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Joint venture targets former Inco mines in massive exploration program.

Sudbury's third-largest mining company--the joint-venture team of FNX Mining Company Inc. and Dynatec Corp.--are undertaking a massive $30-million advanced underground exploration program to develop two former Inco properties.

Beginning this fall, FNX and Dynatec expect to revive their Norman property by developing two deposits, Norman 2000 and Norman North, containing high-grade copper, platinum, palladium, gold and nickel.

"It's probably one of the most aggressive exploration programs in Canada, if not anywhere in the world," says FNX president Terry MacGibbon.

FNX owns 75 per cent of the Sudbury Joint Venture while Dynatec owns 25 per cent. The joint venture was established to develop five former Inco properties and put them back into production.

Encouraged by their fall and winter drilling programs, the companies have built an access road and expect to be through the permitting stage by summer's end, with shafting sinking to commence this fall.

The larger of the two deposits, Norman 2000, should take about two years to put into production if a feasibility study looks positive. MacGibbon says that could create between 200 and 300 production jobs.

The work involves sinking a vertical shaft 2,450 feet to access an underground deposit with the potential to yield five million to 10 million tonnes of ore.

FNX intends to do some bulk sampling to examine the deposit's metallurgy and conduct extensive drilling.

"With these footwall deposits, you have to get inside to drill them in detail and sample them," says MacGibbon.

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Once the underground program is complete, the companies will conduct a feasibility study and determine the viability of placing the 2000 Deposit into production.

At Norman North, where the deposit comes up near surface, the companies will build an exploration ramp to permit underground drilling and sampling. The project should take nine months with complete feasibility within 12 months and a production decision by the middle of next year.

Though not regarded as a mega-deposit by Sudbury standards, it is still sizable, says MacGibbon. Falconbridge's high grade Nickel Rim South deposit is in the 13 million-tonne range.

The Norman 2000 zone lies 2,000 feet under the former Whistle Mine open pit, about 32 kilometres northeast of Sudbury, near the town of Capreol.

Norman is one of five properties joint-venture partners FNX and Dynatec acquired from Inco in December 2000, along with Kirkwood, McCreedy West, Levack and Victoria.

The properties were inactive mines shut down by Inco as non-core assets when nickel prices declined in the late 1990s.

Over the last two years, FNX has spent $40 million on exploration in the Sudbury Basin. "We've had very good success with our exploration and that has allowed us to go back into the McCreedy West mine, rehab the ramp and put far-flung deposits within McCreedy back into production," says MacGibbon.

McCreedy, with a 2.4 mil-lion tonne resource, went back into production last November, producing at a modest 200-300 tonnes per day.

By April, production was boosted to 1,000 tonnes a day, three months ahead of schedule. It employs about 200 miners and is expected to produce 300,000 tonnes of nickel, copper and platinum-palladium-gold this year.

The Levack Mine and McCreedy PM deposits are scheduled to begin production at the beginning of 2005 and are expected to deliver between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes per day to Inco's Sudbury smelter.

By IAN ROSS

Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2004 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Special Report: Sudbury; FNX Mining Company Inc.; Dynatec Corp.
Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Words:563
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