The great advantage of a brownfields project, within the shadow of a previous mine’s headframe, is you are almost certain to find gold. But is that enough?
The Chimo Mine in the Abitibi gold belt closed because the price of gold fell far enough that the mine was no longer economic. There was still gold in the mine when it was finally closed in 1997. It was a very good bet for Philippe Cloutier and his team that, like many mines in the Abitibi, drilling for mineralization under the 900-meter mine shaft would be successful. It was also a good bet that drilling in structures which were near the shaft but which had not been mined would also bring good results.
“We were not surprised to find mineralization under the mine or near the mine,” said Philippe Cloutier, President and CEO of Cartier. “The upside of the mineralization we are intersecting is attractive simply because the shaft and the old workings of the mine were already in place. Instead of spending what could easily run to 100 million dollars sinking a new shaft, an operator could dewater and recommission the old mine and get to the gold.”
What was more interesting to Cartier were targets which had been identified at some distance away from the shaft. This figure from an August 28, 1019 press release indicates the targets:
The mineralized zones run East to West. Targets which had had some drilling as of August are indicated in red, yellow indicates targets which had been drilled earlier. The challenge was to demonstrate that there was significant mineralization in addition to the mineralization which Cartier knew existed in, and very near, the old mine.
“Zone 5M4 is four hundred and fifty meters out from the shaft,” said Cloutier. “And the yellow line right behind it we call Zone 5NE. Its another “tip of the ice berg”.
The mineralization at Chimo is in “lenses” or, as Cloutier puts it, “easy follow-up targets”. Essentially these are sharply angled three-dimensional areas running East to West which contain gold. The drilling challenge is to figure out how wide these lenses are and how thick and, of course, how deep they go.
Cartier’s initial drilling at Chimo consisted of numerous diamond drill holes focused on the identified targets. But it was largely shallow drilling: most holes tested above 400 meters.
“At 5M4 we have gone beyond “proof of concept”, said Cloutier. “We’re seeing that this is not all that different from the other lenses on the property.”
The target 5NE is behind 5M4 and represents another lens.
In its most recent press release Cartier reported results from deeper holes which intersected both 5NE and 5M4. As is typical in the Abitibi, the lenses extend at depth and the grades seem to be going higher.
“We expected to find mineralization continued all the way down,” said Cloutier. “What we are trying to do with our exploratory drilling is deliver results with intersections grading gold in the right places.”
There is a fine balance to this sort of exploration. On the one hand, there is an abundance of targets to drill, on the other, Cartier has to consider costs and, most importantly, audience.
“We are really drilling for engineers,” said Cloutier. While Cartier has two drills running 24/7 Cloutier is in no rush to put out a 43-101 resource estimate.
“We get asked all the time, “When is the 43-101”. We have invested a lot of time and effort in the design of a robust and optimal drill program “in the shadow of a headframe”, and we are regularly rewarded with good results and it is only a question of time until we deliver on that outcome,” said Cloutier.
“However, when third parties review the data,” said Cloutier. “we don’t want questions left unanswered.”
“This project was served on a silver platter,” said Cloutier. “Our job is to drill the holes in the most useful places and hope people will connect the dots ”
When Cloutier is satisfied that the identified targets have been properly drilled then it may be time for a 43-101 Resource Estimate. “We want to see how deep targets like 6N1 (Update: 6N1 appears to go very deep. Results were reported 29 January 2019 which indicated 11.4 g/t Au over 2.5 m and 6.7 g/t Au over 1.0 m included within a 13.0 m section grading 2.0 g/t Au at a depth of 1100 meters.) and 5M4-5NE go. At the same time, we don’t want to “over drill” the project,” said Cloutier.
“At the right time we will bring in the third party consultant to evaluate the resource,” said Cloutier. “We’ll wait until we are sure we’ll have a really good 43-101. Otherwise, why would I anchor the company with a number which was too low?”
Cartier is building out an asset that mining engineers can understand and value. That’s where the money is.