There is no hyperbole in saying that the Abitibi Greenstone Belt in eastern Canada is a global rock star as a metal resource. Not only does the Abitibi Belt host one of the world’s biggest gold deposits in the world – the 1,000+ tonnes Hollinger-McIntyre deposit outside Timmins, Ontario – but another 10 gold deposits known to be in excess of 100 tonnes.
The world-class region, spanning over 650 kilometers from Val d’Or, Quebec to Wawa, Ontario, has been actively mined for a century, producing over 180 million ounces of gold and 450 million tonnes of copper-zinc ore.
Yet, believe it or not, portions of the belt neighboring prolific gold camps remain largely unexplored, a fact with huge exploration upside that iMetal Resources Inc. (TSX-Venture:IMR) intends to capitalize upon. IMR management is highly encouraged about its flagship project, Gowganda West, owing to the fact that the altered and jasper rocks at Gowganda West appear similar in nature to those at the gold-laden Kirkland Lake and Timmins gold camps.
Part of the Abitibi belt, Timmins is one of the world’s most famous gold camps, hosting over 50 operating mines since 1910 that have produced more than 70 million ounces of gold so far. In addition to the Hollinger and McIntyre mines, Timmins was home to Newmont Goldcorp’s (NYSE:NEM) (TSX:NGT) Dome Mine.
These projects are the stuff mining dreams are made of. They also underscore billion-dollar deals as gold producers want to maintain a presence in the region.
After producing more than 17 million ounces of gold, the Dome mine was shuttered in 2017 by then-Goldcorp (before the $10-billion merger with Newmont) after 107 years of operations, making it North America’s longest continuously running gold mine. The mine is not dead, though, with another discovery leading to a re-branding as the Century Project, a potential large-scale open pit mine.
The Hollinger open pit mine is still producing today, with expectations for the mine to be exhausted in 2023. It has produced upwards of 17 million ounces of gold, more than any other single mine in Canada to date. Next door, about 11 million ounces of gold have come from the McIntyre Mine across nearly 8 decades of operations.
The largest operating mine in Canada today is Agnico Eagle (NYSE:AEM) (TSX:AEM) and Yamana Gold’s (NYSE:AUY) (TSX:YRI) Malartic Mine 25 kilometers west of Val-d’Or. Commercial production started in May 2011 under the ownership of Osisko Mining (TSX:OSK). In 2014, Agnico and Yamana partnered to acquire Osisko for C$3.9 billion.
Malartic produced 697,200 ounces of gold in 2018 and has a mine life expected to last through 2031.
Gowganda West Next?
There is little indication that the Abitibi Belt isn’t going to keep producing more value for the next century and iMetal is aiming to be a part of its famed history.
Gowganda West covers over 145 square kilometers of contiguous claims located 17 kilometers west-south-west of Gowganda, Ontario and 90 kilometers of Kirkland Lake. Kirkland Lake being another prolific gold mining camp in the Abitibi Belt. Further lending credence to the opportunity, part of the Gowganda West project is right next to (~500 meters away) Pan American Silver’s (NASDAQ:PAAS) (TSX:PAAS) Juby deposit.
The Vancouver-based company has been systematically proving the potential of Gowganda West through successful completion of channel sampling, chip sampling, a maiden drill program earlier in the year, VTEM study and IP geophysical survey and now the launch of the first-ever diamond drill program at the property centered on identified anomalies.
The company is looking to expand upon assays that showed high-grade gold akin to other Abitibi projects. The maiden drill program and sampling programs delivered gold assays as high as 39.3 grams per tonne gold in areas near the Pan American Silver property.
Against this backdrop, iMetal Resources is sinking drill bits in Zone 3 of its strategically located project and will be assaying the cores for gold, base metals and other elements, which should have investors attentive to upcoming results that could catalyze the stock and make IMR a household name in the prolific mining district in the not too distant future.