The Kirkland Lake mining scene has been reshaped with Agnico Eagle acquiring Kirkland Lake Gold and the Macassa Mine.
But a number of ambitious junior miners continue to search for high-grade gold at depth on the path to bring the next generation of mines online in this historic northeastern Ontario gold camp.
The gold price in late February was hovering just below US$1,900 an ounce.
Mistango River Resources looks to chalk up more ounces to its almost 600,000-ounce resource at its Omega Gold Project, two kilometres northeast of Larder Lake.
In early February, the Toronto exploration outfit said it's embarked on a 5,200-metre drill program on its property that includes the former Omega Mine, which was mined in the 1920s and again between 1935 and 1947, producing 215,000 ounces. Omega is part of a two-project deal Mistango operates in the Kirkland Lake camp.
More than 30 kilometres to the west of Omega is its Kirkland West Project, a 4,300-hectare property sitting beside the Macassa Mine, a high-grade underground operation now owned by Agnico Eagle.
Both of Mistango's properties are on the Cadillac-Larder Lake Fault, a major geological structure running between northeastern Ontario and western Quebec that controls where gold deposits are found in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. It's certainly one of the most prolific gold belts in the world.
Macassa is the furthest west mine on this continuous gold system that's been mined for almost 80 years. Kirkland West is the next property, immediately to the west, and company management said the geological structure is similar to Macassa's.
Mistango just wrapped up a 5,000-metre drill program at Kirkland West. One drill intersection showed 86.2 grams per tonne of gold over a half-metre length, pulled from a depth of more than 1,000 metres at a spot called the Baldwin Zone. More assay results are coming in. They're building an exploration model that'll provide a road map for another round of drilling in the near future.
With Omega, Mistango already has an established resource of 219,800 ounces of indicated gold and 365.4 million ounces of inferred gold that the company hopes to expand with this drill program. Not far from Omega is one of the Kirkland Lake camp's historic kingpins, the former Kerr-Addison Mine, a 12-million-ounce producer, 12 kilometres to the east.
Just to the northwest, Agnico Eagle is looking to bring its 1.4-million-ounce Upper Beaver Project into production.
Mistango has the luxury of a big mining player paying its exploration bills. Prior to its merger with Agnico, Kirkland Lake Gold struck an exploration deal with Mistango last spring that will give the mining company 75 per cent ownership of both Kirkland West and Omega should they spend $60 million on both projects.
Nearby, Orefinders Resources of Toronto just launched a 4,000-metre drill program at its McGarry Gold Project near the Quebec border.
The 681-hectare property is 35 kilometres east of Kirkland Lake at Virginiatown and is in the shadow of the former Kerr Addison Mine, 1,500 metres to the east.
McGarry contains a decade-old resource estimate of 153,000 ounces of indicated and inferred gold.
Also in the neighbourhood is Vancouver's Gatling Exploration with its three high-grade gold deposits at its Larder Gold Project. The company has been steadily drilling and hitting gold since 2019, looking to connect the deposits. The company said last December it will release an exploration budget and program sometime in early 2022.
To the north of the town of Kirkland Lake, Toronto's Warrior Gold is expanding its presence by staking more claim blocks, increasing its total land position from 19,350 hectares to 20,769 hectares.
Warrior Gold's properties, arranged to the north and northeast of the town and the Macassa Mine, consist of its Goodfish-Kirana, the Arnold property, and the recently optioned KL West and KL Central. The company said its land package has the same rock units that hosts Agnico Eagle’s Upper Beaver gold deposit.
Before Christmas, the company posted the results of its eight-hole, 2,829-metre fall drilling program at its Goodfish-Kirana Project. The best result was an intersection of 155 grams per tonne of gold over a 0.75-metre length.
Last September, Warrior recruited GoldSpot Discoveries, an artificial intelligence company, to help identify exploration targets on its KLC and Arnold properties.
Eldorado Gold has manoeuvred into the Kirkland Lake camp by signing option agreements last December with Val-d'Or Mining on a pair of prospective gold properties. Under the agreement, Eldorado must spend $4 million on exploration over five years to earn a 70 per cent interest in the Blue Mountain and Victoria Creek Properties on the path to forming a joint venture.
Blue Mountain, a 767-hectare prospect, is 14 kilometres northwest of Kirkland Lake. Victoria Creek is 12 kilometres northeast of town and covers 2,623 hectares.
Val-d'Or Mining is budgeting $400,000 to do prospecting and geochemical programs on its exploration properties in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt in both sides of the Ontario-Quebec border.