New developments put Equitas Resources in search of a nearby nickel discovery
by Greg Klein
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The greatest find of Canada’s first diamond rush failed to locate a single gemstone. Instead Robert Friedland’s Diamond Fields Resources stumbled onto nickel with cobalt and copper—much more prosaic stuff but in such magnificent quantities that, just three years after its 1993 discovery, Voisey’s Bay sold for $4.3 billion. Yet the Labrador region remains under-explored. Now, with the advantages of new technology plus single ownership of a recently compiled land package, Equitas Resources TSXV:EQT puts new impetus into the search for a second deposit.
Just 30 kilometres south of Voisey’s, the company’s 25,050-hectare Garland project came together after two years of research by Dahrouge Geological Consulting. According to Equitas VP of exploration Everett Makela, this puts the “most prospective area outside of the Vale mine property” under a single operator for the first time, a significant advantage for effective exploration.
This, in an area where deposits could come in clusters. That’s the case for major nickel camps like Sudbury, Norilsk, Thompson and Raglan, Makela emphasizes. Therefore “the likelihood of discovering more Voisey’s Bay-type deposits in the region is high.” But if that’s so, why has the area been neglected?
“The reality is that, after 20 years of exploration by scores of companies combing the surface, the remaining prospective environments are buried,” he explains. “In the case of the Garland project, that is most likely under younger cover rocks. Voisey’s Bay itself was exposed by a fortunate erosional history. It takes a strong commitment to advance the next stage. Commitment to exploring the deeper sub-surface requires insight into critical elements of the mineralizing process and employment of state-of-the-art geophysical methods.”
State-of-the-art exploration is already underway at Garland, where a VTEM-plus survey began in February. Previously some 10 separate companies explored relatively small pieces of the current Garland project with now-outdated electromagnetic surveys that penetrated only to about 75 metres. Equitas’ regional-scale geophysics can reach a maximum 10 times that depth, all the better to detect large, highly conductive nickel sulphide deposits.
As for insight, Makela brings Equitas solid expertise. The Sudbury native began his career in 1981 as a geological assistant with pre-Vale Inco. By the time he retired in 2012, Makela was Vale’s principal geologist for North America. “I’ve worked alongside some of the leading experts in nickel exploration and benefited greatly from access to the resources of leading global nickel companies,” he says. “My experience spans the gamut from target generation through to resource definition.”
He’s worked in the U.S., Mexico, Greenland, South Africa and Brazil, along with “years of focus on Sudbury and Voisey’s Bay that gave me a strong background in world-class mineralized systems and the business of building mines.” In fact Makela served on the Inco team that conducted initial due diligence prior to the multi-billion-dollar Voisey’s acquisition.
So what does he see at Garland? Well, enough of what he saw at Voisey’s to stoke his enthusiasm.
“Aside from having the same favourable address, along an Archean-Proterozoic boundary, Garland and Voisey’s share a remarkable number of geological signatures,” he points out. “Both are located at the intersection of a regional-scale east-west corridor of faults with a northeast-trending fault set. The combined movement is likely to have caused the open space that allowed emplacement of the Voisey’s Bay ores. That’s the same style of structural offset that we believe we have on our own property. Magnetic signatures and interpreted structural deformation are very similar.
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