VANCOUVER — Drill results from the Monument diamond project in the Northwest Territories point to the possibility of finding sizable stones, say its joint-venture owners.
New Nadina Explorations (NNA-V, NNADF-O) holds 57% of the property, which sits on the shores of Lac de Gras, and acts as the operator. But the junior is more than open to suggestions from its partners, which include two of the men who first found diamonds in Canada’s North. Stewart Blusson, who, with Chuck Fipke, found the kimberlite pipes that feed the Ekati mine, is the head of 21%- owner Archon Minerals (ACS-V, AHNMF-O). The other 22% is held by Chris and Jeanne Jennings; Chris Jennings was a key member of the team that discovered the nearby Diavik mine.
Most of the targets at Monument sit on an east-west line, appearing as blue magnetic lows on a map. The partners have come to call the targets the Blue Pearl Cluster. They drilled 17 holes for almost 3,500 metres over the summer and in September sent 2.2 tonnes of kimberlite from six different targets to the lab for caustic fusion testing.
The caustic fusion results are now all in and although the stone counts are not especially high, the partners are encouraged by the size distributions. At the southern end of the cluster, three pipes — Sparky, DD39, and Gemini — sit together and all three returned promising diamond counts with a “diamond distribution that suggests larger stones will exist,” according to a New Nadina release.
From the three holes drilled into Sparky, 412 kg of sample were analyzed. The sample returned 207 diamonds with one stone sitting on the 1.7-mm sieve, one on the 1.18-mm sieve, and a total of 15 stones larger than 0.6 mm.
At DD39, which sits 120 metres northeast of Sparky, two drill holes produced 192 kg of sample. Testing found 91 diamonds in the sample, with the largest sitting on the 1.18-mm sieve and a total of three stones larger than 0.6 mm.
The Gemini kimberlite is just 30 metres northeast of DD39. A 348-kg sample derived from three core holes produced 147 diamonds. The largest stone sat on the 0.85-mm sieve and eight stones were larger than 0.6 mm.
At the west end of the Blue Pearl Cluster, the Sonja kimberlite target saw two holes over the summer. From a 198-km sample, testing returned 100 diamonds, including two stones bigger than 0.85 mm and one additional stone greater than 0.6 mm.
Three of the targets at Monument are not part of the Blue Pearl Cluster but instead sit grouped together to the north. Only one is land-based; the other two are covered by Lac de Gras and have not yet been tested. The land-based target is called Trio and it provided the largest sample from Monument to date: a 1,015-kg kimberlite sample contained 558 diamonds. One stone remained on the 1.18-mm sieve, four stones sat on the 0.85-mm sieve, and in total, 16 stones measured better than 0.6 mm.
The Monument partners would like to take bulk samples this year but at present, do not hold the necessary permits. New Nadina has applied for permits and the 2009 programs are being planned around that process.
The Monument property is certainly in the right neighbourhood for diamonds. BHP Billiton’s (BHP-N, BLT-L) Ekati mine, which has been producing 3 to 5 million carats of diamonds annually since 1998, sits 30 km to the north along a kimberlite emplacement corridor. About the same distance to the east lies the Diavik mine, a joint venture between Rio Tinto (RTP-N, RIO-L) and Harry Winston Diamond (HW-T, HWD-N) that produces some 8 million carats annually.
The diamond counts from Monument lifted New Nadina’s share price 2¢ to 16¢. The company has a 52-week trading range of 7.5-48.5¢ and has 33 million shares outstanding.