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Discovering Gold With New & Unique Exploration Technology

Nevada is the richest place in the world in terms of the amount of gold produced in a square kilometer.

It’s an amazingly rich place. The Carlin Trend alone is thought to contain 180 million oz. gold, which makes it the second-largest gold region in the world behind South Africa’s Witswatersrand Basin. 

In fact, if Nevada were a country, it would be the fourth-largest gold producer in the world behind three giants: China, Australia, and Russia. 

And I mean struggle. Geologists usually rely in geophysics to see through cover, but waterlogged gravels render those tools useless. The gravels are too thick to carry detectable signatures of what lies beneath, so sampling doesn’t work. Mapping is impossible when you can’t see any rocks. Literally none of the normal tools used to look through cover work in Nevada. Yet all that covered bedrock is still highly prospective.

“There is no reason not to assume as much gold still exists as has been mined in the past, but prospectors, explorationists, and geologists have found the easy gold.”
- Dr. Richard Goldfarb, Ph.D., United States Geologic Survey

Gold was discovered in Nevada only 50 years ago but the deposits can be so large and so rich that geologists have scoured the state ever since. All that attention means it is getting harder and harder to find any thing new. 

In fact for the last twenty-odd years it has taken a new idea, like looking in a rock type that no one thought hosted gold, to make a new discovery. That kind of work will continue, producing a find here and there, but by now pretty much all of the rocks you can see have been prospected.

The thing is: only looking at the rocks you can see means overlooking a massive opportunity. Gold deposits exist in bedrock. But more than half of Nevada’s bedrock is
hidden, covered by gravels that conventional exploration techniques struggle to
see through.

The ridges of bedrock that host Nevada’s big gold deposits ease off and dip under gravels, as ridges tend to do, but the same rocks continue. That means they’re prospective for gold. 

The challenge is that rock type is only a starting point. Nevada gold requires certain rock types, yes, but it also requires that certain structures cut through those rocks at the right times and that the right fluids then traveled up those structures. 

So to find covered gold in Nevada you have to drill, just like anywhere else. But drilling is not easy. The cover can be thick, which means long holes. Drilling through gravels is notoriously difficult. It all means slow, expensive holes. Expensive holes can be worth it if you have high confidence in your targets, but that takes us back where we started: it’s very difficult to see through the cover enough to identify good gold targets.

What’s needed is a solution to that basic problem, a way to see through those thick gravels enough to identify gold targets. The most likely solution I’ve seen so far comes from a company that has been working on this problem for 14 years and is now ready to drill test its top targets. The company is Nevada Exploration (TSXV: NGE).

NGE’s approach uses water. When groundwater moves through rocks, it picks up signatures from those rocks. The signatures don’t last long. So if groundwater returns gold or gold-associated elements like mercury, arsenic, or tellurium, you know it passed through a gold deposit not too far away. 

Throw in some understanding of which way water moves in a particular area and where major geologic structures could have provided the plumbing to create a gold deposit – and you can pin point targets for covered gold deposits. 

The full process is much more complicated than that, but NGE has been working on this idea for a long time. It retrieved thousands of well records from across the state. It completed major groundwater sampling programs of its own. It tested near large known gold deposits to know the tenor of signature it sought. It ran geophysics to assess where cover is reasonably thin and where the right structures exist. And it built its own drill rig designed to get through Nevada’s notoriously challenging gravels, take groundwater samples on the way, and grab a top-of- bedrock sample to bring up information from the deeps.

All that effort is now oh-so close to paying off. NGE has two targets that are ready for real drilling, each informed by all that background work.

Drill testing is imminent. If they hit, the market will swoon – because Nevada Exploration isn’t just looking for gold. Their groundwater database defined hundreds of targets but they only care about those that look like the best deposits in the state. To be clear: they are looking for a big new Nevada gold discovery.

If you want proof that investors are super keen for new Nevada gold, look no further than NV Gold (TSXV: NVX). NV’s share price quintupled when it drilled through cover and hit into the kind of rocks that can carry gold in Nevada.

The drill result is the first step in validating NV’s theory that an extensional event cut off the big, rich deposits at Twin Creeks and Turquoise Ridge and moved them to the other side of a valley, where they were then concealed under younger rocks and gravels.

It’s a good theory with some supporting evidence…but success is still a long ways away. As I said, finding the right kind of rocks is only the first step. Many drill holes sit between finding those right rocks and defining a new gold deposit, especially when those rocks are concealed and each drill hole is many hundreds of metres long and costs several hundred thousand dollars!

The market knows all of that, yet investors still went nuts over the idea that NV might be onto a new covered Turquoise Ridge-type deposit.

From where I sit, NGE is far more likely to discover covered gold in Nevada. Their approach is systematic and their costs very low, so they can keep testing targets until they hit.

And if they do, be prepared to see just how much a market can swoon.

By Gwen Preston, the Resource Maven

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Gwen Preston is the Resource Maven. Years as a mining journalist gave her a deep base of knowledge and a broad network of contacts in the resource sector. She understands which projects and pieces of news matter. She understands what it takes for a project to advance along the exploration-development-production path and what opportunities each stage offers. She knows how the metals markets work, alone and within the global economy, and how to profit from commodity cycles.

Resources are Gwen’s world and she seeks to pass that knowledge on to others.

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