Tracker - July 28, 2022: What can we learn from Endurance Gold's drilling strategy at Reliance?
Endurance Gold Corp published assays on July 18, 2022 for the first 2 holes of an 8,000 m core drilling program on the 100% owned Reliance gold project in southwestern British Columbia. The assays for holes #23 and #24 have negative and positive implications. Drill pad #1 was set up SW of the 020 Zone trend and the first 2 holes were fanned NW and NE at 45° to intersect the 020 Zone to the NW and SE of the big 21-20 intersection from last year (24.8 m of 15.7 g/t gold). Hole #23 yielded only 4.2 m of 5.99 g/t gold and hole #24 yielded 3.9 m of of 8.43 g/t gold. The grade is still good, but the width of the 020 Zone seems to be pinching out, which is not good for hopes that the sub-vertical 020 Zone will build tonnage at depth.
However, these two holes delivered a surprise in the form of 9 m of 3.86 g/t between 51-60 m for #23 and 12 m of 8.41 g/t gold between 27-39 m for hole #24. These are wider and richer intervals than the 020 Zone yielded for these holes and the fanned nature allows one to project a new parallel zone to the SW of the 020 Zone. But we cannot tell from this information whether the new zone is shallow dipping like the 35° Eagle Zone for which the 020 Zone is currently interpreted as a feeder structure or sub-vertical like the 020 Zone is assumed. Endurance reported that it has completed a total of 1,950 m which includes 7 additional holes (#25-31) for which assays are still pending. The company did not comment about what the pending holes may have intersected visually, but it did provide a drill plan with the locations and horizontal traces of these pending holes. I have not attempted to query CEO Robert Boyd because the paucity of detail about the pending holes suggests this would be a waste of time.
We need assays to tell us to what extent the 020 Zone is shaping up to become a major deposit (see Tracker July 5, 2022 for my speculative extrapolations). Unlike after previous news releases the stock, although retreating from a new recent high, has settled back at a higher level than before this latest news. I looked closely at the drill plan (above) to see if there were any clues in the nature of the holes that might reveal what the exploration geologists are seeing in the core. In a play like this where they are still trying to figure out the geometry of the discovery there is some flexibility in choosing what angle and azimuth to drill a hole and how far to push it based on what was seen in the core of earlier holes in the context of an evolving understanding of the discovery. However, that flexibility is also constrained by the mandate not to waste time and money drilling tombstone. As I examined the drill plan everything made sense in terms of a rational drilling strategy except hole #30. Hole #30 is a smoking gun that not only does the new parallel zone have strike extension to the SE and is sub-vertical, similar to the 020 Zone, but there may be at least another parallel mineralized zone to the southwest.
I have annotated the drill plan graphic above to explain the likely reasoning behind the series of holes drilled since holes #23 and #24 which were drilled before Endurance had the benefit of assays to confirm the new parallel zone. Hole #27 was drilled to cut the 020 Zone at a shallow depth about 100 m SE of the juicy hole 21-20 portion of the 020 Zone, but what makes it interesting is that it was pushed well beyond the 020 Zone, horizontally 200 m from the drill pad, and, if at a 45° angle, terminated at a vertical depth of about 280 m. This hole was clearly designed to intersect the new parallel zone, which, if sub vertical, would have been hit at about 100 m horizontal from the drill pad. Pushing the hole horizontally 200 m can be justified either because the new parallel zone did not show up where expected, or because Endurance wanted to know more about the geology beneath the cover rock. Keep in mind that the shallow intervals from holes #23 and #24 were not expected by the company. The location and nature of this hole does not yield any useful information about what might be in the core because it simply follows a rational drilling strategy.
After drilling hole #27 the company drilled a steeper hole #28 to test the 020 Zone at depth, and then turned the drill around to drill hole #29 in a NE direction underneath the road that climbs uphill. This uphill area has a gold in soil anomaly that has a so far unexplained source along the SE projection of the Royal-Treasure Shear corridorwhere it climbs up the mountain. Endurance then moves the rig to a drill pad farther down the road at a location which will allow it to test the 020 Zone about 25 m NW of where holes #27 and #28 would have intersected it. Note that RC hole 22-078 intersected the 020 Zone about 50 m to the SE with 30.48 m of 3.89 g/t gold. So the location of drill pad 4 is designed to delineate the 020 Zone within its known mineralized strike. The big clue about what might have been seen in 27 is that hole #30 has a horizontal trace of about 250 m and projects farther southwestwards than the speculative hole #27. If the angle is 45° the limit would have been a vertical depth of 350 m, though less from surface due to the decreasing topography.
Why would the exploration geologist drill this hole if #27 did not yield promising core visuals? Although Endurance does not use an XRF unit on its core holes to test for arsenic which correlates well with gold grade, only with RC chip sample bags, the mineralized zones are visually distinct in this epizonal orogenic system. Now it's possible they drilled hole #30 just for the hell of it, and of course the gold assays may still disappoint. But I keep thinking of how Robert Boyd obsesses about the intensity of this system within the Royal-Treasure shear corridor. In my July 5, 2022 Tracker I provided a cartoon to illustrate the sort of conceptual model management has in mind. Note that in the section from the Eagle Zone the company assumes a fairly steep dip to the thrust fault that defines the SW boundary of the Royal-Treasure shear corridor (the "gray" argillites whose presence is post mineral). Maybe hole #27 revealed that the fault contact has a shallower dip to the southwest, implying that the mineralized corridor is even wider than seen at surface?
My speculation is that the assays from these pending core holes (25-31) will escalate Reliance from emerging discovery status into a full-blown new gold discovery that pushes the stock price into S-Curve territory. Endurance Gold Corp is ready for lift-off from a Bottom-Fish Spec Value rating.
*JK owns shares in Endurance Gold Corporation