The surge in gold prices in recent years have changed the fortunes of communities near the northeastern shore of Lake Superior.
With multiple mineralized greenstone belts in the area, exploration companies are pouring millions into the ground to outline new deposits while established players are expanding and bringing old mining areas back to life.
In an area that once hosted numerous historic gold mines, this resurgence has been an economic boon to the communities of Dubreuilville and Wawa.
Here’s a rundown of some of that action.
Argonaut Gold has secured some desperately needed financing this week to finish construction of its Magino Mine open-pit project.
The Toronto miner developer closed a funding package that includes a term loan of US$200 million and a revolving credit facility of US$50 million that is earmarked to bring the historic mine back into production.
The company announced last December that the cost to complete the mine had jumped from $510 million to $800 million, attributing the hike to inflation and the pandemic.
In addition, Argonaut closed a two per cent net smelter return royalty to Franco-Nevada in exchange for US$52.5 million and a US$10 million private placement as part of a common share deal.
In a statement, Argonaut Gold President-CEO Larry Radford attributes the completion of this financial deal to the Magino’s “strong project fundamentals. He expressed confidence they have the money in place to finish the project to be ready for their first gold pour sometime during the second quarter of 2023.
The company’s October newsletter shows the pace of work at the site, located a few kilometres southeast of Dubreuilville.
Equipment is being installed inside the processing mill, an elevated conveyor belt ssystem is being erected, and work being done on building a liquified natural gas power plant and on the tailings management area.
Pre-production mining is underway as the contractors dig down into the pit. See the pictures and the video of the construction here.
Beneath the proposed pit, the company hasn’t stopped its exploration efforts as they continue to report high-grade gold hits from a deep drilling program.
A news release from early September showed the latest batch of assay results, showing “multiple zones” of gold mineralization along a strike length of 1,500 metres. Argonaut said it reinforces their belief that Magino has a future as an underground operation.
To the east of Magino, activity at Alamos Gold’s Island Gold Mine is preparing to sink a new shaft to accommodate a third wave of the mine’s expansion.
Over the next four years, Alamos will be pouring US$756 million into this development, designed to double gold production rates by the time the work is finished in 2026.
Last June, Alamos announced it was super-sizing its expansion plans for Island Gold. With plenty of high-grade gold still being discovered, Alamos is making the mine bigger and more efficient on the path of becoming one of the industry’s lowest cost producers, mining at an all-in sustaining cost of $576 a ounce.
Alamos calls this expansion a “step change” in production. Mining rates will double from the current 1,200 tonnes per day to 2,400 when the shaft project is done.
Annual gold production will double to an average of 287,000 ounces.
Plans call for a transition from trucking ore and mine waste up a ramp to surface, to skipping the ore and waste to the surface through a new shaft. That will help drive production rates higher and ultimately lower their operating costs. The processing plant will also be boosted in capacity and a new paste plant will be built.
Work began in August to clear the site for the shaft and begin pre-sinking, which involves excavating to support the shaft barrel. Alamos said they’re digging down to a depth of 42 metres this fall. Concrete will be poured for the foundation of the buildings on surface to house the hoist. A haul road toward the shaft and all the electric work into the site was also being done this fall.
Given the strong cash flow generated from gold production at Island Gold and its other gold mines, Alamos said this expansion will be largely self-funded.
Alamos remains pleased Island Gold's production performance.
During the third quarter, the mine produced 31,400 ounces and has delivered 93,200 ounce through the first nine months of this year, on track to meet their full year production target.
And there’s no quit on the exploration side. Alamos has spent $17.9 million of its $22 million exploration budget.
Some of it is below ground where one drill rig is defining new blocks that are in the queue to be mined. On the surface, six rigs are turning to flesh out some choice gold targets that will spur more phases of mine expansion across its 15,524-hectare property.
Further to the east, junior explorer Manitou Gold added a new wrinkle to the Dubreuilville-Wawa gold camp with a “significant” discovery this year of nickel and cobalt at its Goudreau gold property.
Goudreau is a 22,500-hectare property that Manitou believes contains nickel, cobalt and platinum group elements.
It spurred the Toronto company to create a spinoff, Western Nickel Corp., but Manitou insists it will continue to be a gold-focused junior explorer.
The company began a nickel drill program in August, wrapped it up in mid-September, with drill results steadily trickling out in its news feed.
Just outside of the Township of Wawa, Red Pine Exploration is working ground that once hosted multiple gold mines during the last century.
The Toronto junior miner cashed up in September with $5.5 million in flow-through share financing to chase gold extensions at its Wawa Gold Project, situated about 500 metres from the local airport runway.
The company has already defined two deposits on the property, Surlaga and Minto Mine South, with a combined resource of more than 700,000 ounces of gold.
Red Pine maintains there more ounces to be had by probing deeper down and anticipates their resource will grow much larger. The company has been releasing a steady news flow of high-grade hits from gold extensions and in widening the mineral footprint around both deposits.
Next to Red Pine is another Toronto junior, Kingsview Minerals, which has been adding more ground to its package of properties in the Dubreuilville and Wawa areas.
Kingsview Minerals announced Oct. 19 that it’s sealed the deal with RT Minerals to pick up the 460-hectare Norwalk Project, located between its Hubcap Project and Red Pine’s Surlaga deposit.
Norwalk has shown strong gold potential under previous ownership groups, based on recent drilling and surface sampling. The historic Norwalk Mine once produced 60 ounces of gold from 820 tons milled. There’s also numerous other pits, adits and shafts on the property.
Way to the west of Wawa, about 55 kilometres, Toronto’s Bold Ventures is planning for an upcoming exploration campaign at its Farwell copper and gold property, east of the boundary of Pukaskwa National Park.
The company flew an airborne electromagnetic and magnetic surveys over Farwell last January to put together a target list for a drilling program.
The company management, which recently raised $95,960 through a private placement, believes there’s a slew of precious, critical and battery metals on the 7,770-hectare property, including nickel, lead, zinc, silver, platinum group metals and chromium.
Farwell is about five kilometres from Wesdome’s Eagle River Complex.
The Eagle River Mine went into production in 1995 and has been a consistent producers over the years.
The mid-tier miner released its third-quarter production figures in mid-October showing more than 17,600 ounces from its Mishi pit and its Eagle underground mine. On the year to date, both operations have generated more than 56,000 ounces.
The company remains aggressive on the exploration front following the discovery of the Falcon Zones on its 11,000-hectare property in 2018, which represents an opportunity to extend the operation’s life.