March 18, 2019
The conversation got going because of the prospectivity of the region— but its first whispers can be traced back to work completed by the NWT Geological Survey.
Evrim Resources has been working a project in the Mackenzie Mountains for some time. They call the project "Astro."
The Astro Project resulted from a two-year Exploration Alliance that Evrim formed with Newmont Mining Corporation back in 2017. The Alliance focused on generating Greenfield exploration opportunities in areas favorable for world-class gold orebodies.
Early this year, Evrim released the results of surface sampling at the project. With chip samples rating as high as 11.6 grams of gold per tonne of rock across 18 m of outcrop, these are extremely promising results.
“These results are very positive, finding gold at this high a grade over large widths at surface is very unusual, ” as Scott Cairns, Manager of Mineral Deposits and Bedrock Mapping with the NWT Geological Survey describes it.
Last week, Evrim announced its option agreement with Newmont on the Astro project. Newmont may elect to earn an 80% interest in a designated project by making staged cash payments to Evrim and solely fund exploration until it has defined a pre-feasibility study on a minimum two million ounce gold resource, over a ten year period. Evrim will be the operator for the initial US$5million in exploration expenditures.
“This summer Newmont and Evrim have planned a US$1.2 million exploration and drilling program at Astro. The permitting process is well underway, and we look forward to the engagement of the local community within the Sahtu region” commented Paddy Nicol, Evrim’s President and CEO.
It’s an important milestone on the way to future project development. Progress towards that milestone will doubtlessly be watched closely by a lot of people in the NWT.
Laying the Groundwork
While the rapid pace of the project’s advance feels like it’s coming all at once, getting there was a long process — one in which the GNWT played an important role.
The GNWT’s Mining Incentive Program invests $1 million in qualifying exploration projects annually to keep promising projects going. The NWT Geological Survey, a division of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, runs the program — assessing the applicants and choosing where that money is best spent.
Read more: Mining Incentive Program
The program is almost expressly designed for projects like Astro: remote, limited existing infrastructure, expensive for companies and investors. These grants can help keep exploration companies working these prospects despite the challenges.
And in Evrim’s case, it certainly did. Over the last two years, the company has received $336,000 in funding from the program to help their soil and surface sampling push which has allowed them to reach the place they are today.
It was just the latest event in a long, mutually-beneficial relationship between the territory’s geology pros and Evrim.
“We’ve been talking to their geologists in the area for a couple of years,” explains Cairns. “The NWT Geological Survey has done a whole lot of research on the How about lots of research in the Mackenzie mountains that a number of companies have been quietly following up on…
The work Cairns is talking about is an enormous database of over 10,000 stream sediment samples spanning the NWT’s side of the mountain range. They were collected over a decade of concentrated work through sampling. NTGS has also carried out, thematic studies of mineralization styles, and bedrock mapping. The result: a deep understanding of the area’s geology.
That understanding left a strong trail for Evrim to follow as they defined their exploration targets in the area.
“Accurate, detailed bedrock maps and regional sampling give companies a lot to go on,” says Cairns. “The fact these existed allowed Evrim to put boots on the ground in the right places and clearly interpret their results.”
Why it Matters
Ultimately, this work is going to lead to even better understanding of the NWT’s geology. Evrim will submit work reports annually, the NWT Geological Survey will archive them. The exploration data will become part of the NWT’s geoscience knowledge to contribute to further mineral exploration and good decision-making by governments.
And further, the Sahtu looks forward to a $1.2 million drilling program in summer 2019. With mining giant Newmont now in the mix, significant additional work is also anticipated.
It’s a boon to the local economy today, and welcome news as conversations continue about the future of mining in the NWT.
That’s a conversation in which the GNWT is happy to playa big role.