Grand Falls-Windsor - The Lucky Strike is poised to see another day in the sun.
"We'd like to bring that mine back into production," says David Felderholf.
The Buchans Mine produced copper, zinc and other base metal ores from 1928 until the facility closed in 1984.
Buchans River Ltd. is a resource company based in Halifax, N.S., and Felderholf, its vice-president, says its focused on exploring and developing base metal properties in the famous Buchans mining camp in central Newfoundland.
Buchans River also controls several exploration properties outside of the Buchans camp, including several under joint venture to Prominex Resource Corp. and Playfair Mining Ltd., which are also being actively explored.
Now Felderholf says there's a possibility that mining could return to the town within a couple of years. Recent drill results have shown higher-grade combined base metals, promising figures for a market where the price of zinc, copper and other elements are soaring through the roof.
Countries such as China and India are ramping up industrialization; more metals are needed for construction - and the demand is pushing prices ever higher.
"We do expect good results because right now we're drilling the old Lucky Strike, what we call the Lundberg zone," said Mr. Felderholf. "We're talking about 12 million tonnes, three per cent of combined base metals that hadn't been mined by Asarco (the former owners of the Buchans mine). It's considered low-grade, but within that, we believe there's left tonnage of higher-grade stuff. One of the past drill results came up with 28 metres of combined 10 per cent base metals."
In scientific terms, the Lundberg zone represents a resource estimate of approximately 11.8 million tonnes averaging 1.83 per cent zinc (per tonne) 0.67 per cent lead, 0.38 per cent copper, 0.16 ounces per tonne silver (or 5.5 grams per tonne) and trace gold.
However, when the original estimate of the resource was prepared, it was before the implementation of National Instrument 43-101 (a rule for the Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects with the Canadian Securities Administrators, a strict guideline for how public Canadian companies can disclose scientific and technical information about mineral projects.
"That 12 million tonnes is not a 43-101 compilant resource because it was done in 1974 before there was such a thing as national instrument 43-101," explained Mr. Felderholf. "We're drilling that now and we're going to come up with a resource on that. We expect it's going to be a higher grade than three per cent due to those drill holes that came up with 10 per cent."
The latest results are on the heels of Buchans River's earlier drilling. That was a drill program put in place with the targets outlined by the previous exploration company, Billiton.
"They looked around the property where there weren't enough drill holes already, where they thought there was enough room to fit in an ore body, and that's where they drilled," said the vice-president. "We didn't expect too much from that drilling."
One of the pluses for the company is that it's getting support from the town of Buchans.
"They'll do anything they can to help us," said Mr. Felderholf. "A lot of communities don't like mining, but that's not the case in Buchans.
"When that mine shut down in 1984, zinc was around 30 cents and right now it's over $1 (per pound). It was up to $1.50 then dropped a little bit. But the market expects the prices'll go up again in the next couple of years, and that's the time frame that we'd be looking at bringing that mine back into production. There's still a lot of work to be done before that happens."
The sounds of mining activity, even though they're only a possibility, are music to the ears of Buchans residents like Derm Corbett, the town's mayor.
"That would be good news," he said. "It's a deposit that they knew about years ago but never pursued it, with market prices the way they were. They're driving this activity now because they are so high."
He says there's a lot of excitement in the community with that exploration because it is practically on the town's back door.
"I can sit in my living room and watch these drills through my window. It's a great potential resource down the road."