Slam Exploration’s (TSXV: SXL) CEO Mike Taylor, a veteran geologist, had more than a hunch that there should be other gold deposits near Saint Quentin, NB, after local prospector Tim Lavoie discovered a gold project there in mid-2011.
This led Taylor and his team on their own prospecting expedition earlier last year, where they discovered the high grade gold Maisie zone in a relatively underexplored area, some 30 km north of the Lavoie discovery. The Maisie zone is now part of Slam’s flagship Menneval property, covering eight contiguous claims over 120 km2.
Taylor explains what triggered the Maisie discovery was the work and an inkling that followed after Slam optioned into Lavoie’s NW Gold discovery in November 2011. “We actually optioned his property at the time and did some work around there and we noticed there was a geochemical association there. And then subsequent to that I did some research and [data] compilation in the region over there, and I noticed a couple of some other anomalous areas and staked them in the winter.”
Taylor originally staked 100 claim units after perusing the provincial database for soil samples in the area. “I thought ‘gee, we have [Lavoie’s] brand new gold discovery in an area that has not been looked at before.’ It’s a big area, it has got regional structure, and it’s very good for gold … I thought there should be a system there that is generating more than one gold project.”
In April 2012, Taylor took his wife Georgina and dog Maisie to check the claims that he had staked earlier in the winter. “It was actually on Good Friday just as spring was starting. We went over there on a one-day prospecting trip and found the boulders on the side of the road,” he recalls. “At that time there was still snow in the bush in New Brunswick, and so really the only place there was any rock to look at was along the edge of the road where the sun had been hitting the banks.”
Taylor admits the boulders that he initially saw “weren’t really great” as they lacked visible gold. Still he took some samples and sent them to a laboratory. A few months later, he returned to that area with the company’s geologist John Creamer and prospector Bryan Dempsey and found three angular quartz boulders within 10 metres of the first sighting, with visible gold in them. Grab samples from those boulders later returned between 5.16 and 118.00 g/t Au, proving his hunch.
Subsequently, Slam’s geologists staked the outlying claims in the area and carried out additional prospecting along with a trenching and drill program. The trenching ultimately traced those boulders to a gold bearing quartz vein in bedrock, Taylor says. Creamer named the vein discovery “Maisie zone” after Taylor’s four-legged companion.
“It was a spectacular discovery for us,” Taylor recalls, adding results from the vein have been surpassing the company’s expectations.
Through trenching, Slam was able to trace the Maisie vein system over a strike length of 700 metres and found other potential gold occurrences within that strike length. Further prospecting a few months later resulted in the company finding zone 9, located 700 metres south of Maisie.
Intrigued by the project’s potential, the New Brunswick-based junior kicked off the first phase of its 64-hole diamond drill program in late November. It funded that program with nearly $600,000 it had raised in private placements during November and December 2012. By the end of that year, it had punched 47 shallow holes to test the Maisie vein system to a depth of 30 metres. Liking the initial gold assays, the company chose to focus its efforts and resources on the Menneval property and dropped its option agreement on Lavoie’s NW Gold project.
Regardless, Taylor and Lavoie both won the prospector of the year award at the New Brunswick, Exploration, Mining & Petroleum 2012 conference. Taylor was recognized for the Maisie discovery, 15 km northeast of Kedgwick, and Lavoie for the NW Gold project, 10 km east of Saint Quentin. Both projects are 30 km apart, suggesting a potential new gold district in the relatively underexplored area.
In early 2013, Slam drilled another 17 holes on the Maisie zone. It reported 15 of those holes hit quartz veins varying in thickness from 0.1 to 4.8 metres. Some notable hits from the second phase of drilling included 22.97 g/t Au over 1.9 metres and 121.00 g/t Au over a third of a metre. The drilling extended the Maisie gold vein along a 700-metre strike length and over a vertical depth of 30 metres. The explorer also drilled eight holes into zone 9. Taylor says those holes hit gold bearing veins to a depth of 80 metres, but Maisie had higher grades.
In March Slam sent a 27 kg sample from the Maisie zone to a lab in Fredericton, NB, to test the zone’s metallurgy. Results indicated the gold in that vein occurred as “free particles” that could be easily separated through conventional gravity methods. Taylor says the Maisie vein has similar characteristic as the veins found in the famous California mother lode district. Notably these veins pinch and swell and create ore shoots and extend over a kilometre in depth, supporting a long mining life.
In July, the explorer closed a $145,000 private placement to continue working on Maisie. It launched a second trenching program in September primarily to define the scope and grade of the Maisie vein at surface. From the 29 samples taken from the vein the company found visible gold in 13 of them.
Looking ahead, the junior hopes to conduct a 2,000 tonne bulk sample next summer before calculating an open pit resource. The company notes the bulk sample will be sent for laboratory and mill testing to help confirm the grades and provide additional structural information. “It will also tell us about the [mining] process and how much value we can derive from [Maisie],” Taylor says.
To help reach those goals, Slam announced a $500,000 private placement in late November. Taylor says the financing should close shortly and estimates if all the chips fall into place Maisie could be in production as early as 2015.
He highlights the property is easily accessible and on a roadside and predicts it will be relatively cheap and simple to extract the gold. “The Maisie zone is very exciting, not just because of the location,” says Taylor. “We haven’t drilled it deep yet but there’s a huge potential at depth and by expanding it outwards. So we are optimistic about it. It’s in our backyard so that adds another level of excitement to it.”
He further explains the Menneval project is in an area that was not considered, at least by Slam’s geologists, to have gold potential mainly because New Brunswick was thought to be more of a base metal area, Taylor says. “But we’ve already changed our thinking on that and we expect to change other people’s.”
Elsewhere in New Brunswick, Slam owns the Nepisiguit and Nash Creek silver-base metal deposits, which it’s aiming to partner off. In Ontario, it holds the Reserve Creek gold project.
The junior recently closed at 5¢ per share and has a market capitalization of $1.3 million and roughly 26 million shares outstanding.
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