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Gold keeps exploration drills turning in Timmins

March 4, 2019
by Len Gillis
In: Exploration

Porcupine mining district leads the way for Ontario exploration

A man carrier with student miners from a Northern College common core program enters the ramp portal at Goldcorp’s Borden Lake mine project near Chapleau, Ontario last fall.  The Borden project, one of Goldcorp’s newest operations in Northern Ontario, is destined to become Canada’s first all-electric gold mine.

Aggressive mining exploration continues throughout the Timmins mining camp, thanks to the efforts of at least one smaller producer located in nearby Black River-Matheson.

That’s where McEwen Mining set up shop after purchasing the Black Fox complex from Primero Mining in 2017. To say McEwen’s exploration plan is aggressive would be an understatement.

Company president Chris Stewart revealed in January the company has earmarked $20 million for exploration drilling on its properties in 2019, which include the Black Fox Mine, as well as the Froome, Grey Fox and Tamarack deposits.

This follows the $18 million that was spent on exploration there in 2018.

“Not many other companies up here are spending that kind of money on exploration right now,” Stewart told the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

In 2018, the Black Fox Mine had production guidance of 48,000 ounces. The 2019 guidance is not yet revealed but should be similar to 2018, Stewart said.

Resident geologist Tafa Gomwe reports the Timmins district had the highest exploration spending in Ontario in 2016 and 2017 – a trend that is likely to continue.

“The Porcupine Mining District where Timmins is located experienced a three per cent increase in the total number of active mining claims in 2018. In the Porcupine District that encompasses Timmins, more than 6,000 claims were registered in 2018.”

Statistics on the total amount of money spent on exploration in the district last year have not yet been published.

A lot of gold watchers in the North have had their eye on Goldcorp, which took a beating on the market in the fall of 2018 when share prices hit their lowest level in more than 16 years after the company reported a third quarter loss of $101 million and gold production of 503,000 ounces – down by more than 20 per cent.

A friendly takeover of Goldcorp by Newmont Mining was announced January 14. The new company, Newmont Goldcorp, will be the world’s leading gold miner with production of between six and seven million ounces annually. The transaction is expected to close in Q2 of this year.

In the meantime, Goldcorp said it was on track to meet its 2018 guidance for gold production. In early January, the company released a statement revealing that fourth quarter production had risen significantly to 630,000 ounces, bringing the total for the year to 2.3 million ounces.

Goldcorp’s 20-20-20 plan pledges to increase production by 20 per cent, reduce costs by 20 per cent and increase reserves by 20 per cent.

In the Timmins area, Goldcorp operates the Hoyle Pond Mine, the Hollinger open pit, the newly developing Borden Mine near Chapleau, and has hopes of rejuvenating the Dome Mine in South Porcupine with its Century Project.

Its Porcupine business unit comprising these operations has proven and probably mineral reserves of 8.1 million ounces of gold, over 8.4 million ounces of measured and indicated resources and 3.7 million ounces in the inferred category.

“As the company optimizes the Century Gold Project, there remains opportunity through additional study to convert ounces to reserves based on the reduced milling and mining costs associated with the significantly larger-scale mining complex, and larger mining fleet envisioned,” Goldcorp reported in an October news release.

Exploration at Porcupine included continued underground drilling at Hoyle Deeps, expansionary drilling of near mine targets at Borden and regional programs at both Porcupine and Borden.

Another significant miner in the Timmins camp is Tahoe Resources Inc., recently acquired by Pan American Silver. It is now being referred to as the world’s premier silver producer, but gold is still the mainstay for Tahoe, which has the Timmins West mining complex and the Bell Creek Mine and Mill.

Speaking to investors in November, company president and CEO Jim Voorhees revealed that exploration was continuing in the general area of the Timmins West complex.

“We continue to focus our efforts on the Gold River trend. We’ve completed about 42,000 metres of infill and extensional drilling there this year and metallurgical and geotechnical samples have been collected and are at various stages of testing. Initial met tests of refractory samples has yielded favorable results that we are currently analyzing,” he said.
The Gold River site is just a few kilometres south of Timmins West. Voorhees said exploration is also happening in the city’s East End, where Bell Creek is located.

Explor Resources continues to work on the Timmins Porcupine West project in Ogden Township. Explor has plans on file with the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines for extensive geophysical surveys on roughly 125 claims in Bristol and Ogden Townships in the west end of Timmins as part of a drill program that began in July 2017 and will continue until the end of July 2019. The plan also includes extensive line cutting on many of those claims. Explor Resources was exploring near the Kidd Creek mine early in 2018, but did not do any exploration in the second half of the year.

Gowest Gold has come through a year of “de-risking” on its North Timmins project located on the Bradshaw property about 32 kilometres north of Timmins and a few kilometres east of Glencore’s Kidd Mine. Gowest Gold put its Bradshaw property on care and maintenance early in 2018.

In a presentation to investors in November, Gowest revealed that its “near-mine exploration” program at the project had turned up three distinct mineralized zones with two of those zones being located within one kilometer of the Bradshaw Deposit.

IAMGOLD was expected to announce board approval to start construction of the Côté Gold Project near Gogama, 112 kilometres south of Timmins, early this year, but instead the company decided “to wait for improved, and sustainable market conditions” before proceeding with construction.

Central Timmins Exploration Corp. has put together a large land package west of the former Hollinger Mine. It has flown an airborne survey over the area, performed geochemical Mobile Metal Ions surveying over part of the area and completed four diamond drill holes to date. The company is expected to continue exploring through 2019.

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