Friday 24th January 2020

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Posts tagged ‘ontario’

Open and shut cases: Ontario

January 3rd, 2020

2019-2020 brings new technology, new gold, possible cobalt but diamond depletion

by Greg Klein

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Pure Gold’s plan to revive this Red Lake mine has deep-pocketed supporters.
(Photo: Pure Gold Mining)

 

Our survey of mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020 continues with a look at Ontario. This is Part 3 of a series.

 

While mining sustains the electric vehicle revolution, EVs enhance sustainability at Newmont Goldcorp’s (TSX:NGT) “mine of the future.” The company announced Borden’s commercial production on October 1, eight days after an official inauguration attended by representatives from industry, government and natives. The new operation boasts “state-of-the-art health and safety controls, digital mining technologies and processes, and low-carbon-energy vehicles.” The latter distinguish Borden as Canada’s first underground mine to spurn diesel-fueled vehicles in favour of EVs.

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Borden’s fleet of underground EVs includes
this battery-powered bolter. (Photo: Business Wire)

Borden now begins a projected 15 years of operation, although milling takes place at the company’s Timmins-region Porcupine facility, 180 diesel-burning kilometres east.

Even so, Ottawa and Queen’s Park each contributed $5 million to subsidize the environmentally correct underground vehicles.

Borden comprises one of four mines in as many continents that Newmont Goldcorp brought to commercial production in 2019—all on schedule, within budget and, the company already claims, making a profit.

Such technical prowess might make this mechanically impractical mixed metaphor surprising, but president/CEO Tom Palmer said Borden “leverages our leading land position to anchor this new gold district in Ontario.” Anchors and levers notwithstanding, he gave up other Ontario turf by selling Red Lake to ASX-listed Evolution Mining in November. Expressing no nostalgia for an operation that was once integral to Goldcorp’s existence, the deal nonetheless contributes US$375 million to a total US$1.435 billion from three recent divestitures by Newmont Goldcorp, one of 2019’s biggest merger stories.

 

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Test mining readies Madsen for anticipated production in late 2020.
(Photo: Pure Gold Mining)

That’s not to say the company forsakes Red Lake altogether. As one of four entities together holding over 30% of Pure Gold Mining TSXV:PGM, Newmont Goldcorp backs the camp’s next miner-to-be. Other financial support comes from Rob McEwen, the man behind Goldcorp’s Red Lake success, AngloGold Ashanti NYSE:AU and especially Eric Sprott.

Having started construction in September, Pure Gold expects to start pouring yellow metal at Madsen by late 2020.

Lowering capex while speeding construction, refurbishable infrastructure from two former mines includes a 1,275-metre shaft, 27 levels of underground workings, a mill and a tailings facility.

The property gave up about 2.6 million ounces from 1938 to 1976 and 1997 to 1999. Madsen’s feasibility calls for 12.3 years to chew through a probable reserve of 3.5 million tonnes averaging 8.97 g/t for 1.01 million gold ounces. With the deposit open in all directions, Pure Gold continues exploration in hopes of extending the lifespan.

 

Ontario’s Cobalt camp, meanwhile, was much better known for silver but left a critical mineral legacy in North America’s only permitted primary cobalt refinery. With financial backing from global top cobalt producer Glencore, First Cobalt TSXV:FCC hopes to restart the facility by Q4 2020.

That depends, however, on findings of a pre-feasibility study that might get upgraded to full-feas for an initial 12-tpd operation.

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Depending on feasibility and financing, First Cobalt
might reintroduce cobalt refining to North America.
(Photo: First Cobalt)

Commissioned in 1996 and on care and maintenance since 2015, the refinery was permitted for 12 tpd back in 2001. A possible advantage to the study’s economics might be the current improvement in cobalt prices, largely resulting from Glencore’s November suspension of its Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The shutdown erased about 20% of worldwide cobalt production, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Should the 12-tpd scenario work out, First Cobalt plans another feasibility study for an expansion to 55 tpd in 2021, which would place the company fourth in cobalt refining outside China.

Glencore loaned US$5 million to fund the studies and could advance up to US$40 million for rehab work, to be repaid by processing Glencore feed. “The refinery will be an important strategic asset for the North American market and we look forward to working with First Cobalt to help the asset fulfill its potential,” said Nico Paraskevas, Glencore’s head of copper-cobalt marketing.

Faintly suggesting a possible North American supply chain, First Cobalt’s portfolio includes an inferred resource at the Iron Creek cobalt-copper project in Idaho. On its Ontario property, the company drilled some 23,300 metres in 2017 and 2018 around former operations which had historically been mined for silver with cobalt-copper byproducts.

 

Turning to the James Bay region, this diamond mine’s closure might have been preventable but Victor lived up to its name in a number of ways. The shutdown, for example, could have happened nearly six years earlier. Winter road blockades in 2013 almost prevented arrival of heavy crucial supplies that couldn’t be flown in. Some of the protesters from the Attawapiskat reserve 90 kilometres east wanted to renegotiate the Impact Benefit Agreement. Others reportedly wanted their dismissals rescinded.

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

As humans replant a surrounding forest,
nature converts this 11-year mine to a northern lake.
(Photo: De Beers)

As quoted in the Timmins Daily Press, De Beers’ external and corporate affairs director Tom Ormsby warned that “Victor is a very solid, steady mine but it can’t keep taking all of these financial hits.”

Ontario Provincial Police initially refused to enforce a court order against the blockade, then finally moved in after protesters left voluntarily. Transport resumed and Victor lived out the rest of its nearly 11-year lifespan. Mining ended in early March 2019, by which time the total output of 8.1 million carats far surpassed the company’s original estimate of six million. Processing continued on stockpiled ore until late May.

But Tango, a smaller, lower-grade kimberlite seven kilometres away, might have added another five or six years of mining. Attawapiskat representatives, however, declined De Beers’ efforts to consult.

Victor’s closure leaves De Beers with just one mine outside Africa. The company holds the majority of a 51%/49% JV with Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD on Gahcho Kué in the Northwest Territories. De Beers put its NWT Snap Lake mine on extended care and maintenance in late 2015 as construction of Gahcho Kué neared completion. Efforts to sell Snap Lake proved unsuccessful.

But the global giant reiterated its interest in Canada with the 2018 purchase of Eric Friedland’s Peregrine Diamonds. That brought De Beers the Chidliak project on Baffin Island, with two of 74 kimberlites currently hosting inferred resources.

As for Victor, a $15.4-million reclamation program that began years earlier had planted its millionth tree within weeks of closure.

This is Part 3 of a four-part series.

Tyler Fleming discusses the Ontario Securities Commission’s public awareness program

December 3rd, 2019

…Read more

International Montoro Resources finds greater massive sulphide potential at Elliot Lake, Ontario

December 3rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 3, 2019

After adding results from a ZTEM MVI inversion magnetic survey, estimates of the Pecors anomaly double in size.

 

The Serpent River property shows enhanced prospects for nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium, according to a recent compilation and analysis of geophysical data. International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT reported two likely massive sulphide targets over the project’s Pecors anomaly. Now measured to about 5.7 kilometres by 4.2 kilometres by 2.2 kilometres, the anomaly extends to twice the size of a previous estimate.

International Montoro Resources finds greater massive sulphide potential at Elliot Lake, Ontario

A 2015 drill program tested the property’s magnetic anomaly.

The findings come from Mira Geoscience, considered a pioneer of advanced geological and geophysical modelling. The firm analyzed data using its Geoscience Analyst 3D visualization and exploration platform.

Following a 2007 VTEM survey, Montoro sunk two holes totalling 2,322 metres in 2015. One hole intersected a magnetic anomaly’s source, a gabbro body with minor sulphides showing nickel, copper and PGE values near the base. The other hole also intersected the gabbro, finding low-grade gold, platinum, palladium, copper and nickel values, the company stated.

“In essence we are exploring for a massive sulphide nickel-copper-PGE-gold deposit,” said president/CEO Gary Musil.

Last October the company announced a 51% earn-in on the 2,250-hectare Camping Lake property in Ontario’s Red Lake district. In British Columbia’s Cariboo region, Montoro completed rock and soil sampling last July on its 2,138-hectare property bordering Defense Metals’ TSXV:DEFN Wicheeda rare earths project.

Montoro’s portfolio also includes two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA.

Save Canadian Mining calls for short selling and private placement reform

November 22nd, 2019

by Greg Klein | November 22, 2019

With supporters including the TSX Venture Exchange, a new advocacy group has begun campaigning to improve investment regulations for junior miners. Officially launched this week, Save Canadian Mining intends to lobby government and regulatory agencies to reinstate the tick test on short selling and abolish the names committee requirement for private placements.

Along with the TSXV, supporters include Eric Sprott, the Ontario Prospectors Association, the Ontario Mining Association, newsletter writers and others.

Save Canadian Mining calls for short selling and private placement reform

Current market rules provide “an environment for predatory short-selling practices to thrive, particularly on our vulnerable junior markets,” said a news release from Terry Lynch. The SCM founder and CEO of Chilean Metals TSXV:CMX added, “For smaller-cap mining companies, short-selling activity spooks true investors into selling prematurely, effectively stunting the growth of these businesses at critical early stages.”

The group attributes increasing damage to a 2012 decision by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Canadian Securities Administrators, who cancelled a 142-year rule known as the tick test.

“The tick test restricted short selling to positive price changes at the time of the sale (i.e. an investor could only short a stock if it were on an upward trajectory),” according to the SCM statement. “This change was applied not only to the main listing venue of the TSX Venture Exchange, but was equally applied across all Canadian trading venues of which there are 14 today. Since the removal of the tick test, Canadian markets have evolved and there now exists a dynamic where Canada’s junior markets are finding it increasingly difficult to raise capital.”

Since then, Lynch added, “the advent of high-frequency trading and algorithmic trading are exploiting the combination of a lack of a tick test, with 14 different trading markets to the detriment of one of Canada’s most important industries.”

We look forward to working with Save Canadian Mining and industry stakeholders to engage Canada’s regulators in evaluating the reinstatement of a tick test, and in pursuit of continued improvements to our globally unique venture market.—Brady Fletcher
TSXV managing director

While maintaining that short selling contributes to a “healthy, efficient market,” TSXV managing director Brady Fletcher said, “The TSX Venture Exchange understands that certain changes to market operations in Canada, specifically related to the removal of the tick test, may have had unintended negative consequences for our junior, or more illiquid issuers.

“We look forward to working with Save Canadian Mining and industry stakeholders to engage Canada’s regulators in evaluating the reinstatement of a tick test, and in pursuit of continued improvements to our globally unique venture market, many of which were tabled for discussion in our 2019 Trading Roundtable report.”

SCM also calls on investment banks to allow companies to sell private placements to brokers without approval by a names committee. “Brokers can decide if it’s appropriate for a client, if their client has allocations with respect to investments that they’re able to invest without the names committee requirement, because that’s really just a barrier to trade,” Lynch tells ResourceClips.com.

The inspiration for SCM arose at last year’s PDAC conference, he says. “I was there on Sunday and it was just me and my boothmates, no investors. It was discouraging and we thought, ‘My God, we’re watching the demise of our industry.’ We’ve done okay in life and it’s not going to change our outlook, but we thought we should really try to make the changes we need, so that’s when I started it. I bought the domain that day.”

We think this is an across-the-board issue that every junior mining company, every junior mining investor, should be able to rally behind. The only guys who’d be against it would be the short sellers themselves.—Terry Lynch,
Save Canadian Mining founder

The group plans meetings with several offices, including Ontario’s ministries of mines and finance. “We’ll be lobbying the appropriate ministers in the Ford government to make them aware of the situation and hopefully get their support.

“There’s a lot of other issues but we’re not trying to re-invent PDAC. We’re really focused on these core junior mining issues.”

With short selling taking prominence, “we think this is an across-the-board issue that every junior mining company, every junior mining investor, should be able to rally behind. The only guys who’d be against it would be the short sellers themselves and they’re not being productive. They’re taking advantage of the situation and we think it’s got to stop. And if that stops, we could really turn the corner in junior mining and create a great market for our investors and allow companies to get the capital they need to go out there and make some discoveries.”

A clear focus and significant support might distinguish SCM from a previous group, the Vancouver-based Venture Capital Markets Association. Largely representing small-cap brokers and investors, the group formed in 2013 but petered out by 2016 with little attention from media, authorities or even the mining industry. Among other proposals, the VCMA wanted to place the B.C. Securities Commission under “a new independent board controlled by members who reflect the industry.”

See Save Canadian Mining’s website and petition.

OSC promotes financial literacy, BCSC to get new powers of investigation and enforcement

November 1st, 2019

by Greg Klein | November 1, 2019

That “sociopathic securities regulator,” as Conrad Black called it, has new programs scheduled to help protect investors from, well, other sociopaths. The Ontario Securities Commission will present in-person, online and over-the-phone events throughout November to mark Financial Literacy Month.

People need the tools to make informed financial decisions, and through our financial literacy and investor education activities we’re helping millions of people get smarter about money.—Tyler Fleming,
Ontario Securities Commission

Among them are community seminars, a November 19 telephone town hall, a multilingual website expanded with 16 more languages, a video series, further editions of Investor News and additional resources on the OSC’s consumer website GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.

“Improving people’s financial knowledge, skills, confidence and behaviour is a key area of focus of the OSC,” said the commission’s Tyler Fleming. “People need the tools to make informed financial decisions, and through our financial literacy and investor education activities we’re helping millions of people get smarter about money.”

Late last month the British Columbia Securities Commission joined the provincial government to announce “sweeping changes” that would give the BCSC “some of the strongest powers in the country.” The proposed legislation would be the first significant amendments of the province’s Securities Act since 2011 and the most extensive since the act became law in 1996.

The new measures would boost maximum fines and prison terms, with minimum sentences applied to some repeat offenders. In some cases the BCSC could impose fines without a hearing. The commission would also gain stronger investigative powers.

OSC promotes financial literacy, BCSC to get new powers of investigation and enforcement

Other measures would allow the BCSC to seize property transferred to third parties, prevent fraudsters from getting a driver’s licence or vehicle plates, and seize registered retirement savings plans.

The commission would also gain stronger control over derivatives trading and corporate transactions.

“B.C. is setting the bar high when it comes to protecting people’s investments,” said Ermanno Pascutto of the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights. “These amendments to improve fine collection rates are some of the most far-reaching in Canada and align with international best practice. We are pleased that the B.C. government and the BCSC will make it a priority to return funds to victims of investment fraud.”

The stronger measures apparently respond to a series of 2017 stories by Postmedia journalist Gordon Hoekstra detailing several cases of unenforced sanctions despite scammers holding significant assets. Over the previous decade the BCSC collected less than 2% of $510 million in fines and payback orders while the OSC enforced about 18% of its penalties, he reported.

“Immediately after the Postmedia investigation, the BCSC filed at least 10 writs of seizure and sale in B.C. Supreme Court for financial fraudsters owing nearly $70 million in penalties, and renewed three enforcement orders, “ Hoekstra wrote in June 2018. “Also following the investigation, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James ordered the BCSC to improve its collection record and called for new tools and modernization of the Securities Act to improve collection.”

PDAC infographics: Highlighting mining’s contributions to Canada’s economy

October 28th, 2019

by Greg Klein | October 28, 2019

Although Canadian miners hold global stature, Canadians don’t always recognize the industry’s importance to our own country. Yet the numbers tell a story that’s not only impressive but vital to understanding an economy in which mining supports one in 29 jobs and provides the largest private sector source of native employment.

To state the case clearly, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada created a series of infographics outlining the industry’s contributions. Check them out yourself by scrolling down to see facts and figures for Canada overall and for each province or territory. Or click on the menu below for a direct link to each jurisdiction.

Canada nationwide | Yukon | Northwest Territories/Nunavut | British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick/Nova Scotia | Newfoundland and Labrador/Prince Edward Island

Posted with permission of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.

 

PDAC infographics Highlighting mining’s contributions to Canada’s economy

 

PDAC Yukon mining infographic

 

PDAC NWT Nunavut mining infographic

 

PDAC BC mining infographic

 

PDAC Alberta mining infographic

 

PDAC Saskatchewan mining infographic

 

PDAC Manitoba mining infographic

 

PDAC Ontario mining infographic

 

PDAC Quebec mining infographic

 

PDAC Nova Scotia New Brunswick mining infographic

 

PDAC Newfoundland Labrador PEI mining infographic

Posted with permission of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.

International Montoro Resources moves into Ontario’s Red Lake camp

October 23rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | October 23, 2019

A new acquisition brings another player into a busy northwestern Ontario mining and exploration region. Under an agreement announced October 23, International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT can earn a 51% interest in the 2,250-hectare Camping Lake property on the Birch-Uchi-Confederation Lakes greenstone belt, home to the Red Lake gold deposits and Great Bear Resources’ (TSXV:GBR) attention-grabbing Dixie Lake property 20 kilometres north.

International Montoro Resources moves into Ontario’s Red Lake camp

Previous work at Camping Lake includes petrographic studies, rock, soil and lake sediment samples, IP and ground geophysics, as well as drilling. Conducted between 2010 and 2013, the work was carried out by Laurentian Goldfields, Kinross Gold TSX:K and AngloGold Ashanti NYSE:AU. Montoro plans an immediate compilation of exploration data prior to its own program.

Under the JV agreement with Falcon Gold TSXV:FG, Montoro would issue 1.5 million shares over one year and assume Falcon’s payments of $65,000 over four years. Montoro’s exploration commitments would call for $100,000 within one year and another $200,000 over the second year. On earning the initial 51%, Montoro could up its stake to 75% by paying $500,000. A 2% NSR applies.

In Ontario’s Elliot Lake district, Montoro has found nickel-copper-PGE potential in addition to historic uranium and rare earths mineralization on the company’s Serpent River project. Last month Montoro engaged Mira Geoscience to undertake an extensive study of the company’s drilling and geophysics data, along with previous work on or around the property by other companies and regional programs by the Ontario Geological Survey.

In central British Columbia’s Cariboo region, Montoro holds a 2,138-hectare property bordering Defense Metals’ TSXV:DEFN Wicheeda rare earths project.

In southern Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, Montoro holds the Duhamel titanium-vanadium-chromium prospect. The company’s portfolio also includes two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA.

Earlier this month Montoro closed a private placement first tranche of $47,500.

Read more about International Montoro Resources.

Read more about Ontario’s Red Lake camp.

The Marten Falls First Nation comments on a proposed road to the Ring of Fire

October 9th, 2019

…Read more

Stan Sudol: News and analysis on the Ring of Fire

September 25th, 2019

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2019

Stan Sudol News and analysis on the Ring of Fire

Among obstacles to developing Ontario’s Ring of Fire is public confusion on the issue, sometimes worsened by inaccurate media coverage. Recent news has prompted Republic of Mining editor Stan Sudol to update a comprehensive analysis he published last December.

Probably Canada’s most knowledgeable mining commentator, Sudol discusses recent band elections and the Ford government’s new approach to community negotiations, as well as providing considerable detail and insight on other aspects of this often misunderstood topic.

Reading it would benefit anyone concerned about this vital resource issue. Ontario residents might consider sending a link to their MPP—and maybe some local media outlets too.

Basic Facts About the Ring of Fire Including FNs’ Traditional Territories, by Stan Sudol

The Red Lake resurgence

September 16th, 2019

Miners and explorers seek ever more gold from this busy Ontario district

by Greg Klein

Miners and explorers seek ever more gold from this busy Ontario district

Benefiting from reinterpretation of past work, Great Bear now
has three rigs drilling Dixie Lake. (Photo: Great Bear Resources)

 

A new gold producer on the way, attention-grabbing assays from a well-financed junior and high hopes for the price of gold—could that in any way explain the current excitement at Red Lake? A region that’s produced 30 million ounces since its first rush in 1926 still has more gold to mine and, explorers believe, more mines to find.

Just as Newmont Goldcorp TSX:NGT was considering the sale of its Red Lake operations, Pure Gold Mining TSXV:PGM began building Madsen Red Lake, billed as Canada’s highest-grade gold development project. But, as far as juniors are concerned, the district’s biggest newsmaker has been Great Bear Resources’ (TSXV:GBR) Dixie Lake property.

While focused on British Columbia’s Golden Triangle in 2017, Great Bear optioned Dixie from Newmont, also getting decades of data from over 160 historic holes. Given the succession of companies that drilled and departed, the data might have seemed more encumbrance than encouragement. Undeterred, Great Bear geologists began relogging core to “resolve geological differences between generations of work dating back to the 1980s and provide a coherent framework for the company’s own drilling.”

The prepping paid off. That summer’s Phase I program found success with its first hole and reached up to 16.84 g/t gold over 10.4 metres in hole #5 at the Dixie Limb zone. As the campaign progressed, the company tripled its turf to cover a potential gold-bearing structure of regional significance.

Miners and explorers seek ever more gold from this busy Ontario district

Pure Gold conducts underground test mining at Madsen Red Lake.
(Photo: Pure Gold Mining)

More expansions followed, with assays reaching up to 26.91 g/t over 16.35 metres at the newly discovered and near-surface Hinge zone. Financings came through too, most notably with an $11.1-million infusion that included a total of $5.7 million from McEwen Mining TSX:MUX and Rob McEwen himself, progenitor of Red Lake’s last renaissance. The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame credits him with transforming the Goldcorp mine “from a 50,000-ounce producer in 1997 to a 500,000-ounce producer in 2001, while cash costs fell from $360 per ounce to $60 per ounce over this period.”

The stock soared past $2 from about $0.58 pre-McEwen. The grades, discoveries and financings continued, even with what president/CEO Chris Taylor called “the cheapest discovery hole we’ve ever had.” That happened after a keen-eyed geo spotted high-grade visible gold on unassayed core that had been neglected for 12 years. Clearly, the company was on to something when its management decided past operators had overlooked Dixie’s promise.

Great Bear now has three rigs at work.

But this is no spectator sport, as the inevitable influx demonstrated. For Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST, however, the attraction is base metals more than the yellow stuff. The company’s Garnet deposit features a 2017 inferred resource showing 2.1 million tonnes averaging 5.78% zinc, 0.72% copper, 19.5 g/t silver and 0.6 g/t gold, using a 3% zinc-equivalent cutoff. 

Miners and explorers seek ever more gold from this busy Ontario district

Visible gold attests to Great Bear’s confidence in Dixie Lake.
(Photo: Great Bear Resources)

An historic, non-43-101 resource for Pistol Bay’s Fredart zone estimated 385,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper and 33.6 g/t silver. Historic drilling on the company’s Joy-Caravelle area shows non-43-101 results including 21.6% zinc and 0.13% copper over 0.25 metres.

Up to recently, Pistol Bay’s portfolio had been about 25 kilometres northeast of Dixie Lake. But the company moved closer in July, with an option on 2,130 hectares southeast of Great Bear. Part of the former Goldpines claims, the property’s past work consisted mainly of geochemical sampling.

An NSR held by Perry English on Fredart hints at the prospector’s impact on the district. English sold the Dixie and Packwash properties to Great Bear and, under an LOI signed earlier this month, will vend Red Lake’s Camping Lake and Bruce Lake projects to Prime Meridian Resources TSXV:PMR.

Spurred on by recent grab samples as high as 19 g/t, 23.3 g/t and 126.5 g/t gold, Pacton Gold TSXV:PAC plans 10,000 metres of drilling to begin next month at its Red Lake project. Historic work included sampling, trenching and drilling.

A more advanced project towards the district’s eastern reaches, First Mining Gold’s (TSX:FF) Springpole reached PEA in 2017 with an indicated 4.67 million gold ounces and 24.19 million silver ounces, along with an inferred 230,000 gold ounces and 1.12 million silver ounces.

Proximal to both Newmont Goldcorp and Pure Gold, Nexus Gold’s (TSXV:NXS) McKenzie project underwent a spring field program that scored a sample result of 135.4 g/t gold. In August the company signed an LOI with privately held Hawkmoon Resources that could have the latter company acquire or JV on Nexus’ Canadian projects.

With a Phase I drill program of at least 2,500 metres well underway, BTU Metals TSXV:BTU hopes to find evidence that Great Bear’s high-grade LP fault structure crosses BTU’s Dixie Halo property.

Under an LOI signed last week, Maxtech Ventures CSE:MVT would acquire the Panama Lake project from Benton Resources TSXV:BEX. The latter company assembled the property by staking, last year adding the former Goldcorp Ben Lake project. This year’s drilling produced assays up to 1.23 g/t gold over 6.5 metres.

Some other companies in the district include Confederation Minerals TSXV:CFM, which last May added the Leo property to its Red Lake portfolio with the company’s 70%-held Newman Todd property.

This month GoldON Resources TSXV:GLD completed prospecting and soil sampling on its West Madsen project optioned from Great Bear last May. GoldON sees rare earths as well as gold potential in the property.

Meanwhile Madsen begins construction, with commercial production expected by the end of 2020. The project came together quickly after Pure Gold, then called Laurentian Goldfields, assembled claims including the former Madsen mine in late 2013 and early 2014. Within five years Pure Gold built a resource of 2.06 million ounces indicated and 467,000 ounces inferred. That includes a probable reserve of 3.51 million tonnes averaging 8.97% for 1.01 million ounces that’s expected to keep the mine busy for 12 years.

Deep-pocketed support comes from AngloGold Ashanti NYSE:AU, Eric Sprott, Rob McEwen and Newmont Goldcorp, who collectively hold over 30% of Pure Gold.

Although the district’s success stories encourage enthusiasm, Red Lake also spawned a cautionary tale. Rubicon Minerals TSX:RMX notoriously skipped feasibility to take its Phoenix project directly from PEA to production in 2015. Six months later the mine shut down. The explanation: Unexpectedly complex geology. The resource shrank dramatically, from 1.13 million gold ounces measured and indicated in 2013 to just 106,000 ounces in 2016. Inferred fell from 2.22 million ounces to 307,000 ounces.

Later that year the company sought creditor protection.

But last month Rubicon bravely unveiled a new PEA with “a lower margin of error and risk.” Still a far cry from the 2013 estimate, however, are the current numbers of 589,000 ounces measured and indicated, along with 540,000 ounces inferred. Chastened, the company plans to begin feasibility studies in Q1 2020.