Since drilling its first holes into the overburden that covers most of its Martiniere property in Quebec, Balmoral Resources (TSX: BAR; US-OTC: BALMF) has delineated three gold-bearing deposits along a north–south fault system.
The junior has traced its Bug South, Bug North and Bug Lower Steep gold deposits to vertical depths of 350, 350 and 550 metres, and each remains open for expansion down-plunge.
The company reported that the first holes of its mid-year drill program have uncovered a broad gold mineralization zone at shallow depths along the Bug Gold Trend in an untested area of the Martiniere property that it had previously considered less prospective.
Balmoral is calling the discovery the Bug Northwest (NW) Zone, and it is 450 metres northwest of the Bug North deposit.
Four holes produced mineralized intercepts ranging from 16.4 to 64.7 metres in downhole width and at grades ranging from 0.39 gram gold per tonne to 1.58 grams gold per tonne.
In addition, the broad intervals included higher-grade vein mineralization, such as 17.1 metres of 3.26 grams gold, including half a metre of 94.20 grams gold; 1.1 metres of 13.13 grams gold; and 0.9 metre grading 31 grams gold from three holes.
“The new Bug NW discovery is geologically similar to the other three known deposits along the trend,” Darin Wagner, Balmoral president and CEO, tells The Northern Miner by phone from the Precious Metals Summit in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
“It exhibits a very rapid increase in width to the northwest as it crosses through the Lac du Doigt fault corridor. Initial interpretation had indicated that the Bug Gold Trend might be terminated by this feature but happily the fault merely changes the trajectory of the trend and allows the mineralized zone to broaden rapidly into an untested area of the property.”
In addition to cutting the Bug NW discovery, one of the four holes intersected a new lower zone of strong shearing and gold mineralization with an intercept of 44.4 metres grading 0.52 gram gold from 305.4 metres downhole, including 0.5 metre grading 7.81 grams gold from 314.5 metres downhole. The sheared and altered zone was not intersected in the other three holes testing the Bug NW Zone, which the company says suggests that the mineralized shear system has a different orientation than the Bug Gold Trend.
The company submitted requests three or four weeks ago to drill another 20 holes along trend from the discovery of Bug NW, and has the approved permits already in hand and is drilling the discovery, reinforcing Wagner’s view that Quebec is one of the best mining jurisdictions on the planet to explore for minerals.
“This is the wonderful part of working in the province of Quebec — the infrastructure is there to support the industry,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a permit denied. We do a lot of work upfront to make sure everything in our submission is correct, but the turnaround is fabulous.”
By contrast, Wagner adds, it can take two or three months to get drill permits approved in British Columbia and three months or longer in Nevada. The last time he worked in Ontario, he says, permits took six weeks.
In general, he says, mining companies in Quebec have support from the local population and from the government. “It doesn’t matter which political stripe, it’s all supportive,” he says of government, “and there is also an understanding among the First Nations that there are job opportunities and advancement opportunities.”
This year Balmoral will drill a total of 35,000 metres, and management envisages completing a similar-sized — or perhaps slightly larger — drill program in 2018.
The company just closed a $4.1-million private placement of flow-through shares and expects to close a second financing of $3 million, which will bring the cash in Balmoral’s treasury up to just over $10.5 million, which should fully fund the company’s drill program next year.
Balmoral is modelling the top 300 metres of Bug South, Bug North and Martiniere West (a separate mineralized body with slightly different mineralization, 600 metres west of the Bug Lake Trend), and may complete a resource estimate before year-end that would include a small part of the Bug Lower Steep Zone. (There isn’t enough drill density at the Bug Lower Steep Zone to incorporate more material.)
If drilling in the new Bug NW Zone this year expands the zone as quickly as it did with the first few holes, however, Balmoral may choose to include it in a resource estimate.
“That’s the rationale for hitting Bug NW pretty hard before the snow flies and then make a determination whether we include it or not,” Wagner explains. “Realistically we’d be looking at the end of the year or early first quarter of next year for a resource estimate. But if NW blossoms, then we’d probably want to include it, and that might move the resource estimate into the latter part of the first quarter.”
The company is assessing other bits and pieces of the Bug Lake Trend, too, including a potential vein system east of Bug Lake.
“About 200 or 300 metres east of the Bug [Lake] Trend we’re seeing a series of high-grade veins over a kilometre and they seem to be coalescing into something that we would be able to say is a trend of mineralization,” he says. “We haven’t been overly visible on that because it’s very early, but we’ve got about 12 intercepts out over about a kilometre that are all over 5 grams plus in this new structure.”