Alderan Resources (ASX: AL8), part of the recent wave of Australian explorers setting their sights on North American projects, has begun drilling in Utah with the first target a disseminated gold anomaly at its Detroit property.
Detroit is one of four projects held by Alderan in Utah — and, in building a ground position there, it has succeeded where global majors have failed.
The project lies within the larger Detroit mining district in the Drum Mountains region of the state and is located about 175km southwest of Salt Lake City.
The district is the site of numerous historical copper, gold and manganese mines.
Alderan has said previously that its projects have seen little modern exploration due to previous fragmented ownership, and the company considers they have been under-explored for gold.
First modern exploration over entire district
Copper and gold exploration has been undertaken in the district by majors such as Anaconda Copper, Rio Tinto Kennecott, Newmont Mining, BHP (ASX: BHP) and Freeport McMoRan but no one company was able to build a significant contiguous land position sufficient to enable district-wide exploration.
Freeport McMoRan had tried to consolidate what is now the Detroit project, but those efforts were rebuffed. Records show that about 120,000 ounces of gold were produced there in the 1870s.
However, Alderan has managed to put together a 24.7sq km ground position through a series of option agreements with tenement owners.
“This provides the company with the opportunity to conduct the first ever modern exploration over the entire mining district,” it said.
Gold, copper to be tested in first two holes
The company is now engaged on a 10-hole program for 3,000m.
Seven of the planned holes have now been approved by the Utah state government, with the three previously approved sites already being drill-ready.
Work will also now begin on preparing the remaining seven for drilling.
The company has been waiting a month for the drill rig to be released from its previous commitment but managing director Scott Caithness said this has had one advantage.
“The positive in the delay however is that Alderan has secured regulatory approval for all drill sites and multiple sites are prepared ahead of commencing the drilling program,” he said.
The first two holes will test the Southern chargeability anomaly for distal disseminated gold and the Basin Main magnetic anomaly for porphyry copper mineralisation.
“Both have highly encouraging surface geochemistry and geophysics exploration results,” Mr Caithness added.
Compiling historical records at Drum gold mine
Last month, Alderan secured an option over the Drum gold mine, which lies in the southeast corner of the company’s ground position.
Production in the 1980s totalled 125,000oz at an average 1.22 grams per tonne, although underground ore extracted toward the end of operations graded at 4.4g/t.
There has been no exploration there since mining ceased in 1989.
In its review, Alderan has found records of more than 480 drill holes.
“The holes were drilled to a shallow average depth of approximately 40m and it is evident that historical production was primarily from near surface oxide gold mineralisation,” the company said.