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By Rose Ragsdale
For Mining News 

Overview showcases exploration activity

Majors, juniors advance gold, base metals projects in Kitikmeot Region in 2013; follow up in 2014 despite ongoing funding drought


Last updated 5/25/2014 at Noon

Led by a few key projects, mineral exploration activity held its own in Nunavut in 2013, despite a tough funding environment and stiff competition from other attractive mining jurisdictions around the world.

Although the Far North territory has only one operating mine, at least eight mineral projects are currently hurtling through development and the permitting process on their way to production. Of these, two projects - one gold and one iron - have project certificates, and six projects are advancing through the environmental assessment process.

Mineral exploration activity, meanwhile, is fairly robust, particularly in Nunavut's westernmost Kitikmeot Regions where companies continue to seek diamonds and a variety precious and base metals.

Nunavut attracted a total of C$270.2 million in exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in 2013, well above its 16-year average of C$220 million and fourth-highest amount among all the Canadian provinces and territories, according to Natural Resources Canada estimates.

Junior and senior mining companies, in a roughly 40-60 split, chased a variety of minerals in 32 projects in Nunavut. In 12 projects, explorers, including Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. and Glencore Xstrata, spent C$157.2 million seeking gold across Nunavut. In another seven projects, companies pursued zinc, copper, lead and silver, spending about C$81.3 million. Uranium explorers, meanwhile spent C$17.9 million at four projects, and companies chase diamonds with a total outlay of $9.0 million at three projects. A few explorers also sought iron deposits in five programs, spending about C$4.8 million in total, while one company chased coal.

In 2014, exploration and deposit appraisal spending in Nunavut is projected to decrease substantially, plummeting to C$166.5 million in total with corresponding declines in every sector, except uranium where expenditures are expected to jump to C$22.6 million.

In a 2013 exploration overview prepared by the Mineral Resources Division at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Nunavut Regional Office, regional geologists summarized mineral exploration, deposit appraisal, development and related activities throughout 2013 and predicted that the territory's active gold exploration projects in 2014 will include Back River, Hope Bay, Itchen Lake and Wishbone in the Kitikmeot region and Kiyuk, Pistol Bay and Meliadine in the Kivalliq Region.

Diamond exploration is underway at the Luxx and Mel projects in the Kivalliq and Qikiqtani regions, respectively, and the Chidliak project in the Qikiqtani Region.

Active base metal projects included Hackett River, Hood and the Izok Corridor in the Kitikmeot region; Atlas-1 in the Kivalliq region; and Storm/Seal and West Melville in the Qikiqtani region.

Uranium projects also include Kiggavik and Angilak in the Kivalliq region, and exploration potential also exists for rare earth elements and platinum group elements.


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