RODDICKTON-BIDE ARM, N.L. — A partnership between a mineral royalties company and mining exploration company had a cautiously optimistic message for Northern Peninsula communities last month.
Altius Minerals of St. John’s and Toronto-based New Found Gold (NFG) were in Roddickton May 30 to update municipal representatives on their joint Sail Pond project.
Lawrence Winter, Altius vice-president exploration, said by email the companies had two main intentions for the meeting.
“Our key messages were: (1) our initial exploration work during 2017 indicated that the mineralization we uncovered looked promising, but much additional work is required to determine if there were economic resources present… it is still early exploration; and (2) Altius and New Found Gold are dedicated to safe and environmentally sound exploration, and with local hiring and local procurement of goods and services during the advancement of the project.”
Roddickton-Bide Arm Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald was encouraged by the presentation.
“It was very, very interesting and exciting to hear what they had to say because they’ve taken a special interest in this area,” she said.
The Mayor was particularly encouraged by the commitment to local hiring and procurement noting even in the early stages, the project has local benefits.
“They are hiring locally, so people who have the skills and the potential and the expertise to meet the qualifications of the people they need in terms of labourers or people who can navigate the woods and so on, they’re hiring them here,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re buying their groceries here, they’re staying at the hotel here, they’re using the gas here, so for us, the spinoffs are great.”
She sees those benefits expanding year-over-year as long as the results of field work continue to be promising. This is welcome news for Northern Peninsula communities that have been hit hard in recent years by a downturn in natural resources.
“Forestry has been flat ever since 2012,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re waiting for it to come back, and we’re in the process of waiting for a pellet plant to open here, but in the meantime there’s no industry.
“We’re not a fishing town, we’re a forestry town, and we know there are lots of mineral deposits around so this would be huge if it ever transpires.”
Sail Pond is a silver and base metals mineral claim centred approximately 18 kilometres northeast of Roddickton, 20 kilometres southeast of Main Arm and nine kilometres southwest of Croque on Crown land. Initial analysis of samples indicate there could be economically-viable deposits of silver and other metals including copper, lead, zinc and antimony.
Following the 2017 field season, Altius was able to entice NFG into buying the Sail Pond property and announced the sale in April. Altius will receive 12 million common shares of NFG and a two per cent royalty if a mine ever starts producing.
Whether and when a mine will be developed, said Winter, is always the big question.
“Answering how far off an exploration project is from becoming a mine is impossible with any level of certainty, but likely much more than 10 years, if at all,” he wrote. “Projects with well-documented, industry-compliant ‘reserves/resources’ that are shown to have potentially good economics are viewed differently and in these cases you could optimistically see production in a five-10 year window.”
The viability of the Sail Pond deposits should become much clearer over the next year. As part of the purchase deal, NFG must spend at least $1 million on exploration within one year of the transaction closing (anticipated on Sept. 30, 2018), including $250,000 this summer.
Altius has numerous Newfoundland and Labrador-based royalty-producing interests, including a stake in Vale’s Voisey Bay nickel mine. It also has several Newfoundland and Labrador prospects in various stages of development, including Florence Lake nickel-copper, near Nain; Seal Lake copper, inland west of Postville; Natashquan nickel-copper, south of Churchill Falls; Notakwanon uranium, south of Torngat; and Julienne Lake iron ore, north of Labrador City.