Ontario’s outlook remains strong
By the staff of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
Exploration and development highlights
Ontario is expected to maintain its standing as Canada’s top mineral investment
jurisdiction and remain among the top 10 worldwide for 2007. A rich geological
environment, accessible geoscience information, highly rated infrastructure for
exploration and mine development, favourable taxation policies and a stable
regulatory environment continue to make the province a great place in which to
Higher metal prices are reflected in the soaring values for mineral production
and the continuing increases in spending on exploration in Ontario. Ontario’s
diverse geology accounts for the broad spectrum of minerals being sought and
produced. Although gold remains the primary focus, higher prices for other metals
are leading to an increase in exploration for minerals such as uranium,
molybdenum and silver.
Ontario continues to lead all Canadian provinces and territories in exploration
and deposit appraisal expenditures. In 2006, spending reached $347 million and
was expected to climb to $519 million in 2007. Final exploration and deposit
appraisal expenditures for 2005 totalled $294 million. Spending by junior
companies climbed from $50 million in 2002 to over $143 million in 2006,and now
accounts for 42 per cent of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures.
The number of mining claim units in good standing in Ontario should reach
300,000 in 2007, a new record and a significant increase over the 2006 total of
229,000. The value of assessment work filed in Ontario climbed to $88 million in
2006, up from $68 million in 2005.
Ontario retained its position as the leading Canadian province in non-fuel
mineral production in 2006, as the value of production soared to $9.4 billion, up
from $7.4 billion in 2005.The value of Ontario’s mineral production is comprised of
metals at $6.9 billion and non-metals at $2.5 billion.A record level of $3.3 billion for
the value of nickel production and dramatic increases in the value of copper and
zinc production are responsible for much of the increase.
Ontario is the third leading producer of platinum group metals (PGM)
in the world, behind Russia and South Africa. PGM are produced as a byproduct
of nickel mining in the Sudbury area and primary production
takes place in northwestern Ontario at the Lac des Iles Mine owned by
North American Palladium Ltd.,Canada’s only PGM mine.
Ontario’s rich deposits have attracted the attention of the world’s
leading PGM producing companies. Spending on PGM exploration in
Ontario climbed from $2 million in 1998 to $24 million in 2006, as activity
intensified at some of the larger projects across the province and the price of
platinum moved well above $1,000 per ounce. PGM-rich properties are spread
across northern Ontario, from Sudbury in the east to Fort Frances in the northwest,
where high grades at MetalCORP Limited’s North Rock copper nickel PGM property
have caught the attention of some senior mining companies.
Exploration and development projects
Platinum group metals
Marathon PGM Corporation is developing a property near Marathon and
recently announced a resource (measured and indicated) of 68.3 million tonnes
grading 0.91 grams per tonne palladium, 0.25 grams per tonne platinum, 0.09
grams per tonne gold and 0.32 copper. This translates into 1,986,000 ounces of
palladium, 551,000 ounces of platinum,210,000 ounces of gold, and 493 million
pounds of copper. Consultations are ongoing with the town of Marathon and
local First Nation communities to determine how the parties will work together
to construct the mine. A comprehensive feasibility study is expected to be
completed by April 2008.
Wallbridge Mining Company Limited is actively exploring several of its
interests in more than 30 exploration properties, covering in excess of 650
square kilometres of footwall rocks within the Sudbury Igneous Complex in the
Sudbury area. The Broken Hammer Zone project in the North Range received
much attention in 2006. At surface, the Broken Hammer Zone is a network of
PGM-rich copper veins within a larger disseminated sulphide envelope. Drilling
has intersected high-grade PGM values over significant widths, such as a 20.53
metre interval in Hole WIS-028 averaging 13.72 grams per tonne total precious
metals. Wallbridge and partner Lonmin Plc, the world’s third largest PGM
producer, have approved a $2.5 million exploration program for the area in
URSA Major Minerals Incorporated has brought the Shakespeare nickel-copper-
PGM project, 50 kilometres west of Sudbury, closer to production. After
two years and $6.5 million in expenditures, a feasibility study has defined a
diluted probable reserve of 11,266,000 tonnes grading 0.33% nickel, 0.35%
copper, 0.02% cobalt, 0.33 grams per tonne platinum, 0.37 grams per tonne
palladium and 0.9 grams per tonne precious metals. The company recently
completed the mining, crushing and haulage of a 50,000 tonne bulk sample to
further advance its objective of developing two open pits and a 4,500 tonne per
For over five years, Pacific North West Capital Corp. in conjunction with
Anglo Platinum Limited, the world’s largest primary producer of platinum, has
been exploring its River Valley Project, which is located east of Sudbury in Dana
and Pardo townships. More than 100 kilometres of drill core has been extracted
along the northern brecciated contact of a gabbroic intrusion that has a
potential contact zone of 15 kilometres in length. Over $20 million has been
spent to date. The resource is estimated as: measured and indicated resources
of 30.5 million tonnes containing 953,900 ounces of palladium, 329,500 ounces
of platinum and 59,500 ounces of gold; with an additional 2.3 million tonnes of
inferred resources containing 67,000 ounces of palladium (0.87 grams per
tonne), 23,800 ounces of platinum (0.31 grams per tonne) and 4,000 ounces of
gold (0.05 grams per tonne) using a 0.7 grams per tonne platinum plus
Richmont Mines Inc. (55 per cent) and Patricia Mining Corp (45 per cent)
recently began producing gold from the Island Gold Mine near Wawa.Reserves
include the past-producing Kremzar Mine, which has historical (pre NI 43-101)
proven and probable reserves of 181,944 tonnes at 6.27 grams per tonne gold
and possible reserves of 85,952 tonnes at 8.67 grams per tonne gold.
Production of over 34,000 ounces is forecast for 2007 and should increase to
over 57,000 ounces in 2008.
Southern Star Resources and Exall Resources were rewarded for their
intensive drill program on their Gold Eagle Mine property near Red Lake with
several high-grade gold intersections in the Bruce Channel zone of up to
107.7 grams per tonne gold over 3.8 metres. Estimates of the mineralized
envelope of the zone were increased to 1,100 metres vertical, 450 metres
northwest-southeast and 615 metres northeast-southwest. The partners,
each with a 50 per cent share in the project, are spending about $11.4
million in 2007.
To attain its goal of producing one million ounces of gold by 2010, Goldcorp
Inc., the world’s richest gold producer, is investing $23 million in underground
exploration and development in its Campbell and Red Lake mine complexes in
2007. Due to the significantly expanded Red Lake land package (41,000
hectares) that came with its buyout of Placer Dome’s Campbell Mine and
associated mineral properties, Goldcorp is spending approximately $9 million on
surface exploration within the greenstone belt. Goldcorp recently announced
that it has acquired the remaining 31.9 per cent interest in the Musselwhite gold
mine and the remaining 49 per cent interest in the Porcupine Joint Venture from
Kinross Gold Corporation in exchange for a cash payment and 50 per cent
ownership of the La Coipa Mine in Chile. This acquisition will give Goldcorp 100
per cent ownership of the Porcupine Joint Venture and the Musselwhite Mine.
Pelangio Mines Inc. now has a 50 per cent equity ownership in Detour Gold
Corporation after the sale of its Detour Lake property to Detour Gold
Corporation. The objective of the sale was to help move the property through
the development stage. The Detour Lake property hosts a near-surface mineral
resource of 3.4 million ounces of gold at the location of the former Detour Lake
Mine, which produced 1.8 million ounces of gold from 1983 to 1999.
Lake Shore Gold Corp. received a prefeasibility report on mineral
reserve estimates at the Timmins West gold property that indicates
production may be possible by 2009, with annual average production of
71,000 ounces of gold. The property has probable reserve estimates of 3.4
million tonnes containing 826,000 ounces of gold at 7.59 grams per tonne.
The company owns the Bell Creek mill and associated infrastructure, which
will reduce future development costs and provide new options for
processing mineral products from gold projects. Lake Shore has
commenced an advanced underground exploration program that includes
sinking an underground exploration shaft.
Rainy River Resources Ltd. continues drilling at the Rainy River gold
project with the program tracing the 17 and ODM Zones down-plunge
below the 300 metre level. A total of six gold-dominant polymetallic zones
have been identified within the anomaly, of which five are located along the
17 Gold Trend. Drilling is also revealing new gold zones in the area with
high pyrite content.
Kirkland Lake Gold Inc. has discovered at least 14 new gold-bearing zones
south of the Macassa Mine workings at the South Mine complex area in
Kirkland Lake. These discoveries are now the main focus of exploration and a
cross cut is being driven from the 1,615 metre level to gain access to the zones
and conduct close-up exploration. Drilling has confirmed continuity of the high
grade over a strike length of 21 metres and a dip component of 15 metres.
Definition diamond drilling is being conducted at St Andrew Goldfields
Ltd.’s Holloway-Holt gold project near Kirkland Lake where development efforts
are underway. Preliminary work is being conducted to re-commission the Holt
gold mill in preparation for a production decision.
CVRD Inco recently announced that they will spend $11 billion worldwide
in 2008 — the largest annual investment program ever undertaken by any
mining company in the world. Sudbury area projects will continue to play an
important role in these activities as $68 million will be spent next year on the
Totten project and on other development projects such as Copper Cliff Deep
and Creighton Deep will be advanced. The company expects to double its
spending on exploration and strategic studies in the Sudbury area with
expenditures of over $50 million planned for 2008.
Liberty Mines Inc. commenced production at the Redstone Mine near
Timmins in May 2006. The Redstone Mill was commissioned in July of this year
and underground drilling provided a measured and indicated resource of
418,931 tonnes grading 2.32 per cent nickel to and above the 508 metre level
of the mine.
FNX Mining Company Inc. is achieving notable results from exploration of
its footwall properties at the Levack Mine near Sudbury, Ontario’s newest base
metal mine. Drilling at the Levack Footwall Deposit is expanding reserves and
intersecting high-grade mineralization of nickel, copper and precious metals.
Exploratory underground drilling is also underway at the Podolsky Project to
upgrade the resource classification for mine planning since full commercial
production should be achieved by the end of 2008.
Xstrata Nickel is continuing its growth strategy in the Sudbury area and
recently announced that it will invest $8.7 million in the Thayer-Lindsley Mine to
extend mine life by at least one year. The company also views the Nickel Rim
nickel project as an important part of its growth potential, with an inferred
resource of 13.4 million tonnes of mostly nickel,copper, platinum and palladium.
The $850 million project should begin annual production of 1.25 million tonnes
of ore in 2010. Development and exploration work also continues at the Fraser-
Morgan property and other Sudbury area mine properties.
De Beer’s Victor Diamond Mine, located in the James Bay Lowland, is
expected to open in 2008 and operations there will create 375 full-time jobs.
This mine is the largest project underway in northern Ontario and is expected
to produce about 600,000 carats annually. Following the signing of Impact and
Benefits Agreements with Attawapiskat First Nation, and more recently with
Moose Cree First Nation, the company is continuing to work with other
Aboriginal communities in the area. De Beers continues to investigate the
economics of other kimberlites in the vicinity of the Victor pipe.
Metalex Ventures Ltd. continues to bulk sample the T1 kimberlite, located
approximately 80 kilometres west of the Victor diamond project. A total of 896
diamonds were recovered from 1,992 kilograms of kimberlite, yielding an
average diamond count of 420 diamonds per 100 kilograms. To date, 88 tonnes
of a planned 200 tonnes minibulk sample have been collected.
RPT Uranium Corp. (formerly Rampart Ventures Ltd.) completed a summer
diamond-drilling program on the Split Rapids Zone in the Sibley Basin in
northwestern Ontario. Its claims are located approximately 100 kilometres
north-northeast of Thunder Bay. Stripping is underway at some of the
properties, such as Frazer Creek and the Malborne Lake claim group. Shallow
drilling has intersected 2.99% U3O8 across 1.5 metres; grab samples have
assayed as high as 19.9% U3O8. A magnetic survey will be flown on some of the
properties in the claim group.
Canadian Wollastonite continues development of the St. Lawrence deposit,
a high-grade wollastonite deposit north of Kingston. Bulk testing and process
design is complete. The project is in the final stages of pre-production
engineering and development. Construction of a 1:5 scale pilot plant is
Ontario – committed to mineral development
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines released Ontario’s first
ever Mineral Development Strategy. An important element of the strategy
supports Ontario’s vision for a new research and development centre in
Sudbury, the heart of the world’s largest mining area, to keep the province at
the forefront of this highly competitive, technology-driven industry. The
province helped fund the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation at
Laurentian University whose focus is on mining exploration, deep-mining
research, integrated mine process engineering, telerobotics and automation,
and environment and reclamation.
Ontario is working with industry and other ministries of the provincial and federal governments to improve regulatory efficiency without compromising environmental responsibilities associated with mineral development. With industry and other ministry participation, a web-based repository for all
permitting and approvals information was developed. The new website
provides a centralized location to access
information, advice and regulatory requirements as well as online services
from various ministries related to the full range of mine development
activities, from prospecting through mining to reclamation and closure.
Ontario is committed to sustaining global confidence in its well-earned
reputation as a leading jurisdiction for mining and is working to address issues
such as sustainable development, land rights and the interests of First Nations.
A wealth of geoscience information
The Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) Branch of the Ministry of Northern
Development and Mines provides extensive and objective information on
Ontario’s geology and its world-class mineral resources. Mapping and data
collection programs are being undertaken by the OGS throughout the province.
Unparalleled access to data
The ministry has made tremendous progress in digitizing as well as
increasing and improving access to its data. The award-winning ClaimMap
system of monitoring and illustrating claim staking activity throughout the
province is second to none. Geological data is available at GeologyOntario, a state-of-the-art website that provides
unparalleled electronic access to a wide range of geoscientific data, including
all Ontario Geological Survey publications, maps and assessment reports. The
data can facilitate and support investment and landuse decisions.