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Like the legend of the big fish that got away, the giant slab of native copper once witnessed in the depths of the Coppercorp Mine near Sault Ste. Marie is feeding dreams and hopes of a major find for Superior Copper.
Bruce Staines, a registered professional mining engineer sitting on Superior Copper’s board of directors, once saw that slab of copper firsthand. It was difficult to mine back then, but the company believes Coppercorp remains a promising find that could become a producing mine with the right technology.
“We believe there’s potential for a very significant copper discovery,” said Morgan Quinn, vice- president of corporate development. “It’s been underexplored, and we’re fully permitted, and we have agreements with the First Nations. We’re ready to go with our exploration.”
The Coppercorp project—situated at the old Coppercorp Mine about 85 kilometres north of the Sault— measures 120 square kilometres; of that, 60 square kilometres comes under a joint venture with First Minerals Exploration Ltd., while the other 60 square kilometres is 100 per cent owned by Superior Copper.
Two past-producing mines are in the area: Coppercorp, which is on Superior Copper property, and Tribag, which is situated to the northeast of property. Extensive copper and silver mineralization can be seen on surface, Quinn said, but the company believes the bigger potential is at depth.
Last April, Superior Copper acquired the Jogran porphyry, which covers 1.28 square kilometres, and the Richards Breccia, which covers another 1.28 square kilometres. That’s in addition to the Glenrock Property, covering 25 square kilometres, which Superior Copper acquired in 2012. The company also owns the Rivière Doré project in Quebec, but exploration there has been limited as Superior Copper has yet to settle an agreement with the area First Nations.
Because Coppercorp, which operated from 1965 to 1972, didn’t follow proper mine closure procedures, the Batchawana property was excluded for staking for 30 years and was only reopened in 2002.
“Because the mine sites were off limits to staking, the whole area didn’t receive the exploration that we’re now seeing it deserves,” Quinn said.
Coppercorp has done exploration at a number of areas on the property, but it’s had the most success at the SB Zone, at the southeast extension of the old mine workings. There, drill results have returned 3 per cent copper over 3 metres with high intersections of almost 5 metres of 7.27 per cent copper, Quinn said.
There’s also a direct correlation between copper and silver, he said, so when there are high copper values, there are high silver values as well.
Nowhere on the property has it been drilled below 200 feet deep, except at the Tribag Mine. But surface mineralization is everywhere, Quinn said.
“We have a large ground for a company our size; there’s a lot going on there,” Quinn said. “There’s a lot of copper prospects found at surface, but it’s where we turn our focus and which ones do we concentrate on first that are going to get us the best results.”
As with many of the junior miners, budget constraints have meant cutbacks on exploration.
But with that big fish ever present in its mind, the company isn’t deterred.
“Like other junior companies and publicly traded companies, we have suffered the tough times in the markets, but we’re hanging in there,” Quinn said. “We’re confident we’re going to be able to weather the storm.”