By NICK STEWART
An unexpected diamond find by exploration firm MetalCORP may well open up northwestern Ontario as the province’s newest hotspot for the precious stone, according to the region’s district geologist.
“It’s very significant in the sense that it shows there’s diamonds in this part of Ontario,” says Craig Ravnaas, district geologist with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines,.
“Hopefully, it will attract more diamond exploration in this area, and it’s just one more commodity you can look for out in this region.”
A recent 100-kilogram grab sample of an outcrop on the company’s North Rock property, located 25 kilometres east of Fort Frances, turned up six diamonds through caustic fusion.
Of those six, one sat on a 0.212 mm sieve, three sat on a 0.106 mm sieve, and one was less than the 0.106 mm sieve. All but one were transparent fragments, with the largest being brown in colour.
While prior work by the MNDM had led to the belief that the potential for diamonds may exist within the northwest, there had been no real opportunity to confirm these suspicions. As a result, officials had been encouraging MetalCORP to keep their eyes open when exploring North Rock for copper, nickel and platinum.
Sure enough, the company’s exploration team eventually came across “some weird and strange-looking rocks,” according to company COO Aubrey Eveleigh.
“In this industry, ‘weird and strange-looking rocks’ are a good thing,” he says.
“We had actually been focused on an entirely different rock unit, but we found this outcrop and our guys wanted to take a small sample. Lo and behold, it turned up the diamond discovery.”
Although no diamond exploration firms have yet approached the MNDM offices directly to inquire about the region’s potential in the wake of MetalCORP’s announcement, Ravnaas says some work by interested parties may already be underway.
Exploration companies in general tend to be pretty secretive, he says, something which is especially true for diamond exploration firms. This means there could already be companies already sniffing around in the area and the MDNM wouldn’t know about it.
Eveleigh, however, says the find has generated considerable interest on his end, as the company has been bombarded with phone calls from companies tentatively interested in assisting with exploration.
Traditionally, diamond exploration is seen to be a time-consuming and expensive proposition even for companies who specialize in it. Because MetalCORP is “not necessarily” a diamond exploration firm, company officials are considering the possibility of partnering with a diamond company in the interests of fast-tracking exploration.
As a result, MetalCORP may develop a separate exploration plan to better understand this diamond find once all the options have been weighed, and potentially after a partner has potentially been identified, Eveleigh says.
To better understand the nature of the new find, a great deal more work will have to be done, especially as 100 kilograms represents “a very tiny sample” when it comes to diamond exploration, according to Eveleigh.
The rock unit where the MetalCORP find was discovered has already been mapped for roughly 16 kilometres in length and a kilometre in width.
What’s more, the host rock has a similar texture to that seen in the Wawa area, where diamond exploration is ongoing with the likes of Dianor Resources.
Ravnaas says it’s not yet known just how much diamond-bearing rock could actually be in the region, given that the type of rock has historically been ignored by geologists and exploration firms in favour of geology known to host base metals and gold.
In turn, this discovery may well bring back companies and prospectors alike who had previously taken a look at the area, oblivious to the diamond possibilities beneath their feet.
This recent find also firms up the growing importance of the 1,680-acre North Rock property, and introduces new meaning to the area as a whole, Eveleigh says.
“We’ve been looking out there for about two years now, and the property is turning out to be a real jewelry box.”