The idea that Bell Copper (TSXV:BCU) is searching for the upper part of a porphyry system miles away from the place where roots are seen at surface in the Hualapai Mountains is pretty neat in itself, but the company's expertise really shines through when you question them about it in detail. One thing I learned was that there is some zonation across a porphyry from top-bottom as Tim Marsh, CEO, explained "Quartz magnetite veins are, in my mind, the deep equivalent of what would be chalcopyrite veins at shallower depths." That may be simple enough to many out there, but it sure showed me that he knew what he was talking about.
In a recent news release, Bell Copper reported that drill hole K-17 hit gold, which led me to wonder if there was any evidence of gold mines back in the footwall at Hualapai Mountains? Could Tim draw a connection between such a mine and the new intercept kilometers away in the hangingwall to get sense for the displacement for the cupola of the porphyry?
I asked Tim if has a sense for where the juiciest parts of the footwall are located and he said, "Yes, I do. The area around the old Standard Minerals Mine or Telluride Chief Mine is what I consider to be the geometric or geothermal center of the footwall. And I've got a magic place picked out there in the gravel where that spot should be. It's undrilled to date and we need to get out there to drill a hole in it."
Bell Copper has, arguably, been close to a discovery at Kabba for years now. It was nice to hit gold in recent drilling, but it wasn't quite what they were looking for. Tim explained to me that "Gold commonly fills up in two domains in a porphyry copper system. One is where we found it here out in the outer margins. The other is often in the core of the porphyry, right in the heart of the copper shell associated with bornite and chalcopyrite. We haven't found that part of the system yet…" in an interview after the news was out.
Going back several years now, Bell Copper hit some interesting polymetallic veins in hole K-10 that helped give them a sense for how far things moved. Tim explained,
"These types of veins are actually called polymetallic base metal veins. They commonly have chalcopyrite, sphalerite, which is zinc sulphide, and galena, which is lead sulfide, silver and gold. They can have pretty good silver values. These polymetallic veins are typically seen external to a lot of porphyries – external to the footwall, in fact. Some of the mines that operated 100 years ago in the footwall were mining the kind of polymetallic veins that we hit in the bottom of K-10. I am thinking of the Enterprise Mine or the Century Mine located back in the footwall block. In that way, K-10 gave us a correlation back to the footwall." -- Tim Marsh
I poked around a bit online, looking at the old Century Mine or the Telluride Chief Mine. One thing I found was a beautiful video of the Hualapai Mountains (https://youtu.be/r3b46EfZ47I?t=183). I can just imagine walking around there with Tim, banging rocks and talking geology.
Tim talks about footwall as "Church" because encourage him that something out there. After watching some of this video, you may appreciate why.
I asked Tim about the holes that miss and he said, "Every single hole is a surprise and a learning process and some are a disappointment. My energy ebbs pretty close to zero when I have to cut the hole off. It’s terribly disappointing, but I pick myself up and I go back to the footwall to reconvince myself that I can't let up until I understand where the upper part of that footwall is located. The footwall is so spectacular – so intensely veined and altered that I can't let off the gas until I find where all the fluid that created that footwall went. It's just extraordinary."
Dig deeper and you'll find that one of these old mines we are discussing is actually for sale! There is a "20 Acre Lode Claim For Sale or Lease Option at Historic Telluride Chief". It's listed as gold and silver mine, and the seller says, "It would likely be an easy day's work to clear the shaft entrance and begin sampling and work in the lower drift levels." Yours for only $75,000. I'm afraid I won't be buying it, but it's another sign for me that this is a great place to be exploring for a big one!