Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mineral Prospecting in Newfoundland - North America

There is a great book called “Once upon a Mine” available online. The colourful history of mineral prospecting, exploration and mining in the pre-confederation days of the Colony – Republic of Newfoundland is presented in the pages of this book.

Incidents and happenings described in “Once upon a Mine” make for very entertaining reading at the very least. What the book actually brings to life is the true nature of early prospecting and hardnosed mine owners. It talks in much detail about hardships of early mining encountered at the hands of outside interests and brings to life the scams, conflicts, the greed and wheeling and dealing that took place in the pursuit of properties. This account of prospecting history also provides good insight into the nature of some of the best copper deposits discovered and how they became successful mines.

The history of prospecting in North America goes back longer in time than is generally recognized. In 1576 Sir Martin Frobisher examined the shores of what is assumed to have been Newfoundland's Trinity Bay , where he found a shiny heavy stone. This was in all likelihood Pyrite. Pyrite in that area is locally known as Catalina Stone after the name of the town where a great deal of pyrite can be found.

Up until 1949 Newfoundland was not a province of Canada. It was a part of the British Empire. That is why this post has Newfoundland – North America in its title. The overall history of Newfoundland is one that requires much more space that this blog permits. Suffice to say that it is a region of North America with remarkable history going back over 500 years.

I digress so back to the book. Here are some quotes from the book:

Anthony Parkhurst returned to England in 1578 with pieces of copper and iron ore from the St. John's and Bell Island areas. On the strength of the Frobisher and Parkhurst discoveries, Sir Humphrey Gilbert took a Saxon ore refiner named Daniel of Buda with him to Newfoundland in 1583. Daniel, an energetic individual, retrieved an array of copper, iron, lead and silver ores from the Avalon Peninsula. Unfortunately, both Daniel and the samples disappeared a few months later in a shipwreck off Sable Island. A contemporary expedition member hinted that Gilbert lamented the loss of the ores more than that of the ship and men. Be that as it may, the hapless Sir Gilbert mourned but a scant 11 days before his own vessel sank north of the Azores on the voyage back to England.”

We of the well-informed today can scarcely appreciate the dubious view that most mining speculators from a century ago had of Newfoundland. Nor can we in this scientific era fully understand the jaundiced opinion that laymen had of geologists, mineralogists and their like. Prospectors were generally regarded as more eccentric than enterprising: one Scottish gold-seeker in Newfoundland was described to St. John's authorities in the 1860s as being a "poor demented creature who went about hammering at the cliffs but otherwise he appeared to be quite harmless." I do not think we are directly related- personal comment, R Freeman

James P. Howley, director of the Geological Survey of Newfoundland from 1883 to 1917, wrote in 1898 that:

"In the earliest stages of the Newfoundland mining industry, all sorts of drawbacks had to be encountered and overcome...mineralogical knowledge of the country, impossibility of procuring skilled labour except from outside...but beyond all a blind and unreasonable prejudice...which amounted almost to a prohibition of any attempt at mining enterprise...."

Howley, it seems realized that more than the elements where interfering in prospecting of the Island in what was then - a brave new world.

I present a section below describing the first real mining success in the new land, exactly as it appears in the book:

The overwhelming success of the Tilt Cove mine changed all this. As news spread of the immense profits being made by Charles Bennett and Smith McKay, prospectors and mining entrepreneurs began to converge upon Notre Dame Bay. When Bennett became Newfoundland's anti-confederate premier in 1870 and on 25 April 1872 abolished mining royalties completely, even the most reluctant speculators were stirred into action.

The subsequent rush for mining claims in Notre Dame Bay continued unabated for several years. Once an experienced mine expert staked a given property the surrounding territory was immediately blanketed by the claims of people knowing nothing of geology or minerals. Some claims were staked on non-existent land while others with alleged coastal frontage turned out upon survey to be situated miles inland.

Thus began the Notre Dame Bay copper boom. It peaked in the 1880s, died out with World War I and left in its wake over two dozen copper mines, the combined output of which transformed Newfoundland briefly into the world's sixth largest copper producer. During the boom years, literally scores of mining companies sprung up in and beyond Newfoundland for the sole purpose of wresting ore from the rocks of Notre Dame Bay. Local newspapers reported mineral discoveries with such frequent and cheerful exaggeration that, reading them, one has the feeling that mining ran a close second to weather in daily conversation.

A lot of those things described above sometimes happen today in the industry. Some remain the same; the rush to get in on the action when a new discovery is made, is one of them.

Here is a snippet about Betts Cove, a successful high grade copper mine discovered and developed. Much later it was also reveiled that the Betts Cove deposits also held gold (as did others). You have to read the book to find out that interesting story.

What Betts Cove lacked in refreshments it made up for in 'copper fever'. Copper formed the main topic of conversation. Everyone knew someone who had found a deposit guaranteed to become a mine. Prospectors wandered about town with ore-filled pockets willing, for a price, to conduct people to the original outcrop. Betts Cove even had a dog that retrieved pieces of discarded copper ore. He occasionally disappeared into the hills for days, leaving villagers convinced that he prospected for copper. Their assumption was not as far-fetched as it may appear, for some modern Swedish mining companies use specially trained German Shepherds to smell out sulphide minerals.

What is true in many mining regions is also true in Newfoundland and Labrador, the best place to find a new mine is next to an old one. To that effect many of the older mining areas of Newfoundland are experiencing considerable new exploration activity, some with excellent success.

This is getting long so here is the link where you can read the book, online at your leisure, thanks to the Wendy Martin and also others including Heritage Newfoundland and The Canadian Institute Of Mining And Metallurgy. It is worthwhile to check this out because it is a factual yet entertaining history of prospecting and mining in Newfoundland.

Once upon a Mine – Link to Full Contents

Happy reading and keep on propsecting!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Of Gold and Dollars

While browsing on YouTube I happened upon a video that covers the subject of Gold Verses the Us Dollar. The Author says that this is the first of several videos to show what is really happening to the economy of the United States and why the country is in a lot of trouble financially.

Here is the video embedded below. Have a look and of course form your own opinion.

It's early morning here and so far there are some indications that the price of gold may rise some today. Yesterday it was down below the $1200 per ounce mark again. But hey $1200 per ounce isn't so bad if you can get it out of the ground for say less than $600 / oz or lower. Placer and hard rock miners that have good grades and low production costs still stand to do very well producing gold.

Since 2000 gold has risen by near $600 per ounce while the supply seems to have dropped some, that should bode well for the months and years ahead.

As Always

happy Prospecting

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

High Grade Gold Discoveries Continue in Manitoba

Being a prospector with a keen interest in Manitoba Canada and the search for gold in the province, I spend time keeping up with the exploration news in the province. The Rice Lake Gold Camp situated in the southeast region of Manitoba, is one of the areas that has recently witnessed the discovery of exceptional new gold deposits. These new discoveries are large in scope and are being made with a truly amazing frequency.

My past posts about the new Manitoba gold rush include Rice Lake Manitoba is alive with gold explorers posted on Sept 19, 2009 and Spectacular High Grade Gold Found In Manitoba, posted on Nov 23, 2009. The exploration work talked about in those posts continues. Recently the area has seen considerable more exploration activity that has lead to even more new gold discoveries.

San Gold Corporation, a Manitoba gold Miner and Explorer, has today, again released news of Impressive gold exploration results that include gold values of 1.07 oz/ton over a length of 40 feet obtained from diamond core drilling. At the same time, San Gold’s Rice Lake Mine continues to evolve with Higher Production Grades and Significant New High Grade Discoveries – including mining face samples of 909 g/t over 3m (26.5 oz/t over 10 ft). See San Gold press Release of Jan 20, 2010.

This news follows that published previously by San Gold on Nov 23, 2009 where they release news on drill core assays of 1787 g/tonne Gold over 2.1 meters at their New “007” Discovery. See San Gold press release of Nov 23 2009 for full details.

Discovery of gold deposits with values like those reported by San Gold Corp not only make for good mining, the numbers are such, that one would think that there is potential to create a new Gold Camp, or in this case, greatly enlarge an existing one.

The gold grades reported out of Rice Lake remind me of the discoveries and grades that made the Red Lake Ontario Gold Camp famous and lead to the discovery of gold deposits that created one of the highest grade and lowest cost gold mines in Canada. Considering that the Red Lake Gold Camp is just across the boarder, it isn’t a far reach to think that similar rocks in Manitoba have equally good discovery potential.

So what does this news mean to a prospector? For starters it means simply that not all the good stuff has been found and that less successful past exploration work doesn’t necessarily mean new gold deposits cannot be found. Heck in the case of San Gold past operators may have walked or driven over the areas of the new high grade finds, yet never unlocked the gold.

During the past few years my partner and I have staked mineral claims in and around the Rice Lake Greenstone Belt and I consider myself to be fortunate to have done so. Some of those properties have been sold to other better equipped exploration companies and exploration programs have recently commenced. This of course is great for a prospector; the claims get worked at a much larger scale, allowing us to work a few claims of our own.

Happy Prospecting

Saturday, January 09, 2010

2009 the best year yet for gold companies

2009 turned out to be a great year for gold companies. Gold experienced a spectacular rise in price and financing activity was up more than 6 times that of 2008. 2008 was a dismal year in the industry.

According to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Curran, during 2009 there were 151 separate deals that raised over $18.6-billion for North American gold companies, that he says was the most ever raised in a 12 month period.

Mr. Curran also broke down where the money went and what it would be used for. Not surprisingly, more than two-thirds of the cash went to larger-cap gold producers ( Barrick Gold Corp. alone raised more than $5-billion to terminate its hedge book).

But the small-cap companies had plenty to smile about as well, and Mr. Curran is most interested in their financing activities. He calculated that they raised $6.36-billion in 141 deals, proving that there was plenty of money available for exploration (54% of those transactions were earmarked specifically for exploration). There were many small deals, as 58% of the transactions involved amounts less than $25-million.

But while most of the small-cap transactions were related to exploration, construction rose to the top when it came to how proceeds are used. It accounted for about 43% of that total, while exploration was 20%.

Smaller amounts were earmarked for feasibility studies, investment and acquisitions. However, the largest deals in the small-cap space involved acquisitions.

Link to story at

2009 was also a great year for gold discoveries with many companies announcing news of new finds, increased resources and/or commencement of mining operations. 2009 also brought news of takeovers and acquisitions of smaller companies by the larger players.

Given the continual uneasiness in the worldwide economy and the potential for further complications, 2010 could turn out to be even better.

Happy Prospecting!

Gold in Manitoba – Where to find it

The easiest way to find Gold in Manitoba is to visit a mine. But chances are that the owners will not want you poking around on their claims and they will most certainly not allow you to take away any gold – that is unless they let you buy it! None the less there is gold at the mines in Bissett, Lynn Lake, Herb Lake, Snow Lake, and in the discoveries near Red Sucker, Beresford and Island Lakes and at other locations. Gold that has been found by prospecting, plenty of work and in most cases has cost considerable sums of money to explore in detail and develop.

Although you cannot take gold from a known claim or mine, you can still learn something about how to find some of your own by studying how others have found gold and using what you have learned when you go prospecting.

If you are determined to prospect for gold, then the best place to start is by reading. There are publicly available Mineral Occurrence Files, geological and geochemistry information, past mineral claim work assessment files, company press releases, publicly available files on geophysical surveys and a host of other data available that you can become familiar with to use in guiding your activities. You also need to obtain a prospecting license, without it no claims for you.

Finding a minable gold deposit is not easy, while there is good information to help guide you, there are no sign posts that say dig here! Your success is going to be measured by your work effort and by your savvy, no work no zeal no gold.

In the most productive Gold areas of the province you will have to go out in the bush and stake a claim on ground not already claimed, and you do so by physically erecting marker posts and making a boundary through the bush, across bogs and swamp and over rock outcrops. That’s how you get a mineral claim in those areas. Important: Do not try and stake one where there is already a claim, that don’t work and no one is going to allow you to stake ground they have in good standing, thus before you start staking do your homework and find out if the area is already claimed or not.

Once you have a registered claim you have to do work on it and start looking for gold or other minerals. Just because you have a mineral claim does not mean you are rich nor those it mean your claim is good for anything other than a pasture for moose. You need to go out there, use your knowledge or that of someone experienced that you hire, and prospect the claim. Look for something good and perhaps find it.

Most, if not all Gold recovered in Manitoba, is not of the variety that you can obtain from panning in a stream. In Manitoba you are in hard rock country, meaning anything mined to date on a significant scale was found in rock and not as nuggets, dust or flour gold mixed into stream or bench sands. Gold in the province is typically of a lode type found in veins or as by-product in base metal deposits.

Your best chances of finding Gold anywhere is being able to obtain a claim next to a past mine or a recent gold discovery. Obtaining a claim in such an area is no easy task, because normally the surrounding land is well staked and claimed by others.

You could if your funds permit and after careful study and advice, explore for gold where no one else is working. This you can do as a hobby and providing you know your geology, you can prospect without staking a claim until you find something of value. After testing then stake a claim.

Prospecting means among other things, taking samples and having the same assayed to determine if the rock holds anything of value. Plain old rocks to a prospector are a pain in the behind; rocks that have demonstrated content of some mineral are an entirely different matter. The prospector loves ore grade (good mineral content) in his/her rocks, however most rocks do not favor the prospector. Finding good gold showings is not a common occurrence.

Yet it has been and is still being done. Chance favors the prepared mind and hard work can pay off. Remember if it was easy everyone would be doing it and gold could be worth a lot less.

Happy prospecting!

Manitoba gold properties available for sale or option. Located in the Rice Lake Gold Belt! 

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Precious metals, prices up overall in 2009

Over the last two years we have seen both up swings and down swings in gold prices from month to month and day to day. The good news is that overall the price finished on the upside.

The average London gold price for each quarter of 2008 was:

2008 Q-1 - $ 923.60
2008 Q-2 - $ 896.15
2008 Q-3 - $ 870.90
2008 Q-4 - $ 798.39

Overall 2008 average price was $872.26

The average London gold price for each quarter of 2009 was:

2009 Q-1 - $ 907.805
(An increase of 13.704% from the last quarter of 2008)
2009 Q-2 - $ 921.087
(An increase of 1.463% from the first 2009 quarter)
2009 Q-3 - $ 959.924
(An increase of 4.217% from the second 2009 quarter)
2009 Q-4 - $ 1,100.096
(An increase of 14.602% from the third 2009 quarter)

The overall average London gold price for 2009 was $ 972.228 which is an increase of 11.46% from the 2008 average of $872.26 per ounce.

The final gold price at the end of Quarter 4 of 2009 was (spot-market) $1,096.20 an ounce. The final closing price saw gold end the year at a gain of $218 over 2008. However the average was just over $972 for the year. During 2009 Gold also hit an all time high of above $1,220 per ounce on December 3 2009

Other precious metals also staged equally impressive gains after the 2008 deep decline. Platinum rose a record 58.7 percent and palladium was up 220 percent on improving economic conditions, as well as hope for a boost in physical demand from new U.S. exchange traded funds expected to launch soon. Silver also jumped by a record 49.1 percent.