By Lindsey Enns
Within the next four years Northwestern Ontario could soon be home to at least eight new mines thanks to the growing price of gold according to Natural Resources Geologist Andreas Lichtblau.
“The more samples you have, the more confident you can be,” Lichtblau said at the NOMA conference on April 26.
Confidence in the amount of gold waiting to be dug up is what has prompted companies across the region to invest in projects across Ontario. Northwestern Ontario is made up of four main mining districts, two of which are located in Thunder Bay, Red Lake and Kenora. Last year there were 250 active mining projects and nearly $1 billion dollars was spent on exploration activities in Ontario while $500 million was spent on grassroots projects alone.
“Although chromite is new to Ontario, the price of gold continues to rule,” Lichtblau said.
With an ounce of gold being sold for nearly $1,600 per ounce, companies across the region are investing millions in plans to revive old mines. Included on this list is a mile deep mine in Cochenour where once $420 million is invested in its infrastructure could have a possible mine life of nearly 20 years. Companies are also investing in a mine in Pickle Lake that once dewatered, could produce gold through open pits. Possibilities of a new mill being built at the Phoenix site near Red Lake could start producing as much as 15 grams/ton of gold by 2014 according to Lichtblau. Rainy River is hoping to jump on board with the gold rush in 2015 as they are investing $681 million into an open pit operation and $67 million to go underground could result in a 13 year mine life.
Cameron Lake is hoping to start an open pit operation in 2014 and Hammond Reef will follow with a start date of 2016. Lac Des Iles located 83 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay will be dumping $60 million dollars into exploration and $116 million to start drilling.
A little closer to home, work is continuing in the once abandoned site in western Wabigoon, while permits are currently being discussed with First Nations communities regarding the Goliath Gold Project located 20 kilometres east of Dryden.
“Our focus is to be partners with everybody in the area, including First Nations, and we’re continuing to work with all of the First Nations groups in the area,” Vice President of the Goliath Gold Project for Treasury Metals, Norm Bush said in an earlier interview.
Along with digging for gold, this project could provide enough employment opportunities to potentially strengthen the Ontario economy.
“The company wants this to be a mine built by Northwestern Ontarians,” said Bush. “As much as we can, we want to design, construct, operate and maintain the mine by people from Dryden and the northwestern region.”
In regards to the Goliath Gold Project, Lichtblau explains that they plan to access the gold through open pits first before going underground. He added that more money would need to be invested before the drilling starts.
“You can look at the surface, but you need to get some drilling done to show deposit.”
On average Lichtblau says that drilling tends to happen around 25 metres apart but when you drill 100 metres apart you never really know what you could possibly be missing.
“Drilling is definitely a guessing game, you never know what you will find and where.”