What you may have missed at the year’s biggest mining conference
Saturday was the last day of Mineral Resources Review 2012 mining conference. Despite its running into the weekend, interest in conference presentations was enough to keep attendance up into the final day. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram
The Mineral Resources Review 2012 was presented Nov. 1-3 by the provincial government and the Newfoundland branch of the Canadian Institute of Mining Metallurgy and Petroleum.
The Telegram will follow up on presentations from this year’s conference in the coming months. But first: a sampling of what was raised on the conference floor.
The Julienne Lake project
Altius Minerals vice-president of exploration, Lawrence Winter, confirmed the company’s interest in the provincial government’s holdings at Julienne Lake in Labrador.
Winter said Altius intends to submit an expression of interest for the site, in response to a recent call by the province.
As The Telegram has reported, the government has put both money and time into verifying the iron ore resource at Julienne Lake — a piece of prime property, not far from existing mines in the Labrador City-Wabush area.
Altius has been exploring the area surrounding the province’s holdings and sees the iron resource stretching into its property.
“We believe, with our portion of the (Julienne Lake) deposit, it makes it a very substantial asset,” Winter said. Altius wants royalties rather than becoming a mine operator and seeks a partner to take on the area.
The Asian influence
While Muskrat Falls hydro power and the Lower Churchill project were the focus of news coverage on the day Minister of Natural Resources Jerome Kennedy addressed the conference, he also spoke about the importance of the Chinese economy.
“We see the Chinese economy driving the price of oil. We see the Chinese economy having such an impact on our iron ore prices,” Kennedy said.
It was the start of a theme. There were discussions away from the microphone, throughout the conference, about the importance of Asian investments and partnerships to ongoing exploration and production work in this province.
It was noted the interest here from Chinese-based companies is not only in iron ore from Labrador. The Beaver Brook antimony mine, for example, trucks concentrate to Halifax for shipping to China.
“We had visits from Chinese delegations and we met in different places such as Montreal and Labrador,” Geological Survey director Lawson Dickson told conference-goers.
Dickson said nickel production was a point of interest for those delegations.
Announcements were made and milestones marked leading up to, and during, the conference.
On Oct. 12, Anaconda Mining released first-quarter numbers, showing record sales for gold from the Pine Cove mine. In the three months leading to the end of August, the company sold 4,217 ounces of gold, bringing in about $6.9 million in revenue.
Anaconda continues to commit resources to further exploration work around the mine site.
Marathon Gold offered up a new estimate of its Leprechaun Gold-Valentine Lake resource on Oct. 22, with drilling and testing resulting in a 61 per cent jump in the amount of measured and indicated gold from the company’s evaluation of the property in March 2012. The company now has 9.54 million tonnes of gold at 2.22 grams per.
Marathon is continuing to prospect, map and trench in the area.
On Oct. 31, junior exploration company Puddle Pond Resources reported results from its gold-silver search in the Clarke’s Beach area. CEO Len Muise has called the results from the still-new discovery “highly encouraging.”
Also on Oct. 31, Buchans Minerals announced it has entered into a joint venture partnership with Minco Plc for its Woodstock manganese project in New Brunswick. The company is already working with Minco Plc on its Lundberg project, at the old Buchans mine site.
Buchans Minerals’ vice-president of exploration, Paul Moore, said the joint venture will allow the companies to determine if a new open-pit mine at that site is economically feasible, with further study between now and mid-2016.
As of Nov. 1, Rambler Metals and Mining has commercial gold production from its Ming mine on the Baie Verte Peninsula.
With gold prices running strong, Rambler Metals has decided to look at re-processing tailings at the site, in search of additional gold for the production tally.
“In laboratory tests this process opportunity increased gold recovery from 66 per cent to 85 per cent. The field trial makes economic sense particularly in a robust gold price environment,” said George Ogilvie, Rambler’s president and chief executive.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, Bill Pearson, president and CEO of Castillian Resources announced drilling was expected to begin as soon as that afternoon on the next round of work at the site of the former Hope Brook mine.
Mines and outer space
Director of the Planetary and Space Science Centre at the University of New Brunswick, Dr. John Spray, spoke at the conference about the economic geology of impact structures on Earth.
Spray explained there are about 185 proven craters on Earth — locations where its likely a meteor once crashed into the surface.
The locations end up with unique characteristics, Spray said, often making them more likely to hold valuable collections of oil and minerals than your average area of exploration.
For oil, the result of the impact can be new traps for the oil and gas to migrate into. “It may come as a surprise to many of you that some of the best oil and gas producers in North America are impact structures,” the researcher said.
Metals, meanwhile, can become molten in the case of a meteor strike — sinking and collecting, creating ore bodies good for mining where there may once have been only scattered mineralization.
“The impact itself is really a concentration method,” Spray said.
Spray also gave the provincial Geological Survey’s annual public lecture. The address, offered Thursday, was titled: “NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Rover Mission: Canada’s Contribution and the Gale Landing Site.”
An addition to the calendar
Building upon the success of its annual Expo Labrador conference, the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce is testing a new offering for those unable to make it to their Big Land event.
The chamber will offer a new conference and trade show, “Northern Exposure 2013,” at the Delta Hotel and Convention Centre in St. John’s from Jan. 22-24.
As with Expo Labrador, Northern Exposure — www.ne2013.com — will be focused on discussion and promotion of the ongoing work, challenges and business opportunities within Labrador.