Red Lake Mining Division, Ontario, Canada
The 100% owned North Birch Gold Project comprises approximately 3,850 hectares and lies in the northwestern corner of the Birch-Uchi Greenstone Belt in the Red Lake Mining Division of northwestern Ontario, roughly 110 kilometers northeast of the town of Red Lake. It is presently accessible by air only, but road access is improving as logging roads and an all-weather road to the Springpole Gold Project, 12 kilometers to the southeast, are pushing farther north. In the summer, float planes are available from Red Lake, Sioux Lookout and Ear Falls. In the winter, fixed wing aircraft equipped with skis for landing on the frozen lakes are available in Red Lake and Sioux Lookout. Helicopters are also available year-round from Red Lake and Kenora.
The Birch-Uchi Belt is considered to have similar geology to the Red Lake Belt but has seen less exploration and is about three times larger. The North Birch Project covers a geological setting identified from airborne magnetic surveys (Ontario Geological Survey and AurCrest Gold) and interpreted as being a favourable environment for gold mineralization. Specifically, the Property covers an intensely folded and sheared iron formation (IF) that is similar in appearance to the one hosting Newmont Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine (past production, reserves and resources exceed 8 million ounces Au), some 190 kilometers to the northeast. In addition, the stratigraphy underlying the bulk of both properties is interpreted as Cycle I volcanics, which are thought by some workers to be equivalent to the Balmer Assemblage, host of the prolific Campbell/Red Lake gold orebody (more than 20 million ounces gold in past production and reserves) in the adjacent Red Lake Greenstone Belt.
Minimal previous exploration has been conducted on the North Birch Property, largely because it lies at the limits of government mapping. However, Newrange’s 100% owned, past-producing Argosy Gold Mine is only about four kilometers from the southeast boundary of the property and the Richardson Lake deposit lies just 2.5 kilometers north of Argosy. Gold mineralization at Argosy is hosted by what appears to be a set of extensional veins related to a north-south structure. Veining in iron formation at Richardson Lake is of a similar style, while gold-bearing pyritic quartz veins in iron formation have been reported elsewhere in the vicinity of the Property.
The better-known Springpole Gold Project, owned by First Mining Gold Corp., contains a reported (First Mining’s website) 4.67 million ounces of gold in Indicated Resources. Although not yet in production, it is the largest gold deposit known in the Birch-Uchi Belt.
While the lack of previous exploration on the North Birch Project makes this a largely grass roots prospect, it covers an interpreted geological setting that is considered to be highly prospective for both iron formation hosted and high-grade quartz vein hosted gold mineralization.
Newrange initially completed a data compilation on the project and merged the data for the previously-flown magnetic and electromagnetic surveys, followed by an Induced Polarization (IP) survey over the main target horizon. Limited mapping in the summer of 2020 was cut short by wildfires in the region but a LiDAR survey was flown over the entire property and clearly shows the sheared limb of the folded iron formation.
An inaugural diamond drilling program in February-March 2022 along the southeastern part of the 8 kilometre long target horizon was cut short due to highly variable weather and comprised two holes in 723 metres. Hole NB22001 intersected a deformation zone more than 100 metres wide that had been interpreted from geophysics and LiDAR. The hole collared in massive to pillowed Fe-tholeiitic basalt and shearing started approximately 200 metres downhole, becoming more intense with depth. The basalt becomes increasingly magnetic downhole and laminated IF first appears at 421 metres. Folding is apparent in the IF and both basalt and IF display moderate to intense carbonate alteration and local quartz veining. Pyrite and pyrrhotite mineralization occur as disseminations, stringers and, locally, as ‘clots’ within quartz veins and veinlets. Gold and copper assays increased downhole as shearing intensified. Values were geochemically anomalous, with high values of 0.25 g/t Au and 363 ppm Cu, and the relationship of gold and copper to shearing, quartz-carbonate alteration and pyrite-pyrrhotite mineralization are all encouraging signs considering that this horizon has never been drilled before. Not only does Newrange control about eight kilometres of this horizon but this first hole stopped in highly sheared IF at 460 metres (vertical depth of approximately 320 metres) as the drill had reached its depth limitation. Follow up holes will be drilled in the opposite direction due to the local topography and the sub-vertical dip of the zone.
Hole NB22002 was drilled 800 metres along stratigraphic strike to the northwest to test coincident magnetic and Induced Polarization anomalies. The hole was drilled to 263 metres at -50°, in massive to pillowed basalt and mafic tuff. While the anomalies were explained by the presence of chalcopyrite-pyrrhotite stringers, which returned no significant gold assays, a zone of strong biotite alteration with highly anomalous trace element geochemistry was intersected just below this zone, indicating strong hydrothermal activity. The deformation zone and IF intersected in the first hole were not seen in the second hole indicating that this structure does not appear to follow exactly along the main limb of the fold but likely trends closer to the central axis.
Although the drill program was cut short, the results are highly encouraging and the Company intends to follow up with further drilling as soon as possible.