Discovery of large sediment hosted copper system confirmed by diamond drilling:
- Assay results for diamond drill holes ST23-01, ST23-02 and ST23-03 indicate that all three holes have intersected sediment hosted copper beneath the near-surface copper deposits at Storm
- ST23-02 has intersected a 24 metre (m) thick interval of copper sulfides at depth with copper values up to 2.7% Cu, indicating the potential of the deeper system to host high-grade mineralization
- The wide-spaced location of the holes - between 600m to 2 kilometre (km) spacing - highlights the broad lateral scale of the sediment-hosted copper system
- The results confirm the correlation between the sediment-hosted copper and gravity anomalies, highlighting large-scale exploration potential with more than 14km prospective strike untested by drilling
High-grade new near-surface discovery at Thunder:
- Diamond drill hole ST23-03 has returned assays of:
- 76m @ 2% Cu from 32.4m, including
- 48.6m @ 3% Cu from 32.4m, and including,
- 20m @ 6.2% Cu from 40.8m
- The Thunder discovery - located 1km from the known near-surface Storm copper deposits - highlights the resource expansion and exploration potential of the near-surface mineralization
Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. (TSXV:BAY)(OTCQB:ATBHF) ("Aston Bay" or the "Company") is pleased to report assay results that confirm the discovery of sediment hosted copper system at depth, as well as high-grade results from one of the new near-surface discoveries at the Storm Copper Project ("Storm" or the "Project") on Somerset Island, Nunavut. The drill holes were part of a program conducted by American West (as defined below) as operator of the Project pursuant to the Option Agreement (as defined below
"I am pleased to report the exploration diamond drill holes have confirmed the presence of the sediment hosted copper sulfide mineralization at depth at Storm," stated Thomas Ullrich, CEO of Aston Bay. "The assays confirm the presence of copper, locally over wide intervals up to 24m thick, in widely spaced drill holes that suggest lateral extent and continuity. With values up to 2.7% copper, these results point to the size and grade potential of this deeper mineralization. Mineralogical zonation at Storm suggests the intercepts are on the periphery of the system and provide a vector toward anticipated higher copper grade within this large copper mineralized system."
"Every deep exploration drill hole has intersected sulfide mineralization as predicted by both the geological and geophysical models. We clearly have a powerful exploration toolkit for discovery at Storm. Kilometre-scale geophysical anomalies in highly prospective stratigraphy remain untested, and planning has already begun for a major drill program in 2024 to determine the extents of the system and target grade and size."
"In addition to the deep discovery, the near-surface Thunder Prospect has yielded high grades up to 49.6% copper. Just discovered this season, Thunder highlights the resource potential in the near surface, with grades rarely seen in open pit mining opportunities."
HIGH-GRADE POTENTIAL OF SED-HOSTED COPPER SYSTEM CONFIRMED
Diamond exploration drill holes ST23-01, ST23-02 and ST23-03 were part of four holes completed during the 2023 season to confirm the sediment-hosted copper model, with each of the holes designed to test different geophysical and structural targets (Figure 2). The drill holes are widely spaced between 600m and 2km apart. Results from the fourth hole, ST23-04, are pending.
Significantly, all drill holes have intersected copper sulfide mineralization up to 24m thick at the same stratigraphic level, with grades up to 2.7% Cu (ST23-02) indicating the potential of the system to host high-grade mineralization. The copper mineralization and geology within the drill holes is highly similar and suggests that the stratigraphy of the deeper mineralized system is laterally very extensive.
The Storm area shows clear geological similarities to many of the world's major sediment-hosted copper systems, including the deposits of the Kalahari Copper Belt (Botswana) and Central African Copper Belt (DRC, Zambia). These copper deposits typically have metre scale thicknesses and kilometre scale strikes of the ore zones.
DRILL HOLE ST23-01 DETAILS
In addition to intersecting the sediment-hosted system at depth, ST23-01 has intersected strong copper intervals within the near-surface 4100N Zone with assays returning:
- 7.2m* @ 2.2% Cu from 58.1m, including,
- 0.9m* @ 12.8% Cu from 58.1m
- 1.9m* @ 1% Cu, 0.8% Zn from 75.6m
- 6.8m* @ 1.2% Cu from 80.7m
- 0.9m* @ 12.8% Cu from 58.1m
ST23-01 was drilled to a downhole depth of 416m and intersected two main zones of copper mineralization (Figure 4). The drill hole was designed to test the northern extent of the high-grade 4100N Zone, and to test the large gravity anomaly at depth, below the near-surface copper mineralization.
The first zone of copper mineralization encountered within ST23-01 is located near-surface within the 4100N Zone and consists of 16.9m of very strong breccia and fracture-hosted chalcocite and minor chalcopyrite (Figure 4) over three major intervals from 58.1m downhole. This mineralization is typical of the near-surface copper mineralization at the 4100N Zone and indicates that the mineralization remains open to the north.
The deeper zone of mineralization was intersected at 332m downhole, is 15m thick and consists of mosaic breccia and replacement-style chalcopyrite cement. Assays up to 0.48% Cu (at 342m downhole - Figure 3) confirm the presence of chalcopyrite. Sphalerite (up to 0.6% Zn) is present within the lower part of the sequence.
Mineralization at Storm is clearly zoned, with a core of chalcocite mineralization grading into zones bornite±covellite, then chalcopyrite, pyrite and into an outer sphalerite±galena zone, reflecting progressive reduction of the metal-bearing fluids by interaction with hydrocarbons in the permeable zones of the rock.
Importantly, the deeper mineralization encountered in ST23-01 suggests this drill hole intercepted the outer chalcopyrite/pyrite/sphalerite zone of the sediment hosted system.
Table 1: Summary of significant drilling intersections for drill hole ST23-01 (>0.2% Cu).
DRILL HOLE ST23-02 DETAILS
Drill hole ST23-02 was drilled to a downhole depth of 602m and assays have confirmed that it intersected a 24m thick zone of copper mineralization from 346m downhole (Figure 6).
The assay results have confirmed the presence of chalcocite and highlight the potential for the deeper stratigraphic horizon to host economic copper mineralization. This is a significant milestone for the project and confirms the large sediment-hosted copper system potential.
The mineralized interval is variably brecciated and fractured with chalcocite as the dominant copper sulfide mineral. The lower section of the interval contains very strong mineralization in a number of narrow bands with grades up to 2.7% Cu (356.5m downhole). Sphalerite (zinc sulfide) occurs with chalcocite in the lower part of the mineralized sequence with grades of 1.7% Zn (also at 356.5m downhole).
The presence of chalcocite suggests that drill hole ST23-02 is potentially vectoring to the higher-grade portions of the copper system.
Table 2: Summary of significant drilling intersections for drill hole ST23-02 (>0.2% Cu).
HIGH GRADES CONFIRMED AT THUNDER
DRILL HOLE ST23-03 DETAILS
ST23-03 was drilled to a downhole depth of 396m and intersected two main zones of copper sulfide mineralization. The drill hole was designed to test a near-surface MLEM conductor approximately 1km to the west of the high-grade copper 2750N Zone, and the edge of a moderately dense gravity anomaly close to the Southern Graben Fault (Figure 2).
The upper zone of copper mineralization encountered within ST23-03 is a 48.6m thick interval of strong breccia and vein-style copper sulfides grading 3% Cu, with broad zones of semi-massive to massive sulfide from 34.4m downhole. The massive sulfides are dominantly chalcocite, with bornite and chalcopyrite (Figure 7), and represent a significant new discovery of the near-surface mineralization. An 11.4m zone of less dense copper sulfide veining is located at the base of the mineralized zone. The entire mineralized interval is 76m @ 2% Cu from 32.4m downhole.
The thickness and intensity of the mineralization at Thunder - and the Lightning Ridge, 2750N and 2200N Zones to the east - suggests that this high-grade mineralization and structural setting may be directly related to their proximity to the Southern Graben Fault. These faults are interpreted to be the primary source of plumbing for both the near-surface, and deeper copper mineralization.
Five significant, fault-related and widely spaced copper prospects have now been confirmed by drilling in the southern graben area. All of these discoveries are located at, or close to surface and have only been tested to a depth of approximately 100 vertical metres.
Over 10km of prospective structures have been identified in the southern graben area alone, highlighting the exploration potential along strike, and at depth below the known copper mineralization (Figure 2). The Storm Graben faults can be also traced for over 6km south-east into the Tornado and Blizzard Prospect areas, where there is widespread copper geochemical anomalism at surface.
The Thunder discovery continues to highlight the effectiveness of EM as a targeting tool and the correlation with strong copper sulfides. Other high-priority EM targets have been tested during this drilling program with assay results pending.
The lower zone of mineralization was intersected at 272.7m downhole and is interpreted to correlate with the sediment-hosted copper mineralization intersected in drill holes ST22-10, ST23-01 and ST23-02. The 2m mineralized interval consists of broad fractures and dense anastomosing veins of chalcocite, bornite and chalcopyrite (Figure 8) with grades up to 1.84% Cu (between 272.7-273.15m).
The copper sulfides are hosted within a sequence of organic-rich and vuggy dolomudstones that are visually very similar to ST22-10, ST23-01 and ST23-02. Despite the relatively narrow intervals, the high copper grades are further evidence of the potential of the deeper mineralization to host potentially economic accumulations of copper sulfides.
Table 3: Summary of significant drilling intersections for drill hole ST23-03 (>0.2% Cu).
Table 4: 2023 program drill hole details
- Assays for the remaining drill holes for the 2023 program are still pending and will continue to be received over the coming weeks.
- Assays for rock and gossan samples from the Tempest area are pending and also due over the coming weeks.
- The ore sorting, beneficiation and process optimization studies continue on a range of mineralization types from the 2750N and 4100N Zones.
- Resource modelling and estimation work for the Storm Project is continuing.
- A report on the Storm Project summer environmental program is being compiled.
- Logistics and exploration planning for the 2024 exploration program has begun.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
About the Storm Copper and Seal Zinc-Silver Projects, Nunavut
The Nunavut property consists of 173 contiguous mining claims covering an area of approximately 219,257 hectares on Somerset Island, Nunavut, Canada. The Storm Project comprises both the Storm Copper Project, a high-grade sediment-hosted copper discovery (intersections including 110m* @ 2.45% Cu from surface and 56.3m* @ 3.07% Cu from 12.2m) as well as the Seal Zinc Deposit (intersections including 14.4m* @ 10.58% Zn, 28.7g/t Ag from 51.8m and 22.3m* @ 23% Zn, 5.1g/t Ag from 101.5m). Additionally, there are numerous underexplored and undrilled targets within the 120-kilometre strike length of the mineralized trend, including the Tornado copper prospect where 10 grab samples yielded >1% Cu up to 32% Cu in gossans. The Nunavut property is now the subject of an 80/20 unincorporated joint venture with American West (see "Agreement with American West" below for more details).
Storm Discovery and Historical Work
High-grade copper mineralization was discovered at Storm in the mid-1990s by Cominco geologists conducting regional zinc exploration around their then-producing Polaris lead-zinc mine. A massive chalcocite boulder found in a tributary of the Aston River in 1996 was traced to impressive surface exposures of broken chalcocite mineralization for hundreds of metres of surface strike length at what became named the 2750N, 2200N, and 3500N zones. Subsequent seasons of prospecting, geophysics and over 9,000 m of drilling into the early 2000s confirmed a significant amount of copper mineralization below the surface exposures as well as making the blind discovery of the 4100N Zone, a large area of copper mineralization with no surface exposure.
Following the merger of Cominco with Teck in 2001 and the closure of the Polaris Mine, the Storm claims were allowed to lapse in 2007. Commander Resources staked the property in 2008 and flew a helicopter-borne VTEM survey in 2011 but conducted no additional drilling. Aston Bay subsequently entered into an earn-in agreement with Commander and consolidated 100% ownership in 2015. Commander retains a 0.875% Gross Overriding Royalty in the area of the original Storm claims.
In 2016 Aston Bay entered into an earn-in agreement with BHP, who conducted a 2,000-station soil sampling program and drilled 1,951m of core in 12 diamond drill holes, yielding up to 16m* @ 3.1% Cu. BHP exited the agreement in 2017 and retains no residual interest in the project. Aston Bay conducted a property-wide airborne gravity gradiometry survey in 2017 and drilled 2,913m in nine core holes in the Storm area in 2018 yielding a best intercept of 1.5m* @ 4.39% Cu and 20.5m* @ 0.56% Cu.
Agreement with American West
As previously disclosed, Aston Bay entered into an Option Agreement dated March 9, 2021 (the "Option Agreement") with American West Metals Limited and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tornado Metals Ltd. (collectively, "American West") pursuant to which American West was granted an option (the "Option") to earn an 80% undivided interest in the Project by spending a minimum of CAD$10 million on qualifying exploration expenditures ("Expenditures"). The parties amended and restated the Option Agreement as of February 27, 2023 to facilitate American West potentially financing the Expenditures through flow-through shares but did not change the commercial agreement between the parties.
The Expenditures were completed during the 2023 drilling program and American West exercised the Option in accordance with the terms of the Option Agreement, as amended. American West and Aston Bay will form an 80/20 unincorporated joint venture and enter into a joint venture agreement. Under such agreement, Aston Bay shall have a free carried interest until American West has made a decision to mine upon completion of a bankable feasibility study, meaning American West will be solely responsible for funding the joint venture until such decision is made. After such decision is made, Aston Bay will be diluted in the event it does not elect to contribute its proportionate share and its interest in the Project will be converted into a 2% net smelter returns royalty if its interest is diluted to below 10%.
American West completed a fixed loop electromagnetic (FLEM) ground geophysical survey in 2021 that yielded several new subsurface conductive anomalies. A total of 1,534m were drilled in 10 diamond drill holes in the 2022 season, yielding several impressive near-surface intercepts including 41m* @ 4.1% Cu as well as 68m of sulfide mineralization associated with a deeper conductive anomaly.
In April 2022, results of beneficiation studies demonstrated that a mineralized intercept grading 4% Cu from the 4100N area could be upgraded to a 54% Cu direct ship product using standard sorting technology. Further beneficiation studies are ongoing.
In April 2023, American West embarked on a spring delineation drilling program using a helicopter-portable RC drill rig as well as conducting gravity and moving loop electromagnetic (MLEM) ground geophysical programs. Results from the programs are in process and are released as they come available.
The summer 2023 program planned further delineation drilling of the near-surface high-grade copper zones to advance them toward maiden resource estimates by late 2023 or early 2024. Diamond drilling is planned to test new high-priority gravity targets and environmental baseline studies will be initiated.
*Stated drill hole intersections are all core length, and true width is expected to be 60% to 100% of core length.
The analytical work reported on herein was performed by ALS Global ("ALS"), Vancouver Canada. ALS is an ISO-IEC 17025:2017 and ISO 9001:2015 accredited geoanalytical laboratory and is independent of Aston Bay Holdings Ltd., American West Metals Limited, and the QP. Drill core samples were subject to crushing at a minimum of 70% passing 2 mm, followed by pulverizing of a 250-gram split to 85% passing 75 microns. Samples were subject to 33 element geochemistry by four-acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) to determine concentrations of copper, silver, lead, zinc, and other elements (ALS Method ME-ICP61a). Overlimit values for copper (>10%) and were analyzed via four-acid digestion and ICP-AES (ALS Method Cu-OG62).
Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. and American West Metals Limited followed industry standard procedures for the work carried out on the Storm Project, incorporating a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program. Blank, duplicate, and standard samples were inserted into the sample sequence and sent to the laboratory for analysis. No significant QA/QC issues were detected during review of the data. Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. and American West Metals Limited are not aware of any drilling, sampling, recovery, or other factors that could materially affect the accuracy or reliability of the data referred to herein.
Michael Dufresne, M.Sc., P.Geol., P.Geo., is a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101 and has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release.
About Aston Bay Holdings
Aston Bay is a publicly traded mineral exploration company exploring for high-grade copper and gold deposits in Virginia, USA, and Nunavut, Canada. The Company is led by CEO Thomas Ullrich with exploration in Virginia directed by the Company's advisor, Don Taylor, the 2018 Thayer Lindsley Award winner for his discovery of the Taylor Pb-Zn-Ag Deposit in Arizona. The Company is currently exploring the high-grade Buckingham Gold Vein in central Virginia and is in advanced stages of negotiation on other lands with high-grade copper potential in the area.
The Company is 100% owner of the Storm Project property, which hosts the Storm Copper Project and the Seal Zinc Deposit and has been optioned to American West Metals Limited.
About American West Metals Limited
AMERICAN WEST METALS LIMITED (ASX:AW1) is an Australian clean energy mining company focused on growth through the discovery and development of major base metal mineral deposits in Tier 1 jurisdictions of North America. Our strategy is focused on developing mines that have a low-footprint and support the global energy transformation. Our portfolio of copper and zinc projects in Utah and Canada include significant existing resource inventories and high-grade mineralization that can generate robust mining proposals. Core to our approach is our commitment to the ethical extraction and processing of minerals and making a meaningful contribution to the communities where our projects are located.
Led by a highly experienced leadership team, our strategic initiatives lay the foundation for a sustainable business which aims to deliver high-multiplier returns on shareholder investment and economic benefits to all stakeholders.
For further information on American West, visit: www.americanwestmetals.com.
Statements made in this news release, including those regarding entering into the joint venture and each party's interest in the Project pursuant to the agreement in respect of the joint venture, management objectives, forecasts, estimates, expectations, or predictions of the future may constitute "forward-looking statement", which can be identified by the use of conditional or future tenses or by the use of such verbs as "believe", "expect", "may", "will", "should", "estimate", "anticipate", "project", "plan", and words of similar import, including variations thereof and negative forms. This press release contains forward-looking statements that reflect, as of the date of this press release, Aston Bay's expectations, estimates and projections about its operations, the mining industry and the economic environment in which it operates. Statements in this press release that are not supported by historical fact are forward-looking statements, meaning they involve risk, uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although Aston Bay believes that the assumptions inherent in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on these statements, which apply only at the time of writing of this press release. Aston Bay disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by securities legislation.
For more information contact:
Thomas Ullrich, Chief Executive Officer
Sofia Harquail, IR and Corporate Development
SOURCE: Aston Bay Holdings Ltd
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