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Search for lithium, nickel, silver and gold keep explorers active in the Timmins area

Gogama area becoming exploration hot bed for battery minerals, says junior miner
Gold processing at McEwen Mining's Fox Complex (McEwen Mining photo)

Who knew that Gogama was a lithium exploration hotbed? That’s the word from Joshua Gold Resources. 

The Woodstock, Ont.-based junior miner has jumped on the battery electric vehicle bandwagon by upping its ownership in a pair of Gogama-area lithium properties from 50 to 100 per cent.

Lithium, an often-called critical mineral, is in demand by the carmakers as a key ingredient in making batteries for electric vehicles.

But there’s also a raft of exploration and mining activity for all kinds of high-tech and precious metals around the Timmins area.

Joshua Gold's two properties, slugged Lithium One and Lithium Two, comprise a total of 1,800 acres in a granite-rich area where prized lithium minerals like spodumene occur in granite pegmatite.

In a news release, the company said there are pegmatite outcrops containing spodumene that have been identified on other lithium properties in the Gogama area. 

Gogama is halfway between Sudbury and Timmins just off Highway 144 and, according to Joshua, it’s home to a staking rush.

Upcoming plans involve a field sampling program at both sites and flying a LiDAR survey with a drone to pinpoint  potential spodumene-bearing pegmatite outcrops at surface. 

“Lithium One and Lithium Two are situated in an area showing a lot of mineral potential," said Joshua Gold CEO Ben Fuschino in a release. "We are looking forward to getting our team on site this spring to conduct critical, initial explorations at both properties."

North of Timmins, Canada Nickel is encouraged by the results of metallurgical testing involving one of its exploration projects.

The Toronto company reported “robust” nickel recoveries resulting from a sample taken from its Reid nickel sulphide project, 16 kilometres southwest of Crawford — its flagship nickel sulphide project — and 37 kilometres northwest of the city.

The sample was collected from a higher grade area at Reid to prepare for a potential processing operation.

The sample had a head grade of 0.35 per cent nickel, 0.10 per cent sulphur and 6.2 per cent iron. This first sample achieved a nickel recovery of 63 per cent, iron recovery of 31 per cent, and chromium recovery of 12 per cent. Over half of the recovered nickel reported to a nickel sulphide concentrate grading 60 per cent.

“We are very pleased by this first test at Reid, which achieved an overall nickel recovery of 63 per cent and achieved expected or better than expected nickel, iron, and chromium concentrate grades,” said CEO and chair Mark Selby in a March 15 news release.

Canada Nickel thinks Reid might be a bigger discovery than Crawford, the latter having open-pit mine potential to produce large volumes of lower grade nickel.

On a regional scale, Canada Nickel is expanding its footprint in closing a deal on a former mine property.

The nickel explorer announced it’s finalized a $4-million acquisition of the Texmont property, south of Timmins. It’s located between Canada Nickel’s Deloro and Sothman properties and is part of the company’s regional consolidation strategy.

“I am also very pleased to announce that we have closed the acquisition of the Texmont property, where our recently announced drill results support the potential for near-term, smaller scale, open pit production,” said Selby. 

East of Timmins, in the Black River-Matheson area, McEwen Mining heralded its Fox Complex as a high achiever in 2022.

In releasing its fourth-quarter and year-end results this week, McEwen singled out the Froome Mine for praise. The underground operation showed a 22 per cent increase in gold production over the previous year with 36,650 ounces in gold equivalent ounces. 

The Fox Complex is a string of gold properties along Highway 101. Froome is viewed by the company as bridging the life of the mine in its future expansion.

Production at the Black Fox Mine petered out in late 2021 but the company has other nearby gold-enriched areas it’s preparing to mine in the coming years.

McEwen has high hopes for the Fox Complex, with an exploration budget that's expanded from $11.4 million last year to $15 million in 2023.

The company released a promising preliminary economic assessment for Fox a year ago, outlining its expansion plans once mining at Froome is finished.

“As a result of our investment in exploration,” the company said in a release, "we have found sufficient new gold resources that allow for extending the mine life, planning a doubling of gold production and significantly reducing costs per ounce. 

“The economics are attractive, providing for a mine life of an additional nine years where the average annual gold production is 80,800 ounces with average cash costs and AISC (all-in sustaining cost) per ounce of $769 and $1,246, respectively.

In Temiskaming, Kuya Silver has tapped into a vein of “native silver” at a historic mining camp southeast of the town of Cobalt.

The Toronto company holds a sizable chunk of former mining real estate dubbed the Silver Kings Project.

In a news release, Kuya said the discovery was found within a kilometre of a grouping of five former mines —Crown Reserve, Deerhorn, Drummond, King Edward, Nova Scotia — which once collectively produced 48.2 million ounces of silver.  

In an area dubbed Campbell-Crawford, the company said “native silver” showed up in the second drill hole of 3,500-metre program that Kuya launched last month.

Native silver is when it’s found in pure, metallic form and not mixed in with any other metals.

Kuya wanted to take a second look in an underexplored area where silver and cobalt were found at surface and in an old mining adit. They believe there's greater potential beneath some old mine workings.

The drill hit was found 230 metres below surface and 170 metres beneath where some exploratory tunnelling was carried out in the 1910s.

“Despite more than a century of intensive mining and exploration, the legendary Cobalt mining camp can still generate exciting results,” said David Lewis, Kuya Silver’s exploration director, in the release.

South of Timmins, near Gowganda, Canada Silver Cobalt Works has pocketed some provincial permits to strip and drill at its Castle property in searching for gold and silver near the surface.

The British Columbia-based explorer posted some eye-popping high-grade gold and silver drill intercepts late last year and in January. 

One core length of less than a metre showed 4,710 grams per tonne of silver at a depth of 65 metres. Another drill hole yielded 24.95 grams per tonne of gold over a 0.30-metre core length at a depth between 49 and 50 metres.

Some follow-up field work is scheduled for mid to late summer.

Canada Silver Cobalt has 14 properties with gold and critical minerals potential in northwestern Quebec and northeastern Ontario, but the Castle property remains the company's main focus. The 78-square-kilometre land package is thought to have huge upside for silver, cobalt, nickel, gold and copper.

The former Castle silver and cobalt mine on the property once produced 9.5 million ounces of silver and 300,000 pounds of cobalt. About 1.5 kilometres east of the mine, the company made a high-grade silver discovery in an area called Castle East. A resource estimate from three years ago revealed 7.56 million ounces of silver in the inferred category. 

An updated estimate comes out soon following the completion of a 60,000-metre drilling program to expand the size of the deposit.

Exploratory stripping involves removing soil and rocks to determine if silver and gold veins come to surface. If they do, some channel sampling of the ore body will be done to identify the quantity of the mineralization.

"We are excited to explore these near-surface intercepts," said CEO-president Matthew Halliday in a statement. "We think they will be a very important factor in the long-term development at Castle East."