Through the past decade, Lynn Lake has, on several occasions, approached the proverbial precipice, but after peeking over the edge backed away. This time, with Carlisle Goldfields Ltd. expected to unveil plans for a gold mine in the community, residents are again daring to dream of a return to the more prosperous times when mining was the economic driver of this northern Manitoba community.
A true mining town – founded on a major nickel discovery in the 1940s and established with transplanted buildings from Sherridon, almost 200 kilometres to the south when the ore body there began to dwindle – Lynn Lake’s fortunes were always tied to the mining industry. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the town’s population blossomed to 3,500 as 11 distinct ore bodies were brought into production, primarily for nickel. But, as the 20th century drew to an end, so did mining in Lynn Lake.
And as those mining operations came to an end, the town saw many residents leave to pursue work elsewhere. Those who stayed behind hung onto the hope that one day another significant strike will revive the industry. Through the first decade of the millennia, announcements were anticipated on several occasions, but they failed to materialize. Twice bitten, thrice shy, as it were, residents looked to other industries for their sustenance and in the process a tourism industry based on magnificent fishing, hunting and wilderness experiences emerged. That new industry now serves as an added attraction benefit for those who will come to Lynn Lake to work in the mine.
Peter Karelse, vice president of Exploration with Carlisle Goldfields, says Black Hawk Drilling has drilled 61,000 metres for the company since March 2011. All drilling was targeted for completion in early August 2012, with up to three drill rigs operating simultaneously through the 16 months. The area of Carlisle’s exploration encompasses 20,000 hectares in the Lynn Lake Greenstone belt. The five drill sites include the former gold-producing MacLellan, Farley Lake and Burnt Timber mines, as well as new sites known as Last Hope and Linkwood, both near the Burnt Timber area just south of Lynn Lake.
“It’s our intent to have NI 43-101 compliant resource reports on all five properties,” says Karelse, noting that of the five, four have the potential to provide 4 million ounces of gold in all categories.
The MacLellan site, which Karelse anticipates to be the first on line for production, promises 2.2 million ounces and is currently the subject of a pre-feasibility study and environmental baseline study.
“We need permits in place to go to the next phase of development,” explains Karelse.
Carlisle Goldfields has the financial resources in place to proceed with the MacLellan mine development and they are currently reviewing their options, he says. “It looks like our best option will be to start as an open pit, then go underground.”
He says the identified gold resource runs to at least 400 metres below surface, with several, sparsely located deeper holes indicating the probability of significant gold volume deeper than the identified resource.
An additional four holes were drilled in the MacLellan Project area this spring, designed to test the rock mass classification and rock permeability. “The results will be used to determine the design parameters for an open pit. This design will form a part of the pre-feasibility study undertaken by Tetra Tech Wardrop Engineering. The study is currently scheduled for completion by the end of Q4 2012,” says a June 26, 2012, news release from the company.
The pre-feasibility study will include a detailed environmental baseline study currently underway over the larger MacLellan Project area so as to best determine potential areas that would be suitable for locations for waste rock, a mill site and a tailings containment area, as well as determining the most appropriate limits of an open pit for the MacLellan Deposit.
Karelse anticipates the MacLellan open pit mine operation “is about two years from production.”
As for Carlisle’s other projects in Lynn Lake, Last Hope is a new drill program they started in June 2012 when the company reported plans of completing 28 to 35 drill holes. More than 200 holes have been drilled at Last Hope between the 1930s and 1980s. Drilling on the near-surface zone is expected to outline an approximate 1 kilometre strike length, down to a depth of approximately 300 metres, the company reports.
The Burnt Timber drill program has outlined a continuous mineralized zone over an approximate 1,200 metre strike length with an overall average thickness of approximately 35 metres in multiple zones. A small portion of the deposit was mined from a 300-metre long, 30-metre deep open pit in 1998-1999 with 78,000 oz of gold produced at an average grade of 2.8 gm/T. In addition to Carlisle’s 38 new holes, re-assayed core samples from over 200 historic drill holes completed in the 1980’s by Sherritt Gordon Mines confirmed historic drill results which, in combination with the current Carlisle drilling, can be used in the NI 43-101 compliant resource calculation expected in Q3 of 2012.
Linkwood is a relatively new zone that has been re-discovered by Carlisle using IP. Originally discovered by Sherritt Gordon and partially outlined by sparse drilling in the 1980s, it appears to have a similar east-west strike and 45 degree dip to the north as the Burnt Timber Zone. Carlisle completed 25 holes on this new zone and has outlined significant gold mineralization over a strike length of over 800 metres. A new NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate to be completed in Q4 2012.
The Farley Lake area was the final focus for the 2012 drill program. In June 2012, Quantec Geoscience of Toronto completed an IP survey for Carlisle over a strike length of eight kilometres covering the majority of the Farley Lake property. The IP method has previously been successful in delineating disseminated sulphide enriched zones, which have proven to host significant gold mineralization at MacLellan, Burnt Timber and Linkwood property areas. Initial results over the former Farley pit and beyond into the surrounding area have indicated an IP signature similar to that encountered at the other sites.
While Carlisle takes centre stage in exploration around Lynn Lake, there are others prospecting in the area. Most recently, Cyr Drilling was commissioned to work for Black Smoker Ventures at the former Fox Mine, 40 kilometres south of Lynn Lake. Furthermore, Corazon Mining Ltd. in June announced assay results from exploration drilling at EL Deposit in the Lynn Lake area which confirm a new zone of nickel-copper sulphide mineralization. The Australian mining company says it will use these results to define further targets at depth within EL Deposit.