Sherry Dunsworth has a routine, almost, when she goes into a potential gold mining area.
The senior vice-president of exploration for Marathon Gold said you want to know a little about the background of a property, but not too much so as to bring bias.
“You want to be open-minded and then let the various factors kind of come to your eyes, process it and determine as much as you can, whether it’s worth the risk of putting energy into it at the beginning.”
When Dunsworth saw what is now Marathon Gold’s Valentine Lake gold camp in central Newfoundland, she knew it was worth the risk.
The camp, 80 kilometres in over a dirt road, accessed from Millertown in central Newfoundland, is still in the advanced exploration stage, but Dunsworth hints that will change once the company’s preliminary economic assessment comes out next month.
The Pasadena woman, who has been in the business for more than 40 years, said this is the most exciting part of the process.
The camp is located on a regional structure that controls the gold mineralization within Marathon’s property, and to the southwest and northeast of it.
“It’s a gold-staking rush,” she said as she pointed to a map showing stars where a number of claims have been staked relative to the Valentine property.
The area is made up of granitoid rock that is brittle and soft and, with movement of the thrust, the ground opened up. That allowed the gold fluids to get into the cracks that were forming, she said.
Marathon first got involved with the property when it entered into a joint venture with Mountain Lake Resources in 2009.
In 2010, it took over the property and, within a year, was 100 per cent focused on its development.
After two years, Dunsworth said she knew it could support a mine and for the past eight years the company has been working towards that with a focus on exploration. She said prospecting leads to trenching, which leads to drilling and then leads to resource development."
Year after year Marathon has seen a steady growth of gold resources at the property. In 2017 the resource was listed at 2.86 million ounces.
When the new resource numbers come out in a couple of weeks Dunsworth is pretty confident they will be over three million ounces.
Those resource numbers will be followed by the release of the company’s preliminary economic assessment around the middle of May. And that’s a big thing, as it will be the first time the company will release a resource calculation and any information on what it will mean in terms of how the resource will be developed, infrastructure needed, number of jobs it will create and consultation with community groups.
Once the preliminary economic assessment comes out, the project will move to a pre-feasibility study and then a feasibility study and, depending on when it is released by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, mine development could start in the next 4-5 years. Preliminary environmental works shows no areas of concern.
Right now, the focus would be on developing an open pit mine that would create 200-300 permanent good-paying jobs. During construction that number would be doubled. Gold bars would be produced right at the site.
With the possibility of mining 200,000 ounces of gold a year, a mine could have a life-span of 10-plus years. But that only takes into account the current known resources and there is still exploration to be done, and the company is also looking at moving underground.
Dunsworth said the project will have a huge economic impact on the province and in particular the central region.
“It’s exciting times. It’s a great, great project.”
Valentine Lake Gold Camp
- Sits on a property that is 240 square kilometres in size, 80 kilometres from Millertown, right on the Victoria Reservoir
- Within it is 30-kilometres strike land where many deposits and showings have already been identified
- The camp consists of four main deposits
Since 2010 Marathon Gold has spent $70 million in investor money in the province, that includes everything from drilling to groceries