IDAHO – FREEGOLD VENTURES of Vancouver is nothing if not patient when it comes to mining gold in Idaho. It is planning to develop a large open pit and heap leach project 12 miles east of Weiser, near the Idaho-Oregon border.
Or maybe new management rather than patience will make Freegold a successful producer.
Late last year Steve Manz agreed to become president of the company. He holds a BASc in geological engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from York University. His successful track record includes a stint as CFO at ROYAL OAK MINES, president & CFO at ATLAS CORP. where he turned around a battered mining operation, and VP of GERALD METALS, one of the world’s largest metal merchant companies.
Michael Gross, appointed Freegold’s VP of exploration last March, is credited with turning around the fortunes of HECLA’s Lucky Friday silver mine. He worked with Manz at Royal Oak and Atlas and was recently VP of operations at EXALL RESOURCES.
Freegold first earned a 60% interest in the Almaden property by completing a feasibility study in 1997. The company bought the remaining 40% of the project in 2001 as gold prices began to rise. Now it is time to revisit the idea of developing a 100,000-oz/year operation.
In January 2006 Freegold released new resource figures, based on 43-101 guidelines. The indicated resource of the Main and North zones is 24.78 million tons grading 0.021 opt Au (0.72 g/t) and in the inferred category, the two zones contain 20.00 million tons grading 0.018 opt (0.62 g/t). In terms of contained gold, there are 515,800 indicated ounces plus 359,800 inferred ounces. These resources, based on a database of 677 drill holes, are expected to be returned back into the measured and indicated categories soon after the completion of Freegold’s new geological model.
HATCH LTD. recently reviewed the previous feasibility study and the underlying test work. According to Manz, an internal review of the economics is favourable, with the price of gold having risen much higher on a percentage basis than the estimated capital and operating costs over the past 10 years.
The 2006 exploration program at Almaden calls for 31,700 ft of reverse circulation and core drilling to expand the resource. Of particular interest are the open strike to the south, lateral extensions of known mineralization, and mineralization at depth. No previous drilling has been done at depth.
A further 2,300 ft of PQ core will be recovered for metallurgical testing. The original feasibility study called for placing 6-inch run-of-mine ore on the heap. Now Manz says it is time to study crushing the ore to various sizes prior to leaching to improve gold recovery.
As if nurturing a gold mine development in Idaho were not enough to keep a junior busy, Freegold is exploring at its Golden Summit project five miles from KINROSS GOLD’s Fort Knox mine in Alaska. The company is also active at the Grew Creek project in the Yukon and at the Rob project near TECK COMINCO’s Pogo mine in Alaska. Details of these projects are posted at www.FreegoldVentures.com.