The geological model Bonterra Resources (TSX-Venture: BTR) is applying to its Gladiator gold project in the Abitibi belt of Quebec is proving to be a reliable predictor of where extensions of the already substantial deposit will appear.
As a result, the Vancouver-based company has been able to quickly expand the known gold mineralization along strike and at depth and is finding multiple new mineralized horizons within the 105 square kilometre land package.
“We let the deposit do the talking,” says Dale Ginn, Bonterra’s Vice-President of Exploration. “It’s a classic stacked vein system that responds well to a combination of till sampling, magnetics, and LIDAR (remote sensing using lasers).”
The Gladiator gold deposit occurs within highly silicified, altered and sheared mafic volcanics, with local intrusions of syenite and quartz porphyry. Smoky quartz veins contain most of the mineralization including free gold, minor pyrite, chalcopyrite and sphalerite, especially in or near the vein contacts.
In 2012 Snowden Mining Industry Consultants identified an inferred resource of 905,000 tonnes grading 9.37 grams gold per tonne (273,000 contained oz.) within a relatively small deposit.
Since then, Bonterra has extended mineralization to a strike length of 1,200 metres and a depth of 1,000 metres below surface. The deposit remains open in all directions and drilling has identified at least five distinct sub-parallel zones.
The Abitibi greenstone belt straddling the mining-friendly jurisdictions of Ontario and Quebec is receiving a great deal of attention these days because of its potential to host more gold deposits such as Gladiator within an already prolific camp with excellent infrastructure. A relatively high gold price, at roughly US$1,300 per oz., is an added incentive.
The Urban-Barry sub-belt that hosts the Gladiator deposit is an underexplored section of the Abitibi. Encouraged by progress at Gladiator, Bonterra has more than doubled its land position along the northeast trending shear structure and its exploration team is consistently intersecting high-grade zones at mineable widths with step out drilling.
“Bonterra has found a new high-grade deposit that looks like it will have some size and that’s a very rare thing, especially within a jurisdiction that is open for business,” says Ginn, an experienced geologist and mine executive who has participated in several gold and base metal discoveries. “Every single drill hole is adding ounces and the mineralization is becoming predictable.”
High profile investors have taken note. In March, Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) purchased a 9.5% stake in the company for $5.2 million. Other major shareholders include Eric Sprott, Kirkland Lake Gold (TSX: KL; NYSE: KL) and New York-based Van Eck. Their confidence in the junior has had a domino affect, allowing Bonterra to raise another $35 million through two oversubscribed bought deal financings and one private placement.
As a result of the recent deals, Bonterra now has about 162 million shares outstanding and a market capitalization of $65 million. Shares have been trading in a 52-week range of 21-55 cents with recent trades closer to 40 cents.
With exploration financing secured, Bonterra will ramp up its drill program at Gladiator, adding two drills to the four already turning. Some of the work will focus on infill drilling in preparation for an updated National Instrument 43-101 resource estimation in the first half of 2018. The rest will test exploration targets identified along the company’s extensive land package.
If Bonterra continues to demonstrate continuity in the 800 metre long gap (the “Rivage Gap”) between the Rivage Zone — once thought to be a distinct, separate deposit to the west — and Gladiator, resources would increase significantly from the 273,000 ounces identified by Snowden. Recent drill results within the gap include 3.8 metres grading 16.8 gpt and three metres grading 21.5 gpt gold.
Bonterra also has a 100% stake in the Larder Lake project in the Abitibi belt, acquired in 2016 for $4 million in cash and shares, or approximately $4 per ounce of gold in historical resources. The property hosts the Bear Lake, Cheminis and Fernland deposits that occur along 10 kilometres of the Cadillac-Larder break between Kirkland Lake and Virginiatown in Ontario.
Various groups have drilled more than 100,000 metres at Bear Lake over the years and the deposit remains open at depth. It has two shafts and mine development extends to a depth of 330 metres. With access to such an extensive database for modelling, Bonterra intends to conduct a thorough geological review of the historical data and conduct further exploration based on the results.
But for now, all eyes are focused on Gladiator, where an aggressive drilling program is confirming and adding ounces to a gold deposit that drew the attention of sophisticated investors early on and continues to reward them.
— The preceding Joint Venture Article is promoted content sponsored by Bonterra Resources Inc. and written in conjunction with The Northern Miner. Visit bonterraresources.com to learn more.