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Hecla-Kilmer

Hecla-Kilmer

Introduction

The Hecla-Kilmer property (“H-K”) is located in northern Ontario and is a direct extension of the Company’s ongoing exploration strategy at its nearby Ranoke property towards a blue-sky discovery of a large footprint iron oxide - copper-gold hydrothermal breccia system using new exploration technologies and modern mineral deposit models on previously untested targets.

The Ranoke and H-K properties are remote and the targets are covered and previously untested, yet they are proximal to regional infrastructure including rail, power and highway which enable cost-effective exploration and would facilitate equally efficient project development.

Both properties are centered on large magnetic anomalies associated with regional gravity features along the western margin of the Kapuskasing Structural Zone (KSZ), a crustal-scale shear zone hundreds of kilometres long which bisects the Archean Superior province between James Bay and Lake Superior. The KSZ has a long-lived history of repeated ultrabasic and alkaline intrusions spanning 1.6 billion years, and it is a prospective setting for a large IOCG or carbonatite-hosted hydrothermal copper-gold breccia system.

Hecla-Kilmer is a multiphase alkaline intrusive complex with carbonatite approximately 4 – 6 km across. There has been no modern, systematic exploration or drill-testing of the core of the H-K complex for a large-scale, magnetite-copper-gold-fluorite hydrothermal breccia system. A cursory six-hole drill program in 1970 identified gold-bearing magnetite-chalcopyrite-fluorite veins and hydrothermal vein breccia within carbonatite rocks in the basement. The potential of these rocks was not recognized in part because this exploration was before the discovery of Olympic Dam and the development of the IOCG mineral deposit model. Since that time, an airborne magnetic survey flown in 1993 for regional diamond exploration was filed for assessment and provides an extremely detailed magnetic map of the H-K complex, but again, results were not followed up with a new phase of drilling at H-K because it was outside the scope of the diamond exploration.

VR completed a high resolution and state-of-the-art airborne EM survey over H-K in June, 2020, and a ground-based gravity survey in the winter season of 2021 in order to identify targets for high density hydrothermal breccia discordant to primary magnetic boundaries and gradients within the complex. VR completed four drill holes on an MVI (magnetic inversion) anomaly in the northern part of the complex for a total of 1,971 metres, and in follow-up, five holes for a total of 2,604m m on the core of the main gravity anomaly that is coincident with, but offset from, the MVI anomaly drilled in 2020.

VR discovered a hydrothermal breccia and ultra-high temperature sulfide alteration system which comes to surface and has more than 600 m of continuous vertical extent in drill holes HK20-002 and 004 completed in 2020. Key results include:

  • Chalcopyrite mineralization is confirmed in veinlets and scattered semi-solid sulfide replacement zones within hydrothermal breccia, with 1m assays of up to 0.12% (1240 ppm). It occurs with hematite, magnetite, pyrite and apatite in zones of intense fenitization (potassic alteration) around and within phonolite dykes which are themselves elevated in gold, with 15-184 ppb gold over several + 40 m intervals in drill hole 002.
  • Rare-earth earth element (REE) and critical metal mineralization (e.g. niobium) includes:
    • Total rare earth oxide (TREO) of 23 m @ 0.63% TREO from 160 m depth in Hole 002, and 53 m @ 0.51% TREO from 553 m hole depth;
    • Total rare earth oxide (TREO) of 58 m @ 0.38% TREO from 40 m depth in Hole 004 (starts at base of till), including up to 1.44 % TREO over 3.21 m;
  • Lithium mineralization occurs in a broad interval of fluorite-carbonate hydrothermal breccia with 0.045 % LiO2 over 19.4 metres in drill hole HK20-002. Light blue-gray alteration hues in the breccia is attributed to minerals such as spodumene. Fragmented and partially digested sovite-carbonatite dykes are common in these breccia zones. Yttrium and heavy rare earth elements (REE’s) such as terbium are also anomalous.

The follow-up drilling of the co-spatial gravity anomaly in 2021 produced a 299 m intersection of REE and Critical Metals in drill hole HK21-005, starting near surface:

  • Total rare earth oxides (TREO(1)) average 0.47 % TREO over 299.53 metres starting near surface at 52 metres hole depth, just 8 metres below the base of till, and include:
    • TREO up to 1.70 % over 3 m from 156 m, within 28 m of 0.80 % TREO starting at 152 m;
    • Middle and Heavy rare earth oxides (MHREO(2)) of up to 0.18% over 3 m at 152 m.

A summary table with data for the key intersections from the first 9 holes at H-K is provided in the list of maps, figures and core photos which follows this summary text section.

Scale is important. The potential of this REE + Critical Metal mineralization is underscored by the sheer lateral and vertical extent of the hydrothermal breccia system at H-K:

  • Drill holes 002 and 004 are 200 metres apart, with mineralization at surface and spanning more than 500 vertical metres;
  • Mineralization in Hole 005 spans 299 metres of drill core through the central and eastern part of the gravity anomaly which itself measures 400 x 800 metres in size;
  • Mineralization observed in drill core and evident in XRF mineral scans in Holes 008 and 009, for which geochemical data are not yet in hand, are separated by approximately 1,000 metres along the long axis of the gravity anomaly.

A state-of-the-art, ultra- high resolution drone magnetic survey was completed in 2021 and expanded in 2022 to identify vectors for how best to follow up on the broad intersections of critical metals within the large and high-temperature hydrothermal breccia system discovered in the 2020 and 2021 drill programs, and importantly, the broad interval of elevated gold in Hole 2 along the northerly trending structure that controls hydrothermal fluids.

Drilling at H-K is early stage, yet the nine holes completed to date demonstrate the poly-metallic nature of the hydrothermal breccia and alteration system at H-K. Four different styles of mineralization are already evident: 1. REE in veined and brecciated carbonatite dykes (Holes 2, 4, 5, 8 and 9); 2. lithium mineralization in hydrothermal breccia (Holes 2 and 9); 3. copper sulfide in veinlets with iron and silica (Hole 2), and; 4. elevated hydrothermal gold related to syenite porphyry dykes (Holes 2, 6, 8 and 9).

To be certain, we have only just started to identify and understand the specific controls of these various styles of mineralization in the northern part of the complex, and the remainder of this large and multiphase complex at H-K has yet to be drill-tested at all. Going forward, the third drill program planned for the spring of 2022 will: 1. test new drone AS magnetic anomalies located immediately to the east of the sulfide-bearing breccia drill intersections from 2020 and 2021, and; 2. test the MVI magnetic anomalies in the central core and southern rim of the overall complex at Hecla Kilmer, which have never been drilled before, period.

Location and Access

The Hecla-Kilmer property is located in the Moose River basin in northern Ontario, Canada. It is approximately 35 kilometres southwest of the Company’s Ranoke property, and only 23 km to northwest of the Ontario hydro-electric facility at Otter Rapids at the northern terminus of Highway 634 which links the region to the towns of Cochrane and Kapuskasing situated on the northern Trans-Canada Highway located some 100 km to the south.

The town of Moosonee located on tide water at James Bay is located about 125 km to the northeast of the property. The Ontario Northern railway connects Moosonee with the mainline at Cochrane along the Trans Canada Highway, and runs through Otter Rapids 23 km west of the property.

Property Description and Ownership

Hecla-Kilmer is a large property. It comprises 224 mineral claims in one contiguous block covering 4,618 hectares in an area approximately 6 x 7 km in size.

The property is located on provincial crown land, with mineral rights administered by the provincial Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM). There are no annual lease payments, but the MNDM requires certain annual exploration expenditures and reporting (ie. mineral assessment reports) in order to maintain a mineral claim in good standing. The property falls within the traditional territories of the Moose Cree and Taykwa Tagamou First Nations.

The property is owned 100% by VR. There are no underlying annual lease payments to previous owners, nor are there any joint venture or back-in interests. There is an industry-standard royalty attached to the property, including a buy-back provision to VR.

Current Exploration, 2020 - 2022

Ranoke and H-K are amenable for the effective use of modern exploration technologies for base and precious metal deposits. Near-by towns with road access facilitate cost-effective exploration. Subdued topography is optimal for airborne geophysical surveys such as EM and magnetics. Historic drilling demonstrates that overburden thickness is in the range of 40 – 70 m, average for the region and easily penetrated by modern drilling technology. Historic drilling also demonstrates that copper-gold-fluorite hydrothermal breccia comes to surface, that is, to the base of overburden and till, making the use of geophysics effective for basement targets.

VR completed the compilation, synthesis and interpretation of all available federal and provincial government regional data, and archived provincial mineral exploration assessment data in the Hecla-Kilmer area, and integrated it with the Ranoke project data base.

The Company completed the first-ever airborne EM survey ever over the H-K complex in June, 2020, using the state-of-the-art VTEM+ system of Geotech Ltd. Flown at 100 m line spacing over a 6 x 7 km survey block for a total of 450 line-km, the data provide a high resolution of detail. The Company also had an independent, 3-D inversion of both magnetic and EM data completed for improved modeling for a potential magnetite-copper hydrothermal breccia body within the multiphase carbonatite complex. There are two prominent, high contrast and deeply rooted MVI anomalies (magnetic vectorization peaks) in the northern and central part of the complex. The northern MVI anomaly correlates with the largest and strongest basement conductor identified in the VTEM+ survey; the central MVI anomaly correlates with the strongest overall magnetic signature in the Analytic Signal product.

A detailed, ground-based gravity geophysical survey was completed in March, 2021. It covers an area of approximately 1.5 x 3.5 km’s, with 597 stations completed in total; 573 on an equant grid station spacing of 100 metres, and 24 done on a 50 m infill pattern covering the main anomaly after it had been outlined by completion of the main grid.

Overall, the survey was designed to: 1. cover the main RTP magnetic boundaries within the large and concentrically zoned multi-phase carbonatite complex at H-K, and; 2. cover the main MVI anomaly derived from the 3D inversion completed by VR in 2020 of the 1993 airborne magnetic data. The goal is to identify high density concentrations of copper, gold and rare earth element minerals in hydrothermal breccia, based on the high density XRF profiles of mineralization obtained from the scanning of drill holes HK20-002 and 004.

The survey produced a large and high contrast anomaly in the northwest part of the complex, as summarized in the news release dated May 5, 2021. Anomaly attributes include:

Large: 400 x 800m in size;
High amplitude: 3.5 mGal contrast to surrounding rock of the H-K complex;
Robust: 55 stations with high density, with no gaps within the anomaly;
Structural Control: Sharp boundaries define a dilational Riedel structural complex;
Magnetic High: Co-spatial with large MVI magnetic inversion anomaly.

The gravity anomaly is co-spatial with, but offset from, the northern MVI magnetic anomaly.

An ultra - high resolution, state-of-the-art drone magnetic survey was flown in the fall of 2021, and expanded in March of 2022. The objective of the survey is to: 1. clearly define the external boundaries of the overall complex, and; 2. identify internal magnetic contacts and gradients that are discordant to the magnetic zonation related to the primary igneous emplacement history of multiphase complex, and are therefore potential targets for secondary hydrothermal breccia with copper and gold.

The final survey now covers an area of approximately 3.4 x 4.5 km and comprises 121 survey lines at both 25 and 50 m line-spacing for a total of 410 line-km. The survey produces a very high resolution of data because of the tight line spacing, the low “tree-top” flight altitude of just 30 metres above ground, and a computerized flight control paired with a new, very high sensitivity potassium-vapour magnetometer.

Summary of drilling to date by VR, 2020-2021

Magnetite-copper-fluorite veins and vein breccia replacement are evident in core retrieved and restored from the cursory historic drill holes completed in 1970 which targeted base metals in the Paleozoic limestone cover sequence in the region, and were located on the margins of the basement MVI anomalies at H-K. VR will test the centers of the large basement MVI anomalies as the potential center of large, discrete magnetite-copper-gold-fluorite breccia bodies based on the presence of magnetite-fluorite veins and magnetite-copper-gold-fluorite vein breccia in the historic drill core.

The Company completed four drill holes for a total of 1,971 m in October, 2020, targeting the northern MVI (magnetic inversion) anomaly at H-K. In October, 2021, the Company followed up that drilling with the completion of 5 additional holes for a total of 2,604m, targeting the high contrast, 3.5 mGal gravity anomaly that is co-spatial with, but slightly offset from the MVI magnetic anomaly.

VR has discovered a hydrothermal breccia system ultra-high, calc-potassic sulfide alteration system which comes to surface at H-K, and has more than 600 m of vertical extent. A summary table with data for the key intersections from the first 9 holes at H-K is provided in the list of maps, figures and core photos which follows this summary text section. The geochemical data were obtained from a sodium peroxide fusion analytical technique designed to optimize the analytical detection for all of the rare earth elements.

Scale is important. The potential of this REE + Nb mineralization is underscored by the sheer lateral and vertical extent of the hydrothermal breccia system at H-K:

  • Drill holes 002 and 004 are 200 metres apart, with mineralization at surface and spanning more than 500 vertical metres;
  • Mineralization in Hole 005 spans 299 metres of drill core through the central and eastern part of the gravity anomaly which itself measures 400 x 800 metres in size;
  • Mineralization observed in drill core and evident in XRF mineral scans in Holes 008 and 009, for which geochemical data are not yet in hand, are separated by approximately 1,000 metres along the long axis of the gravity anomaly.

Drill core photographs with examples of the style of mineralization and alteration which hosts the REE’s are shown at the end of the list of maps and photographs which follow this text summary. Key geological attributes in drill core to date include:

  • The key minerals which host the REE’s at H-K include monazite, bastnaesite, fluorapatite and apatite, and pyrochlore for niobium. The mineralization is hosted in sulfide-bearing carbonatite dykes (phoscorite), fluorite-carbonate vein breccia and hydrothermal breccia.
  • Drill holes 004 and 005 are overprinted by a high temperature, calc-potassic alteration assemblage which starts at surface and includes magnetite, biotite and amphibole;
  • Chalcopyrite mineralization is confirmed in veinlets and scattered semi-solid sulfide replacement zones within hydrothermal breccia, with 1m assays of up to 0.12% (1240 ppm). It occurs with hematite, magnetite, pyrite and apatite in zones of intense fenitization (potassic alteration);
  • Phonolite dykes are abundant and commonly elevated in gold, with 15-184 ppb gold over several + 40 metre intervals in drill hole HK20-002
  • Lithium is concentrated in one broad intersection of hydrothermal breccia in drill hole HK20-002 which is cemented by fluorite and carbonate and contains numerous disaggregated blocks of carbonatite dykes.

More generally:

  • Pyrite, pyrrhotite, marcasite and lesser chalcopyrite occur as seams and clots in fluorite-calcite veins and poly-lithic hydrothermal breccia, and as disseminated grains in carbonatite dykes;
  • Dark, commonly red-hued polylithic magmatic-hydrothermal breccia occurs throughout both drill holes: it overprints all rock types; the groundmass contains carbonate, fluorite, biotite, magnetite and chlorite; it both disaggregates and digests carbonatite dykes with sulfide, and is itself cut by fluorite-carbonate veinlets with sulfide and pyrochlore;
  • Alkaline, syenite porphyry dykes and sovite dykes with variable fluorapatite and carbonate-fluorite veins occur throughout all of the drill holes, and are believed to be the overall driver of the intense hydrothermal alteration and brecciation at H-K.

Summary and Plan Going forward in 2022

Despite the very early stage of our drilling, four different styles of mineralization are already evident at H-K:

  1. REE + Critical Metals in veined and brecciated carbonatite dykes;
  2. lithium mineralization in hydrothermal breccia;
  3. copper sulfide in veinlets with iron and silica, and;
  4. elevated secondary gold in porphyry dykes along a major north-trending structure.

Of these, it is already clear that the REE + Critical Metals component of the hydrothermal system at H-K has significant potential value based on: 1. the vertical and lateral scale represented by the early intersections; 2. the polymetallic signature including niobium, light and heavy rare earth elements, and; 3. TREO concentrations over a 299 m intersection are similar to the average grades reported for many REE deposits globally.

The drilling to date is just the starting point for a mineral system with scale, intensity and metal diversity at H-K. A more accurate picture for the potential of all four styles of mineralization at H-K, especially the copper and gold, will be obtained by completion of the third drill program planned for the spring of 2022, with two specific objectives:

  1. Use the new drone magnetic data to test AS magnetic highs located immediately east of the sulfide-bearing breccia system intersected in the first two drill programs in the northern part of the complex, and;
  2. Complete additional reconnaissance drilling on the larger MVI magnetic anomaly located on the southern margin of the complex, some 2-3 km south of the drilling in 2020 and 2021.

Geochemical data in drill hole HK20-002 indicate the presence of gold and copper in the hydrothermal breccia system at H-K, and support the presence of copper and gold identified in drill core rubble pieces discovered in the field at the historic 1970 drill site (see photographs in the news release dated June 18, 2020). Drilling at H-K will continue to evaluate the potential for copper and gold in the sulfide-bearing fluorite-carbonate hydrothermal breccia system with REE and critical metals discovered to-date at H-K.

General Geology, Exploration History and Mineral Potential

Both the Ranoke and Hecla-Kilmer properties are centered on large magnetic anomalies associated with regional gravity features which occur along the western margin of the Kapuskasing Structural Zone (“KSZ”), a long-lived, crustal-scale fault zone with bisects the Archean Superior craton between James Bay and Lake Superior, and hosts numerous alkaline, ultrabasic and carbonatite intrusions, kimberlite and lamprophyre which span more than 1.7 billion years of activity, to as recent as 128 million years ago. This tectonic setting is prospective for the development of large IOCG or carbonatite-hosted copper-gold hydrothermal breccia systems.

Hecla-Kilmer is a large, roughly circular and concentrically zoned multiphase alkaline intrusive complex with carbonatite approximately 4 – 6 km across. Inferred age is Proterozoic, based on both early and late Proterozoic age dates for other alkaline intrusions on the KSZ. Importantly, H-K was emplaced along the KSZ where it intersects a regional-scale tectonic suture between two sub-provinces of the Archean Superior Craton; the volcanic-dominated Wabigoon province to the north, and the sediment-dominated Quetico province to the south.

In 1988 the Ontario Geological Survey published cursory petrographic and whole rock geochemical data for the complex based on pieces of core obtained from the historic drilling in 1970 described below. Overall, the H-K complex is cored by a large body of coarse-grained nepheline syenite which intrudes a myriad of ultrabasic and carbonatite marginal phases including olivine gabbro, essexite, ijolite, pyroxenite, with an abundance of late dykes of sovite, phonolite and lamprophyre.

The H-K carbonatite complex comes to surface, forming the top of bedrock at the base of overburden which is consistently around 40 m thick, with only local variations based on the historic and current drill holes which span most of the complex. Overburden is in the form of unusually well indurated lodgement pebble till, unsorted and even-textured throughout.

Six diamond drill holes were completed at H-K by Ashland Oil and Elgin Petroleum in 1970 as part of a regional base metal exploration program of the Paleozoic shelf carbonate succession which covers Archean basement rocks in the region. One hole was abandoned, and only 854 m were completed in total in 5 holes, all on magnetic highs in the outer zones of the H-K complex. Importantly, the historic drilling for base metals in 1970 proved that the H-K carbonatite complex comes to surface, to the base of glacial till and overburden.

Ten years later in 1981, Selco Exploration Company completed two drill holes on peripheral magnetic highs at H-K, as part of a multi-year, regional diamond exploration program that included 41 drill holes altogether. The two holes intersected ultra-basic rocks and mafic breccia.

A high-resolution airborne magnetic survey was flown in the region in 1993 for diamond exploration. The survey shows clearly that Hecla-Kilmer is a concentrically zoned, high contrast magnetic anomaly 4 – 6 km across. Magnetic boundaries within the complex are sharply defined on RTP, 1VD and 2VD magnetic products; magnetic highs rim, in general, a central magnetic low in the core of the complex. Easterly and northwest-southeast trending structural disruptions are evident.

The historic drilling at H-K was done before the high-resolution magnetic survey was flown for diamond exploration, and before the development of the IOCG mineral deposit model, which helps explain why all five holes in 1970 were located in the outer concentric zones of the complex, why they were terminated at very shallow depth, and why there is no record of geochemical sampling or geochemical data in hydrothermal breccia with fluorite and sulfide which are documented in the drill logs.

There has been no modern, systematic exploration or drilling of the multiphase alkaline igneous complex with carbonatite at Hecla-Kilmer for copper, gold and critical metals in the basement rocks and hydrothermal breccia. The opportunity for VR is to be the first to apply modern IOCG and carbonatite mineral deposit models and the first to use modern exploration technologies to explore the large and multiphase H-K complex for a magnetite-copper-gold-fluorite hydrothermal breccia system with REE’s and Critical Metals.

March, 2021: Winter ground-gravity survey

Fall Drill Program, 2020

Property Location in Northern Ontario



Drill holes on Magnetic and Gravity base maps







Hydrothermal breccia, fluorite and high temperature veins in drill core, Oct. 2020

Lithium mineralization in broad hydrothermal breccia zone

High Density REE mineralization at 582m in Hydrothermal Breccia in Hole 002

REE mineralization in Hydrothermal Breccia with Magnetite at surface in Hole 004

Open space vein of calcite and intercrystalline fluorapatite and apatite, Hole 005