The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved Newrange Gold’s (TSXV: NRG; US-OTC: NRGOF) proposal to transfer the company permits for the Merritt decline, part of its 16.7 sq. km Pamlico gold project in Nevada, as well as to collect a 1,000-ton (907-tonne) bulk sample at the project.
The project’s previous operators, the Merritt family, developed the Merritt decline in 2013 for between US$2 million and US$3 million. The family permitted the decline to collect this proposed bulk sample. They stopped developing it 20 metres short of the target zone, when the patriarch of the family had a stroke and passed away.
“The permits remained valid, so what we’ve done is transfer everything from the Merritt family name into Newrange’s name,” says Newrange CEO Bob Archer in an interview with The Northern Miner. “That allows us to put together a comprehensive program to continue with that underground development and take that bulk sample.
“Our president and co-founder Robert Carrington — his father was a friend of the Merritt family.”
The company will use the bulk sample to generate a “break of mine” sample that would reflect conditions in a production scenario, including rock fragmentation, power requirements and the most desirable mining methods. It aims to continue underground development and take its bulk sample later this year, and later do larger-scale metallurgical testing at the project.
According to Archer, the area was known as one of the highest-grade, gold-producing districts in Nevada in the 1880s. The Pamlico property has been privately owned since 1896, passing from one family to another, and outside of some brief activity by junior explorers that optioned it in the late 1990s, it hasn’t received much modern exploration.
“Some of the mineralization is extremely high grade and can be quite coarse,” Archer says, “and that’s of course what the old-timers were chasing. But back in those days they didn’t know about the very fine, micron-scale gold that we have nowadays that’s amenable to heap leaching and that sort of thing, and we’ve been able to demonstrate that there’s a lot of that there.”
Archer says that the high-grade material at the project can be very discontinuous. By re-evaluating past assays and geological information at the property, Newrange realized that its high-grade zones are likely pockets within a halo of lower-grade material.
“With the very positive metallurgy that we have, we began taking a look at that lower-grade material, and then averaging it in with the high grade, we started to realize that this all hangs together well enough that we could have a very large deposit — albeit lower grade — with open-pit potential,” Archer says. “It was looking more like an underground-type operation initially, and this sort of changed our focus on the project.
“It’s a new approach to an old mining district.”
Newrange optioned the property from the Merritt family in 2016. It can acquire a 100% interest in Pamlico by paying the seller US$7 million. It can expedite the option and fully acquire the property by paying the seller US$4 million in four years.
The property features over 300 old mine workings and 8 km of underground tunnels. Those 300 workings cover a 1 by 1.5 km area that is oxidized to 300 metres below surface.
“The area remains open in all directions,” Archer says, “so there’s lots of work to be done to fully test it.”
Less than 0.5% of the property has been drill tested so far. Of the 47 holes drilled to date at Pamlico, 39 were in the Merritt area, and the other eight were at Pamlico Ridge. Highlights from previous drilling by Newrange in 2017 include 13.67 grams gold over 21 metres from 30 metres downhole and 16.87 grams gold over 5 metres from 48 metres downhole. Saw cut samples taken by Newrange at the decline graded as high as 2.92 grams gold over 76 metres.
The company aims to drill the project again this quarter. It will start with 5,000 metres to delineate a maiden resource. The company hopes to table a resource estimate at Pamlico by late 2019. It will also continue with an underground mapping, sampling and surveying program.
“That’s a fairly extensive program, with 8,000 metres or so,” Archer says, “and we’re finding new stuff all the time because there are no old maps or plans for all these workings.
“Just when you think you’ve got it covered, you find a little tunnel off to the right, and next thing you know you’re coming out on the other side of the mountain half an hour later.”
The project is located 19 km southeast of Hawthorne, Nev., within 13 km of Highway 95. An all-weather gravel road extends the rest of the way to the property.
Newrange shares are trading at 16¢ in a 52-week range of 7¢ to 28¢. The company has an $18-million market capitalization. Archer co-founded Great Panther Silver, which is now Great Panther Mining.
“We’ve got a very strong team, and we think that we can really advance this project and make something significant out of it,” Archer says.