If it’s not yet gold fever, the mercury is definitely rising at a mining prospect near Herbert Glacier.
During exploratory drilling this summer, Canadian company Grande Portage Resources Ltd. unearthed evidence of more gold in the area. The results will add to the nearly 200,000 ounces of gold the company believes lies within a system of six mineral veins.
This summer’s drill program expanded into new area Grande Portage hadn’t explored before.
“The type of rock type as it was intercepted is the same type of rock type we’ve seen in the past which has yielded some excellent results, some medium results, some disappointing results,” company president Ian Klassen said in an interview with the Empire.
Grande Portage received laboratory analysis from drill samples returned on Thursday. They look promising, Klassen said.
The company found similar results to previous drilling. Klassen said it was a “terrific re-affirmation” of the area’s prospects.
It is not yet known exactly how many ounces of gold the company found this summer as those numbers are determined by a third-party analyst at a later date. More lab results are forthcoming through the end of November.
Since Grande Portage began exploration work at Herbert Glacier in 2010, the Vancouver-based company has found evidence of 182,400 ounces of gold, as well as a smaller amount of silver and other minerals. Klassen previously told the Empire he hoped to double their gold estimates with this summer’s drilling, and in subsequent years, prove the existence of 1,000,000 ounces of gold.
That 182,400 ounces is what’s called an “indicated resource,” meaning a geologist has assessed drilling samples and determined them to indicate a certain amount of gold. By way of comparison, Kensington Mine north of Juneau has 497,000 ounces of indicated gold; The Juneau Gold Belt has, historically, produced 7 million ounces of gold.
Grande Portage holds 100 percent interest in the Herbert Glacier gold claim, but will not mine the gold itself. As a smaller “junior” company, they specialize in mineral exploration, not extraction. They hope to sell the claim to a larger “major” company once the claim proves lucritive.
The six veins Grande Portage is exploring were exposed by the retreat of Herbert Glacier.
In the 1980s, the Herbert Glacier area was the subject of exploratory work conducted by two different companies — Houston Oil and Minerals in 1986 and Echo Bay Mines in ‘87.
After being largely forgotten during the 1990s and early 2000s, mineral exploration started anew at Herbert Glacier in 2007.
In 2010, Grande Portage partnered with Quaterra Resources Inc. in a joint venture to explore for gold. They’ve since taken sole possession of the mineral rights.
Herbert Glacier lies on the Juneau road system, making it subject to the City and Borough of Juneau’s urban mining ordinance, which allows CBJ some control over mine permitting on the road system.
That ordinance has come under scrutiny recently as a group of local business leaders have pushed to remove most of its regulatory power, calling it a hindrance to mining companies looking to do business in Juneau. The CBJ Assembly voted in June to form a subcommittee to look into changing the ordinance. They haven’t returned to the topic since.
Klassen said Grande Portage is following talks over the ordinance “somewhat” and added that whatever happens, they’ll “certainly play by the rules.”
The summer drilling program consisted of eight drill holes accessed from two drilling platforms. Klassen said the company followed a plan to restore the site and has removed all their equipment.
Drilling did not take place on the glacier. Hiking and biking trails in the area weren’t affected by the work as the company accessed the site by helicopter.
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.