Interest in Northern Saskatchewan diamond exploration heats up
- 24 Aug 2016
- The StarPhoenix
- ALEX MACPHERSON
Interest in Northern Sask. diamond mining heats up
As De Beers Canada Inc. prepares to start drilling for diamonds north of the decommissioned Cluff Lake uranium mine, another group of industry veterans is planning to explore kimberlite targets about 20 kilometres away.
“As explorationists, we’re always looking at new ideas and new targets,” said Randy Turner, president and CEO of Vancouver exploration firm Canterra Minerals Corp.
“The truth is always in the drilling … but there’s lots of targets and, as an explorationist, I’d have to say I’m very enthused about the area. Having been involved in the discovery of one of the big diamond mines, we like what we see.”
Turner has been looking for — and finding — diamonds since the early 1990s. Canterra was formed after De Beers bought his previous company, Winspear Diamonds Inc., in 2000 for the equivalent at the time of $305 million.
Winspear came to the global mining giant’s attention after it discovered the Snap Lake diamond mine northeast of Yellowknife. After acquiring 100 per cent of the project, De Beers developed and mined the site before it was shuttered last year.
Canterra has projects in Alberta and the Northwest Territories, and what Turner calls a “real pedigree” in the diamond business. Its executives and directors have been involved in many projects, he said.
On Aug. 17, Canterra signed an agreement with Can-Alaska Uranium Ltd. — the same company that optioned 43,000 acres to De Beers for up to $20.4 million this spring — to explore the West Carswell property about 750 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
Under the agreement, Canterra can acquire a 50-per-cent stake in the project by paying Can-Alaska $100,000, issuing two million shares and spending $1 million on work over the next three years.
If the Vancouver-based firm acquires its 50-per-cent interest, it will have the option to add another 20 per cent to its stake by paying another $100,000, issuing one million more shares and spending $4 million on work at the site.
“This is a very interesting group of magnetic targets close to existing infrastructure,” Can-Alaska president and CEO Peter Dasler said in a statement, referring to anomalies that could be kimberlite pipes — igneous formations known for containing diamonds.
Turner said De Beers’ “aggressive” approach to the project lends credibility to the area, and his company plans to examine the results of a low-level airborne study before drilling to establish whether the formations are kimberlite.
Finding diamond mines is not easy. Only a small percentage of magnetic anomalies turn out to be kimberlite pipes, and only a handful of those bear diamonds. Turner described finding a project as “one of the greatest challenges in our industry.”