First the Jets, Now Mining: Manitoba on the Rebound
ANALYSIS—ProspectingJournal.com—Manitoba, the inner province that most have never been to, is quickly becoming an emerging player in the mining world. While the general public associates the region with polar bears and frigid winters, the mining industry sees great profit.
The province is home to 9 operating mines located in the prolific Thompson, Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids, Snow Lake and Flin Flon areas. These mines have helped make Canada one of the world’s largest zinc producers, as well as the second largest nickel and lead producer. The mineral wealth is due to the province’s location on the great Canadian Shield, as well as the region’s abundance of Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS) deposits, which account for a large portion of Canada’s copper, zinc and silver production. The result: Manitoba has been one of the most productive mining regions in the world during the last 100 years for Ni, Cu, Zi and Au. And on top of this, the province is ranked number two in Canada for tax competitiveness and has also shown strong potential to meet resource demand in potash, uranium, rare earths and platinum-group metals.
So with all the good things going for it, Manitoba has seen the emergence of a strong community of junior, mid-tier and major miners. One of the most recognizable names is the well-known Hudbay Minerals [HBM – TSX], a Canadian mining company with several projects in the region including the 777 and Trout Lake mines in the renowned Flin Flon district and the Lalor project in the Snow Lake area.
As the Company’s flagship mine, the 777 has produced 1.5 million tonnes of ore since its inception in 2004, out of which HBM has extracted large quantities of gold, silver, copper and zinc. The Lalor project is a VMS deposit that HBM has touted as its next big thing: directors have committed to improvements, including an underground ramp, which will put the project into full production by 2015. On top of this, the Company’s other projects in the region, which can be viewed here, make it a major player for juniors. – HBM Share price: $12.11 as of February 21, 2012.
Speaking of juniors, one which caught our attention is the aptly named VMS Ventures [VMS – TSX.V]. Focused on property acquisitions on the highly prospective Flin Flon and Snow Lake greenstone belt, the Company is set on exploring key locations while seeking strategic partnerships.
The highlight, not surprisingly, is the Company’s joint-venture agreement with a Hudbay subsidiary to develop the Reed Lake Discovery. In 2007, VMS intercepted 43.05 metres of 4.38% copper, 1.56% zinc, 0.85 grams per tonne gold and 13.09 grams per tonne silver (with 10 metres of 11.19% copper). This generated international attention, with follow- up drilling in 2008 solidifying the deposit as having blue sky potential. In 2010, the Company entered a joint venture with HudBay to develop the property, as well as two claims to the south, with HBM controlling a 70% interest and acting as operator. HBM has also completed a 43-101 on the property (here). So as 2012 unfolds, we expect to hear good news. – VMS Share price: $0.36 as of February 21, 2012
For exploration fans with a keen eye on the region, another miner to look out for is Quantum Minerals Corp. [QMC – TSX.V]. The Company owns a strong assortment of properties in Manitoba, with a focus on exploring and developing Au, Ag, Cu, and Ni VMS properties in the Carrot River and Flin Flon / Snow Lake areas, which are home to 27 significant VMS deposits.
QMC’s properties, of which the Company owns a 100% working interest in, include strong mineralization, ambitious drill programs and strategic placement. The Rocky Lake property, which consists of 5,256 hectares, was previously drilled by Hudbay (10 holes at 2,292 metres). The project possesses what QMC refers to as “Lalor Lake style potential,” includes good infrastructure and is currently in a 2,500 metre drill program, which started in late 2011. The Rocky-Namew and Namew Lake Properties contain multiple anomalies next to Namew Lake Mine in a proven VMS district. Located in the Flin-Flon Greenbelt, the 35,814 hectare property hosts several VMS targets, which management is currently preparing for diamond drilling. Finally, the Carrot River project consists of 15 contiguous claims totaling 3,073 hectares. The primary targets in this project are Au and base metals, with previous samples returning 15.69 g/t Au and 310 g/t Ag. Further drilling on this project is expected shortly.
QMC has also recently acquired 100% of the Cinder Lake project , located in north central Manitoba, to explore for Rare Earth Elements (REEs). The property contains a tectonic setting, petrography and size similar to the Maoniuping complex in China, which is the second largest REE deposit in the world.
- QMC Share Price: $0.18 as of February 21, 2012
While these are only three of the many companies exploring and mining in Manitoba, they all represent strong incentives for investment. For those looking for a strong miner with buying power and established projects, HBM presents a stable choice as many juniors position their projects within its vicinity. For those looking for a joint-venture with great upside potential, VMS’s Reed Lake project is a strong candidate, as the development could deliver great value for shareholders. And for investors looking to support a strong junior whose properties hold potential for development and takeovers, QMC is solid. After all, the mineralization is there: the Flin Flon VMS district is the largest Paleoproterozoic VMS district in the world. Thus, as Manitoba comes out of winter, the spring flurry will likely see impressive action by these and other companies, competing for investors’ attention and the land’s hidden wealth.
Disclaimer: The author does not currently hold any shares of any of the companies mentioned in the article. However, some members of the ProspectingJournal.com may or may not have interests in one or more of the companies mentioned at the time of publication. Staff members from the Prospecting Journal reserve the right to acquire interests in any of the companies mentioned after 36 hours have elapsed upon initial publication of this article. QMC is a sponsor of ProspectingJournal.com.