Little Squaw Creek

Mine, Active

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities As; Pb; W
Ore minerals arsenopyrite; galena; gold; monazite; scheelite

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale CH
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale C-3
Latitude 67.5702
Longitude -148.1602
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy The main workings of the Little Squaw Creek placer mine are about 2 miles southeast of the southeast end of Squaw Lake. Gold can be found along much of the upper part of the creek but most of the mining to 2004 took place on a lower portion of the creek called the Mello Bench in the southwest quarter of section 26, T. 32 N., R. 3 W., of the Fairbanks Meridian. The coordinates are at about the center of the Mello Bench. The location is accurate.

Geologic setting

Geologic description

The first gold in the Chandalar district was discovered on Little Squaw Creek in 1905 and it has produced about half of the placer gold that has come from the district (Barker and Bundtzen, 2004; Barker, 2007). By 1916, most of the shallow placers in the upper valley of the creek were exhausted by hand mining and most of the mining to 2004 took place on the Mello Bench in the lower part of the creek, just above where the creek flows out on the floor of the Squaw Lake valley. Mining through the 1930s on Mello Bench was was almost entirely by drifting through thick, frozen gravel and until recently there has been little mining with heavy equipment on the creek. The placer concentrates contain pyrite, hematite, arsenopyrite, scheelite, galena, and monazite, in addition to gold. The early drift mining worked ground that contained nearly an ounce of gold per cubic yard and there were cleanups at the Mello camp that contained up to 4.85 ounces of gold per cubic yard. Barker and Bundtzen (2004) estimate that to 2004, Little Squaw Creek produced 29,237 ounces of gold from 30,466 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.960 ounce per cubic yard. Almost all of that was produced by Manual Mello and his sons from drift mining on the Mello Bench.
The gold in the lower portions of Little Squaw Creek frequently occurs at several horizons in the gravel; the auriferous horizons are separated by barren glaciofluvial material with clay layers that often serve as false bedrock. Some of the gold is on bedrock in alluvial gravel covered by glacial deposits. The several gold-bearing horizons are the result of the interplay of gold being transported by streams from the lode deposits at the head of Big Squaw Creek, several episodes of Pleistocene glaciation with the the deposition of glacial outwash and drift, and downcutting and readjustment of the drainages in response to several glacial advances.
Placer gold in uncertain amounts was long known to extend in the gravel below the Mello Bench in a broad alluvial fan and in benches where lower grade material extended out from the old drift mines. There were several episodes of drilling below the Mello Bench from the 20s through the late 90s (Barker and Bundtzen, 2004). In 2003, Little Squaw Gold Mining Company estimated that Little Squaw Creek has proven resources of 39,875 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.016 ounce of gold per cubic yard, a probable resource of 50,000 cubic yards with an average grade of 0.028 ounce of gold per cubic yard, and a possible resource of 12,030 cubic yards with an average grade of 0.013 ounce of gold per cubic yard (Barker and Bundtzen, 2004).
In 2007, Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, now Goldrich Mining Company, drilled 110 holes on the lower portion of Little Squaw Creek along drill lines spaced 500 feet apart. As of February 9, 2009, Goldrich (Barker and others, 2009) calculated the measured and indicates resources of lower Little Squaw Creek as 9,101,600 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.0243 ounce of gold per cubic yard and an inferred resource of 1,401,666 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.0265 ounce of gold per cubic yard. These figures were encouraging enough that Goldrich test mined a portion of the ground with earth-moving equipment in the summer of 2009 (Goldrich Mining Company, 2009). In a period of 27 days, they produced 593.5 ounces of gold from 13,825 cubic yards of material. Goldrich mined in 2010 and produced 1,522 ounces of gold and 259 ounces of silver (Goldrich Mining Company, 2010 [production]).
In 2016, Goldrich Mining Company formed a joint-venture partnership with project manager NyacAU, to form Goldrich NyacAU Placer, LLC. In 2016, Goldrich NyacAU surveyed the area on Little Squaw Creek beyond Line 11 and received a permit to conduct placer mining on Lines 11 to 18 in addition to permits already received to mine Lines 1 to 11. Production in 2016 totaled 10,209 ounces of alluvial gold (8,227 ounces of fine gold), at an estimated cost of approximately $960 per ounce (Athey and Werdon, 2017).
Geologic map unit (-148.162936628169, 67.5698192868479)
Mineral deposit model Placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration
The first gold in the Chandalar district was discovered on Little Squaw Creek in 1905 and it has produced about half of the placer gold that has come from the district (Barker and Bundtzen, 2004; Barker, 2007). By 1916, most of the shallow placers in the upper valley of the creek were exhausted by hand mining and most of the mining to 2004 took place on the Mello Bench in the lower part of the creek, just above where the creek flows out on the floor of the Squaw Lake valley. Mining through the 1930s on Mello Bench was was almost entirely by drifting through thick, frozen gravel and until recently there has been little mining with heavy equipment on the creek.
In 2007, Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, now Goldrich Mining Company, drilled 110 holes on the lower portion of Little Squaw Creek along drill lines spaced 500 feet apart. These figures were encouraging enough that Goldrich test mined a portion of the ground with earth-moving equipment in the summer of 2009 (Goldrich Mining Company, 2009).
Indication of production Yes; small
Reserve estimates Various estimates have been made of the gold resources of Little Squaw Creek. The latest (Barker and others, 2009) is based 110 holes drilled by Goldrich Mining Company in 2007. Lower Little Squaw Creek has a measured and indicated resource of 9,101,600 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.0243 ounce of gold per cubic yard and an inferred resource of 1,401,666 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.0265 ounce of gold per cubic yard. (Subsequently Goldrich produced 2,115 ounces of gold in 2009 and 2010).
Production notes
Barker and Bundtzen (2004) estimate that to 2004, Little Squad Creek produced 29,237 ounces of gold, almost all by drift mining, from 30,466 cubic yards of material with an average grade of 0.960 ounce per cubic yard. Goldrich Mining Company test mined a portion of the ground with earth-moving equipment in the summer of 2009 and produced 593.5 ounces of gold from 13,825 cubic yards of material (Goldrich Mining Company, 2009). Goldrich mined in 2010 and produced 1,522 ounces of gold and 259 ounces of silver.
Production in 2016 totaled 10,209 ounces of alluvial gold (8,227 ounces of fine gold), at an estimated cost of approximately $960 per ounce. The plant operated approximately 15 hours per day at a processing rate of 183 bank-cubic yards per hour (Athey and Werdon, 2017).

References

MRDS Number A012557

References

Alaska Construction and Oil, 1984, Alaska mining? Gold Production could redouble: Alaska Construction and Oil, v. 25, no. 3, p. 31.
Barker, J.C., 2006, Chandalar Mining District, a report of findings and recommendations, 2005: Unpublished report for Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, 93 p. (on Internet at http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/corporate/2005AnnualReport011906.pdf, as of February 14, 2010).
Barker, J.C., 2007, Chandalar Mining District, Annual Report of findings for 2006; Unpublished report for Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, 124 p. (On the Internet at http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/chandalar/chandalar_barker_rpt_2007.pdf, as of February 14, 2010).
Barker, J.C., and Bundtzen, T.K., 2004, Gold deposits of the Chandalar Mining District, Northern Alaska: An information review and recommendations: Unpublished report for the Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, 165 p. (in the files of the Goldrich Mining Company)
Barker, J.C., Murray, R.B., Keener, J.O., and Martin, P.L., 2009, Evaluation of the Chandalar mining property: Unpublished report prepared for Goldrich Mining Company, 165 p. (on the Internet at http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/chandalar/Chandalar_tech_rept_4_15_09.pdf, as of February 14, 2010).
Bundtzen, T.K., an d Laird, G.M., 2007a, Geologic map of the Chandalar Mining District, Brooks Range, Northern Alaska, 2007: Unpublished map prepared for Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, 1 sheet, scale 1:20,000. (on the Internet at http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/chandalar/regional_chandalar_geo_map_final_07.pdf, as of February 14, 2010).
Bundtzen, T.K., an d Laird, G.M., 2007b, Geology of the Chandalar Mining District, east-central Brooks Range, Northern Alaska: Unpublished technical report for Little Squaw Gold Mining Company, 83 p. (on the Internet at http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/chandalar/Chandalar_Geo_01_23_07.pdf, as of February 14, 2010).
Goldrich Mining Company, 2009, Goldrich concludes successful mining test of Chandalar, Alaska placer gold: http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/press_release/2009/GR_PRESS_Release_05_09.pdf (News release, November 9, 2009).
Goldrich Mining Company, 2010, Chandalar, Alaska; Project overview: http://www.goldrichmining.com/pages/prop_chan_over.htm (as of February 16, 2010).
Goldrich Mining Company, 2010, Goldrich reports production results: http://www.goldrichmining.com/Files/press_release/2010/gr_press_release_10-12-10.pdf (News release, Oct. 12, 2010).
Reporters J.M. Britton (Anchorage, Alaska); Travis Hudson (Applied Geology, Inc.); D.J. Grybeck (Contractor, USGS); M.B. Werdon (DGGS)
Last report date 8/26/2017