DOING SOME DIGGING – A chat with old friends

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with two men I've known for decades, Warren Holmes and Brian Robertson. Th...
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with two men I've known for decades, Warren Holmes and Brian Robertson. They are, respectively, the CEO and president of Toronto-based NUINSCO RESOURCES. Added to the conference call was VP exploration Paul Jones, and I have a new acquaintance whom I hope I will know for years to come.

I've known Warren Holmes for 20 years from his days at FALCONBRIDGE when I was visiting the mines and smelter in Sudbury. We remained in contact through the annual questionnaire for CMJ's MINING SOURCEBOOK and renewed our acquaintance at various industry meetings.

Brian Robertson was superintendent of the Dome gold mine when he conducted my third underground tour in 1979. (Brian, I apologize for the unflattering picture of you that we published.) The mine made a lasting impression and remains my favourite Canadian gold producer to this day. I followed Brian's career after he left the Dome; his name popped up at Canadian mines from coast to coast and in South Africa.

We talked last week of Nuinsco's three most important exploration projectsthe Minago nickel project near Thompson, Manitoba; the Berta copper-gold project in Turkey; and the Diabase Peninsula uranium project in northern Saskatchewan.

Metallurgical testing has been done on material from the 100%-owned Minago sulphide deposit, making this Nuinsco's most advanced project. There is no full feasibility study for the property, but scoping studies have been done in the past. Depending on the cutoff grade the deposit could contain 10 million tonnes of 1.2% Ni or 60 million tonnes of 0.65% Ni. The project has distinct advantages because it is in Manitoba (a province that encourages mining), it is easily accessible, and it has access to established infrastructure. Nuinsco would consider taking on a partner for development, and it wouldn't necessarily be the most obvious, its neighbour INCO. Several other companies including one from China have expressed interest.

Nuinsco is earning a 50% interest in the Berta project, which was staked by NORANDA (now Falconbridge). Sampling and mapping results are in, and a belt of alteration containing 15 km of rock has been outlined. Nuinsco expects to begin a 1,000-m diamond drilling program on July 20. Interestingly, the creation of the copper mineralization appears to predate the deposition of gold. Contracting, drilling and mining services are available locally because the country has a history of mining that dates back to the Roman occupation.

It is early days yet on the Diabase Peninsula project. Some work was done on the claims by other companies in the 1980s, but the project is still very prospective. Nuinsco did a land survey and outlined a 5-km-long anomaly. The company has taken on a partner, TREND MINING of Denver, to conduct geochemical sampling and maybe an airborne survey. The partners know that the logistics and expense of diamond drilling at this remote site will not be trivial.

My colleagues painted a picture of an exploration company focused on exciting properties and the right commodities, but that is not why they like working at Nuinsco. To a man, they said the great people in the company make their jobs satisfying. Knowing Warren, Brian and now Paul, I have to agree.

(Disclaimer: I do not now and never have owned Nuinsco stock. -M.S.)


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