PISTOL BAY OVERVIEW
The Pistol Bay Gold Project in eastern Nunavut Territory, Canada, is in the Kaminak Greenstone Belt of supracrustal rocks of Archean age. Belts of Archean supracrustal rocks are widespread in Nunavut and host the Territory’s only operating gold mine at Meadowbank, north of Baker Lake (Agnico Eagle Mines, 2.3 million ounces of gold reserves grading 2.3 grams gold per tonne) and the Territory’s most advanced gold development project at Meliadine, near Rankin Inlet (Agnico Eagle Mines, 3.0 million ounces of gold reserves grading 7.0 grams gold per tonne). The Pistol Bay property consists of 861 square kilometres of mineral rights covering a 90 kilometre strike length of a 2 kilometre wide deformation zone known as the Pistol Bay Corridor, which contains numerous gold occurrences. The initial, optioned, claims consisting of 6 claims covering an area of 54.4 square kilometres were acquired through an option agreement dated December 2, 2010 and four major campaigns of claim staking and permitting have been completed since then such that the property now consists of 104 claims covering an area of 861.50 square kilometres. Field operations commenced in April 2011 and four drilling campaigns were completed in the summers of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
When the Pistol Bay Project was acquired in late 2010, the exploration concept was that a group of gold occurrences near the Hamlet of Whale Cove, seemed to line up along a westerly trend, parallel to the westerly, linear, trend of the Meliadine gold deposits 80 kilometres to the north, which are on the opposite side of a sterile, granitic gneiss block, and that the “Pistol Bay Trend” was a mirror image of the Meliadine Trend. One of the surprising things was that the conceptual Pistol Bay Trend was on Crown Land that had been open for staking for more than 10 years, obviating the need for the Company to negotiate an exploration agreement with the Territorial Government. Moreover, we found it intriguing that the various companies involved in gold exploration in the region had seemed to have overlooked these mineral occurrences (and indeed, the concept of a parallel trend) in their preoccupation with drilling out the various ore bodies contained in the ribbons of iron formation at the Meliadine Trend. In spite of the similarity of the Pistol Bay Trend to the Meliadine Trend, Northquest is the first company to recognize, and the first company to undertake, comprehensive, modern, exploration of, the Pistol Bay Trend.
The first phase of exploration by Northquest in 2011, validated the concept of the Pistol Bay Trend and quickly led to the recognition of the trend as a deformation corridor trending northwest, with a nominal width of at least 2 kilometres, containing gold occurrences within epizonal porphyries, gabbro-diorite intrusions, quartz veins, and banded iron formations, over at least 20 kilometres of strike length on the property. From east to west, the main gold occurrences known in 2011 were the Cooey, Sako, Vickers, and Bazooka Occurrences. The Sako and Bazooka discoveries were made by Northquest and the other gold occurrences were previously documented. At the time, the Vickers Occurrence, in the centre of the property, was on claims that were the subject of a dispute between the vendor of the original optioned claims and Agnico Eagle Mines, hence that target was not explored in 2011.
The first drill holes were drilled at the Cooey, Sako, and Pistol Porphyry occurrences in 2011. At the Sako occurrence, banded iron formation is exposed in a shear zone that occupies the axial plane of a large fold. The bedrock consists of altered iron formation and high silica felsic rock, interpreted as silicified felsic porphyry, hosting and intruding the iron formation. The best drilling intersection in 2011 was 2.00 grams gold per tonne over 6.17 metres. There were interesting but mixed results from the Cooey and Pistol Porphyry Targets and both targets were considered lower priority for further work.
In the second field season in 2012, additional drilling was completed at the Sako Occurrence and the first holes were drilled at the Bazooka Occurrence. At the Sako Target, the best drilling intersection was 15.53 metres grading 1.76 grams gold per tonne in PB-12-02 from high silica alteration of a primary felsic host rock. The Bazooka occurrence consists of a single outcrop of highly contorted, silicified, sulphidized banded iron formation that was discovered in 2011. The first drill hole PB-12-04 intersected 11.17 metres grading 2.10 grams gold per tonne. Both the Sako and Bazooka targets warrant further work on a priority basis.
On June 14th, 2012 the issue of the disputed claims at the Vickers Target was settled unambiguously in favour of the vendor of the original 6 optioned claims and in late July the drill rig was moved to the Vickers Target. The gold occurrence consists of a silicified and chloritized breccia on the margin and in the footwall of a diorite intrusion. Drilling by INCO in the period 1984 to 1989 documented several long intersections of gold-bearing rock. The best intersection by INCO was in drill hole 63749 which intersected 149.82 metres grading 2.55 grams gold per tonne. That drill hole was twinned by Northquest in 2012 in drill hole PB-12-09 which intersected 164.41 metres grading 5.39 grams gold per tonne. Visible gold was documented nine times in PB-12-09 and was also documented at numerous locations in INCO drill hole 63749. Because of the abundance of coarse, visible gold in PB-12-09, Northquest’s geologists decided to assay all drill core samples using the method of AUSCR-21 of ALS Chemex, in which a one kilogram pulp is screened and assayed three times in order to capture both fine and coarse gold in order to optimize analytical accuracy. Northquest’s geologists expected to obtain similar results between PB-12-09 and INCO 63749 and were somewhat surprised that, although the two drill holes intersected the same stratigraphy, the grade of the intersection in the Northquest drill hole was more than twice the grade of the drill hole that had been drilled some 30 years earlier. Upon review and discussion and a detailed reading of the old INCO assessment reports, it was concluded that the difference in grade of the original INCO drill hole and PB-12-09 drilled by Northquest, had to be attributed to the larger core sample size (BTW in the Northquest hole versus BQ in the INCO hole) and the more comprehensive assay method (AUSCR-21 bulk screen metallic assay by Northquest versus conventional fire assay by INCO) on rocks that contained coarse visible gold. The fact that the grade and thickness of the zone were great, and the fact that only a nominal amount of work had been completed previously by INCO, in a completely different gold price environment some 30 years earlier, was very appealing to us. The best drill hole of the 2012 program was PB-12-22 which intersected 156.48 metres grading 8.23 grams gold per tonne. That drill hole, and others nearby in the same zone, was one of the best exploration drill holes in Canada in recent memory.
Previous work at Pistol Bay
The only notable previous work completed in the area of the property was completed by INCO in the period 1983 to 1989. INCO discovered the Harpoon, Tommy, Cooey, and Vickers gold occurrences and drilled 16 holes at the Vickers Target and another 15 shallow scout drill holes at other targets in the general area. Other companies discovered the Pistol Porphyry and Mauser Group of gold occurrences but did not conduct any sustained exploration and only a nominal amount of shallow drilling at the Mauser Target.
An all weather, all season, improved road passes through the centre of the property. The road was constructed by the Hamlet of Whale Cove (population 350) to provide hunters and fishermen with access to summer camp sites at the mouth of the Wilson River, and beyond. A branch of the road provides access to the Pistol Bay camp from Whale Cove by pickup truck and ATV. In fact, the Company has a pickup truck plus two ATV’s that are used to transport groceries and fuel from Whale Cove, and to provide transport to personnel, including drillers, when weather precludes the use of the helicopter. Whale Cove has a 1,200 metre airstrip with daily flights to and from Winnipeg, Thompson, and local communities. The airstrip is within 2 kilometres of the east boundary of the property. Whale Cove also has a port facility that accepts sea lifts from the rail head at Churchill, Manitoba, and Montreal in the shipping season. Northquest receives most of its fuel by sea lift from Montreal. The eastern part of the property is on a peninsula that is surrounded by the waters of Pistol Bay in the north and Wilson Bay in the south. Both Pistol and Wilson Bay are waters of the Arctic Ocean. Because of the ambient infrastructure of the Pistol Bay Project, our exploration costs, particularly for drilling, are about half of that of our peers working elsewhere in the arctic.
Work Completed by Northquest Ltd.
2011 Exploration Campaign
The summer of 2011 was the first opportunity for the Company to complete exploration at Pistol Bay. A summer camp was built in the east part of the property and one drill rig was transported from Manitoba to site. An airborne magnetometer survey of the property (fixed wing, 200 metre line spacing), broad-based reconnaissance geological surveys and prospecting, and 2,514 metres of drilling in 17 drill holes were completed.
The Sako, Beretta, and Bazooka gold occurrences were discovered by surface prospecting teams. The Vickers Target in the central part of the property was known at the time, and assessment reports filed by INCO in the 1980’s indicated that they had drilled 16 holes that intersected a very interesting gold zone that was very thick and had some good grades, however, at the time, the claims covering the target were the subject of a dispute between the vendor of the original 6 optioned claims and Agnico Eagle Mines which precluded any exploration by either party.
The targets that were tested by drilling were the Pistol Porphyry, Cooey, and Sako Targets. The best results in 2011 included 2.44 grams gold per tonne over 7.0 metres at the Pistol Porphyry Target, 2.00 grams gold per tonne over 6.17 metres at the Sako Target, and 5.11 grams gold per tonne over 1.00 metre at the Cooey Target. It was determined that the priority targets for follow up drilling were the Sako Target, the newly discovered Bazooka Target, as yet undrilled, and the Vickers Target, contingent upon a successful resolution to the claim dispute. The breakdown of drilling in 2011 is set out below.
2011 drilling statistics
2012 Exploration Campaign
In 2012, the Company focused mostly on drilling and completed 4,580 metres of diamond drilling in 22 drill holes. Follow-up drilling was completed at the Sako Target, and the initial drill holes were completed at the Bazooka Target. The best results included 15.53 metres grading 1.76 grams gold per tonne at the Sako Target, and 11.17 metres grading 2.10 grams gold per tonne at the Bazooka Target. In mid-summer 2012, the claim dispute over the land that covered the Vickers Target was settled unambiguously in favour of the vendor of the original six optioned claims and the Company moved a drill to the Vickers Target in early August. Before the onset of winter conditions, Northquest completed fourteen drill holes at the Vickers Target. The best results were in PB-12-22 which intersected 156.48 metres grading 8.23 grams gold per tonne. That drill hole had an included intersection of 101.90 metres grading 12.34 grams gold per tonne. It was obvious that additional drilling on a priority basis was required at the Vickers Target and subject to the availability of capital, and time, that additional drilling was warranted at the Sako and Bazooka Targets. The breakdown of drilling in 2012 is set out below.
2012 drilling statistics
At the end of the drilling season in October, 2012, the Company completed a high resolution airborne magnetometer survey (helicopter-towed, 50 m line spacing), over the Pistol Bay Corridor. At the time, the property covered approximately 45 kilometres of the Pistol Bay Trend. The purpose of the survey was to provide more detailed context of the setting of the known gold occurrences and to provide the background data to search for more targets in the Pistol Bay Corridor which would be the subject of follow up in 2013. In addition, the Company staked additional claims west of the Bazooka target in order to protect more land along the Pistol Bay Trend.
In summary, at the end of the 2012 field season, the total exploration expenditures (excluding acquisition and staking costs) were $4.9 million dollars and Northquest had obtained economically interesting drilling results at three widely spaced targets (Sako, Vickers, and Bazooka), which occur over a 20 kilometre long strike length of the Pistol Bay Trend. In the opinion of management the rate of discovery and drilling success with such modest expenditures demonstrated that the concept of the Pistol Bay Trend was validated, it was highly prospective, and permissive for a district of gold deposits equal to, or better than, the Meliadine Trend.
2013 Exploration Campaign
In March 2013, the Company completed another claim staking campaign in order to acquire additional strike length of the Pistol Bay Trend. Fifty-eight claims covering 507 square kilometres were staked. In August, 2013, two additional claims covering 16.70 square kilometres were staked south of the Vickers Target. The current land package constitutes 104 claims covering an area of 861 square kilometres protecting a strike length of 90 kilometres of the Pistol Bay Trend.
In May and June 2013, the Company commissioned the construction of an all weather, all season, camp facility consisting of a permanent, framed and insulated kitchen, plus 16 Weatherhaven buildings for accommodation, offices, emergency refuge, and core handling.
The new camp facility was occupied in early July, 2013. The planned exploration work had three main goals, viz.: i) to complete an additional ten drill holes at the Vickers Target which would provide infill, test the strike length of the mineralized zone over a distance of 200 metres, and provide two additional pierce points at a vertical depth of 300 metres, ii) to complete induced polarization and resistivity surveys of the Vickers and Sako Targets and an HLEM survey at the Bazooka Target in order to determine what, if any, geophysical anomalies were caused by the gold mineralization at each target, and iii) to complete a property-wide reconnaissance geological and prospecting program with nominal traverse spacings of 500 to 1,000 metres to follow up on gold-bearing rocks discovered in 2011 and 2012, and to search for new gold zones over the entire strike length of the property. In every instance, the exploration work completed in 2013 met or exceeded the goals.
At the Vickers Target, 2,016 metres of drilling were completed in 10 drill holes. Each of the ten holes drilled at the Vickers Target intersected the mineralized zone. The best intersection was 138.39 metres grading 3.79 grams gold per tonne in PB-13-06.
2013 Drilling Statistics
Induced Polarization (IP) and resistivity surveys were completed on a 16.3 line-kilometre grid at the Vickers Target, and on a 21.7 line-kilometre grid at the Sako Target. Horizontal loop (HLEM) surveys were completed on a 30.6 line-kilometre grid at the Bazooka Target and on a 16.4 line-kilometre grid at the newly discovered Defender Target.
The geophysical surveys indicate that the Vickers and Sako Zones have induced polarization and resistivity responses attendant with gold-bearing drilling intersections and surface rock samples. Those surveys will provide direction for the next phase of drilling with a high degree of confidence that the mineralized zone, at each target, will be intersected. The Bazooka Target, and its environment, is associated with conductivity anomalies that are interpreted as sulphide-rich gold zones in iron formation that will provide direction for the next phase of drilling, particularly in the vicinity of PB-12-04. At the Defender Target, gold-bearing outcrop samples are associated with conductivity anomalies in the limbs and axis of a large synclinal fold. Those conductivity anomalies are considered priority drilling targets.
The reconnaissance geological and prospecting programs made several discoveries of gold-bearing rocks, both in the stratigraphy of known gold occurrences, particularly near the Vickers and Sako Targets, and elsewhere within the Pistol Bay Trend. The new gold discoveries are summarized below.
New gold targets discovered in 2013
2014 Exploration Campaign
In 2014 Northquest developed an exploration plan that would focus on expanding the known strike length of the Vickers Zone. In addition, three drill holes would test IP anomalies at the Sako Target, two drill holes would test for thickened iron formation in a fold axis near PB-12-04, and a 6,527 line-kilometre, fixed wing, magnetometer survey, with 100 metre line spacing and 62.4 metre sensor height would be flown over the western half of the property. The Company completed 4,550 metres of drilling in 2014 in 18 drill holes, of which 13 drill holes (3,783 metres) were completed at the Vickers Target, 3 drill holes (470 metres) were completed at the Sako Target, and two drill holes (296 metres) were completed at the Bazooka Target.
The drilling results continued to be impressive at the Vickers Target and included an intersection of 221.74 metres grading 1.65 grams gold per tonne in PB-14-08 and the known strike length of the gold zone was doubled from 200 to 400 metres. The drilling results from the Sako target were negative and the follow up drilling at the Bazooka target indicated that the gold-bearing iron formation was not thickened in the vicinity of PB-12-04. Additional drilling is required on a priority basis at the Vickers Target and elsewhere at the Bazooka Target.
2014 Drilling Statistics
Summary of all drilling at the Pistol Bay Project
Summary of Future Exploration Plans for the Pistol Bay Project
Northquest has completed a total of 9,399 metres of drilling in 37 drill holes at the Vickers Target. The Vickers Zone has been intersected over a strike length of 400 metres. The width of the mineralized zone as defined both by alteration facies and gold mineralization varies in width from approximately 50 to 160 metres. Six deep drill holes have intersected the zone at a vertical depth of approximately 300 metres; however, most of the drill holes tested relatively shallow depths of approximately 150 metres or less. Hence, the Vickers Zone has a minimum strike length of 400 metres, a minimum vertical depth 300 metres, and it is open along strike in all directions.
The goal of future exploration will be to continue to extend the strike length and depth of the mineralized zone. Northquest intends to complete an initial resource estimation when it is appropriate to do so.
The Sako Target has had 10, widely-spaced drill holes (1,557.06 metres) with highlight intersections of 2.00 grams gold per tonne over 6.17 metres in drill hole PB-11-13 and 1.76 grams gold per tonne over 15.53 metres in PB-12-02. Moreover, gold-bearing rocks have been intersected in drill holes over a strike length of 600 metres and the target appears to be in the same stratigraphy approximately 6 kilometres east of the Vickers Zone. The objective of future work at the Sako Target will be to determine if the gold-bearing stratigraphy links up with the Vickers Target. That work will most likely involve geochemical surveying, reconnaissance IP surveying, and scout drilling.
At the Bazooka Target, six drill holes (821.79 metres) were drilled in 2012 and 2014. PB-12-04 intersected 2.10 grams gold per tonne over 11.17 metres. The current thinking is that scout drilling should be completed at thickened fold hinges in the anomaly in areas that have not already been tested.
The Defender Target was discovered in the 2013 prospecting program. The target consists of an interpreted F1 syncline with sulphidation of the primary iron formation on the limbs. Rock samples contain up to 2.13 grams gold per tonne. An HLEM survey was completed on a 16.36 kilometre grid late in the summer and it was determined that there are several conductive anomalies associated with the south limb and axis of the fold. Several good exposures of parasitic folds with thickened hinge lines crop out in the target. Accordingly, future drilling is planned for the target which would test the down dip nature of the gold-bearing surface samples and test the thickened, synclinal fold hinge.
The other gold occuttences that requite follow-up exploration are set out below.
The Sako Target and Vickers Targets are approximately 6 kilometres apart. The intervening area is mostly covered by moraine. A reconnaissance IP survey consisting of lines spaced approximately 500 metres apart and covering the width of the Pistol Bay Corridor to link up the two grids is proposed.
The Tikka Target appears to be a parallel structure 1,000 metres south of the Sako Target and has similar rock types and hydrothermal alteration. Follow up work consisting of grid mapping, and IP/resistivity surveying is planned. Contingent upon that work, an initial drilling phase may be warranted.
The Kimber Target boulder field is 1,500 metres southeast of the Vickers Zone. The rocks resemble the footwall sequence of the Vickers Zone somewhat and could conceivably be glacially-transported fragments from the Vickers Zone, however, the great size and angularity of the boulders is more consistent with frost heave, plus the boulder field is on a magnetic anomaly interpreted as iron formation and there are abundant fragments of iron formation mixed with the mineralized boulders of the target. Accordingly, it is plausible that this target is a new mineralized zone parallel to, and south of, the Vickers Target. The Kimber Target requires additional follow up prospecting and an IP/resistivity survey. Contingent upon those results, an initial drilling phase may be appropriate.
The Colt Target is in rocks that resemble the Vickers Target footwall sequence and the Target is along strike 2,000 metres west of the Vickers Zone. The Colt Target is interpreted as a western extension of the Vickers Zone stratigraphy and requires grid mapping, IP/resistivity surveying, and, contingent upon those results, an initial phase of drilling.
The Purdey Target is similar to the Colt target in that it is on strike, and in the same stratigraphy as the Vickers Target. Accordingly, it requires grid mapping, IP/resistivity surveying, and, contingent upon those results, an initial phase of drilling.
The Defender target is in the Bazooka environment and has many of the same characteristics. HLEM anomalies associated with gold-bearing samples of iron formation make this a priority target, ready for the first phase of drilling.
The Webley Target is a northeast-trending structure that is parallel to the Mauser Target but in granite and iron formation rather than basalt and conglomerate. Follow up work consisting of more prospecting is planned.
The CZ Target is a gabbro-diorite intrusion with quartz stockworks. Additional prospecting is required.
The Barrett Target is a zone of shearing and sericite-carbonate alteration and quartz stockworks interpreted to be at least 50 metres wide and traced for 1.5 kilometres. The host sequence is basalt and gabbro, possibly intermixed with felsic rocks. Further prospecting and mapping are required before deciding on a follow up program of grid mapping, IP/resistivity surveying, and an initial phase of drilling.
Location of the Pistol Bay in Nunavut, Canada
Magnetic anomaly map illustrating the Meliadine and Pistol Bay gold trends, the two trends appear to be mirror images on either side of a block of granitic gneiss
Gold occurrences and magnetic anomalies (Vertical Gradient) of the Pistol Bay Project
Gold occurrences and magnetic anomalies (TMI) of the Pistol Bay Project
Gold occurrences and magnetic anomalies (Vertical Gradient) of the Pistol Bay Project