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Pogo Mine Officials ‘Very Excited’ About Two Promising Gold Prospects Under Exploration

Tim Ellis/KUAC

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 Friday 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.

Pogo Exploration Superintendent Gabe Graf’s Powerpoint was a largely technical talk, like most given during last week’s Alaska Miners Association Biennial 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,” he 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.

Credit Google maps
The Pogo Gold Mine is located about 35 miles northeast of Delta Junction

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

Credit Pogo Mine
The Pogo mine and mill complex includes facilities for administrative offices, housing, meal service and emergency services.

“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,” he 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.

Credit Pogo Mine
Since Pogo began operation in January 2005, it has produced more than 3 million ounces of gold.

“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,” he 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-thousand to an organization that provides services to the greater Deltana area.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.