By Ian Ross
Anticipating future trends in commodities and staking out quality ground in rare and platinum-group metals without paying premium prices remains the focus of Houston Lake Mining.
Grayme Anthony, geologist, president and CEO of the junior exploration company, prefers to let results speak for themselves. Their early exploration work with three strong projects in northwestern Ontario features high-quality platinum-group metal targets.
Based in Val Caron, in the City of Greater Sudbury, the company concentrates its exploration efforts on high-tech and rare metals such as palladium, platinum, tantalum, cesium, lithium and germanium, and has expanded on a promising gold property in northwestern Ontario.
Currently Houston Lake is working on projects in the Thunder Bay, Kenora and Red Lake areas searching for and identifying targets with large tonnage potential, especially those with potential for open-pit development.
“Of the three projects we feel we have the right fundamentals to develop large tonnage deposits and that’s why we’ve aimed at projects we have,” Anthony says.
Their Tib Lake palladium-platinum gold property is located near Thunder Bay, about nine kilometres northwest of North American Palladium’s Lac Des Iles mine.
On board for that project is joint-venture funding partner Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. of Toronto, operators of Canada’s largest underground gold mine in Val d’Or, Que. Agnico has the right to earn a 50 per cent interest in Tib Lake by making a cash payment of $640,000 and expending $3.6 million over four years.
Anthony calls it “one of the larger deals” in platinum-palladium in signing a letter of intent with the gold producer in September 2001, which was finalized in March. The project began last June with an upcoming drilling project budgeted at $500,000 which includes an extensive surface exploration program.
At their Pakegama Lake rare metals property in the Red Lake district, the Ontario Geological Survey spent two summers there, and much effort was spent identifying both large size and high concentrations of tantalum, cesium, rubidium and lithium.
Tantalum is used in capacitors for electronic equipment and cellphones.
Houston Lake is seeking to raise about $300,000 for a mechanized trenching and diamond-drilling program.
“With Pakegama Lake, the mineralization is right at surface and it’s quite widespread - over 600 metres - and has nice width,” says Anthony, who pronounced that project as “drill-ready.”
At their McLennan/Jesse (North) project, the company has staked out additional ground to cover a high-grade gold-bearing shear zone in the Kenora area, and now owns, or has under option, 603 hectares in the Dogpaw Lake area.
“Some of the initial sampling is positive,” says Anthony. “We went in with a relatively small program, but took some high-quality samples and we’ve built up interest in the area.” Anthony is looking to raise about $300,000 for an exploration program involving line-cutting, geophysics, mapping and diamond drilling.
The area historically has seen some intense exploration in the past, including exploration by Noranda in the mid-1940s, until the meltdown of gold prices in recent years when the area went quiet.
Hardly considered latecomers in the search for rare and high-tech metals exploration, Anthony says Houston Lake committed itself to these minerals early, well before the market woke up to the platinum-palladium potential in mid-1999 and rare metals in 2000.
“We saw opportunities early in palladium and moved close to the only operating mine in palladium in Canada, and with the rare metals we came across a very good target in Red Lake, we moved on the quality of target.
“We were in advance by a year on each of those projects,” says Anthony. “The Sudbury (mining) area heated up fast and we didn’t want to pay high prices for low-quality projects as all the good projects were snapped up early.
“We were able to be the first kid on the block and have been able to position ourselves with some very good properties.”