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Thunder Bay junior miner zeros in on platinum, palladium

Benton Resources swings deal on two high-grade properties in northwest
Panoramic drill pad 2
Drill pad at the Thunder Bay North property (Panoramic Resources photo)

A Thunder Bay gold exploration company is picking up two high-grade platinum group metals (PGM) properties, west of the city.

In two separate deals, Benton Resources announced July 2 of its impending acquisition of the Escape Lake Discovery from Rio Tinto Exploration Canada for $6 million, and the Thunder Bay North deposit from Australia’s Panoramic Resources for $9 million.

The two properties are 60 kilometres south of North American Palladium’s (NAP) Lac des Iles Mine and 10 kilometres east of NAP’s Sunday Lake property.

The acquisitions should be finalized within the next two to three months.

With the projects only 50 kilometres from their home base, Benton Resources president Stephen Stares said through a news release that both are “well situated to aggressively move them forward.”

Benton, which bills itself as a "project generator," has a number of gold exploration properties across northwestern Ontario and Newfoundland-Labrador.

“Our team has been searching for an exciting PGM project in the market that possesses what we feel are essential project qualities: a high-grade, near-surface deposit containing a historical resource and located near existing infrastructure in a mining-friendly jurisdiction,” said Stares.

“These projects satisfy those criteria. Coupled with the high-grade discovery drilling completed at Escape Lake, the company feels that the opportunity to delineate further resources exists.”

At Thunder Bay North, a 30,000-hectare property, Magma Metals previously identified three zones in 2011 containing 377,000 ounces of platinum in the indicated and inferred categories, and 355,000 ounces of palladium, both indicated and inferred. There were also occurrences of gold, copper and nickel.

But Benton regards this as an historic resource that requires further exploration and drilling to verify and update those numbers.

At the 220-hectare Escape Lake property, located inside the Thunder Bay North project, Rio Tinto drilled the property pretty extensively between 2010 and 2012, but kept their “impressive” drill results under wraps, according to Benton.

One drill hole yielded 3.01 grams per tonne (g/t) of platinum and 4.08 g/t of palladium over a 33.39-metre interval. Another popped with 5.33 g/t platinum and 6.86 g/t palladium over 6.75 metres.

Subject to obtaining financing and receiving regulatory approval, the Escape Lake acquisition should wrap up within 90 days and Thunder Bay North will be finalized within 60 days.

In a statement, Panoramic managing director Peter Harold was “delighted” to shed Thunder Bay North and focus instead on a nickel project closer to home.

“The timing of this sale is opportune as our focus is solely on the ramp-up of the Savannah Nickel Project in Western Australian. Thunder Bay North has not been a priority project for us and we feel it best to move the project on to Benton Resources, a Canadian explorer with a proven track recorded of fund raising and successful exploration in Canada.”