Canadian mining company ramps up exploration near Juneau’s Herbert Glacier

A Grande Portage drill rig near Herbert Glacier in 2019 (courtesy Grande Portage Resources)

A Canadian mining company has expanded its efforts to explore a potential hard rock gold deposit near Juneau’s Herbert Glacier. The area has been laid bare in recent decades by retreating ice.

Grande Portage Resources has been drilling on federal mining claims in the Tongass National Forest off and on since 2010. The company’s CEO, Ian Klassen, says shares sold to investors have allowed the company to ramp up drilling core samples from several gold-quartz veins this summer.

“This season is looking a little different than previous years because we have two drill rigs operating on the Herbert gold project we started drilling in the first week of July, and both rigs will now be running probably until mid to the end of September,” Klassen said.

It’s not the only difference this year. COVID-19 has meant extra precautions for bringing drilling crews to the area. The mining sector is classified as essential in Alaska, provided companies file their COVID-19 protocols with the state. Klassen says his team’s footprint has been minimal.

“We do operate in a very small bubble,” he said. “Our team works very cohesively. They traveled together, they eat together, the actual drill crews operate on a two times 12 hour schedule. So, you know, they get flown out to the site where the drill pad is, don’t interact with anybody other than the helicopter pilot and come back and, you know, at the end of a 12 hour shift, you’re pretty exhausted. So you go right to bed.”

In a statement, the company said it has drilled eight holes so far and has 15 more planned. Each of the holes contained multiple veins.

Grande Portage of Vancouver, B.C. is what’s known as a junior mining firm that explores for gold. It’s courting a larger partner that will have the resources to develop a gold mine.

Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska

Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director based in Juneau. CoastAlaska is our partner in Southeast Alaska. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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