My visit to Silverado Gold
For each of the last five years, I have gone up to Alaska in July. For the first three of those years I went up to mine a small creek 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Both last year and this, I went up to Fairbanks to attend the annual Alyeska auction to buy a truck.
Since I was in Fairbanks and had transportation, I thought I would call Silverado and see if I could make arrangements to see their Nolan Creek operation in full swing. I did and went up three weeks ago.
I filled the truck with fuel and headed up the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks. The Dalton runs from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and allows access to the Alaska pipeline. My memory of the drive over the past few years is that it's pretty rough, just gravel most of the way and hell on windshields.
I must be getting old and senile at the same time. This year it was a piece of cake, unlike my memory. It wasn't until I got back to Fairbanks that someone mentioned that they have paved most of it. It's a better road by far than that of two or three years back.
But in any case, I shot up the Dalton Highway 280 miles north from Fairbanks, a good 100 miles north of the crossing of the Yukon and 60 miles north of the marker for the Arctic Circle. Finding the Nolan Creek mine is about as difficult as falling off a bike, 278 miles north of Fairbanks take a left turn as if you are going to Wiseman and at the fork in the road, continue to the right to Nolan Creek. It was that easy.
I pulled in on a Sunday night. Brian Flanigan, chief geologist for Silverado was there to guide me. We grabbed safety hats and went to wander around for a couple of hours. At this time of year you have constant sun which can be disorienting for those not used to it.
The Nolan camp is far larger than I imagined but Silverado has been operating there on and off for the best part of 30 years. And during that time the camp has grown a lot. It can accommodate about 50 people, and there are about 30 people working there now. I stayed at the camp for two nights. It wasn't the George Cinq, but they do have telephones and high speed internet connections via satellite, and 3 cooks. And the food was quite a bit better than one would expect in a remote mining camp.
It's a small world. The head of security there was door gunner in an H-34 in Quang Tri, in 1968, when I was flying Birddogs. As a matter of fact I was involved in an operation where the last Marine H-34 got shot down, in early 1969, but that's another (a sad) story.
The question of whether or not there is global warming is not asked in Alaska. They know it's real. Last winter was the warmest winter on record and had a negative effect on the operation at Nolan Creek. Since they can blast and mine the permafrost only when it's frozen, the warming trend and resulting thaw cut the amount of gravel they could blast and stockpile almost in half.
Silverado is producing gold, some extraordinary gold including an almost 5 ounce nugget (now for auction on eBay) and an 8 ounce nugget. It will be the end of the summer before they know how well they have done overall, though.
Brian showed me around the property although the entire property couldn't properly be toured in less than a week. They have a lot of property. He had laid out an extensive drill program which had to be cut back due to financial constraints but was enthusiastic about the chance of literally finding the "mother lode," the source of the massive nuggets so common at Nolan Creek.
While they didn't do as much mining as they hoped during the winter, the Silverado crew was hustling to mine and process as much ore as they could during the fleeting days of summer. The Silverado placer processing plant is the most expensive and sophisticated in all of Alaska and they keep it fed on a constant basis.
Silverado Gold Mines is quoted on the OTCBB under the stock symbol SLGLF. There are about 95 million shares trading and as of Friday Aug 8th, the stock was quoted at $.21.
This is neither a buy nor sell
recommendation. Silverado is an advertiser and we do both buy
and sell shares on occasion.
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