JAPAN Gold has expanded its epithermal gold exploration portfolio with the addition of three new projects in the prospective Kitami Metallogenic Province of north Hokkaido. The Onne, Fujimi and Harutomi projects cover historic gold-silver and mercury mines in a prospective and largely underexplored area south of the company’s Ikutahara project.

The three projects comprising 21 applications and 6871 hectares collectively, have been accepted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The company now holds priority over these areas and is authorised to commence surface exploration.

With the addition of these new projects Japan Gold’s portfolio now comprises 66,477 hectares over 15 separate projects on the three main islands of Japan.

Onne comprises nine application blocks for 2998 hectares and hosts the historic Onne gold-silver and Niko mercury mines. Fujimi comprises seven application blocks for 2201 hectares over the historic Fujimi and No 2 Tateushi gold-silver mines and surrounds. Harutomi, centred on the historic Harutomi mine, consists of five application blocks for 1672 hectares.

The projects are in the southern part of the Monbetsu-Rubeshibe Graben, one of two major graben features that localise mineralisation within Kitami Metallogenic Province. The projects lie along a 40km-long structural corridor which cuts across the southern part of the graben and hosts more than 15 historically developed gold-silver and mercury mines, and workings.

Previous studies indicate the gold and mercury mineralisation are genetically related to the same hydrothermal activity. Work completed by the Metal Mining Agency of Japan between 1989 and 91 included drilling beneath the Oketo mercury mine, south of the Onne project, and intersected narrow-weakly mineralised quartz veining.

Japan Gold is looking to further explore the potential link between mercury anomalism and epithermal gold mineralisation in this underexplored district. The company will seek to define the limits of the alteration systems around these historically mined vein systems and use surface mapping and geochemistry to target new zones and extensions to previously exploited vein zones for scout drill testing.

Japan Gold’s chairman and CEO John Proust said, “These gold districts offer excellent exploration opportunities for potential new discoveries due to their relatively under-explored nature.”

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