November is a busy conferencing month due in part to post-field season confabs by the exploration community. This year marked a shift for us from Quebec's annual get together, to the one in Yukon with which it unfortunately conflicted.
Whitehorse, with a population of 23,000, is one of the world's smaller cities and home to 2/3 of the Yukon population - in a territory that is larger than all but two US states and four European countries. The Territory was created because of the Klondike gold rush and mining has shaped its modern history as much as any other activity. This shows in the work of the government and industry organizations which put together the annual Geoscience forum. This is a technical forum for exploration types that is akin to the better known Roundup in Vancouver or the PDAC in Toronto (pre hullabaloo). This year's Geoscience forum was filled to capacity, and buzzing. It underscored our contention that the new wave of gold exploration in the Yukon has serious legs.
The count of companies working in the Yukon is now said to be "over 110" and claims staking to be "the biggest year on record." Whether the former includes the mid and large tier gold companies that are still at the tire kicking stage and the latter some overlapping claims that will get deducted from the total is still to be seen. Regardless, companies are still coming in and claims staking continues even though it should normally have halted by now to let winter settle in. Prospectors afraid to let old ideas or new data remain open to others are willing to accept the higher costs of staking this time of year. Having myself spent several cold nights out and other nights fretting about others doing same during staking excursions this time of year I have some serious respect for this push to cover targets.
There is at least one area new to this current play in which "Carlin-type" mineralization had been found in the early '80s that is getting some focus. The region has the pieces to put it in the Rau camp in terms of recent discoveries. At least one company we already cover is picking up ground there, but since this will be next year's story we will fill in the details another time. The 3Ace area was generating more of a buzz.
The 3Ace buzz is partially because of its new prominence, but there is more to it than that. The original discovery work in this area took place in the 1990s and involved a number of companies who gave up short of significant testing because of the low gold price. The immediate trend extensions covering +50 km of prospective ground have now been staked up and there will be at least four companies working these. The bigger picture is however the overall trend extent. Studies suggest this might run to and through the Hyland Gold deposit (Argus Gold) to the southwest which would expand the potential to several hundred km. Of equal interest is work suggesting the 3Ace area was part of the better known deposits set in the central Yukon and shifted into its current position by subsequent faulting.
These large scale fault movements were touched on in the April Journal write-up on the play, and we will be going into more detail on them next year. For the moment the message is that while the second set of drillholes from 3Ace may have disappointed the market, they will have little impact on a major exploration play that is forming around the project. Work in this area is still in early stages, and will have market focus.
In the Dawson Range (White Gold district) studies have been focused on how to move exploration along. This includes a look at regional trends and the impact of permafrost on targeting programs. The takeaway is twofold. One is that the region is highly prospective in the sense that it contains gold sources over a very broad area. Here to we are still in the early stages of sorting out all of the controls involved in the creation of deposits; a number of the regional faults running through the district may become a locus of work elsewhere. The second point is that as work moves away from the ridge crests it will take some greater effort to efficiently generate new targets. That may impact the timing of new discovery next year.
As for the Rau area, the summary would simply be that it is arguably the best analogue for the deposits of the Carlin trend so far discovered. That won't ensure viability, but it will ensure a continued strong interest in the Yukon Area play.
From the November 2010 Hard Rock Analyst Dispatch