Notes From Nevada: High-Grade Gold/Silver And Clowns
As per usual in 2020 there is a lot I could write about this morning. However, my trip to Nevada is fresh in my mind so I will do my best to summarize a whirlwind 17 hour tour of three site visits across Nevada’s Walker Lane Trend.
First of all, Las Vegas is always a surreal experience but this time it was on another level. A bad acid trip sort of surreal. The casinos are mandated to follow ridiculously strict cleaning protocols. Let your mask fall below your nose or stand too close to another human being and you will have security on you within 5 seconds.
You can touch the chips but you can’t touch the cards. That makes perfect sense right?
After spending Saturday in Vegas it was refreshing to get outside of the concrete oven that is Las Vegas in August. We drove three hours north to the town of Tonopah and visited Blackrock Gold (TSX-V:BRC) and Summa Silver. These two companies essentially have all the mining claims worth having in and around the historic mining town of Tonopah.
The history of Tonopah could fill 500 pages so I won’t try, however, it’s safe to say that Tonopah has helped to contribute to Nevada being known as the “Silver State” due to the massive amount of silver that was produced from this area in the early 20th century. More on that later.
I first met Blackrock Chairman Bill Howald at Beaver Creek in September 2019 and it was nice to catch up with him nearly a year later. At Beaver Creek Blackrock was a pie in the sky story revolving around the company’s other project, Silver Cloud (a gold project with silver in its name…fitting since Blackrock Gold is now primarily a silver explorer with gold in its name).
Blackrock Gold Chairman Bill Howald (left) showing your author where Blackrock will be aggressively stepping out to find the extensions of the Denver and Paymaster Veins.
Everything in September 2019 was conceptual and based upon story telling of what “could be” at Silver Cloud. This time Howald had an air of confidence that was hard to ignore. This is a man who helped Placer Dome find 100 million ounces of gold as head of exploration for Placer Dome in the Americas in the late-90s and early 2000s. Blackrock had hit HUGE on its first step-out at Tonopah West, targeting an extension of the Victor Vein and coming up with a big hit that caught the market, and Eric Sprott’s attention.
As we viewed the RC chips from the first few holes, and the drilling in progress at hole 11 Howald pointed off to the west and proclaimed “Next, we are stepping out 800 meters and we will drill three holes to target the Denver and Paymaster Veins where no one else has drilled before.”
An 800 meter step-out? Typically a 50 meter step-out is a big deal, how does he have confidence that Blackrock will intersect these veins 800 meters away?
An 800 meter step-out is perfect for Blackrock. CEO Andrew Pollard is a visionary promoter who has always dreamed big and swung the bat above his weight. His tenure as Blackrock CEO has been nothing short of remarkable, especially considering this is a man in his mid-30s who has never been a CEO before.
BRC.V (May 2019 – August 2020)
Howald is the geological brains and savvy Nevada mining veteran behind Blackrock. Pollard is the visionary storyteller who knows the Vancouver junior mining scene better than anyone.
It’s all systems go and all guns blazing for Blackrock at Tonopah. The company is bringing in a diamond drill rig in the next week and the 7,000 meter drill program is being expanded to 10,000+ meters. The market is hot and Blackrock is cashed up and having drilling success. Expect more impressive drill results to be released over the coming weeks from Tonopah West.
Next up was Summa Silver (CSE:SSVR), Summa is led by CEO Galen MacNamara. Galen is the co-winner of the 2018 PDAC Bill Dennis “Prospector of the Year” Award and the winner of the 2016 Mines and Money Exploration Award. He was the former senior project manager of exploration & development at NexGen Energy (TSX:NXE) where he managed all field based drilling and exploration activities and played an instrumental role in the discovery and delineation of multiple high grade uranium zones.
Summa has the historic “Howard Hughes Claims” in and around the historic Belmont Mine, and a huge claims package that extends to the east of Tonopah. I met with the project manager for Summa who was extremely enthusiastic regarding the first few diamond drill holes that Summa has put in the earth in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t get to see any drill core, however, I sensed that Chris was optimistic.
The extensions to known vein zones (around the Belmont Mine) west of the Halifax Fault is Summa’s starting point, and it’s a good one at that. However, the real blue sky for Summa is stepping out east of the Halifax Fault which has historically discouraged wildcat drilling due to the greater complexity of figuring out how the fault has shifted structures. Summa is confident the vein system continues east of the fault and believes that they can prove this by aggressive drilling this year. Summa has begun drilling to extend known vein zones west of the Halifax Fault, then they will boldly step-out to the east into a vast valley and follow up on a 1989 Echo Bay hole (ET-7) that intersected high-grade gold/silver mineralization:
Summa has strong support from billionaire mining investor Eric Sprott and strong financial backing from a who’s who of the Vancouver junior mining scene.
Last but certainly not least was Newrange Gold (TSX-V:NRG). Newrange’s Pamlico Gold Project is about a 90 minute drive northwest of Tonopah and then an additional 12 mile trek further west along a dirt/gravel county maintained road. At Pamlico one can quickly imagine what it was like to be a miner in the old west. There is nothing but you, nature, and the gold in the earth.
I met with Newrange Chairman Bob Carrington, a man who optioned the Pamlico claims in 2016 and rolled them into his existing company “Colombian Mines Corporation”, changing the company name to Newrange Gold. Mr. Carrington’s great grandfather was President of the bank in Tonopah in the late 1800s and his grandfather was born in Tonopah – his Nevada roots run deep. The Comstock Lode at Virginia City, Nevada is actually the source of Nevada being known as the “Silver State”. And one of Carrington’s other great grandfathers telegraphed the constitution of Nevada to Abraham Lincoln from Virginia City in the 1860s.
Newrange quickly delivered stunning high-grade gold drill results from Pamlico that captured the market’s attention in 2017.
Newrange Gold Chairman Bob Carrington (left) with your author atop Pamlico Ridge
Since 2017, Newrange hasn’t managed to replicate that early success. Last week, Newrange released the first batch of drill results from the 2020 drilling campaign. The market had expectations that were too high and NRG shares tumbled after the news was released. However, I believe the selling was overdone and I used the weakness to add to my NRG position.
Pamlico is impressive for a number of reasons, but primarily because there is an extensive array of high-grade gold intercepts throughout the project. There is gold all over the place with intercepts drilled by Newrange including 32 meters of 7 grams/tonne gold, 13.8 meters of 17.25 grams/tonne gold, and 76.2 meters of 3.72 grams/tonne gold.
We know there is a lot of gold at Pamlico, the challenge has been tying together these epithermal vein zones in something resembling a contiguous economic gold deposit. Pamlico is unique in that there are high grade low-sulphidation epithermal veins interspersed among what could be a near surface open pit bulk tonnage (lower grade) oxide gold deposit.
Looking east towards Newrange’s “Big Deep IP Anomaly”
What really excites me about Pamlico is what the company calls the “Big Deep IP Anomaly”:
This strong anomaly looks like a buried intrusive with sulphides, which could provide heat & fluids for an extensive gold mineralizing system. The “Drill Area” where Newrange hit its high grade in 2017 appears to be a distal “satellite” anomaly seen near the center of IP Line 4 “L4” above. Newrange has staked more claims around this anomaly to ensure that if they hit gold with the diamond drill they will have something truly special on their hands.
Newrange expects to diamond drill this anomaly in September once they have improved road access to the top of the hill under which the anomaly rests. There is a lot more to the Newrange story, but I will leave it here for now.
All three companies (Blackrock, Summa, and Newrange) are carrying out important exploration programs at highly prospective projects at a time when gold and silver prices are soaring and investors have begun flocking to junior explorers that could produce the next game changing precious metals discovery.
Nevada is open for mining and the entire Walker Lane Trend (where all 3 companies are currently working) north of Las Vegas is extremely pro-mining. In addition, most of Blackrock and Summa’s claims sit on private patented land which allows them free reign when it comes to drilling.
If you haven’t yet been to Tonopah I suggest you check out the ‘Clown Motel’…
Discloure: Author owns shares of BRC.V, NRG.V, and SSRV.CA at the time of publishing and may choose to buy or sell at any time without notice.
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