Everyone loves a gold rush. Californians raced to Sutter's Mill in the middle of the nineteenth century. Fortune hunters struggled into the Klondike a few decades later. Modern technology zeroed hopeful men and women in on the Hemlo deposits in the twentieth century. Good old-fashioned greed led investors to Bre-X less than 10 years ago. All were risky undertakings, and some led to fortunes.
So how can we go about starting a gold rush? Rumours can do the job. Better yet are drill cores that cut extraordinary grades. Calgary-based MUSKOX MINERALS has such a hole at its Yellow Jacket property near Atlin, B.C. Hole YJ-03-01 intersected 18 ft grading 15 opt (that's ounces, not grams) of gold. If that number is not high enough to satisfy everyone, the same section contained 18 inches that assayed nearly 167 opt Au. Those are staggering grades.
"It's kind of a one-hit wonder so far," cautioned Muskox's Tom Corcoran at the PDAC two weeks ago.
One hole, no matter how good the intersections, does not a mine make. But one hole like this one will attract investors, which in turn allows the company to raise the money needed to expand its drill program in the hopes of hitting many more high-grade intersections. Already the Muskox board has approved a $2-million exploration program for the Yellow Jacket property. About 25,000 ft of drilling and an airborne geophysical survey are planned. Information and photos of the project are posted at www.muskoxminerals.com.
The earliest stages of exploration, such as Muskox is engaged in near Atlin, carry extremely high risks for investors. There is a good chance to watch one's investment disappear into the ground. Perhaps Muskox shares will prove to be a golden opportunity for investors not averse to high levels of risk, or perhaps not. It is impossible to say at this time.
Risks are less by the time a deposit is developed, but they are still there. Profitability can vanish in cost overruns, poor metallurgical results, labour unrest, or dropping metal prices. For people who back the winners, the rewards translate into wonderful returns on their investment.
Despite the risks, gold continues to spark imagination and hope. Our enduring fascination with it ensures that someone will always be looking for the yellow metal. Good luck, Muskox Minerals.