By Pat Rediger
Foran Mining Corporation sees a lot of unearthed potential in Saskatchewan.
Foran, a Canadian exploration and development company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and headquartered in Vancouver, is focused on zinc and copper resource development at its Hanson Lake camp in east-central Saskatchewan.
Similar to the nearby world-class Flin Flon and Snow Lake camps, Hanson Lake contains a cluster of copper and zinc-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits. Foran’s flagship property in Saskatchewan is the McIlvenna Bay deposit, where a positive preliminary economic assessment was completed in November 2014.
“Foran’s plans are to be the next copper and zinc producer in Saskatchewan and we feel once that goal is attained we will have a bright future in the province,” said Patrick Soares, Foran president, CEO and director. “The formation of clusters of massive sulphide deposits is a common characteristic of VMS belts worldwide, which makes them attractive targets areas for exploration and development.”
Foran’s Saskatchewan project really began in earnest in 2011 when a new management team came into the fold that included Soares and executive chairman Darren Morcombe. In the ensuing years, the management team has been focused on connecting with influential people within the mining industry and attracting investment funds.
“When we began the project, we thought it was a terrific prospect that we could grow. The growth potential with finding other deposits was great,” Soares said. “The timing was good in 2011 because the price of copper was strong and we felt that it would be the metal of the future with electric vehicles becoming more and more prominent. We also feel that zinc is a terrific commodity.With all of those positive components, we couldn’t see a downside.”
In order to attract interest in the project, Soares said Foran had to do its due diligence and conduct an in-depth exploration of the area, relying on local geological and geophysical talent. While drilling on a geophysical anomaly between the McIlvenna Bay deposit and the historic Balsam deposit in 2013, Foran made the first new discovery on the property in 30 years—Thunder Zone, where high-grade zinc and copper intercepts indicate the potential to outline a new massive sulphide deposit.
Since then, Glencore, a multinational commodity trading and mining company has agreed to complete a feasibility study on McIlvenna Bay. Foran has hired Micon, an engineering firm based in Toronto to complete the NI 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects report.
Soares said that exploration on the property continues to identify new exploration targets and enhance both historic satellite deposits and mineral occurrences, which could provide future mill feed to an operation at McIlvenna Bay. Foran is focused on advancing and developing district scale mining operations in the Hanson Lake area with the large tonnage McIlvenna Bay deposit providing the impetus to support construction of a central mill and concentrator.
“The drilling seems to indicate that the deposit is very continuous,” he said. “That’s always a worry when you’ve got six or seven holes of depth from 700 metres to 1,300 metres. What we seem to be finding at depth is the grades of zinc, copper and gold seem to be a little higher than the historic rate at depth. That’s very promising for us. At the centre of the deposits, which is where we’re currently drilling, there been positive surprises.”
Soares said there are numerous reasons that this project stands out compared to other zinc and copper deposits. The project boasts excellent infrastructure, including highways and secondary roads, access to low-cost hydroelectric power and a railhead. The Hanson Lake area is situated in a safe, stable jurisdiction and can be reached from Flin Flon in about an hour.
He said the project has the potential to provide employment to hundreds of local workers, drawing primarily from Flin Flon and surrounding Indigenous communities. Before even stepping on site for the first time, Soares said it was important for the company to consult with Indigenous leaders.
Foran’s project is gaining momentum. The company plans to present drilling results to Glencore in October to help them with the creation of the feasibility study, which will then be passed along to Micon. Soares said if the feasibility is promising, then the focus will shift to raising more capital. If all goes according to plan, production could begin near the end of 2020.
“Foran has a management team with a proven record of adding shareholder value and advancing projects to production,” Soares said “With 100 per cent ownership of an emerging Canadian base metal camp, our company is focused on advancing McIlvenna Bay and the Hanson Lake VMS camp to production.”
One of the major reasons that the Foran has such confidence in the project is the business climate in Saskatchewan. Soares said Saskatchewan is first in Canada and second in the world for mining investment attractiveness according to the Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies 2017.
“Saskatchewan is rich in mineral wealth and some of the new and growing industries are base metals as well as precious metals—where there are great opportunities—and, of course, diamonds,” Soares said. “It has great diamond finds that have been recently explored and all of those together give it yet another step up in the mineral industry.”
Beyond the abundance of mineral wealth, Soares said the Government of Saskatchewan is very accommodating to mining companies.
“Our dealings with the Saskatchewan government have been very constructive. There are very clear guidelines set on how to move a project from exploration through feasibility to production,” he said.
“I think Saskatchewan stands out as one of the better jurisdictions in Canada where the government embraces mining and understands that it’s helpful to their economy. We have received great cooperation from the government when it comes to putting the mine into production. I think that anybody looking at Saskatchewan as a place to open a new business will find not only is the province open to new business, but I think they’ll also find that Saskatchewan’s going to be a bigger and bigger contributor to the Canadian economy.”