TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Goldspike Exploration, focused on the Lone Mountain zinc/lead deposit in Eureka County, Nevada, this week reported that assay results from its Phase 1 drilling campaign had confirmed a significant new discovery of high-grade zinc mineralisation.
The TSX-V-listed explorer, with a track record of finding projects and selling them on to others, said that following the first 2 126 m campaign, a second phase of drilling was expected to start immediately.
The latest results, released on Thursday, reported an up-dip extension to the high-grade mineralisation discovered in the lower part of drill holes LM-14-01 and LM-14-02, which was intersected about 30 m up-dip in hole LM-14-04, where a sub-interval of the overall intersection assayed 33.67% zinc/lead over 15.24 m (33.06% zinc and 0.61% lead). The overall interval in this drill hole assayed 11.87% zinc/lead over 45.11 m (11.62% zinc and 0.25% lead).
Drill holes completed on a section to the northwest of the initial drill section, where the higher hole was completed, also intersected significant intervals of zinc/lead mineralisation including a wide high-grade interval in drill hole LM-14-06 that assayed 6.98% zinc/lead over 64.01 m, (5.87% zinc and 1.11% lead) including a very high-grade interval grading 23.58% zinc/lead over 16.76 m (19.82% zinc and 3.76% lead).
“We are extremely pleased that we are starting to put real dimensions on this exciting discovery. These latest holes show that the zone extends up-dip and along strike to the northwest. The thickness of mineralisation and some of the grades are again very impressive and we think they are pointing to the presence of a large mineralised system,” president and CEO Bruce Durham said.
TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS
Durham is an exploration geologist that got involved in the business from the 1970s. In a recent interview, Durham told Mining Weekly Online that he got hooked onto the junior industry early on in his career.
“I first got involved in the Corona gold project, in Ontario and also went on to find the Goliath project. Finding the deposits is what got me hooked,” he explained.
Being from Timmins, Durham said he went back to the area looking for gold and put together a project that formed the basis of Lake Shore Gold’s current assets.
After the Bre-X fiasco in 1997, the junior market died down for several years, but Durham was soon back at it, and created the company Canadian Royalties, which changed tack somewhat and charged prospectors’ royalties. Then along the way came a project in the Raglan Belt, in Northern Quebec – deep nickel deposits that was sold to Chinese investors, who had spent upwards of a $1-billion in building Quebec’s newest nickel mine, Durham said.
After Canadian Royalties, Durham came to Toronto and started the idea of creating a new company that went public in 2011, with a package of properties up in the Yukon, where his team had staked a bundle of 40 properties. “We had some initial exploration work done and had narrowed the field down to about four or five projects that we quite liked,” he said.
Durham added that given his experience with Canadian Royalties and knowing how hard it was to work with such a short field season, such as in the Yukon, he thought a warmer jurisdiction where he could work year-round would be better.
That’s when the Lone Mountain property piqued his interest.
The Lone Mountain zinc project came to Goldpike through a contact at merchant bank Norvista Capital, who had worked on the deal. Durham said the contact had initially described the project as a ‘high-grade vein in Nevada’ and he thought to take a look at it.
“To me it sounded like something with a bit more potential. The discovery was made in 2007, just as the world’s economic wheels was coming off, and the guys who owned the claims had lost it at the time and the claims again became available. The previous owners were looking for precious metals and discovered zinc, but they never assayed for base metals,” he said.
The vendors who acquired the project and held the claims, before it came to the Norvista group, assigned the rights to Goldpike in a deal that was finalised in late June. Goldspike then added to the land package in October, to bring its land position at the Lone Mountain deposit to more than 1 600 ha, comprised of 217 claims.
The company carried out a drill programme in October, and the first couple of drill holes were announced soon after.
Drill holes LM-14-01 and LM-14-02 each intersected zinc and lead mineralisation over significant sample lengths, with drill hole LM-14-01 intersecting zinc and lead mineralisation averaging 6.22% zinc and 1.34% lead for a total average of 7.56% zinc and lead over 89.9 m. Hole LM -14-02 had intersected zinc and lead mineralisation averaging 2.76% zinc and 0.29% lead, with an average of 3.05% zinc and lead over 77.7 m. Each of the holes intersected significant high-grade mineralisation.
Durham explained that Goldspike had found a well-defined, strong zinc-in-soil anomaly that accompanied the up-dip projection of the mineralisation, which stretched for a minimum of 1 400 m parallel to stratigraphy.
As part of its first exploration phase, the company also undertook surface sampling, and found traces of the anomalous zone it had thus far outlined also correlated well with the up-dip projection of the mineralisation in drill holes LM-14-01 and LM-14-02.
“The well-defined, multi-element anomaly also coincides with the location of the near surface zinc mining completed at the historic Mountain View zinc mine,” Durham said.
The Mountain View zinc mine property is comprised of a single 8 ha claim surrounded by Goldspike’s claims.
So far, down to a depth of about 200 m, all zinc/lead mineralisation intersected was non-sulphide in nature, similar to the historical primary source of zinc metal for the world. In the last several decades, zinc output had been dominated by sulphide zinc mining.
Durham said that recent advances in hydrometallurgy and leach technology, along with a general lack of new sulphide zinc deposits were bringing non-sulphide zinc deposits back into focus as sought after exploration targets.
Examples of non-sulphide zinc deposits include the Skorpion zinc deposit, in Namibia, currently being mined by Vedanta, and the Vazante zinc deposit, in Brazil, being mined by Votarantim.
The deposit is located in a stable jurisdiction with excellent infrastructure at the project’s doorstep.
THE CASE FOR ZINC
Durham noted that while the current demand for zinc, at about 16-million tonnes a year, was expected to expand at a rate of about 5% annually, the supply was expected to taper by about 10% in the medium term.
He pointed out that some of the world’s most significant zinc mines such as MMG’s Century openpit mine, in Australia, and Glencore’s Isaycruz mine, in Peru, were nearing the end of their lives, while new mines in the pipeline were not nearly as large, nor had the high grades that were previously found commonplace.
Zinc is an important industrial metal, adding about 12 times the strength to steel when used as zinc galvanized steel, while about 37.5 lb of zinc goes into each new car. Zinc used in fertiliser had also been shown to improve crop yields up to 30%.
Durham stressed that the company’s main focus for 2015 was to expand the resource at Lone Mountain, aiming to delineate a resource containing between five- to ten-million tonnes of zinc ore, which Durham believed would be enough to foster some serious investor interest.