Nunavut – a vast new mining frontier with prolific opportunities to find

first_imgThe second annual Investing In Nunavut event was held in Vancouver on January 17. The evening was marked by a presentation from the Honourable Deputy Premier, Peter Taptuna, the Government of Nunavut’s Minister of Economic Development and Transportation and Minister Responsible for Mines. Presentations were also heard from David Coffin, Editor of the Hard Rock Analyst and Larry Connell, Corporate Director of Sustainable Development for Agnico- Eagle Mines.Sabina Gold & Silver (SBB) provided this update on the event. It took place to follow up on the successful inaugural event held last year in April. Several companies active in exploration and development in Nunavut sponsored the evening as a venue to inform investors of the benefits of working and investing in Nunavut.“Sabina and Sabina’s management team have an extensive history working in Nunavut,” said Tony Walsh, SBB President & CEO “We have always been encouraged by the support we’ve received from all levels of Nunavut government and Inuit agencies for responsible sustainable development of our projects. Those of us working in Nunavut, view the territory as a vast new mining frontier. The area is rich geologically and hosts prolific opportunities to find oil, precious metals, base metals and diamonds. This is a huge opportunity for those investors on the ground floor of what we believe will become a major mining region in the world.”These sentiments were conveyed in Minister Taptuna’s speech which addressed Nunavut’s recently unveiled Tampata document, a mandate which guides the Government of Nunavut over the next four years and which strongly endorses the implementation of a mineral exploration and mining strategy. Tampata translates into English as ‘Building our Future Together’.Since 2007, over C$800 million has been invested by companies exploring for minerals in Nunavut. The past 10 years have also seen a number of projects advance through the permitting process and towards development. Agnico-Eagle’s Meadowbank mine is now being commissioned and is expected to pour its first gold this quarter. Major projects such as Newmont’s Hope Bay gold deposit, Baffinland’s Mary River iron ore deposit, and Areva’s Kiggavik uranium deposits have reached feasibility and are poised to move forward.“Right behind these projects, MMG, and SBB have worldclass base and precious metals deposits that are approaching the development stage”, said the Minister.The territory of Nunavut has remarkable potential for major mineral discoveries. The territory encompasses 2 million km2, much of it underlain by Archean aged rocks analogous to those of prolific mining camps in parts of Ontario, Quebec, South Africa, Australia and Brazil. The opportunity for discovery has been demonstrated by the successes of the 130 junior explorers working in the territory.As a result of the Nunavut Land Claims Act, Nunavut also boasts the advantage of certainty of tenure which provides a level of stability for mining companies and their shareholders not seen in any other jurisdiction of Canada or perhaps the world.“This certainty of tenure, coupled with the lack of past exploration activity, have allowed aggressive forward looking companies…to acquire mineral rights to entire diamond fields and entire greenstone belts,” said Minister Taptuna “Would you invest in a company that held the exploration rights to the entire Kirkland lake or Timmins greenstone belt? Even if the great orebodies had not yet been proven?”“As it was with the Timmins and Kirkland Lake belts in their infancy, in Nunavut, locations are remote and logistics costly and challenging,” said Walsh “However, the infrastructure that we now see around those worldclass mining districts in Ontario and Quebec grew because of development. We see that opportunity in Nunavut also. As has been demonstrated by Agnico-Eagle’s Meadow Bank project, as projects become large enough to sustain initial development, create jobs, and become economic, infrastructure to serve these operations begins to grow around them: investments and partnerships between the constituents of the land, industry and government start to solidify.”Before he wrapped up his presentation, Minister Taptuna emphasised, “From our smallest communities to the individuals that make up our government, Nunavummiut agree that an economically strong and self reliant territory will be built alongside a strong and sustainable minerals industry.”, SBB outlined its Nunavut precious metals projects. Camps are currently being opened and provisioned with drilling scheduled to commence on or about March 15. The properties cover the 3,000 km2 Wishbone Greenstone belt (which hosts the worldclass Hackett River silver project) and the proximal Back River gold project.Hackett River is one of the largest undeveloped silver-zinc volcanic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits in the world with Indicated resources totalling 43.3 Mt at grades of 4.65% Zn, 144 g/t Ag, 0.42% Cu, 0.64% Pb and 0.30 g/t Au. An additional Inferred resource totalling 14.6 Mt with grades of 4.46% Zn, 136 g/t Ag, 0.31% Cu, 0.57% Pb and 0.31 g/t Au is also contained at Hackett River. The deposit is precious metals rich with approximately 45% of the value of the resource in silver.In late 2009, an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) was completed on the project. The PEA envisions that Hackett River can generate $1.8 billion in free cash flow, an NPV of $975 million (5% discount) and an IRR of 25.9% by producing three payable concentrates over a 16 year mine life.Walsh: “The Hackett River PEA identified an already robust project that is more than able to sustain the large infrastructure capital required to become an economic mine. Our previous experience in the Canadian north has taught us that size and throughput is key. While the deposits at Hackett River are all open to depth and are expected to transition to underground at some point in their mine life, the focus is on finding more near surface, higher value mineralization to extend open pit life of the operation and defer the underground development until the project can fund these costs from cash flow. After our very successful 2009 season, we are excited about the aggressive program that we have planned for 2010 and expect to start receiving results mid to late April.”The goal of the 2010 drill program at Hackett River is twofold. The first goal is to investigate and quantify targets which can significantly improve the early years of the project economics by identifying high value mineralization (copper/silver/gold stringer mineralization) located near or within the current open pit shells and reducing the currently contemplated strip ratio. The second objective for 2010 is to identify additional mineralisation which could provide SBB an opportunity to increase project throughput and/or further defer the capital associated with the transition to underground.last_img read more