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 Company has been working on Ranoke for the past three years, and the reader is referred to the Ranoke project page on this Website for a detailed description of its mineral exploration potential, and work completed by VR to date.
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 polyphase alkaline intrusive complex with carbonatite approximately 4 – 6 km’s 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 with IOCG affinity. A cursory historic drill program in 1971 for rare metals, and base metals in the Paleozoic cover rocks 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 initiated first-pass drilling at H-K and completed four drill holes on the northern MVI (magnetic inversion) anomaly for a total of 1,971 metres.
VR intersected 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 metre intervals in drill hole HK20-002.
- 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 in this zone.
- Rare-earth element mineralization spans 49 m starting at 50 m depth in HK20-004 and more than 20 m at 574 m depth in HK20-002. The intersections contain:
- Up to 0.56 % combined La2O3, Ce2O3, and Y2O3 ;
- Elevated thorium up to 0.15 % ThO2 ;
- Anomalous niobium up to 0.13 % Nb2O5 ;
- Anomalous niobium up to 0.13 % Nb2O5 ;
The mineralization occurs in red-hued hydrothermal breccia with digested clasts of sovite dykes and an intense, coarse-grained potassic alteration overprint.
The REE signatures of IOCG deposits worldwide are well established, so the REE intersections discovered in drill holes HK20-002 and 004 underscore the potential for Hecla-Kilmer to host a large-scale copper-gold breccia deposit with IOCG affinity. That potential is amplified by the sheer scale of the hydrothermal system at H-K; the two drill intersections in November, 2020 correlate across two drill holes some 200 m apart, and they imply that the critical metal and REE mineralizing fluids have a vertical extent of more than 600 m in the area drilled.
The high density profiles of the niobium – REE mineralization correlate with high phosophate concentrations and so the REE’s are attributed to minerals such as pyrochlore, monazite and potentially allanite or fluor-apatite. Such minerals are favourable for REE recovery and are common within the niobium deposits at Oka in Quebec and Argor in northern Ontario, but they are also present in association with copper-gold mineralization in IOCG deposits such as Palabora in South Africa and Olympic Dam in Australia.
A detailed, ground-based gravity survey was completed on March 23rd, 2021. The grid is 1.5 x 3.5 km in size and covers the core of the polyphas H-K complex. The goal is to identify high density zones related to sulfide and/or REE mineralization. The focus is on magnetic anomalies and magnetic boundaries which are attributed to hydrothermal alteration and formation and/or destruction of magnetite along the margins of the large syenite body that forms the core to the polyphase complex at H-K and, along with late phonolite and sovite dykes, drives alteration and brecciation of the marginal phases of the complex.
Follow-up drilling to the intersections obtained in October, 2020, is anticipated for the second half of 2021, using the results of the gravity survey as the key vector towards discovery.
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’s 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’s to the south.
The town of Moosonee located on tide water at James Bay is located about 125 km’s to the northeast of the property. The Ontario Northern railway connects Moosonee with the mainline at Cochrane along the Trans Canada Highway, and is only 23 km’s west of the property.
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’s in size.
The property is located on provincial crown land, with mineral rights administered by the provincial Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (MENDM). There are no annual lease payments, but the MENDM 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 Moose Cree and Taykwa Tagamou First Nations traditional territories.
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.
VR has 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.
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 will allow for optimal 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.
The Company completed the first-ever airborne EM survey ever over the H-K complex in June, 2020, using the sophisticated 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’s, 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 polyphase carbonatite complex. There are two prominent, high contrast and deeply rooted MVI anomalies (magnetic vectorization peaks) in the central part of the complex. The northern MVI anomaly is the highest priority because it correlates with the largest and strongest basement conductor identified in the VTEM+ survey.
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 on the northern MVI (magnetic inversion) anomaly at H-K for a total of 1,971 metres (Figure 1). The crew, rig and road-accessible camp demobilized at the end of October before the onset of winter weather.
VR intersected 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 intersections are described above in the Introduction section. Key geological attributes evident in drill core 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);
- Phonolite dykes are abundant and commonly elevated in gold, with 15-184 ppb gold over several + 40 metre intervals in drill hole HK20-002.
- 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 sovite dykes;
- A high temperature potassic alteration facies overprints all rock types with a complete replacement of original minerals by magnetite, biotite, fluorite and carbonate; magnetite veins occur with inter-vein sulfide, and fluorite-carbonate-sulfide veins occurring throughout the 600 metre intersections have a hydrothermal biotite alteration halo from cm’s to metres in scale;
- Dark, commonly red-hued poly-lithic 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 mineralized sovite dykes, and is itself cut by fluorite-carbonate-sulfide veinlets;
- Alkaline, porphyritic phonolite dykes and sovite dykes with variable fluorite occur throughout, and are believed to be the overall driver of the intense alteration and replacement at H-K. Lithium is concentrated in one broad intersection of hydrothermal breccia cemented by fluorite and carbonate and containing numerous disaggregated blocks of sovite dykes;
- Geochemical data show an enrichment of phosphorus, niobium, thorium and the rare earth elements (REE’s) in the sulfide-bearing hydrothermal breccia and replacement zones at the top of Hole HK20-004 and the bottom of Hole 002 some 200m’s away; the zones contain coarse hydrothermal biotite and monazite, and their REE contents confirm a critical component of an IOCG fluid model for the high-temperature hydrothermal alteration system at H-K and the potential for a large-scale copper-gold breccia deposit.
The results from the drilling in 2020 warrant follow-up. VR intends complete follow-up drilling in the second half of 2021 seeking rare earth metals and copper and gold mineralization which are similar in style but stronger in intensity compared to that discovered in holes HK20-002 and 004 in the maiden drill program in October, 2020.
Based on the well-established high density character of the copper and niobium-thorium-REE mineralization at H-K, a detailed ground-gravity survey was completed over the core of the H-K complex in March, 2021, in order to identify potential areas of high density. The survey covers an area of approximately 1.5 x 3.5 km’s, with 599 stations completed on an equant grid station spacing of 100 metres. The focus is on magnetic anomalies and magnetic boundaries which are attributed to hydrothermal alteration and formation and/or destruction of magnetite along the margins of the large syenite body that forms the core to the polyphase complex at H-K and, along with late phonolite and sovite dykes, drives alteration and brecciation of the marginal phases of the complex.
The company will complete 3D inversion processing and modeling of the gravity data upon completion of the field survey. It is anticipated that the results of the gravity survey will provide the key exploration vectors for discovery in follow-up to the intersections obtained in 2020.
Cost-effective drilling at Hecla-Kilmer and Ranoke are facilitated by a road-accessible camp located nearby at Otter Rapids, the Ontario hydro-electric facility located at the northern terminus of Highway 634. The Northern Ontario Railroad servicing Moosonee on the shores of James Bay is located < 25 km’s from both properties.
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 polyphase alkaline intrusive complex with carbonatite approximately 4 – 6 km’s 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 ultra-basic 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’s 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 survey, and before the discovery of the Olympic Dam copper-gold deposit in Australia and 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, and why copper-gold-fluorite hydrothermal breccia intersected in drill core in at least one of the holes was not sampled or followed up.
There has been no modern, systematic exploration or drilling of the core of the Hecla-Kilmer intrusive complex for copper and gold in the basement. 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 core of the H-K complex for a magnetite-copper-gold-fluorite hydrothermal breccia system.