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Staking activity levels increase. (Mining).

Operation Treasure Hunt, the Ontario's government's $29-million geoscience program has resulted in increased staking activity, mineralized showings and investment.

The three-year program included state-of-the-art geophysical and geochemical procedures to pinpoint "buried treasure."

"In general (the program) has been very successful," says Cam Baker, senior manager, Ontario Geological Survey (OGS). Baker says that in discussions with prospectors there are many reports of their finding "mineralized showings" as a result of the new survey data.

The treasure hunt program, is creating new geoscience information about Ontario. The information, in the form of geological maps, reports, data and new exploration targets has triggered mineral exploration. An OGS news release reports "studies in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada and Australia show that geoscience surveys can generate $3 in total spending for each $1 of public funds invested. If a mine is discovered, the new wealth produced from it can be worth as much as $250 for each $1 of geoscience surveying."

The areas surveyed were determined by the OGS in co-operation with an advisory board made up of mining industry-related experts.

Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association says, "because of the volume of excellent exploration data that has been collected it will be a stimulus for present and future exploration.

"Data is timeless, and in the future it will continue to stimulate exploration."

When announcing the program, the northern development and mines minister at the time, Chris Hodgson, said the intention of the program is to reverse the downturn facing the mining industry.

"This initiative will give Ontario a distinct competitive edge in mineral exploration," Hodgson said.

The program appears to have impressed the international mining exploration community. The Fraser Institute, one of Canada's leading economic think-tanks, late last year released the results of an international survey of mining executives. The survey found "... Ontario and Quebec tied for the highest rank on the overall investment attractiveness index." The ranking was based on a mineral potential index and a policy potential index.

Prospectors in Ontario have "traditionally looked for gold and base metals," Baker says. Today, "interest is evolving into the platinum-group elements, including diamonds and rare-earth elements used in high-tech (applications).

"The geochemical and geophysical surveys uncovered targets for these commodities (platinum group elements) in areas that have not previously been explored," Baker says.

He says some examples are diamonds in the James Bay area, at Temagami, Kirkland Lake and Wawa, and rare-earth elements in northwestern Ontario.

During the three years of Operation Treasure Hunt, MNDM news releases identified the following "exploration targets with excellent potential for mineralization."

* April 19, 2000 - More than 40 areas in northeastern Ontario identified potential for precious and base metals, significant geochemical anomalies occur in the Foleyet region, about 80 kiometres west of Timmins, enhanced levels of platinum found in lake sediments.

* Dec. 6, 2001 - A lake-sediment survey in the Fort Hope region of northwestern Ontario identified more than 40 areas with potential for precious and base metals, enhanced levels of palladium, platinum, copper and nickel and many areas open for claim staking.

* Dec. 11, 2001 - OGS lake survey in the Sioux Lookout-Bamaji Lake region of northwestern Ontario, 300 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, identifies 20 areas with potential for precious and base metals, enhanced levels of palladium, platinum, copper, and nickel found, with many areas open for claim staking.

* Dec. 11, 2001 - OGS survey identifies new targets for diamond and base-metal exploration in the Coral Rapids area, about 100 kilometres north of Smooth Rock Falls, with recovery of indicator minerals, including garnets and ilmenite, warranting further investigation for diamonds. The hemistry of garnet and ilmenite indicate they have originated from a different source.

OGS also identifies a significant base metal anomaly on one of the major rivers in the Coral Rapids area with a highly anomalous number of chalcopyrite grains, ore mineral for copper and the bedrock source likely close to recovery site.

* Jan. 18, 2001 - Lake sediment surveys identified more than 75 targets in three areas of northwestern Ontario. The OGS reports outline results of lake sampling for the Atitokan, Schreiber and Long Lac regions with enhanced levels of palladium, platinum, copper and nickel found.
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Author:Lynch, Michael
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:May 1, 2002
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