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The Drift: Sudbury mining camp remains active with explorers

New sources of nickel and platinum keep the drills turning this winter
(Magna Mining photo)

Nickel and base metals continue to drive exploration in the Sudbury mining camp with a handful of junior miners preparing for winter drill programs.

Magna Mining, the redevelopers of a decommissioned INCO property near Whitefish, reported some high-grade nickel hits this week from its first drilling program at the former Crean Hill Mine. 

The Sudbury junior miner acquired the shuttered underground mine last month and launched a maiden 2,000-metre program this fall.

Now dubbed the Denison Project, the Crean Hill Mine is located in the southwest corner of the Sudbury basin. The company released a new mineral estimate for the project showing more than 31 million tonnes of nickel, copper, cobalt, platinum, palladium and gold. 

With 10 drill holes completed so far, the company reported some high-grade nickel intersections of 3.8 per nickel over 10.8 metres of drill core, including 6 per cent nickel over 5.8 metres. 

These are the first assay results from the program since the acquisition. The drilling program was targeting areas for advanced exploration and potential bulk sampling.

In a note to shareholders, the company said the results received so far provide evidence that Crean Hill can be a big volume, high-grade producer with huge potential for massive nickel and copper sulphide mineralization in some untapped footwall deposits.

Diamond drilling resumes in early January.  The company has a 12,000 to 15,000-metre program queued up for Crean Hill in the new year.

The company has set its sights high on becoming the next nickel producer in the Sudbury basin.

With both open pit and underground mining potential, Magna is optimistic it can be mining by the end of 2023.

Magna also holds the Shakespeare nickel project to the west, north of McKerrow, where it has a permit for a processing mill. The company is eyeing other prospective mineral properties in the basin with plans to create a hub-and-spoke mining and processing model.

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A new nickel player to the area, Archer Exploration, cashed up this fall, raising $10 million for exploration in Sudbury and Quebec.

The Vancouver company finalized its acquisition of Wallbridge Mining’s nickel, copper and platinum group metals assets in the Sudbury basin and western Quebec on Nov. 18. The company's Sudbury nickel assets cover 310 square kilometres and 37 projects.

The $53.6-million acquisition was announced last July.

Archer hasn’t announced any specific exploration plans for these properties but the company believes the Parkin and Trill properties have considerable upside for high-grade nickel.

“We are very grateful to our new and existing shareholders for their support and look forward to creating value for all stakeholders as we advance our exploration plans within our exciting portfolio of nickel sulphide projects at Grasset in Quebec and in the Sudbury camp,” said Tom Meyer, Archer’s president-CEO in a statement.

“We believe this acquisition will establish Archer as a leading Canadian nickel sulphide focused exploration and development company.”
Pricing volatility and an unstable economic climate is impacting the development of a proposed open-pit palladium mine north of the town of Warren.

New Age Metals, explorers and promoters of “one of North America’s largest undeveloped platinum group metals projects, is delaying the release of a pre-feasibility study for its River Valley project, 100 kilometres east of the city.

The company said back in October it was mulling over its options on mine planning, mineral processing, and storage of mine waste tailings, among other considerations, to improve the project’s overall economics.

A news release from New Age issued earlier this fall spoke to “inflationary pressure and economic uncertainty” when it came gathering quotes from vendors in costing the site infrastructure and equipment.

The company said it will give an update on where the pre-feasibility study stands sometime in the first quarter of the new year.

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A Toronto company searching for gold east of the city is making room for an environmental cleanup firm to remediate an area containing historic mine waste tailings. 

MacDonald Mines Exploration has signed an agreement with Environmental Tailings Corp. (ETC) to reclaim left over tailings processed from the former Scadding Mine at the SPJ Project.

The gold junior is transferring 64 hectares of land to the private company for $1 but will retain the mineral and mining rights. MacDonald receives a four per cent net smelter return from the sale of any metals extracted from the tailings. 

Environmental Tailings will resell the lease back to MacDonald for $1 once the tailings have processed and site has been remediated. 

The tailings were part of the leases that MacDonald Mines picked up in April 2019. Milling on the property was done between 1987 and 1990. A total of 140,000 tonnes were processed at a grade of 7.22 grams per  tonne.

Company president Greg Romain said in a statement that the agreement with ETC will complete the required closure plan for the tailings site while also allowing his company to benefit from any metal recoveries from the tailings. 

“This transactions helps the company preserve cash while ensuring our focus and efforts remain on exploration our SPJ Project. Furthermore, it confirms our commitment as a company to clean up any historical workings which is supported by the Government of Ontario.”