Gold prices have slumped this month to below US$1,750 an ounce, but the Abitibi gold belt around Timmins continues to bustle with exploration activity this summer.
With more than 200 million ounces of historical production, this mineral-rich region remains a magnet for junior miners to make new discoveries or breathe new life into older ore bodies.
In the West Timmins area, Galleon Gold is making preparations to begin test mining at its West Cache deposit in 2023.
The company, with Nordmin Engineering aboard, is doing the detailed engineering design to build a portal and drive a ramp into its Zone 9 deposit to collect a 100,000-tonne bulk sample.
West Cache is an advanced stage project, 13 kilometres west of Timmins, on Highway 101. Galleon’s next door neighbour is Pan American Silver with its Timmins West gold complex.
Galleon published a preliminary economic assessment earlier this year outlining an 11-year mine operating life. The initial cost to develop the mine is $150 million.
Management believes West Cache has considerable upside for underground mining at the outset, then later by open-pit methods.
Only six per cent of the 10,370-hectare property has been fully explored. A 5,000-metre drilling program is underway to find more gold.
To bring things forward in a timely way, company president R. David Russell said in an Aug. 16 statement that they're well into the baseline and technical studies required to apply for permits to extract the bulk sample and do other advanced exploration work.
"By focusing on both permitting and increasing the mineral resource we continue to advance the project in a meaningful way.”
More gold exploration activity is taking place in the Matheson area, east of Timmins.
Mine developer Moneta Gold has raised $15.4 million through a flow-through share offering to fund exploration at its Tower Gold Project, 100 kilometres east of the city.
With gold prospects across its 27,000-hectare property, Moneta believes Tower has both open-pit and underground mine potential.
The company said the bulk of this year’s drilling program is to infill its Westaway deposit, which harbours a gold resource estimate of 4.3 million ounces of indicated gold and 7.5 million ounces in the inferred category. Infill drilling means to confirm the size, shape and gold continuity of the deposit.
A preliminary economic assessment of what a mine could look like comes out during the third quarter.
Nearby, McEwen Mining isn’t slackening off on exploration despite bringing its Froome Mine into production last September.
The Toronto mid-tier miner has budgeted a combined $25 million for exploration this year and 2023 to extend its longevity at the Fox Complex.
Fox is a string of gold properties along Highway 101 that includes the Black Fox and Froome Mines and the Stock property.
In its recent second quarter report, McEwen said exploration drilling below Froome was successful and it should extend the mine’s life.
McEwen released a preliminary economic assessment last January making the case for expansion at Fox. It presents an opportunity to maintain an average annual gold production to 80,800 ounces over nine years once production drops off at Froome.
To keep pushing the pace, about 39,000 metres of drilling is queued up to expand the gold resource to the west of the Stock West deposit, to test high-grade areas around the Grey Fox deposit, and probe some deep targets at Stock.
In the quarterly report, McEwen announced it’s put its first quarter COVID and mill mechanical problems behind it with a stellar quarter of gold production, equalling the 11,100 ounces posted in the third quarter of 2018. With a large stockpile of ore built up earlier this year, the company expects a strong second half to this year.
There’s been some fast and furious newsflow emanating from Vancouver junior miner Mayfair Gold and its aggressive drilling program at its Fenn-Gib Project, east of Matheson.
With a mineral resource estimate due out this quarter, Mayfair intends to post a preliminary economic assessment for an open-pit mine before the end of the year.
The company cashed up for exploration in June, pocketing $7 million through a flow-through share raise.
Mayfair is 84,000 metres into a 110,000-metre drill program on the 4,800-hectare property, sandwiched between Moneta’s Tower Gold Project and McEwen Mining’s Black Fox Mine.
With an outlined deposit of 2.08-million indicated ounces, the company thinks it can build on that and hit the 3-million-ounce mark. There’s a conceptual plan for a starter open-pit mine with the possibility of eventually mining at depth.
Over the last two decades, the Fenn-Gib Project has been in the hands of Barrick, Lake Shore Gold, Tahoe Resources and Pan American Silver before Mayfair acquired it in March 2020.
Anothert new entrant to the Timmins camp, GFG Resources, has been among the most active in the field.
The Saskatoon explorer arrived on the scene last October and assembled its 15,000-hectare Montclerg Project, 48 kilometres east of Timmins, through a series of transactions over nine months.
The company has operated two drill programs at Montclerg and thinks it's tapped into a "robust, near-surface, gold system" in an area that was extensively explored in the 1960s but underexplored by today's technological standards.
At the end of July, GFG boasted its best drill hit to date with 1.60 grams of gold per tonne over 70.4 metres.
On the base metal side, Canada Nickel is touting another discovery made at one of its new property acquisitions, outside of Timmins.
The Toronto company said it’s made a significant nickel discovery at its Deloro property, nine kilometres southeast of the city.
CEO Mark Selby was pleased seeing mineralization out of one drill hole of 0.25 per nickel extending over 487 metres of core.
Deloro is part of a larger land package assembled by Canada Nickel over the last two years. Their holdings stretch from Timmins to Cochrane, Iroquois Falls and Matachewan. The company is promoting this area of northeastern Ontario as a new nickel district.
The company headliner is its Crawford nickel and cobalt project, north of the city. A federal impact assessment is underway to review the proposed open-pit mine.
In May, a nickel discovery was made at their Reid property, 16 kilometres southwest of Crawford..
“Deloro now joins Reid as another significant, sizable nickel discovery,” said Selby in a news release, “and we look forward to continued success as we continue exploration around our regional properties, developing what we believe has the potential to be one of the world’s leading nickel districts."