By IAN ROSS
To find gold beneath the glacial till of the rolling countryside near Lake of the Woods, Rainy River Resources resorted to diamond-hunting methods to map out one of the biggest gold-in-bedrock anomalies in Eastern Canada.
Rainy River president Nelson Baker compares the farmland and deer country of his junior’s Richardson Township property in northwestern Ontario to the clay belt country of New Liskeard and Earlton.
But prospectors in the past just skimmed over the area. The overburden, as much as 25 metres thick, makes geophysics useless. You can’t find what you can’t see.
Baker said it’s the reason competitors stay away, “because it’s blind exploration.”
Nevertheless, the project was recognized by the Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association as the Discovery of the Year for 2006.
And the Vancouver junior miner is promoting their 26,000 hectare (64,220 acres) property northwest of Emo and Fort Frances as Canada’s ‘next gold camp.’
Rainy River uses a sophisticated exploration tool known as reverse circulation drilling to follow the trail of mineralization trending northeast across the township.
“We’re using diamond technology in looking for gold and base metals,” says Baker.
It’s a method that collects gravel and bedrock chips, and blows it to the surface with compressed air. The samples are collected in a cyclone and sent off to Overburden Drilling Management, an Ottawa mineral analysis lab.
“Without reverse circulation we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said Baker.
The company has spent $13 million on their property and this year are planning another massive phase of drilling to expand the resource. In their $12 million exploration budget for this year are plans for a 45,000-metre drill program on more than 100 holes.
“We’re not slowing down at all,” said Baker.
The junior has identified three parallel gold horizons at Richardson. The central one is the 17 gold trend hosting their 17 and ODM Zones.
In the 17 Zone, Nuinsco once defined a mineral deposit of 10 to 12 million tonnes grading 1-4 grams per tonne gold, 0.01 to 0.30 per cent copper, 0.10 to 0.30 per cent zinc and 2.0 to 5.0 grams per tonne silver.
With four drills working this winter, Baker hopes to extend those zones with more step-out drilling along those three trends to identify as many gold zones as possible.
Sometime in February, Rainy River will release the project’s first resource estimate since Nuinsco Resources held the property years before.
Before Baker picked up the land in late 2004, Nuinsco Resources started using the reverse circulation technology.
But when Nuinsco found one of the largest gold anomalous in till ever discovered, gold prices dipped under $300 an ounce and it was difficult to raise money.
Nuinsco hit a small, but very high grade nickel pocket -- called the #34 Zone -- with Sudbury-type grades causing them to change strategy and put gold exploration on hold.
Baker acquired the project believing gold was on the way back.
He was familiar with the area during his time with the Hunter Dickinson Group, which briefly considered a joint venture with Nuinsco in 1999.
The area had no history of production and, it was believed, held not enough ounces in the ground to proceed.
“We went section by section and smelled a big gold system there. We felt it wasn’t explored enough,” said Baker.
His well-funded company has $40 million in the treasury and enough money to cover drilling for the next three years.
“We’re very fortunate and the project sells itself. It’s got tremendous upside potential and I think this project will develop into a mining camp.”
Baker says the grades and widths they’re finding have tremendous open pit potential and are good enough to support underground development below a pit. He’s confident they can find three or four more zones along that trend.
Mineralization has been intersected one kilometre down and its wide open at depth.
“We could have a Timmins-type of camp with several deposits.”
Rainy River recently struck a deal with Western Warrior and their nearby Off Lake project as part of their step-out drill program. The companies believe the favourable geology is going northeast.