The new Atlantic Canada exploration boom – by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco (CIM Magazine – June 14, 2022)

Gold, clean-energy metals and even salt offer the promise of a bright future

Canada’s Atlantic region is experiencing a mining exploration rush the likes of which has not been seen in the area since the 1990s boom that followed the discovery of the nickel-bearing deposit at Newfoundland’s Voisey’s Bay. Once again, Newfoundland and Labrador is leading the way with more than 100,000 mineral claims staked in 2021 – the second largest annual claims total in the province’s history after 1995.

This time, the majority of exploration companies descending on the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are looking for gold instead of nickel. A handful of others, however, are not setting their sights on the precious metal but on critical minerals and metals that are vital for decarbonization of modern technologies.

Underexplored potential

Despite having produced some 30 commodities over more than 150 years, including gold, silver, iron ore, tin, nickel and copper as well as aggregates and potash, the region has attracted only a trickle of exploration for years, compared to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – much to the vexation of the region’s mining sector, which has argued its provinces are underexplored, especially when it comes to gold.

As part of the Appalachian Mountain range, the Atlantic provinces are geologically fortunate with tremendous mineral resource potential. In terms of gold, Newfoundland and Labrador is especially blessed, according to Derek Wilton, honorary research professor at Memorial University’s department of earth sciences.

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