VANCOUVER — Bitterroot Resources (TSXV: BTT) has its eye on high-grade silver across 7 km of potential strike length at the historic Hackberry property, 48 km northeast of Kingman, Arizona.
The company is bringing modern exploration techniques to a region that hosted small-scale, high-grade silver production through the early 1900s, but has been virtually untouched over the past century.
Bitterroot’s property package includes long-dormant silver operations found in 1875: the northwestern Silver King deposits, and the southeastern Old Hackberry and South Hackberry mines.
Silver King has shallow workings to the “lower reaches of the oxidized zone” that reportedly yielded mineralization at an average grade of nearly 7,000 grams silver per tonne. Meanwhile, Hackberry was developed along a “narrow mineralized seam” and produced 136,100 tonnes of material around 1917.
Bitterroot suspects that base and precious metal mineralization at Hackberry involves “fracture sets” containing quartz veins or other silicified zones within envelopes of locally argillically altered, and sometimes foliated, granitic gneiss.
“The property has seen sporadic attention over the past century, but it has really never been systematically explored outside of that small-scale mining,” Bitterroot president and CEO Michael Carr says in an interview. “The potential was always recognized, but there was never any drilling. The only thing that really existed was the surface expression and old workings, which were caved in. So you really couldn’t go underground to map, or do any other work. We did our research and believe that it is a prospective mineralized system that’s truly worth exploring.”
The company assembled nearly 10 sq. km in Mohave County before collecting 340 soil samples, along eight traverses, across 6 km of the Hackberry mineralized system.The property package includes 12 patented mine claims, three unpatented claims and 97 claims covering 8 sq. km of federally managed public lands.
Bitterroot also mobilized unmanned airborne vehicles to fly aeromagnetic surveys on 50-metre spacing. The survey reportedly indicates that the Hackberry trend is “associated with a northwest- to southeast-trending linear magnetic low.”
“The south end of the property is more in what I’d call a base metal dominated system, whereas the northern areas are dominated by gold, silver and mercury. So that’s more of an epithermal environment,” Carr adds. “We’re in some form of porphyry system. The main structure there is impressive because it runs for 9 km, and there’s high-grade mineralization along virtually the entire thing, but it has never seen a drill hole until a few weeks ago.”
The company translated its newly minted data into drill targets. The main area of interest surrounds previous mine workings on the patented mining claims, which host historic silver grades ranging from 686 to over 6,857 grams silver per tonne.
In September, Bitterroot mobilized a 2,000-metre drill program on the patented ground at the old Hackberry and South Hackberry mines. Meanwhile, the company is also applying for permits to drill several targets located on the adjacent unpatented mining claims.
“It’s effectively a proof-of-concept program, since we’re looking at 100-year-old mine workings,” Carr says. “We needed to drill just to confirm the mineralization. The upper part of the mine, above around the 500 level, is supergene enriched. Below that you’d be looking at more primary ore. It’s now a matter of figuring out where we can find the high grades in the structure.”
On Sept. 25, Bitterroot raised $1.1 million via a non-brokered private placement, in which it issued 5.3 million units priced at 20¢ each. Each unit consists of a share and half a warrant exercisable at 30¢ for two years.
The company intends to fund a phase-two drill program that will include 2,000 metres on the unpatented Hackberry claims. Carr expects to have results from the first drill phase before November 2017.
Bitterroot shares have traded in a 52-week range of 3.5¢ to 29¢ per share, and closed at 22¢ at press time. The company has 36 million shares outstanding for a $7.9-million market capitalization.
“Discovery stories are certainly attracting a lot more attention than they have been over the past couple of years,” Carr said. “There’s been a lot of wealth created through recent successful drill campaigns and that capital is re-entering the market looking for new opportunities. We’re just scaling up for exploration right now, and we’ve definitely seen that investor interest.”