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Red Lake. A Rich History! A Rich Future!

Oct 27, 2020

It’s not a stretch of the imagination to compare the work of a district geologist with air traffic control - especially if that geologist works out of the Red Lake office of the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

Samual Lewis pic
Picture: Samuel Lewis Acting District Geologist, Red Lake Office

Samuel Lewis is the Acting District Geologist in the Resident Geologist Program of the Ontario Geological Survey Mines and Minerals Division of the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.
Try to fit that on your next business card.
All kidding aside, Lewis’ office is akin to an air traffic control tower these days as dozens of mining companies, explorers, financiers, and geologists scramble to get their hands on as much government data as possible in the quest for precious metal deposits and other minerals that are in high demand around the globe.
Red Lake is regarded as one of North America’s most historic and prolific gold mining regions. So, it just makes sense that companies from around the world have descended on the Red Lake district in search of the next big mine.
According to the town’s archives, “from the mid-1870s to the early 1920s, the quest for furs, then for minerals, brought Europeans to the area. In the summer of 1925, two brothers, Lorne and Ray Howey, discovered gold under the roots of an upturned tree. This event triggered the last great gold rush in North America, the birth of commercial bush flying in Canada, and the founding of the town of Red Lake.”
“More than 3,000 people converged on Red Lake at the height of the Gold Rush of 1926. They traveled by dog team or by foot on the frozen rivers and lakes, over the 180-mile gold rush trail. In spring, they used canoes or small boats, and before long, airplanes. Eventually the bush plane came to dominate travel to the goldfields. In 1936, Howey Bay, in the heart of Red Lake, was the busiest airport in the world, as aircraft of all shapes and sizes, on floats or skis, transported freight and passengers in and out of the area at 15-minute intervals.”
It’s not quite the same today, but one couldn’t be blamed if they drew the comparison. And the air traffic control reference has a somewhat historic significance as well.
District Geologist Samuel Lewis says every day seems to include something new for the mining camp that has contributed nearly 28 million ounces of gold for the global precious metals market in nearly a century.
“Red Lake is touted to be the town at the end of the road,” said Lewis. “It has a population of 4000-4500 people between Balmertown and Red Lake. With all of this activity it has been hard to find a geologist since the influx of all these projects.”
Lewis is also the chair of the Red Lake CIM chapter and he says the group hosts a number of exploration roundups, meetings and social events that attract local residents and small business owners. The annual Exploration Roundup allows exploration companies to outline what they are doing and to also explain what kind of resources they might need.
“Everyone knows about Great Bear, Pure Gold, Evolution and Battle North – this town has been built on mining since 1927 so the people here support the industry and they like to ramp up during times like these.”
One of the watershed highlights in the Red Lake resurgence has been the success of Great Bear Resources at its Dixie Lake Project. “The company believed the LP fault is a deep-tapping seismic structure that was identified by a study in 2016,” said Lewis. “Much of the mineralization is predominantly within the LP Fault and characterized by a silican sulphide in that zone.” Lewis says Great Bear has a wide abundance of mineralization on the project and it appears to be very consistent. The market agrees and at the time of this writing, the junior mining stock had soared from less than a dollar to more than $18 (CDN) a share.   
“Battle North (formerly Rubicon) deserves a little bit more love than they’ve been getting,” explains Lewis. “The CEO, George Ogilvie came from Kirkland Lake Gold and there he helped improve the operation of the Macassa Mine and facilitated the acquisition of St Andrew Goldfields. He’s best suited to transitioning companies from grassroots into a profitable gold producer and that’s what this looks like on the Bateman Gold Project.”
The company has increased the resource from 470,000 to nearly 1.2 million ounces and in a recent company webinar Ogilvie predicted Battle North will release a study later this year that suggests Bateman has an 8-10 year mine life.
Lewis says Battle North expects to recover 44,000 ounces of gold worth $30 million during ramp development, so those development recovery dollars contribute nicely to the company’s projected $100 million capital costs.
That’s a far cry from the company’s roller-coaster ride when it was known as Rubicon Minerals.  
For Pure Gold’s Madsen Mine project, the company used a USD$1275/oz model in its most recent public presentation and Lewis says they’ve been actively hiring personnel, building infrastructure, and securing equipment as well. Pure Gold has an early estimate of one million ounces and another two and a half million ounces in an inferred resource.
“During this process they’ve been continuing infill drilling of 30,000 metres where they are going to potentially convert those targets into resource as well and delineate more of their #8 zone which is a high-grade area,” said Lewis.
Pure Gold CEO Darin Labrenz is no stranger to Red Lake as he used to be the Chief Mine Geologist at the historic Campbell Red Lake Mine. Lewis says the Pure Gold team is full of top-notch individuals who are familiar with the Red Lake geology and its potential.
BTU Metals is in a target generation phase where they are sampling properties and preparing to do some airborne surveys to identify anomalies. “The good thing from them is all three of their survey (methods) identify anomalies all in the same location. Dixie Creek is one of those and Dixie, if you look at the map, it lies in the LP Fault immediately south of the Dixie Lake Project.”
That’s a reference, of course, to the exciting Great Bear Resources Dixie Project and Lewis says it will be exciting to see whether the same fault structure touches on BTU’s property.
“West Red Lake is another one of those properties that probably deserves a little more love,” Lewis told Mining Life. “They had a technical report that identified one million ounces at 7.57gm/per ton back in 2016. To put that into perspective, that was more ounces in the ground than the former Rubicon had at the time. They (West Red Lake) have a significant land package in West Red Lake that includes three of the past producers and they also seem to be consistently finding new mineralization.”
Lewis says that with more drilling he expects that West Red Lake will find more mineralization. “Hopefully if they can raise some more money they can do more drilling.”
Lewis says there’s still a lot of ground-optioning taking place in the Red Lake area which makes it hard to keep track of what’s going on. It’s a nice problem to have. 

2020 Northwestern Ontario Mining Report (Mining Life & Exploration News)      


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