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Geological surveys reveal gold and copper potential in northwest.

Geological surveys reveal gold and copper potential in northwest

Gold and a high concentration of copper have been detected by a pair of exploration operations in northwestern Ontario.

Toronto-based Asarco Exploration Company of Canada Ltd. and MinGold Resources Inc. have been conducting exploration work on their respective claims in the Fort Frances-Rainy River area for the past two to three years.

"We did the bulk of our exploration work last summer," said Bob Gray, exploration manager for Asarco, "and we did some winter drilling this year."

Gray said the drilling program did not locate any new gold deposits. However, a high concentration of copper was found in samples taken from the till.

The base metal was found during drilling into the overburden - loose soil and broken-up material - which is common in the bedrock in the area. Gray estimates the overburden reaches an average depth of 100 feet. Because a heavy metal concentrate is used to draw the minerals out, it is difficult to determine the exact grade of the ore.

"It just tells you the copper is there," Gray said. "But we've been unable to trace it back to the bedrock."

Like Asarco, MinGold - which holds 25 claims in the area - has also found some hope in its test holes.

According to company exploration manager Gerry Bidwell, small values of gold were discovered during exploration of the overburden, and the company is also attempting to trace the findings back to the bedrock.

Bidwell said samplings from the explorations site were either hand dug or drilled and results were "general in nature.

"We hope to come up with specific targets soon, so we can have a better handle on what's there," he said.

FOLLOW-UP

Bidwell said the exploration efforts followed up a two-phase survey of the area conducted by the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) between 1986 and 1989.

The project included the mapping of the area's surface materials - through samples from the overburden - and mapping of glacial movements. The latter mapping effort determined that a major ice movement occurred from the northeast and another from the northwest.

According to Cam Baker, supervisor of quaternary geology for the OGS, a number of drill holes had visible gold and copper grains.

"It's a direct indication of mineralisation in the area," Baker said. "It's surprising because the Fort Frances area is not traditionally considered a gold mining area.

"We know about the greenstone belt (in the area), but because of the overburden, it was never considered a mining area."

Baker said the overburden increases the cost of extracting minerals.

"Normally, companies would just get on the bedrock and start hammering away," he said. "You tend to be guessing a bit more where overburden is concerned."

Results from 71 drill holes made by the OGS were so encouraging that the agency "rushed out" a report of its findings in 1988. The release resulted in a claim-staking rush which totalled more than 300 claims before subsiding.

According to Baker, the OGS will be releasing a pair of reports on the surveys later this year. He added that the remainder of the work in the area lies in the hands of the mining industry.

"It's a real opportunity. Now it's up to the private sector to determine if there's any significant deposits in the area," he said.

At about the same time as the two reports are made public, the OGS will also be releasing the results from an airborne survey of the area.

The pair of mining companies are also waiting for the provincial government's release of the airborne survey.

Gray said Asarco has halted all activity in the area pending the release of the survey results - expected late this summer.

While MinGold has not halted its activities, Bidwell said the airborne survey could "help put the pieces together" for the company's efforts in tracking down the gold deposits, as well as increase the amount of activity in the Fort Frances-Rainy River area.

"It could encourage other companies to come into the area," Bidwell said.

Such an increase is a possibility which Baker hinted would not present any problems.

"Because it's an area which hasn't been considered for mining, there's still a lot of land available." he said.
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Title Annotation:Gold Mining Report; Ontario
Author:Krejlgaard, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Words:702
Previous Article:No working gold mines in region, but there's hope in Beardmore-Geraldton.
Next Article:Macassa part of Lac Minerals' $15-million exploration program.
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