Northeast mining gets public funding exploration boost

By Glenn Hicks
February 2, 2018 - 5:00pm Updated: February 3, 2018 - 7:21pm

Creighton and area has received a shot in the arm for future mining possibilities.  

Two million dollars from the federal and provincial governments for hi-tech aerial exploration will assist small operators, also known as ‘junior companies’, on the north east border with Manitoba.

“This is exciting news,” Creighton mayor Bruce Fidler told paNOW. “It’s something we’ve been... hoping for for the last year and a half with issues around the life span of the existing mine here.”

Fidler is talking about the local Hudbay 777 operation, one of a number of mines in the Flin Flon Greenstone Belt which extract zinc, copper, gold and silver, and that provide the major employment for local communities including Creighton, Flin Flon and Denare Beach. The mine, along with the Reed operation, has a remaining shelf life not expected to go beyond the end of this decade. Fidler said that ultimately puts around 700 of the area’s 1,200 jobs in jeopardy unless new opportunities come along.

“Maybe this funding program can assist in finding some more ore bodies around the area,” he said.

The funding, to be used to pay for specialist aircraft technology which senses the metallic content of deposits under the ground, is earmarked for so-called junior companies only.

“It’s not for the big conglomerates,” Fidler said. “It’s for the smaller guys who are out there in the bush doing the drilling and the exploration and finding those ore bodies which they can potentially develop or interest the bigger companies in.”

Chief geologist for the Ministry of Economy Gary Delaney told paNOW the VTEM aerial surveying system offers electromagnetic technology allowing crews to essentially see through cover such as glacial till or sedimentary basin rocks and find base metal deposits.

“It is an area of significant potential,” Delaney said. “There are some occurrences already and some of the favourable rocks are just an extension of the geological units in the Creighton/Flin Flon area that have hosted a number of mines over the years.”

He said public consultation about the project has been completed and aircraft could be in the air by April, with follow-up drilling and surveying to come in the summer.

“This project highlights the value of public geoscience in support of the junior mining sector,” he said.

Meanwhile Creighton mayor Fidler is hoping, as the other communities are, that the public funding can develop into something that can generate continuing employment in the coming years.

“We’re waiting for one of the juniors to jump up and say they’ve struck it rich,” he said, only half-jokingly.


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