The Lapon Gold Project has a storied past, going back to the days of the wild wild west. The days when prospectors could sniff out gold as easily as a pack of wolves tracking down wounded prey. In those days, people would stop at nothing to discover the next major find. In the case of Lapon, gold in creeks lured them up into the mountains just outside Yerington, Nevada where they discovered a reported 60 ounce per ton Gold Bonanza. This discovery ultimately led to a small artisanal mining operation that hit full stride during the gold rush kicked off by the discovery of the Comstock lode. Today, the project is owned and operated by Walker River Resources who is building a good case as to why the old timers missed the main portions of this ore body.
The Lapon Gold Project is located approximately 60 kms Southeast of Yerington, Nevada in the Wassuk Range, not far from Mount Grant and within the Walker Lane Gold Trend which is a 100-kilometre-wide structural corridor that is host to numerous gold, silver, and copper mines, including the historic Comstock Lode mines of Virginia City (See Figure 1). The Property consists of 147 claims that cover 3 highly prospective areas in Pikes Peak, Lapon Canyon and Rattlesnake Range (See Figure 2). The property is easily accessible from the main highway as extensive road work has been done in the Lapon Canyon area to facilitate modern exploration and should the mine restart one day, the state grid power transmission lines pass within 3 kms of the property.
Home to a past producing mining operation dating back to the turn of the century, this old-time mining property has a storied history of success in finding extremely high-grade gold, but nobody could ever put it all together. This operation was literally an uphill battle for the old-time miners who first discovered it as it resides at over 8,000 feet above sea level. However, that didn’t stop them from pursuing the reported 60 ounce per ton grades they had discovered. Lucky for Walker River Resources, they didn’t get it all. We know this because historical records show that additional sampling, drilling and exploration that was completed by Walker River Resources, has highlighted that this property is far from done giving and there could still be a monster untapped deposit in the Wassuk Mountains surrounding Mount Grant.
Nevada is filled with volcanic and intrusive igneous rocks which are intermittently and repeatedly found from earliest geologic history to within the last few thousand years. Some igneous rocks are connected to sea-floor spreading which occurred in this region about 450 million years ago, while others can be correlated with the Yellowstone hot spot, which, as a result of plate tectonics that was once underneath northern Nevada and Southern Idaho. In some cases, metals came from the magma themselves, and in other cases, the magma provided heat for circulation of hot water that deposited metals in veins and fractured sedimentary rocks.
During the formation of what we know as the west coast of today, the Walker Lane Trend was formed. This trend is of most importance to this story as its also the reason for most of the major gold, silver and copper discoveries that make Nevada one of the top gold mining jurisdictions on the planet (See Figure 3). You see the Walker Lane trend is a 100-kilometer-wide strike slip fault system that takes some of the pressure of movement from the San Andreas fault. It’s kind of like a pressure release valve and one of the reasons that Nevada averages 1 major earthquake every 30 years or so. This trend is a swath of folds, thrust faults, strike slip faults, intrusions, and sedimentary basins. In short, its extremely fractured and hosts world class mineral deposits.
The Lapon Gold Project is cut by a series of steeply dipping cross fault structures cutting across the Walker trend, analogous to other cross fault structures responsible for many gold and base metal deposits in the world. Importantly, there are 4 NE trending fault structures that appears to be approximately 1000 feet wide and can be traced for over 4 kms from 9,000 feet in elevation all the way down to the foot of the Wassuk Range at about 6600 feet. These faults contains heavily sheared, fractured and altered intrusive rocks, resulting in the development of high porosity which is a prerequisite for the emplacement of gold mineralization. The location of the Walker River claims lay within Mesozoic to Tertiary intrusive rocks near a contact with Mesozoic volcanic, sedimentary and intrusive rocks. There is quartz monzonite; granodiorite and minor diorite Cretaceous intrusives throughout the property and regional USGS mapping confirms two different ages of Plutons of similar composition. The presence of the quartz monzonite porphyry intrusives is significant in that they are often associated with the emplacement of high-grade gold mineralization, silver and copper in Nevada.
The gold mineralization at Lapon Canyon is contained in a wide (300 meters), long (over 4km strike length), intensely altered (sericite, iron oxides) sheared and faulted NE trending zone (See Figure 4). Gold mineralization is present pervasively throughout as an envelope of lower grade mineralization (0.5 to 2.0 g/t Au) enveloping distinct high-grade structures, that have been drilled over a strike length of 750 meters and a vertical extent of 400 meters. The high grade gold mineralization was encountered in discrete, traceable zones located at the intersection of flat lying porphyry dikes and vertical stockwork fracture chimneys.
Mining on this project goes back to the 1880’s where gold in the valley creeks led to a small placer mining operation at the base of Lapon Canyon. As the prospector’s placer mined the creek higher and higher up into the mountains it became apparent that the source of the gold had to be within reach. The initial discovery at Lapon is credited to the Bartholemew brothers who worked the property between 1907 and 1918. It is said that in 1914, as they chased the gold up the steep incline of the canyon, they made the discovery of a lifetime of over 60 ounces per ton gold. Even though it was 1800 feet above the placer mining operation and difficult to access, the focus shifted, and the work began on developing the mine.
By 1930, a network of over 600 metres of drifts, ore passes, and raises had been developed through two adits and the mine was operating with a reported cut off grade of 1 ounce per ton. The grade was so good that it justified the building of an on site 2 stamp mill, which in those days would have been an arduous task to haul all that material up into the mountains by horse and carriage. The mill reportedly ran from 1914-1924, producing over 5,000 ounces of gold. However, mining on the property seemed to have stopped in the 30’s despite having sampling records from 1936 by J.W Newell, showing grades as high as 5 ounces per ton in the old workings and mining wouldn’t resume until the grandson of the original claim owners, Mr. Nylene would take interest in the property in 1955.
While prospecting the property, Mr. Nylene made a discovery which ultimately led to the development of a new road to the mill site, a 250-foot adit (275 feet below the historical workings) and a new ball mill complete with a tailings pond. However, the ball mill never made it to the pad and remains at the bottom of the canyon to this day. In total, it’s said that Mr. Nylene spent around 5 million dollars developing the mine but unfortunately, Mr. Nylene’s health deteriorated quickly and his finances all but dried up, which never allowed him to profit from his efforts despite reports that he had hit the down dip extension of the mineralization found above in the historical workings.
After 1967, very little exploration happened up until the 1980’s when a sample taken by Norm Smith in 1985 from adit A reportedly ran 20.6 ounces per ton. Unfortunately, the area that was sampled became inaccessible due to unsafe ground conditions. Nobody has been back in there to do any validation work.
In 1990, Teck Resources Inc. briefly worked on the property, mapped, and sampled the central zone and discovered a surface area of argillitic alteration and low grade disseminated gold mineralization on the Lapon Canyon Claims. Sampling highlighted that the mineralization was around 30 feet wide at the 7,900-foot level and the grid sample results highlighted an average grade of 2.01 grams per ton gold over 80 meters along a strike of 450 metres at surface, suggesting the ore body widens as it goes up the mountainside.
In 1994, additional sampling was done by Adrian and N. Barr, which led to Gruenwald (on behalf of Huntington Resources Ltd.) to analyzing and determining that the Central Zone alteration was larger than first anticipated. This prompted the company to drill 15 reverse circulation holes in the central mine area.
Again in 2000, N. Barr took a series of 32 chip samples from the underground workings and analyzed for gold. Results ranged from trace gold to 1.148
It wasn’t until 1994 that Michel David first took interest in the property after an old friend invited him up to have a look. He was impressed by the size of the fault/alteration zone holding gold mineralization but was made aware that he was unable to do anything with the property because of an untimely death of the claim owner which complicated the land titles. For years Michel attempted to sort out the land claims and spent 6 figures trying to do so but It wasn’t until 2010 that they finally resolved the core issues that would allow him to acquire the property.
Walker River Resources Corp. was incorporated pursuant to the British Columbia Business Corporations Act on December 16, 2010 as Rhino Exploration Inc. On March 4, 2013 the Company changed its name to Walker River Resources Corp.
2012 – Walker River entered a Letter of Intent with World Ventures Inc. and District Gold Inc., which was amended on February 28, 2013, to acquire an undivided 75% working interest of the Sleeper-Lapon Canyon Gold project, located in Mineral County, Nevada. World Ventures and District acquired their 100% interests of the Sleeper Property directly from Donald Potts (“Potts”), the underlying land holder and Potts consented to the LOI with the Company, by entering into a Mining Lease with Option to Purchase Agreement (“Mining Lease Agreement”) with the Company dated March 1, 2013.
2014 – Walker River entered into a release agreement with District and WVI, which terminated the LOI dated December 5, 2012 and removed the parties from the Mining Lease Agreement. In consideration for the release, the Company agreed to issue a total of 300,000 common shares and pay District and WVI a royalty on revenues received from the Sleeper Property equal to 1.0% of Net Smelter Returns (“NSR”). The Company also has an option to buy the NSR for $300,000.
As a result of the Release Agreement, Walker River Resources increased its interest in the Sleeper Property to 100%.
2015 – Walker River entered into Exploration and Option Agreement to form a joint venture on the Sleeper Property with Nevada Canyon Gold Corp. Nevada Canyon was given an option to acquire an initial 25% of the Sleeper Property for $250,000 USD of exploration expenditures within a one year period and an option to acquire a further 25% for an additional $250,000 USD of exploration on or before the second anniversary. Following which, a 50/50 joint venture would be formed between Walker River and Nevada Canyon.
Exploration work began in April 2015 and significant exploration progress was made within the upper Lapon Rose zone. Gold mineralization in the form of Visible Gold was noted in two different locations within the upper adit and samples were taken for rock identification purposes. The samples were cut and studied using a microscope confirming that the in situ rock is Porphyry and in all probabilities, a quart monzonite intrusive. Copper mineralization, in the form of malachite and chalcopyrite was also been noted within the Lapon Rose zone.
A newly discovered shear/altered zone was some 600 meters east of the Lapon Rose. Evidence of mining activities within this previously unknown zone were discovered with evidence of a collapsed mine portal.
Another shear zone was identified about 1000 meters west of the Lapon Rose zone. This area showed intense iron oxide mineralization and silicification.
Towards the end of 2015, the Company completed an initial 5-hole reverse circulation (“RC”) drill program totaling 760 metres on the Lapon Project. The drill program was designed to test and confirm mineralization in an around the historical workings and mining on the Lapon Project.
2016 – During the year, the Company completed a 9-hole reverse circulation (“RC”) drill program totaling 1040 metres. The drill program was designed to build on the success of the initial 2015 program, continuing to test and confirm mineralization in an around the historical workings and mining on the Lapon Project. Drill results from the first round of drilling were received and released in November, confirming the potential for the emplacement of significant gold mineralization on the project.
2017 – The Company’s geologists completed a thorough review and detailed compilation of the 2015 and 2016 drill programs. Because of the significant drill results, Walker increased its land holdings at the Lapon Project by through staking an additional 60 claims, covering the strike and dip extensions of the altered and mineralized zones. Additionally, 6,000 meters of drilling was planned and by May the company had begun road maintenance, drill access and pad emplacement prep to target key areas of interest ahead of the summer drilling campaign which began in July.
Towards the end of the year the company put out great results from their drilling efforts and Highlights Include:
By the end of the year, The Lapon Rose Zone had been drilled over a strike length of some 365 meters with a width exceeding 150 meters and a depth of over 200 meters.
2018 – During the first nine months of 2018, the Company retained Fladgate Exploration Consulting Corp. of Thunder Bay, Ont., a full-service mineral exploration consulting firm. Fladgate was responsible for the management and supervision of the upcoming exploration programs at the Lapon Canyon. Fladgate was to initially complete the formation, interpretation and compilation of the Lapon project’s digital database.
Late in the year, Walker River initiated a 10,000 m drill program focused on infill and expansion drilling at the Lapon Rose zone, as well as drilling other targets, which include other fault alteration zones. By the year end the Company completed a six-hole RC drill hole program on the Lapon Canyon Project.
2019 – Results started coming out in late February that were extremely encouraging as they hit bonanza grades in several locations. Notably, in Hole LC18-30, drilling intersected 93.5 g/t Au immediately prior to encountering old mine workings which verified historical data of the positioning of previously reported workings which are inaccessible mined out areas. Additional working was done on the property.
Shortly after the company received the results from the 2018 drilling they completed the data compilation review and recommended an additional holes be drilled in 2019.
Additionally, on August 31, 2019, the Company expanded the Lapon Gold Project by acquiring the Rattlesnake and Pikes Peaks claims. The Rattlesnake and Pikes Peak claims cover over eight kilometres of possible extensions of the range front zones to the west, north and south of Lapon Canyon, adding several additional drill target areas to the Lapon gold project. Both zones contain numerous historical workings that comprise of milling facilities, several adits at different levels, underground workings with vertical shafts and a network of existing roads providing access to connect all the historical workings.
Regional exploration on the company’s new Rattlesnake range (four kilometres and west and 650 metres lower than Lapon Rose) returned values of 17.36 g/t Au and 13.9 g/t Ag, from the interior of an historical adit. The Company then followed up with drill road and pad construction and an initial RC drill program was completed in November 2019.
Regional exploration, (geological mapping, prospecting and sampling) on the Company’s Pikes Peak returned values of 9 g/t Au, 39.4 g/t Ag, including 2.22% Cu from outcrop and the interior of historical mine working.
Additional drilling results were returned in late October 2019, however the results were relatively underwhelming in comparison to previous drill campaigns with the best hole of the batch being 1.37 g/t Au over 33.5 meters in hole LC19-40. However, the next round from this phase announced in early 2020 were spectacular!
Also completed in November of 2019, was road access to the Pikes Peak claims and an initial prospecting and mapping program.
2020 – In February the company announced additional results from the 2019 campaign that were extremely high grade all at shallow depths and within the Lapon Gold Zone.
Lapon Rose Canyon Zone
The Honey Pot Zone
Unfortunately, the Honeypot Zone proved to be very difficult to drill and they were unable to complete the planned holes despite a phenomenal hit.
At the Pikes Peak and Rattlesnake areas of the property, road access was worked on in anticipation of upcoming drill programs at each location whereby the company plans to drill 10 holes in each area.
The drill program at the Lapon Gold project was slated to systematically drill on section for geological modelling purposes, as well as exploration drilling to discover new and extend known gold mineralization. At least 60 holes were planned as part of the campaign. However, by late 2020 the Company had completed just ten reverse circulation (“RC”) drill holes before halting at the New Year’ break, then got delayed in early 2021 by COVID-19 related problems. They did manage however, to complete the regional geological surveys on some the more remote portions of the Lapon Gold Project.
2021 Exploration Program
In 2021, the company set out to drill an expected 60 holes on the property despite the challenges of Covid. The first results started coming through in August when the company released the results from holes LC 21-56 – LC 21-65, which were designed to ascertain granite contacts and their relationships with the altered gold mineralized alteration zones along with testing the lateral extension of the honey pot zone.
The most significant hole drilled in 2021 was Drill hole LC 21-65 which returned 3.45 grams per tonne Au over 30.5 metres from a depth of 33.5 metres as this was a hole as it was drilled approximately 150 metres from the nearest intercept. It also includes a higher-grade intercept of 9.65 grams per tonne Au over 1.5 metres, which appears to be on strike with the high-grade corridor located approximately 500 metres to the west.
After a short break to analyze the data and prep for additional drilling, the company was able to get drilling again in November and by December the company put out a press release stating that there was significant Visible gold in Hole LC21-76 at a depth of 18 meters and in hole LC21-80 at a depth of 51 meters in the chip trays which are used for visual logging purposes at the drill rig.
So, while the 2021 drill program was primarily set to determine structures and morphology for 3D geological modelling they did do some drilling in hopes of expanding the high grade corridors both at depth and along strike.
Kicking off 2022 with a bang, Walker blew the lid off the project, reporting results from the 2021 drill program which confirmed the discovery of a new high grade mineralized zone with significant grades from a new area dubbed the “Hotspot”. The new Hotspot zone is located some 200 meters above and 250 meters SE, on strike with the high-grade mineralization at the historic mine workings.
Additionally, The presence of significant gold mineralization in granite in hole LC 21-82, demonstrates new and significant potential to the project. Previously the granite was thought to be barren of gold mineralization and now that the late 2021 drill program assay results have been received, planning of the continuation of drilling at Lapon Canyon is underway. Due to the robust nature of the gold mineralization at the new Hotspot zone discovery, both unexpected and surprising, and the aforementioned gold in granite, the Company will shift its focus while using the same methodologies and begin to drill longer and deeper holes.
LC 21–80 returned 7.62 g/t Au over 48.8 meters, including 77.16 g/t Au over 4.5 meters.
LC 21–81 returned 5.68 g/t Au over 60.9 meters, including 17.76 g/t Au over 18.3 meters, and 99.7 g/t Au over 1.5 meters.
LC 21–82 returned 1.84 g/t Au over 122 meters including 8.61 g/t Au over 9.2 meters, and 4.28 g/t Au over 47.3 meters, the latter two results being in granite. The hole ended in gold mineralization at 122 meters.
One factor that should be cosidered is that hole LC21-65 was drilled into an area covered by a blanket of colluvium and granite boulders… Was this overlooked by artisanal miners? They only chased what they could see and if this area was covered, maybe the ore body highlighted in this round of drilling could be the untapped treasure the company has been chasing… Stay tuned.
In conclusion, I would say that given the available data it’s safe to say that the old timers didn’t get all the gold on this project. Given its remote location high up in the mountains, exploration on the project has been hindered. However, the success of Walker River on this project over the years is encouraging. Despite delays during the pandemic, the company seems very well on track to build on the success of their previous efforts and after a meeting with Michel, I’m even more encouraged as he portrayed great confidence with hints of excitement as he presented the project to us for the first time. Now I’m no stranger to Nevada and I know full well how it can humble the most experienced explorers, but this project has some real upside potential and given the results highlighted in this report, we believe there is still gold in the hills of the Wassuk Range and more importantly hidden withing the Walker River Lapon Canyon Project.