Noront Resources Ltd. continues to advance its McFaulds Lake Project in the “Ring of Fire” mineral district of the James Bay lowlands of northern Ontario towards development. The Toronto-based junior exploration company has focused its efforts on McFaulds Lake since making the initial discovery of nickel copper sulphides in August of 2007, CEO Wesley Hanson says.
The company has invested approximately $75 million in exploration to date. Due to the lack of outcrop, geophysical surveys have, to date, been the primary exploration tool to uncover the buried deposits. Noront holds exploration rights to more than 1,100 square kilometers in the area.
Noront is in the early stages of feasibility work, and has initiated the permitting. “We’re gradually advancing toward a feasibility study,” Hanson adds. “Our work for the next few years will focus on exploration to discover additional nickel and copper sulphide deposits.”
A ‘Very Robust’ System
Thus far, Noront has identified a 11.2 million-tonne deposit averaging approximately 2 percent nickel, 1 percent copper, 1 gram of platinum and 4 grams of palladium per tonne in an area of McFaulds Lake it refers to as the “Eagle’s Nest.” In addition, the company has identified a 15 million-tonne chromite resource known as “Blackbird.” Two additional nickel, copper sulphide deposits – identified as “Eagle 2” and “AT 12” – and a vanadium and titanium deposit it calls “Thunderbird” also have been found, Hanson says.
There is great potential for future discoveries, as all of the deposits found thus far are located within a 10-square kilometer area. The “Ring of Fire” itself covers 120 kilometers by 80 kilometers.
“The vast majority has been unexplored or untested by drilling,” Hanson says. “What we’re beginning to understand is that based on the size of the chromite deposits, the Ring of Fire has been subjected to a significant magmatic event which introduced all these minerals. This is a robust geological system, and the quantity and quality of what’s been discovered to date indicate great potential for future discoveries.”
While it is difficult at this point for the company to determine the potential total value of their discoveries, a recent preliminary analysis indicates the value to be more than $500 million. “We’re still in the early stages of defining the value of the project,” Hanson says.
Noront has been successful in raising funds for exploration despite the international economic downturn. “The commodities we look for are commodities where future demand seems to be quite strong,” he adds.
Experienced and Responsible
Noront Resources was founded in 1980 and is led by a management team with a large amount of experience developing projects. Hanson himself has 25 years of experience in the mining industry.
The firm strives to exceed its legal requirement to consult with local groups during exploration. It works closely with the First Nations Webequie and Martin Falls communities in particular.
“We make sure the community is informed,” Hanson says. “We ensure we’re not working on areas that are sensitive to the community and that they’re aware of what we’re doing and what impact it will have on their way of life.”
Noront also hires from within local First Nations communities, with several community members working in the exploration camps. “We’re always looking for more opportunities to engage the community,” Hanson says. “If things go well, when the Ring of Fire is developed, all of Northern Ontario will benefit with jobs and business opportunities.”