Yukon-focused explorer Whitehorse Gold (TSXV: WHG) is making steady progress assessing a development path for its high-grade district-scale Skukum property in an advanced, brownfield camp, 88 km south of Whitehorse.
Led by an experienced management team and board with Kevin Weston as CEO, Whitehorse Gold recently completed a $15.3 million equity financing to fund the 2021 resource expansion and upgrade drill campaign.
“Our core strategy is to convert the existing resources to higher-confidence categories, expand it, potentially make discoveries given the multitude of drill-ready targets on the property, and to figure out a fast track to small-scale production,” Weston tells The Northern Miner on a recent sponsored site visit.
Weston says the company has successfully consolidated the expansive Skukum land package for the first time since its initial discovery over a hundred years ago, giving it a unique opportunity to compile and assess the various historical datasets for discovery potential.
To date, the project has seen significant historical drilling totalling 141,547 metres. The company has made a concerted effort to integrate historical hand-drawn maps and data into the model.
Whitehorse Gold’s genesis dates to February 12, 2020. The company entered into a share exchange agreement with New Pacific Metals (TSX: NUAG), under which New Pacific transferred to the company all the issued and outstanding shares in the authorized share structure of Tagish Lake Gold.
The project, formerly known as the Tagish Lake project, covering an area of 170.3 sq. km, is located about 55 km south of Whitehorse by air. The project comprises 1,051 mining claims, of which the company owns 100%.
The Skukum project benefits from excellent accessibility, available infrastructure, medium to high-grade resources in place and compelling exploration potential.
The past-producing Mt. Skukum operations operated from 1986 to 1988 and produced 79,750 ounces of gold from 233,400 tonnes of mined ore.
As a result, the Skukum project benefits from more than 6,000 metres of underground development, a 270 tonne per day mill, supporting facilities, and a 50-person camp.
In addition, the project benefits from an existing resource base at the three core deposit areas — Skukum Creek, Goddell, and Mt. Skukum. The respective deposits host about 335,611 gold-equivalent (AuEq) ounces at 7.8 grams per tonne in the indicated category, with another 245,590 ounces grading at 6.9 grams per tonne inferred.
The Skukum Creek deposit is hosted in a Cretaceous granodiorite and consists of multiple mineralized vein zones controlled by northeast-trending structures. Gold is hosted within quartz sulphide veins.
According to Weston, historical and recent drilling indicates that gold grades are increasing at depth. In 2020, four drill holes totalling 2,091 metres were completed to better define the deeper portion of the Rainbow Zone, validate historical intercepts, and test re-interpreted portions of the deposit.
This drilling returned encouraging intercepts of medium to high-grade gold and indicated that silver could be an essential credit.
The Goddell deposit is hosted in a Cretaceous grano-monzonite and consists of a mineralized alteration zone controlled by an extensive east-west trending structure. Gold is hosted in finely disseminated sulphides. The Goddell resource area remains open at depth and along strike, and the company believes this second-largest deposit of the project holds the most discovery potential.
The Mt. Skukum deposit is hosted in an Eocene andesitic unit and consists of epithermal quartz veins controlled by north-south trending faults. Gold is hosted in quartz-calcite-adularia veins.
In mid-May, Whitehorse Gold closed equity financings that raised net proceeds of about $14.8 million. The company is putting the money to work in an 18,000-metre drill program to test the depth and strike extent of the mineralized zones at Skukum Creek and the 5 km long Goddell structure to expand and define vein zones at Mt. Skukum.
This was followed in July by receiving a Class 3 Quartz Mining Land Use Approval Permit from the Yukon government, valid for five years. The permit allowed the company to start the current drilling campaign.
In the first half of the year, Whitehorse completed a 1,900-line-kilometre airborne geophysical survey over the project. The results are expected to provide data for new target generation.
The 2021 surface exploration, mapping and sampling program has also been completed. The purpose of the surface exploration was to identify new zones of gold mineralization. These results are expected to guide future exploration programs and develop a ranked pipeline of targets.
In September, the company reported drill results from six holes drilled in the upper portion of the Rainbow zone, which is part of the Skukum Creek deposit. Skukum Creek is the largest of the three deposits.
The holes were drilled to infill a portion of the deposit where the previous drilling was wide-spaced (more than 50 metre spacing). The results from infill holes should help upgrade the near-surface part of the resource for Skukum Creek.
All holes encountered gold and silver mineralization. Highlights include 8.6 grams per tonne gold-equivalent over 6.17 metres from 146.23 metres depth, including 22.1 grams per tonne gold-equivalent over 2.2 metres in hole SC21-008; and 16.5 grams per tonne gold-equivalent over 2.25 metres starting from 124.75 metres depth in hole SC21-009.
Early in October, the company reported bonanza-grade gold and silver results from a step-out drill hole. Drill hole SC21-015 intersected a 4.2-metre interval (from 239.34 to 243.58 metres) grading 32 grams per tonne gold-equivalent, including a 3.2-metre interval of 38.9 grams per tonne gold-equivalent in the Rainbow 2 Zone. The hole also intersected a 2.4-metre interval grading 11.6 grams per tonne gold-equivalent. It represents a 150-metre step-out up-dip from historic drill holes, representing a significant extension of the Rainbow 2 Zone, one of four zones that constitute the Skukum Creek deposit.
“Hole SC21-015 has returned the highest-grade gold intervals to date from our drill program and shows potential for higher grades and resource expansion at the Skukum gold project,” says Weston. “With results now released for seven drill holes, we look forward to announcing results from the remaining 37 holes over the coming months and are excited by the potential to advance the project towards a development path.”
Beyond the three critical areas within the Skukum project that host resource estimates, Whitehorse Gold has identified more than 20 high-priority regional exploration targets within the district-scale property area. Most of these are vein sets identified within the last 40 years, with varying levels of completed follow-up work.
Other regional property targets will also be prioritized and explored.
“The project has never been regionally explored, nor has any modern technologies been applied. We certainly have no shortage of good-quality exploration targets,” says Weston.
Weston says the company enjoys strong support from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. “Whitehorse Gold values its mutually beneficial relationship with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, and we acknowledged the significance of this relationship when we announced the ability to accelerate the permitting timeline to secure a Class 3 Permit,” he says.
The company continues its 18,000 metre drill program with three rigs on site, and this program is focused on infilling and expanding the three known deposits.
“Whitehorse is still in the early development stage of exploration and in our view holds great potential, especially when compared to its peers,” said Timothy Lee, mining analyst with Red Cloud Securities, in a recent research note.
In July, Laurentian Bank Securities analyst Jacques Wortman initiated coverage of the company with a ‘buy’ recommendation and a target price of $2.20. “However, we do recognize that a key risk to our target and recommendation is the geological complexity of the camp, which will require time to validate,” he said in a research note at the time.
The company has about 67.1 million shares outstanding on a fully diluted basis, and as of the end of October, had about $8 million in cash in hand.
At 61c apiece at press time, Whitehorse Gold shares are trading almost 13% lower over the past 12-month period, capitalizing it at $32.13 million.