Alberta mineral exploration highlights
By John Jamieson, Roy Eccles and Tanya Matveeva, Alberta Geological Survey
Mineral exploration activity in Alberta in 2007 has been focused mainly on
the search for diamonds and uranium. To date, numerous kimberlite pipes have
been discovered in the province and the elevated price of uranium has
increased exploration activity in the Athabasca basin and southern Alberta.
Exploration activity has also been active for magnetite, iron and other base
metals. Several companies are bringing their properties to advanced stages of
Buffalo Head Hills kimberlite field
The Buffalo Head Hills kimberlite field consists of 38 kimberlitic occurrences
discovered between 1997 and 2003 by Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. In June
2007, Diamondex Resources Ltd. and Shore Gold Inc., with Diamondex
appointed operator, announced the acquisition of the interest of Ashton Mining
of Canada Inc. (now Stornoway Diamond Corporation) in the Buffalo Hills
Project, located in north central Alberta, for a total consideration of $17.5
Diamondex recently announced they had reached an agreement with the
Loon River First Nation to explore for diamonds on Loon River First Nation
reserve lands. There has been no mention of what Diamondex intends to do
with a recent February 2007 bulk samples from the K6, K14 and K91 kimberlites
completed by Ashton/Stornoway. Kimberlite K14
initially yielded 12 cpht from a 479 tonne bulk
sample and K91 yielded 13 cpht from a 36 tonne
Grizzly Diamonds Ltd., who currently holds
diamond properties in the Buffalo Head Hills, Birch
Mountains and Pelican Mountain areas of Alberta that total over three million
acres, ground-checked priority anomalies identified from an airborne
geophysical survey and identified two high priority drill targets on its Buffalo
Head Hills Grand Cub Aidan property.
Finally, Great Western Diamond Corp. acquired the Utikuma West and
Peerless Lake properties, in which they collected 134 and 90 till samples,
respectively. They base their interest in the area on the proximity to the
diamondiferous Buffalo Head Hills field, government kimberlite-indicator
mineral surveys that reported G9 garnet, eclogitic garnet and olivine on the
property and the presence of drillable geophysical targets with signatures
similar to that shown by previously drilled kimberlites in the main part of the
Buffalo Head Hills field.
Birch Mountains kimberlite field
In northeastern Alberta, the Birch Mountain Kimberlite Field consists of
nine kimberlites discovered by Kennecott Canada Exploration Inc.and New Blue
Ribbon Resources Inc. between 1998 and 2002. During January and February,
2007, Grizzly Diamonds Ltd. collected a 10.2 tonne mini-bulk sample from the
Legend Kimberlite (Birch Mountains field) via thirteen drill holes. During May
2007, the sample was processed at the De Beers Canada dense media
separation plant facility in Grande Prairie, Alberta. In
total, three diamonds were recovered from 168.35
kilograms of drill core, including a colourless, twinned
octahedron (2.1 mm x 1.58 mm x 1.46 mm).These results
correlate with historic results reported by Kennecott
In the Calling Lake-Pelican Mountains area of northeast-central Alberta,
Grizzly Diamonds Ltd. and partner Stornoway Diamond Corporation have
completed anomaly ground checks on the Call of the Wild Diamond
Property. Of the 47 priority magnetic targets selected for follow-up
exploration from airborne magnetic data, 19 remain priority for ground
geophysical surveying and sampling. In addition, Great Western Diamond
Corp. collected 158 till samples on its LaBiche and Calling Card properties,
located 10 kilometres northeast and 40 kilometres northwest of Calling
In the Peace River-Buffalo Head Hills area, Star Uranium Corp. reported
microprobe results from 29 till and stream sediment samples are dominated by
kimberlitic olivine grains of similar geochemistry to those associated with the
Buffalo Head Hills kimberlite bodies located 70 kilometres to the northeast.
Microprobe analysis also confirms the presence of numerous G9 and rare G10
garnet. They report that the indicator-mineral anomalies appear to define a
geographically restricted area of at least two populations and are directly down
ice of a cluster of geophysical targets; future drilling is anticipated on the
anomaly clusters and other priority targets.
Whiskey Gap property — International Ranger Corp. reported results of a
water sampling program and drilling program. A total of 26 samples from
water wells were collected and assayed for radon, uranium and sulphate.
Based on the location of radon anomalies (up to 5,000 picocuries/l or 185
BQ/L), two drilling programs were planned and carried out. A total of 40 drill
holes (12 diamond – NQ diameter, 28 – Reverse Circulation) were drilled in
four target areas, to a maximum depth of 150 metres. The strongest
radioactivity (up to 640 API units) and the best uranium mineralization was
encountered during diamond drilling program on Thomson Ranch. Here, a
one-foot sample returned 132 ppm uranium. Uranium anomalies were
associated with anomalous values in copper, arsenic, molybdenum and
selenium. Based on the drilling results, the company plans to continue drilling
in neighbouring areas in September 2007.
Alberta Sun Project — Firestone Ventures and Black Hawk Exploration
report a 2,384 line kilometre electromagnetic and magnetic airborne survey
over four priority areas near Fort McLeod. TerraNotes Ltd. of Edmonton is
carrying out initial analysis of the survey, to be followed by modelling of the
dataset, which should delineate high-priority areas for drilling.
Rea Uranium Project — Red Dragon Resources drilled 1,903 metres in eight
relatively shallow high priority targets in 2007.The project covers 446,330 acres
and surrounds AREVA’s Maybelle River uranium deposit.
Alberta Project — CanAlaska Uranium Ltd. completed a preliminary marine
seismic survey of all of the Alberta Project area (80 kilometres by 20 kilometres).
The survey crews have also completed detailed shallow single-channel seismic
surveys in the broad area surrounding the uranium mineralization at Stewart
Island, and the crews identified a series of major structural breaks and offsets in
this area. Deep seismic survey data is now being collected to finalize winter drill
targets. Data from two MEGATEM EM airborne surveys show multiple
geophysical features that appear anomalous to surrounding data sets.
Bonny Fault Uranium property — North American Gem Inc. will investigate
zones of historic, high grade surface uranium mineralization,as well as 41 of the
highest priority airborne radiometric uranium targets. To date, 276 linear and
point-source uranium anomalies have been identified on the Terraquest
airborne geophysical block. Many of these uranium anomalies are coincident
with either foliation-parallel or major cross-cutting structures. Approximately
15 per cent have been categorized as very high priority targets, characterized
by the highest uranium responses coincident with apparent structural controls.
These targets will include ten targets that are located on or near the Bonny
Fault or sub-parallel faults, which may have been conduits for uranium-bearing
fluids from the now eroded Athabasca sandstones that once overlay the area.
Athabasca South Shore property — Fission Energy Corp. reports that
several correlations of magnetic and electromagnetic data were found, along
with several basement hosted conductors identified throughout the property.
Several potential kimberlite targets were also identified from the GEOTEM
survey. Follow-up ground work over targets identified from the airborne
surveys was completed during the first few months of 2007. Previous historic
exploration includes drill holes that encountered significant mineralization;
measured uranium was 108 ppm U3O8 over a short interval. Several other
holes encountered 20 to 40 ppm U3O8 over short intervals as well.
In April, 2007, General Properties Ltd. completed the acquisition of Clear
Hills Iron Ltd. and their 213,206 hectares of land with 32 metallic and industrial
mineral permits in the Clear Hills area of northwestern Alberta. The company
conducted a limited drilling and sampling program on the North Rambling
Creek Prospect. Results include 15 feet of core, grading 28.74% Fe2O3 and 26.8
feet grading 32.8% Fe2O3. Reconnaissance surface sampling yielded samples
that assayed at 44.5% and 46.8 % Fe2O3. The total iron reserves within the Clear
Hills are estimated at over one billion tons grading at 32 to 35% Fe. First Coal
Corporation has also been actively exploring.
In southwestern Alberta, Micrex Development Corp. continues the
development of its Burmis Magnetite project. Currently, an application is
being prepared for a 20,000 tons per year operation, over the first two years,
followed by 40,000 tons per year for the remainder of the mine life, which is
expected to be ten years. The ore contains 30 to 60% magnetite. Additional
hydrothermal-sourced titanium and zirconium minerals may be present in
economic quantities as well. The permitting process for the Burmis quarry is
ongoing, including discussions with the local communities. Exploration
continues in the areas surrounding the Burmis property for other
hydrothermal occurrences and Micrex’s current land holdings in the area is in
excess of 7,500 hectares.
Lead and zinc
Star Uranium Corp. has reached an agreement with Ivany Mining Inc.,
whereby Ivany Mining will earn 100 per cent interest in Star Uranium’s Zama
Lake property, in northwest Alberta. This agreement is in response to Star
Uranium’s aim of becoming a pure uranium company. The Zama Lake
property was initially developed as a kimberlite prospect. However, bulk till
sampling by the GSC (Open File 5121) revealed anomalous concentrations of
sphalerite and galena grains within the coarse sand fraction. The
concentration of sphalerite grains is the highest ever detected in an
exploration till sample (>1,000 grains in a 20 kilogram sample) and the
mineral grain size, compaction and composition of the till suggest that the
source may be within the 93,242 hectare property. The discovery indicates
the potential for Mississippi-Valley Type lead-zinc mineralization, similar to
the world-class Pine Point deposit, located 330 kilometres northeast in the
Northwest Territories. This mineralization was mined by Cominco between
1964 and 1998 and is still an area of active exploration.
The diamond rights to the Zama Lake property will be retained by Star
Uranium and included with the company’s other diamond properties in a
proposed new company, Star Diamond Corp.
Titanium and zirconium
Titanium Corporation is continuing its development of recovery of titanium
and zirconium minerals from oil sands operations in the Fort McMurray area of
northeast Alberta. The oil sands may contain the largest deposit of titanium
and zirconium minerals in the world. Titanium Corp is currently operating a
pilot research facility and is testing onsite with portable processing facilities.
Titanium Corp is also developing technologies to recover a portion of
hydrocarbons from oil sands tailings.