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Rubicon goes back to the drawing board

Mine developer out to right the wrongs of Red Lake blunder
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Rubicon Minerals' Phoenix Gold Project near Red Lake in northwestern Ontario.

New management at Rubicon Minerals promise a more thorough, responsible and transparent approach toward getting its shuttered Phoenix Gold Project back on track.

The would-be Red Lake miner provided the details on its exploration plans over the next two years on Jan. 10.

"We have finalized the details of our 18- to 24-month exploration program that will advance our understanding of the F2 Gold Deposit at the Phoenix Gold Project," said Rubicon president-CEO George Ogilvie in a news release.

Coming out of creditor protection and refinancing, Rubicon is out to restore investor confidence and attempt to shake off its reputation as one of Northern Ontario’s biggest mining blunders.

Fast-tracked into production in the summer of 2015, the company threw up the white flag in November of that year in announcing a “geologically challenging” environment at Red Lake was forcing them to halt all underground development during a trial stoping period of its F2 Gold Deposit.

It forced the layoff of more than 300 miners and contractors.

A revised resource calculation released by Rubicon in January 2016 revealed the gold estimates had shockingly dropped from 3.3 million ounces to just 413,000 ounces.

Rubicon’s new bosses promise it will put the project through the proper paces, beginning with this year’s exploration program that involves the re-logging of 10,000 metres of old drill core to get a better handle on the property’s geological structure.

The rest of the Toronto-based miner’s plans look to be a diamond driller’s playground.

Approximately 3,500 metre of underground drilling from the 244- and 305-metre levels will start in the second quarter of this year.

At the same time, 20,000 metres of drilling will start from the 610-metre level to follow up on “widely-spaced, high-grade intercepts” from past drilling of the deposit. The company said the drilling will cover the area between the 366- and 854-metre levels.

An “external consultant” will be hired soon to assist with geological interpretation and the drilling results will be folded into a revised mineral resource estimate.

"We believe that approaching the F2 Gold Deposit as an exploration target is a necessary step to better understand its complex structural geology and the distribution of gold mineralization in the host rocks, as interpreted by the geological model prepared in January 2016,” said Ogilvie in a statement.

“The ultimate goals of the exploration program are to increase the quality and quantity of mineral resources and, through a future planned feasibility study, determine the economics of the Project to upgrade mineral resources to reserves."

While carrying out some underground clean up and infrastructure upgrades, Rubicon anticipates “drifting” into the main mineralized zone of the F2 Gold Deposit, between the 305- and 366-metre levels, to gather more information for geological mapping and sampling.

Heading into 2018, the exploration program will involve limited trial mining in the main zone of the F2 deposit between the 244- and 305-metre levels.

The company said this will allow them to gather more information for geological mapping, sampling purposes and evaluation of mining techniques.

An updated mineral resource estimate will come out in the second half of 2018, which will be evaluated by a “peer group of external consultants” before a decision is made to proceed to a feasibility study.

"We have commenced activities at the project,” added Ogilvie, “including moving more than 3,000 metre of core into our core shack in preparation for re-logging, resumed staff hiring to assist with the exploration programs, and request for proposals (RFP) have been sent out to engage a primary external mineral resource consultant. Shortly, an RFP will be sent to potential bidders for commencement of diamond drilling activities."

Rubicon said it intends to provide periodic updates to the markets as it completes the stages of the exploration program.



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