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Zippa Mountain Wollastonite
Wollastonite, Nepheline Syenite, Feldspar, Titanium, Gold

The Zippa Mountain Wollastonite Property (a/k/a ISK Wollastonite, MINFILE 104B 384 and MINFILE 104B 123) covers 2,456 hectares (6,066 acres) approximately 240 km northwest of the town of Smithers, BC and about 70 km northeast of Wrangell, Alaska. .

According to BC Assessment Report 25449, six wollastonite deposits have been discovered and evaluated in the vicinity of Zippa Mountain. These are the Bril, Cliff, Bartnick, Glacier, Brys, and Slimjaw deposits. The geological resource estimate for all six wollastonite showings is 50 million tonnes.

The North Bay claims contain four of these deposits; the Cliff, Bartnick, Brys, and Slimjaw. Of these, the Cliff (so named because it represents a 100 metre plus cliff of high-grade wollastonite) is considered the best, and is estimated to contain 2 million tonnes of open pittable, high aspect ratio ore grading 80% wollastonite. As well, a pre-feasibility study contained in Assessment Report 24540 states that samples from all of the deposits show high-grade wollastonite, but it ranked the Cliff and Bartnick deposits as the best targets, as both are amenable to low-cost surface mining. The pre-feasibility study, which was completed prior to the adoption of NI 43-101 standards and is therefore considered a historical assessment, concluded that:

  • samples from one deposit - the Cliff - at ISK wollastonite indicates the existence of 75 to 80% pure wollastonite

  • beneficiation trials show this can be concentrated and recovered by standard magnetic separation and flotation to give 96% wollastonite with a brightness of at least 87% IS0

  • grinding trials have yielded acicular material of which 50% has an aspect ratio greater than 15:1

  • there is an inferred two million raw tonnes of wollastonite above ground in the Cliff Deposit; two much larger deposits have been identified which also indicate high grade raw material

  • a production concept of simple bench mining, slurry pipeline transport of the crushed raw wollastonite to the tidal Stikine River and then barging to a suitable port is proposed

  • ISK wollastonite is insoluble in water, does not contain leachable metallics and incapable of causing acid rock drainage; the immediate environment does not indicate sensitivities

  • the above factors all combine to indicate ISK Wollastonite can meet all market specifications and offer the opportunity for a profitable commercial operation and be confirmed in due course to be a world class deposit

  • detailed work is now justified to establish the environmental and infrastructure baselines and continuity of wollastonite quality in the deposits in anticipation of a bulk sampling programme as a prelude to application for a mining lease

Wollastonite is an industrial commodity, and is the only naturally occurring, non-metallic, white acicular mineral. Because of its unique cleavage properties, wollastonite breaks down during crushing and grinding into lath-like or needle-shaped particles of varying acicularity. This particle morphology imparts high-strength and is of considerable importance in many markets and applications, ranging from plastics and ceramic tile to vehicle brake pads, bowling balls, car bumpers, thermal insulation board, paints, and protective industrial coating. It is also used as a replacement for short-fibre milled fiberglass and short-fibre asbestos. The combination of high brightness and low gas release when heated creates a major demand in the ceramics industry, and the brilliant whiteness is of major importance to its use in the coatings industry and filler markets.

Market prices for domestically produced acicular wollastonite range from $205 to $1,984 per metric ton (Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008 Minerals Yearbook: Wollastonite, September 2009). The key variable is the grade, with the highest grade wollastonite used in the plastics and ceramics industries commanding the highest prices. To put this in perspective, the intrinsic value of the Company’s Cliff deposit alone, which by itself is estimated to contain 2 million tonnes of raw high-grade wollastonite, is the virtual equivalent of between 300,000 and 3,000,000 ounces of gold at current market prices.

The reference to gold by inference is not without basis. It should be noted that the northern slope as well as the western portions of the Zippa Mountain Property near the Bartnick deposit have previously been intermittently explored for gold (Source: BC Assessment Report 16954). This is an area where glaciers have been continually receding and exposing new outcrops each year, creating the potential for new discoveries as more outcrops become exposed. Zippa Mountain is approximately 7 miles due west of Barrick’s Snip gold mine (MINFILE 104B 250), which produced over 1 million ounces of gold and 4 million ounces of silver between 1991 and 1999. Less than one mile east of the Snip Mine is the current Bronson Slope project (MINFILE 104B 077). In 2008 Skyline Gold released a NI 43-101 compliant report with resource estimates of 225.1 million tonnes containing 2.6 million ounces of gold, 16 million ounces of silver, 38 million pounds of molybdenum, and 695 million pounds of copper. Given the close proximity of the Zippa Mountain property to these gold producing areas, a new discovery of gold around Zippa Mountain is within the realm of possibility once wollastonite extraction operations commence and further exploration programs are expanded.