Pogo Mine officials “very excited” about two promising gold prospects under exploration

The Pogo mine and mill complex includes facilities for administrative offices, housing, meal service and emergency services. (Photo courtesy of the Pogo Mine)

Recent exploration around the Pogo Mine near Delta Junction has shown promising evidence of more rich deposits of gold nearby. A Pogo geologist told a group of miners and industry officials early this month that more exploration will be needed before company officials can decide whether to expand the operation and develop the resources. But the officials are excited about the potential.

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Pogo Exploration Superintendent Gabe Graf’s Powerpoint was a largely technical talk, like most given during the Alaska Miners AssociationBiennial Conference. But in the course of the presentation, he offered a comment or two about some drilling done last year in the Goodpaster prospect that even a layman could easily understand.

“… So we just turned the rig, drilling a shallower hole coming across,” Graf said. “And this hole, we hit 17-and-a-half feet of 1-point-seven-three-nine ounces per ton. Very good, very excited about that.”

That means the sample taken from that drill hole suggests more than 1.7 ounces of gold could be refined from a ton of ore extracted from that area. That’s a very rich concentration that if proven with subsequent exploration would be well above the amount needed to make a very good profit for mine owner Sumitomo Metal Mining-Pogo.

“We’re really excited about the Goodpaster right now,” Graf said.

In an interview after his talk, Graf was cautiously optimistic about the results of last year’s drilling around the Goodpaster prospect. But he reiterated the need for more drilling around the area before company officials would even consider developing the resource.

“We don’t have a lot of information yet,” Graf said. “We only have a few drill holes in these areas. But based on the few drill holes we do have – very encouraging results.”

Pogo General Manager Chris Kennedy also is upbeat, cautiously so, about the both the Goodpaster prospect and another called the Fun Zone that’s located nearer to the mine.

“The early information that we’re getting back from exploration between last year and of course some information this year shows that there’s a lot of potential north of the property,” Kennedy said. “The Fun Zone shows a lot of potential. The West Goodpaster shows a huge amount of potential.”

The Goodpaster prospect is located west of the river of the same name, about two miles west of the property around the mill, all which is located about 35 miles northeast of Delta. Kennedy says Sumitomo-Pogo plans to spend $21 million on exploration this year for learn more about those and other prospects closer the mine. He says developing more of the area’s gold potential could mean the mine will continue operating and provide jobs.

“It’s exciting for us, because it potentially means we continue to extend our mine life out there, and we continue to keep 320 employees,” Kennedy said. “We continue to keep 100-plus contractors employed. And we continue to be able to contribute to the community like we have been doing for the past 10 or 12 years.”

Kennedy was referring to the annual donation Pogo-Sumitomo give to the City of Delta and other area causes. The company gave Delta $150,000 last year, and another $150,000 to an organization that provides services to the greater Deltana area.

Tim Ellis is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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