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Atikokan mineral exploration initiative moves to second stage

By IAN ROSS The Town of Atikokan is hoping to create new headframes within old mining camps as their mineral development strategy proceeds to the new phase.


The Town of Atikokan is hoping to create new headframes within old mining camps as their mineral development strategy proceeds to the new phase.

The northwestern Ontario community of 3,300 has received $1 million in provincial money for its ongoing mineral exploration program, now entering the second of three stages designed to identify and map potential mineral deposits.
As with other large-scale mineral surveys in Lake Nipigon and the Timmins-Kirkland Lake area (Discovery Abitibi), the Atikokan Mineral Development Initiative is a geoscience study of mapping, sampling and surveys.

Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association, says the Atikokan project is similar to the Lake Nipigon Geoscience Initiative, since both are areas with great mineral potential that have been relatively under-explored.

“Discover Abitibi was already an established mining camp looking to unhatch new ideas.”

The OPA was hired on to manage the first stage, which involved combing through old records and drill logs of all past public and private geological assessment work done in the area.

A science committee from the Town of Atikokan will review all the government and industry work and come up with a direction and framework of what should be done to attract more exploration.

The committee comprises representation from the Ontario Geological Survey, Lakehead University, and Jim Franklin, a world renowned consulting geologist.

The next stage will involve regional mapping, geochemical sampling and airborne geophysical surveys.

Clark is hoping some additional money from the federal government could grow the Atikokan initiative’s coffers to $3.5 million.

The target being studied runs from Shebandowan, just outside Thunder Bay, west along Highway 11 to Mine Centre, and extends north from the edge of Quetico Provincial Park, to Ignace on the TransCanada Highway.

The Atikokan area has a rich mining and exploration history dating back to the 1890s, most notably with two gigantic iron ore mines, Steep Rock Iron Mines and Caland Ore, which operated between the 1940s and 1980s.

Some smaller gold mines operated during the 1890s, including one property -- Hammond Reef -- currently being explored by Brett Resources, as part of a 60 per cent earn-in with Kinross Gold Corp. Brett is spending $5 million (US) on exploration over four years on the property, located 22 kiometres (km) from Atikokan.

There’s been past production in the 1920s to early 1940s of mostly very small high-grade quartz veins.

Clark, who’s also a Thunder Bay prospector, is very familiar with the area’s geology calling its potential “very good” for gold and base metals.

A handful of other juniors are working in the area including Canadian Arrow Mines, which is assessing platinum group metals targets and Probe Mine’s project is also looking for base metals.

As well, there’s some untapped industrial mineral potential with building stone, says Clark.

Clark is hoping some of the data collected in the following months will be released to prospectors in time for Northwestern Ontario Mines and Minerals Symposium next spring in Thunder Bay.

If more government money is available, the initiative would likely proceed to a third stage involving more airborne surveys and mapping work.

But Clark says regardless of political strip, the provincial and federal governments have generally been favourable to supporting the collection of geoscience data.