Thursday 28th May 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘New Gold Inc (NGD)’

Geoscience BC reports on treetop bio-geochemistry; hosts geothermal online open house

April 29th, 2020

by Greg Klein | April 29, 2020

Branching out in a new direction, British Columbia researchers used pruning shears to search for preliminary evidence of metal deposits. Their project further shows that what grows above the ground can indicate what lies below.

Geoscience BC reports treetop bio-geochemistry; hosts geothermal online open house

Tree-top halogens light up prospects
for below-ground resources.
(Photo: Geoscience BC)

A helicopter-borne Geoscience BC crew clipped 421 spruce twigs,needles and cones from 399 trees over a 1,000-square-kilometre region of the central province in 2015, announcing initial results the following year. A new report released April 28 looks at concentrations of the halogen elements fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine, suggesting they “may identify important structures related to potential mineralization that are invisible from the surface,” said researchers Colin Dunn and Dave Heberlein.

“Commonly, halogen elements are strongly enriched in alteration and gangue minerals associated with mineral deposits,” the non-profit society stated. “Over time the halogens move out of these hosts and migrate to the Earth’s surface to accumulate in soils, waters and vegetation. Mapping the distribution of halogen elements in these easy-to-access surface materials may help detect buried ore deposits.”

The results show several areas of relative fluorine enrichment, “notably the pronounced southwest trend in the northern half of the survey area,” the report explains. “This trend follows the northern edge of the Chilcotin Group and coincides with a linear chain of lakes and an aeromagnetic break, suggesting that it could be reflecting a major structure. The other anomalies south of the trend all lie within Chilcotin Group basalts and could either indicate eruptive centres for the basalts or, more intriguingly, potential hydrothermal alteration in the underlying units exposed in windows through the basalt cover.”

Researchers plan to compare the findings with previous Geoscience BC data, along with geophysical and Quaternary maps.

The survey comprises part of Geoscience BC’s Targeting Resources for Exploration and Knowledge (TREK) project, inspired by New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) Blackwater discovery and subsequent reserves of 8.2 million ounces gold and 60.8 million ounces silver in an under-explored region. Since 2013, the society has flown regional geophysics and collected over 8,000 geochemical samples, using the latest technology to provide public domain info.

See the treetop survey project page.

See the project in Geoscience BC’s Earth Science Viewer.

You’re invited: Online open house on B.C. geothermal potential

A province mainly electrified by hydro might hold considerable promise for other renewable energy sources. Geoscience BC and the Geological Survey of Canada have been studying the Mount Meager volcano, about 100 kilometres north of Whistler, for data that can be applied to the wider Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, a region with some of Canada’s best geothermal potential.

Researchers from six universities will share their findings and take questions in a free online open house.

  • When: Thursday, May 7, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. PST

  • Where: Online using Zoom—register here. The event can be seen later on the Geoscience YouTube channel.

See the geothermal project page.

Crisis response

April 3rd, 2020

A look at mining, exploration, infrastructure and supply chains under the pandemic

by Greg Klein | April 3, 2020

A look at mining, exploration, infrastructure and supply chains

 

Idled explorers: Can you help?

“Essential supplies and personnel are needed to create and operate temporary facilities for testing, triage, housing and isolation areas for vulnerable populations,” states the Association for Mineral Exploration. “As mineral explorers, we have access to the supplies needed and are in a unique position to help.”

AME calls on the industry to contribute excess capacity of the following:

  • Insulated structures (both hard and soft wall)

  • Camp gear such as furniture, lighting and kitchen appliances

  • Medical equipment

  • Camp support personnel such as caterers, housekeepers, janitors, etc.

  • Available medical staff including such qualifications as OFA3s, paramedics, RNs, etc.

  • Other supplies or skills

If you can help, please fill out this form and AME will be in touch. 

For further information contact Savannah Nadeau.

Preparing for a wider emergency

Given the danger of one crisis triggering others, essential infrastructure remains at risk. One plan to safeguard Ontario’s electricity service would require Toronto workers to bunk down in employer-supplied accommodation under lockdown conditions better known to isolated locations.

A look at mining, exploration, infrastructure and supply chains

Quarantines might require essential
services to provide job-site bed and board.
(Photo: Independent Electricity System Operator)

It hasn’t happened yet, but the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator stands ready for the possibility, according to a Canadian Press story published by the Globe and Mail. A not-for-profit agency established by the province, the IESO co-ordinates Ontario electricity supply to meet demand.

About 90% of its staff now work at home but another 48 employees must still come into work, CEO Peter Gregg said. Eight six-person teams now undergo 12-hour shifts in two Toronto-area control rooms.

“Should it become necessary, he said, bed, food and other on-site arrangements have been made to allow the operators to stay at their workplaces as a similar agency in New York has done,” CP reported.

Similar plans may well be underway not only for essential infrastructure but also for essential production, processing, manufacturing, communications, transportation and trade. One sign of the times to come could be locked-down camps in supermarket parking lots for our under-appreciated retail-sector heroes.

Meanwhile, retaining and protecting care-home staff already constitute a crisis within a crisis.

Australia guards against predatory foreign takeovers

With China prominently in mind, Australia has taken extra measures to protect companies and projects shattered by the COVID-19 economy. Canberra has temporarily granted its Foreign Investment Review Board extra powers to guard distressed companies and assets against acquisitions by opportunistic foreigners. Although previous foreign acquisitions came under review only when the price passed certain thresholds, now all such transactions get FIRB scrutiny.

The changes follow concerns raised by MPs on Australia’s intelligence and security committee. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted committee chairperson Andrew Hastie warning of “foreign state-owned enterprises working contrary to our national interest. More than ever, we need to protect ourselves from geo-strategic moves masquerading as legitimate business.”

Committee member Tim Wilson added, “We can’t allow foreign state-owned enterprises and their business fronts to use COVID-19’s economic carnage as a gateway to swoop distressed businesses and assets.”

Among protected assets are exploration and mining projects, utilities, infrastructure and an interest of 20% or more in a company or business.

Critical minerals become ever more critical

As Lynas Corp extended the suspension of its rare earths processing facility in line with Malaysian government pandemic orders, the company noted the importance of its products “in permanent magnets used in medical devices including ventilators, and in lanthanum products used in oil refineries for petroleum production.”

A look at mining, exploration, infrastructure and supply chains

The suspension of its Malaysian plant prompted
Lynas to emphasize REs’ criticality to virus treatment.
(Photo: Lynas Corp)

Originally set to expire on March 31, the government order currently stays in force until April 14. RE extraction continues at Lynas’ Mount Weld mine in Western Australia.

In late February Malaysia granted the company a three-year licence renewal for the processing facility, which had been threatened with closure due to controversy about its low-level radioactive tailings. Among conditions for the renewal are development of a permanent disposal facility for existing waste and putting a cracking and leaching plant in operation outside Malaysia by July 2023 to end the practice of transporting radioactive material to the country.

Committed to maintaining a non-Chinese supply chain, the company plans to locate the C&L plant in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Sharing the disease, hoarding the treatment

A problem recognized in American defence procurement has hit health care—the need to build non-Chinese supply chains. Most of the world’s ventilators and about half the masks are manufactured in China, points out a recent column by Terry Glavin.

The West is learning, finally and the hard way, “that thriving liberal democracies cannot co-exist for long within a model of neo-liberal globalization that admits into its embrace such a tyrannical state-capitalist monstrosity as the People’s Republic of China.”

The U.S., for example, relies heavily on China for antibiotics, painkillers, surgical gowns, equipment that measures blood oxygen levels and magnetic resonance imaging scanners. China effectively banned medical equipment exports as soon as Wuhan went on lockdown, Glavin adds.

“It probably didn’t help that Ottawa sent 16,000 tonnes of gear to China back in February. That was a lot of gear—1,101 masks, 50,118 face shields, 36,425 medical coveralls, 200,000 pairs of gloves and so on—but a drop in Beijing’s bucket. A New York Times investigation last month found that China had imported 56 million respirators and masks, just in the first week of the Wuhan shutdown.

“It is not known how much of that cargo came from the massive bulk-buying campaign organized and carried out across Canada by affiliates of the United Front Work Department, the overseas propaganda and influence-peddling arm of the Chinese Communist Party.”

A look at mining, exploration, infrastructure and supply chains

Desperate need for health care supplies
pits country against country. (Photo: 3M)

Nor does the non-Chinese world display altruism. In response to the crisis, the EU and more than 50 countries have either banned or restricted exports of medical equipment, Glavin states.

By April 3 global health care products supplier 3M revealed that Washington asked the company to stop exporting U.S.-manufactured N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America. 3M noted “significant humanitarian implications” but also the possibility of trade retaliation. “If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease.”

The company did win China’s permission to import 10 million of its own Chinese-manufactured N95s into the U.S.

Meanwhile the Canadian government comes under increasing criticism for discouraging the public from wearing masks.

Chinese supply chains also jeopardized by Chinese disease

As the world’s main exporter of manufactured goods, China’s the main importer of raw materials, especially metals. But, as the world’s main exporter of disease, China managed to threaten its own supplies.

Reuters columnist Andy Home outlined lockdown-imposed cutbacks of copper, zinc and lead from Chile and Peru, and chrome from South Africa; reductions in cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in tin from already depleting Myanmar, and in nickel from the Philippines, the latter a hoped-for replacement after Indonesia banned unprocessed exports.

The longer the lockdowns, “the greater the potential for supply chain disruption,” Home comments. “As the biggest buyer of metallic raw materials, this is a ticking time-bomb for China’s metals producers.”

Miners’ providence unevenly distributed

Probably no other foreign shutdowns have affected as many Canadian miners and explorers as that of Mexico. Considered non-essential, their work will be suspended until April 30, with extensions more than likely. Mexico’s announcement must have sounded familiar to Pan American Silver TSX:PAAS, which had already pressed the pause button to comply with national quarantines in Peru, Argentina and Bolivia. That currently limits the company’s mining to Timmins, where production has been reduced by about 10% to 20% to allow physical distancing.

A look at mining, exploration, infrastructure and supply chains

Mauritania exempted Kinross Gold’s Tasiast mine
from domestic travel restrictions. (Photo: Kinross Gold)

One company more favourably located, so far, is Kinross Gold TSX:K. As of April 1, operations continued at its seven mines in Nevada, Alaska, Brazil, Mauritania, Russia and Ghana, while work went on at its four non-producing projects in Alaska, Mauritania, Russia and Chile.

Expanded shutdowns ordered by Ontario on April 3 include many construction and industrial projects but exempt mining. Earlier that day New Gold TSX:NGD announced Rainy River’s restart after a two-week suspension to allow self-isolation among employees. Many of the mine’s workers live locally and made short trips into Minnesota before the border closed.

Quebec border restrictions have hindered the Ontario operations of Kirkland Lake Gold TSX:KL, cutting off a source of employees and contractors. As a result the company reduced production at its Macassa mine and suspended work at its Holt complex, comprising three gold mines and a mill. Kirkland reduced operations at its Detour Lake mine effective March 23, after a worker showed COVID-19 symptoms and self-isolated on March 14. He tested positive on March 26. Production continues at the company’s Fosterville mine in Australia.

Some explorers have been idled by government restrictions, others by market conditions. Still, some companies have money and jurisdictions in which to spend it. Liberty Gold TSX:LGD, for example, resumed drilling its Black Pine gold project in Idaho on March 31.

Some jurisdictions, like B.C. and New Brunswick, have extended work requirement deadlines to help companies keep exploration claims active.

“China needs to be held responsible”

A few Canadian journalists are saying what we might never hear from our politicians. Here, for example, is Toronto Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein:

“China needs to be held responsible. The problem is, because of its political power— and you see it in the World Health Organization announcements, in Canadian announcements—they’ve been praising what China did. There would have been a virus anyway. China made it worse. More people are dying, more people are being infected, and its dictators need to be held to account.”

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

April 20th, 2017

With a provincial election weeks away, Peter Caulfield asked sources in three British Columbia regions to comment on the importance of mining for the Association for Mineral Exploration’s quarterly magazine, Mineral Exploration. In general terms, the responses differ from views commonly heard in cities geographically removed but hardly independent of resource economies and the commodities they produce. In that respect, the relevance of Caulfield’s article applies far beyond B.C. The article is posted here with the permission of AME.

 

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

by Peter Caulfield

In a province that is as large and diverse as British Columbia, it’s natural that opinions on most topics—including mineral exploration and development—will be diverse too.

What the average person in Oak Bay or Yaletown thinks about a new mine or pipeline will be very different from what’s going through the head of somebody who lives in the northwestern corner of British Columbia or in the Kootenays in southeastern B.C.

As the province’s May 9 election approaches, Mineral Exploration wanted to know what’s on the mind of voters who live in the parts of the province that are most dependent on resource development. We talked to three well-connected observers of local politics in four provincial constituencies: Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson, Stikine and Kootenay East. We asked each of them what the hot-button issues are in their respective constituencies and whether mineral exploration and mine development is important to their fellow voters.

The following interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

 

Stikine

Maria Ryder, District of Stewart councillor for 2.5 years, chief of the volunteer fire department and 25-year Stewart resident

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

(Photo: Carl Ryan/AME)

The main projects in the Stewart region are Brucejack (Pretium Resources TSX:PVG), the Premier mine (Ascot Resources TSXV:AOT), Red Mountain (IDM Mining TSXV:IDM) and the Red Chris mine (Imperial Metals TSX:III).

Along with Terrace and Kitimat, Stewart is one of the largest communities in the district. We are growing in population, especially in the summer, when workers and their families descend on the town, drawn by mineral exploration and hydro projects and by Stewart’s two ports.

It’s very different here from urban British Columbia, and the people from down south who come up here to work find out just how different it is. And some of them discover how different some of our opinions and concerns are from theirs.

Because we get a lot of snow in the winter, much of the employment in Stewart is seasonal and the people who live here adjust their lives accordingly. Every year between March and November we’re busy, and between November and March things are pretty slow. But we’re used to it and we adjust.

The main election issue here is sustainable job creation through industrial development. We want jobs that stay and that provide stability to Stewart.

 

Kootenay East

Lois Halko, District of Sparwood second-term councillor and former mayor, born and raised in Sparwood

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

(Photo: Malcom Lennox/AME)

The main economic drivers of the region are the mining of metallurgical coal, which is B.C.’s single biggest export, and the activities of the local suppliers to the coal industry.

There are five Teck [Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A and TSX:TECK.B] metallurgical coal mines in the region: Coal Mountain, Elkview, Fording River, Greenhills and Line Creek. In addition, there are four mining companies that are interested in developing mines in the Elk Valley area: CanAus Coal, Centermount Coal, NWP Coal Canada and Riversdale Resources.

The five Teck mines have a total of 3,600 full-time employees, of whom 2,400 live in four communities in the Elk Valley area.

Because it is used to make steel, and because steel is such an essential product in everyone’s life, metallurgical coal should be recognized as a critical resource. It’s certainly critical to the people who live in Sparwood.

Teck has earned its social licence to continue mining here. The public has accepted the company’s efforts to mitigate any of the effects of coal mining, such as contaminants leaching into the water supply. Teck has done a lot of work to reduce the problem.

At the same time, we know that we need to diversify our economy. It’s something the local municipalities talk about a lot. The Sparwood regional economy is one of the least diversified in the province, which has made us very vulnerable to a cycle of boom and bust. The region has lots more to offer than just coal deposits, and we’re trying to leverage our mountains and natural beauty to build a thriving tourist industry.

 

Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson

Ryan Scorgie, president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce

The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and its 850 members take a great deal of interest in all kinds of resource development, including mineral development in Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson.

The main mineral projects in the area are the Ajax project (KGHM International), the New Afton mine (New Gold TSX:NGD) and Highland Valley Copper (Teck).

Opinions about resource development are mixed in Kamloops. Most of the working people here are for it, but many of the academics at Thompson Rivers University are against, so the Chamber of Commerce hears both sides of the argument. Our position is that if a project goes through the appropriate review process and passes it, then we support it.

In fact, the Chamber thinks process is so important that our Policy Development Committee developed a policy regarding resource development in 2016 called Supporting Canada’s Responsible Resource Development.

The policy statement is more important than its brevity might indicate, because it was adopted provincially just a few months after it was written.

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

(Photo: Neil Leonard/AME)

The committee writes, in part: “The Chamber believes that it is critical that B.C. maintains its reputation as a jurisdiction open to investment. Achieving the investments needed to ensure Canada’s competitiveness will require an efficient regulatory review process that ensures continued health and environmental protection of Canadians while generating jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

“A streamlined process will encourage investment by providing businesses with a clear and predictable process to protect the environment while making the best use of limited government resources.

“Inefficient and unpredictable processes may turn away potential investors and prevent businesses from being able to make informed location and logistic decisions. For example, the World Economic Forum has cited inefficient government bureaucracy as one of the biggest impediments to improving Canada’s economic competitiveness.

“We need to make sure that the regulatory review process is efficient and has a clear scope, reasonable timelines and the flexibility to address unforeseen circumstances.”

Originally published in the spring 2017 edition of Mineral Exploration. Posted here with the permission of the Association for Mineral Exploration.

Earth science for everyone

July 29th, 2016

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

by Greg Klein

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

Outfitted with sensitive magnetometers, three Cessna Super Caravans
will fly the largest survey in Geoscience B.C.’s 11-year history.
(Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

 

It’s probably one of the biggest geophysical surveys underway anywhere. Pilots now have three magnetometer-equipped Cessnas criss-crossing an especially rugged 24,000-square-kilometre expanse of west-central British Columbia on tight, 250-metre linespacing. This is Search Phase II, part of an even bigger project that will make “a generational contribution to better understand the area’s geology and mineral potential,” says Bruce Madu, VP of minerals and mining for Geoscience B.C. But the results will hardly be limited to industry. The non-profit’s mission is to access “earth science for everyone.”

Data of this quality rarely finds its way to junior explorers, let alone prospectors. But proprietary software makes it available to anyone with an internet connection. Besides mineral opportunities, practical advantages include land use planning for regional districts, local communities and First Nations.

The grid extends from Fort Fraser to Smithers, building on two previous surveys. Last year’s Phase I flew over neighbouring terrain between Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers. The 2013 TREK program covered an area bounded by Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Quesnel, conducting sampling and mapping, as well as airborne mag. The three surveys combined will cover 55,500 square kilometres, about the size of Nova Scotia.

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

When combined with two previous surveys, this year’s program
will provide magnetic data for 55,500 square kilometres.
(Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

TREK’s inspiration came from the Blackwater discovery, now New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) proposed open pit mine with reserves of 8.2 million ounces gold and 61 million ounces silver. Yet “the surrounding geology is poorly understood,” Madu says.

The Phase II flyover includes another proposed mine, Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:PBM) Morrison copper-gold project, as well as Thompson Creek Metals’ (TSX:TCM) majority-held Endako molybdenum mine and the former Bell-Granisle copper-gold mines. The survey just bypasses Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) 50%-held Huckleberry copper mine.

Low prices put Endako on care and maintenance, with Huckleberry slated to follow this summer. But Geoscience B.C. helped extend the latter mine’s life by about two years, Madu says. “We flew some geophysics, the company participated and ended up drilling new ore. A couple of hundred jobs were given a couple more years.”

The region “clearly has substantial mineral potential,” Madu points out. “Even more importantly it has excellent infrastructure, lots of road networks, there’s rail in the area and hydro nearby, so it can be quite a cost-effective place to discover and develop a mine.”

Having just reconnoitred with the Search Phase II crew, Madu waxes enthusiastically about the staff, the three Cessna Super Caravans especially suited for this survey’s challenges, the ultra-sensitive magnetometers and the preliminary data. “It excites me—the quality is superb.”

Phase II comprises one of 13 projects scheduled for this year, with a budget totalling $2.5 million. “They cover all sorts of perspectives,” Madu says. “We’ll be active in the Sheep Creek, Barkerville and Cassiar gold camps, the Toodoggone region, we’ve got a mapping crew south of Terrace working on last year’s geophysics, we’ll be east of the Penticton gold camp around the Boundary area. We have chemistry projects re-analyzing almost 5,000 archive samples from southeastern British Columbia as well as the Atlin area. And we’ve got a lot of value-added projects on the go this year, taking existing data and putting together a more complete picture combining geophysics, geochemistry and geology, which I think is a big advantage for the industry’s future, being able to have these super-sized data sets.”

Not limited to mineral exploration, Geoscience B.C. also conducts surveys related to areas such as oil and gas, geothermal energy and groundwater.

In addition to fundamental baseline data creation, we do a lot of innovative research as well.—Bruce Madu,
VP of minerals and
mining for Geoscience B.C.

“On the minerals side, during our 11 years of operation we surveyed a large portion of the province with geophysics, we re-analyzed almost the entire suite of geochemical samples for the province, we provided a lot of innovative research in glacial tills and tree-top sampling, we funded new geochemical methods using water in the field as well as capturing gases and sampling organic materials. So in addition to fundamental baseline data creation, we do a lot of innovative research as well.”

Next year’s plans call for Search Phase III extending northeast to the Quesnel copper belt and covering a region that hosts Imperial’s Mount Polley copper-gold-silver mine, the auriferous turf of Barkerville Gold Mines TSXV:BGM, Thompson Creek’s Mount Milligan copper-gold operation and AuRico Metals’ (TSX:AMI) gold-copper-silver deposits at Kemess.

Looking further ahead, Madu sees the organization “looking at the mining cycle instead of just exploration to see what we can do to help the development or efficiency of mining. We might look at research into subjects like water, tailings and metallurgy, for example.”

The group was founded in 2005 when the province put up money as an inducement to industry contributions. A lot of those contributions come from preferred rates or volunteer work supporting a small staff. Regional trusts have also contributed. Last May the province forked over $5 million.

The results of all that go online, available to everyone. Geoscience B.C.’s Earth Science Viewer opens with a satellite image of the province. Users can zoom in on a particular area, load a layer of data from the selections to the left, then overlay additional data. New info comes online as survey results are processed. Mineral tenures are updated daily, with links to the government’s database of claimholders.

“Viewers can put the tie-dyed geophysical charts on top of the geology layer to see how they agree or don’t agree,” says Madu. “I think that’s quite a powerful prospecting tool because one thing we want to do is challenge assumptions. If the geology and geophysics are telling different stories, we want people to research that and explore it.”

A planned upgrade, possibly within a year, will make the viewer three-dimensional, “something like Google Earth where you can tip it on its side and fly around valleys a bit,” he adds.

With a wealth of practical info for industry and communities alike, the viewer “puts the power of information into the hands of people who can use it.”

Geoscience B.C. gets $5-million grant, plans “new generation” of airborne mag

May 18th, 2016

by Greg Klein | May 18, 2016

A non-profit organization that puts geophysical results in the public domain, Geoscience B.C. announced another $5 million in provincial funding on May 18. The group now plans its largest airborne magnetic survey ever, with the Search Phase II project on a 24,000-square-kilometre grid over west-central British Columbia.

Geoscience B.C. gets $5-million grant, plans “new generation” of airborne mag

The region hosts the former Bell-Granisle porphyry copper-gold mines and one of North America’s largest molybdenum mines, Thompson Creek Metals’ (TSX:TCM) majority-held Endako, now on care and maintenance. Just outside the survey area sits Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) 50%-held Huckleberry operation and New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) proposed Blackwater gold-silver open pit.

Calling the project “a new generation of airborne magnetic survey,” Geoscience B.C. VP of minerals and mining Bruce Madu said, “The line spacing we will fly will be much tighter than in previous surveys of this scale, providing a data resolution that is much more detailed and accurate.

“The Search Phase II survey is a key piece of the puzzle that will bridge the gap between the Search Phase I geophysical survey completed last year and the TREK survey in 2013,” he added. “Together, these three adjoining projects will provide a continuous modern survey of high-quality magnetic data covering a 55,500-square-kilometre area—equivalent to the size of Nova Scotia.”

Results will be posted next year on the organization’s data release page and its Earth Science viewer. Beneficiaries will include not only the mineral exploration industry but also local communities and land use planners.

“Usually only the largest companies have access to this kind of data,” said Rob Maurer of the Smithers Exploration Group, which supports mineral exploration and mining in the province’s northwest. “But in B.C., the innovative work conducted by Geoscience B.C. puts tools in the hands of any individual who wants to go out and prospect for minerals.”

B.C. Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman credited the organization with helping strengthen his sector’s regulation. “They have done outstanding work identifying deeper saline aquifers appropriate for industry use, which goes a long way towards better protecting ground- and surface-water needed to sustain First Nations and other communities in northeast B.C.”

The organization released its previous airborne mag findings in January. Last month it announced results from an innovative program of helicopter-borne tree-top geochemical sampling.

Innovative geochem sampling takes to the tree tops

April 11th, 2016

by Greg Klein | April 11, 2016

 

Even if money doesn’t grow on trees, they might hold traces of valuable metals. So Geoscience B.C. used a helicopter to clip spruce branches over an especially difficult-to-access part of British Columbia. On April 11 the non-profit released the results, hoping to evaluate the technique’s potential to help find deposits.

“It’s well established that coniferous trees such as spruce can pick up metals and other elements from the soil and concentrate them in the bark, twigs and needles,” said Bruce Madu, Geoscience B.C.’s VP of minerals and mining. “Through this program, we hope to provide new information that will encourage people to take a fresh look at the area’s mineral potential.”

Innovative geochem sampling takes to the tree tops

The TREK program uses innovative, multidisciplinary approaches
to geological understanding. (Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

He was referring to 1,000 square kilometres within central B.C’s Fraser Plateau. Although parts of the wider region have undergone geochemical sampling, the spruce survey focused on an area that’s been neglected due to especially thick forest, with few lakes or roads. About 15 klicks north New Gold TSX:NGD advances its Blackwater project, a proposed open pit with proven and probable reserves of 8.2 million ounces gold and 60.8 million ounces silver.

Whether twigs and needles can help find a similar deposit remains to be seen. Samples from 399 trees spaced 1,500 metres apart have been analysed, with detailed results available here.

The survey forms part of Geoscience B.C.’s Targeting Resources through Exploration and Knowledge project, a multidisciplinary approach to better understand the geology of a 24,000-square-kilometre chunk of land. TREK procedures include stream, lake, soil and till sampling, as well as airborne geophysics, mapping and mineral deposit studies.

The $4-million program is Canada’s largest publicly funded project of its kind. The organization makes its data available not only to the exploration sector but also to the public for land use planning and community awareness. In January Geoscience B.C. released airborne magnetic data for a 6,700-square-kilometre expanse of the province.

Group Ten selects tightly spaced drill targets for its Ontario gold project

March 7th, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 7, 2016

One week after expanding its Yukon PGM-nickel-copper property, Group Ten Metals TSXV:PGE updated its Drayton-Black Lake gold project in northwestern Ontario. Following a review of historic results, the company has chosen targets for a recommended 20-hole 2,000-metre drill campaign.

Group Ten selects tightly spaced drill targets for its Ontario gold project

Located in the same belt hosting Treasury Metals’ (TSX:TML) Goliath, Tamaka Gold’s Goldlund and New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) Rainy River projects, Group Ten’s 7,968-hectare property includes an historic database with multiple high-grade bulk samples and over 120 drill holes, as well as geological, geochemical and geophysical data, the company states. “While 43% of past drill holes intercepted gold or copper mineralization, they did not adequately test the mineralized zones, which are now better understood in the area.”

Trench mapping and surface sampling in the property’s Moretti area indicate higher-grade mineralization occurs within steeply plunging shoots averaging less than 30 metres long and 10 metres thick, Group Ten found. While historic drilling was too widely spaced to effectively test the shoots, the company’s recommended 20 holes would be collared about 20 metres apart.

“The dimensions of these shoots are similar in size to those delineated by closely spaced drilling at the Goliath project, where shoots have been traced down plunge for as much as several hundred metres,” Group Ten added.

The company also proposes additional mapping and sampling on the property’s Bonanza, Dragfold and Clamshell areas.

Group Ten CEO Michael Rowley credited Max Baker, Drayton-Black Lake’s new project manager, with confirming that “the geological model seen at the adjacent Goliath and Goldlund projects applies to our Drayton-Black Lake project.”

Last week the company announced completion of a field program on its Spy project in southwestern Yukon. The company staked an additional 1,250 hectares, bringing the property up to 3,135 hectares. Results are pending from silt and rock sampling, prospecting, mapping and reinterpretation of previous geophysics. Historic, non-43-101 grab samples have assayed as high as 75.8 grams per tonne platinum, 7.9 g/t palladium, 7 g/t gold, 2.6% nickel and 10.45% copper.

Ten years into B.C.’s new era

May 15th, 2015

Challenges remain, but native-industry co-operation continues

by Greg Klein

Not even a billion-dollar offer could win native support for the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas proposal in British Columbia. News that the Lax Kw’alaams band rejected Petronas’ 40-year, $1.14-billion deal suggested aboriginal agreement constitutes an insurmountable barrier to development. But, as a non-profit advocacy group points out, what the band actually opposed was the terminal location. The Lax Kw’alaams council stated it’s otherwise still open to the project. Further accentuating the positive—while acknowledging the challenges—Resource Works released a new report on May 14, Becoming Partners: A Decade of Progress in Aboriginal-Industrial Relations in B.C.

Challenges remain, but native-industry co-operation continues

A map shows some of B.C.’s 86 proposed and ongoing
projects with native participation. (Image: Resource Works)

Speaking with eight people active in native negotiations, author David Jordan found several success stories, lots of room for improvement and an understanding that the province has entered a new era of development. Courts led the way, although with inadequately explained admonitions to “consult.” Governments followed by rejecting projects when consultation failed. That left industry and aboriginals to sort matters out themselves, a problem intensified by B.C.’s unresolved land claims. Maybe the most important lesson learned is the importance of aboriginal engagement right from the outset.

With natives on side, regulatory hurdles fall, stated one source. Referring to an agreement between northern B.C.’s Haisla Nation and Chevron Canada, Roger Harris told Jordan the project sped through the regulatory process. “Once the Haisla and Kitimat LNG agreement was in place it was less than six months, by the feds and the province. The bureaucrats couldn’t sign it off fast enough when they knew that there were no longer any first nation issues to deal with.”

A partner in the public affairs firm Harris Palmer and former B.C. forestry minister, he added, “The value the band will bring to the table by getting them to support you will save you millions in the regulatory process, both in the beginning and on the ongoing operation, because you’re always needing a permit to do something. And having these guys as partners makes the government just go away.”

The bureaucrats couldn’t sign it off fast enough when they knew that there were no longer any first nation issues to deal with.—Roger Harris, of public affairs firm Harris Palmer

It’s thanks to its government, however, that B.C. leads Canada in direct revenue sharing. An initiative that helped win support for a number of mining projects, the program began in 2013 with an agreement between two native bands and New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) New Afton mine. Joint ventures or other partnerships often accompany the agreements.

While Harris blames any failure to agree solely on industry, other respondents acknowledge challenges from the native side too. One problem is that band administration “can be cleared out” when a new council gets elected, said Bruce Falstead, manager of aboriginal initiatives for FortisBC.

“People who have institutional knowledge and have been around for a while get shuffled out in favour of nepotism. We couldn’t possibly do business if at Vancouver City Hall half the people got fired and other people got put in every four years. That’s exactly what’s going on and it’s not being addressed.”

Another challenge is inexperience, which holds back some native communities from taking part in projects themselves. Some “have set aggressive targets for developing industrial capacity,” Jordan stated, “but the vast majority of the approximately 200 first nation communities in the province have no experience in resource development; some have chosen not to actively pursue developing that capacity, and those that have made it a priority face the daunting task of building industrial capacity from scratch.”

Among the success stories is the McLeod Lake Indian Band, which runs the Duz Cho group including a road-building company and the province’s third-largest logging outfit. McLeod Lake has now partnered with two other bands to pursue even bigger contracts.

Companies and first nations want to see the same thing happen. They want to see value generated off of land that doesn’t see value being generated yet.—John Jack, Huu-ay-aht
First Nations councillor

A former mines minister now working for a number of resource companies including the Duz Cho group, Blair Lekstrom attributes McLeod Lake’s success to merit. “Many feel entitled to the work because they’re first nation commercial entities,” he said. “We’ve never taken that approach; we will earn the work through quality of work and competitive price.”

Should a band lack experience to negotiate, Falstead stated, FortisBC will pay the community “to hire the expertise that you need in order to engage with us.”

But he calls on government to help those who find themselves swamped with offers. Falstead knows of bands getting 2,000 inquiries a year. “When you get that many requests you can’t effectively respond, so it creates a risk for the company, it creates a risk for the government, and first nations don’t get to be properly heard because they don’t have the ability to respond.”

Overlapping land claims present further problems. But they’re not insurmountable. That fact was demonstrated by what Jordan calls an “historic watershed,” the 2013 agreement between 15 bands and Apache Canada over the 463-kilometre Pacific Trail pipeline proposal.

“Companies and first nations want to see the same thing happen,” explained Huu-ay-aht councillor John Jack. “They want to see value generated off of land that doesn’t see value being generated yet…. Why and whether it gets done is a question of will and communication and relationship-building.”

Jordan credits LNG proponents with bolstering B.C.’s new era of co-operation. He calls last year’s completion of B.C. Hydro’s 340-kilometre Northwest Transmission line “a major infrastructure project that wouldn’t have been possible without the co-operation of the Tahltan and Iskut first nations.” His report notes several native-owned logging companies as well as native participation in 28 clean energy projects. Jordan also lists at least 15 native agreements for mines and mining proposals.

Download the Resource Works report.

Read more about aboriginal engagement.

Over three years later, the BCSC rules on geo’s tip-off, wife’s insider trading

April 13th, 2015

by Greg Klein | April 13, 2015

News from her geologist husband helped Amina Weicker swing a $40,000 profit through insider trading, the British Columbia Securities Commission found. On April 10 the BCSC stated the investor’s husband, Robert Weicker, “tipped his wife” and that she consequently “engaged in illegal insider trading.”

Over three years later, the BCSC rules on geo’s tip-off, wife’s insider trading

The circumstances go back to 2011, when Geo Minerals Ltd, then trading on the Venture, was in takeover talks with New Gold TSX:NGD. Between September 12 and October 11 of that year—while negotiations progressed, a non-binding letter of intent was received and lock-up agreements were signed—Amina Weicker bought a total of 729,945 shares at prices between $0.10 and $0.11. The two companies announced the takeover on October 17, 2011. Seven weeks later Amina Weicker sold at $0.16, realizing an approximately $40,000 profit.

During that time Robert Weicker was a consulting geologist for Geo.

A BCSC panel found “he informed his wife of material information that had not been generally disclosed regarding the acquisition of that company. Amina Weicker then used this information, prior to its public disclosure, to purchase securities of Geo Minerals.”

The panel concluded that Amina Weicker committed insider trading and Robert Weicker disclosed material facts by someone in a special relationship with an issuer.

An allegation of insider trading against Robert Weicker was dismissed.

The parties have until next month to make submissions on the sanctions to be levied by the commission.

Speaking to ResourceClips.com, BCSC media relations manager Richard Gilhooley said he can’t comment on how and when the commission learned about the case. As for the time it took to come before a panel, “These investigations tend to be quite complex and there are a lot of moving parts, particularly with an insider trading investigation,” he stated. “So I think it’s down to the complexity of these cases.”

The Geo acquisition and coinciding takeover of Silver Quest Resources expanded New Gold’s Blackwater claims in central B.C. The company, which operates mines in B.C., Mexico, California and New South Wales, took Blackwater to feasibility in December 2013.

How fares Canada in the Fraser Institute’s global mining survey?

February 25th, 2015

by Greg Klein | February 25, 2015

Saskatchewan’s number two worldwide, Quebec’s back in the top 10 and Manitoba climbed 17 notches. But Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia took a beating in the latest Fraser Institute survey of mining jurisdictions. Released February 24, the study rates 122 jurisdictions (including provinces and states in Canada, the United States, Australia and Argentina) based on 485 returned questionnaires. Drawing on their 2014 experience, mining and exploration companies provided numerical ratings for a number of factors, which the institute tracked on separate indexes.

Most important is the Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indexes—Best Practices Mineral Potential (geology) and Policy Perception (government attitudes). The institute weighs the IAI 60% for geology and 40% for public policy, roughly the same consideration companies reported for their investment decisions.

Here’s the top 10 IAI globally, with 2013 rankings in brackets:

1 Finland (4)
2 Saskatchewan (7)
3 Nevada (2)
4 Manitoba (13)
5 Western Australia (1)
6 Quebec (18)
7 Wyoming (11)
8 Newfoundland and Labrador (3)
9 Yukon (8)
10 Alaska (5)

Here are the Canadian runner-ups:

15 Northwest Territories (25)
21 New Brunswick (23)
22 Alberta (10)
23 Ontario (14)
28 British Columbia (16)
29 Nunavut (27)
42 Nova Scotia (47)

Prince Edward Island wasn’t included.

As for the bottom 10:

113 Sudan
114 Nigeria
115 Bulgaria
116 Guatemala
117 Egypt
118 Solomon Islands
119 Honduras
120 Kenya
121 Hungary
122 Malaysia

The 122 jurisdictions totalled 10 more than in 2013. For inclusion, the institute requires a minimum of 10 responses per jurisdiction.

The anonymous replies also included comments which, for Canadian provinces and territories, note serious but unsurprising concerns.

But for some people, the rankings rankled. B.C.’s 10th-place finish out of 12 Canadian jurisdictions doesn’t jibe with the province’s second-place status for mining investment, according to the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia. Citing data from Natural Resources Canada, AME BC credited Ontario as Canada’s favourite for attracting investment. Fraser Institute respondents stuck that province with ninth place in Canada.

“Furthermore, one of the best indicators of success in exploration is seeing discoveries move through to mine development,” said AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom. “In recent years, we have seen a number of new major metal mines constructed in our province, including Copper Mountain in 2011, New Afton in 2012 and Mount Milligan in 2013. Also, Red Chris is being readied for commercial operations, and the KSM and Kitsault mine development projects have received environmental assessment certificates.”

The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines noted the Northwest Territories’ considerable improvement and its breakaway territory’s slight slump. The organization vowed to continue working with federal and territorial governments “to improve the investment climate for exploration and mining in the two territories.”

Download the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies 2014.