Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) latest Canadian Mineral Exploration Information Bulletin has forecast an overall 38% jump to C$2.9B in exploration and deposit appraisal spending in 2021. Its May 2021 report found that both junior exploration and senior mining companies plan to increase spending in 2021 by 34% and 41%, respectively.
According to NRCan, sustained mineral and metal prices and a positive outlook brought on by the rollout of vaccines, government stimulus, and increased demand for metals for the green transition are expected to lead to the boost in spending.
Higher spending in 2021 is mostly attributable to exploration for gold, which is anticipated to account for 70% of the total exploration expenditures, up from 57% just two years ago. Exploration spending for all other commodities is expected to increase with the exception of coal and iron ore.
Drilling success is one of the key drivers of that exploration activity growth. In this article, The Assay drills down a bit further and takes a closer look at where that success is occurring.
High-grade hits continue in Quebec
While NRCan believes exploration spending will increase for all jurisdictions in 2021, it forecasts that Quebec will take the lead from Ontario and experience the largest increase – an impressive 93% compared with the previous year.
In early June, Osisko Mining Inc. (TSX: OSK) added to the recent run of drilling success at the Lynx Zone within its 100%-owned Windfall gold project, located in the prolific Abitibi greenstone belt in Quebec.
High-grade intercepts, such as 248 g/t Au over 2.2m, 164 g/t Au over 2.2m, 128 g/t Au over 2.3m, 56.5 g/t Au over 2.9m and 46.8 g/t Au over 2.6m, really made the mining sector sit up and take notice.
Notably, the infill intercepts were located inside Osisko’s defined February 2021 mineral resource estimate (MRE) blocks.
One of the biggest stars of the Quebec scene, Amex Exploration Inc. (TSXV: AMX), continues to inspire interest in the area. In early June, the company unveiled further high-grade drilling success at its exciting Perron Gold Project.\
Focusing on definition drilling of the High Grade Zone (HGZ) of the Eastern Gold Zone (EGZ) at Perron, the company continues to hit significant mineralized intersections including:
- HGZ – near surface – 32.91 g/t Au over 6.40m, including 148.82 g/t Au over 1.40m, for a metal factor of 210 at a vertical depth of approximately 130m
- HGZ – at depth – 27.06 g/t Au over 8.85m, including 317.18 g/t Au over 0.70m, for a metal factor of 239 at a vertical depth of approximately 930m
Ontario keeps producing
While it may have slipped slightly behind Quebec in current popularity, Ontario – and in particular the Red Lake District – is still proving to be a world-class gold mining destination.
One of the most active exploration companies in the Red Lake District, Evolution Mining Limited (ASX: EVN), continues to grow its significant footprint there.
Exploration spending for all other commodities is expected to increase with the exception of coal and iron ore
In recent weeks, Evolution has completed the acquisition of Battle North Gold Corporation (TSX: BNAU) and its suite of Red Lake assets, including the Bateman Gold Project, which is contiguous to Evolution’s Red Lake operations.
Evolution Executive Chairman, Jake Klein, says the company is excited to be adding to its Red Lake portfolio.
“This acquisition provides Evolution with an opportunity to expand our footprint in the region and create value by leveraging the infrastructure of the two operations. The additional processing capacity from the new Bateman mill will also accelerate our ability to achieve our objective of producing in excess of 300,000 ounces of gold per annum from Red Lake.
“In the 12 months that we have been operating at Red Lake we have demonstrated that we are a committed steward of the region. This expansion of our footprint will provide us with an opportunity to build on our track record as a safe and sustainable operator for the long-term benefit of a broad range of stakeholders, including the local workforce, regional communities, and our Wabauskang and Lac Seul First Nation Partners.”
Meanwhile, one of the Red Lake Districts current market darlings, Great Bear Resources (CVE: GBR), is full swing into a C$45M 2021 exploration programme at its 100%-owned flagship Dixie Project – while celebrating the two-year anniversary of its high-class LP Fault discovery at Dixie.
“We are very pleased to mark the two-year anniversary of the LP Fault discovery by entering the final months of near-surface maiden resource estimation drilling,” president and CEO, Chris Taylor, said.
Great Bear’s ongoing drilling continues to intersect high-grade and bulk-tonnage style gold mineralization at the LP Fault. New results include:
- 50.05 g/t gold over 2.30, from 315.80 to 318.10m downhole in drill hole BR-294
- 61.20 g/t gold over 1.10m from 143.85 to 144,95m downhole in drill hole BR-311. This occurred within a broader interval assaying 3.85 g/t gold over 32.35m from 118.85 to 151.20m downhole
- 29.52 g/t gold over 2.50m from 276.55 to 279.05m downhole in drill hole BR-321 This occurred within a broader interval assaying 2.10 g/t gold over 49.25m from 254.00 to 303.25m downhole
Golden Triangle continues to shine
A number of Golden Triangle specialists have recently unveiled plans to further develop their British Columbia properties.
This includes Scottie Resources Corp. (TSXV: SCOT), which has reached an amalgamation agreement with AUX Resources Corp. (TSXV: AUX), to consolidate the contiguous gold-silver exploration assets of Scottie’s Cambria Project and AUX’s Silver Crown, Independence, American Creek, Lower Bear, and Bear Pass Projects, all of which will benefit from operational and geological synergies.
Upon completion of the transaction, it is expected that the shareholders of AUX will hold approximately 31% of Scottie’s issued and outstanding shares. The board of Scottie will remain the same.
Anticipated Benefits of the transaction include:
- District scale 522km2 100% owned in the heart of the Stewart Mining Camp adjacent to Pretium Resources and Ascot Resources Premier and Red Mountain deposits in the Golden Triangle
- Consolidation of AUX’s Silver Crown, Independence, American Creek, Lower Bear, and Bear Pass Projects with Scottie’s Cambria Project. The expanded Cambria Project will cover 27,465 contiguous hectares and includes five historical mines (Molly B, Bayview, Black Hills, Blue Grouse and Terminus)
- Three advanced Projects in the Stewart Mining Camp – Scottie Gold Mine, Georgia (including the Georgia River Mine) and Cambria (including five historical mines). All three Projects will be drilled in the 2021 field season including a 12,500m, three-rig diamond drill programme at the Scottie Gold Mine
- Scottie’s significant infrastructure in Stewart will provide operational synergies to AUX’s projects
“The 2021 field season will be a transformative one for the combined company as we aggressively advance the total land package with a combined 16,000m of diamond drilling coupled with geophysics and property scale geochemical surveys,” Scottie CEO, Brad Rourke, revealed.
Elsewhere in the Triangle, Hanstone Gold Corp. (TSXV: HANS) is preparing for an important 5,000m, large-diameter core drilling and exploration programme on its Doc and Snip North Properties.
The company has again hired well regarded diamond drill contractor J.T. Thomas Diamond Drilling Ltd to head up the programme.
The 2021 northern summer drill campaign is designed to follow-up on the significant diamond drill core results returned from the 2020 drill programme that included 2.25m grading 6.18 g/t Au, with 47.78 g/t Ag; 0.80m grading 10.8 g/t Au; and 7.02m grading 2.27 g/t Au. Additional positive results included 13.28m grading 12.01 g/t Au, including an exceptional intercept of 1.28m grading 113.70 g/t Au.
Additional new targets have also been identified for follow-up core drilling utilizing airborne geophysical data outlining the extension of geophysical gravity lows associated with known gold bearing quartz vein structures.