KSM Gold-Copper Project, BC, Canada

Overview

The KSM project is a collection of gold-copper-silver-molybdenum deposits in northern British Columbia, Canada known as the Kerr, Sulphurets, Mitchell and Iron Cap deposits. The KSM project is 100% owned by Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA). This project is in the late discovery phase of development, with published reserves and resources along with ongoing exploration.

Regional Geology

The KSM project is located in the “Stikinia” terrane, a ancient volcanic arc dating to early Mesozoic times and later accreted to older basement rock in the region. The entire area was subjected to the folding and thrusting of the late Cretaceous Laramide Orogeny, a period of mountain building that resulted in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

Deposit Geology

Sheeted veining in the Mitchell Zone of Seabridge Gold's KSM Project

Sheeted veining in the Mitchell Zone of Seabridge Gold’s KSM Project

The deposit is somewhat similar to a copper porphyry deposit, but instead of a single large intrusion it consists of numerous smaller dikes, sills and plugs that are strongly deformed and hydrothermally altered. While the mineralization styles vary between the respective deposits that make up the KSM Project, it is primarily in the form of sulfide veinlets and fracture fills associated with quartz vein systems.

Discussion

For a porphyry copper deposit, the copper values at the KSM are a little low, but this is offset by the consistently higher gold values. This is also why they refer to it as a “gold-copper” project rather than “copper-gold”. Comparing the current KSM resources and reserves to those of the famous Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah (Rio Tinto) one notices that the copper grades are less than half those of Bingham, but the gold values are nearly double. Of course, Bingham has been operating for more than a century and its reserve and resource estimates are likely much more accurate than those from Seabridge’s prefeasability study. Still, that the KSM project compares favourably with that of a proven operating mine is impressive.

Project Proven and Probable Reserves Copper % Gold g/t
KSM 2.164 Billion tonnes (2013) 0.21 0.55
Bingham Canyon 835 Million tonnes (2011) 0.48 0.30

 

According to the KSM project prefeasibility study and subsequent updates, seabridge is proposing a combination of open pit (70%) and underground mining  (30%) that could conceivably result in a mine life of 55 years. However, in order to make that a reality, they will need to first need to prove up their inferred and indicated resources.

Their most recent activities are in pursuit of some high grade copper results from beneath the Kerr deposit which may add significant value to the project.

Further Reading

Seabridge Gold Press Release Reviews

Seabridge Gold (Corporate Site)

Rio Tinto (Bingham Canyon)

KSM Project Prefeasibility Study (43-101)

About Christopher Rawluk

Christopher Rawluk holds degrees in both Geology and Environmental Science from the University of Manitoba in Canada and has worked in both mineral and petroleum exploration. He has been developing and publishing online for more than 15 years and is the President of showtheplanet inc.