The upper Midwest of the United States is not the first region most people think of when it comes to mineral-rich areas ripe for exploration and mining. For Aquila Resources Inc., however, the northern portions of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are at the center of its current mineral exploration operations.
“This is an area that’s been overlooked and under-explored. It’s more difficult for companies to operate in this area because understanding mineral ownership and negotiating ownership agreements is not straight-forward,” says Tom Quigley, president and CEO of the company, which has its corporate base in Toronto. “We’ve been operating in this area for many years and have lots of experience and knowledge here.”
A Strong Alliance
Aquila Resources plans to move into the feasibility and permitting stage in 2012 on its Back Forty project. The large zinc- and gold-rich volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit is in Menominee County in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
The project, which was discovered by Aquila, is now a joint venture between Aquila and HudBay Minerals Inc., a Canadian mining company with assets in North and South America. HudBay owns a 51 percent interest on the project, with Aquila holding 49 percent. HudBay is the operator of the joint venture, with Aquila providing technical support. HudBay can potentially increase its stake to 65 percent by funding and completing the feasibility study and submitting a mine permit application.
Aquila Resources hopes that eventual production on the Back Forty will provide the engine for other exploration projects. “We want to build other projects in the area to add assets to the company, on top of potential cash flow from Back Forty,” Quigley says.
The company is exploring projects both under a strategic alliance with HudBay as well as on its own through a subsidiary, Aquila Gold. The Aquila/HudBay alliance includes:
Bend, a copper-gold deposit in northern Taylor County, Wis., that was previously explored in the 1990s before another company discontinued exploration;
Sturgeon Falls Sill, a large nickel/copper target located approximately 19 miles north of Back Forty; and
The Turner Peridotite project, located in Dickinson County, Mich.
Aquila Gold is drilling on three projects: Reef Gold, located in Marathon County, Wis.; Peninsula, in the upper peninsula of Michigan; and Silver Creek, located in the same region.
“Our exploration focus going forward is to acquire, explore and develop gold properties by taking advantage of our exploration experience and expertise in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere,” Quigley adds.