One of the oldest sayings in the mining exploration world is that if you are going to search for a new mine, one of the best places to look is near an existing, proven property. That is one of the basic concepts involved in the activities of Vancouver-based Canadian junior miner, Balmoral Resources Ltd. Balmoral’s management is also pleased that their work is taking place within one of the most stable and reliable mining nations on earth, Canada, and within one of that country’s most accommodating provinces, Quebec.
The company was founded as a direct result of the previous success of Darin Wagner, Balmoral’s co-founder and present President and CEO. Wagner had been President and CEO of West Timmins Mining Inc., a Canadian exploration and development junior when it was sold to Lakeshore Gold in 2009 for C$424 million. Balmoral was created in 2010, and the new company began to assemble a group of properties within Quebec along what Wagner and his staff believed could be an extension of the geologic formation related to the giant Detour Lake Mine, which was then under construction just inside the Ontario side of the Ontario-Quebec border.
The geology of that region of Quebec appeared to be favorable for exploration and development, being located within the “Abitibi Greenstone Belt,” which has historically been the most productive gold belt in North America. Gold deposits within the Abitibi typically cluster along major, regional scale faults and are renowned for their vertical continuity and very high average gold grades. These faults tend to run east-west and include well-known names such as the Cadillac Fault Zone, Porcupine-Destor Fault Zone, Lennox Creek Fault Zone, Casa Berardi Fault Zone and the Detour-Sunday Lake Fault Zone, which is the central focus of Balmoral’s current activities.
During spring 2013, I visited the company’s project areas in the company of geologist Richard Mann, the company’s VP-Explorations. He told me that following the buyout of West Timmins, Wagner was looking for a potentially prospective but also politically sound area in which to focus a new company. He wanted to avoid possible trouble spots around the globe where mining companies might be vulnerable to governmental instability or excessive taxation and adverse regulatory measures, and he also wanted to locate in a region where government support for mining was ongoing. The Province of Quebec appeared to fill those requirements.
It is also worth noting that during late 2009 and early 2010, Detour Lake Gold was making mining headlines with its development of the Detour Lake Mine located along the Sunday Lake Fault Zone where NI 43-101 qualified technical reports confirmed a Measured and Indicated resource suitable for open-pit mining at over 15 million ounces of gold, giving an indication of the potential scope of future discoveries that might be developed to the east of Detour Lake along the same fault zone.
Accordingly, Balmoral was formed and the company began to accumulate projects within Quebec along the Detour Gold Trend. The company’s portfolio of properties now includes their “flagship” La Martiniere Project as well as Detour East, Doight, Harri, Fenelon and Grasset, all wholly owned and located along the Detour Gold Trend, and the N2, located to the southeast along the Casa Berardi Fault Zone. Balmoral also owns the Northshore Property located near the community of Schreiber, Ontario, along the northeast shore of Lake Superior. However, it has recently been optioned to GTA Resources and Mining Inc., who may earn a 70% interest at Northshore by spending C$5.5 million and delivering 2.5 million shares of GTA stock to Balmoral.
La Martiniere is located near the center of Balmoral’s Detour Gold Trend Project and lies about 27 miles (45 kilometers) from the Detour Lake Mine. Prior to its acquisition by Balmoral in 2010, the property had been worked at periodic intervals dating back more than 50 years to 1959. During the early years, sporadic drilling took place including two holes by Kateri Mining in 1959 and two additional holes by Monpre Mining in 1960. Several minor exploration efforts were conducted in the ensuing 36 years, but it was not until 1996 that significant gold values were confirmed in drill core during work by Cyprus Canada, now a subsidiary of copper mining giant Freeport McMoran.
International Taurus, managed by the former employees of Cyprus, then acquired the project and drilled eight additional holes before American Bonanza, which was created via a four-way merger that incorporated the assets of Taurus, took over in 2006. Bonanza then sold the property to Balmoral in 2010.
La Martiniere lies along the Detour Lake Trend in a region of the Harricana-Turgeon Belt, which comprises the most northern part of a series of volcano-sedimentary sequences within the prolific Archean-aged Abitibi Greenstone Belt. The region is underlain by sedimentary and mafic to felsic sedimentary rocks with coeval intrusions, all of the Archean age. The project area is almost totally covered by glacial overburden which ranges in thickness from 10 to 35 meters.
La Martiniere itself is comprised of several extensive high-grade gold zones, two of which are receiving the most current attention named Martiniere West and the Bug Lake Fault. Drilling during 2012 expanded the Martiniere West high grade zones and exploration drilling led to the discovery of several new high-grade zones along and proximal to the Bug Lake Fault. A winter 2013 drill program enabled the company to further delineate and expand known zones on the La Martiniere Property.
Two areas of particular interest along the Bug Lake Fault corridor are the nearby foot and hanging wall zones. The 2012 drilling program indicated most holes successfully intersected multiple zones of high-grade mineralization. Some of the assays from the 2012 program included 7.85 meters grading 7.64 grams per metric tonne (gpt) Au including 1.01 meters grading 47.06 gpt Au in Hole MDE 12-77 (footwall zone) and 7.05 meters grading 7.66 gpt Au in Hole MDE 12-74, including a high-grade interval of 1.19 meters grading 42.25 gpt Au (hanging wall).
The 2013 winter program was completed both on time and on budget, and involved approximately 13,500 meters of drilling in 49 holes. Twenty-four holes focused on lateral and depth extensions of the Bug Lake and associated zones of gold mineralization; nine holes on vertical and lateral extensions of the West Zone at depths of below 150 meters; and eighteen first pass exploration holes were completed in areas outside previous testing.
After analyzing results from these programs, company geologists have determined that high grade gold mineralization at the Martiniere West Zone can now be traced for over 850 meters, more than doubling the known length of this trend and extending to over 2,000 meters northeast-southwest the strike extent of the Martiniere gold system. As well, recently received results indicate the discovery of a new area of anomalous gold mineralization located approximately 500 meters northeast of the Bug Lake Zone. By mid-May 2013 the company was able to announce that the Bug Lake Zone had been extended by 350 meters, effectively doubling the known strike extent of that zone.
Based on the final assay results from the winter 2013 program, company geologists were able to suggest the presence of another Bug Lake parallel gold-bearing structure on the property as well. They also noted that all zones remain open in all directions and at depth and all come to bedrock surface.
Infrastructure at La Martiniere includes an exploration camp capable of housing 28 people in tent-based accommodations, with running water and diesel-powered electricity. Additional facilities are available at Camp Fenelon, located at Balmoral’s project of the same name 33 kilometers to the east. Supplies and personnel arrive by road from the nearby town of Amos and the more distant mining center of Val d’Or. Helicopter service from Val d’Or is also available.
Given the region’s northern latitude in west-central Quebec, winter can be lengthy and quite cold at times, with temperatures dropping to as low as 40 degrees below zero. Despite the fact that snow can remain on the ground from November through early May, the only significant period when drilling cannot take place at the company’s projects is during the spring thaw, which usually occurs from March through May.
In addition to La Martiniere, the company’s other projects of particular interest include Fenelon, N2 and Northshore.
Fenelon is located 70 kilometers east of the Detour Lake Gold Deposit and Balmoral owns a 100% interest in the property. Fenelon has seen significant historic work, including construction of an underground ramp and two underground working levels. Test milling of an underground bulk sample completed in 2004 by Taurus indicated excellent recoveries of 97% for gold. Balmoral is currently looking for a partner to develop this high-grade asset.
N2 is a separate project located along the Casa Berardi Deformation Zone and previous exploration shows the project hosts five known zones of gold mineralization that contain an aggregate historic geologic resource (not NI 43-101 qualified) of 18.2 million metric tonnes grading 1.48 gpt Au for an in-situ resource of 775,000 ounces of gold. The project is located just 25 km from the mining center of Matagami, adjacent to the producing Vezza gold deposit, and is road accessible.
As noted earlier, the company owns the Northshore Property near Schreiber, Ontario, but has granted to GTA an option to gain partial ownership of the project upon completion of certain requirements including the expenditure of C$5.5 million. Previous exploration has identified multiple high-grade vein systems in a geological setting analogous to the large high-grade gold deposits of the Kirkland Lake and Timmins gold camps, as well as a broader, low-grade envelope.
Further information is available via email at: email@example.com or visit the company’s website at www.balmoralresources.com