Manitoba exploration and development highlights, 2002
Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in Manitoba have remained steady in 2002 and are expected to be comparable or slightly higher than the preliminary estimate of $28.3 million spent in 2001.
In 2002, Manitoba introduced a new mineral exploration tax credit that offers a 10% non-refundable tax credit to Manitobans who invest in flow-through shares to finance an exploration project in the province. In addition, Manitoba renewed two financial assistance programs that will offer over $7.5 million in funding over the next three years to help stimulate exploration activity.
Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Co., Ltd. continued to advance the 777 Project in Flin Flon [see CMJ June 2002]. At $400 million, this is the largest single capital investment in the company’s history. The 777 Project comprises six components. Some of the subprojects already completed include expansion of the zinc pressure leach plant and construction of a new zinc cellhouse (2001); environmental upgrades to the copper smelter (2000); and the opening of the new Chisel North mine in Snow Lake (2000). Sinking of the 1,530-m shaft at the new 777 mine in Flin Flon was completed in July 2002. Lateral development will take place next year with limited production expected by late 2003.
In Thompson, Inco Ltd. is expected to complete the construction phase of the Birchtree deepening project by the end of 2002 [see CMJ April 2002]. At that time ore production will be possible from deeper levels of the mine. By late 2003, Birchtree is expected to reach full daily production of 3,175 tonnes, nearly double the capacity prior to the deepening. The project will access proven reserves of 13.6 million tonnes of 1.79% nickel.
International Curator Resources Ltd. and Rare Earth Metals Corp. conducted follow-up drilling at their Assean Lake gold property northwest of Thompson. In 2001, drilling intersected the Hunt zone that has since been defined over a 700-m strike length and to a depth of 150 m in 24 holes. The Hunt zone has returned grades of up to 8.19 g/t gold over 7.1 m. Drilling of geophysical and mobile metal ion (MMI) anomalies this year intersected new gold zones and encouraging nickel grades on the eastern portion of the property.
In early 2002, Bema Gold Corp. optioned the Monument Bay gold property near the Ontario border from Wolfden Resources Inc. Bema completed a successful winter drill program, further defining the high-grade Twin B zone and upgrading the initial inferred resource to 500,600 tonnes grading 18.3 g/t gold. A summer mapping and sampling program over the 25-km-long property was to be followed by a fall drill program. Drilling will focus on increasing the resource base of the Twin B zone as well as further delineating two other high-grade zones on the property.
Wildcat Exploration Ltd. completed a 5,000-m drill program on their extensive holdings in the Bissett camp in southeastern Manitoba. Drilling focussed on the past-producing Poundmaker property, where previous drilling intersected 2.84 m of 9.0 g/t gold.
Hudson Bay Exploration continued ground followup work testing Spectrem airborne targets in the Flin Flon-Snow Lake Belt as well as beneath the Paleozoic in the Hargrave Lake-Moose Lake area.
Inco Exploration completed an extensive program of geophysical surveys and drilling on high priority targets in the Thompson Nickel Belt to discover new mineralization near current mines or previously-known deposits.
Donner Minerals Ltd. and Falconbridge Ltd. reached an agreement to explore Falconbridge’s Stephens Lake property near Gillam. The property covers what Falconbridge interprets to be an extension of the Thompson Nickel Belt. The partners completed a large GEOTEM airborne survey.
Aur Resources Inc. conducted drilling at their Counsell Lake property near Lynn Lake.
Both junior and senior diamond explorers continued to acquire prospective ground in the Knee-Oxford lakes and Gillam areas. Airborne and ground geophysics and till sampling were conducted by companies such as Valerie Gold Resources Ltd., BHP Billiton/Dunsmuir Ventures, Iriana Resources Corp., Kennecott Canada Exploration Inc. and De Beers Canada Corp. Valerie Gold completed drilling at their Crystal property east of Gillam.
Dave Prouse is the resident geologist, Flin Flon with Manitoba Industry, Trade and Mines, Manitoba Geological Survey.