From time to time, TimminsToday will examine the state of mining in Ontario's northeast where, for over a century, gold mining has been the backbone of the local economy.
With over 100 years of mining expertise, the knowledge and skills developed in Ontario's northeast may be as valuable as the gold itself as many companies that cut their teeth in mining in area are exporting their gold mining knowledge to other parts of North America and the world.
Among the great mining names in northeastern Ontario is the Kerr-Addison Mine in Virginiatown, a small community in the Larder Lake-Cadillac gold mining camp, but after more than 100 years of mining in the area Kerr Mines is going in another direction.
In 2014, Kerr shareholders voted to take the mining expertise, that the company developed at the McGarry Gold Mine, and head south to Arizona, where the company purchased the Copperstone mining property in the western part of Arizona, along the Walker Lane Belt near Southern California. That area contains a total known gold endowment of over 40 million ounces of gold.
“McGarry Mine was the flagship resource of Armistice Resources, which changed its name to Kerr Mines in 2014,” said Claudio Ciavarella, president of Kerr Mines.
Kerr Mines is a North American gold development and exploration company based in Toronto.
Kerr’s Ontario properties include The McGarry Mine in McGarry Township near Virginiatown, Ont.; and the Bear Lake property, also in McGarry Township, which consists of 15 patented claims and two mining licences of occupation over 237 hectares of land (585 acres) in McGarry Township just west of the McGarry Mine.
“Kerr acquired the Copperstone mine in Arizona, in 2014, and the same team that was running the McGarry mine evaluated and acquired Copperstone,” said Ciavarella.
“We were contacted by the owners of Copperstone as they were having very similar problems as we were having at McGarry because of the mining downturn,” Ciavarella said.
“Kerr sent our engineers, geologists and mining managers to evaluate the Copperstone site, which like McGarry was an underground mine,” stated Ciavarella. “And through our evaluation we were able to determine Copperstone had a tremendous upside.”
Kerr Mines is now set to develop Copperstone and it is doing so with the skills and knowledge that it developed in Northeastern Ontario.
“Not only did Copperstone have the underground mine asset, but it also had a lot of exploration potential beyond that,” he said. “Copperstone is fully permitted, and has all the infrastructure built – underground access, a mill on site, tailings facility, electrical power, roads, assay labs and work facilities.”
The next steps for Kerr Mines at the Copperstone site is to undertake a definition drill program to further delineate the amount of gold potential at the site and develop a mine plan and economic feasibility study and from there decide on proceeding with gold extraction.
Kerr expects to complete its pre-feasibility study by the end of fiscal year 2017 or the first quarter of 2018.
Copperstone has historically produced about 500,000 ounces of gold. Copperstone contains existing mining infrastructure, that helps reduce investment requirements and speeds up the timeline for production.
As for the future of the McGarry mine site, all options are open according to Ciavarella.
“The development of McGarry Mine always had the challenges of the equity markets, when the markets are good you can go out and do some work on the property, but when the markets are down as they have been since about 2013 then things slowdown,” Ciavarella explained.
“It’s a good site, it is in the Larder Lake-Cadillac break mining district, which is an historic area of gold production,” said Ciavarella. “Last time we were on that project was in 2013, but as the market took a down turn and that is really where it stayed.”
As Kerr Mines refocused their operating priorities, the sold off properties in the Larder Lake area including the original Kerr-Addison mine to Golden Candle
“But we kept our interest in McGarry,” he said. “We are looking at how to bring McGarry, back to life by joint venturing with another company and that is what our next step is- we may move forward on working the mine or we may decide to monetize it.”
The McGarry mine property consists of 31 patented mining claims, three unpatented claims and mining licenses of occupation totaling 1,112 acres, with surface rights on most claims totalling (975.56 acres).
A third property, the Dufay property located just across the border from McGarry Township in Quebec covers an area of 2, 137.55 hectares.