Eyeing up the Batchawana area north of Sault Ste. Marie, Superior Copper Corp. has identified the former Coppercorp Mine as a promising area for exploration, not because of what's been found there, but because of what hasn't.
“It was closed to staking for 30 years because they hadn't covered the old shaft,” said Judy Baker, Superior's president and CEO. “So there's been a significant lack of exploration activity out there as a result of that.”
Minimal exploration efforts were carried out by a handful of companies when the property became available for staking in 2002. The copper exploration company, formerly operating as Cenit Corp., sees the lack of activity as a promising opportunity to find significant mineral deposits in the area.
Located 85 km north of Sault Ste. Marie, Coppercorp operated as an underground copper mine from 1965 to 1972, milling 1,021,358 tons of ore and producing 24 million pounds of copper, 2,000 ounces of gold and 228,000 ounces of silver. The mine is characterized by Keweenawan rock and Kincaid breccia just north of the site, Baker noted.
After financing for the project (a 50-50 joint venture with First Minerals Exploration Ltd.) closed last June, the company signed an agreement with the Batchewana First Nation and Superior started drilling on site in July. Surface sampling showed good results, so the company followed through with a winter drill program.
“The copper mineralization on site, everywhere, is just spectacular,” Baker marvelled. “You've got to imagine there's got to be more at depth.”
After completing 900-metre and 1,000-metre drill programs on its B and SB zones throughout the summer, Superior moved the drill to an area of Kincaid breccia for a winter drill program, following positive results from its sampling program.
The best results came from the SB zone, in which the company drilled 25 metres below the old mine workings, showing three metres at three per cent copper, with one intercept of 4.8 metres at seven per cent copper.
Intercepts at the Kincaid breccia were “subeconomic,” Baker said, showing a best result of three metres at one per cent copper. But the company hasn't ruled it out for future exploration.
“Despite surface location, they're just below an economic hurdle at this point,” Baker said. “It's still prospective, we just need to do more mapping, sampling and get a better understanding of the structure before we go back and drill there.”
In between drilling, the company has focused on collecting, digitizing and analyzing historic data from Coppercorp into 3D models, and is continuing to stake additional claims, “anything that's become available,” Baker said.
“There is an ongoing surface mapping and sampling program and we cut a 40-line km grid for geophysics over the mag high at the end of the last season,” Baker said. “So that's opened up more ground for mapping and sampling for this year.”
Superior is simultaneously exploring at its 100 per cent-owned Rivière Doré property, 100 km southeast of Val d'Or in Quebec. It's “the right environment for copper-nickel-PGEs,” but little exploration activity has been done in the area, Baker said.
Superior has raised interest from Copper One, which also has claims in the Rivière Doré area and now owns 19 million shares of the 62 million shares of Superior Copper. Baker believes the company is moving into a position to take over Superior in the future.
The company continues to negotiate with the Algonquin First Nations of the area, and for that reason has not yet been on the ground. Baker said she's optimistic an agreement can be worked out this summer, but acknowledged that “these things take time.”
Plans for the Coppercorp site in 2012 include mapping and sampling at the Kincaid breccia, conducting geophysics, creating 3D models and exploring the C and Silver Creek zones.
With exploration financing in place through 2012 and solid commitments for future requirements from long-term shareholders, Baker believes Superior is in a good position.
“It is exploration,” she acknowledged. “It's brownfields and greenfields. It's high risk, but we think we have some pretty compelling projects with some excellent upside.”