Athena Gold Corporation (CSE: ATHA) is a junior exploration company focused on developing its flagship Excelsior Springs Project in Nevada’s prolific Walker Lane Gold District. The district is known for several projects that have produced over a million ounces of gold, with total production from the region surpassing 20 million ounces.
The Walker Lane tectonic zone is a structural formation which hosts a 400 mile long zone of mineralization running along the entire length of western Nevada in a Northwest to Southeast direction. The first major silver discovery in Nevada occurred in 1859 and turned into the iconic Comstock Lode Mine, which produced 8 million ounces of gold and 193 million ounces of silver.
The discovery prompted a massive silver rush in the region and led to many other discoveries in the area of Nevada that has exceeded 20 million ounces of gold. Other large producers include the Goldfields Mine with 5 million ounces, the Tonopah mine with 2 million ounces, and the Bullfrog Mine which also produced 2 million ounces.
The Excelsior Springs Project
The Excelsior Springs Property comprises 140 unpatented mining claims and two patented mining claims that cover an area of 2,884 acres. The projet is located approximately five miles north of state highway 266 in Esmeralda County, approximately 45 miles southwest of Goldfield, Nevada.
The two patented claims have underground workings which had unverified historical production of 597,187 grams (19,200 troy ounces) of gold from 18,000 tons averaging 1.2 oz (37.3 grams of gold/ton). A number of exploration companies conducted drilling programs on the patented claims from the mid-1980s through 2011, which began to define the near-surface Buster Mine gold zone on the property.
There are numerous prospect pits, trenches, roads, surface sampling sites within the Excelsior Springs Project and there have been 104 drill holes to date. Gold mineralization is currently known to occur within an east-west trending zone that measures 200-400 metres wide, and at least 3 kilometres long.
Most of the historical exploration activity at the Excelsior Springs Project was focused on a 2.5 km long section in the central part of the historic Buster Zone, where surface mapping and an induced polarization (IP) geophysical survey identified numerous mineralized zones occurring at or near the surface, as well as multiple zones of silicification which have not been tested but correspond with known mineralization on the property and will be targets for future exploration.
The New Discovery
The current excitement for the Excelsior Springs project stems from the DB-23 discovery hole from Athena’s Spring 2022 drilling program, which was the best drill hole intercept in the history of the project, and returned 5.2 g/t gold and 8.9 g/t silver over 34 metres. This intercept is open up and down dip and is untested for strike lengths of at least 450 feet to the west and more than 1,000 feet to the east.
This intercept lead the company to conduct an aggressive 9 hole Fall 2022 drilling program to further delineate the size and scope of the mineralization around DB-23. The program saw two step-out holes drilled to the west between DB-23 and the historic Buster zone, as well as three holes in the Buster zone designed to test for potential extensions of high-grade gold mineralization in historic drill holes.
The Fall 2022 Results
This past week, Athena Gold announced the results from its Fall 2022 800-metre drill program that have essentially confirmed hole DB-23 as a true discovery hole, which has now been named the Western Slope. The zone is believed to represent the tip of an intrusion-related gold system that could potentially expand at depth and contain millions of ounces of gold, similar to other Tintina-Style gold deposits.
The combined intercepts from hole DH-22-01 showed the thickest high-grade gold interval to date while also confirming an eastern extension of the mineralization discovered in hole DB-23. Highlights from the first interval intercepted returned included 6.05 g/t gold, 17.4 g/t silver over 27.4 metres from a depth of 39.6 metres, including 10.2 g/t of gold and 30.8 g/t of silver over 10.7 metres.
Intercepts from DH 22-02 confirmed a western extension of the mineralization found in hole DB-23. Intercepts include 4.49 g/t gold, 27.3 g/t silver over 15.2 metres from a depth of 41.1 metres, including 7.29 g/t of gold and 44.2 g/t of silver over 9.1 metres.
Results from the first two holes confirmed a new high-grade oxide gold discovery near-surface in the newly named Western Slope Zone, which sits on the edge of a large untested geophysical anomaly that will require additional exploration and interpretation.
Athena Gold’s management believes that the results of previous drilling programs suggest the Excelsior Springs Project is at an advanced stage of exploration with significant potential to host one or more shallow open-pit gold deposits along with deeper, higher grade feeder zones that may be found and could be mined by underground methods. While the results to date are very encouraging, further exploration is required to expand the known mineralization and establish additional mineralized zones.
A drill program for Spring 2023 is said to currently be in the planning stages, with drilling currently marked to commence in early spring.
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