Exploration heats up in SW New Brunswick

Despite a slump in base metal exploration, 2002 proved to be a banner year for precious metals in New Brunswick. It was gold’s turn to shine as exploration efforts turned up widespread occurrences in various settings throughout the southwestern part of the province.

On the non-metallic side, the New Brunswick division of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT-T) discoverd a potentially significant potash resource adjacent to its mine and milling operation at Penobsquis near Sussex. In addition, Potash Corp. was granted a local gas-producers franchise to develop the McCully sweet-natural-gas field jointly discovered with Corridor Resources (CDH-V) a couple of kilometres away from the minesite. This represents the first new gas discovered and commercially produced in New Brunswick in over 90 years.

Metallic mineral exploration expenditures totalled $3 million in 2002, down more than $6 million from the previous year. The decline in mineral exploration is directly attributed to low base metal prices and the closure of Noranda‘s (NRD-T) exploration office in Bathurst. Noranda spent $3.5 million exploring the Bathurst mining camp in 2001, and has turned over its digital and hardcopy exploration files to the province under a 2-year confidentiality agreement.

Claim staking in 2002 declined from the previous year, with 7.6% fewer claims in effect. In 2001, a total of 14,251 claims covering 2,280 sq. km were held in New Brunswick.

The hub of the province’s exploration activity is in the southwest, where several junior mining companies and numerous local prospectors are searching for gold. The number of new finds in and around tin-tungsten-bearing felsic intrusions associated with the Saint George Batholith leaves little doubt that a significant, granite-related gold district is emerging in this part of the province. More than $2 million was spent on gold exploration during 2002.

Freewest Resources Canada (FWR-V) has spearheaded the gold exploration movement in the Clarence Stream area of Charlotte County, 70 km southwest of Fredericton, where it has found numerous gold-bearing showings in metamorphosed Silurian volcano-sedimentary sequences and metagabbros peripheral to granitic intrusions. This past year, Freewest discovered a “new style of high-grade gold occurrences” in the Anomaly A area, more than 3 km northwest of the previously drilled Central discovery and its associated zones. This new style of mineralization occurs in the Ordovician metasedimentary rocks, well away from the main body of granite. Freewest also added to its extensive land holdings in the Clarence Stream area by optioning the Tower Hill property, a further 10-15 km to the west.

About 3,000 claims have been staked in the Clarence Stream area. Other junior companies with land holdings include Union Gold (UN-V), Fancamp Resources (FNC-V), Golden Hope Mines (YGH-V), Murgor Resources (MUG-V) and PGE Resource (PGS-V).

Union Gold reported mixed results as a result of drilling several promising induced-polarization (IP) geophysical targets at the end of 2001 on its Birney Lake holdings, 4 km west of Clarence Stream. Soil sampling initially defined several anomalous areas, which yielded gold concentrations of 5-45 times background values. Follow-up prospecting uncovered a few isolated boulders containing quartz-carbonate stockwork veins. The best grab ran 16.3 grams gold, 0.82% antimony, 0.18% zinc, and greater than 1% arsenic. An IP survey over a part of the property holdings outlined several targets that were tested by a 1,000-metre drill program.

Drilling returned only slightly anomalous gold values. Several of the IP anomalies were attributed to graphite in the Waweig metasediments.

Fancamp’s work on its Clarence Stream package of properties has been limited to soil and till sampling, plus some prospecting. The junior holds 532 claims covering 86 sq. km in the camp, and several of these properties have been individually farmed-out to Freewest, Murgor and Golden Hope.

Reconnaissance soil and basal till sampling over some 231 claims has defined a wide scattering of gold-arsenic anomalies. Some are associated with granite contacts, while others appear to be associated with large fault structures. Follow-up work is conditional on financing.

For Murgor, exploration is still at the grassroots stage. The company acquired three new properties through staking, namely Nerepis, Shear and Tower properties, all of which reported gold showings.

A group of local prospectors continue to be active in the area. They include William Gardiner of Southfield Resources, Emilio Doiron of Pro-Max Resources, Perry English, Raymond Thorn, David O’Neill, Peter Fenety, Kim Reeder and Karen McKay.

David Stevens and Kim Reeder discovered high-grade gold mineralization at Waweig in a stratigraphic package of rocks similar to that which occurs at Clarence Stream. “They have a terrific soil anomaly of greater than 150 parts per billion (ppb) and up to 558 ppb gold,” says Malcolm McLeod, regional geologist with the Geological Surveys Branch’s Sussex office. Grab samples have returned values as high as 15-16 grams gold.

Just north of the Sawyer Brook fault, which cuts through the property, highly mineralized boulders near outcropping gabbro and diorite have run up to 10 grams gold per tonne. “It looks like the main zone of mineralization at Clarence Stream could be quite extensive,” says McLeod.

Outside the Clarence Stream region, Emilio Doiron is investigating a northeasterly trending belt of rocks along strike of the former-producing Cape Spencer gold mine, south of Saint John. Doiron, working in conjunction with Raymond Thorn and Mark McNamara, has discovered several drill-ready, high-grade gold showings. The shear-related zones occur sporadically over a distance of more than 2 km. Trenching has yielded 7 grams across 3 metres.

Doiron, together with William Gardiner of Southfield Resources, also discovered a high-grade gold showing in a highly altered gabbro-basalt complex in the Marrtown area, north of Sussex. The Sheba find was made in October 2001 in the wall of an abandoned quarry used to supply road fill for a new section of the Trans-Canada Highway. Three grab samples taken in an area of strong sulphide mineralization returned gold values of 8.2, 4.5 and 3.7 grams. The main showing was found 600 metres away from old exploration trenches and pits, which were left behind by Mountaindale Mining while exploring for antimony in the 1920s.

Vancouver-based Pathfinder Resources (PHR-V) optioned the 18-sq.-km Sheba property from Southfield in late 2001. During an initial property examination, Pathfinder President Victor Tanaka sampled the main showing, taking a half-dozen channel chip samples across the structure, as well as selected grabs. There were several multi-gram hits, including a 7.5-gram sample. A number of large mineralized boulders in the vicinity were sampled, yielding values as high as 22.5 grams. The samples taken from the showing and nearby boulders were weakly anomalous in copper, lead and zinc.

Outcrop is sparse in the area. The mineralized showing consists of a vertically dipping, 7-metre-long exposure with widths in excess of 1 metre. The showing has been truncated to the north by excavation and obscured to the south by overburden. Mineralization appears to be shear-related and occurs within a steeply dipping zone that cuts a strongly altered, pale-grey-to-buff microgabbro. The original textures have been partially to completely destroyed and the rocks have been infused with silica, calcite, chlorite and leucoxene. Sulphide mineralization includes arsenopyrite and pyrite. Gold mineralization appears to correlate with arsenopyrite distribution.

Prior to completing a 1,376-metre drilling program in late 2002, Pathfinder conducted some soil geochemical sampling and a limited ground geophysical survey program tha
t included IP, magnetic and very-low-frequency (VLF) electromagnetic surveys. The 14-hole program undercut the main showing over a strike length of 175 metres. Several narrow shear zones containing low-grade gold were intercepted, including 1.9 metres grading 1.4 grams. Pathfinder has subsequently returned the Sheba property to Southfield. In September, Pathfinder announced it had farmed-out a 100% interest on an adjoining property, known as the Springfield project, to Serengeti Resources (SIR-V). The 36-sq.-km claim package is adjacent to, and west of, the Sheba property.

Farther to the north, Freewest maintains a large holding in the Golden Ridge area, southwest of Woodstock, where it has uncovered widespread gold mineralization in a high-level intrusion of intermediate composition. The Golden Ridge property straddles the Maine-New Brunswick border. Freewest recently optioned a half-interest in the New Brunswick part, covering 25 sq. km, to First Narrows Resource (UNO-V) of Vancouver, B.C.

In the Springfield area, 25 km northwest of Fredericton, TNR Resources (TRR-V) continues to investigate gold occurrences in strata adjacent to felsic intrusions of the Pokiok Batholith. TNR can earn a 51% interest in the 12-sq.-km Springfield property by spending $650,000 before May 2003 and issuing 1 million shares. The target is a quartz-carbonate breccia zone containing significant amounts of arsenopyrite, along with elevated antimony and gold values. The breccia zone is exposed over a strike length of 200 metres.

Merton Stewart originally discovered the prospect in 1988. The property was initially optioned to Noranda, which carried out a small program of soil sampling, geophysics, backhoe trenching and the drilling of two holes in 1990.

TNR completed a 3-hole program in late 2001 and tested the breccia zone down to a depth of between 50 and 100 metres. Drilling showed extensive alteration, brecciation and silicification, with some gold. The best intercept ran 0.36 gram gold over 3 metres. TNR was recently awarded a $30,000 grant by the Department of Natural Resources and Energy to explore the Springfield property further. Two deeper holes are planned.

Local prospector Mark Connell continued to search for the source of locally derived, auriferous massive sulphide boulders at his Dead Creek property in the south-central part of the province. Likewise, PGE Resource continues to assess the potential for volcanogenic massive sulphides in the Annidale area of south-central New Brunswick, and in the New River area, west of Saint John.

Privately held Annapolis Valley Goldfields drilled two holes in its McKeel Lake rare earth element property, north of Saint John. The McKeel Lake granite hosts the only tantalum-bearing rare metal occurrence in the region. Grades were less than expected, but other potentially mineralized areas were uncovered east of the drilled area.

Exploration in the Bathurst camp of northern New Brunswick was quiet in 2002, reflecting the ongoing slump in base metal prices, which had zinc bouncing off record lows. While no major companies were active, juniors collectively spent about $500,000 on exploration in the northern part of the province. All but one of these companies received funding under the New Brunswick Junior Mining Assistance Program.

Aurogin Resources (AUQ-V) completed its 50% earn-in on the 284-claim Belledune base metal property under terms of an option agreement with Heron Mines. A 330-metre-deep hole was drilled in March 2002 to test anomalies defined by both surface and down-hole time-domain pulse-EM surveys on the Grid 1 discovery area. This hole failed to intersect massive sulphides but did cut three sulphide vein-stockwork zones within altered volcanics at a depth of 280-320 metres. Anomalous values of up to 1.1 grams gold and 0.89% copper were present. Aurogin does not plan to work the property further, though Heron continues to explore its surrounding claims, which total 370.

Montoro Resources (MNQ-V) signed a property option agreement with Rufus Smith of Log House Construction to acquire a half-stake in the 37-claim Malachite property, near Bathurst. The property covers an interesting copper-cobalt prospect. Trenching exposed a 25-to-30-metre-wide mineralized zone in a hydrothermally altered rhyolite unit. The mineralization typically grades 1-2% disseminated chalcopyrite, with minor pyrite and cobaltite.

Montoro collected 49 rock-chip and grab samples from the two trenches. Better results were obtained from a brecciated section containing 3-5% chalcopyrite in stringers and veinlets, with abundant oxidized cobalt along fractures. The three best samples returned grades of 0.6% copper and 0.1% cobalt, 1.3% copper and 172 parts per million (ppm) cobalt, and 2.08% copper and 341 ppm cobalt.

Northeast Exploration Services and PGE Resource each drilled their respective Tower and Bills Lake properties in search of sulphide mineralization.

Wayne Lockhart of Omni Mines continued to search for the source of anomalous nickel-cobalt stream-sediments in the Simpsons Gulch-Boland Brook area in north-central New Brunswick. Additional ground geophysics and trenching were carried out. With a 654-claim package, Omni has the distinction of having the largest land position outside of the Bathurst camp.

Stratabound Minerals (SB-V) optioned a 10-claim property covering a new gold showing, near Murray Brook in northern New Brunswick, from local prospector Michael Smith. Calgary-based Stratabound has staked 51 additional claims surrounding the Ramsay Brook option. Smith uncovered the new showing while trenching in an area 2 km from the original Simpson Field gold prospect that was found in 1985 by Smith. The 38-metre-long trench was chip-sampled at consecutive 1-metre intervals, revealing an 11-metre stretch that averaged 3.27 grams gold. Due diligence sampling by Stratabound confirmed these numbers. The mineralization appears to exist along the intrusive contact of a 1.5-metre-thick mafic sill. Geophysical work shows that the Simpsons Field prospect and the 2002 showing are within a 300-to-400-metre-wide zone of multiple en echelon conductors that extend over a strike length of almost 4 km.

Subject to funding, Stratabound intends to complete geophysical coverage over the un-surveyed parts of the property, followed by trenching.

First Narrows Resource optioned a 100% interest from Earnest Brooks in the Middle River gold property, which borders Highway 180, 18 km west of Bathurst and 8 km north of the Brunswick mine. In 1989, Homestake Mining Canada drilled this property and encountered gold mineralization, including 12 grams gold per tonne over 1.54 metres in hole 14 and 5.7 grams over 3.1 metres in hole 11.

Miramichi-based Slam Exploration (SXL-V) recently acquired, by staking, the 18-claim Nepisiguit property, also in the Bathurst camp. The property hosts the Nepisiguit A, B and C base metal occurrences. Slam owns 100% of the O’Hearne-Strachens property in the Bathurst camp, which lies along strike of the former-producing Wedge mine. Drilling by the company cut narrow intervals of high grades in the O’Hearne zone. Slam encountered a 1.3-metre section grading 27.8% zinc, 21.1% lead and 1.61% copper, plus 0.65 gram gold and 281 grams silver, at a down-hole depth of 35 metres.

Slam also staked the Nash Creek property, 20 km west of Belledune. The property covers three small deposits. The most significant is the Hayes zone, discovered by Falconbridge in 1988. Falco completed 64 holes totalling 12,377 metres between 1988 and 1990, and defined an indicated resource of 940,000 tonnes grading 4.6% zinc, 0.85% lead and 26.2 grams silver.

Noranda is by far the largest landholder in the Bathurst camp, with 3,111 claims held, down from 3,777 in 2001. Eastmain Resources (ER-T) has the second-largest position, at 622 claims. Teck Cominco (TEK-T) no
w holds 383 claims, having dropped 138 claims in 2002; the major relinquished a block of 87 claims, east of the Caribou mine, to Corner Bay Silver (BAY-T). Also, Hudson Bay Exploration & Development trimmed down to 33 claims, and Breakwater Resources (BWR-T) shed 50% of its position to hold 171 claims.

Other companies that continue to hold ground in the area include: Phelps Dodge (PD-N); Chapleau Resources (CHI-V); Commander Resources (CMD-V); Freewest Resources; Mountain Lake Resources (MOA-V); Stratabound Minerals; Atlantic Zinc; Irving’s Hunter Brook Holdings; and Northeast Exploration Services.


Be the first to comment on "Exploration heats up in SW New Brunswick"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. To learn more, click more information

Dear user, please be aware that we use cookies to help users navigate our website content and to help us understand how we can improve the user experience. If you have ideas for how we can improve our services, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to email us. By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. Please see our Privacy & Cookie Usage Policy to learn more.