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Rain and Rare Earths at Bokan Mountain

Posted by admin at 11:07 AM on Sep 29, 2009

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By Clint Cox

First of all, Alaska is beautiful – even in the rain!

It was my first trip to the great state, and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the people. It all began in Ketchikan, starting with dinner and a good night’s sleep before we headed to the plane the next morning for the short hop to Bokan Mountain.

Bokan_plane

We arrived at the Ucore Uranium’s barge and talked for a bit with Jim McKenzie, Ucore’s CEO. We waited until Harmen Keyser, their head Geo, returned from the field to get an update and hopefully get out on the Mountain. Harmen gave us a great description of what we would see.

We were going to get wet, and any suggestion that my “waterproof” raingear and boots would probably keep me dry was politely smiled at as we headed into the bowels of the barge to grab some all-repelling “rubber”.

By the time we jumped in the boat and headed across the bay toward Bokan, I realized that rubber was the way to go!

We first went to the coreshack to get a bearing on the mineralization and what we would be looking for out in the field:

Bokan_coreshack

Inside, they were busy logging core, but they happily stopped to listen to Dr. Mariano, an expert rare earth geologist, discuss both the core and the complexity of rare earth mineralogy.

The rare earths at Bokan are contained in veins that run along the Dotson Trend. You can see the peachy-pink flecks and the elongated whitish diamond-shaped mineralization in the core below. These contain the rare earth mineralization. The minerals present may include (but may not be limited to):

  • kainosite
  • synchysite
  • parasite
  • bastnaesite
  • euxenite
  • samarskite
  • allanite
  • fergusonite
  • armstrongite
  • iimoriite
  • thalenite
  • tengerite
  • tombarthite
  • xenotime, and
  • monazite

Bokan_core1

Bokan_core2

Bokan_coreinhand

We took a sample and tested it with their Niton analyzer. Sure enough — rare earths!

Bokan_core3

Bokan_core4

After gaining a little better understanding of how to split and interpret core, we headed back out into the rain to walk the Dotson Trend – the current rare earth area that is being explored.

We followed the trend though the woods and muck, from outcrop to outcrop:

Bokan_outcrop

Walking the Trend was fascinating and insightful. There were three geologists on this walk, and they all had excellent input. This is complex stuff – so I need all the help I can get!

The mineralization is in veins that run along the trend. It is not yet known what the primary REE target mineral (or group of minerals) will be. It is clear that there is REE mineralization here – now we wait as they determine if the grade, tonnage, and metallurgy exists to make the project economically viable. We will watch it closely!

A view from Bokan looking back at the barge:

Bokan_barge

Special Thanks to Jim McKenzie, Harmen Keyser, Cliff Hanson, Suzy, and the entire barge staff!