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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, in order to identify low resistivity bodies and/or finite conductors associated with major magnetic gradients within the untested core of the complex. In October the Company completed four drill holes on the northern MVI (magnetic inversion) anomaly for a total of 1,971 metres.

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 two drill holes, HK20-002 and 004. 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.

Five drill holes were completed in October, 2021, for a total of 2,604m, in follow-up to the four holes completed in 2020 which targeted the northern MVI magnetic anomaly at H-K. Drilling in 2021 tested a high contrast, 3.5Mgal gravity anomaly that is co-spatial with, but offset from the MVI magnetic anomaly. A 299 m intersection in drill hole HK21-005, starting near surface, confirms the discovery in 2020 of a large-footprint REE and Critical Metals system at H-K.

  • 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.
  • Concentrations of the critical metal niobium of 0.20% Nb2O5 over 237.46 m, including:
    • 55 m at 0.23% Nb2O5 and 25.4 ppm Ta2O5 from 183 m;
    • 31 m at 0.31% Nb2O5 and 33.4 ppm Ta2O5 from 275 m.

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.

We look forward to providing further updates as we receive additional geochemical data from the remaining drill holes completed in October, proprietary AI analyses of XRF mineral data, and complete 3-D models integrating new magnetic, density and structural data from the logging and XRF scanning of drill core.

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 - 2021

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.

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.

A ground-based gravity geophysical survey was completed in March, 2021, in order to evaluate the potential for concentrations of 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 results are summarized in the news release dated May 5, 2021; key 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 boundaries of the 3.5 mGal anomaly;
Structural Control: Sharp boundaries define a dilational Riedel structural complex;
Magnetic High: Correlates with large MVI magnetic inversion anomaly within the H-K complex.

The gravity anomaly is co-spatial with, but offset from, the northern MVI magnetic anomaly. The 2020 drill holes in the northern MVI anomaly are located along the eastern margin of the gravity anomaly. The gravity anomaly is believed to represent the center of the hydrothermal breccia and high temperature sulfide alteration system intersected in 2020 based on the high density character of mineralization in Holes 002 and 004 in XRF mineral data profiles.

Summary of Drilling to Date by VR

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. Key intersections from the first five holes are shown in Table 1 below; geochemical data from the remaining four holes are expected by calendar year-end. Data in Table 1 below were obtained from a sodium peroxide fusion analytical technique designed to optimize the analytical detection for all of the rare earth elements.

Table 1 below provides a summary of results to-date from reconnaissance drilling at H-K.

Drillhole From (m) To (m) Length
(m)
TREO(1)
(%)
MHREO(2)
(%)
MH-T(3) Li2O
(ppm)
Nb2O5
(ppm)
Ta2O5
(ppm)
ThO2
(ppm)
HK21-005 New 52 351.53 299.53 0.47 0.04 8.6% 94 0.18 23.8 135
including New 80.75 318.21 237.46 0.49 0.04 8.2% 91 0.20 27.3 149
including New 152 180 28 0.80 0.08 9.7% 72 0.17 26.5 252
including New 156 159 3 1.70 0.18 10.3% 52 0.08 16.1 562
including New 183 238 55 0.44 0.03 7.5% 106 0.23 25.4 123
including New 186 190 4 0.61 0.04 6.9% 114 0.42 28.2 159
including New 275 306 31 0.61 0.04 6.0% 102 0.31 33.4 215
including New 299 306 7 0.86 0.06 6.6% 90 0.42 45.5 330
HK20-002 NR-21-17 159.60 183 23.4 0.63 0.06 9.9% 427 0.05 8.3 152
NR-21-17 553 606 53.00 0.51 0.05 9.1% 130 0.12 17.1 390
including NR-21-17 566.65 585 18.35 0.67 0.07 9.4% 114 0.14 18.8 548
HK20-004 NR-21-20 40.30 98.40 58.10 0.38 0.04 11% 107 0.15 25.37 155
including NR-21-20 57 60.21 3.21 1.44 0.15 10% 119 0.17 25.20 438
including NR-21-20 67.23 78 10.77 0.35 0.04 11% 82 0.27 50.12 259

(1) TREO is the summation of Ce2O3 + La2O3 + Pr2O3 + Nd2O3 + Sm2O3 + Eu2O3 + Gd2O3 + Tb2O3 + Dy2O3 + Ho2O3 + Er2O3 + Tm2O3 + Yb2O3 + Lu2O3 + Y2O3

(2) MHREO is the sum of the middle and heavy rare earth oxides (Sm2O3 + Eu2O3 + Gd2O3 + Tb2O3 + Dy2O3 + Ho2O3 + Er2O3 + Tm2O3 + Yb2O3 + Lu2O3 + Y2O3)

(3) MH-T is MHREO divided by TREO, expressed as a percent.

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 summary. Key geological attributes overall 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

Despite the very early stage of our drilling, four different styles of mineralization are already evident at H-K: 1. REE + Nb 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. Of these, it is already clear that the REE + Nb 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, bolstered by a niobium signature achieving 0.2% over a full 237m within that interval.

Our drilling to date, and this new geochemical data, are just the starting point for a mineral system and host multiphase complex of the scale and metal diversity seen at H-K. We will have a more accurate picture for the potential of all four styles of mineralization at H-K, especially the copper and gold, when: 1. we have all of the geochemical and mineral data in hand from all nine holes completed to date on the northern magnetic and gravity anomaly, and; 2. we have completed additional reconnaissance drilling on the larger magnetic anomaly located 2 – 3 km to the south of the current drilling, on the southern margin of the complex. To be certain, we have only just begun to delineate mineralization associated with the large gravity anomaly, and the remainder of this very large complex has yet to be drill-tested, period.

Two of the holes from a cursory six-hole drill program in 1970 are located on the edge of the new gravity. Geochemical data in drill hole HK20-002 support the presence of gold and copper mineralization evident in drill core rubble pieces discovered in the field at the historic 1970 camp site (see photographs in the news release dated June 18, 2020). Drilling will continue to evaluate the potential of the copper-gold component of the hydrothermal breccia system 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, 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 and kimberlites which span more than 1.6 billion years of activity. 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. The complex was emplaced along the 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 of the complex as part of a regional diamond exploration program, and 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. The historic drilling at H-K was done before this high-resolution magnetic survey, 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 core of the Hecla-Kilmer intrusive complex 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 Rare Element and Critical Metals.

Field Video with the Exploration Manager at the fall drill program, Sept. 2021

VR Drill Holes on New Gravity Anomaly, May 2021

March, 2021: Winter ground-gravity survey

Fall Drill Program, 2020

Property Location in Northern Ontario



Drill Holes on RTP magnetic base map





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