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Discover Abitibi announces new geoscience studies

Discover Abitibi is embarking on a new round of studies in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt.

The Timmins-based initiative, which has a mandate for stimulating mineral exploration in the area, will soon start airborne geophysical surveys and geological fieldwork in less-explored portions of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, as well as beyond its borders.

At the end of December, Discover Abitibi put out a request for proposals for an airborne geophysical survey of an area known as the Burntbush Greenstone Belt.

“We are going into less explored areas to encourage companies to continue work in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, and also to move out into the areas surrounding the main part of the belt,” said Robert Calhoun, project manager for Discover Abitibi.

“We’re hoping that some company will go out and find a mineable resource based on the data. We’ve had a number of companies that have had good intercepts in and around the region over the last little while.”

Companies will also be invited to bid on at least three more contracts to perform airborne geophysical surveys over the next few months, as well as several contracts for geological fieldwork, he said.

All of this work will be done over the next two years, as the Discover Abitibi initiative is slated to end in May 2010.

Discover Abitibi was created in 2002 because low metal prices meant there was very little exploration in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake area.

Funded by a partnership between municipal, provincial and federal governments, Discover Abitibi conducted geoscience studies to lure exploration companies back to the area.

Metal prices began to rise just as Discover Abitibi came into existence, and now the region is teeming with prospectors and junior mining companies.

“It’s hard to qualify whether the boom in exploration was due to our work or high commodity prices. It’s sort of a chicken or the egg situation, said Calhoun. “Just as our data was coming out, there was an increase in commodity prices, so the information was very timely for prospectors.”

In 2002, there were just 50 exploration companies active in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. Now, there are at least 90. Over 22,000 claims have been staked in the area, said Calhoun.

The biggest find using information from Discover Abitibi was made by Tres-Or Resources Ltd., a Vancouver –based company that found the biggest diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe in Ontario.

Prospectors need high-quality geological surveys because finding mineral deposits can be difficult, he said.

New exploration technologies have helped greatly in the search for mineral resources, said Calhoun.

“A lot of the airborne techniques have improved significantly over the years. We are using the latest available survey designs so that we can increase the search area that we are working in,” he said.

“A lot of the surveys are able to see much deeper than they used to be able to, and there’s 3D computer modelling of the geological features. The modelling has been one of the major advances that has helped in locating new mineral deposits.”

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