2002 Nunavut- “The mineralization remains open to the north” !
In Canada’s North, Nunavut has been attracting a diversity of exploration activity. Gold, base metals, PGEs and diamonds are all being intersected in drill holes and, as they say, “the mineralization remains open to the North”!
Two steadfast base metal producers shut down in September of 2002. Teck Cominco’s Polaris mine depleted the orebody after 20 years of mining. A total of 2.6 million tonnes of zinc and 666,000 tonnes of lead in concentrates were produced. Breakwater Resources’ Nanisivik mine closed after 25 years of production, due to low metal prices. This past year the mine produced 516,544 tonnes of ore at a grade of 10.0% zinc and 42 g/t silver.
At this time, Echo Bay Mines Ltd.’s Lupin mine is the only operating mine in Nunavut. It produces gold from iron formation and is currently focussed on developing new zones. The mineable reserve and resource stands at 470,000 ounces of gold, which should keep the mine humming for 3.5 years.
Many advanced exploration projects, in all corners of the territory, attest to the high economic mineral potential of Nunavut. The ease of assembling very large ground positions in Nunavut over favourable terrain has created several exciting plays.
The Kitikmeot (western Arctic) continues to be a very busy district. Miramar Mining Corp.’s Hope Bay project exemplifies the theme. In the Madrid area, the Deformation Zone hosting gold mineralization has been traced for at least 11 km. At Miramar’s Doris Hinge project, an updated mine plan revealed 458,200 tonnes of ore grading 22 g/t Au for a total of 323,900 ounces of gold. A feasibility study is currently underway, and the federal regulatory process for new mines has begun.
Wolfden Resources Inc. has been active at its High Lake copper, zinc, gold and silver project. Initial results from recent drilling are highlighted by an intersection from hole HLW-02-17 of 5.6% Cu and 47.5 g/t Ag over 17.45 m. Combined historical resources for the three zones of the deposit, as outlined in 1993, are 5.3 million tonnes grading 4.05% Cu, 2.36% Zn, 1.76 g/t Au and 31.73 g/t Ag.
In the central part of the Arctic (the Kivalliq), Cumberland Resources Ltd. has entered into the feasibility stage with its Meadowbank gold project. The preliminary assessment completed earlier in 2002 outlined a total estimated resource for five deposits. The measured and indicated resources are 7,775,000 tonnes grading 5.79 g/t Au, with inferred resources of 10,937,000 tonnes grading 4.44 g/t Au. Extensive drilling this summer has greatly added to resources at the Vault Deposit (which is still open), placed the PDF occurrence into a deposit status, and discovered a new Connector Zone.
Starfield Resources continued an aggressive drill campaign on its Ferguson Lake project. The resource stands at 60.1 million tonnes grading 0.93% Cu, 0.59% Ni and 1.51 g/t combined Pd and Pt. Recent drilling continues to add to this figure with results like drill hole FL-02-135, which cut 1.1 m averaging 13.96 g/t Pt and 19.13 g/t Pd.
In the Qikiqtani District (eastern Arctic), diamond exploration is the main activity in 2002. Twin Mining Corp.’s Jackson Inlet project reported on drill results from the Cargo 1 kimberlite. From a sample of 924.72 kg, a total of 180 microdiamonds and 43 macrodiamonds (>0.5 mm in one dimension) were recovered. At the Cargo 2 location kimberlitic float has been discovered.
BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc. explored its Piling project, looking for Ag-Pb-Zn and Au. An extensive airborne geophysical program was followed up by target mapping, prospecting and extensive sampling. One target was covered with a 12-km ground gravity survey.
The federal government’s district geologists are working on research projects. Rob Carpenter is studying the stratigraphy and structural setting of the Doris Hinge gold deposit. Jurate Gertzbein (the author) is analyzing any potential role played by a syenite body proximal to the Ferguson Lake Ni-Cu-PGE deposit. And Paul Gertzbein is investigating the coloured gemstone potential of south Baffin Island. The Canada-Nunavut Geoscience office is studying the Borden Basin base metal potential. The territorial government continues to support popular prospecting grants and training. NTI is m apping IOL parcels west of Bathurst Inlet.
The potential for significant economic mineral discoveries remains huge in Nunavut. If you’re wondering where the big orebodies are trending, set your compass North to Nunavut!
Jurate Gertzbein is district geologist, Indian Affairs & Northern Development in Iqaluit, Nunavut