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Mining company invests in Groundhog project northeast of Pebble


Quaterra Resources signed a lease agreement with Chuchuna Minerals, a partnership between Alaska Earth Sciences and the Kijik Corp., to jumpstart some exploration at the copper and gold prospect west of Nondalton.

There has been some investment activity surrounding the Groundhog copper and prospect, a 40,000 acre property adjacent to the Pebble claims.

Audio Transcript: In 2014, the Kijik Corp., the Nondalton ANCSA village corporation, and geologic consulting firm Alaska Earth Sciences partnered to form Chuchuna Minerals. That company has claim to the Groundhog prospect northeast of the Pebble deposit. To date there has only been limited surface exploration of Groundhog, which some believe may contain similar copper and gold resources to Pebble.

This week Quaterra Resources announced it has signed a lease agreement with Chuchuna, giving it the option to purchase a 90 percent interest in Groundhog. Vancouver-based Quaterra operates three copper mines in Yerington, Nevada. The company declined comment on the new agreement with Chuchuna.

The lease agreement calls for Quaterra to invest $1 million for exploration during the first year, and at least $500,000 in each of the following four years. The Kijik Corporation said Wednesday that more details will be released in a few weeks. For now, the new partners are keeping mum on their plans for new exploration at the site, except to say that it has potential to be a "major deposit" that could be developed with "credible partners [and] community support".

Exactly what lies beneath the surface is yet unknown; the site has never been drilled, and none of the companies who’ve taken an interest in the deposit have announced economic quantities of ore.

Critics point to Groundhog as one of several deposits that could become part of a massive mining district in the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds, perhaps if Pebble goes into production first (see chapter 13 of the EPA's Watershed Assessment). The area, which is home to some of the richest salmon habitat in the world, may also have some of the largest undeveloped sources of copper, gold, and molybdenum in North America.

This article was corrected to clarify that Kijik Corporation does not represent the village of Nondalton, but rather the shareholders. 

dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281