THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Canada-focused AuTECO Minerals (ASX: AUT) wants to make one thing clear – it is not just revitalising an historic gold mine at its Pickle Crow gold brownfield project in Ontario, but is on the verge of establishing a major new gold camp. By Mark Fraser
The Perth-based company is now in the process of updating the project’s resource inventory and is looking to have new numbers in place sometime during the second quarter of 2021.
It plans, however, to also devote part of its current drilling campaign towards looking for further regional targets based on encouraging historical data.
The project, which sits 400 kilometres north of Thunder Bay in the Canadian province of Ontario, clocked up historic production of 3.1 million tonnes grading 16.1 grams per tonne for 1.05 million ounces between 1935-1966.
Although the company is encouraged by the drilling results coming from within the proverbial shadow of the headframe, regional assays have suggested there is more in the area than has previously met the eye.
During his appearance at the 20th RIU Explorers Conference in Fremantle, AuTECO chief operating office Darren Cooke said it was important to note that limited systematic exploration had taken place outside of the immediate Pickle Crow mine area which had revealed broad camp-scale mineralisation and compelling walk-up discovery targets.
Although previous work had shown structures parallel to the main Core Mine shear contained indications of significant gold mineralisation, limited follow-up activities were completed.
Some of these historical regional gold intercepts included 1.7 metres at 36.6 grams per tonne from 15.1m (Springer Shaft), 4.6m at 9.3 grams per tonne from 27.1m, (F Vein), 6.1m at 7.3 grams per tonne from 86.6m (SW Powerhouse) and 6m at 7.7 grams per tonne from 232m (East Pat Shear).
So far AuTECO has completed almost half (around 20,000m) of its 45,000m drill campaign and currently has four rigs on site. Cooke said it was now trying to procure a fifth one to up the field ante.
As it stands the company has already established a resource of 2.8 million tonnes at 11.3 grams per tonne for 1 million ounces.
Its tenure covers 496 square kilometres with 106 patented mining claims, with the regional exploration focus being on the Pickle Lake Greenstone Belt and Sioux Lookout.
Importantly, the project boasts on-site surface and below ground infrastructure including three main shafts, 38km of lateral development, a 225 tonne per day processing plant, a 24 person camp, a 600 kilowatt generator as well as a core processing facility.
In addition it is grid-connected to hydropower.
Cooke said he sometimes referred to Pickle Crow as the “Kundana of Canada” as the project contained numerous analogues to other stand-alone deposits that had been discovered on parallel trends – including the Kundana camp in WA, which has yielded over 9 million gold ounces.
Aside from the fact they are both the same deposit type (Archean orogenic vein), Kundana also has similar host rocks (a mafic sequence with interflow sediments proximal to conglomerates), structural architecture (a multi-phase history with sub parallel shear zones and Riedel shear geometrics) as well as similar mineralisation (both are high grade narrow vein low sulphide quartz-carbonate-scheelite veins with a predominantly steep dip).
Cooke also noted that Pickle Crow was second on a list of emerging tier-1 exploration properties in North America and Australia which have over 1 million ounces in resources, but no reserves.
The first is dual-listed international mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation’s (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) REN project in the US state of Nevada, which currently contains 1.65 million oz at a resource grade of 13.4 grams per tonne.