Exploration turns corner

109 projects ongoing in Golden Triangle

By Gregory Reynolds

The Golden Triangle comprising the mining camps of Timmins, Matheson and Kirkland Lake continue to buzz with improvements to some of the Region’s 16 producing mines and companies spending money on 109 exploration projects. The Golden Triangle lies partially in the Timmins Mining District and in the Kirkland Lake Mining District. While 2015 was not the best of years, veteran mining observers say a corner has been turned and the bad times for mining, especially exploration, are behind us. Among the industry’s cheerleaders is Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.

He says: “The Ontario Mineral Development Strategy leverages innovation to ensure the province continues to be a leading global mining jurisdiction. As part of the strategy, we’ve invested $5 million in a Junior Exploration Assistance Program that is already encouraging early exploration in nearly 50 projects in the North.” Quotes from the Report of Activities 2015, Resident Geologist Program, Timmins Regional Resident Geologist Report: Timmins, Ontario Geological Survey: “In 2015, the global slump in mineral exploration activities had an impact on the Timmins District. Several exploration projects were put on hold, while others saw their owner being acquired by another company. At the end of 2015, 1 base metal mine, 1 industrial minerals mine, 1 diamond mine and 6 gold mines remained in operation within the district. The Timmins District had a total of 49 active exploration projects.

There was a 56% decrease in the number of claim units staked and a 15% decrease of claim units cancelled, compared to 2014. The number of claim units active decreased by 10.9% while the assessment work credits, in dollars, decreased by more than $17 million (to $22.4 million) in the same amount of time.” Timmins District saw production from gold producers Bell Creek Mine, Detour Lake Mine, Dome Mine, Hollinger Pit, Hoyle Pond Mine, and the West Timmins Mine. Glencore’s Kidd Creek Mine sustained production of base metals. Imerys Talc produced industrial talc from its Penhorwood Mine, and DeBeers Canada Inc. continued the operation of the Victor diamond mine in the Far North. The staff of the Timmins Regional Resident Geologist office made a number of property visits during the course of the year. Property visits provide geological insight into a Region and help in identifying indicators that could be evaluated favourable for the discovery of new mineral deposits. Explorationists are encouraged to contact the Timmins office to arrange for a possible visit to their property. The Kirkland Lake report of activities noted: “The level of exploration activities in the Kirkland Lake Resident Geologist District was, yet again, lower than that experienced in the previous few years. Decreased investor interest and low commodity prices made it very difficult for the junior exploration sector to raise funds.

Within the District, 6 mining ope­rations produced gold from 7 deposits; Alamos Gold Inc.’s Young–Davidson Mine, Primero Mining Corp.’s Black Fox Mine, Kirkland Lake Gold Inc.’s Macassa Mine, Northern Gold Mining Inc.’s Garrcon Deposit, St Andrew Goldfields Ltd.’s Holt and Holloway Mines and the Taylor Mine that began commercial production in 2015. The total production of gold in 2015 was 520,383 ounces (this includes an extra 2 months of production from the Macassa Mine due to a change in their reporting) or 16,185,721 g, an increase of 21% from the same period in 2014. MarFred Minerals Ltd. produced 900 tons of barite from the Tracey Lake deposit. Overall, there were at least 60 active exploration projects in the Kirkland Lake Resident Geologist District, down from last year’s 74 projects. AuRico Gold Inc. (Young–Davidson), Kirkland Lake Gold Inc. (Macassa) and St Andrew Goldfields Ltd. (Hislop, Holloway, Holt, Taylor, Ludgate, Canamax) all released new or updated National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) resource estimates.

The Resident Geologist’s staff at the Kirkland Lake Regional Office in 2015 provided 1290 services to 1127 clients; processed 100 assessment work reports, which is 25% of total work submit ed in the province; performed 18 property and site visits in the Kirkland Lake District and 4 in the Sudbury District; and 137 Kirkland Lake District MDI records updated in 2015.