Salt Chuck

Mine, Active

Alternative names

Stevens
Liebrant
Goodro
Joker

Commodities and mineralogy

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale CR
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale C-2
Latitude 55.6339
Longitude -132.5602
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy The Salt Chuck Mine is labeled at the wrong location on the USGS 1:63,360-scale topographic map. The principal workings of the mine are about 0.3 mile west of the mine symbol on the map, or about 0.5 mile north-northeast of the center of section 17, T. 72 S., R. 84 E., of the Copper River Meridian. The location of the underground workings and glory holes of the mine are shown in detail on the maps and diagrams of Gault (1945) and Gault and Wahrhaftig (1992). The location is accurate to within 1/2 mile.

Geologic setting

Geologic description

The Salt Chuck Mine is in a mafic pluton about 4.5 miles long and up to a mile wide in outcrop. The pluton consists of gabbro, clinopyoxenite, and diorite; most workers believe that the pluton is roughly cogenetic with the mineral deposit (Gault, 1945; Sainsbury, 1961; Gault and Wahrhaftig, 1992; Loney and others, 1987). Detailed studies by Watkinson and Melling (1992) and by Loney and Himmelberg (1992) describe the rocks in the vicinity of the mine as layered gabbro intruded by magnetite-bearing pyroxenite. The host rocks at the deposit are variably altered to epidote, actinolite, chlorite, sericite, titanite, and calcite. The pluton has been dated at 429 Ma (Loney and others, 1987). It intrudes metamorphosed volcanic and sedimentary rocks of the Descon Formation of Silurian and Devonian age (Eberlein and others, 1983; Brew, 1996).
The deposit consists chiefly of bornite, chalcopyrite, and platinum-group minerals that occur as disseminations or as veinlets and irregular masses in the gabbro and clinopyroxenite (Wright 1915; Mertie, 1921; Buddington and Chapin, 1929; Gault, 1945; Sainsbury, 1961; Page and others, 1973). The ore bodies are generally pods, lenses, and irregular masses with higher-grade cores. Numerous small faults cut the ore bodies. Most of the sulfides are in clinopyroxenite near its contact with gabbro. The ore minerals include varying amounts of digenite, chalcocite, and covellite that often rim bornite and chalcopyrite; they are mainly in irregular disseminated masses but some are in pyrite-pyrrhotite veins, and in epidote or calcite veinlets. The platinum-group minerals are mainly kotulskite (PdTe) or sperrylite (PtAs2), with minor amounts of the palladium-antimony minerals stibiopalladonite and isomertieite. The kotulskite is variably altered to temanganite (Pd3HgTe3) or intergrown with or rimmed by sopocheite (Pd3Ag4Te4) and hessite (Ag2Te). The platinum-group minerals occur in small grains and masses in epidote, at sulfide grain boundaries, and, in decreasing order of abundance, in chalcopyrite, digenite, chalcocite, and covellite. Argentian gold occurs in chalcopyrite, in complex intergrowths with platinum-gourp minerals, and in epidote rims on clinopyroxene.
The deposit probably formed in two stages: 1) magmatic deposition of sulfides and platinum-group minerals, probably near the contact between layered gabbro and clinopyroxenite; and 2) remobilization of the sulfides and platinum-group minerals by low-temperature deuteric, or externally derived, chlorine-rich fluids with redeposition near gabbro-clinopyroxenite contacts. As of late 2009, the Salt Chuck mine is being evaluated by EPA for listing in the National Priorities List as a site that would be cleaned up under the Superfund program (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009).
The deposit at the Salt Chuck Mine was discovered in 1906 and produced copper, silver, gold, and palladium intermittently until 1941 (Wright and Wright, 1908; Wright, 1915; Mertie, 1921; Gault, 1945; Holt and others, 1948; Roppel, 1991; Maas and others, 1995). In 1915, platinum was discovered in the ore but it wasn't until 1917 that palladium was recognized. A succession of companies operated the mine: the Goodro Mining Company from 1907 to 1916; the Salt Chuck Mining Company from 1918 to 1920; the Alaska Palladium Company from 1924 to 1926; the Solar Development Company from 1929 to 1931; and the Alaska Gold and Metals Company from 1935 to 1941. For most of its life, the mine was the only producer of palladium in the United States and the price of palladium, which varied markedly, was a key factor in the profitability of the mine. During World War II, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Mines studied the deposit in detail, drilled 13 holes, and reinterpreted 7 holes that had been drilled earlier by Solar Development Company (Gault, 1945; Holt and others, 1948; Gault and Wahrhaftig, 1992).
The workings of the mine are shown in detail on the maps and diagrams of Gault (1945) and Gault and Wahrhaftig (1992). The deposit was mined in three glory holes connected by an intricate network of raises, stopes, and drifts at three levels. The workings connected to a main haulage tunnel at the 300-foot level that led to a mill (described in detail by Mertie, 1921) on the shore of the salt chuck at the head of Kasaan Bay.
Since at least the late 1970s, the deposit has been almost continuously active with varying degrees of intensity. Orbex Resources, in a joint venture with Alaska Platinum Company, did extensive mapping and geochemical work on the property from 1980 to 1989 and drilled several holes (Nevin and Reader, 1979; Peterson and Stevens, 1981; Payne, 1985; Goodall and Fox, 1988, 1989). Stealth Ventures worked at the property in 1997 and 1998 and Santoy Resources Ltd. was active on the property in the early part of the 2000s. In 2007, Pure Nickel Inc. (2007) did surface mapping and sampling over a 2,200-acre block of claims that covers the deposit. In late 2009, the Salt Chuck mine was being evaluated by EPA for listing in the National Priorities List as a site that would be cleaned up under the Superfund program (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009).
According to Gault (1945), the total production (from incomplete records) from 1907 to to 1941 was about 300,000 tons of ore. The ore averaged 0.9 percent copper, 0.01 ounce of gold per ton, 0.10 ounce of silver per ton, and 0.05 ounce of palladium per ton. In its later years of production under the Alaska Gold and Metals Company, the ore contained 0.94 percent copper, 0.04 ounce of gold per ton, 0.15 ounce of silver per ton, and 0.065 ounce of palladium per ton. Bundtzen and others (1988) indicated that the work by American Platinum Company defined several zones that contain up to 7.8 percent copper, 0.7 ounce of gold per ton, 0.25 ounce of palladium per ton, and 0.007 ounce of platinum per ton. Maas and others (1995) give the total production of the mine as about 6.2 million pounds of copper, 55,620 ounces of silver, 20,540 ounces of palladium, and 11,740 ounces of gold. According to almost all of the literature, the platinum content of the ore was negligible or not mentioned, but Mertie (1969) indicates that there may have been much more platinum in the ore than is generally recognized.
Gault (1945) gives a detailed analysis of the ore reserves at the mine. At a 0.2 percent cutoff for copper, the total reserves in three ore bodies are 251,000 tons of material with 0.65 to 0.92 percent copper, 0.005 to 0.25 ounce of gold per ton, 0.07 to 0.26 ounce of silver per ton, and 0.0 to 0.13 ounce of platinum-group elements per ton. The reserves are smaller at higher copper grades. Nevin and Reader (1979) estimate that the total resources and reserves of the deposit are about 244,000 tons of material with 0.6 percent copper, 0.45 parts per million (ppm) gold, 5.55 ppm silver, and 0.1 ppm palladium.
At various times over the life of the mine, it or claims that were eventually incorporated into the property have been given several names, including the Goodro, Stevens, Joker, and Leibrant.
Geologic map unit (-132.561868543835, 55.6335284667847)
Mineral deposit model Cu and platinum-group minerals in gabbro-clinopyroxene intrusion.
Age of mineralization The deposit is probably cogenetic with the 429 Ma gabbro-clinopyroxenite body that hosts it (Loney and others, 1987).
Alteration of deposit The host rocks are variably altered to epidote, actinolite, chlorite, sericite, titanite, and calcite.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration
The workings of the Salt Chuck Mine are shown in detail on the maps and diagrams of Gault (1945) and Gault and Wahrhaftig (1992). The deposit was mined in three glory holes connected by an intricate network of raises, stopes, and drifts at three levels. The workings connected to a main haulage tunnel at the 300-foot level that led to a mill (described in detail by Mertie, 1921) on the shore of the salt chuck at the head of Kasaan Bay.
Since at least the late 1970s, the deposit has been almost continuously active with varying degrees of intensity. Orbex Resources, in a joint venture with Alaska Platinum Company, did extensive mapping and geochemical work on the property from 1980 to 1989 and drilled several holes (Nevin and Reader, 1979; Peterson and Stevens, 1981; Payne, 1985; Goodall and Fox, 1988, 1989). Stealth Ventures worked at the property in 1997 and 1998, and Santoy Resources Ltd. was active on the property in the early part of the 2000s. In 2007, Pure Nickel Inc. (2007) did surface mapping and sampling over the 2,200 acres of land that covers the deposit. As of late 2009, the Salt Chuck mine is being evaluated by EPA for listing in the National Priorities List as a site that would be cleaned up under the Superfund program (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009).
Indication of production Yes
Reserve estimates Gault (1945) gives a detailed analysis of the ore reserves at the mine. At a 0.2 percent cutoff for copper, the total reserves in three ore bodies are 251,000 tons of material with 0.65 to 0.92 percent copper, 0.005 to 0.25 ounce of gold per ton, 0.07 to 0.26 ounce of silver per ton, and 0.0 to 0.13 ounce of platinum-group elements per ton. The reserves are smaller at higher copper grades. Nevin and Reader (1979) estimate that the total resources and reserves of the deposit are about 244,000 tons of material with 0.6 percent copper, 0.45 parts per million (ppm) gold, 5.55 ppm silver, and 0.1 ppm palladium.
Production notes
The deposit at the Salt Chuck Mine was discovered in 1906 and produced copper, silver, gold, and palladium intermittently until 1941 (Wright and Wright, 1908; Wright, 1915; Mertie, 1921; Gault, 1945, Holt and others, 1948; Roppel, 1991; Maas and others, 1995). In 1915, platinum was discovered in the ore but it wasn't until 1917 that palladium was recognized. A succession of companies operated the mine: the Goodro Mining Company from 1907 to 1916; the Salt Chuck Mining Company from 1918 to 1920; the Alaska Palladium Company from 1924 to 1926; the Solar Development Company from 1929 to 1931; and the Alaska Gold and Metals Company from 1935 to 1941. For most of its life, the mine was the only producer of palladium in the United States and the price of palladium, which varied markedly, was a key factor in the profitability of the mine. During World War II, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Mines studied the deposit in detail, drilled 13 holes, and reinterpreted 7 holes that had been drilled earlier by Solar Development Company (Gault, 1945; Holt and others, 1948; Gault and Wahrhaftig, 1992).
According to Gault (1945), the total production (from incomplete records) from 1907 to to 1941 was about 300,000 tons of ore. The ore averaged 0.9 percent copper, 0.01 ounce of gold per ton, 0.10 ounce of silver per ton, and 0.05 ounce of palladium per ton. In its later years of production under the Alaska Gold and Metals Company, the ore contained 0.94 percent copper, 0.04 ounce of gold per ton, 0.15 ounce of silver per ton, and 0.065 ounce of palladium per ton. Bundtzen and others (1988) indicated that the work by American Platinum Company defined several zones that contain up to 7.8 percent copper, 0.7 ounce of gold per ton, 0.25 ounce of palladium per ton, and 0.007 ounce of platinum per ton. Maas and others (1995) give the total production of the mine as about 6.2 million pounds of copper, 55,620 ounces of silver, 20,540 ounces of palladium, and 11,740 ounces of gold. According to almost all of the literature, the platinum content of the ore was negligible or not mentioned, but Mertie (1969) indicates that there may have been much more platinum in the ore than is generally recognized.

Additional comments

As of late 2009, the Salt Chuck mine is being evaluated by EPA for listing in the National Priorities List as a site that would be cleaned up under the Superfund program (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009).

References

MRDS Number A010047; A010146

References

Findlay, J., 2013, An Overview of Pure Nickel Inc.'s MAN and Salt Chuck Exploration Projects in Alaska, Pure Nickel Inc.: Alaska Miners Association, 2013 Annual Convention, Abstracts, p. 31.
Gault, H.R., 1945, The Salt Chuck copper-palladium mine, Prince of Wales Island, southeastern Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey War Minerals Report for Federal War Agencies, 19 p.
Goodall, G.N., and Fox, P.E., 1988, Diamond drilling, mapping, and geochemical report on the Salt Chuck property, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska: Orbex Industries, Inc., 39 p. (Unpublished report held by the Bureau of Land Management, Mineral Information Center, Juneau, Alaska.)
Goodall, G.N., and Fox, P.E., 1989, Diamond drilling, mapping, and geochemical report on the Salt Chuck property, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska: Orbex Industries, Inc., 21 p. (Unpublished report held by the Bureau of Land Management, Mineral Information Center, Juneau, Alaska.)
Loney, R. A., and Himmelberg, G. R., 1992, Petrogenesis of the Pd-rich intrusion at Salt Chuck, Prince of Wales Island: an early Paleozoic Alaskan-type ultramafic body: Canadian Mineralogist, v. 30, p. 1005-1022.
Nevin, A.E., and Reader, J.F., 1979, Report of examination, Salt Chuck Mine, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska: Orbex Resources, Ltd., 25 p. (Unpublished report held by the Bureau of Land Management, Mineral Information Center, Juneau, Alaska.)
Payne, C.W., 1985, Compilation report on the Salt Chuck deposit: Orbex Minerals, Ltd., 17 p. (Unpublished report held by the Bureau of Land Management, Mineral Information Center, Juneau, Alaska.)
Peterson, R.T., and Stevens, D.L., 1981, 1981 exploration program, Salt Chuck property, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska: 44 p. (Unpublished report held by the Bureau of Land Management, Mineral Information Center, Juneau, Alaska.)
Pure Nickel Inc., 2007, Pure Nickel's Salt Chuck exploration update: http://www.purenickel.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=267258 (News Release, October 17, 2007).
Roppel, Patricia, 1991, Fortunes from the earth: Manhattan, Kansas, Sunflower University Press, 139 p.
Watkinson, D.H., and Melling, D.R., 1992, Hydrothermal origin of platinum-group mineralization in low-temperature copper-sulfide-rich assemblages, Salt Chuck intrusion, Alaska: Economic Geology, v. 87, p. 175-184.
Reporters D.J. Grybeck (Contractor, U.S. Geological Survey); V.C. Zinno (Alaska Earth Sciences, Inc.)
Last report date 12/1/2014