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
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
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.
About 3,000 claims have been staked in the Clarence Stream area. Other junior companies with land holdings include
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
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.
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
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
In the Springfield area, 25 km northwest of Fredericton,
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.
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.
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.
Wayne Lockhart of
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.
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.
w holds 383 claims, having dropped 138 claims in 2002; the major relinquished a block of 87 claims, east of the Caribou mine, to
Other companies that continue to hold ground in the area include: