Gold Resources and McEwen’s Junior Index – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of gold. It has been prized as decoration as long as humankind has been around. It makes a solid foundation for world banking. It has been fought over. It is the stuff of which legends are made. And gold is undeniably beautiful.

Most of the general public and the mineral industry snap to attention when gold is in the news. Reports of new gold finds are especially welcome. But they may be fewer and farther apart if the findings of Halifax’s Metals Economics Group (MEG) are accurate. (www.MetalsEconomics.com

MEG examined the costs of finding and acquiring gold reserves and found that overall the industry is not discovering new deposits fast enough to meet future production demand.

The report looked closely at major gold producers, those with an output of 450,000 oz or more in 2008. They overcame “… rising costs, equipment and labour shortages, electrical outages, wars, permitting hurdles, typhoons, political opposition, and other obstacles,” the report noted to replace reserves at twice the rate they are mining them. Most of these gains were made through acquisitions or upgrading existing resources due to the high gold price, not through grassroots discoveries.

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Celebration Set for Historic Kirkland Lake Toburn Gold Mine – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The first gold mine in Kirkland Lake, ON, is reopening this summer, not as a producer but as a monument to the early days of prospecting in Ontario’s North. The hunt for gold was filled with characters — “Swift” Burnside, the Tough brothers, Sir Harry Oakes and Bill Wright — all eager to make a profit on the next great gold mine. Part of their legacy is the headframe of the Toburn mine that began commercial production in 1913.

The Toburn mine struggled along with a 90-t/d stamp mill from 1913 to 1931. Then Toburn Gold Mines Ltd. was incorporated and installed a new, larger mill, which operated until 1953. A total of 1.1 million tonnes of ore grading almost 17.0 g/t Au (0.5 opt) was treated. 

The site was abandoned after mining ceased and reverted to the Crown. In 2006 the Northern Prospectors Association set about acquiring the last remaining original headframe on the “Mile of Gold”. Project funding was contributed by individuals, corporations and public institutions. Two years later, the Town of Kirkland Lake acquired the property and the Toburn Operating Authority was created to oversee its rebirth as a tourist and learning destination.

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Good News From Canadian Gold Miners – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Look to the gold sector for good news from Canadian miners. While base metal, coal and potash producers continue to trim output, companies such as Vancouver’s Goldcorp have recorded record quarterly production. Gold output at all of the company’s operations was 692,000 oz during the last quarter, bringing the 2008 total to 2.3 million oz.

Nor is that the only good news from Goldcorp. Although the calculation of operating costs for 2008 has not yet been completed, the company expects total cash costs will be $300/oz of gold on a byproduct basis.

The company is also predicting it will produce another 2.3 million oz of gold in 2009 at a total cash cost of $365/oz on a byproduct basis. Increases will be achieved at most mines, but production at the Alumbrera mine in Argentina and El Sauzal mine in Mexico will be significantly lower than previous years. The 2009 forecast for Goldcorp’s Canadian operations include 620,000 oz from Red Lake mines, 290,000 oz from the Porcupine division, and 235,000 oz from Musselwhite mine.

Nor is Goldcorp the only bright spot.

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Good News Gold, Bad News Base Metals – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Let’s start with the really good news. Agnico-Eagle Mines of Toronto has declared its 27th consecutive annual cash dividend. The payment of US$0.18 per common share will be made on March 27, 2009, to shareholders of record as of March 13, 2009. 

Hearing from an optimistic miner in these times is very good news, indeed.

“Agnico-Eagle enters 2009 with a strengthened balance sheet and the expectation that over the next 15 months we will complete the construction of three more gold mines. We also anticipate further increases in gold reserves and resources in 2009 as we continue with an extensive exploration program on our large gold deposits”, said Sean Boyd, vice-chairman and CEO. “We also look forward to providing the results of our ongoing studies on four internal production growth opportunities that give the potential to enhance our superior growth beyond 2010,” he added.

Agnico is in the enviable position of doubling its gold output next year and doubling it again to 1.2 million oz in 2010. Cash costs are expected to be less than US$300/oz in 2010, and only US$320/oz from 2010 to 2018. 

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Hopes Fades for Crystallex’s Las Cristinas Gold Project – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The history of the Las Cristinas gold project that CRYSTALLEX INTERNATIONAL of Toronto has tried to lay claim to is steeped in controversy and delay. But the squabbling may soon come to an end if Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gets his way. He wants to nationalize the Las Cristinas project along with several other industries.

Placer Dome was one of the first companies to drill the Las Cristinas deposit in the early 1990s. The Canadian company formed a joint venture with Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), and CVG remains the owner to this day. Crystallex was drilling the adjacent Albino concession at the time.

The entire Kilometre 88 area of Venezuela became one of the hottest gold plays in Latin America during the early 1990s. But the Las Cristinas deposit with 16.9 million contained oz of gold is the richest.

In 1997 Crystallex bought up a privately owned Venezuelan company said to own the rights to part of the Las Cristinas property. Placer Dome called the claim groundless, but it decided to suspend construction at Las Cristinas until the ownership question could be settled. In June 1998 the Venezuelan court dismissed Crystallex’s claim, clearing the way for Placer Dome and CVG to move forward. The next year low gold prices forced Placer Dome put the project on hold.

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Canadian Gold Hunters Undeterred by Sliding Price – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

It seems like only yesterday pundits looked at the price of gold as it topped US$1,000 an ounce and predicted it could only go up. Actually it was seven months ago, near the middle of March 2008, and we all wish the price would return to that level. Instead, the mess in the global financial markets has for some reason made the U.S. dollar stronger and the price of gold dip to the $750/oz range.

Nonetheless, many Canadian juniors are pressing ahead with work at what they hope will someday be this country’s next generation of profitable gold mines. Here is a sampling that have landed in my inbox during the last two weeks.

ALTO VENTURES of Vancouver sais drilling has begun on targets at its Mud Lake and Three Towers properties in the Beardmore-Geraldton Gold Belt in Ontario. High grades have been unearthed in the region in the past. (www.AltoVentures.com) WESCAN GOLDFIELDS of Saskatoon is earning a 50% interest in the Mud Lake project.

BRIGADIER GOLD of Toronto has extended the gold zone to more than 200 metres vertical depth at its Larder Lake project near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. The intersections were made beneath trenches in which visible gold was discovered in 2005. (www.BrigadierGold.com)

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Alaska Votes for Gold, Not Fishing – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. This week the voters of Alaska were asked to decide whether or not they favour prohibitive clean water regulations for new mines in that state. Ballot Measure 4 was aimed specifically at stopping Vancouver’s NORTHERN DYNASTY MINERALS (50%) and South …

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British Columbia Continues to Attract Gold Hunters – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. Gold has been prized throughout history and remains one of the most sought-after metals today. In British Columbia gold was found along the Fraser River (1858), along the Peace River (1861) and in the interior (1865). Dawson Creek became the …

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Ontario Gold is Where You Find It – by Michael Barnes

Famed prospector Don McKinnon, co-disoverer of the Hemlo gold fields north of Lake Superior is fond of an old axiom in the mining business.

He says simply that you look for gold where gold is said to be. This sounds like double talk to the uninitiated but actually the seemingly obvious statement makes a lot of sense.

Short of expensive diamond drilling, the location of gold in commercial quantity is anyone’s guess. So the best places to look for the elusive yellow metal are where it has been found before.

A few years ago, an up and coming Junior mining company with a Scots name, Pentland Firth, announced that it was taking another look at the Munro Croesus property off highway 101 east of Matheson.

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Cobalt: A Mine was Something to Fall Back On for MJ – Michael Barnes

Most people have never heard of M J O’Brien- not in the north anyway. He died in Renfrew in 1940 and was one of Canada’s richest men. But in 1903 he made a deal at the King Edward hotel in Toronto which made him more money and created much work in the silver town of Cobalt.

O’Brien was born in the Ottawa Valley in 1851. He started off as a water boy on big construction projects and ended up owning countless big companies. He made his money through careful research and driving hard bargains. His real money came from railways and lumbering.

In 1903 the heavy set, black bearded magnate from Renfrew heeded some advice from his friend, Robert Borden, then leader of the Opposition in Pariament. Borden put him onto a lawyer who who had some business ideas.

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Good-bye to Sandy McIntyre’s Second Chance in Kirkland Lake – Michael Barnes

We keeping losing our heritage in Northern Ontario. In November 1995 another part of it came tumbling down.

A striking introduction for eastbound visitors to the town of Kirkland Lake would no longer grace the gold camp skyline and another link with our mining past was gone.

One of the distinctive contributions mining offers to Canadian architecture are  headframes, which when covered in with wood or steel become the shaft house. A newcomer might think of them as the above ground part of an elevator shaft.

Many hard rock mines are deep and the cables for the cage or elevator run up to a drum at the top of the shaft house. Each of these structures are different due to location, depth of the shaft and other factors.

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Roy Thomson’s Timmins Adventures – Michael Barnes

All millionaires have to start somewhere. After chubby,ambitious Roy Thomson started his first radio station on a shoestring in North Bay, his attention turned to the bustling Timmins-Porcupine area.

The hard luck,hustling salesman came to Timmins in the early thirties and worked to open a radio station.No one would loan him any money but he found an ally in J.P. Bartleman.

The insurance salesman thought a radio station would be a good thing and he rented the newcomer space in a building of his in the seamier part of town.

Thomson’s long suffering engineer cobbled together the parts for broadcast output and fell foul of the law until his tight fisted boss paid union dues. The new station started with a piano and a few records. Even the sole announcer became fed up with playing ‘In a Monastery Garden’ several times a day because the discs were scarce.

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Excerpt From Michael Barnes New Book – More Than Free Gold: Mineral Exploration in Canada Since World War II

More Than Free Gold - Michael BarnesFaults and Fissures Vein Deposits

The discovery of silver and gold vein deposits marked the start of Canada’s mining legacy. The discovery of gold at Kirkland Lake and Timmins and silver in Cobalt and near Thunder Bay set the stage for the development of these parts of Canada’s hinterland and founded the development of a mining culture that continues today. …

Gold mining has come a long way in Ontario since the first property, the Richardson Mine in Eldorado near Madoc, fizzled shortly after its 1867 opening. The scattering of small mines working in northwestern Ontario eked out a few ounces of gold in the early part of the twentieth century. The success of the Cobalt camp gave witness to the Mexican proverb, “It takes a silver mine to make a gold mine,” by providing a labour pool and ready financing for the rich gold bonanzas of the Porcupine and Kirkland Lake.

The Porcupine-Timmins area produced 67 million ounces of gold from 48 mines between 1910 and 2004. The smaller but richer grade Kirkland Lake camp had an output from twenty-four mines that gave up 42 million ounces between 1917 and 1990.

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The Virginiatown Bank Robbery – Michael Barnes

Kerr Addison Mine was one of the great elephants of Canadian gold mining. In the trade this simply means it had been a giant producer since the mine first started turning out mill feed in the mid-thirties.

The prospect of gold produced in bullion form excites both honest and criminal minds alike. While most of us like to dream about the precious yellow metal, some take positive action to acquire it.

In the mid-sixties a bullion shipment from the mine was hijacked at the Larder Lake station by Quebec underworld figures. On December 21st 1972 thieves struck again, this time with the mine payroll as the star attraction.

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Some Kind of Damn Metal in Cobalt – Michael Barnes

When railway contractors found traces or ore along the tracks at mile 101 north of North Bay in 1903, they did not know what they had. Fred LaRose said it was some kind of damn metal. But what? They needed a rock doctor to figure it out.

In modern day Cobalt, just around the corner from the Lang Street hotel, on a dead end, there is a monument to the man who ‘read the story of the rocks’. Few people have heard the story of the moonlighting geologist it remembers, but without him, well, let’s just say Cobalt would have been a lot slower to develop.

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