By SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
The Discover Abitibi technical committee recently completed technical evaluations of 42 submissions for proposals to stimulate mineral deposit exploration within the Abitibi Greenstone belt area between Timmins and Kirkland Lake. The proposals came from within the region and beyond.
The technical committee, comprised of volunteers from the mining sector, has prioritized 19 projects to enter the next phase.
“These projects are well distributed throughout the Abitibi corridor, so there is no one focus on one particular area,” says Dave McGirr, chair of the Timmins Economic Development Corp.
Each proposal was evaluated on a scale of one to 100 in the following categories: technical merit, regional distribution application, implementation and completion capabilities within the Discover Abitibi timeframe. The process also evaluated economic development and knowledge gaps.
“We had some extremely experienced people on the technical committee evaluating the proposals,” says McGirr.
The 19 projects will form the basis for the funding proposal, which is the next phase.
“You have 19 different ways of looking at the Abitibi corridor using the latest technology. There is absolutely no doubt this is going to produce big for the region,” says McGirr.
The proposal will be submitted to the federal and provincial governments for funding approval. The projects will also require funding from the industry-mining partners, local stakeholders and local municipalities. McGirr expects the application to be ready by the end of the year.
Volunteers, geologists and representatives from the economic development corporations of Timmins and Kirkland Lake deserve praise for their dedication, time and work in the project, says McGirr.
“We are proud of the roles everyone has played in supporting the process,” says McGirr.
The model and approach of the project is critical, according to Christy Marinig, executive director of the Timmins Economic Development Corp.
“It is industry working with community, then working with government, so we get access to what the mining community needs immediately to help them make investment decisions,” Marinig says. “This is a unique model which could be used in other communities across Canada.”
Organizing the project in a way which leverages all the skills in the communities was a challenge for the committee.
“Once we got through that stage, it was full speed ahead,” says McGirr.
One of the projects involves airborne geophysics. This procedure involves flying over an area and using precise electronic equipment to study the rock deposits under overburden.
“In areas like Timmins there might be up to 50 or 60 metres of overburden, and traditional technology has not allowed people to see that deep through the overburden to see the bedrock. There are new advances in geophysics that help that,” says Marinig.
The aircraft used in the airborne geophysics survey provides capability in traversing regions that are otherwise difficult or impossible to cover.
Some of the other projects include: ground geophysics, geochemistry, geological mapping and geographic information systems. The project will also integrate new data sets with existing sets for the mining and exploration community.
“If there is one or several more significant finds, it will have a huge impact on our region from an economic development point of view,” says McGirr.
The preliminary estimate for the cost of the project is between $10 million and $15 million.
The project has received an incredible amount of support from the government and people of the communities.