Longevity, perseverance paying dividends: junior miner Spider Resources set to define major chromite deposit at McFauld's Lake.Neil Novak jokingly blames himself for allowing Noront Resources to become the darling of the Bay Street investment house crowd.
Still, the president and CEO of Spider Resources doesn't complain too much since he spends most of his work week as a Noront director and corporate vice-president.
The 30-year mining vet's collected knowledge of the James Bay Lowlands geology that has placed him on the unofficial hit list of many mining company executives.
"We've been very successful," said Novak. "I don't know how many discoveries we've made.
"Somebody told me my name is attached to about 15 different kimberlites and a whole bunch of massive sulphide deposits."
His Toronto-based junior was a forerunner to the staking rush at McFauld's Lake.
Through the mid to late 1990s, the company developed a keen understanding of the geological structure and what lies beneath within the Sachigo Greenstone Belt.
Novak has helped identify a cluster of Volcanic Massive Sulphide (VMS) occurrences hosting chrome, platinum and palladium occurrences in the area, where many juniors are working the so-called "Ring of Fire."
This summer, Spider is gearing up to drill off its flagship Big Daddy chromite deposit, a joint venture with KWG Resources, about 3 kilometres from Noront Resources' Eagle One's nickel-copper-PGM deposit.
To help with a bankable Ni 43-101 resource report, Novak has brought in chrome mining experts, Micon International, to recommend where to drill and the spacing on the holes to determine a resource.
The current $1 million exploration program, shared between KWG Resources and Spider, involving metallurgical, geophysical and gravity survey work, will last until the end of March. This prep work will kick off a bigger definition drilling campaign in June, somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range.
Established in 1992, Spider first cut its teeth in exploration, drilling into kimberlites in the Temiskaming district before shifting their diamond-hunting activity into the Far North a year later.
"We used that knowledge and applied it to work in the (James Bay) Lowlands," said Novak.
Spider, having flown a vast area with airborne geophysics, had a geophysical data base that De Beers coveted. When the the diamond giant began talking about developing the Victor diamond project, exploration chief Joe Joyce offered Novak a joint venture opportunity.
"We assembled this huge database that De Beers did not have and we had done some geochemical prospecting looking for indicator minerals in a specific area away from the cover rocks."
While searching for diamonds near Victor, they found five kimberlites along the Attawapiskat River, which were dubbed the Kyle series. Exploration farther west toward Webequie, Lansdowne House and Marten Falls yielded VMS-style mineralization in their kimberlite targets and indications of copper and zinc.
It was while working for Noront during the summer of 2007 that Novak was present when one drill hole intersected massive sulphides, causing Noront stock to go ballistic.
At Big Daddy, the plan is to use detailed gravity survey to further define a drill pattern in a systematic way, "so we know we can go in and hit chromite mineralization in every hole and use that to define the resource."
Novak has a good feeling the deposit is open to the northeast, southeast and at depth. Though he won't guess at a reserve, the sample grades look "very good" with combined platinum and palladium grades becoming more consistent in the four to five gram range.
Novak said it's only a matter of time before there is a working mine in the Lowlands. The price of nickel is slowing down Noront's Eagle One property, but if it takes off again, that project is a leading candidate for development.
Spider Resources Inc.
Neil Novak, President & CEO
TSX Venture: SPQ
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Active Projects: McFaul's Lake (chromite)
By IAN ROSS
Northern Ontario Business