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Timmins nickel and gold explorers ramp up winter drilling activity

Canada Nickel expands its exploration footprint, acquires former Texmont Mine property
(McEwen Mining photo)

Winter and frozen ground means exploration shifts into high gear in mining camps like Timmins where some companies are working to transition advanced projects into the next generation of gold and nickel producers.  

Canada Nickel Company continues to grab a bigger slice of prospective ground around the city. 

The Toronto company’s year-long regional acquisition spree continues in recently picking up the former Texmont nickel mine, 36 kilometres south of the city.

The property is sandwiched between Canada Nickel’s Deloro and Sothman exploration properties. Even though the announcement was made Dec. 19, the company is already drilling on the property and is talking up its mine potential.

Canada Nickel is known in the Timmins area for its flagship Crawford nickel sulphide project, a potential open-pit operation, 40 kilometres north of the city.

But it’s made some deft moves in 2022 to pick up a raft of properties through acquisition and earn-in agreements around Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls and Matachewan. The company is promoting the area as a new nickel district, producing ‘green’ metals for the critical minerals market.

Texmont contains an historic nickel resource from the early 1970s, calculated to be 3.2 million ounces at 0.9 per cent nickel. The mine and mill operated briefly from July 1971 to December 1972. There are no details on the amount of material milled but the mine operators back then were said to be chasing narrow nickel mineralization of 1.0 per cent.

Canada Nickel thinks Texmont can be revived as an open-pit mine that can potentially restart in 2025. 

This looks to be a low-grade, big-tonnage deposit extending to surface, but Canada Nickel believes there is high-grade material there based on early results from a drilling program now underway. Assay returns on four drill holes show “significant intervals” of mineralization, the company said.

Several drill holes are planned for this winter with the goal of releasing an updated nickel resource estimate using new and historic data.

The company is also drilling at its Sothman property, 70 kilometres south of Timmins, targeting high-grade nickel mineralization. 

“The acquisition of the Texmont property provides near-term smaller scale production potential and is highly complementary to our large-scale Crawford and regional nickel sulphide projects,” said company chair-CEO Mark Selby in a statement.

“In our discussions with nickel consumers for the battery market, many of them are keen to have new nickel production that could come to market by 2025. Similarly, a number of investors have expressed interest in financing near-term production.”

On financing the development of the Crawford open-pit mine, Selby said they’ve turned to Scotiabank and Deutsche Bank for advice. He added they’ve also passed another permitting milestone in filing a detailed project description of the proposed mine to Impact.
McEwen Mining is discovering high-grade gold on the “doorstep” of its Stock processing mill, east of Timmins in the Black River-Matheson area.

The Toronto gold company reported “attractive assays” close to the surface from probing around and beneath the workings of the former Stock gold mine, shuttered in the mid-1990s.

Some high-grade drill intercepts next to the mill show promise  that the area could host potentially economic gold resources. 

“We find the occurrence of near surface high grade at our Stock Mill’s doorstep very intriguing,” said Stephen McGibbon, vice-president of exploration, in a statement.

“These initial results have mineable grades and widths, which are encouraging from an economic perspective as they compare favourably to the Stock mine’s historic grade of 5.5 grams per tonne of gold.”

The Stock property is part of McEwen’s larger Fox Complex, which occupies an eight-kilometre stretch of the Destor-Porcupine Fault Zone (DPFZ), a major mineral-enriched geological stretch that extends 200 kilometres from Timmins to Noranda, Que. 

The property is the site of the historic Stock Mine and the Stock Mill, the latter being where ore from McEwen’s Black Fox and Froome Mines is processed.

The Stock Mine ceased mining in 1994 when gold prices dropped. In its day, Stock produced 137,000 ounces at a grade of 5.5 grams per tonne. The Stock Mine was only mined down to 330 metres depth compared to other mines in the DPFZ that reached depths of greater than 1,000 metres 

The company is also drilling and building ounces to its Stock West property, a large land package that’s had limited surface work.

McEwen touts its exploration success to date as a resource base here of 265,000 ounces of indicated gold and 119,000 ounces in the inferred categories, all within 500 metres of surfaces. The company said recent drill results suggest the mineralization runs deeper.

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Galleon Gold, a mine developer in the West Timmins area, points to 2023 as being a groundbreaking year. 

Company CEO R. David Russell said recently in a release they’re making the transition from exploration story to a construction narrative with its advanced West Cache Gold Project.

The company expects to complete the permitting process and break ground on “Timmins’ newest gold mine” by the end of next year.

The West Cache Gold Project is an advanced-stage gold exploration project, 13 kilometres west of the city. Highway 101 runs through the property.

A preliminary economic assessment released last January put an 11-year mine life at West Cache, but the company is confident of proving up more gold resources on the 10,370-hectare property. 

The detailing engineering is done for a main ramp, vent raise, cutouts for muck bays and diamond drill stations.  

According to Galleon’s project timelines, some of the pre-production work will start before the end of year, including carving out a ramp and portal to access its Zone #9 deposit followed by the start of the test mining process in collecting a bulk sample for processing. 

The bulk sample is estimated at 86,500 tonnes of ore at 8.13 grams per tonne for 22,600 ounces of gold.

“Permitting for test mining is always an exciting time in the life cycle of a junior mining company. It is the definitive start of transitioning from an exploration story to a bona fide exploration and development company,” said Russell in the release.

Galleon recently raised $1.8 million in flow-through financing to spend on exploration drilling deeper down and in other ways to advance West Cache, including consulting with area communities. 

In a statement, Russell credits getting an early jump on the environmental baseline studies soon after acquiring West Cache in 2020 as being “invaluable in our approach to developing the project in a responsible manner.”

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Since making a base case for an open-pit mine last September, Moneta Gold continues drilling to expand its 12.8-million-ounce deposit.

The company has been releasing a steady diet of drill assay results this past fall from its Tower Gold Project, 100 kilometres east of Timmins.

Moneta is running a 160,000-metre program at its Windjammer Central gold deposit where it has 4.5 million ounces of indicated gold and 8.3 million ounces in the inferred category.

In a Dec. 16 release, company president Gary O’Connor said assay results continue to show continuous and wide significant gold grades with signs of expanding the resource. 

“Extensions of good gold mineralization have also been intersected outside the resource and pit, highlighting the potential to continue to grow the mineral resource and to expand the current mine life of the project.”

Once this drilling program is done, a new gold estimate will be calculated for a planned pre-feasibility study.