Complications from Covid-19 put a damper on some companies’ exploration plans over the past 18 months, but others have pushed on despite having to incorporate new safety protocols. Below is a round up of projects that could one day lead to the next mine in the NWT or Nunavut.
Project: Yellowknife City Gold
Owner: Gold Terra
Location: 10 km northeast of Yellowknife
Status: Gold Terra reported 5.07 grams of gold per tonne over 8.35 metres, including 11.87 g/t of gold over 3.08 metres at the Campbell Shear, south of Con Mine, during the company’s 10,000-metre phase two drilling program. “Our drilling results continue to confirm and extend the potential of the Yellorex zone to add to our current resource of 1.2 million inferred ounces,” president and CEO David Suda stated in mid-October.
Project: Pine Point
Owner: Osisko Metals
Resource: Lead, zinc
Location: 42 km east of Hay River
Status: Osiskso announced in October its intentions to release an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) during the first quarter of 2022. That document will reveal cost reductions based on dewatering volume estimates and a new 3D hydrogeological model. The 2020 PEA indicated a cost of $550 million to get the mine into production, which would result in more than 327 million pounds of zinc per year – a total of 39.1 million tonnes of mined resource – making Pine Point the eighth largest zinc producer globally. The mine life is projected at 10 years, but could be extended by continued drilling.
Project: Kennady North
Owner: Mountain Province Diamonds/Kennady Diamonds
Location: 280 km northeast of Yellowknife
Status: Hundreds of till samples from the eastern and western claims were collected during summer 2021. Those samples were to be shipped to a lab in Saskatoon for testing to detect kimberlite indicator minerals. The results are expected in early 2022, prior to the winter exploration season getting underway. Mountain Province holds a 100-per-cent interest in Kennady North, which covers more than 1,000 square km around the Gacho Kue Mine. The Kelvin kimberlite contains an indicated 13.6 million carats while the Faraday 2 kimberlite contains an estimated 5.45 million carats.
Owner: Fortune Minerals
Resource: Gold, bismuth, cobalt, copper
Location: 50 km northeast of Whati
Status: Fortune Minerals announced a 3,000-metre drill program to begin at the NICO deposit in late September. In early November, company president Robin Goad extended congratulations to the Tlicho people on the pending opening of the Tlicho All-Season Highway to Whati, which is expected to be accessible to the public on Nov. 30. Fortune Minerals has approvals to build a 50-km spur road from Whati to the NICO mine site.
Project: Indin Lake Gold
Owner: Nighthawk Gold Corp.
Location: 200 km north of Yellowknife
Status: Nighthawk completed an ambitious 72,325-metre drill program over 272 drill holes in mid-October. Some of the drilling is intended to expand known mineralized zones while other targets were in greenfield areas of the 930-square-km property within the Indin Lake Greenstone Belt. Indin Lake contains an inferred 2.25 million ounces of indicated gold and 0.79 million ounces of inferred gold.
Project: Prairie Creek
Resource: Zinc, lead, silver
Location: 90 km northwest of Nahanni Butte
Status: NorZinc’s mid-October preliminary economic assessment for the Prairie Creek project is based on a mine life of 20.3 years at 2,400 tonnes of ore per day. With $368 million required to get the mine started, it’s estimated that 261 million pounds of payable zinc equivalent production – including 2.6 million ounces of silver – is achievable annually, which would provide payback after 4.8 years. Over the life of the mine, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are estimated at $2.5 billion cumulatively. The Prairie Creek mine is home to 9.8 million tonnes of measured and indicated resource at 22.7 per cent zinc equivalent. There’s potential for 6.4 million tonnes of inferred resources at 24.1 per cent zinc equivalent.
Owner: Arctic Star Exploration/Margaret Lake Diamonds
Location: 22 km northeast of Diavik diamond mine
Status: Arctic Star’s $2.1 million spring drilling program found five new kimberlites: Birch, Sequoia, Alder, Cedar and Black Spruce. Sequoia has the largest diamond count and the results “hint at a coarser diamond size distribution, as does the diamond indicator chemistry,” Arctic Star stated in late September. The company hired geophysical crews to fly close to 6,000 line kilometres by helicopter for surveying to identify more exploration targets for undiscovered kimberlites. Arctic Star also expanded its claims this year, broadening Diagras to 483 square km.
Owner: De Beers
Location: 120 km northeast of Iqaluit
Status: The project has an inferred resource of more than 22 million carats from two kimberlites, but there are 41 kimberlites that have tested positive for the presence of diamonds. De Beers conducted a modest summer program at the site in 2021, maintaining the camp and data collection from sensors in the field.
Project: Back River
Owner: Sabina Gold and Silver
Location: 364 km southwest of Cambridge Bay
Status: Sabina is plowing ahead with pre-construction activities for the proposed Goose Mine, with work proceeding on the port facility and camp. Winter ice road construction and an exploration ramp at Umwelt are also on the agenda.
“For the first time at Back River, site operations will continue year-round,” Bruce McLeod, Sabina’s president and CEO, said in early November.
Sabina announced on Oct. 1 that it had raised $13.5 million through the markets. The money is needed for exploration expenses, according to the company. The company’s overall Back River mineral estimate is 6.32 million ounces of measured and indicated gold as well as 2.86 million ounces of inferred gold.
An updated feasibility study released in March estimated $2 billion in post-tax net cash flow on gross revenues of $7 billion over the 15-year life of the mine.
Project: Hood River, Ulu Gold
Owner: Blue Star Gold Corp.
Location: 125 km west of Bathurst Inlet
Status: Blue Star’s 5,000-metre summer drill campaign over 25 holes produced 11.06 grams of gold per tonne over 2.18 m from a hole in the Gnu zone that previously turned up 52.7 g/t of gold over two metres. Another target returned 5.53 g/t of gold over 1.54 metres. Results from another 18 holes were still pending as of Oct. 28.
“Continued strong results from the Gnu zone area drilling, located only 750 metres from the Flood zone deposit, and the new realization that multiple near-surface high grade gold zones may exist in this region is very encouraging,” CEO Grant Ewing stated. “Our technical team will continue to evaluate the results of the program as they become available over the coming weeks and update the geology models which will lead to prioritization of untested target zones in preparation for the next drill program.”
The 9.5-square-km Ulu property lies 50 km north of the Arctic Circle in the Kitikmeot region. Based on past work, the Ulu boasts 605,000 ounces of measured and indicated gold and 226,000 ounces of inferred gold.
Project: Sundog Gold
Owner: New Break Resources
Location: 235 km west of Arviat
Status: New Break is a new player in the Kivalliq region, reaching agreement with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) in October to explore 94 square km of Inuit-owned lands. The project is known as Sundog. The Kivalliq Inuit Association will manage surface rights while NTI will administer mineral rights. Terms of the deal stipulate that if New Break formally files a discovery of one million estimated ounces of gold, then NTI will get a $1 million bonus payment, or $5 million for five million ounces. A Sundog feasibility study would be worth $3 million to NTI, while commercial production would result in a payment of $5 million to Nunavut Tunngavik.
“We look forward to a productive working relationship, built on respect and our sincere desire to see the Sundog Project benefit the Inuit and New Break shareholders alike,” said Michael Farrant, president and CEO of New Break.
New Break other Kivalliq exploration properties consist of Sy, Noomut/Esker and Angikuni Lake, which cover 220 square km in total.
Owner: North Arrow Minerals
Location: Nine km northeast of Naujaat
Status: Processing of a 2,000-tonne bulk sample from the Naujaat Diamond Project was started in late October. Partner Burgundy Diamond Mines funded the $5.6-million initiative for the rights to earn a 40 per cent interest in the Naujaat Diamond Project. The purpose of this sample is to confirm that a unique population of fancy yellow to orange yellow diamonds extend into coarser diamond sizes. “The quality of these diamonds will also be very important as we believe these fancy coloured diamonds will be a key value driver for potential future development of the Q1-4 deposit,” said Ken Armstrong, president and CEO of North Arrow.
Owner: Western Atlas Resources
Location: Adjacent to Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine
Status: Although the Meadowbank property garnered interest for its gold potential, Western Atlas Resources announced in April that it found nickel and polymetallic mineralization near the surface. One hole intersected 0.14 per cent nickel, 0.01 per cent cobalt, 0.28 per cent chromium, 9.11 per cent iron and 0.8 per cent sulfur over 95 metres from a depth of 18.73 metres. In September, the company served notice that it had amended its permits to allow it to drill up to 20,000 metres per year and enlarge the camp to a maximum of 40 people. Meadowbank covers 580 square km.
Project: Committee Bay
Owner: Fury Gold Mines
Location: 130 km southwest of Kugaaruk
Status: Fury Gold announced in September that a five-hole, 2,587 metre drill program was complete. The focus was on an eight kilometre shear zone where the Raven prospect is located. In the past, Raven has yielded 31.1 grams of gold per tonne over 2.8 metres and 9.49 g/t gold over 7.57 metres. Results from this summer’s drill program had not been released publicly as of the first week of November. The overall property encompasses 270 square km along the Committee Bay Greenstone Belt.
Owner: North Arrow Minerals
Location: 140 km south of Hall Beach
Status: The last update regarding the Mel property came in February when North Arrow announced a data-sharing agreement with StrategX Elements Corp, which acquired the non-diamond mineral rights in the area. However, North Arrow retains a per cent royalty on non-diamond production. The Mel property encompasses 560 square kilometres.
Owner: North Arrow Minerals
Location: West of the Jericho and Muskox kimberlites
Status: CSI is a newly-staked project where North Arrow undertook a modest till sampling program in June. The property covers an area that “could potentially host a bedrock source for regionally anomalous kimberlite indicator mineral samples reported by earlier workers,” according to North Arrow.
Owner: Aston Bay Holdings
Resource: Copper, zinc, silver
Location: 120 km south of Resolute Bay
Status: Aston Bay Holdings’ partner American West Metals Limited spent three weeks performing a ground electromagnetic geophysical survey at the Storm copper project on Somerset Island over the summer. The work was intended to find extensions of the known mineralization along strike and at depth. A drilling campaign is anticipated in 2022. Storm encompasses a staggering 3000-sq-km area, including the Seal zinc and silver project.
Project: South Kitikmeot Gold
Owner: Silver Range Resources
Location: 276 to 432 km south of Kugluktuk
Status: Silver Range revealed in August that it optioned the South Kitikmeot Gold Project to Australian company Viridis Mining. The property covers “known gold occurrences along a 200 km long package of metasedimentary rocks which host the Lupin Mine (3.4 million ounces gold production to date) and the Back River Project (5.3 million ounces gold measured and indicated resources) currently being advanced to production by Sabina Gold and Silver Ltd.,” Silver Range stated.
Owner: Gold 79 Resources/Agnico Eagle
Location: 40 km northeast of Baker Lake
Status: Agnico Eagle is the operating partner at the 13.6-square-km Greyhound property, which lies 32 km south of Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine. Gold 79 Resources, formerly known as Aura Resources, holds a 37 per cent interest. Agnico Eagle was expected to undertake an 1,100-metre, eight hole drill program in May, but no results were announced as of early November.