Typically, an exploration company will hire an exploration geologist to run a greenfields program on prospective ground. This makes a lot of sense as exploration geologists serve what amounts to an apprenticeship learning how best to evaluate and de-risk a piece of ground. Stratabound Minerals (V.SB) went in another direction: their President and CEO, Kim Tyler has a wealth of experience as an “operating geologist”.
“I have had forty years in the industry,” said Tyler. At the Stratabound site his experience is detailed, “gold, base metals and industrial minerals with companies including Vale, Rio Tinto, Royal Oak Mines and Cominco Ltd. Mr. Tyler brings strong technical expertise that, besides mineral exploration, includes mine operations management experience in both open pit and underground mining operations.” Tyler also worked as a consultant with Dundee Precious Metals evaluating projects across North America.
Coming from an operations background, Tyler looks at results through the lens of “How to mine it?”. It is a lens which may help bring the Golden Culvert project in the south-east of the Yukon into focus.
Golden Culvert is twenty kilometres to the north of Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project along the Hyland Gold Belt. The location near 3 Aces is important as Stratabound sees similarities to the deposit at 3 Aces. The former operator of 3 Aces, Golden Predator, had a huge problem in actually figuring out the structure of the gold deposit it had found. There was gold everywhere and solid quartz veins with visible gold in them. But the gold showings did not give much information as to structure and resisted attempts to fit the deposit into the confines of a 43-101 resource estimate. Hundreds of holes were drilled, trenches cut, and samples taken. Bulk mining of quartz veins was successful, but Golden Predator was stymied and sold the project on to Seabridge.
“When you have been an operating geologist you have a different mindset,” said Tyler. “The idea is to focus on a small section to really understand it well, then extrapolate out from there.”
“At Golden Culvert we have many outcrops. On my first site visit in 2016, I walked between two outcropping veins about 800m apart and sampled high-grade gold in both. Since then, we have mapped numerous parallel veins in outcrops with gold-mineralized quartz veins well exposed,” said Tyler. “The gold in the veins and surrounding wall-rock mineralization is well controlled by multiple, parallel structures that follow the well-developed fabric of the regional geology. This makes the work of interpreting the structure of the deposit relatively straight forward. Our trenching and on-going drill results continue to hit the targets where predicted most every time and we are pleased to continue developing a very compelling interpretation. We also have strong surface soil anomalies that mimic the controlling gold-bearing structures lying beneath.” Soil sampling works extremely well in the Yukon because much of it was unglaciated during past ice ages that covered most of the rest of North America. What this means is that the soil samples reflect the rock directly underneath them as the soil was undisturbed.
To increase its understanding of the property, Stratabound began trenching and limited drilling in the 2018 season. In a 2018 release Tyler commented, “Besides the very large hydrothermal envelope that hosts and helps explain the large gold-in-soil anomaly, we have also confirmed a coincident large multi-quartz vein corridor that has proved to be much larger, more continuous and more extensive than first thought. The strongest gold mineralization indicated by the gold-in-soil anomaly is also visually coincident with strongly oxidized sulphide mineralization associated with the quartz veining in the corridor, all good indicators.”
2019 saw Stratabound do extensive trenching work within the “Main Discovery zone”. One trench returned “24.41 gpt Au over 6.0m including the highest gold assay received to date of 95.0 gpt Au over 1.5m on the new Mid-Vein.” As importantly, the trenching work revealed multiple other parallel quartz vein and breccia structures.
In 2020, the company also sampled rock in what is known as float trains – literally rocks and boulders and sub-outcrops running down the strike length of the property. Because the land was unglaciated, the mineralization in these float trains should reflect the mineralization of the underlying rock. All of which set up the 2020 drilling program. 17 holes under the float trains.
The labs have been very backed up because of COVID-19 and it was not until January 12, 2021 that Stratabound was able to report the results from the first hole. “10.31 g/t Gold Over 1.6m with Visible Gold” is an excellent beginning. Additional holes were reported in February and March. In the March release the company summed up the results to date, “The finalized holes, together with 24 surface trenches reported in previous exploration programs, have intersected and outlined a 970-metre-long by 130-metre-wide mineralized corridor containing multiple parallel gold-bearing structures.”
On March 30, 2021 Stratabound reported the results from the final holes of the 2020 season. From that release, “All six holes intercepted gold-mineralized quartz vein and breccia structures yielding between 0.36 g/t Au over 12.1m in GC20-13 and 86.6 g/t Au over 0.6m in GC20-16 down-hole. Hole GC20-15 intercepted a high-grade interval of 10.2 g/t Au over 0.7m immediately in bedrock at 4.3m below the overburden surface.”
This season there will be more drilling at Golden Culvert. “We want to drill it off densely,” said Tyler. “We’ll focus on a small area and understand it.” For Tyler, “understanding it” really means, “how to mine it”. It is a different perspective and may be the key to success in the Hyland Gold Belt.
Stratabound has other two properties in New Brunswick, on gold, the other copper/cobalt and we’re looking forward to looking at them in our next interview with Kim Tyler.