While many of its peers chase opportunities abroad, Leader Mining International (LMN-A) remains firm in its belief that Canada still has the best exploration potential to offer.
“The Canadian Shield still has world-class potential, with many such discoveries to verify this,” says Leader President Jasi Nikhanj. “And for a junior . . . it’s both cheaper and easier to stay in your own backyard, where you know the rules and regulations.”
Over the past two years, the Alberta-based company has built a portfolio of gold and polymetallic properties spanning three provinces. While most are still at the grassroots stage, one of them — Knife Lake — has been shown to hold an inferred resource of 79 million tonnes grading 0.8% copper, including minor cobalt and gold credits.
Situated in northeastern Saskatchewan, the property covers 970 sq. km in the northern portion of the Scimitar complex, a highly deformed and folded area of the Churchill structural province. Geologically, the complex is dominated by felsic to intermediate intrusives, with minor volcanic and sedimentary rocks, cooked to the mid-to-upper amphibolite facies and deformed to gneiss.
The Knife Lake deposit has been tested by 26,000 metres of drilling, 6,000 metres of which were for definition purposes. Leader’s drilling, combined with work completed by previous operators, shows Knife Lake to be a north-south striking, shallow-dipping body of predominantly low-grade sulphide mineralization in the form of pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite and pyrite, plus minor amounts of sphalerite and rare native copper.
Despite the low grade, the deposit is expected to be relatively simple to process. Using selective flotation, metallurgical tests by Lakefield Research on a 2.4-tonne sample recovered more than 90% of the copper, 80% of the gold and 13% of the cobalt. According to Lakefield, recovery rates for gold were more affected by grind size than those for copper.
Leader is currently incorporating the metallurgical data into a prefeasibility study, which is scheduled for completion by mid-summer. As part of the study, the resource will be recalculated.
About 35 km to the northwest, a second zone of mineralization, known as Linda/SBL, has been outlined near a 5-km-long coincident gravity anomaly and electromagnetic conductor. A total of 5,000 metres in 24 holes was drilled in the zone, returning several narrow intervals ranging from 0.2% to 14% zinc, 1% to 2.5% copper, and up to 3 grams gold per tonne and 10 grams silver. Like Knife Lake, mineralization occurs in the form of sulphides, predominantly sphalerite, chalcopyrite and pyrrhotite.
Starting in the summer, the company says it will begin a surface program at Linda/SBL, as well as at three parallel east-west trending faults south of the Knife Lake deposit. One of these faults was tested by three holes, each of which hit silver mineralization. Core recoveries, however, were extremely poor (10% to 30%) and thus, the results indicate only the existence of mineralization.
Elsewhere, Leader has started a gravity survey to test several of its newly acquired properties in the Voisey’s Bay region of Newfoundland.
The junior is an upstart in the region, and has acquired over 500 sq. km of land near Inco’s huge Voisey’s Bay base metal deposit in north-central Labrador, striking option deals with such companies as Ivory Oils & Minerals (IVY-V), NDT Ventures (NDE-V), International Northair Mines (INM-V), Lucero Resource (LCR-V) and Layfield Resources (LAY-V).
“It appeared to me that in the past every one had their own claim block,” says Nikhanj. “So everyone was doing their own work, resulting in the lack of any large-scale study.”
The company’s latest deal in the area is an option agreement with Celtic Minerals (CME-A) and Jilbey Exploration (JLB-M), in which Leader can earn a 50% interest in the Voisey’s Bay West and South properties by spending $1.1 million over 2.5 years. Both properties abut Inco’s Voisey’s Bay property.
The gravity survey is following up an aeromagnetic survey completed by previous owners. Once complete, ground geophysics will be carried out to pinpoint targets for drilling scheduled to begin in late summer.
Celtic and Jilbey will retain the remaining 50% interest. Those companies also have the right to purchase 50% of any net smelter return royalties payable on leader’s option agreements with the aforementioned companies.