Fire River Gold Corp. is Alaska's newest gold producer, with an
annual production target rate of 50,000 ounces of gold to be
produced on its wholly owned Nixon Fork Gold Mine located in the
resource rich Tintina Gold Belt. Operations started in July
2011, with a near term production target of 30,000 oz/Au by end
of year 2012, projecting an increase to 40,000 oz/Au per year in
2013, ramping up to a projected 50,000 ounces in 2014. This
year-round mining program produces both gold-rich copper
concentrate and doré bars, with silver as a by-product. Fire
River Gold will attempt to replenish what is mined on an annual
basis by further drilling exploration targets on surface and
underground thereby extending the life of the operation.
Nixon Fork Gold Mine is located in the Tintina Gold Belt
The Nixon Fork Mine History
The Nixon Fork Mine is a past producing mine with a high grade production
history that was sustained over a five year period of operations.
Previously owned by Nevada Goldfields Inc. (1993 - 1999) and St. Andrew
Goldfields Ltd. (2003-2008), the Nixon Fork Gold Mine was purchased by Fire
River Gold Corp. from Pacific North West Capital August 13, 2009 for $3.1
million in cash and shares. The 11,000 acre property, its facilities and
infrastructure have an approximate replacement value of $150 million.
From 2004 through 2008 the previous operators spent over US $50 million on
upgrades to the processing facilities, mine infrastructure, permitting and
bonding. Since that time Fire River Gold has spent $20 million on further
upgrades and equipment. During 2007-2008, a total of 9,381 m of definition
drilling was conducted but the results were never fully evaluated or released.
Since 2009, Fire River Gold has re-logged historical drill core to better
understand the controls of gold mineralization as well as gaining confidence in
the high grades.
Underground exploration continues with 2 company owned diamond drills focusing
on definition drilling in support of ongoing mining and exploration drilling to
replenish what is mined.
Summer 2012 exploration program involved trenching and drilling in the
immediate vicinity of the mine to expand mine resources and to further define
potential ore bodies. The drilling program, using one of the company owned
diamond drill, further defined the Mystery ore zone in preparation for mining
and the trenching program identified near surface targets between the Crystal
and Mystery mines.
Hagby Drill Set Up Underground
In addition to the mine, the property has a 150 tonnes per day gravity and
flotation processing plant mill and a 250 tonnes per day Carbon-in--Leach (CIL)
Circuit, surface and underground mobile equipment fleets, an 85 person fully
equipped camp, 2 company owned drills, a self-contained power plant, water and
septic systems, and a 1280 meters long landing strip.
Fire River Gold owns the Nixon Fork Mine through a wholly owned subsidiary,
Mystery Creek Resources Inc. Mystery Creek has a renewable lease to explore and
mine the ore bodies at Nixon Fork.
The Tintina Gold Belt province is an arc-shaped 2,000-kilometer-long
metallogenic province that extends across mainland Alaska, into the Yukon and
Northern BC. The Tintina Gold Belt is host to world-class deposits such as:
- Donlin Creek (29.3 M oz Au Proven & Probable reserves)
- Fort Knox (3.8 M oz P & P)
- Pogo (3.6 M oz P & P)
- Dublin Gulch (2.7 M oz Indicated resource)
Type of Deposit
The deposit on Nixon Fork Mine property is a skarn which is a carbonate -
Economic skarn deposits can range from small tonnage / high grade to large
tonnage/ low grade. Geochemical evidence presented by Cutler (1994) suggests the
Nixon Fork skarn is genetically similar to the skarn ore bodies mined at
Fortitude in Nevada. Wallis and Rennie (2005) suggested the Nixon Fork had
genetic similarities to the Nickel Plate mine in British Columbia. At the Nickel
Plate the underground tonnage mined was 3 million tonnes at 14 gpt gold while at
Fortitude the high-grade zone contained resources of 5.1 million tonnes at 10.5
gpt gold (Meinert, 1992). Other analogs include the Buckhorn (Crown Jewel) gold
skarn in Washington State.
A variety of skarn types are present at Nixon Fork. These include
calcic-skarns, after limestone host rocks, and magnesium skarn after dolomites.
The percentage of dolomitic host rocks is likely equal to that of limestone host
rocks. In addition, skarn types can be further divided into units useful in
modeling that are based on their mineralogical compositions:
- garnet > pyroxene skarn
- pyroxene > garnet skarn
- wollastonite skarn
- magnesian skarn (serpentine-phlogopite-talc-tremolite)
- retrograde sulfide-rich skarn.
The majority of the recent underground gold-copper production from the Nixon
Fork mine area occurred in the Crystal Mine. The Crystal Mine includes five main
mineralized shoots that were accessed by a decline and mined during the period
1995 to 1998 and 2006-2007. The majority of the production came from the 3000
ore shoot in 1995-98. The mineralized skarn bodies in this part of the mine
range up to 6 meters in width with an average of 3 meters. The strike length of
the individual shoots varies from 10 to 30 meters but these pipe-like bodies
extend down dip for several hundred meters. Average grade of the mineralized
bodies varies from 9 gpt up to 45 gpt Au. In the Crystal zone, silver and copper
values average 27 gpt and 1.2 %, respectively. (NI
43-101 October 2010)
The Company drilled over 20,000 meters in its 2011 drill program. Fire River
Gold plans on increasing production to 50,000 ounces of gold per annum by the
end of 2013. The life of the mine is approximately four years and Fire River
Gold anticipates extending it considerably beyond that period by replenishing
what is mined on an annual basis.
The updated resource estimate compiled in the NI 43-101 Technical Report from
February 2012 demonstrated the mine's ability to accomplish its operating plan:
to replenish what is mined on an annual basis. Quarterly projections for
production levels are estimated to be approximately 9,000 oz. of gold per
quarter in 2012 at a cash cost estimate of approximately $842 per oz.
Nixon Fork Mine Proposed 2012 Exploration Program
The mill is able to produce 150 tonnes a day via gravity and flotation
and the CIL Circuit was designed with a capacity of 250 tpd,- higher than the
gravity and flotation mill for the purpose of incorporating additional
supplemental feed from the existing tailings which grades approximately 7.6 g.t
(Giroux, 2010). Ore recovery is expected to be +90%.
Tailings disposal has transitioned from the pond to the dry stack. The
tailings will be hauled from the pond to the mill as supplemental feed shortly
after the commissioning of the CIL circuit. The mill has moderated the copper
content in the concentrate, which varied from 10% to 25% historically.
Approximately 20% of the recovered gold will be sold as doré and 80% will be
contained in the gold-rich copper concentrate. The operation also has historic
silver production, with the silver grade running at more than half of the gold
grade. The silver will report to both the doré and the copper concentrate. The
economic benefit of both copper and silver were not declared in any analysis, as
historically assays were not performed for either metal, so resources could not
be declared other than for gold.
Gravity and Flotation
Circuits at the Mill
CIL Circuit under construction
1. 3550 Zone
2. 3000 Zone
3. 3300 Zone
4. Mystery Mine
5. J5A Zone
6. Southern Cross
7. 3100 Zone
Mine Equipment Purchases
(L to R: One Boom Jumbo, 4 yd³ Scooptram, LH Drill)
Stockpiles of high grade material is stored in front of the
primary jaw crusher outside of the mill building. In addition,
low grade material has been stored on a nearby laydown. This
material is segregated into piles awaiting grade determination
by assay (note the identifying stakes for each pile) before
being added to one of the piles or disposed of onto the waste
High Grade Stockpile (left)
and Medium Grade Stockpile
(right) ahead of Primary
Low Grade Stockpile (to
right) and Unclassified
The doré produced from leaching
will be sent to Johnson Matthey for refining prior to
being sold to Waterton Global Value, L.P.
A three year contract has been secured with Glencore Ltd. for the sale of the
copper concentrate produced at Nixon Fork Gold Mine. The gold-rich copper
concentrate is to have moderate copper content which has varied from 10% to 25%
historically. The gold-rich copper concentrate will comprise approximately 80%
of Fire River Gold's revenue.