Upturn in New foundland and Labrador Exploration
In the first four months of 2002, 14,506 claims were staked, comparable to the 15,665 staked for the whole of 2001. Exploration expenditures for 2001 were about $28 million. Much of the staking activity and interest has been for gold, particularly in the Botwood Basin of north-central Newfoundland.
On recognizing a “Carlin-type” model for gold in central Newfoundland, Altius Minerals Corp. staked 887 claims along the east side of the Botwood Basin in October 2001, and on December 12 announced an earn-in joint venture with Barrick Gold Corp.
In February 2002, Rubicon Minerals Corp. acquired options on 500 claims near Gander and 740 claims near Botwood. Staking continued throughout March and into April, at a heated pace, in a belt extending from Gander Bay in the north to Bay d’Espoir in the south. The most active claim-stakers include: Rubicon (2,757 claims), Altius (898 claims), Moydow Mines Intl. Inc. (570 claims), Kevin Keats and associates (701 claims), South Coast Ventures Inc. (581 claims, now optioned to Grayd Resource Corp.) and Quest Inc. and associates (415 claims).
Most recently, Candente Resources Corp. optioned the Linear gold property near Glenwood (an area of visible gold showings and assays from float of up to 1,744 g/tonne Au) from the KriASK Syndicate, and Cornerstone Resources Inc. acquired the 356-claim True Grit – Golden Grit property near Bay d’Espoir.
On December 6, 2001, base- metal exploration was given a boost when Aur Resources announced agreements to purchase the Duck Pond property from Thundermin Resources Inc. and Queenston Mining Inc. The project was given environmental approval on January 31, and the sale was completed on March 27, 2002. Proven and probable reserves consist of 5.2 million tonnes grading 5.8% Zn, 3.3% Cu, 0.9% Pb, 59 g/t Ag and 0.8 g/t Au.
Joint venture partners Noranda Inc. and Cornerstone Resources Inc. conducted an exploration program on their Red Cliff property in eastern Newfoundland for volcanic red-bed and stratiform copper mineralization in 2001, as did Cornerstone at its Princess group of properties.
In the Buchans-Roberts Arm belt in west-central Newfoundland, base-metal exploration is led by Buchans River Ltd., Celtic and Kelmet Resources Ltd. around Red Indian Lake; by Hudson Bay Exploration & Development Co. Ltd. on its Green Bay property; and by Altius and joint-venture partner Inmet Mining Corp. at Pilley’s Island.
In November 2001, Altius announced an agreement to acquire Rambler North from former copper producer Ming Minerals Inc., and in February, John Lee Carroll staked 347 claims in the surrounding area.
In Labrador, nickel, platinum-palladium and iron ore are the main targets.
On January 15, 2002, Falconbridge Ltd. announced a further joint venture with SVB Nickel Company Ltd.’s majority stakeholder Donner Minerals Ltd., to explore for nickel throughout much of northern Labrador. This is in addition to a September 2001 agreement to earn 50% of the South Voisey’s package from a consortium headed by SVB, by spending $23 million.
Nickel is also being targeted by Ram Exploration Ltd. in central Labrador (800 claims) and Hudson Bay in northernmost Labrador (351 claims).
In September 2001, Voisey’s Bay Nickel Co. Ltd. closed its exploration camp at Voisey’s Bay, where resources (all categories) consist of 141 million tonnes grading 1.24% Ni and 0.61% Cu.
G.A.G. Nunn is the exploration monitor and J.P. Hinchey is the manager, Mineral Rights, Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Mines & Energy, St. John’s, Nfld.