VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Despite reporting progress with discussions between stakeholders, the largest landholder in the emerging Ring of Fire (RoF) mining camp of Northern Ontario, Noront Resources, said Tuesday that it expected further delays to the development of its cornerstone Eagle’s Nest mine.
The precious and base metals project developer said the Canadian federal government, the Ontario provincial government, First Nations and itself were advancing negotiations to establish a joint infrastructure plan for the region.
However, this process intersects with discussions between the province and the Matawa Tribal Council at the Regional Framework Table that are taking longer than expected, and that have the potential to delay the provincial government's stated goal of having shovels in the ground by 2018. The timing for development of the company's Eagle's Nest mine is tied to the delivery of a shared access all-season road into the remote region.
Noront advised that it intended to help progress the discussions by focusing its interactions on the three communities with traditional land use in the area: Marten Falls, Webequie and the Neskantaga First Nations.
The Toronto-headquartered company reported that dialogue and negotiations with Webequie and Marten Falls were progressing well, with both these communities recently sending delegations of senior community members to view site activities. Indeed, a significant number of the employees involved in the company's ongoing exploration efforts are from Webequie and Marten Falls. Over the past 12 month more than 60% of Noront's exploration staff have hailed from these communities.
Starting this month, Noront will also enter a series of meetings with Neskantaga First Nation, with the goal of identifying a mutually agreeable path forward for the company's current and proposed exploration and development activities.
"We believe that having a common view toward resource development and effective partnerships in place with the Marten Falls, Webequie and Neskantaga First Nations is the key to the timely and successful development of the Ring of Fire," Noront president and CEO Alan Coutts stated.
Noront announced plans this year to continue exploration of its substantial property position in the RoF, mainly focused on the nickel/copper/platinum/palladium deposits along strike from Eagle's Nest and further into the footwall, where several prospective geophysical targets have been identified.
The company will use a combination of shallow rotary air blast (RAB) drilling to confirm favourable host lithologies and deep-seeing electromagnetic (EM) geophysical surveying to define conductors. The RAB drilling will test 21 early stage geophysical targets.
Noront believes that the prospective area for nickel/copper/platinum/palladium deposits on its ground remains substantial, with only about 45% of the prospective area having been tested by drilling and/or deep-seeing EM geophysical surveys to date.
The company will also conduct a focused drill core re-logging programme to advance its McFaulds copper/zinc volcanic massive sulphide property, coupled with high-resolution airborne magnetic surveying to help target further volcanogenic massive sulphide mineralisation in the second half of 2017.
Critically, Noront said it would advance its gold-targeting initiatives, with a full-scale compilation and review programme to test its belief that the RoF might possess “many of the right ingredients” to host a significant gold deposit, including reactive host rocks and major intersecting structures.
“This has been overlooked in past exploration efforts due in part to the success of base-metal exploration campaigns,” the company stated.
Past drilling close to the Eagle's Nest deposit has intersected several narrow high-grade gold-bearing structures including up to 1.5 m grading 18.3 g/t gold from 111 m below the surface in drill hole NOT-08-1G013, and 4.5 m grading 5 g/t gold at a depth of 93 m in hole NOT-08-1G020.
According to Noront, these intersections occur within a larger structural corridor which is traceable for over 6 km in strike. Parallel regional structures continue to the south for “tens of kilometres”.