Part of the challenge in exploration is matching data to theory at the tip of a drill. When Canadian Orebodies (V.CORE) purchased the Black Raven property in April 2017, the initial data that was inherited included a set of historical drill cores which had been drilled by a prior operator, Entourage Metals. This core suggested that there was a narrow, high-grade vein which was called the Super G.
In a press release issued in October 2018, Canadian Orebodies described this structure, “The Super G Vein is a narrow but locally high-grade quartz vein system that has been defined by drilling over a strike length of 400 metres and to a depth of 130 metres. The Super G remains open in both directions along strike and partially to depth.”
While high grade is good the problem the Super G vein presented was that it was a single vein which appeared to be narrow. But was it? The drilling program announced in October was designed to test the possibility that the Super G was part of a much larger system hosting numerous high-grade gold veins rather than a stand-alone anomaly.
In December of 2018 Canadian Orebodies released the results of its drill program. In this release, Gordon McKinnon stated, “We are very excited to see the results from the Super G drilling. We likely identified a significant mineralized system in the Smoke Lake area composed of multiple gold-bearing structures in which each structure has potential to host high-grade gold mineralization. Our 2018 drilling also supports the down-plunge continuity of the high-grade mineralization identified in the Super G structure with a significant improvement in grade from the historic Entourage Metals Ltd. holes located up and down-plunge.”
All of which was very good news for Canadian Orebodies and its shareholders. The company’s shares had been trading at $0.18 in November. With the news on the Super G vein and the other structures at what the company was now calling the Smoke Lake Gold System, the shares rose to the mid 30 cent range in January and have trended up from there to a current price of $0.41.
The one big issue with the Smoke Lake system was, well, the lake. The structures Canadian Orebodies are interested in strike underneath or very, very close to the lake. To this point, Canadian Orebodies has had to drill some of its targets from very oblique angles. The good news about the lake was that it was an unseasonably cold winter, which allowed Canadian Orebodies to build the required ice pads for winter drilling.
“I’ve never drilled from ice pads before,” said Canadian Orebodies CEO Gordon McKinnon. “There was a bit of a learning curve but our logistics team got the ice pads built on time and well in excess of the government safety requirements.”
The problem was that while the lake freezes, safety regulations require a significant thickness of ice before the drill rig could be deployed. The professionals didn’t think the lake would freeze that thick on its own. “So, we had to get to work quickly in order to freeze ice pads that thick,” said McKinnon. “Apparently, it is quite similar to freezing a rink in your back yard, with a few logistical challenges thrown in.”
It has been a very cold winter in Ontario and the drill rig was deployed to the ice pad a week ago.
Now Canadian Orebodies has the chance to drill pretty much straight across the target. It is planned as a short campaign – 1,000 meters, mainly from the ice pads, with shallow holes not more than 200 meters. McKinnon states in the press release, “We are taking advantage of this unseasonably cold winter to optimize certain drilling angles using ice pads, which will significantly expedite our understanding of the SLGS, and hopefully expand the known high-grade gold zones and allow us to discover new ones.”
“We’re looking at a minimum of 1,000 meters but we might go as high as 1,700,” said McKinnon. “It will go pretty quick – likely three or four weeks.” Results are expected back from the lab in April.
In narrow terms, the focus of the program is to gain a better understanding of the vein system which surrounds the Super G. The program will also look to confirm that a network of high-grade veins are surrounded by lower grade, but still mineralized, rock. “We’ve seen very concentrated gold,” said McKinnon. “But we’ve also seen disseminated gold. Gold is not just in the quartz veins.”
Looked at more broadly, Canadian Orebodies is trying to see if the Smoke Lake Gold System, with its high-grade veins is, somehow, connected to its much larger Wire Lake Gold System, which already has over a 3 kilometre strike length with wide near surface gold intercepts. As well, later in the program, Canadian Orebodies will be looking at drilling deeper.
“To date, our deepest hole at Smoke Lake has been 200 meters,” said McKinnon. “But we know that at Hemlo (which is just down the road) most of the gold was found below 500 meters.”
Looking to the future McKinnon is very blunt. “The big companies want size,” said McKinnon. “Wire Lake has size. We see consistent intervals of a gram plus per ton starting right from surface over three kilometres.”
If the Smoke Lake Gold System can be linked up to the Wire Lake Gold System, Canadian Orebodies will have a camp with nearly 8 kilometres of strike length with significant high-grade potential and lots of medium to low-grade material. Which, in turn, is likely to attract the attention of a strategic partner or outright acquisition.
“It’s all moving very quickly, based on our area code with over 20 million ounces right down the road, any further success on these targets should cause some significant excitement,” said McKinnon.