Fifty kilometres west of Carmacks, a little-known gold and silver exploration project is generating promising results.
Rockhaven Resources Ltd. has been conducting exploration work at their Klaza property since 2010. The project is being managed by Archer, Cathro and Associates Ltd.
The property is 10 kilometres to the northwest of the former Mount Nansen gold and silver mine, which operated in the 1990s.
The Yukon government still maintains the road as far as the former mine site.
The rest of the road to the Klaza property is maintained jointly by Rockhaven and about a dozen placer mining operations beyond Mount Nansen, said Rockhaven CEO Matt Turner.
That level of accessibility is part of the reason the Klaza property is so attractive, he said.
“It’s one of the reasons we have such good infrastructure and low exploration costs.”
In addition, the terrain of the property itself is quite gentle, said Turner.
“We’re not dealing with steep mountain slopes. It’s all very easy road building, which in the end helps out with safety and all of those kinds of things.”
Over the past three seasons, Rockhaven has aggressively explored the area using a variety of techniques.
They have dug 15 kilometres of trenches to reveal the bedrock underneath.
An excavator is used to remove usually about one to two metres of soil along the trench. The top layer of vegetated mat is kept as intact as possible and left on one side of the trench. The soil is piled on the opposite side.
By exposing the rock beneath the soil, geologists are better able to determine the best spots to drill, and drilling is the most expensive part of exploration, said Turner.
“If we can get a good idea of where the mineralization is through trenching, it’s a very good tool.”
At the end of the season, the trenches are re-filled with soil and the vegetative mat is replaced as much as possible.
Rockhaven hired a member of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation to supervise the reclamation.
In addition to the trenching, Rockhaven has drilled 135 holes into the rock bed, a total of 37,500 metres.
Because of the road access and gentle terrain, the company does not have to rely on helicopters to move their larger drill rigs around. That’s another reason they have been able to keep exploration costs down, said Turner.
“We can just basically drag them around with bulldozers.”
Through this exploration the company has mapped out eight zones of gold and silver mineralization.
The goal of last year’s exploration was to find the limits of the known zones, but they still haven’t found them.
“Although it was designed to find the bounds of mineralization, we still haven’t found the bounds yet, and all the zones are open for expansion. It’s a very big system. We’re very excited about it.”
And beyond what has already been discovered, Turner believes there could be many more zones.
The bedrock in the area is magnetite-bearing granodiorite.
The silver and gold is found in areas where, long ago, water flowed through faults in the rock. That water carried and deposited the gold and silver.
The particular chemistry in the fault areas altered the content of the host rock, destroying the magnetite.
As a result, geologists can get a sense of where gold and silver might be found by doing an aerial magnetic survey by helicopter.
Indeed, Rockhaven has found that areas of low magnetic activity on the property match up with the areas of mineralization that have already been discovered.
And there are many more areas with similar magnetic properties to explore.
That will be one of the goals of this season’s exploration program, along with more detailed mapping of the existing zones.
But to do that, the company needs to raise more money.
“It’s a difficult thing to do, especially in the market that we’re dealing with right now,” said Turner.
Last year Rockhaven spent $7 million on exploration at the Klaza property.
At this point, they have just over $2 million in the bank.
But Turner is hopeful that the property will attract investors’ attention, he said.
“The available financing dollars are being more focused towards advanced exploration projects with good infrastructure nearby. And I do believe the Klaza possesses both these attributes, so I’m hoping we can find the needed funding to finance our coming exploration program.”
Turner grew up in a small historic mining town in southern B.C., so he knows how important it is to engage the local community, he said.
Last year, six locals were hired out of a total of 14 employees at the Klaza property.
The reclamation supervisor was one of those six. The others worked as cooks, soil samplers, core cutters and drivers.
“As the project advances, I can see us obviously increasing the local employment and use of local businesses, too.”
It’s too early to say when the property might be headed for production, said Turner.
But they have begun working on environmental, heritage and wildlife studies to ensure that the project moves along.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at