Canadian Mining Journal

Feature

Update on Mining and Exploration Activity

The Ontario government continues to reaffirm its commitment to a healthy and vibrant mining industry in the province by creating an investment climate that will ensure and enhance its status as one of...


The Ontario government continues to reaffirm its commitment to a healthy and vibrant mining industry in the province by creating an investment climate that will ensure and enhance its status as one of the world’s most important mining jurisdictions. The province continues to recognize the importance of the mineral sector to our present and future prosperity by supporting policies and programs that focus on creating conditions favourable to growth and investment in the mining industry.

In the May 2000 Ontario Budget, Finance Minister Ernie Eves announced several new policy and investment commitments in support of Ontario’s mineral exploration and mining sectors.

The Budget includes major reductions in mining and corporate taxes for mine operators, including a 50% reduction in the Mining Tax rate over five years, as well as a 10-year Mining Tax exemption for new remote mines and subsequent preferential tax rates. When the changes are fully implemented, Ontario will have one of the lowest Mining Tax rates in Canada. Finance Minister Eves also announced enhancements to flow-through share investment incentives, the acquisition of new geoscience information, and research and development support for advanced mineral exploration techniques.

In the spring of 1999, the Ontario government committed $19 million over two years to acquire geological data on areas of high-potential mineral belts across the province. The goal of this program, known as Operation Treasure Hunt, is to help identify new mineral targets of interest to the exploration sector, which could lead to the creation of new mines and new jobs in the North and throughout Ontario. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is extending its successful Operation Treasure Hunt geological survey program to a third year with an additional funding allocation of $10 million.

The generation of new geoscientific data promotes Ontario’s standing as one of the world’s best jurisdictions for mineral exploration investment. Funding for new exploration technologies and methods will also reinforce this standing. On September 11, the Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Tim Hudak, announced a new four-year, $8 million Ontario Mineral Exploration Technologies (OMET) program, designed to stimulate the development of new technologies for mineral exploration. This program will focus on technologies and methods with the potential to enhance efficiency of exploration programs in high potential geological areas of Ontario. The expectation is that it will lead to exciting new discoveries in the province. As well, if these technologies are proven effective, they can be exported around the world.

General Overview

Mining has long played a vital role in Ontario’s economy, generating over $5 billion in mineral production annually. For more than 100 years, some of the world’s greatest mineral deposits have been found and developed in Ontario. The province is Canada’s leading producer of nickel, gold, cobalt, copper, cadmium, selenium, barite and nepheline syenite. Ontario also boasts a growing and vibrant aggregates industry. With more mineral wealth waiting to be discovered, the initiatives announced in the May 2000 Budget will go a long way to reaffirming Ontario’s support for, and commitment to, a vibrant, globally competitive mining sector.

Early indications point to a reversal in the trend towards reduced exploration expenditures in 2000. Forecasts for general and mine site exploration expenditures are estimated at Cdn$101.6 million, up 20% from 1999. Spending by Ontario’s senior and junior sectors are forecasted to increase by 12.6 % and 62%, respectively, from 1999. Ontario’s senior sector accounts for over 80% of all Ontario exploration expenditures.

Exploration Highlights

Northeastern Ontario

Several companies are actively exploring for new platinum group metal (PGM) deposits, including South African heavyweights, Anglo American Platinum Corp. (Amplats) and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (Implats). Grassroots exploration has successfully identified contact-style PGM mineralization, and the companies have recently commenced a two-phase, 17,000-m, 55-hole diamond drill program to establish the grade and tonnage of potential deposits. Additionally, Amplats and Pacific North West Capital Corp. have completed 40 diamond drill holes on their properties located over the River Valley intrusion at the Dana and Lismer zones, east of Sudbury. Amplats has contributed $1.5 million to exploration work in this area last year. Implats also has a joint venture, over the River Valley intrusion, with Mustang Minerals Corp.

Within the Shakespeare-Dunlop (Agnew Lake) intrusion 60 km west of Sudbury, Ursa Major Minerals Corp. announced the results of channel sampling from the Shakespeare nickel-copper-PGM deposit. A sulphide mineralized zone with widths of up to 46 m over a strike length of 365 m has been delineated. ProAm Explorations initiated drilling in October with additional surface sampling and mapping on its property in the intrusion. Pacific North West is also exploring in the area with prospecting, mapping and surface sampling programs as well as induced polarization (IP) surveys.

At the East Bull Lake intrusion, 30 km east of Elliot Lake, Freewest Resources Canada Inc. and 50% joint venture partner Sparton Resources Inc. have undertaken a 3,000-m diamond drilling program at their Folson Lake property. The focus of the drilling is a 25-75-m-wide inclusion-bearing zone that has been traced over a strike length of 1,700 m. Aquiline Resources Inc. also completed a 1,288-m, 10-hole diamond drill program on the Parisien Lake Deformation Zone. Mustang and Falconbridge Ltd. have completed a $6-million joint venture agreement under which Falconbridge finances a $1-million private placement in Mustang and spends $5 million in exploration over four years in return for a 50% interest in the East Bull Lake PGM property.

In the Sudbury basin, Inco Ltd. indicated it would spend US$7.7 million for exploration in 2000. Extensive geophysical surveys were completed in the vicinity of the past-producing Totten mine, and a production decision is expected for the company’s Kelly Lake deposit. Falconbridge has also announced a $10-million exploration budget for the Sudbury area.

During the first nine months of 2000, Barrick Gold Corp. produced 68,589 ounces (1,944 kg) of gold from the Holt-McDermott mine. Barrick and Battle Mountain Gold have agreed to process ore from Battle Mountain’s nearby Holloway mine by expanding the capacity of the Holt-McDermott mill. The expansion will cost $1.7 million and will allow processing of all Holloway mine ore at Barrick’s mill in 2001.

Battle Mountain Gold continues to obtain positive results from its exploration program in the vicinity of the Holloway mine. East of the mine, surface drilling continues to expand the Blacktop deposit. The company discovered a new area of significant alteration and mineralization on the Golden Highway claims in Holloway Township. The discovery hole returned 3.56 grams gold per tonne (g/t) over 32 m, including 11.21 g/t gold over four metres.

Placer Dome Inc. celebrated 90 years of continuous gold production from the Dome mine in 2000. Underground operations have been in production since 1910 and open pit mining began in 1988. The Dome has poured 14 million ounces (397,000 kg) of gold from this single deposit to date.

Kinross Gold Corp. is conducting a 7,000-m diamond drill program on the Clavos property, which is owned by United Tex-Sol Mines Inc. Kinross can purchase 100% of the property upon the completion of a three-year, $3.5-million exploration program.

Queenston Mining Inc. and Franco-Nevada Mining Corp. Ltd. completed a seven-hole, 3,252-m, diamond drill program on the Kirkland Lake gold project in Lebel Township. The drilling intersected a new structure, the South Break, as well as making
a new gold discovery on the 180 Splay.

At the Eagle River mine, River Gold Mines Ltd. is sinking the main shaft to a depth of 550 m. Ongoing development of the high-grade No.6 Zone will be tied to the new shaft infrastructure. Eagle River has also made an agreement to purchase an interest in the Magnacon mine in the Mishibishu Lake area. The company will spend $2 million on exploration on the property over the next four years.

Falconbridge has announced a decision to mine deep ore at the Kidd mine. Production from the Mine D is scheduled to begin in 2004 and will contribute 2 million tonnes of ore to annual production. When completed, the mine will extend to 3,200 m, making the Kidd mine the deepest base metal mine in the world. The projected cost of the deep development is $640 million.

Luzenac Inc. has announced its intention to increase annual talc production at its Penhorwood mine from 45,000 tonnes per year to 73,000 tonnes. This increase in production reflects the steady increase in demand for talc for use in plastics and production of coated paper products.

Novawest Resources Inc. has drilled six holes, totaling 1,315 m, to test the Bucke kimberlite pipe near Larder Lake. A total of 944 m of kimberlite has been intersected. The pipe appears to be comprised of three lobes or pipes, and the diamond-bearing lobe situated in the northeast is estimated at 200 m in diameter. Nine facies of intrusive kimberlite breccia have been recognized in the Bucke diatreme.

DeBeers Canada Exploration is presently conducting an advanced diamond exploration program on the Victor kimberlite. The deposit occurs within a cluster of 16 kimberlites discovered by the company approximately 90 km due west of the First Nation community of Attawapiskat in the James Bay Lowlands. Over the summer, an on-site mill has operated at a rate of approximately 250 tonnes per day to process a 10,000-tonne bulk sample.

Band-Ore Resources Ltd., Dumont Nickel Inc. and Pele Mountain Resources Inc. have all announced new diamond discoveries on their respective properties in a 45-km2 area 20 km north of Wawa. To date, the diamonds recovered from these occurrences are all described as being high-quality macro and micro diamonds.

Kennecott Canada Exploration Inc. and partners Canabrava Diamond Corp. and Paramount Ventures and Finance Inc. completed a winter diamond drill program on their Whitefish Lake diamond property. In addition, Kennecott has confirmed the best surface anomalies identified by Canabrava in 1998 and identified a number of new anomalies on their Rocky Island Lake diamond property.

In early 2000, Spider Resources Inc. and joint venture partner KWG Resources Inc. conducted a diamond-drilling program designed to define and investigate the Kyle No.3 kimberlite pipe in the James Bay Lowlands. To date, a total of 1,256 diamonds have been recovered from 1,740 kg of rock from 12 diamond drill holes. Sixty-seven of these stones are classified as macro diamonds. A press release issued on November 29, 2000, announced the balance of sample results inferring an average grade of 0.92 carat per tonne for this dyke. This preliminary diamond grade result ranks the Kyle No.3 kimberlite dyke as one of the highest grade diamond-bearing kimberlite bodies in the province of Ontario to date.

Northwestern Ontario

The Musselwhite mine north of Pickle Lake, held by Placer Dome N.A. Ltd. (68%) and TVXNA Inc. (32%), forecasted over 200,000 ounces (5,670 kg) of gold production for 2000. Production cash costs per ounce were reduced to US$153. On August 21, the mine poured its 100th gold bar. Mine reserves are 13.8 million tonnes grading 5.79 g/t gold.

The three Hemlo mines–the David Bell, Golden Giant and Williams–produced in excess of 900,000 ounces (25,515 kg) of gold in 1999, and similar production was expected in 2000. Cash costs of US$187 per ounce were reached at the David Bell and Williams mines. The Golden Giant mine operated at a cash cost of US$148 per ounce. The Golden Giant mine has five years of reserves outlined, while the David Bell mine and the Williams mine have eight and nine years, respectively, of defined reserves.

At the Lac des Iles mine of North American Palladium, 28,273 ounces (801 kg) of palladium was produced in the third quarter of 2000, at a cash cost of US$72 per ounce. A major mine expansion is proceeding on schedule and on budget for completion in mid-2001. A new 15,000-tonne/day mill will triple annual palladium production to 250,000 ounces (7,090 kg) per year. Calculated resources at the mine have increased to 121,650,000 tonnes grading 1.63 g/t Pd. This estimate represents an increase of 21% over previous estimates.

Numerous junior exploration companies are actively pursuing exploration for PGMs in the Thunder Bay District. Drilling activities by East West Resource Corp. and partners Avalon Ventures Ltd. and Canadian Golden Dragon Resources Ltd. on the Wolf Mountain property intersected 1.04 g/t PGM, 0.143% Cu and 0.157% Ni over 16 m. Avalon is also participating with Starcore Resources Ltd. at the Legris Lake property. Hole L00-08 intersected a 9.95-m interval assaying 2.04 g/t Pd, 0.41 g/t Pt, 0.71 g/t Au, 0.42% Cu, and 0.13% Ni. Houston Lake Mining Inc., New Millennium Metals Corp. and the LMX Resources Ltd.Buck Lake Ventures partnership have all discovered promising PGM mineralization in the area.

A massive sulphide float discovery has sparked an agreement with Greater Lenora Resources Corp. and RJK Explorations Ltd. The 3-m boulder contains stringer and massive mineralization including sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite. Grab samples of the float assayed up to 30% Zn, 0.87% Pb, 0.42% Cu, 127 g/t Ag and 1.72 g/t Au. IP geophysical surveys, geological mapping, prospecting, stripping, trenching and sampling are being used to trace the boulder’s source.

In the Marathon-Manitouwadge area, Geomaque Explorations Ltd. has entered into a joint venture with Polymet Mining Corp. on the Marathon deposit, which has an estimated resource of 37 million tonnes averaging 1.1 g/t Pd, 0.27 g/t Pt, 0.21 g/t Au, 1.85 g/t Ag, 0.38% Cu and 0.032% Ni.

Freewest is exploring the Skipper Lake occurrence in the Coldwell Alkaline Complex, where 211 grab samples taken over a 1.5-km strike length averaged 0.86 g/t PGMs.

Placer Dome continued gold production at the Campbell mine in Balmertown. Forecast production for the year 2000 was 225,000 ounces (6,380 kg) gold. Placer has signed an $8.2-million, three-year joint venture with Claude Resources Inc. for the Madsen mine project and 4,250 contiguous hectares in the Red Lake Camp. Claude is continuing shaft dewatering and rehabilitation work, with drill stations planned to test the No.8 Zone below the 16th level.

Goldcorp Inc.’s Red Lake mine poured its first gold on August 1, following a lengthy strike. Commercial production at 545 tonnes/day is forecast for the fourth quarter of 2000. The High Grade Zone reserves stand at 1.5 million tonnes at a diluted and cut grade of 47.0 g/t Au.

Rubicon Minerals Corp. and AngloGold North America have agreed to explore Rubicon’s Red Lake gold project. Detailed mapping, assaying and lithogeochemical sampling programs were carried out on Rubicon’s extensive landholdings in the camp.

Avalon and Global Canada Co. completed a program of diamond drilling on the Lilypad Lake tantalum project near Fort Hope. The extension of high-grade surface sample assays up to 0.422% tantalum oxide from the JJ Dyke was the main target. Avalon also continues with metallurgical test work on its Big Whopper petalite (lithium silicate) deposit situated in the Separation Rapids area, north of Kenora.

Emerald Fields Resources Corp. of Canada continued surface exploration on its Separation Rapids rare metal (lithium, cesium, tantalum and tin) pegmatite property. On April 5, 2000, Emerald Fields and A
MZIM Minerals Ltd
. entered into an agreement that may lead to development of the Big Mack petalite deposit north of Kenora.

Houston Lake continued work on its Pakeagama Lake rare metals property north of Red Lake, believed to be the second largest pegmatite of its type discovered in Ontario. Channel sampling of the north wall returned 344 g/t tantalum oxide, 0.90% rubidium oxide, 1,776 g/t cesium oxide, 68.9 g/t tin, 131.9 g/t niobium oxide, 1.34% lithium oxide, 25.9 g/t thallium, and 42.2 g/t gallium over 11 m.

Southern Ontario

OMYA Canada Inc. has completed the fifth year of a multi-year plant expansion program near Perth. The company produces a variety of calcium carbonate products from a calcitic marble extracted from the nearby Tatlock quarry in Darling Township. Annual production is 227,000 tonnes from reserves of over 4.5 million tonnes.

Highwood Resources is developing a new production level at the Canada Talc mine near Madoc. Upgrading of its plant and milling facilities near Marmora is also underway. The company is actively investigating other industrial mineral properties in the area.

Regis Resources has outlined a new zone of unconsolidated vermiculite mineral in Cavendish Township. Diamond drilling to confirm the depth extent of the weathered material was completed. A feasibility study is being completed.

Diamond Lake Minerals Inc. has defined a significant new graphite deposit in Bedford Township, north of Kingston. Work to date includes stripping, trenching, pneumatic and diamond drilling, bulk sampling, bench testing, reserve calculations and market research. Additional claims were staked in the vicinity of the deposit this year.

Senator Stone successfully completed a bulk sample on its property in Sheffield Township. Senator also continues to evaluate the former Omega Marble property in Darling Township with wire saws and quarry bars.

For further information concerning mining and exploration activity in Ontario, please visit the web site www.gov.on.ca/MNDM.

Ontario Exploration Expenditures (Cdn$ millions) (Figures include field and related overhead costs)

1996 1997 1998 1999p 2000f
General exploration 156.9 134.0 76.8 51.3 67.4
Mine site exploration 38.0 49.7 38.0 33.7 34.2
Mine site development 279.3 253.8 287.6 223.8 211.8
Total exploration 474.2 437.5 402.4 308.8 313.4 and development

Source: Natural Resources Canada

p Preliminary; fForecast


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