Company identifying targets, exploring largely untapped terrain in Cape Ray
Geologist Warren Potma is excited about what’s around the corner for a gold project in western Newfoundland.
Matador Mining’s Cape Ray project spans a 120-kilometre stretch that Matador Mining considers a continuous strike, and one that’s been underdeveloped and not explored to the extent it deserves.
“For us, we’re on a proven, multimillion-ounce structure,” said Potma, the Australian company’s exploration manager. “The nice thing about our project is we’ve really only scratched the surface of about 15 kilometres of 120 kilometres of strike length. The other 105 kilometres has only received 20 drill holes over the life of the project — before us and with us.”
About 50 kilometres northeast of the Cape Ray project’s eastern tip you’ll find another significant drilling site, Marathon Gold’s Valentine gold project. Potma said that project and Matador’s basically sit on the same structure.
“This is a major structure that runs most of the way across the island and has demonstrated to be mineralized along its entire length,” Potma said. “It’s just a matter of finding its economic deposits within that system. I’ve spent a lot of time working in ... (Northwestern Australia), and once you get onto one of these major structures, you want to follow the entire length, because you’ve got discovery opportunities along the entire length of the structure.”
Recent new discovery
In May, the company released a scoping study suggesting a seven-year mine life for Cape Ray. Just over a month ago, Matador made the first new gold discovery within that 120-kilometre stretch in 20 years, called the Angus discovery.
“Angus is a great discovery, and we’re going to continue to drill that,” Potma said, noting another rig is drilling simultaneously at the Isle aux Morts target.
Targets so far have been identified through a combination of poring over historical data and collecting new information.
“Obviously, there’s historic drilling within the known resources nearby, but there’s not much outside that,” Potma said. “We compile all that information, particularly multi-element geochemistry that tells us there are certain elements that are associated with gold, and where you find a multitude of elements that are anomalous, even if you’re not seeing high gold numbers, it’s a signal to go look further.”
Right now, there are 33 new targets, of which 12 are considered high priority based on a variety of evidence. They’re already drilling the latter ones and will continue exploring them in 2021.
Matador altogether has 22 people working at the two drill sites, with a lot of that labour sourced from communities in western Newfoundland, including Isle aux Morts and Port aux Basques.
“One of the things we certainly focused on this year was to make sure with regard to our drilling contractor, our source of geologists and all that, everyone comes from the island,” said Keith Bowes, project manager for Matador.
Potma expects those employment numbers to increase in 2021, with more drill rigs on site as the company also looks to bring in additional field and ground tech workers.
Below the surface
The company has so far proven the existence of about 840,000 ounces. Bowes said Matador wants to identify between 1.5 million and two million proven ounces of gold in the ground before it commits to executing the project. At that level of discovery, Matador believes it could produce one million ounces of mineable gold.
“We’ve certainly got a massive exploration program next year planned, and we’re going to have another big program planned at least the following year and maybe tapering off a little bit after that,” Bowes said. “But two-to-three years of really intense exploration with large teams on the ground.”
A lot of the sites are accessible through existing roads and tracks, while helicopter trips have been used to keep the footprint in other areas as low as possible, according to Potma.
Bowes added the company is looking after the necessary environmental permits and has been meeting with local communities, including representatives of Qalipu First Nation.
Andrew Robinson is a business reporter in St. John's.