Mining is rife with stories of how deposits were not found on the first hole, or the second, or even the 100th in some cases. Eskay Creek and Red Chris are two in British Columbia that come to mind where thousands of meters of drilling were completed before a discovery hole was achieved.
"It was a gamble that paid off handsomely. Results kept getting better and better until a widely spaced step-out hole drilled on an induced polarization target at the northern end of the Property made history.
The now-famous Eskay Creek Hole 109 returned a 682-ft. interval grading an average of 0.87 oz. gold, 0.97 oz. silver, 1.12 % lead and 2.26 % zinc. In the process, the spectacular hole triggered a trading frenzy on the Vancouver Stock Exchange." — The Northern Miner, 1990.
One company that is well suited for this type of comprehensive exploration method is Pacific Empire Minerals Corporation, trading on the TSX-V under the symbol $PEMC. The guys from PEMC have been drilling for porphyry and precious metal deposits in BC for some time now.
They know that exploration must be cost-effective and reactive to results.
PEMC has the basic advantage of owning an exploration drill rig, combined with the ability to adapt the drilling plan as the hole is being drilled. This is achieved by using XRF assays at the drill site which determine the concentration of metals within the drilled section, as the hole is completed.
Each interval shows instantaneous values for multiple base and precious metals right after the run is finished. This has the effect of completely negating the dreaded wait time for traditional lab assays that we all know and love.
One has to be willing to drill to kill. Drill the entire prospective zone and have multiple additional targets and properties ready if one does not work out.
Pacific Empire has assembled a stable of high potential drill-ready projects for the 2020 exploration season, with permits and crews standing by to mobilize to the first drill targets very soon. All three projects have excellent road access and the potential to host significant Cu-Au deposits.
Target 1: The Worldstock — Kamloops Mining Division
The Worldstock is a Cu-Au porphyry target located near Kamloops BC, with a fairly interesting recent history. The area of the Worldstock was consistently staked since at least 1997, but recently became open ground in early-2019 when the previous owner allowed the tenures to lapse. A staking rush ensued as the ground unexpectedly became available. After the dust settled, the ground was consolidated by a few lucky prospectors into a contiguous land package. PEMC entered into an option on this land package in 2019.
The Worldstock target is primarily based on a 1997 soil sampling program which outlined a 700 m x 1200 m long Cu-Au-Ag-Mo-Zn soil anomaly, with values up to 1237 ppm Cu, 390 ppb Au, and 479 ppm Mo respectively.
The multi-element anomaly has only seen a single drill program in 2001, where seven NQ diamond holes were completed for a total of 888.1 meters, averaging only 126 meters per hole. The best hole of the program intersected altered copper bearing porphyry dikes that returned up to 0.38 % copper over 10.4 meters.
The limited historical drilling predates high-resolution ground and airborne geophysical surveys which have been completed since. These modern surveys show a strong coincident Induced Polarization (IP) chargeability anomaly with apparent magnetic destruction within the intrusive rocks at the target area.
"Further drilling is clearly warranted as only a small area on this large geochemical anomaly has been preliminary tested to shallow depth. There is good potential for higher grade and intrusive centered bulk-tonnage copper and silver at depth. A two-phase follow up drill program is recommended to further advance this promising exploration target." — R.C Wells, P.Geo. 2001 Drill Program Manager.
PEMC is ready to kick off that next phase of drilling. They have received a permit to drill up to 20 RC holes at the Worldstock during the 2020 exploration season. Much of the Property has been recently logged, allowing access to new areas which previous operators could not reach without road building. PEMC geologists visited the Worldstock Property in early-June to check on road conditions, and they have verified that the drill program is good to go.
Several attractive drill targets remain untested.
Target 2: The Weedon — Omineca Mining District
The Weedon is a blind (i.e. covered) Cu-Au alkalic porphyry target in the Omineca Mining Division, near Prince George, BC. The Property is located in the Quesnel Trough, which hosts several significant porphyry copper-gold deposits. Weedon is 80 km southeast of the operating Mount Milligan mine (445Mt @ 0.215% Cu; 0.415g/t Au) which is representative of a hypothetical exploration target type.
The Property was previously explored in detail by Teck Resources roughly between 2009 - 2012, with activities dating back to at least 1990 when Placer Dome was looking around in the same region.
This type of exploration is sometimes referred to as elephant hunting, which implies the search for very large kilometre-scale geophysical anomalies in regions with widespread overburden and a lack of rock outcrop. These anomalies can indicate big-time mineralization obscured by the thick glacial drift.
The 2009 - 2012 Teck Resources exploration programs consisted mainly of IP and ground magnetic geophysical surveys. The Property was also prepared for drilling with a specialized Ah-material geochemical soil survey, comprising of 500+ soil samples along nine kilometers of reconnaissance soil lines.
The specialized sampling completed by Teck in 2011 is very specific, where only the uppermost Ah region of the soil profile is collected. This region is where positively charged metal ions become trapped after traveling to surface in circulating groundwater. The general idea is that metal ions have sources in bedrock beneath the glacial cover. They are carried upward and bind onto receptive clay fragments and other negatively charged particles near the ground surface.
Teck was able to establish four separate anomalous soil domains (T1 – T4) using this sampling method, with multi-element Cu-Au geochemical signatures seen in the maps above and below. Work during 2009 - 2011 also produced a number of chargeability and magnetic anomalies beneath the heavy glacial cover.
Three of the soil anomalies lie above IP chargeability anomalies. These anomalies are also on the flanks of a magnetic high, with a characteristic “rabbit ear” pattern, possibly an indication of mineralization below.
Although I said above that the T1 target has never been drilled, technically this isn't true. In 2007, before Teck took an interest in the Weedon, there was another operator called Geoinformatics Exploration that did attempt to drill a single hole at the T1 target area.
Apparently, they also thought that was the best potential for a discovery hole.
After drilling through the glacial sediments for about 30 meters, the drill hole was abandoned in the deep overburden. They failed to intersect any bedrock and the drill hole result was inconclusive.
"An attempt to drill test one of the anomalous areas failed to penetrate the overburden above the target. The chargeability response at Weedon therefore remains untested.” —Tony Worth, Geoinformatics Drilling 2007.
After seeing how previous operators Geoinformatics and Teck had both struggled with the glacial cover, PEMC geologists knew that the overburden thickness at the target areas needed to be determined. This can be achieved by using a clever little device known as a Tromino.
A Tromino is a hand-sized portable survey instrument which uses background seismic vibrations to determine the thickness of stratigraphic layers at a given location. It is able to determine the depth to various geologic materials, including bedrock. Tromino readings are capable of estimating the distance to bedrock with an accuracy of about one meter.
PEMC has a company-owned Tromino survey device and depth readings were completed over the entire planned drilling area at Weedon. This important data is sometimes referred to as bedrock topography, and is presented in the map below.
The Weedon represents about as much preparation as can be done on a blind target without being drilled, and the PEMC RC drill rig is well suited at blasting through overburden to see what riches might be lying beneath. It is fully capable of getting at least 100 meters of bedrock penetration at the T1 and T4 targets. They will also have instant XRF assays for multiple metals after each 5-ft run.
If one of these drill holes hits significant mineralization, this will completely change the development of this overlooked but interesting Property. The IP and magnetic anomalies are on the kilometer scale. This could be a very big system. PEMC is currently permitted to drill up to 30 RC holes at Weedon and it’s safe to assume both the T1 and T4 targets will tested very soon.
What elephants could be lurking beneath the thick till?
Target 3: The Jean Marie — Omineca Mining District
Finally, we get to my personal favorite target. The Jean Marie. The Jean Marie is another Cu-Mo-Au porphyry target, located about 80 km northwest of Fort St. James, BC. And like the Weedon, the Jean Marie is also located in the Quesnel Trough, with some profitable producing mines nearby. But unlike the Weedon, this Property has a very strong surficial expression and defined mineral zones.
The Jean Marie was first recognized as a viable target area in 1969, when an exploration group called the NBC (North British Columbia) Syndicate staked ground following regional sampling which showed potential. The early exploration at the Jean Marie consisted of numerous programs of soil sampling, geophysical surveys, and shallow percussion drilling. The NBC Syndicate was composed of Cominco and a few other large mining outfits.
Over the years of 1969-1972, a total of 3377 soils were collected by the NBC Syndicate with values up to 6600 ppm copper-in-soil (0.66% Cu). Out of this soil sampling data set fifty-six ran above 1000 ppm Cu and seventy-six above 500ppm Cu. The anomaly is over six kilometers long and sits adjacent to a regional structure, the Jean Marie Fault, which extends across the entire Property. The soil data generated during this early exploration show one of the strongest and most widespread copper-in-soil anomalies that I have had the pleasure of reviewing in detail.
After reading some of the historic reports from this time and seeing the caliber of the soil anomaly, it is clear why the NBC Syndicate was very motivated on this newly discovered target. NBC used barge transportation, then constructed landings and pushed in many kilometers of cat roads in order to get drills into the site before the area was logged. Since then the logging companies have built mainline forest roads across the project.
The drilling in the 70s discovered three mineral deposits, termed the A, B, and C zones, which have been drilled sporadically since. A coincident IP anomaly runs under the center of the three mineralized zones, as seen in the map above and below. Large sections of this major IP anomaly remain untested with most holes less than 100 meters deep.
What is this messed up looking breccia doing there? The story is waiting to be told.
This brings us full circle to the beginning of this article in that lots of drilling is frequently required to make a significant discovery. PEMC geologists visited the Jean Marie during early-June to verify the condition of the roads and to perform an initial Property visit. During this trip they also happened to find the old core shack from the most recent drilling program, still standing in the middle of the forest.
So why is this Property not number one, you might be asking. Well the simple reason is that the permit for the Jean Marie is not currently in hand. Otherwise it would have been at the very top of this list of exploration properties which PEMC intends to drill in 2020.
A multi-year permit application is currently under final review for a total of up to 100 RC holes and up to 30 diamond drill holes at the Jean Marie. It appears that PEMC is gearing up to do some in-house drilling using their company owned RC dig. This drill program will utilize the newly built access roads, especially at the northwest extension of the A-Zone and a new eastern target area that they recently added to the project through staking.
Most importantly, this drill permit if approved also allows for the very exciting possibility of deeper 1000-meter drill holes which are required to test below the known zones and the numerous deeper IP targets. There is a strong possibility of mineralization at depth with somewhat unexplained soil anomalies, adjacent to regional faulting, and the hydrothermal breccia that they hit a small section of in 1997, which ran 1.2% copper over 27 meters and remains open at depth.
There are similarities in the story of how the Red Chris mine was discovered. They found early lower grade zones below a widespread high-caliber soil anomaly. They persevered on and finally did some deep drilling…The rest is history. They hit some of the longest intercepts of copper ever drilled in BC.
Could there be an entire new zone of mineralized breccia at depth below the B-Zone? PEMC intend to find out.
Pacific Empire has cash from its most recent financing to continue to explore, plus a few other irons in the fire. They hold 465K shares in a company called BatteryOne Royalty Corp. which recently completed a $5.85M financing at a price of $0.50 a share. BatteryOne intends to seek a public listing in 2020.
PEMC has also recently received a $50K cash payment as compensation for a Property under option to M3 Metals Corp. M3 is currently exploring the Stars porphyry target, near Houston BC and has to spend $2.1M in exploration before June 2021. PEMC has a carried 20% in the project and receives annual cash payments until a production decision is made.
The Stars Property is similar to the Weedon in that it has large geophysical anomalies, till cover, and limited outcrop exposure. The Stars had a recent discovery in 2018 at the Tana Zone. See the link below to view some information on the Stars Property and the 2018 results.
I hope you enjoyed reading my article as much as I liked making the maps of the big soil anomaly on the Jean Marie. I urge those reading this to article to consider the targets listed above, which are likely to be drilled in rapid succession over the coming weeks and months. The stock currently sits around six cents on the TSX-V, with volumes increasing gradually as knowledge of the upcoming exploration program is getting out.
Metal prices are ramping up to historic highs. Gold is looking ever rarer in the world and copper is also showing life, with recent price moves. Bullish sentiment is spreading regarding economic recovery and increasing demand for industrial metals. Getting in on the bottom floor with PEMC is still possible, and with some exciting times ahead as these targets are drilled off.
Disclaimer: I hold a position in the stock detailed above. This article is not an investment recommendation. The article is for informational purposes only and is neither a solicitation for the purchase of securities nor an offer of securities. Readers of the article are expressly cautioned to seek the advice of a registered investment advisor and other professional advisors, as applicable, regarding the appropriateness of investing in any securities or any investment strategies, including those discussed above.
Always thoroughly do your own due diligence and talk to a licensed investment adviser prior to making any investment decisions. Junior resource companies can easily lose 100% of their value so read company profiles on www.SEDAR.com for important risk disclosures. It’s your money and your responsibility.
@buck85 is a British Columbia based geologist and fellow investor in the resource sector. He spends his free time snowboarding, fly fishing, and exploring the vast outdoors of beautiful Western Canada.
If you or your company is interested in a research article similar to the above on your project, feel free to direct message me on CEO.ca