If you ask Redstar Gold (TSXV: RGC; US-OTC: RGCTF) for comparables to the mineralization at its Unga gold project in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, the management team will tell you that it is similar to the high-grade, low-sulphidation systems characteristic of the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire in which it sits, with similar geological and structural characteristics as Kinross Gold’s (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) Kupol mine in Russia’s Far Eastern Chukotka region and Yamana Gold’s (TSX: YRI; NYSE: AUY; LSE: YAU) El Penon mine in northern Chile.
The junior explorer will also tell you that its 250 sq. km land holding at the project on Unga and Popof Islands includes Alaska’s first underground gold mine, Apollo Sitka, which between 1866 and 1922 produced 150,000 oz. gold averaging 10 grams gold per tonne, and hosts the Apollo-Sitka and Shumagin mineralized trends, each 10 km long.
The two trends — situated southeast on Unga Island — are partly fault-controlled, northeast-oriented, semi-linear trends that transect all of Unga Island, and are defined by areas of intense alteration and precious and base metal vein systems. The Shumagin Trend is 3 km north of the Apollo-Sitka Trend and 3–4 km north of the past producing Apollo-Sitka mine.
Until Redstar came along and acquired an option on the project in 2011, the area had not been drilled since the 1980s. A historic resource estimate completed by SRK in the 1990s on the Shumagin vein delineated an inferred resource of 280,000 tonnes measuring 27.4 grams gold per tonne and 127 grams silver per tonne.
Redstar completed its first drill program on the Shumagin vein in the third quarter of 2011. Drilling in 10 holes returned wide zones of gold mineralization. Highlights included intercepts of 29.7 metres grading 14.98 grams gold per tonne and 11.5 grams silver per tonne; 4 metres averaging 11.70 grams gold and 10.2 grams silver; and 1 metre of 43.90 grams gold and 18.5 grams silver.
The company also reported that the Shumagin vein system remained open in all directions. The 2011 drill program showed that the vein system continued over at least 800 metres of strike.
Last year Redstar conducted a $500,000 mid-year surface program of geological and structural mapping, along with channel and soil sampling. Results from 1,700 rock and soil samples extended known areas of surface anomalous mineralization at Shumagin by 400 metres southwest and 1,300 metres southwest of Apollo-Sitka. The samples included grades of up to 401 grams gold and 266 grams silver.
The program laid the groundwork for the company’s vice-president of exploration, Jesse Grady, a structural geologist, to come up with drill targets for Redstar’s 2015 drill campaign, which kicked off on April 29. The $1-million, 1,450-metre drill campaign aims to continue and expand the known mineralization within the Shumagin gold zone along strike and at depth.
The company plans an extensive second-phase drill program for later this year and it will continue drilling within the Shumagin gold zone, as well as explore other high-grade gold targets.
Ken Booth, the company’s president and CEO, points out that the historic Apollo-Sitka mine on the Apollo-Sitka trend, did not produce any gold from the sulphide-bearing veins below the shallow oxide layer of the deposit due to limited recovery methods at the time, and says the project area has a lot of potential.
He also notes that the project — 10 km west of the town of Sand Point at the eastern end of the Aleutian Islands, and 925 km southwest of Anchorage — has exploration permits from the state of Alaska that are good for the next five years.
Booth also notes that Redstar has a full and binding agreement with Aleut Corp., which hold the mineral rights.
“They’re fully supportive,” he says. “A lot of native corporations in Alaska are corporations. They are set up to be business-oriented and economically viable, and they are pro-mining and pro-development.”
A geologist by training, Booth says advancing a project in the Aleutian Islands has advantages. “The good news for us is there are no federal lands on this island, so it’s all native corporations and state claims,” he says, adding that temperatures in winter rarely drop below zero degrees due to the Northern Pacific current coming from the south, and that drilling can take place year-round. There are also abundant water sources for drilling and an airport at Sand Point, with daily flights to Anchorage.
“From an exploration perspective, it’s very good,” he says in an interview from his office in Vancouver, adding that the company is “realistic” about the project’s potential.
“With the two trends, we think it has potential to host a multi-million ounce gold deposit,” he says, “and the key thing about this is that it’s high grade.
“What that high grade will be, I don’t know. But based on our work in 2011 and 2014, and the work by others like Battle Mountain, and the historic production, there is high-grade gold and silver on this property.”
Redstar hopes to raise money for a second-drill program before year-end.
At press time, Redstar traded at 4¢ per share within a 52-week range of 3¢ to 7.5¢. The junior has 180 million shares outstanding.