By Mike Lavigne
On my list of "Things That Get Me Fired Up", I have to admit that receding glaciers had never cracked the Top 10. That is, until a few years back when my colleague and friend Greg Schifrin started exploring a remote site in the Alaskan interior.
Greg's an experienced geologist with a few decades' worth of experience exploring, classifying, and projecting production for potential mining sites around the world. Greg was exploring an extremely remote Alaskan site and what appeared to be a surface vein of gold that was exposed when a glacier had rapidly receded over the last several decades.
What he found is unlike any other mining project in North America. Without turning a single shovel full of dirt, there it was. Gold. One simple swing of Greg's hammer on a quartz outcropping yielded a baseball-sized rock with plenty of color. A few more swings of the hammer…more color. Subsequent study, core sampling, and analysis by a trusted team of experienced colleagues proved Greg was on to something really unique…a substantial, high-grade, easy-to-find surface vein of gold.
Greg and I both graduated from the University of Idaho School back in the 70's and 80's so I've known him for quite a while. And even though I respect his work, when he called and told me about the "Terra Project" my enthusiasm was tempered by the knowledge that just the mention of gold can make miners and geologists a little crazy. And my own experience in the Silver Mines of North Idaho, as well as with precious metal mining and micro cap start-ups had trained me to be ultra-skeptical.
I arranged a meeting with Greg and another trusted mining expert. Greg handed me a copy of the original scoping study done by Kennecott, and mentioned something about his plan for near-term gold production, then showed me samples of the rock he'd knocked loose with his 5-pound sledge on that rock outcropping.
Being a natural born skeptic, I must have looked fairly comical with my eyes darting back and forth between the rock I'd been handed and Greg's grinning face. There was unmistakable color…lots of it. To find a significant surface vein of high-grade gold such as this is unheard of in Alaska, as well as the rest of the continent.
The rest appears to be gold mining history in the making. The Terra Project is a permitted, working mine that currently involves an 8-km-long trend of high-grade gold occurrences. It's also turning up significant amounts of silver as well as other precious metals. But WestMountain Gold, of which Greg is now the President and CEO, reports it is currently sitting on 419,604 ounces of Gold Grading at 15.30 grams per tonne (westmountaingold.com).
That's a lot of upside…and it's just one of several potential mining sites Greg is exploring on the property.
With a new remote airstrip being completed to allow for the landing of C-130 cargo planes carrying more needed heavy equipment, Greg Schifrin and the Terra Project are ramping up production from the onsite pilot mill, which is currently has the capability to process up to 50 tons of bulk ore per day.
When the glacier decided to reveal the secret it had been hiding those untold thousands of years, I was able to, once again, get excited about Alaska Gold mining investments.
Mike Lavigne is a member of the Board of Directors for WestMountain Gold, and has served as the CEO and a board member of Silver Verde May Mining Company, Inc., an exploration stage mining company, since December 2008. He also serves on the board of Mascot Mining which holds properties in Idaho and Montana and has been a consultant for Golden Eagle Mining Company. Mr. Lavigne is the owner and Managing Partner of Capital Peak Partners, LLC, which provides consulting services in the area of corporate and business development.