Aurvista Gold sees super pit potential for its Douay gold project in Abitibi
by Greg Klein
A new Abitibi gold mine, maybe the region’s last—could that be Douay’s destiny? Jean Lafleur sees such potential in the project that attracted him to Aurvista Gold TSXV:AVA, where he took on the role of president/CEO. The geologist’s international career includes considerable experience in Quebec’s most auriferous region, including Malartic, where he was instrumental in developing the project’s campaign of bulk gold exploration. He sees similarities in Douay. But this one also stands apart for its distinctions.
A bulk deposit with higher-grade “jewelry boxes” on the Casa Berardi fault, Douay’s “unique because it’s never been mined, it’s a disseminated-type deposit, there are no quartz veins so it goes against the grain of these old Archean-type deposits, it’s Crown land, but what makes it really unique is it’s the last one left in the Abitibi,” Lafleur says.
“There might be others farther north, but when you talk about strictly Abitibi, this is the last one.”
Aurvista plans to support that theory with a summer/fall campaign of geophysics and drilling backed by last month’s $1.1-million financing. The 14,500-hectare property features eight zones along a five-kilometre trend. Using a cutoff of 0.3 grams per tonne, a 2012 resource estimate totalled:
- indicated: 2.69 million tonnes averaging 2.76 g/t for 238,435 gold ounces
- inferred: 114.65 million tonnes averaging 0.75 g/t for 2.75 million ounces
The resource was limited to a vertical depth of about 400 metres.
With the same cutoff, a west-to-east, zone-by-zone breakdown shows the jewelry boxes amid bulk mining potential:
Douay West zone
- indicated: 2.56 million tonnes averaging 2.77 g/t for 227,980 ounces
- inferred: 1.41 million tonnes averaging 1.65 g/t for 74,915 ounces
North West zone
- inferred: 1.05 million tonnes averaging 2.59 g/t for 87,605 ounces
- inferred: 107.21 million tonnes averaging 0.68 g/t for 2.36 million ounces
- inferred: 340,000 tonnes averaging 0.66 g/t for 7,231 ounces
- inferred: 780,000 tonnes averaging 0.99 g/t for 24,935 ounces
- inferred: 959,000 tonnes averaging 1.32 g/t for 40,705 ounces
- inferred: 1.55 million tonnes averaging 1.54 g/t for 76,620 ounces
- indicated: 130,000 tonnes averaging 2.47 g/t for 10,450 ounces
- inferred: 1.35 million tonnes averaging 1.97 g/t for 85,480 ounces
Pushing the cutoff up to three g/t, seven of the eight zones still show ounces, with these two standouts—Douay West revealing 153,890 ounces indicated and 28,420 ounces inferred, and the Adams section of the Porphyry zone bearing 274,200 ounces inferred.
A 2014 PEA examined Douay West alone as a combination open pit and underground operation that would cost $56.8 million to build, producing 156,000 ounces over a 3.7-year life. The study used a 5% discount rate to calculate a post-tax NPV of $16.6 million and a post-tax IRR of 40%. But the proximity of other zones, especially Porphyry, encouraged Aurvista to consider other approaches.
To that end the company has an imminent two-stage 2016 program scheduled for a three-by-10-kilometre expanse. Primarily focus will be some eight kilometres of porphyry targets. Also under scrutiny will be a six-by-one-kilometre cluster of EM anomalies immediately south that have affinities to VMS mineralization associated with gold, along with potential copper and other base metal targets, the company states.
Stage 1 calls for additional mapping, re-logging previous core and flying magnetic, electromagnetic and radiometrics. That would lead to Stage 2’s 4,000-metre Q4 drill program. The company also hopes to find new trends at about 300 to 500 metres in depth, below the currently known mineralization.
With Abitibi infrastructure as well as gold, Douay has road access to a highway five kilometres away leading to Val-d’Or, 165 kilometres south, and an electrical line connecting the property with the grid.
A solid share structure supports the company. After vending Douay to Aurvista in 2011, Société d’exploration minière Vior TSXV:VIO now holds 24%. The 1,193-hectare North West zone comes under a JV with 25% partner SOQUEM, the mineral exploration division of the provincial government’s Investissement Québec. Together, the province and company insiders account for 14%. Among them is chairperson Gerry McCarvill, who helped create Repadre Capital, now IAMGOLD TSX:IMG, and Desert Sun Mining, later picked up by Yamana Gold TSX:YRI. McCarvill also helped develop Consolidated Thompson Iron Ore from its $2-million beginning to the $4.9-billion takeover by Cliffs Natural Resources NYSE:CLF.
Lafleur expects this year’s work to further support the “super pit” potential that he believes could position Douay as the next mine to be surrounded by the giants of Abitibi. A resource update could arrive this year but more likely in 2017, he says. Lafleur anticipates a three- to five-year plan for the project. “We want to follow the same story that Detour and Osisko did—just keep drilling and prove up as many ounces as we can.”