VMS shines at McFauld’s Lake

Neil Novak, chief operating officer and vice-president exploration of Spider Resources, at the McFauld's Lake camp.Neil Novak, chief operating officer and vice-president exploration of Spider Resources, at the McFauld's Lake camp.

McFauld’s Lake, Ont. — Like many other places in Canada, summer is short at McFauld’s Lake in the James Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario, however setting this area apart is a hot new volcanogenic massive-sulphide (VMS) play.

Probe Mines (PRB-V) is agressively exploring in the vicinity of Spider Resources (SPQ-V) and partner KWG Resources’ (KWG-V) massive-sulphide discoveries; both are hard at work drilling adjacent properties, trying to find the tonnage that it will take to make a mine here.

The latest drill results from McFauld’s #3 are highlighted by a 5.2-metre intercept grading 4.38% copper, 4.8% zinc, 0.39 gram gold and 15.4 grams silver per tonne. This includes 3.7 metres grading 4.9% copper, 6.6% zinc, 0.45 gram gold and 16.4 grams silver per tonne.

Boxes of core shine with chalcopyrite. It is primarily massive and locally exhibits possible sedimentary textures (fine banding) and replacement features. Local, narrow massive intervals of reddish brown sphalerite are present. One 0.75-metre interval within the aforementioned intersection graded more than 30% zinc, though further refinement of the analysis is required.

Spider and KWG began working in the area in 1992, on a quest for diamonds. They were successful in finding diamond-bearing kimberlites and in 2001, they teamed up with De Beers Canada Exploration. Over the next two years, the joint venture identified 21 high-priority targets, drilled 13 of them and intersected VMS in one.

De Beers had earned a 51% interest in the project area, but it was not interested in the VMS potential. Negotiations led to Spider owning 48.1% of the property, KWG owning 51.9%, and De Beers keeping a 1.5% net smelter royalty. The agreement allows for a future buy-back of the royalty.

Spider and KWG staked 155 sq. km in the area covering favourable geology and began drilling the VMS target in late March 2003. Up until the end of last summer, drilling focused on the McFauld’s #1 zone, an 80-metre-by-280-metre area. Highlighting the drilling was a 6.9-metre intersection grading 3.55% copper.

Another hole cut 5.6 metres of 3.39% copper and, about 16 metres further downhole, a 4-metre intercept of 7.64% zinc. The zone dips steeply north and plunges to the northeast.

Last year, consulting geologist James Franklin spent a day inspecting McFauld’s core and chose 20 samples for petrographic work. His report concluded that “the potential for a discovery of an economic copper-zinc (Noranda-style) volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit is good.”

Petrographic work indicated that felsic rock is common in the core although hard to identify visually because of intense alteration.

Airborne survey

In the summer of 2003, an airborne electromagnetic survey, as well as airborne magnetics were flown. The interpretation of these was straightforward: known VMS deposits were easily detected on maps that depicted the total magnetic intensity superimposed by high-transient electromagnetic responses. Additional anomalies presented a similar signature.

A couple of holes tested a second geophysical anomaly, 750 metres northwest of McFauld’s #1, and the McFauld’s #2 zone was intersected. Hole McF-03-12 intersected 12.5 metres grading 1.81% copper and 6 grams silver per tonne. A second hole undercutting this hole came up with different geology and low assays.

In October, McFaulds #3 was discovered 1 km southwest of McFauld’s #1. Mineralization was observed over 42 metres beginning at a depth of 120 metres downhole. When assays were received, a 25.8-metre section graded 4.8% zinc and 0.5% copper. This intersection contains three higher-grade (7.5-9.5% zinc and up to 0.72% copper) intervals from 2.5-9.5 metres wide. A 0.3-metre intercept within the higher-grade interval assayed 36.2% zinc.

Earlier this year, more holes intersected massive sulphide, assaying up to 10.4% copper, 0.86% zinc, 0.7 gram gold and 30.7 grams silver over 4.6 metres within a larger interval grading 5.5% copper over 14 metres. The geophysical signature extends over at least 600 metres and is 50 metres wide. A coincident magnetic high is at the southwest end.

Downhole geophysics is helping to target drilling.

By January of this year, Spider and KWG had staked more claims so that their land package now totals 325 sq. km and encompasses a large portion of a newly-interpreted greenstone belt. Diagem International Resource (DGM-V), bought into the joint venture, acquiring an 8% interest for $2 million.

The geophysical maps are encouraging: VMS deposits occur in clusters and the maps indicate a number of anomalies. Ground geophysics, both max-min and magnetic surveys help to define targets for drilling.

There isn’t any outcrop for miles. It is no wonder that this area is called the lowlands, as typically shallow lakes give way to low-lying swamp and meandering streams. Overburden is too thick to dig through, so drilling provides the geological answers that are indicated by geophysics.

Spider drilled a fourth sulphide occurrence 1 km north of McFaulds #3, but assays were less promising (a 1.5-metre intercept graded 1.6% copper). Another anomaly was drilled and intersected mafic volcanic rocks. Near surface glacio-lacustrine clay beds may have been the source of the conductor indicated by geophysics. To offset this, other VMS occurrences have been drilled.

Neil Novak, Spider’s vice-president of exploration, gives a rough resource estimate for McFauld’s #1, based on the work done as of mid-August, of 5 million tonnes at about 2% copper with significant zinc. In addition, McFauld’s #3 may contain 3 million tonnes grading about 3% copper.

Drill results are pending for another six holes drilled to test McFauld’s #3 at 50-metre centres. Downhole geophysics is being performed and a gravity survey is testing the McFauld’s #1 and #3 deposits.

Probe drilling

Probe was quick to follow up on the VMS potential of the area. They (as well as a host of other juniors — Candor Ventures (CND-V), Noront Resources (NOT-V), Geocanex, Freewest Resources Canada (FWR-V), Greenstone Exploration and MacDonald Mines Exploration (BMK-V)) came in where Spider failed to stake.

Probe is working out of a camp located a short distance from Spider’s, and the two companies have forged a collaborative, mutually-beneficial working relationship. This is no doubt cemented by the fact that Harry Hodge, a geologist with over 40 years experience in the mining industry, is a director of both companies, in addition to being the president of GeoCanex and Greenshield Resources.

Probe has a 55-sq-km land package adjoining Spider’s, some of which is within 3 km of Spider and KWG’s McFauld’s #1 discovery.

Probe’s drill program began in late July. At the time of The Northern Miner’s site visit, just one hole had been completed and a second was being drilled, but had not yet intersected bedrock. Five holes are planned in this first phase of drilling.

Eighteen electromagnetic bedrock conductors had been identified using ground geophysics on selected airborne geophysical anomalies on the property.

The first hole failed to intersect massive sulphides.

David Palmer, president and director of Probe, explained that the geophysical anomaly chosen as their first drill target was good (an airborne electromagnetic anomaly was adjacent to several significant conductors): “The ground geophysics suggested sheeted conductors, so we decided to test the strongest (shallowest) conductor.”

The hole intersected granite and diorite containing minor disseminated sulphide, indeed nothing to explain the geophysical conductor. Later it was determined that the anomaly was related to a flat-lying clay seam above the bedrock.

The second hole was drilled on grid 2, where a strong conductor spanning several hundred metres parallels the edge of a magnetic anomaly.

Harry Hodge says that Spider has not hit any graphite in its drilling so it is probable
that, if there was a bedrock conductor, it would be sulphide-related.

At presstime, Probe is drilling its fifth hole. Holes 2, 3, and 4 cut significant sulphides, primarily pyrite and pyrrhotite over wide intervals within felsic fragmental rocks. The sulphides were in sufficient quantity to explain the geophysical anomalies, but the company hopes to hit more chalcopyrite and sphalerite in its fifth hole.

The McFauld’s Lake area is about 550 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., and about 150 km west of De Beers’ proposed Victor diamond mine in the Attawapiskat region.

Spider and KWG are still actively exploring for diamonds in the area. In April, Spider hit three more kimberlites on its MacFadyen project, which is immediately east of De Beers’ Victor project. A 14-km-long, deep, linear anomaly about 8-10 metres wide traverses the property and Spider is hoping this is a diamond-bearing kimberlitic dyke. Drills are testing known kimberlites and the core has been sent for micro- and macro-diamond population studies.

Community relations

Webequie, an aboriginal community with a population of about 650 people has traditional lands in the McFauld’s Lake area. In August the Webequie First Nation was frustrated by a lack of communication from exploration companies and threatened that it would place a moratorium on any exploration work.

Chief Scott Jacob explained that there are eight or nine companies working in the area and that the Webequie want to build a relationship with these companies. “Once the activity was picking up and the work was moving forward, we were concerned we might be left out. The elders of the community have been saying for so long that our lands are rich. We don’t want to sit by and watch these companies benefit and be left behind.

“I am not trying to scare any investors,” stressed Jacob. “I know that there are companies out there that do want to work with us. They have to come and sit down and talk with us, because whatever is happening on our land will have an impact on our traditional lifestyle.”

At presstime communication has improved, and both Spider and MacDonald Mines had visited the Webequie community in September.

Spider says that it has been communicating with the Webequie First Nation since its early involvement in the area. The company has visited the community at various stages of its exploration. It has also worked with the Marten Falls First Nation.

The Spider exploration camp is on Marten Falls First Nation traditional land, east of the Muketei River and a couple of people from Marten Falls have been employed by Spider. Marten Falls has a population of about 270.

There is some overlap of traditional land. Spider has discussed its plans to begin an airborne geophysical survey over Webequie First Nation land and in September agreed to employ a couple of community members.

Probe Mines has spoken with Webequie representatives and is planning to visit the community following its drilling program. The company had spoken with the Chief of Marten Falls previously, but had found out subsequently that it should have been contacting Webequie.

There is no legislation forcing companies to communicate with First Nation communities, however the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is now issuing “Mineral Sector-Aboriginal Communities best practices guidelines” to exploration companies.


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