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Diamonds potential untapped. (Mining).

For the last 10 years a plethora of diamond kimberlite exploration has been occurring in Northern Ontario and the main impetus behind large- and small-sized mining company exploration is the presence of De Beers in the James Bay Lowlands, says Ann Wilson, Timmins district geologist.

Currently, De Beers is pursuing a feasibility study on its Victor project to determine the viability of a diamond mine in Attawapiskat.

"(Be Beers) has spent I do not know how many millions of dollars, but they would not have spent this much money if they did not have some glimmer of hope," Wilson says.

Spider Resources has also been in the James Bay Lowlands for almost as long as De Beers.

Approximately two years ago Spider signed an agreement with De Beers to allow them to do some exploration on their kimberlite pipes, Wilson says.

"They have not been quite as active as De Beers," Wilson attests, "but they have still been up in the area doing some initial drilling and some mini tests."

Testing is taking place approximately 100 kilometres west of Attawapiskat, Wilson says.

"That area is pretty much virgin territory."

However, the main area of extensive research is in the north and south of Attawapiskat, Wilson says.

Metalex Ventures and Arctic Star Diamond in collaboration with Big Red Diamond Corp. are drilling in the areas south of Attawapiskat, with Canabrava Diamond Corp., Condor Diamond and Superior Diamond also establishing their presence.

"When De Beers went to this desktop feasibility stage, that was a big push to do some staking," Wilson says.

Right now, the Attawapiskat area holds the greatest hope for Canada's first mine in Ontario, but recent findings in other areas of the North have also sparked interest among diamond companies, Wilson says.

"We have a locus of exploration going on in the Wawa area, where we have Pele Mountain Resources Inc, Kennecott Canada Exploration in co-operation with Band-Ore Resources, (and) Spider Resources is there, (plus) we have Arctic Star Diamond in cooperation with Oasis Diamond Exploration Inc.," Wilson explains.

Just recently, a diamond measuring .72 carat was pulled from the Wawa bedrock. This has fueled potential exploration in the older rocks throughout Canada and the world, Wilson adds.

For instance, a Kapuskasing structure stretching north, northeast from the shore of Lake Superior just north of Sault Ste. Marie and ending near Attawapiskat has intrigued geologists for years, since the formation and mineral content is conducive to diamond finds, Wilson says. It is just beginning to attract attention from some diamond companies. One of the reasons is that the provincial government under the auspices of FedNor obtained funding to conduct an airborne geophysical survey of the Kapuskasing structure.

"No one had done that in a continuous survey (before)," Wilson explains.

The results of some of the findings were published, thereby providing pertinent information on potential targets to interested diamond companies that were jockeying for land claims, Wilson says. Southern Era Resources, Canabrava and a slew of junior companies have targeted some key areas and tests confirm some positive indicator minerals, which may be kimberlites.

"Last summer they were on the ground collecting additional samples (in) Ranger lake, Aubrey Falls just north of Sault Ste. Marie and also in an area around Chapleau," Wilson says.

Although no large diamonds have come out of the Kapuskasing structure, Wilson says there is a lot of interest.

"It is only a matter of time," she says.

Prospecting for diamonds is also taking place around New Liskeard, Cobalt, and Kirkland Lake, where small diamonds have been found. However, no extensive activity has occurred on the land and Wilson is not sure why this is the case.

"It might be that companies just lose interest or they cannot get financing, it might be that the chemistry of the kimberlites is not right and that there are too may small diamonds, but it also might be that they just have not tried hard enough."

Research indicates a company has to find 10 kimberlites before they find one that can be mined, and if exploration is being carried out in the wrong area of the kimberlite they will be missing the target, Wilson says.

However, with the activity in Attawapiskat, more exploration in the Kirkland Lake, Cobalt district has been observed.

A number of companies have gone in and acquired ground in the Temagami, Marten River area. JML Resources, Tres-or Resources and Temex Resources, Rhonda's Resources and Rock Resources Inc. are looking for true kimberlite and are now focusing on drilling in the area, Wilson says.

As well, Lorraine Township holds some promise. A prospector took a chance on some odd looking rocks and surprisingly they were diamonds carrying the same content as those found in Wawa, "so a company called Cabo Mining Corp. has optioned that property," Wilson says.

With the recent findings and surely more to come, Canadian diamonds have received recognition on the international mineral market.

"There is a demand for Canadian diamonds," says Paul Murphy, Canadian mining leader for Price Waterhouse Cooper Smith.

"They are popular in the U.S. market."

The mining industry is seeing some very large, valuable stones coming out of Canada, he says. As the diamond market takes off in Canada more cutting and polishing is occurring within the country, further enhancing their authenticity, he says.

"I think there is a demand for (authentic Canadian diamonds) and we are not really in the best of times yet either."
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Author:Louiseize, Kelly
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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