With mineral claims on state, federal and Native Alaska lands totaling more than 1,000 square miles, Millrock Resources is investing millions of dollars to explore them.
Greg Beischer, Millrock’s president and chief executive officer, delivered that message Sunday in an interview with the News-Miner, the day after meeting with the public about his company’s activities on Ester Dome and in the Tanana Valley.
Millrock has conducted exploration work for various minerals in the state since 2007. “We have expended over $45 million all over Alaska, and we have yet to make that big discovery to recoup that investment,” Beischer said. “It is the nature of our business.”
Millrock Resources is a publicly traded company based in Anchorage that has partnered with Felix Gold Limited of Australia to prospect for gold across 10,200 acres that span the Fairbanks Mining District. The land is owned by the Mental Health Trust Authority, a state agency that is considering a lease with Felix Gold Alaska. Millrock Resources also has other land holdings across the state.
“People say there is going to be a giant open pit mine on Ester Dome,” Beischer said. “We have not even begun the process to find if there is a gold deposit. Nothing like that at all is being proposed.”
Beischer acknowledged that a major gold discovery is the goal. “We are spending millions to find something that could be worth billions,” he said. “That does not happen very often. There are thousands of exploration projects that fail to find anything.”
The sites that Millrock and Felix Gold Alaska are considering lie within the historic Fairbanks Mining District, which has grown as a rural suburb of single family homes, small farms and locally owned businesses.
‘A big move in Alaska’
“Our company has made a big move in Alaska,” Beischer said. “We have seen a great deal of exploration funding coming to Alaska.”
Millrock’s exploration and discovery activities extend beyond mineral claims that were the subject of a contentious public forum Saturday at the Ken Kunkel Center, off Goldstream Road.
Residents packed the outdoor pavilion area to object to mineral exploration and questioned the companies’ activities. More than 100 people attended the forum.
“We did receive some criticism intimating that we are not financially viable and we would not be able to execute the exploration work,” Beischer said about the meeting. “We do not have a huge amount of money at any one time. When we need more money, we sell shares in our company.”
It is customary for Millrock to align with partners like Felix Gold, which has assembled investors. Millrock provides the infrastructure, geologists and engineers for exploration, Beischer said.
He described Millrock Resources as a project generator that does “preliminary exploration” to attract investors with “deeper pockets.”
‘Good place to look for gold’
“Our business model is to use our intellectual capital,” Beischer said. “We were aware that this was a good place to look for gold. We have expended more than a half-million dollars to stake those claims.”
The company engages in joint ventures or sells options in leases and claims it controls as a way to generate money.
Felix Gold of Australia is a private company with an Alaska office. Beischer said Sunday that the investors are wealthy individuals and brokerage firms in Australia.
Millrock also has mining claims near the Pogo Mine, an underground gold mine in greater Fairbanks, and is looking at an undisclosed site south of the city for exploration of nickel, a critical mineral in smart technologies.
Millrock overall has explored more than a dozen projects across Alaska in 15 years. “Sometimes we spend a half-million and don’t find what we are looking for, and we walk away. Other times, several years of surveys are followed by drilling,” Beischer said.
Millrock offers investors its expertise, including a global view of mining needs and opportunities. Beischer said it is common to partner with companies outside the U.S. that have interest in mineral development.
‘Investing heavily in Alaska’
“Australians are pro-mining. They are coming and investing heavily in Alaska,” Beischer said. “Because of our business model, we always make partnerships central to what we do. We are not putting a lot of our own funding into a project.”
At Cleary Summit, for example, Millrock and Felix Gold are conducting exploration work at Treasure Creek, 10 miles north of Fox. With early work showing promise, the companies plan to conduct drilling next summer to a depth of 1,000 to 2,000 feet. Felix Gold is funding the work.
“We need to drill enough holes to calculate the tonnage and the grade of the concentration in the rock,” Beischer said, adding that the process could take several years.
“We have some great information at surface, but we don’t know if there is a gold deposit there. If we make a discovery, the next question will be: Can we economically take this ore out of the ground, process it and make a profit,” he said.
Beischer compared mineral exploration to treasure hunting. “All it takes is one big find, and all shareholders are rewarded,” Beischer said. “That is what keeps us going.”