“I started out in mining in the early 1980s,” says Greg Schifrin of Blackrock Gold Corp (CVE:BRC).
“I worked for Hunt Brothers when their oil company had a minerals division, up in Alaska at a place called the Kensington mine.”
After time subsequently spent at the once-mighty Cominco and Tenneco Minerals, Schifrin went on to start his own consulting firm, Minex Exploration, which has worked, amongst others, for Newmont, Freeport McMoran and Rio Tinto.
And more recently he’s also got involved in the junior mining scene at the corporate level, although given that he was already making money as a consultant, he’s always been able to pick and choose which offers to accept.
The offer to join Blackrock Gold Corp came from chairman Deepak Malhotra, another very experienced industry professional.
Silver Cloud gold project
Schifrin was intrigued, in particular by the potential of the company’s Silver Cloud gold project in Nevada, only recently acquired, and he agreed to take on the job of making something of it.
“It’s at the northern end of the Carlin Trend on the north Nevada rift,” he says.
This, as experienced followers of the mining sector will know, is one of the most prolific gold producing regions in the world, and Schifrin himself has experience of working here. Minex itself is based in the state just to the north, Idaho.
And Silver Cloud itself has been looked at before, too, so there’s data available on it, though it’s pretty old now.
“Nobody’s drilled on it in 16 or 17 years,” says Schifrin.
“Most of the drilling was by Teck or Placer Dome. It did establish three significant anomalies, and Placer hit 1.5 metres at 145 grams per tonne and 22 metres at 5.5 grams per tonne, at depths of around the 200 metres range.”
But with the spotlight shining firmly on two other nearby projects, Hollister and Midas, now well-established producers, work lapsed. After all 16 or 17 years ago, the gold price was bumping along at the sub-US$400 level, and the economics of exploration were very different.
Now, with gold at around US$1,330 an ounce, and after Silver Cloud has changed hands several times, Blackrock is now lining up to get it drilled.
One or two things need to be done first. There’s a re-evaluation of existing data, which will determine where the company wants to drill.
There’s permitting, which will be the next significant item of news.
And there’s the fundraising that Schifrin hopes to put in place in order to allow for a really comprehensive programme. The markets are now opening up to mining again, and with the strength in depth that Blackrock Gold Corp has on its board, bringing the necessary US$2.5mln-US$5mln into the coffers ought to be achievable.
Once drilling is underway, the geological realities will move to centre stage.
“Based on project information reviewed gold potential is not at the surface,” says Schifrin.
“Most is at depth in the 300-500 metre range. It’s a deep fishing target, but we’re fishing in elephant country because the Carlin Trend is the richest gold district in North America.”
The plan is to be drilling in August, and thereafter to build up an increasing understanding of the deposit and to begin to work towards the delineation of a resource.
“There were three different holes that had significant intercepts drilled between 1999 and 2002,” says Schifrin.
“If we can continue to intersect the structures that have the vein systems that contain the gold, that would be ideal,” says Schifrin.
“But with a two-and-a-half inch diameter hole trying to intercept something that’s 1,500 feet below you, if you hit anything, that’s good. If we hit the structures and we get any evidence there’s gold in the system that will be a success. And if we hit anything like the grade that we’ve seen before, that would be amazing.”
In the longer-term, Schifrin’s aspiration is to transform Blackrock into a company more focussed on development.
But for the time being, investors will have plenty to look forward to when the drill bits start turning later in the year.