One of the challenges the Yukon poses is to think “big enough”. As you fly over you see hundreds of placer operations, some recreational, some huge, all pulling gold in flakes and nuggets from the creeks which run between the hills and mountains. The essential geological insight is that the placer gold in the creeks came from somewhere and the logical place to look are the valley walls surrounding the creeks. Which is fine as far as it goes, but where did that gold come from?
Triumph Gold’s (V.TIG) Freegold Mountain project is at the southern end of a series of projects which are all exploring the Dawson Range. Freegold and Goldcorp’s Coffee project are linked to the Big Creek Fault structure which stretches all the way to Alaska. The ground itself was put together by Yukon legends Bill Harris and Sue Craig and was explored and drilled with a focus on the Nucleus deposit. 43-101 Resource Estimates were prepared for Nucleus, Revenue and Tinta Hill deposits and most recently updated in 2014.
In 2014 the company, then known as Northern Freegold Resources, underwent a management transition and, in 2017 changed its name to Triumph Gold.
John Anderson, Chairman of Triumph is happy to discuss the history of the property. “I’ve been involved since 2006,” said Anderson. “Bill Harris had put together a lot of claims and old mines. Things were beginning to move in the Yukon but, in 2007, there were no actual mines in the Yukon.”
“Infrastructure was key,” said Anderson. “Freegold had one huge advantage. It had a road right into the property.”
Unlike the Casino Copper and Gold project or Goldcorp’s Coffee Creek property, you can drive to Triumph’s property on a decent road direct from Whitehorse. A fact which was not lost on Goldcorp.
“In 2016, when Goldcorp bought the Coffee Project, we sat down with them,” said Anderson. “In 2017 Goldcorp bought a 19.9% strategic interest in Triumph and we had the money we needed to drill the property.”
That drilling was needed because, despite having 43-101 Resource Estimates, Triumph’s new management realized that there was the potential for a very much larger gold/copper deposit.
In the course of its management transition, the company re-examined elements of its exploration strategy and brought on Tony Barresi as VP Exploration. Joe Campbell, brought his years of geological experience to the Board and Triumph began to test a larger theory of the mineralization along the Big Creek fault.
“The property is 34 kilometres long,” said Barresi in a telephone interview. “There are all kinds of different showings. Gold, silver, copper, molybdenum and we are focused on a 6-kilometre, multi-element soil anomaly.”
Here’s where understanding the scale of the Yukon becomes important. “We’ve been developing a geological case, a scenario, where the soil anomaly reflects an exceptionally broad multi-element hydrothermal footprint that is present in the bedrock immediately underlying the soil. We’ve drill tested that idea and consistently hit mineralization,” said Barresi. “We think this may be the halo from something much hotter at depth.”
That something is, very possibly, a porphyry intrusion somewhat like the Patton Porphyry at Western Copper and Gold’s Casino gold/copper deposit but, Barresi points out, the grades Triumph is encountering are significantly better than those at Casino.
“Earlier drilling on the property focused on a diatreme in an area we called Revenue,” said Barresi. “However, that diatreme came after the porphyry.”
“The silver bullet here is the geochronology. The age of the rock, the age of the mineralization,” said Barresi. “The porphyry intrusion is the same age as the mineralization but the surface rock is 30 million years older than the mineralization. That means there must be a porphyry intrusion at depth that is the same age as, and the cause of, the mineralization we see near surface. That intrusion has yet to be tested by drilling”
To confirm this geological theory Triumph is planning on drilling deep this season. “We’ll have two drills starting in late May or early June,” said Barresi. “We’ll start with 900 meter holes and then drill deeper.”
Unlike many other Yukon explorers, Triumph can drive rather than helicopter into its property. “We can drill at an all-in cost of $250 a meter,” said Barresi. Better still, the core can be driven direct to a lab in Whitehorse.
Barresi pointed out that the richest mineralization in a porphyry system tends to be at the transition point where the porphyry intrusion is in contact with the surrounding country rock. The various showings, drill intercepts and the multi-element soil anomaly all suggest that the gold-enriched fluids from the porphyry took advantage of fractured rock caused by the Big Creek Fault to rise to surface. But the source of the fluids is almost certainly below and it has the potential to be huge.
“Everywhere that we’ve tested beneath the 6 kilometre long soil anomaly we have encountered porphyry or epithermal mineralization.” said Barresi. “We think this is an incredibly large hydrothermal system; it has a similar scale to some of the worlds largest porphyry deposits.”
If Barresi’s geological case is correct the porphyry underlies the entire length of Triumph’s 6 kilometer exploration zone.
Triumph Chairman, John Anderson summed up this summer’s drilling potential, “We think Tony has discovered the big elephant underneath.”
Drill results will start coming in July and, likely by the end of August, Triumph and the market will know if Tony Barresi’s porphyry elephant has been confirmed.