In 2012, the government of Saskatchewan published a report “Saskatchewan Gold: Mineralization Styles and Mining History” which outlined that the majority of the province’s gold deposits are Orogenic Gold Deposits “OGD”, more of which SSR Mining (TSX: SRRM) hopes to find with its current exploration efforts by chasing a shear zone that extends from the Santoy Orogenic Gold Deposit on its Seabee Gold Operation to the south through Taiga Gold’s (CSE: TGC) Fisher property.
OGD deposits in Saskatchewan are found dominantly within shear zones that transect greenstone belts, this is the geology within the Seabee and Santoy mines. The OGD deposits are more widespread throughout the province and have the potential to host large, relatively high-grade gold resources such as SSR Mining’s Santoy deposit.
The Seabee and Santoy mines which comprise the Seabee Gold Operation, sit near the northern end of a large geological formation, the Tabbernor Fault. The Tabbernor Fault is a 1500-kilometre long regional structure which has been traced from as far north as the Rabbit Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan to as far south as the Black Hills of South Dakota which hosted the 40-million ounce Homestake gold deposit.
According to a 2017 Preliminary Economic Assessment, the Seabee Gold Operation hosts a Measured and Indicated Resource of 540,000 ounces of gold with a grade of 8.02 grams per ton “g/t”, and an estimate of proven and probable reserves of 360,000 oz. gold at 8.19 g/t. These are cheap ounces as well with a LOM cash costs of $548 per payable ounce of gold.
SSRM will soon begin decommissioning of the Seabee Mine leaving the Santoy Mine as the remaining producer of the Seabee Gold Operation. With the invested capital costs of a mill, 90-million upgrade, it will be in SSR’s interest to provide additional resources in close proximity to its mill and camps.
Despite the closure, the company has proposed a gold production increase to 100,000 ounces per year which only gives it approximately five and half years of production, assuming grades and production remain consistent over that period.
SSRM is currently in the second year of a four-year option agreement whereby SSRM may earn up to an 80-per-cent interest in the 34,000-hectare Fisher property contiguous to its current Seabee Gold Operation by completing $4-million in exploration expenditures and making $3.3-million in cash payments. SSRM began its 18,000-metre diamond drilling program at the Fisher project on March 2.
Gold mineralization on the Fisher project is currently found in four major areas, and within 16 kilometres of the Santoy mine. Mineralization observed on the Fisher project to date is similar to that of Santoy, where disseminated to coarse gold-bearing sheeted quartz veins occur along major ductile shear zones. SSRM’s drill program at Fisher is focused along the 7-kilometre extension of the Santoy shear zone which was located by earlier ground-based exploration programs.
Similar to the Seabee Gold Operation, the Fisher project is hosted within the Pine Lake greenstone belt, which is dominated by supracrustal rocks, including mafic volcanics, sediments, mafic intrusions and a range of felsic intrusions, of which some are directly associated with gold bearing quartz veins.
Historic exploration work on the Fisher property, completed prior to 1987, identified several areas of interest. Notable results include chip samples at a grade of 12.6 g/t gold over 7.8 metres, a drill-hole intercept at a grade of 10.0 g/t gold over one metre, and grab samples at a grade of 37.3 g/t gold. Prospecting by Eagle Plains in 2013 discovered the Fisher showing – a gold occurrence highlighted by a grab sample at a grade of 9.2 g/t gold.
Taiga also has a 100-per-cent interest in three other projects associated with the Tabernoor Fault located in the vicinity of SSR Mining's Seabee Gold Operation.
Mike Labach of Taiga Gold Corp. commented on what attracted the company to this part of Northern Saskatchewan.
“To take advantage of the industry downturn and increasing availability of prospective ground, we had tasked our technical team with identifying the most promising gold exploration areas in western Canada. As a result, between 2012 and 2016, research and exploration efforts led to the acquisition of the large Fisher property and several others associated with the Tabbernor Fault in the vicinity of Claude Resources’ Seabee Gold Operation in Eastern Saskatchewan. Mid-tier producer, Silver Standard Resources (now SSR Mining) shortly afterward acquired the adjacent Seabee Mine Operation, I believe this lends a lot of credibility to our identification of the potential of this area”.
With drill results pending from SSR Mining’s efforts on the extension of the Santoy shear zone at the Fisher property, Taiga presents a unique opportunity given the prospectivity and similarity of the ground and proximity to currently operating mines. The recent spin of Taiga’s assets from Eagle Plains makes it an easier acquisition target as well, as the properties are packaged into one company that can be bought wholly and valued fully on its own.
In summary, SSR Mining is following the geology onto a junior miners property which appears to have the right geological formation to host another Orogenic Gold deposit that typify gold mineralization in Saskatchewan.
Taiga Gold trades under symbol “TGC” on the Canadian Securities Exchange and currently trades at 18 cents with 56 million shares outstanding.
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