By Kathy O’Reilly-Taylor
A Vancouver company is going to be looking for copper and gold in them there hills.
NorthIsle Copper and Gold Inc. President Jack McClintock was at the Port Hardy Rotary Club luncheon June 23 to talk about his company’s plans.
In an interview, McClintock said NorthIsle has two areas of mineralization, Hushuma, and a nearby area called Red Dog, which is a historical resource.
A historical resource is one that has not been verified, and one that was claimed prior to the $6-billion Bre-X gold scandal (1997) when “a company could basically say what it wanted and there was no real hard and fast rules,” McClintock said.
“We have to go back in and drill some holes, analyze them, and then we’ll compare them from the 1980s and 1990s drilling.”
This will involve a 1,100 metre drilling program on the Red Dog as well as drilling a hole to a depth of 500 metres to test for a deeply-buried porphyry deposit lying immediately south of the historical resource.
The Red Dog target was identified during a geological mapping program last year and further supported by the presence of increasing copper grade in holes drilled to the south of the historical resource.
Based on those results, NorthIsle will start a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), a scoping study that is done at a very high level, and looks at the economics and how much work has to get done to get these deposits into production.
“Then we do a pre-feasibility study to flesh out the numbers that have been calculated in the PEA,” McClintock said.
If that’s positive, NorthIsle would go into a full feasibility study.
“If that’s positive, it would go into a permitting stage which takes two to three years,” he said, which looks at the environmental impacts and “whether society can live with that or not.”
McClintock is quick to say things are very preliminary and he does not want to get anyone’s hopes up.
However, if a mine does go ahead it would potentially be on the same scale as the Island Copper Mine.
The Northisle mine would employ between 500 and 600 people and “then there is the spin-off from that,” he said.
“But then again, we are at the very preliminary stage.”
“It’s encouraging. It’s encouraging for the longer term, but people need to be aware it is a long process to get all the permits and the agreements they will need in place,” said Mayor Hank Bood, adding that “First Nations would need to bless the project, because it is on their traditional territory.”
The drilling program, which is just beginning, will cost about $300,000, said McClintock, with about $100,000 getting spent in the community.
The North Island Project claims are located about 15 to 40 kilometres southwest of Port Hardy.
The project consists of about 300 mineral claims grouped in three blocks referred to as the Hushamu claims, the Apple Bay claims, and the Rupert Block.
The project can be reached along logging roads from both Port Hardy and the Holberg Inlet. A marine load-out structure and hydro power to the reclaimed BHP Island Copper Mine are still in place.
The drilling program will begin once the access road to the drill sites are rehabilitated.
“I am very pleased that we now have sufficient funding to verify the Red Dog’s historical resource and advance our North Island Copper – Gold Project through a PEA. If the historical resource is verified, it could significantly improve the economics of the Hushamu Resource by potentially adding up to two years of mineralization at nearly 50 per cent higher grade during the initial start-up period,” he said.
Copper and gold mining has been around the North Island for at least 50 years.
Utah Construction and Mining Company discovered a large, porphyry copper-molybdenum-gold deposit at the eastern end of Rupert Inlet between January 1966 and May 1969. This deposit was developed into the Island Copper Mine, with production beginning in October of 1971. The mine produced 345 million metric tonnes of ore with average head grades of 0.41 per cent copper, 0.017 per cent molybdenum, 0.19 grams per tonne gold and 1.4 grams per tonne silver by December of 1994.
The Island Copper Mine lies in the gap between Northisle’s West and East claim blocks.
Exploration by Utah of the Expo property between 1967 and 1975 resulted in the discovery of the Hushamu Deposit. From the early 1980s, Utah focused on exploring its holding for gold leading to the discovery of some at South MacIntosh and Pemberton Hills.
Moraga Resources Ltd. optioned the Expo property from BHP-Utah Mines Ltd. in 1987. Moraga performed geological mapping, geochemical soil sampling and diamond drilling between 1987 and 1994 and carried out preliminary economic assessment of developing the Hushamu deposit. Little exploration was carried out on the property until Lumina Copper Corporation purchased it in 2003.
From 2003 to 2008, Lumina, Western Copper and IMA Exploration carried out airborne geophysical surveys and drilling of the northwest Expo zone as well as limited drilling on the Hushamu deposit and Eastern claim block.
NorthIsle Copper and Gold Inc. is a Vancouver-based junior resource company incorporated on Aug. 18, 2011.