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Gold driving region's exploration.

The rocks that underlie the region around Thunder Bay are something of a geologist's playground and it is a region that has experienced a resurgence of interest by senior and junior mining companies, geologists say.

"Gold still accounts for three-quarters of the active projects in this region," says Thunder Bay North Ministry of Northern Development and Mines resident geologist Mark Smyk. "About a quarter of the projects are related to copper, nickel and platinum group elements, while a very small proportion are base metals and we've had one active diamond program up in the far north."

Gold exploration accounts for more than 50 per cent of the exploration programs in the Thunder Bay south district, according to Bob Schnieders, MNDM resident geologist for the south region.

Schnieders points out Hemlo mine is expected to expand in the coming year. Last year, Hemlo produced over 800,000 ounces of gold, and expansion of its Williams pit is expected to extend gold production there until 2012.

"One of the areas we are going to see some exploration is the Larose property," he says. "It's being worked by Freewest Resources Canada Inc. It's a new gold occurrence in the Moss Township area, found in rocks that were sedimentary rocks not thought of as high yield potential. They have gold mineralization along a two-kilometre strike length."

Smyk notes past producers are seeing some renewed activity in the quest for gold. One of them is along the Pickle Lake Metcalfe Property owned by Metalcorp, and activity in the Fort Hope area.

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"Both of those are playing on the discoveries of the Red Lake camp because the same package of rock extends to the east from Red Lake," says Smyk.

Musselwhite Mine has also been the site of a considerable amount of work by owners Placer Dome and Kinross Gold, he says. That includes about 17,000 hectares of patents, leases and staked claims around the mine.

"The trend we see is a lot of these more remote areas being picked up as well," says Smyk. "These small, remote Greenstone belts are getting a lot of attention."

Schnieders says the $3.5 million Lake Nipigon Region Geoscience Initiative, covering 22,000 square kilometres of land around Lake Nipigon is preparing to release new data. The survey will help companies exploring the region target new opportunities as well as give geologists like himself a better understanding of the unique and varied geology of the area.

"It's one of the best places in the world," he says. "It has such a variety of rock types, a variety of age of rock types and a variety of mineral deposits. We've got gold, base metal, there's people looking for diamonds. It's a great place. I went to Lakehead University and did my honours Bachelor and Masters degrees in geology. This region is one of the best natural laboratories around here."

By ANDREW WAREING

Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay
Author:Wareing, Andrew
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:488
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