Manitoba's Mineral Industry

Exploration and Development Highlights 2003

Base Metals
Platinum-Group Metals
Specialty/Industrial Minerals

Preliminary estimates for exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in Manitoba for 2003 are $30.0 million; comparable to the $29.9 million spent in 2002. The resurgence and stabilization in the price of gold above $300 per ounce in 2002 resulted in a dramatic increase in exploration spending for the yellow metal in Manitoba in 2003. However, the province’s proven potential for hosting world-class copper-zinc and nickel deposits continued to account for the bulk of mining exploration related expenditures.

The total area of mining claims, exploration permits, special exploration permits and mineral exploration licences in 2002 was 2 464 233 ha, an increase from 2 052 604 ha in 2001 and 1 832 577 in 2000. The total area of mineral dispositions and leases in good standing at the end of 2002 was 2 621 219 ha compared to 3 667 145 ha in 2001 and 2 757 482 at the end of 2000. Surface exploration diamond drilling in 2002 was 78 346 m, slightly down from 78 925 m in 2001.

Base Metals

777 mine headframeHudson Bay Mining & Smelting continued with the final phase of the 777 Project, the development of the 777 mine. The $400 million project that commenced in 2000 consisted of 6 components, which included expansion and upgrading projects at the Flin Flon metallurgical plant and development of two new underground mines. Sinking of the new 1530-m shaft at the 777 mine in Flin Flon was completed in 2002. Lateral development to the ore lenses was underway throughout 2003 and full production of 1 million tonnes per year is expected by 2004. The 777 deposit contains mineable reserves and resources of 14.5 million tonnes grading 4.56% Zn, 2.5% Cu and precious metals. Hudson Bay Exploration and Development continued to drill-test SPECTREM airborne targets in the Flin Flon-Snow Lake Belt as well as beneath the Paleozoic in the Hargrave Lake-Moose Lake area.

Bell Resources conducted drilling at their Cleaver Lake property east of Flin Flon and tested a recently discovered high-grade copper showing. On an adjacent property, Interactive Enterprises drill-tested geophysical conductors. Aur Resources completed drilling at their Big Island Lake property just east of Flin Flon.

Inco Exploration conducted geophysical surveys and completed drilling in the Setting Lake area and on other high-priority targets in the Thompson Nickel Belt. In Thompson, Inco continued to explore the lower portion of the 1D Phase 2 orebody. The company, its employees, and the union, are working together to reduce operating costs at the mine to make the 1D project more attractive for capital investment.

Nuinsco Resources and partner Inco completed additional geophysical surveys and drilling on the Mel property northwest of Thompson. The drill program was designed to test geophysical targets located within favourable Thompson-type stratigraphy. Massive to disseminated sulphides were intersected within the favourable host rocks, but no significant assays were reported.

Falconbridge and partner Donner Minerals completed geophysics and drilling at their Stephens Lake property near Gillam. The area is extensively covered by overburden and is suspected to contain an extension of the Thompson Nickel Belt. Drilling by a previous property holder intersected ultramafic rocks while exploring for diamonds in the area. Drilling by Falconbridge intersected a thick interval of sulphide iron formation. Both rock units are key ingredients for formation of Thompson-type nickel deposits. Further work was dependent on detailed analysis of drillcore and additional geophysics.

Anglo American Exploration (Canada) acquired a substantial land position in the Thompson area over the last couple of years. The company completed a winter program of geophysics and drilling on their Rock Lake permit north of Thompson. A summer mapping program was conducted on their permit southeast of Thompson in the Wintering Lake area.

In early September, Rare Earth Metals Corp. announced a new nickel-copper discovery 60 km northeast of Leaf Rapids. The discovery straddles a provincial highway and initial grab samples from the mineralized zone returned up to 2.47% nickel and 2.72% copper as well as cobalt, gold and PGE values. Rare Earth has an option to earn a 100% interest in the property.

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Platinum Group Metals

Gossan Resources completed a 12-hole drill program on their Bird River Sill property near Lac du Bonnet. Drilling intersected narrow sulphidic intervals containing 1 to 2.5 grams combined PGE and gold. The company recently acquired the adjacent Page property. Mapping at the Page property, conducted by the Manitoba Geological Survey in 2001, identified disrupted chromitite layers that have a correlation with PGE-bearing sulphides of the Bird River Sill.


Gold exploration expenditures in 2002 more than doubled to almost $7.6 million from 3.3 million in 2001. It’s expected that this upward trend in spending will continue for 2003 and into 2004 as the bullish sentiment for gold persists.

Monument Bay Gold Exploration Camp, 50 km north of Red Sucker Lake.Bema Gold’s Monument Bay project in northeastern Manitoba returned some very encouraging results in 2003. The company conducted an extensive winter drill campaign that focussed largely on the recently discovered Twin Lakes West zone and included intercepts of 7.9 m of 10.77 g/t and 1.0 m of 180.7 g/t gold. Drilling on this zone extended the known mineralized horizons from 170 m to 400 m along strike. The winter drill campaign increased the inferred resource by 30% from previous working estimates to 639 377 tonnes averaging 20.4 g/t representing 418,000 ounces of contained gold. Bema also conducted a summer mapping and geochemical sampling program and additional drilling was underway in August. Bema has now earned a 70% interest in the Monument Bay property from Wolfden Resources.

International Curator Resources and partner Rare Earth Metals Corp. completed 3750 metres of drilling at their Assean Lake gold property. Curator, the operator, reported the discovery of a new gold occurrence at Blowfish Lake that returned 6.2 m of 5.69 g/t gold. Drilling also further tested the BIF zone and selected geophysical and geochemical anomalies over a wide area of the property. Reconnaissance drilling intersected significant gold mineralization in 5 holes, including the Blowfish occurrence. There are now a total of 8 gold showings at Assean Lake over the extensively clay-covered 12-kilometre strike length of the Assean Lake Shear Zone.

In the Flin Flon-Snow Lake Belt, Foran Mining conducted bulk sampling and drilling programs at their North Star property located 35 km west of Snow Lake. Quartz veins at the North Star property contain coarse gold and exhibit the typical nugget effect. Metallurgical results from blast-hole samples taken during the bulk sampling returned head grades ranging from 7.5 to 16.5 g/t gold. Some of the better drill intersections from the 48-hole program included 33.5 g/t gold over 2.19 m and 24.0 g/t gold over 2.50 m. Environmental studies were being carried out and Foran was seeking additional financing to proceed with underground development.

Other companies conducting drill programs in the Flin Flon-Snow Lake Belt included First Majestic Resources at their Wekusko property and Claude Resources at their Tartan Lake mine property near Flin Flon. First Majestic completed 14 holes at Wekusko extending the strike length of the existing Gold Dust zone. Conigas Resources completed linecutting at their Squall Lake option property near Snow Lake. The property contains a number of known gold zones and has a long history of exploration work.

In the Lynn Lake area, Trans America Industries conducted an extensive trenching and mapping program at their Arbour Lake property. The trenching work revealed highly-silicified and intensely deformed carbonate-enriched bedrock. A winter drill program is being planned.

In northeastern Manitoba, Tanqueray Resources and Gossan Resources conducted mapping and sampling programs on their respective permit properties in the Sharpe Lake area, just west of Bema Gold’s Monument Bay property. Gossan intends to explore the PGE potential of a 6-km long layered sequence of gabbro and pyroxenite on their property.

In the Bissett area of southeastern Manitoba, Placer Dome conducted a mapping and sampling program on the Central Manitoba property, which is under option from Mid-North Resources. The property contains two former producing gold mines, the Central Manitoba and Ogama-Rockland mines, as well as the Cryderman occurrence that has received substantial exploration activity. Other companies conducting mapping and sampling programs in the Bissett area included Gossan Resources at the Angelina property and Wildcat Exploration at their Poundmaker and Siderock Lake properties.

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A significant mineral disposition acquired near Red Deer Lake indicated renewed interest in west-central Manitoba as a potential source for diamonds. Manitoba Geological Survey investigations have reported airborne magnetic anomalies in this region similar to those found just across the border in Saskatchewan, where kimberlites have been discovered. The search for diamonds also continues in the northern Superior Province and Hudson Bay Lowland. Land acquisitions for diamond exploration totalled 951,600 hectares as of September 2003.

Specialty/Industrial Minerals

Tantalum Mining Corporation continued exploration for tantalum- and cesium-bearing pegmatites in the Bernic Lake area in southeastern Manitoba.

A preliminary surface exploration program carried out by Rare Earth Metals Corp. at their Eden Lake project located 35 km northwest of Leaf Rapids led to the discovery of a large carbonatite complex. The complex is particularly significant due to its rare earth element (REE) enrichments over an extensive area. Several mineralization types with economic potential were identified, including high-grade veins, carbonatite dikes, fenitic selvages of the carbonatite dikes, and altered syenite and other host rocks. The highest REE concentrations encountered were in the dikes (up to 1.6 % total REE, 9764 ppm Sr and 745 ppm Y) and in hydrothermal REE-rich veins (up to 13.8 % total REE, 5307 ppm Y and 5465 ppm Th + U).

Berger Group Ltd. continued to develop a sphagnum peat bog, 20 km south of Hadashville in southeastern Manitoba. Sunterra Horticulture (Canada) Inc. leased a bog 10 km south of The Narrows on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. The bog was prepared for production and shipping facilities were almost completed.

Gossan Resources drilled five holes at Sandridge increasing reserves of magnesium ore to 100 million tonnes. A 75-kilogram bulk sample was flown to Mintek Engineering in South Africa for metallurgical characterization to verify potential suitability for the production of magnesium using the thermal process.

In 2002, Albchem Manitoba Ltd. completed construction of a 40,000 tonne per year sodium chlorate plant at Hargrave (10 km west of Virden). Raw material for the plant is salt dissolved from the Devonian Prairie Evaporite at depth. The site was selected because of its proximity to the salt deposit and favourable hydro rates. ERCO Worldwide, a division of Superior Plus Inc., purchased the plant in 2003.

Graymont Western Canada Inc. continued to quarry high-calcium limestone and high-purity dolomite in Manitoba's Interlake. The limestone is situated within the Devonian Elm Point Formation near Faulkner. It is calcined into high-calcium lime in a plant adjacent to the quarry. The dolomite is located at Hilbre and is trucked to the plant where it is calcined into dolime.

Bird River Mines Co. Ltd. continued development of a deposit of high-purity, non-swelling calcium bentonite near Deerwood, 8 km northwest of Miami, Manitoba.

At Brandon, Nexen Inc. completed a $50 million, 70 000 tonne per year expansion of its sodium chlorate facility. Salt for the process is purchased from Saskatchewan potash producers.

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