TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The award-winning exploration team of project generator Transition Metals has reported one of the most significant platinum group metals (PGM) intersections to come out of North America in a long time at the Sunday Lake project, 25 km north of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Joint venture (JV) partners Impala Platinum (75%) and operator Transition (25%) on Tuesday reported that Hole SL-15-013 had intersected 42.9 m averaging 3.43 g/t platinum, palladium and gold, including 10.10 m of 5.61 g/t PGMs, associated with basal contact mineralisation.
“This is one of the more important PGM intersections that has come out of North America in a long time. Having that thickness of mineralisation at that grade is quite significant and has attracted some market attention,” Transition president and CEO Scott McLean told Mining Weekly Online in an interview.
TSX-V-listed Transition’s stock on Tuesday rose 140% to C$0.18 apiece on the back of the positive exploration results.
This newly identified high-grade zone appeared to be hosted within a topographical depression associated with the basal contact of a thickened ultramafic package, which remained open in all directions, the company advised.
McLean explained that the drilling programme had been effective at expanding the known limits of the mineralised envelope at Sunday Lake to a mineralised corridor extending at least 400 m by 800 m in lateral extent, with thicknesses ranging from 3 m to 43 m hosting multigram PGMs.
“Having this hole intersect a good thick sequence of high-grade PGMs, tells us that we could be next targeting the sweet zone of the intrusion. The intrusion is very large and it needs a lot more work to better understand the characteristics of the intrusion itself,” he noted, adding that the team believed there was a good chance of continuing to hit mineralisation extending from the hole, as evidenced by the interpretation of geophysics surrounding the hole.
“We are quite pleased to have a world-class intersection so early in the [exploration] programme.”
The company had found a large intrusion at Sunday Lake, similar to other intrusions in the Midcontinental Rift (MCR). The MCR is a 2 000-km-long geological rift in the centre of North America that formed when the North American craton began to split apart about 1.1-billion years ago.
Other intrusions in the area that were known to be mineralised include Panoramic Resources’ nearby Thunder Bay North PGM project, Rio Tinto’s Tamarack, in Minnesota, and Lundin Mining’s Eagle mine, in Michigan, to which the Sunday Lake project had shown similarities.
“The overall PGM grades we are seeing are comparable to those being commercially exploited at the nearby Lac des Isles mine, except that the mineralisation at Sunday Lake contains significantly higher concentrations of platinum and an appreciable amount of nickel and copper. The thickening of the zone indicated in hole SL-15-013 appears to correspond to an embayment-type feature, which is a very prospective environment to host significant tonnages of high-grade material in a relatively small area,” McLean said.
A borehole time domain electromagnetic (BHEM) survey was completed by Crone Geophysics in-hole SL-15-013, which showed a significant conductive response to mineralisation below 850 m. Interpretation had indicated that the borehole intersected the source horizon near its up-dip edge and that the conductive zone dipped shallowly and extended to the south and east of the borehole.
An off-hole response was also logged near the borehole at the bottom of the mineralised zone, located north of the hole.
The JV partners were working towards completing a bankable feasibility study, after which the JV would convert to a participating JV, under which each party would have to fund its proportionate share of the development costs or potentially dilute it down to a royalty.
McLean stated that while the team could probably start compiling an initial resource statement already, they chose to conduct further exploration. He noted the team might start compiling a resource statement for the project in 2016.
Meanwhile, Transition’s mine-finding exploration team was also undertaking exploration work under contract to subsidiary Sudbury Platinum Corp (SPC). SPC had completed a first round of drilling earlier this year that had identified new mineralised zones.
The Aer-Kidd property comprised 260 ha, located about 20 km south-west of Sudbury, and covering a 1.3 km section of the Worthington offset dyke, in an area with a rich mining history dating back to the 1800s. The property was believed to hold significant potential at depth.
The Aer-Kidd property was about 2.6 km along strike to the north-east of Vale's Totten mine, which was currently in production and had 10.1-million tons, grading 1.5% nickel, 1.97% copper and 4.8 g/t PGMs, and was 4.3 km to the south-west and along trend of KGHMs Victoria mine, which was currently being developed and had about 14.5-million tons grading 2.5% nickel, 2.5% copper and 7.6 g/t PGMs.
The Aer-Kidd property hosted the former producing Howland pit and Robinson and Rosen mines, which were small deposits exposed at surface and were mined down to a maximum depth of 300 m.
McLean stressed that the current main priority was to recapitalise the private company.
“We currently have a strong lead order from an existing resource fund for $1.5-million and we are endeavouring to put together a minimum of $3.5-million in the next month or so,” he said.
With $3.5-million, the company expected it would be able to undertake an 18 000 m drilling campaign, for which it had already outlined targets. McLean noted that the project could benefit from another 23 000 m of drilling, which would cost about $5-million.
The exploration programme would focus on some shallower nickel/copper/PGM sulphide targets, to test intersections of smaller, discontinuous lenses that could be up to 500 000 t in size, as seen at neighbouring properties. However, several drill targets would look to intersect significant deposits of 5-million to 15-million tonnes, at depths greater that 1 000 m, as suggested by encouraging BHEM surveys conducted early in the year.
'ADDICTS' SMELL NEXT 'FIX'
McLean is an award-winning exploration geologist with more than 25 years of experience in all facets of exploration. Transition's team of geologists included others who had won awards for their critical contributions in discovering new deposits.
In total, the management team had discovered 61.7-million tonnes of combined nickel resources in the Sudbury basin, including Glencore's Nickel Rim South mine, which alone accounted for about 17.4-million tonnes of resources and for which McLean and chief geophysicist Kevin Stevens jointly won the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s Prospector of the Year Award in 2004.
“We really have a mentality of finding the next discovery. Others might be more focused on the wealth creation that these activities could produce, but for us it is about the bonafide possibility to make a new discovery and add value to society and certainly to shareholders.
“We are kind of ‘addicts’ in that respect and we haven’t had a ‘fix’ in a long time and when we get intersections like we’ve had at Sunday Lake the other day, it gives us that spark to continue doing this,” McLean stated.
Meanwhile, Transition expected to consolidate and pick up more projects in the Abitibi Gold Belt of Ontario and Quebec, and expected to spin out a new company containing all of its gold prospects within the next month or so and to finance the new company as a separate entity.
Transition also had a strategic alliance with the Nunavut Resources Corp, a 100% wholly-owned business subsidiary of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, which had just created a new subsidiary West Kitikmeot Gold, and was currently in the market to raise between $2-million and $3-million to advance five gold projects and one base metals project in the Territory.
Including Aer-Kidd, Transition held 29 projects across Canada.