Slam Exploration’s (TSXV: SXL; US-OTC: SLMXF) CEO Mike Taylor, a veteran geologist, had more than a hunch that there should be other gold deposits near Saint-Quentin, N.B., after local prospector Tim Lavoie discovered a gold deposit there in mid-2011.
This led Taylor and his team on their own prospecting expedition earlier last year, when they discovered the high-grade gold Maisie zone in an underexplored area, 30 km north of the Lavoie discovery. The Maisie zone is part of Slam’s flagship Menneval property, covering eight contiguous claims over 120 sq. km.
Taylor says that Maisie was found after Slam optioned into Lavoie’s NW Gold discovery in November 2011. “We actually optioned his property at the time and did some work around there, and we noticed there was a geochemical association . . . subsequent to that, I did some research and [soil] compilation in the region over there and I noticed a couple of other anomalous areas, and staked them in the winter.”
Taylor originally staked 100 claim units after perusing the provincial database for soil samples in the area. “I thought, ‘gee, we have [Lavoie’s] brand-new gold discovery in an area that has not been looked at before.’ It’s a big area, it has got regional structure, and it’s good for gold . . . I thought there should be a system there that is generating more than one gold project.”
In April 2012, Taylor took his wife Georgina and dog Maisie to check the claims that he had staked earlier in the winter. “It was actually on Good Friday, just as spring was starting, that we went over there on a one-day prospecting trip and found the boulders on the side of the road,” he recalls. “At that time there was still snow in the bush in New Brunswick, and so really the only place there was any rock to look at was along the edge of the road where the sun had been hitting the banks.”
Taylor admits the boulders that he initially saw “weren’t really great,” as they lacked visible gold. Still, he took some samples and sent them to a laboratory. A few months later, he returned to that area with the company’s geologist John Creamer and prospector Bryan Dempsey, and found three angular-quartz boulders within 10 metres of the first sighting, with visible gold. Grab samples from these boulders returned between 5.16 and 118 grams gold per tonne, proving his hunch.
Slam’s geologists staked the outlying claims in the area and carried out additional prospecting, along with a trenching and drill programs. The trenching traced the boulders to a gold-bearing quartz vein in bedrock, Taylor says. Creamer named the vein discovery the “Maisie zone,” after Taylor’s four-legged companion.
“It was a spectacular discovery for us,” Taylor recalls, adding that results from the vein have surpassed the company’s expectations.
Through trenching, Slam traced the Maisie vein system over a 700-metre strike length and found other potential gold occurrences. Further prospecting led to the discovery of Zone 9, 7 km south of Maisie.
Intrigued by the project’s potential, the New Brunswick-based junior kicked off a 64-hole diamond drill program in November 2012. It funded the program with the nearly $600,000 that it had raised in private placements during November and December 2012. By the end of that year, it had punched 47 shallow holes to test the Maisie vein system to a depth of 30 metres. Liking the initial gold assays, the company chose to focus its efforts and resources on the Menneval property and dropped its option agreement on Lavoie’s NW gold project.
Taylor and Lavoie both won the Prospector of the Year Award in 2012 at the Exploration, Mining & Petroleum New Brunswick conference. Taylor was recognized for the Maisie discovery, 15 km northeast of Kedgwick, and Lavoie for the NW gold project, 10 km east of Saint-Quentin. Both projects are 30 km apart, suggesting a potential new gold district in the relatively underexplored area.
In early 2013, Slam drilled another 17 holes on the Maisie zone. It reported 15 of those holes hit quartz veins varying in thickness from 0.1 to 4.8 metres. Some notable hits from the second drilling phase included 22.97 grams gold over 1.9 metres and 121 grams gold over a third of a metre. The drilling extended the Maisie gold vein along a 700-metre strike length and over a vertical depth of 30 metres. The explorer also drilled 8 holes into Zone 9. Taylor says the holes hit gold-bearing veins to an 80-metre depth, but that Maisie had higher grades.
In March Slam sent a 27 kg sample from the Maisie zone to a lab in Fredericton, N.B., to test its metallurgy. Results indicated the gold in the vein occurred as “free particles” that could be separated with conventional gravity methods. Taylor says the Maisie vein is reminiscent of the veins found in the California motherlode district, in that they pinch and swell, and create ore shoots with high grades. And the veins seem to run deep, potentially supporting a long mining life.
In July 2013, the explorer closed a $145,000 private placement to keep working on Maisie. It launched a second trenching program in September to define the scope and grade of the Maisie vein at surface. The company found visible gold in 13 of the 29 samples taken from the vein.
The junior hopes to conduct a 2,000-tonne bulk sample in mid-2014, before calculating an open-pit resource. The bulk sample will be sent for laboratory and mill testing, and provide more details about the size, grade and structure of the deposit. “It will also tell us about the [mining] process and how much value we can derive from Maisie,” Taylor says.
To help reach those goals, Slam announced a $500,000 private placement in late November. Taylor says the financing should close shortly, and says that if all the chips fall into place, Maisie could be in production as early as 2015.
He notes that the property is roadside, and predicts it will be relatively cheap and simple to extract the gold. “The Maisie zone is exciting, but not just because of the location. We haven’t drilled it deep yet, but there’s a huge potential at depth, and by expanding outwards. We are optimistic about it. It’s in our backyard, so that adds another level of excitement.”
He says the Menneval project is in an area that was not considered — at least by Slam’s geologists — to have gold potential, mainly because New Brunswick was thought to be more of a base-metal area. “But we’ve already changed our thinking on that, and we expect to change other people’s,” Taylor says.
Elsewhere in New Brunswick, Slam owns the Nepisiguit and Nash Creek silver–base-metal deposits, which it is aiming to partner off. In Ontario, it holds the Reserve Creek gold project.
The junior recently closed at 5¢ per share and has a $1.3-million market capitalization, as well as 26 million shares outstanding.