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Open and shut cases: North

December 18th, 2019

How do the territories’ mine openings compare with closures for 2019 and 2020?

by Greg Klein

This is Part 1 of a four-part series.

  • See Part 2, covering the western provinces.
  • See Part 3, covering Ontario.
  • See Part 4, covering Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
  •  

    One indication of the state of mining involves the vital statistics of births and deaths—the new mines that arrived and the old mines that left. To that end we survey each Canadian region for some of the major gains and losses that occurred over the past year or are expected for the next. The first of this multi-part series looks at the country’s three northern territories, with each distinct jurisdiction contributing to a study in contrasts.

    Yukon

    Yukon without mining? That might surprise people better acquainted with the territory’s past than its present. But such was the case for nearly a year, following the suspension of Minto, Yukon’s sole remaining hardrock mine up to 2018. Nevertheless operations returned to this fabled mining region in September as Victoria Gold TSXV:VIT celebrated Eagle’s debut. By late November the company reported 10,400 ounces of gold and 1,600 ounces of silver from the heap leach operation.

    How do Canada’s mine openings compare with closures in 2019 and 2020?

    Victoria Gold finished construction a month early on
    Yukon’s largest-ever gold mine. (Photo: Victoria Gold)

    Less than two weeks later the company unveiled an updated feasibility study raising the annual production target for the territory’s largest-ever gold mine from 200,000 to 220,000 gold ounces, based on a 20% increase in proven and probable reserves for the Eagle and Olive deposits. Victoria expects to reach commercial production in Q2 2020.

    By mid-October Minto came back to life under LSE-listed Pembridge Resources. Capstone Mining TSX:CS had placed the underground mine on care and maintenance in 2018, after about 11 years of continuous operation, as acquisition negotiations with Pembridge stalled. But the companies sealed the deal last June. Within weeks of restart Pembridge reported 1,734 dry metric tonnes of copper-gold-silver concentrate. Proven and probable reserves totalling 40,000 tonnes copper, 420,000 ounces silver and 45,000 ounces gold give Minto an estimated four more years of production.

    Among the most advanced Yukon projects is BMC Minerals’ Kudz Ze Kayah, a zinc deposit with copper, lead, gold and silver. The privately owned UK-based company reached feasibility in June and hopes to begin at least nine years of mining in 2021.

    Environmental/socio-economic reviews continue into Newmont Goldcorp’s (TSX:NGT) Coffee gold project and Western Copper and Gold’s (TSX:WRN) Casino polymetallic project. Should Casino make it into operation, the copper-gold-silver-molybdenum operation would be by far the territory’s largest mine.

    Read more about Yukon mining.

    Northwest Territories

    Confidence in the territorial economy fell last October when Moody’s downgraded a $550-million bond issued by Dominion Diamond. “There’s no plan in place to extend the mine life at a time when the debt is coming closer and closer to coming due,” the credit ratings agency’s Jamie Koutsoukis told CBC. “We continue to see a contraction in the time they have to develop this mine plan.”

    Part of the Washington Group, Dominion holds a majority stake in Ekati and 40% of Diavik, where Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO holds the remaining 60%. Along with De Beers’/Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Gahcho Kué, the three diamond operations comprise the territory’s largest private sector employer.

    How do Canada’s mine openings compare with closures in 2019 and 2020?

    Agnico Eagle once again laid claim to Arctic riches with the
    Amaruq satellite deposit, over 300 kilometres west of Hudson Bay.
    (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

    In an October presentation before the territory’s newly elected legislative assembly, the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines urged the government to safeguard the economy by improving investor confidence in the mining industry.

    An election year in the NWT and Canada-wide, 2019 brought optimistic talk and initial funding for the NWT’s Slave Geological Province Corridor and Nunavut’s Grays Bay Road and Port, two transportation proposals that would offer enormous potential for mineral-rich regions in both territories.

    Nunavut

    “Whispers could be heard throughout the room as intervenors turned to their colleagues. Members of the audience turned their heads, looking for Baffinland’s reaction to what was unfolding. Baffinland officials sat stone-faced, sometimes crossing their arms and looking down at the table as [Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki] Kotierk spelled out the motion.”

    That was the scene described by the Nunatsiaq News as the Nunavut Impact Review Board abruptly suspended hearings into Baffinland Iron Mines’ $900-million Phase II expansion plans for Mary River. The proposals, already accepted by Ottawa, include building a railway to replace a 100-kilometre road north to the company’s Milne Inlet port and doubling annual production to 12 million tonnes iron ore. The new railway proposal comes in addition to a previously approved but un-built 150-kilometre southern rail link to a harbour that had been planned for Steensby Inlet.

    The company maintains that expanded production and a northern rail line will be crucial to the existing operation’s viability. Responses at public hearings ranged from support to skepticism and outright opposition. Within weeks of the hearings’ suspension and a month ahead of a scheduled layoff, Baffinland let go 586 contractors who had been working on expansion preparations.

    How do Canada’s mine openings compare with closures in 2019 and 2020?

    About 290 kilometres southeast of Meadowbank, Agnico
    Eagle celebrated Meliadine’s first gold pour in February.
    (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

    Despite all that, operations continue at Mary River and Nunavut remains a bright spot in Canadian mining.

    That’s largely due to Agnico Eagle TSX:AEM, which brought two new operations to the territory. Meliadine began commercial production months ahead of schedule in mid-May, followed by Amaruq in late September.

    As a satellite deposit, Amaruq brings new life to the Meadowbank mine and mill complex 50 kilometres southeast. With the latter mine wrapping up its ninth and last year of operation, Amaruq’s open pit offers an estimated 2.5 million ounces up to 2025. Should hoped-for permitting come through in late 2020, a Phase II expansion could broaden the lifespan. Meanwhile drilling seeks to upgrade the project’s underground resource.

    Meliadine began with underground production but has an open pit scheduled to come online by 2023. Combined open pit and underground reserves of 3.75 million gold ounces give the operation a 14-year life.

    TMAC Resources’ (TSX:TMR) expansion plans moved forward in October as construction began on an underground portal to Madrid North, a fully permitted deposit that could enter production by late 2020. The new operation’s probable reserves of 2.17 million gold ounces far overshadow the company’s other three Hope Bay deposits, which total 3.59 million ounces proven and probable.

    By comparison, the current Doris operation hosts 479,000 ounces proven and probable. Hope Bay has updated resource/reserve and prefeas studies scheduled for Q1 2020.

    This is Part 1 of a four-part series.

  • See Part 2, covering the western provinces.
  • See Part 3, covering Ontario.
  • See Part 4, covering Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
  • Nunavut art, Nunavut gold celebrate Nunavut anniversary numismatically

    June 26th, 2019

    by Greg Klein | June 26, 2019

    A bit late for the April 1 birthday but an impressive work just the same, the Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled its latest collector coin commemorating Nunavut’s creation. The gold comes from two territorial mines and the design from a Nunavummiuq artist.

    Nunavut art, Nunavut gold celebrate Nunavut anniversary

    The most recent coin displays
    Germaine Arnaktauyok’s work.

    “The Mint is passionate about honouring Canadian talent and celebrating our exceptional cultural diversity through beautifully crafted coins,” said president/CEO Marie Lemay. “We are proud to honour Germaine Arnaktauyok’s artistic legacy, in pure Nunavut gold, to wish the people of this important territory a happy 20th anniversary.”

    With one-tenth of an ounce of 99.99% yellow metal from Agnico Eagle Mines’ (TSX:AEM) Meadowbank and TMAC Resources’ (TSX:TMR) Hope Bay mines, the coin has a face value of $20 but sells for $359.95 in a limited edition of 1,500. The piece depicts an Inuit drummer that Arnaktauyok created for a circulating toonie struck in 1999 on the new territory’s birth. The flip side portrays the Queen.

    Nunavut art, Nunavut gold celebrate Nunavut anniversary

    A 2018 coin featured Andrew Qappik’s images.
    (Photos: Royal Canadian Mint)

    It’s the second coin in a year featuring Nunavut gold and artistry. In June 2018 the Mint released a $20 piece using Meadowbank and Hope Bay gold as the canvas for Andrew Qappik’s images of a walrus, ptarmigan, polar bear, bowhead whale and narwhal.

    By far Nunavut’s largest private sector employer, the industry now has four territorial mines in operation, including Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River and Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine, which achieved commercial gold production just last month. Agnico Eagle also has Amaruq, a satellite project 50 kilometres northwest of Meadowbank, slated for commercial production in Q3.

    At Hope Bay, TMAC hopes to begin production on its Madrid and Boston gold deposits in 2020 and 2022 respectively, adding to current output from the Doris operation.

    Baffinland currently has community consultations underway as part of a Nunavut Impact Review Board process for two railways that the company proposes building to expand Mary River output.

    Among Nunavut’s other promising projects are Sabina Gold and Silver’s (TSX:SBB) Back River gold project, which has received all major permits since reaching feasibility in 2015, and De Beers’ Chidliak project, subject of the giant’s buyout of Peregrine Diamonds last year.

    Read more about the Royal Canadian Mint.

    Reaching arctic mines by sea

    September 10th, 2018

    Operating in northern Canada often means creating your own transportation routes

    by Greg Klein

    Amid all the controversy over spending $4.5 billion of taxpayers’ money to buy a pipeline project whose $9.3-billion expansion might never go through, Ottawa managed to come up with some good, if relatively minor, infrastructure news. Rehab work will begin immediately on an idled railway connecting with a port that together linked Churchill, Manitoba, with the rest of Canada by land and the world by sea. Should all go to plan the private-public partnership would be one of just a few recent success stories in northern infrastructure.

    Operating in northern Canada often means building your own infrastructure

    The arctic Quebec riches of Glencore’s Raglan mine
    justify an especially roundabout route from mine to market.

    Denver-based owner OmniTRAX shut down Churchill’s deep-water port in 2016, blaming the demise of grain shipping through that route. The following year the company said it couldn’t afford rail repairs after a flood washed out sections of the line. Now the railway, port and an associated tank farm come under new ownership in an “historic” deal involving the Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership and the Fairfax Financial Holdings & AGT Limited Partnership.

    “The consortium brings together First Nations and community ownership and support, along with significant private sector leadership and global investment capacity, and further, short line rail operation and shipping experience,” Ottawa enthused. As stakeholders heaped praise on the federal government, the source for much of the money seemed clear. But not even the purchase price, let alone details on who pays how much, have been disclosed.

    Still the revitalization program, which could re-open the railway this coming winter, heightens the potential of resource projects in northern Manitoba and Nunavut’s Kivalliq region. As such, the apparent P3 success contrasts with a northern infrastructure setback to the northwest.

    In April Transport Canada rejected a request to fund the bulk of a $527-million proposal to build another deep-water port at Grays Bay, Nunavut, along with a 227-kilometre year-round road leading to the territory’s former Jericho diamond mine. The Northwest Territories offered to build its own all-weather link, where a winter road now connects Jericho with three operating diamond mines in the NWT’s portion of the Lac de Gras region.

    However the federal refusal prompted Nunavut to pull its support for Grays Bay. Undeterred, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association joined the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines at last month’s Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Iqaluit to argue the case for Grays Bay and other infrastructure projects. Chamber executive director Tom Hoefer said that with the exception of the NWT’s 97-kilometre Tlicho all-season road, the two territories have gone more than 40 years without government support for major projects. The last came in 1975, when Ottawa partnered with industry to build the world’s first ice‐breaking cargo ship, serving the former Nanisivik and Polaris mines in present-day Nunavut, he said.

    With no power grids to our remote mines, [companies] must provide their own diesel-generated power, or wind in the case of Diavik. Being off the highway system, they must build their own roads—whether seasonal ice roads or all-weather roads. The ice road melts every year and must be rebuilt annually for $25 million…. Some of our mines must build their own seaports and all provide their own airports.—Tom Hoefer, executive director
    of the NWT and Nunavut
    Chamber of Mines

    Hoefer compared the Slave geological province, home to deposits of precious and base metals along with rare earths and Lac de Gras diamonds, to the Abitibi. Kivalliq, he added, also offers considerable potential in addition to the regional operations of Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM.

    But while mining plays an overwhelming role in the northern economy, he stressed, it’s been up to northern miners to build their own infrastructure.

    Baffinland’s Mary River iron ore mine co-owners ArcelorMittal and Nunavut Iron Ore want to replace their hauling road with a 110-kilometre railway to the company’s port at Milne Inlet, where ore gets stockpiled prior to summer shipping to Europe. Now undergoing environmental review, the railway would be part of a proposal to increase extraction from four million tonnes to 6.2 million tonnes annually and finally make the mine profitable. An environmental review already recommended rejection of the increased tonnage proposal, but the final decision rests with Ottawa. (Update: On September 30, 2018, Ottawa approved the increased tonnage application for a one-year trial period.)

    The rail line, if approved in its separate application, could be in operation by 2020 or 2021.

    That would make it Canada’s only railway north of 60, except for a CN spur line reaching Hay River, NWT, from Alberta and a tourist excursion to Carcross, Yukon, from the Alaska Panhandle town of Skagway. (Also connected by highway to the Yukon, Skagway provides year-round deep-water port facilities for the territory, including Capstone Mining’s (TSX:CS) Minto copper mine.)

    Projected for production next year, Amaruq comprises a satellite deposit for Agnico’s Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut. The company has built a 50-kilometre all-weather road linking Amaruq with Meadowbank’s processing facility and the company’s 110-kilometre all-weather road—by far the territory’s longest road—to Baker Lake. Interestingly that’s Nunavut’s only inland community but the hamlet has seasonal boat access to Chesterfield Inlet on northwestern Hudson Bay. From there, still restricted to the ice-free months, ships can reach Churchill or the St. Lawrence Seaway.

    Also primed for 2019 gold production is Agnico’s Meliadine, 290 kilometres southeast of Meadowbank. The company’s 25-kilometre all-weather road connects with summer shipping facilities at Rankin Inlet, 90 klicks south of Chesterfield Inlet.

    With its Doris gold operation only five kilometres from the Northwest Passage port of Roberts Bay, TMAC Resources TSX:TMR hopes to mine two more deposits on the same Hope Bay greenstone belt by 2020 and 2022 respectively.

    But the most circuitous route from northern mine to market begins in arctic Quebec using trucks, ship, rail and more rail, then another ship. Glencore hauls nickel-copper concentrate about 100 kilometres by road from Raglan to Deception Bay, roughly 2,000 crow-flying kilometres from Quebec City. That’s the next destination, but by water. From there the stuff’s offloaded onto rail for transport to a Sudbury smelter, then back by rail to Quebec City again. Ships then make the trans-Atlantic crossing to Norway.

    Related reading:

    Agnico Eagle CEO Sean Boyd remarks on the Arctic imagery of a collector’s coin minted from Nunavut gold

    July 30th, 2018

    …Read more

    More than just money

    June 27th, 2018

    The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

    by Greg Klein

    The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

    Although often extending the bounds of traditional coinage, the Mint acknowledged its heritage
    with a Colonial Currency of the Atlantic Provinces set that mimics the condition of used currency.
    (All photos: Royal Canadian Mint)

     

    Money’s appeal couldn’t be more obvious, yet coins specifically bring to mind values intrinsic, speculative or esthetic. By no means neglecting the first two, the Royal Canadian Mint has been emphasizing the third, and in ways increasingly innovative. Issuing over 200 such products each year, its “coins” have become more and more exotic. That shows in two recent releases, which can be said to source their materials from the end of the Earth and beyond.

    “As a commercial Crown corporation, we don’t rely on any taxpayer funding to finance our operations,” explains communications officer Alex Reeves. “So we need to finance ourselves and that has led us to a number of competitive fields, collector coins being one, bullion being a big part of it as well, and foreign circulating coins also.”

    Although this year’s Q1 results suggest more modest gains, the Mint reported a 2017 consolidated profit of $36.1 million, up from $24.5 million the previous year and buoyed partly by Canada 150 collectibles. Ottawa raked in $93.2 million in dividends last year.

    While the Bank of Canada prints paper money, the Mint strikes currency coins for Canada as well as countries on every continent. Its bullion, especially the one-ounce Maple Leaf gold coin, is sought after by the world’s speculators and hoarders, as well as collectors.

    But can the Mint’s increasingly creative collectibles still be considered coinage? Yes, according to Reeves. “They are coins by definition as legal tender, having a denomination and identifying country of origin,” he points out. That doesn’t mean they can’t be innovative.

    “Collectors come to us from all over the world so innovation helps us stand out in a crowded marketplace. We use it to get people’s attention and increase the appeal of our products.”

    The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

    That’s illustrated in the two newest releases. Each commemorating a special date, one coin contains purely Nunavut-mined gold, the other a little chunk of meteorite.

    The gold coin gets its yellow metal from TMAC Resources’ (TSX:TMR) Hope Bay and Agnico Eagle Mines’ (TSX:AEM) Meadowbank to present Andrew Qappik’s images of a walrus, ptarmigan, polar bear, bowhead whale and narwhal. In another innovation, the one-tenth-ounce piece has the same diameter as a quarter-ounce coin, providing a larger canvas for the Inuk artist’s work. Part of the Symbols of the North series, the coin anticipates Nunavut’s 20th anniversary next April.

    “Our Inuit employees, suppliers and partners can all take great pride in knowing that they have participated in making this unique coin that celebrates their heritage and culture,” commented Agnico Eagle CEO Sean Boyd. With a face value of $20, the coin sells for $359 in a limited mintage of 1,500.

    At a ceremony attended by former Canadian astronaut Dave Williams, the Mint used the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s 150th anniversary to unveil “a truly out-of-this-world collectible.” As if to make the one-ounce silver coin impractical for vending machines, a bit of rock from Campo del Cielo sticks out of the surface. The fragment fell to earth about 4,500 years ago when the Argentinian field underwent a meteorite bombardment.

    The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

    Using designs from Canadian artist Alexandra Lefort, the coin depicts the Eagle Nebula and its pillars of interstellar gas and dust along with the Moon, the Andromeda Galaxy and a blazing meteorite in addition to the genuine iron-enriched supplement.

    Also with a $20 face value, 5,500 versions—each unique for the shape of its other-worldly content—went on the market for $149.95 each.

    In April the Mint marked another extra-terrestrial event with an elliptical black-light-glowing piece portraying Manitoba’s 1967 Falcon Lake UFO sighting.

    Last year’s glow-in-the-dark toonie was named Most Innovative Circulating Coin by the International Mint Directors Conference.

    The Mint’s collectibles date back to a 1935 silver dollar commemorating King George V’s Silver Jubilee and portraying a voyageur paddling his canoe against a faint Northern Lights backdrop. “It gradually evolved to commemorative circulation coins, coin sets and then, with the advent of the Montreal Olympics, we started producing a higher volume of annual collector coins in silver and some in gold as well,” Reeves says. “We’ve continued to grow that part of our business.”

    The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

    Some other unusual creations this month included a six-ounce silver coin with a gold-plated miniature carousel that rotates with the help of a magnet. “Even the horses move up and down on this dazzling creation which is limited to a worldwide mintage of only 1,000,” states a promo.

    But musical accompaniment, apparently, has thus far escaped the Mint’s R&D ingeniousness.

    Still, last May Mint boffins announced one of their most complicated technical projects ever with a “coin” that’s half of a miniature Stanley Cup. “If you put two of them together, you would have an entire Stanley Cup replica, albeit a fraction of the size of the actual trophy,” the Mint quoted techie Michael Groves. He compared the project’s complexity to that of the Mint’s 100-kilo, million-dollar gold coin and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics medals.

    To keep the ideas flowing, the Mint maintains two R&D departments, one at the Winnipeg home of circulating coin production, the other in Ottawa, location of the head office, as well as bullion and collectible production.

    “We do have a broad range of expertise in our staff and it’s something we take seriously and keep investing in,” Reeves says. “We see ourselves as industry leaders for innovation” with some examples including colouring processes and security features. “We’ve made security features on our bullion coins that can’t be found elsewhere, and we have a broad range of innovation on our collector products as well. It benefits the industry if you’re able to raise the bar, create something new and inspire others to look at their own ways of improving coin-making or coming up with something brand new.”

    Whether others have been inspired to imitate the Mint’s ideas or steal them is a question currently before Australian courts. The Mint has demanded its Down Under counterpart turn over or destroy some $2 million worth of collectibles that allegedly appropriated a patented method of applying colour to metal. Australia responded with a counter-claim asking that Canada’s patent be declared invalid.

    But high-tech expertise notwithstanding, Canada’s coin creator won’t be venturing into the world of cryptocurrencies, Reeves insists. “The Mint is a manufacturer of physical coins, of cash in other words, and for the foreseeable future we see cash continuing to play an important role in Canadian daily commerce. We’re going to continue innovating in that area in ways that increase the security and durability of our products.”

    Update: The Canadian and Australian mints end their legal battle with a “collaborative cross-licensing agreement,” the National Post reports.

    Learn more about the Royal Canadian Mint.

    Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

    June 26th, 2018

    This story has been expanded and moved here.

    Rediscovering the planet

    September 9th, 2016

    Laurentian University and its partners hope to re-write the geoscientific Book of Genesis

    by Greg Klein

    Laurentian University and its partners hope to re-write the geoscientific Book of Genesis

    Metal Earth puts some of the world’s best-exposed, best-known
    rocks under additional scrutiny to unlock evolutionary secrets.

     

    Looked at this way, the future of mineral exploration lies in the past—billions of years in the past. But with state-of-the-art tools, techniques and expertise, Precambrian mysteries can be solved, leading to another generation of discoveries. Researchers with Laurentian University’s Metal Earth project intend to do just that, confidently stating they will transform our understanding of how mineral deposits originated during the planet’s evolution.

    What accounts for such boldness? “We are trying new techniques, doing research on a scale that has not been done before and I’m confident that we’re going to make discoveries,” Harold Gibson tells ResourceClips.com. As director of the Mineral Exploration Research Centre at Laurentian’s Harquail School of Earth Sciences and head of the Metal Earth project, he can barely contain his enthusiasm.

    Laurentian University and its partners hope to re-write the geoscientific Book of Genesis

    An extensive, innovative, seven-year study makes
    its headquarters at Sudbury’s Laurentian University.
    (Photo: Laurentian University)

    “It’s a fully integrated study of our Earth,” he continues. “We’re looking at producing MRI-like images through transects of known endowed areas and structures and compare them with structures that appear to be similar but not endowed. It’ll be backed up by a lot of geology, geochemistry, mantle xenolith geochemistry, geophysics. We’re going to apply the same scrutiny to the less endowed areas to determine the underlying processes and help guide industry to select areas. We’re going to peel back time, peel back the Earth’s crust, essentially. This has never been done before.”

    Gibson’s hardly alone in his confidence. Barely a week into the project’s existence, Metal Earth has attracted cash and in-kind backing totalling over $104 million. That includes a very prestigious award of $49.27 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

    With money sufficient for a seven-year run, Metal Earth will draw researchers from Laurentian and other schools, including over 35 post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, technicians and support staff, over 80 grad students, 100 undergrads and numerous subcontractors.

    Industry partners so far include the looming Sudbury presence of Vale NYSE:VALE, TMAC Resources TSX:TMR, nearing production at Hope Bay in Nunavut, and Ring of Fire explorer Noront Resources TSXV:NOT. Mira Geoscience brings its world-class earth modelling expertise while the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation provides additional computational facilities. Several universities and geological surveys have also joined in partnership.

    Gibson expects ground-breaking results, in more ways than one.

    Metal Earth will surpass Lithoprobe as Canada’s most extensive earth science project, he says. Some experts consider the 1980s-to-’90s endeavour to be the world’s best project of its kind. “Metal Earth is building on that with much more detail, much better equipment. We have more tools now,” he points out.

    “Some ore deposits were integrated into Lithoprobe, but not a lot.” Even so the project “revolutionized ideas of tectonics, the evolution of our Shield, as well as ore deposits. This is much more focused on ore deposits and large-scale systems, so I know we’re going to have new results that will be extremely interesting. If we’re only 20% successful we’ll still change a lot of ideas.”

    We’re going to peel back time, peel back the Earth’s crust, essentially. This has never been done before.—Harold Gibson,
    Metal Earth project lead

    Probably starting in October, field work will begin with the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. That puts a number of familiar areas under additional scrutiny. Then boots hit the ground on a less prolific belt, northwestern Ontario’s Wabigoon. Hope Bay, the Sudbury area and Manitoba will also come under investigation.

    “We focused on Canada because we have the best-exposed and best-known Shield in the world—and tons of expertise. We can do this research best here but we see the results applicable globally and to younger terrains.”

    Some data provided by companies will be kept confidential, but the results “will all be open source,” Gibson says. “All the data that we collect, which will be enormous, will be open to the public.”

    That’ll primarily be “spatial data, on maps, plotted in 3D, in formats need by industry, government and other researchers.” Some of it will even be 4D, with the fourth dimension being time.

    “We want to understand how time fits into this equation. We want to look back at the geometry, the morphology, the tectonics of the Precambrian,” he explains. “We’re going to do that through geochronology and isotope geochemistry. We’ll be looking at zircons collected by researchers and at government surveys throughout the Superior and Slave provinces, analyze them and use them as surrogates for looking at the nature of the crust at that time…. We can start reconstructing our paleo shields and look into how and when deposits fit into that.”

    The results will offer a multitude of uses for exploration companies, Gibson says. He anticipates they’ll begin by poring over “an incredible amount of new data. Then we’ll be interpreting that data, creating images, integrating it all and making that available. We’ll be generating new algorithms, new ways of treating the data to see patterns that haven’t been seen before.” Info will be accessible online through Laurentian and through government partners.

    While his enthusiasm’s obvious, Gibson’s well aware of the enormous challenge ahead of his team.

    “This is a tremendous opportunity for us, a tremendous opportunity for geoscience in Canada, but with that comes a tremendous responsibility to do it right,” he emphasizes. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”

    Controversial ex-environment minister joins TMAC board of directors

    March 15th, 2016

    by Greg Klein | March 15, 2016

    The announcement was somewhat muted, coming in the subhead and second paragraph of a February press release about Q4 financial and operating results. TMAC Resources TSX:TMR has appointed Leona Aglukkaq to its board of directors. The last environment minister in Canada’s former Conservative cabinet, Aglukkaq figures prominently in a lawsuit from Taseko Mines TSX:TKO against the federal government.

    Controversial ex-environment minister appointed to miner’s board of directors

    Leona Aglukkaq

    Taseko alleged that senior officials including Aglukkaq’s deputy minister and parliamentary secretary held undisclosed meetings with opponents of the company’s proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine after a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency-appointed panel completed its review. According to Taseko, opponents “provided input on draft conditions for the decision statement.”

    Taseko further claimed that “the minister relied on this information to conclude that the project was likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

    The lawsuit doesn’t name Aglukkaq as a defendant. Taseko’s allegations haven’t been proven in court.

    Months before Aglukkaq’s decision, Taseko stated that the environmental review considered a tailings storage design “completely different” from the company’s proposal.

    Aglukkaq, the first Inuk to be appointed to cabinet, served two terms as MP for Nunavut until her defeat in last October’s federal election. She had previously served four years in the territorial legislature.

    Located in the Kitikmeot region of western Nunavut, TMAC’s Hope Bay project has a 2015 pre-feasibility study that foresees a 20-year mine life producing 3.2 million gold ounces.

    In his February announcement, TMAC executive chairperson Terry MacGibbon said, “In addition to her federal government experience, Ms. Aglukkaq has broad public government exposure, including international diplomatic experience as a minister of the Arctic Council (2012-2015), a leading inter-governmental forum promoting co-operation, co-ordination and interaction among the arctic states, arctic indigenous communities and other arctic inhabitants on common arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection.” She has also served on the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

    Aglukkaq’s TMAC board appointment took effect February 25, exactly two years after she issued her New Prosperity decision.