By Dave Prouse, resident geologist, Manitoba Science, Technology, Energy and Mines, Manitoba Geological Survey
Sustained high metal prices continued to fuel exploration spending in
Manitoba in 2007. Exploration and deposit appraisal spending intentions, as
reported by Natural Resources Canada in March 2007, are estimated at $49.5
million, up slightly from the $46.9 million spent in 2006.
Manitoba’s proven potential to host world-class nickel-sulphide deposits
has attracted a number of junior companies that are conducting feasibilityrelated
work on previously discovered deposits and former producers.
The most advanced project is that of Crowflight Minerals at the Bucko Lake
deposit near Wabowden, south of Thompson. A positive bankable feasibility
study was completed in February indicating Bucko has the
potential to deliver a 118 per cent internal rate of return
with a US$8.00 per pound nickel price. The study used a
figure of 1.8 million tonnes of measured and indicated
resources grading 2.1% nickel. This figure was
subsequently upgraded to 2.5 million tonnes of measured
and indicated resources of 2.01% nickel. Construction of
surface infrastructure and rehabilitation of the old shaft
proceeded throughout 2007. The capital cost of project
development to production is estimated at $64 million.
Crowflight plans to have Bucko in production by the
second quarter of 2008, at a rate of 1,000 tonnes per day.
In regional exploration, Crowflight conducted drilling to further define two
2006 nickel discoveries, the Apex and the M11A North zone.
Approximately $100 million in capital spending was planned for 2007 at
CVRD Inco’s Manitoba operations. Capital projects consist of smelter
modernization including a new dust-capturing system, continued mine
development and other work throughout the mines and processing plants. In
October, CVRD Inco announced intentions to work towards extending the life of
its existing Thompson facilities to 2027 and beyond. The company continues to
look at ways to develop new ore bodies and upgrade their surface plants.
Ongoing drilling by CVRD Inco near its Thompson mines has demonstrated
significant potential for the open pit mining of two new deposits, the
Thompson 1-C Surface zone and the 1-D Surface zone.Drilling projects to locate
new zones of nickel mineralization are also returning encouraging results at
depth at both the Thompson and Birchtree mines.
Victory Nickel completed a 13,000 metre drill program at their Minago property
north of Grand Rapids.Drill results from the program are being used to upgrade the
resource estimate and to provide samples for metallurgical testing and
geotechnical data.One of the better holes from the program returned 36 metres of
1.4% nickel.Overall drill results were reported to support past work on the property.
Wardrop Engineering is in the process of conducting a bankable feasibility study
which is due for completion in early 2008. The Minago deposit hosts NI 43-101
compliant measured and indicated resources of 49.1 million tonnes of
Victory Nickel also completed a 30-hole drill program to expand resources
at the Mel deposit north of Thompson. Victory has completed necessary
expenditures to earn 100 per cent interest in Mel from CVRD Inco. Mel has a NI
43-101 compliant indicated resource of 4.3 million tonnes of 0.88% nickel.
In Lynn Lake, Independent Nickel commenced a 20,000 metre drill program
at the past-producing Lynn Lake nickel mine, with the objective of testing four
zones. In June, the company announced that drilling of the Upper G target
intersected an unexpected zone of mineralization above the target area,
returning 11.9 metres of 0.7% nickel and 0.4% copper. A prefeasibility study
was commissioned to determine the technical and capital requirements
necessary to open the former nessessary producer.
VMS Ventures acquired a large ground position in the Flin Flon–Snow Lake
Belt during the last two years.VMS completed a five-hole summer drill program
on three anomalies outlined by airborne geophysics and geochemical surveys
at their Reed Lake property. In October, the company announced that assays
from the second hole returned 43.05 metres of 4.38% copper, 1.56% zinc plus
precious metals. Holes 1 and 3, on the same VTEM target, also returned
encouraging base metal values. VMS was planning to commence a secondphase
drill program in early November to further define the new discovery.
HudBay Minerals boosted their 2007 exploration budget to $45.2 million.This
includes $8.5 million for the Bur copper-zinc deposit east of Snow Lake,where the
company is developing a decline to take a 10,000 tonne bulk sample and conduct
a feasibility study. A production decision for Bur is expected in late 2007.
At their Lalor Lake property southwest of Snow Lake, HudBay intersected a
new zone of high-grade zinc mineralization. The initial drillhole intersected
45.13 metres of 7.62% zinc and 0.19% copper along with significant precious
metal values. Drilling with four machines continued in the fall and is returning
very encouraging results. Other 2007 drill programs focused on testing, both
geophysical anomalies and structural re-interpretations of known deposits to
discover new ore bodies, within and around operating mines. HudBay also
signed option agreements on some of their Flin Flon–Snow Lake area
properties with Rockcliff Resources and VMS Ventures, further leveraging their
Murgor Resources embarked on an aggressive drill program in January on
properties optioned from HudBay Minerals in 2006. Three properties, Hudvam,
Wim and Snow-H, are in the Manitoba portion of the Flin Flon–Snow Lake Belt.
Hudvam and Wim contain partially delineated copper-zinc deposits for which
Murgor completed NI 43-101 compliant resource estimates early in 2007. Winter
drilling encompassing 20 holes was completed at
Hudvam and returned encouraging results. Additional
drilling is planned for 2008, leading up to a feasibility
study. Inferred resources at Hudvam stand at 1.19
million tonnes of 1.17% copper, 1.71% zinc and 2.94
grams per tonne gold. Initial drilling of 10 holes at Wim
commenced in August to verify historical data. A more
extensive drilling program to boost the resource base is planned for early 2008.
Wim contains an inferred resource of 2.06 million tonnes of 1.92% copper,0.26%
zinc and 1.65 grams per tonne gold.
Halo Resources was conducting an extensive 30,000 metre drilling
campaign on their large Sherridon property northeast of Flin Flon.The property
contains several known near-surface deposits and mineralized zones, including
the past-producing Sherritt Gordon ore body.Halo conducted drilling on four of
the six known deposits during 2007 including Park Lake, Bob Lake, Jungle Lake
and Cold Lake. Initial drill programs are being conducted to confirm historical
results and to explore for extensions to known deposits. Drilling has been
successful in confirming massive sulphide mineralization and expanding the
resource base. Additional drilling is planned for 2008 to help advance projects
to compliant resource calculations.
Rockcliff Resources signed option agreements to acquire 100 per cent
interest in seven property packages from HudBay Minerals. The properties are
located within the Snow Lake area and contain the Rail, Reed, Kof and Sylvia
copper-zinc deposits as well as other prospective targets. Rockcliff later
acquired three exploration licences in the Snow Lake area and staked
additional claims adjacent to the Rail Lake property. A 3,000 metre drill
program commenced in October to explore for possible extensions of the Rail
Callinan Mines and partner Bell Resources completed a VTEM airborne
survey and drilled high-priority targets at their Fox River nickel property east of
Gillam. Drilling examined seven separate conductive targets out of a total of 20
on the large, remote property. Drillholes intersected mafic and ultramafic
intrusive rocks containing sulphide-mineralized zones of varying thickness.
Pure Nickel reached an agreement with Xstrata Nickel to acquire 100 per
cent interest in two former Falconbridge nickel properties, the William Lake
project and the past-producing Manibridge mine near Wabowden. Pure Nickel
also signed an option/joint venture agreement to acquire 50 per cent interest
in Xstrata’s Fox River project in northeastern Manitoba. A 10-hole drill program
at the Fox property was completed and returned assay values of up 2.38%
copper and 0.43% nickel.
In southeastern Manitoba, a scoping study released in January on Mustang
Minerals’ Maskwa nickel deposit increased the total mineral resource to over 9
million tonnes enabling a nine-year mine life with initial capital costs estimated
at $64.5 million.Mustang subsequently embarked on a 30-hole drill program to
upgrade the reserve figure, explore for additional mineralization and assist
with the preparation of a prefeasibility study. This study is in progress, with a
revised mine plan that will include an initial open pit lasting six years followed
by an estimated two-year underground operation. Targeted production is
expected to be one million tonnes of ore per year, yielding 10 million tonnes of
nickel in concentrate.
Mustang has a second nickel-copper open-pit resource at the M2 zone on
the Mayville property located 35 kilometres from the Maskwa deposit. A
mineral resource estimate released in January concluded that M2 contains
indicated resources of 21.9 million tonnes of 0.20% nickel and 0.48%
copper. Mustang is reviewing various methods in an effort to
enhance the mineral potential of the M2 zone and the Mayville
San Gold Corporation conducted a vigorous exploration and
development program at the Rice Lake mine in Bissett.
Development work on the 28th level (4,200 feet) and the 29th level
for production of the “93” and “98” veins returned high-grade gold
values. Face sampling of the “93” vein averaged 60.27 grams per
tonne gold over a true width of 1.5 metres and a strike length of
53.3 metres. Drilling also discovered a new high-grade vein on the
28th level assaying 39.7 grams per tonne across 1.2 metres. In
addition, drilling below the 5300 level returned some high grades,
including 6.8 metres of 50.1 grams per tonne within a 15.1 metre
intersection of 14.6 grams per tonne gold.
The first production ore from the San Gold #1 deposit was
delivered to the mill in early April. Together the two mines were
contributing 725 tonnes of ore per day. Modifications to the mill’s
crushing circuit are being considered to increase overall mill
capacity to accomodate anticipated increased tonnage from San
Gold #1 and the addition of ore from the Cartwright zone. In April,
the company had their first gold sale since putting the operation
back into production in 2006, thereby making the transition from
developer to producer.
At their Monument Bay project in northeastern Manitoba,
Rolling Rock Resources completed a 28-hole drill program
consisting of infill and down-plunge drilling of the main zones.
Some highlights of the program include a 4.45 metre interval of
10.17 grams per tonne gold at the C zone and a 15 metre
intersection at the G zone which assayed 6.68 grams per tonne gold.
The Monument Bay project has a NI 43-101 compliant inferred
resource of 3.38 million tonnes of 6.45 grams per tonne gold.
Garson Resources and Piper Capital, previously joint owners of the New
Britannia mine (NBM) in Snow Lake, amalgamated to form Garson Gold Corp. in
April. A 10,000 metre first-phase drill program began in February starting with
detailed drilling of the existing inferred resources at the NBM #3 zone, which
currently stand at 220,000 tonnes of 7.10 grams per tonne gold. The drilling of
deep holes revealed multiple gold-bearing intersections in some areas. Garson
completed 10,000 metres by September and an additional 10,000 metres is
expected to be completed by year-end.
At the past-producing MacLellan gold mine near Lynn Lake, Carlisle
Goldfields completed over 12,000 metres of drilling by mid-2007. Carlisle said
that the presence of the MacLellan mine horizon has now been confirmed to the
east, west and up to 200 metres below the present mine workings. Many drill
holes returned multiple intersections and examples of significant assay results
included 9 metres of 18.97 grams per tonne and 5.75 metres of 11.01 grams per
tonne gold. A second phase of drilling is scheduled to resume in early November.
Wildcat Exploration completed over 8,000 metres of drilling at their Jeep
property east of Bissett in Manitoba. The drill program extended the strike
length of the past-producing Jeep gold mine’s No.1 vein system to 1.1
kilometres. High-grade gold values of 56.38 grams per tonne over 0.38 metres
and 36.04 grams per tonne over 0.30 metres were encountered.
The search for uranium in Manitoba is focused on the northwest corner of
the province. CanAlaska Uranium conducted a surface sampling program on
their North East Wollaston project and discovered a large number of highgrade
surface uranium showings.