives us a better focus on where to find the needle,” Theny said in an interview, last Friday.
She noted the epithermal and replacement-body styles of mineralization come in as Early Jurassic, compared to what are thought to be more structurally controlled, remobilized mineralization events that happened more recently. Mountain Boy’s Red Cliff claims to the south run very high in gold and silver, suggesting the two areas could be related. In 1910 a railroad was built from Stewart to the Red Cliff mine to ship ore south to a smelter at Tacoma, in Washington State.
In the Nov. 9 news release, Roulston, CEO, commented: “This extensive and well-mineralized system is similar in so many ways to other systems in the region that host large deposits. Work on the project spans more than a century, but nearly all of that work was focused on the area that was historically mined with little effort toward understanding the geological system. As a result, a number of significant exploration targets remain to be identified and tested in this highly prospective and richly endowed system. The Mountain Boy geological team is doing an outstanding job in unravelling the geological picture of this complex system. The focus now is to identify the characteristics that help to locate the high-grade zones within this vast system. These latest results are extremely encouraging at this stage of exploration and will help advance the project toward a major discovery.”
On the BA project, 178 drill holes have outlined a substantial zone of silver-lead-zinc mineralization.
The 10,658-hectare property was acquired by Mountain Boy in 2006 following the discovery of the Barbara Zone, where initial sampling yielded assays of 5.24% Zn, 0.66% Pb and 55.2 g/t Ag over 1.7 m, and 2.17% Zn, 0.41% Pb and 13.5 g/t Ag over 1.2 m. Barbara is interpreted to be a precious metals-rich polymetallic VHMS deposit.
The historical drilling delineated substantial near-surface silver-lead-zinc mineralization extending over 610m, striking north-northeast. Since then, receding glaciers at the northern end of the zone have exposed further mineralization at surface.
This mineralization has subsequently been sampled in three channel sampling campaigns extending the zone of mineralization to at least 700m. Assays of up to 601 g/t Ag, 1.98 g/t Au, 3.31% Pb and 9.96% Zn have been returned from these programs.
The current drill program targets the northern extension of the mineralized horizon at the Barbara discovery that was drilled between 2007 and 2010.
As Theny explains it, channel sampling done in 2010 towards the end of the season returned some favorable silver-lead-zinc grades. The area was right on the edge of a glacier, which over the last decade has retreated, exposing new ground.
From 650m of drilling, Mountain Boy’s field team was able to confirm the extension of a large silver-base metal system and outlined new prospective areas for future exploration. Recent results include 7.67m of 4.26% zinc-equivalent and 1.09m of 468 g/t silver-equivalent. Assays are pending on the other targets within the 12-km prospective horizon.
Surface work resulted in the discovery of three new mineralized areas, including a copper showing 7 km east of the Barbara Zone.
“We are very encouraged by these results which demonstrate that the portion of the system that was previously drilled remains open both laterally and to depth,” Roulston stated in the Nov. 29 news release. Our recent geological work is helping us vector toward higher grades within the overall system. The zone drilled to date represents just 700 metres of the prospective horizon that extends for at least 12 kilometres on the BA property. The mineralization is close to surface and in a favourable location relative to infrastructure.”
To the west of that mineralized structure, the George Copper Zone is an old mine explored by Cominco (now part of Teck), focused on copper and gold. Because BA is hosted in the same stratigraphy (rock layers) as Eskay Creek, i.e., at the contact of the Lower Hazelton and Upper Hazelton groups, Cominco zoomed in on George, making it a compelling target for Mountain Boy going forward.
Southmore is located in the midst of some of the largest deposits in the Golden Triangle. It was explored in the 1980s through the early 1990s, and largely overlooked until Mountain Boy consolidated the property and confirmed the presence of multiple occurrences of gold, copper, lead and zinc.
The field work in 2019 was primarily aimed at ground-truthing the historical showings and also found two new areas to explore. Last year a larger crew was sent to investigate the area and they came back with even more favorable values. This year, instead of more “boots on the ground,” Mountain Boy decided to do a property-wide data compilation. Therefore, a Skytem airborne geophysical survey was flown, which is expected to allow the company to tie the geology together with the mineralization and identify targets for next year’s work.
“In 2019 and 2020 we did map several intrusive bodies on Southmore so there is the potential for it to be a porphyry system but we haven’t done enough mapping to say that conclusively,” Theny told me.
On the Theia project, work by Mountain Boy and previous explorers has outlined a silver-bearing mineralized trend 500 meters long, highlighted by a 2020 grab sample that returned 39 kg per tonne silver (1,100 ounces per ton). The property has potential to host precious metals veins, porphyry and VHMS-style mineralization.
According to Roulston, early work in the Golden Triangle during the 1960s included the area around Theia. The major copper miner Kennecott was looking for a copper-molybdenum porphyry at the southern end of the triangle.
The geology at Theia represents the contact between the Lower Hazelton volcanic and sedimentary rocks, and the Upper Hazelton sedimentary rocks. In 2020, a sample from veins at the west side of the property ran 39 kg silver with very elevated levels of zinc and lead.
To follow up that grab sample, Mountain Boy conducted channel sampling and took more samples.
This year’s program was intended to develop a more comprehensive geological understanding of the several styles and areas of mineralization through detailed mapping and sampling and to develop potential drill targets.
Recent grab samples include 39 kg/t silver, 3.45 g/t gold, 45.8% lead,1.25% copper and 2.57% zinc; and 1.68 kg/t silver, 3.46% lead and 2.7% zinc.
According to Theny, there is evidence of porphyry-style mineralization on the east side of Theia, and while the grades so far are impressive, “We really want show that the system has some continuity to it and some legs,” she said.
Mountain Boy’s last property, Surprise Creek, is interpreted as hosting the same prospective stratigraphy as BA, with multiple occurrences of silver, gold and base metals. The two properties host a 25-km trend that is highly prospective for precious metals-rich VMS deposits.
Discovery of the Altman Zone in 2010 returned assays up to 19.5 g/t gold, 1,130 g/t silver, 0.83% copper, 23.9% lead and 19.4% zinc. Numerous other showings, believed to be hosted in the same package of rocks as Eskay Creek located 70 km to the northwest, include the Grunwald Zone which assayed up to 6.1 g/t Au, 196 g/t Ag, 0.11% Cu, 1.49% Pb and 15.1% zinc; and the Conglomerate Zone which returned up to 17.3% Pb, 6.45% Zn and 126 g/t Ag.
In Canada, so-called “northern stocks” are often sold by investors in the fall because they know that winter conditions north of a certain latitude prohibit field work including drilling and news dries up.
While it is true that the Golden Triangle of northwestern BC fits this description, it would be wrong to suppose that the news flow from Mountain Boy Minerals is about to dry up.
Our analysis of the company’s six properties has shown that further results from MTB are forthcoming at Telegraph, American Creek and BA. Southmore will have the results of a geophysical survey ran earlier this year. All of the projects will continue to benefit from more comprehensive analysis of sample collected over the summer and from the evaluation and interpretations of the recent and previous results. Further, the company is beginning to get appreciation in the industry for its extensive and highly prospective projects. We expect to see joint ventures and spin outs in the coming months which will begin to unlock the value of some of these projects.
I love the extremely high precious/ base metal grades being drilled and sampled at American Creek, and I’m intrigued by the potential of developing a new porphyry camp around Telegraph that could rival some of the big historical porphyry deposits in the Golden Triangle like Red Chris and Schaft Creek.
It seems clear to me that Mountain Boy has taken on a lot as it goes about exploring its GT properties. The company is just getting started on what is sure to be months of news flow. Northwestern BC may be covered in snow but the headlines coming out of MTB might warm your toes this winter.
The last words go to Lawrence Roulston, CEO and Lucia Theny, chief geologist:
Theny: “I’ve been with the company since 2019 and every year we’ve ramped up and found more & more to encourage us to do more work. It’s an explorationist’s dream to work in an area with the potential for so much discovery.”
Roulston: “I certainly amplify Lucia’s excitement, we’ve got six projects in total, we’re one of the largest property holders in the Golden Triangle, each one of those projects has large-scale discovery potential, backed by years and years of work that is being looked at now for the first time on a comprehensive basis, giving us that big picture.”
Mountain Boy Minerals
(TSXV: MTB) (OTCQB: MBYMF) (FSE: M9UA)
Shares Outstanding 54m
Market cap Cdn$8.9m
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