Fireweed Zinc (TSX-V:FWZ) and the Boundary West zinc discovery.
Fireweed Zinc recently reported that 'wide zone mineralization' has been found in their 2020 drill campaign at Boundary Zone. But, they currently await assays because of a backlog at the lab due to Covid-19. Knowing they have found mineralization, and recognizing the deposit potential, this article's focus, is to prepare you for the upcoming news. In this, I highlight the sequence of events leading up to this discovery and why I believe the company may be on the verge of owning a Tier-1 asset.
SEDEX deposits are typically found in pods; where there is one, there are often more. The discovery of the Tom deposit in 1951 led to the Jason discovery 6 km away in 1976. The prospective land was originally divided among multiple companies, and due to the remoteness of the location, drilling of potential targets was limited.
With the purchase of the Nidd claims in 2018, Fireweed consolidated the entire district under one company for the first time in history. Of particular interest was the Boundary Zone, where drilling and soil sampling had indicated that the previous owners, Teck Resources, were getting closer and had made recommendations to continue drilling to the south and to the west. Before their thesis could be tested however, Fireweed Zinc picked up the option.
Fireweed's 2019 drill program included two drill holes at Boundary, and both hit in spectacular fashion.
- Drill hole NB19-01 250m of 3.44% Zinc from Surface
- Drill hole NB19-02 230m of 4.14% Zinc from Surface
In the latest news regarding the 2020 drill program, Fireweed Zinc announced that "significant widths of near-surface zinc-lead mineralization have been discovered at a new target west of Boundary Zone." Assays are still pending but the results could be extraordinary.
This article examines the history of the deposit and how previous drilling, along with additional technologies such as gravity anomaly surveying, has paved the way for this new discovery.
With the addition of Boundary Zone, along with the Tom & Jason deposits, the Macmillan Pass Project has the potential to become a Tier-1 zinc district.
Fireweed Zinc's Macmillan Pass Project, also known as the Tom-Jason Project, is located in Canada's mining-friendly Yukon Territory, approximately 400 kilometers northeast of the city of Whitehorse, and is host to large zinc-lead-silver deposits. The initial discovery of the Tom deposit occurred in 1951, and Jason was discovered in 1976, a short 6km away. These zinc-lead-silver deposits are proximal, stratiform, sediment-hosted (SEDEX) deposits formed during the Devonian era rifting activity in the Selwyn Basin.
These two deposits combine to provide a resource estimate of 11.21 tonnes (MT) at 9.61% ZnEq indicated and 39.47 tonnes (MT) at 10.00% ZnEq inferred, making this project one of the largest undeveloped zinc projects in the world.
Remoteness plays a primary risk to the development of these deposits, as they are 200 km from the nearest town and 800 km from the nearest port. But, in March of 2020, the Yukon government announced $71 million in upgrades to Macmillan Pass Project area roads (Source: https://ceo.ca/@nasdaq/yukon-government-and-ross-river-dena-council-first ). This is a hefty amount of money that will surely reduce some of the front end CAPEX; as well, it shows the commitment of the Yukon government and the First Nations people.
The CEO of Fireweed Zinc, Brandon MacDonald, has stated that his goal is to turn the MacMillan Pass Project into a Tier-1 zinc district. Although it is one of the largest undeveloped zinc projects in the world that is not owned by a major producer, becoming a Tier-1 deposit is still a formidable task.
Since the inception of Fireweed Zinc in 2017, they have been actively purchasing the land packages adjacent to the current deposits. SEDEX deposits are typically found in pods; if you find one, you have a very good chance of finding a few more nearby.
In 2018, they purchased the Nidd claims, and together with earlier options on MAC, MP, MC, Jerry, BR, and NS claims, they now have a consolidated district under one company for the first time in history.
To give a conceptual size comparison, this shows the city of Vancouver superimposed on the MacMillan Pass property.
With a high probability of finding additional targets, last year's drill program included two holes in the Boundary Zone (Letter B on image above - note distance from Tom & Jason deposits), and the results were spectacular:
Fireweed drills 100 m of 7.94% zinc from surface at Boundary, including 6.4 m of 42.49% zinc within 230 m of 4.14% zinc, Nov 5, 2019
Fireweed drills 250 m true width of 3.44% zinc from surface at Boundary, including intersections of 23.31m of 16.35% zinc and 11.85 m of 13.63% zinc + lead, Oct 16, 2019
These results led to an implication of a possible open pit mine at Boundary that could add significant tonnage. The 2020 program was therefore designed with the Boundary zone as its principal focus.
The Boundary Zone discovery was not a coincidence, nor was it found by random chance. Previous companies had been tracking the target for years. The area was first explored in 1967, with an aerial reconnaissance exploration program designed to investigate reported mineral occurrences, prospect gossan occurrences and intrusive areas, geochemical soil and silt sampling, etc.
The Nidd claim group, consisting of 261 mineral claims (a massive land package), was staked in September 1976 and June 1977 in the MacMillan Pass area following major discoveries by Ogilvie Joint Ventures of lead-zinc-silver mineralization, later named the Jason discovery.
The first drill program by Cominco commenced in 1982, with 4 holes totalling 1,242 m (labelled in red on the right of the image below), and was followed up by the 1983 drill program (labelled in blue). The red oval loosely highlights the current Boundary Zone exploration program. Note the approximate 500 m scale in green.
"The initial drill holes from 1982 were less than 1 km away from the current Boundary West discovery. So close, and yet so far!"
By 1991, Comico had begun to hone in on this potential target. Drill holes NB91-24A and NB91-21 (top left of image below) had caught a sniff of mineralization but it was the following drill holes that were compelling:
- NB83-08 notable mineralization found deeper
- NB84-10 notable mineralization found deeper
- NB89-13 significant mineralization (e.g. an intense siderite breccia was encountered)
- NB89-14 significant mineralization (e.g. 28% zn over 2.5 m)
- NB90-20 notable mineralization
- NB91-25 significant mineralization
- NB91-26 significant mineralization
Unfortunately for Cominco, and many other companies in the early 90s, the economic situation at the time forced the company's focus to shift to more advanced stage projects that it owned elsewhere in the world, and this project was put on the shelf.
Later, Cominco would merge with Teck to become Teck Cominco, now Teck Resources Limited. In 2012, some 20 years after the last drill holes, Teck Resources performed an in depth soil analysis of the Nidd Property and highlighted the Boundary Zone as having the greatest potential. They reported their findings in a 2012 assessment report. On page 31, it reads:
There is a Pb-Ag soil anomaly directly uphill from a coincident Ba soil-pH anomaly on the western soil line, which suggests a western continuation of the Boundary Creek mineralization. Neither of these anomalies has been drill tested (all previous drilling stopped further north and east); therefore, the Boundary Creek mineralized system is open to the west and at depth. Along the eastern 2012 soil line, the main Zn-(Pb) soil anomaly lies south (and downslope) of most historic drill holes. While there is potential that the geochemical anomalies are transported down-slope, an interpretation of the 2012 pH data suggests a sulphide source located directly below the geochemical anomaly, which remains poorly tested by drilling.
The original report can be found here:
The soil sampling seemed to indicate that the initial drilling was too far north and too far east.
In August of this year, Fireweed completed a gravity survey and noted a huge gravity anomaly directly over the zinc anomaly, which also suggested drilling to the south and to the west.
Armed with this new information, they commenced the 2020 drill program and hit significant mineralization at this new target west of Boundary Zone.
News: Fireweed Exploration Update: Significant Mineralization Discovered at New Target West of Boundary Zone - September 24, 2020
Assays are still pending, and may takes a few months due to COVID. Brandon wrote on Twitter his reasoning behind releasing news before assays, and I especially liked this:
And if you wonder whether our assessment of mineralization is correct, consider this slide from our deck. It is pretty apparent at Boundary Zone, in fact in all zones. Even the drillers know when we hit, and they are not geologists (although they are damn good drillers).
Brandon's full Tweet here (I recommend reading it):
This announcement was followed up on October 15, 2020 with the following news release:
Fireweed Completes 2020 Drilling at Macmillan Pass With Additional Wide Intersections at Boundary West
I've estimated and plotted the 2019 & 2020 drill programs (labeled in pink with black background) along with previous drilling to show the potential size of this discovery. I've compared this image with the gravity survey and drawn a crude, red oval to indicate the anomaly.
If you analyze the latest news (tabulated below) and compare it with the drill location plots above, I think you will share my enthusiasm.
The observation of wide zone mineralization in holes, NB20-004, NB20-008 and NB20-009 is very exciting and could indicate a completely new discovery west of the initial Boundary Zone drilling. They've named this new discovery the "Boundary West," and if we see "Boundary" style results i.e similar to last years results, this would be, in my eyes, a game changer.
Additionally, holes NB20-001 & NB20-002 were drilled to complement last year's drill program, as these were drilled with a different azimuth than NB19-001 & NB19-002, but close enough that they should give them a better indication of tonnage, as well as structure in that area. If these two drill holes return similar numbers to the 2019 results, that adds confidence that there is significant tonnage that is shallow and open pittable at Boundary Zone.
Fireweed have potentially made a new discovery with the Boundary West zone. With assays pending, and the zinc market in the doldrums due to the market's cyclical nature, I believe this can be an opportunity to take advantage of. While most market participants are watching the precious metals markets as they are currently hot, I think waiting for assays and the confirmation of a discovery here is an excellent way to avoid speculation risk but also, to beat the crowd. Please remember, I am not a geologist nor am I a financial advisor, so please do your own diligence and read the disclosure and disclaimer below. This article was written to provide a starting point for due diligence in a company I believe will become very popular in the months/years to come and I have positioned myself accordingly.
Disclosure: The author, @Evenprime owns FWZ.V shares at the time of publishing and may choose to buy or sell at any time without notice. @Evenprime has been compensated for marketing services by Fireweed Zinc as they are a site sponsor of the #StockPickingContest hosted at www.EverythingEven.com.
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