By CAMERON KILFOY
Special to the Wreckhouse Weekly
– with files from Rosalyn Roy
SOUTHWEST COAST – A recent discovery of high-grade level gold in southwestern Newfoundland has sparked a new light for mining in the province.
Stephen Stares is president and CEO of Benton Resources Inc. Stares is originally from the province and comes from a long line of miners dating back to the early ’60s. He says deciding to dig within Newfoundland was a no-brainer.
“We have had an interest in the province for a long time,” said Stares. “The opportunity we saw was to take up large pieces of land with favourable structures that were open. Now it is one of the larger mining plants across Newfoundland.”
Stares adds that once word got out on what they were trying to do, it took them no time to receive clearance to start digging. Within one month of getting the go-ahead, the work began.
Once arriving in the province, Stares decided to partner up with Sokoman Minerals for the project. Together they have made some discoveries within the province.
“So far, we have had nothing but success,” said Stares. “Just outside of Terra Nova in a small community there was a large piece of land. We staked the ground in June and began searching.”
With the help of Sokoman, Stares was able to discover high-grade level gold. The two companies split the project 50/50.
After finding the gold, it opened a door for Stares. After finding something so valuable in a short amount of time, he knew Newfoundland must have more hidden within its walls. It was from this that Stares was able to bring home a first for the province.
“We went and started a dig on our Grey River project,” said Stares. “It was through that dig that we were able to discover lithium. So far, that is one of my best findings. It was a first for our province.”
Stares adds that the potential the province of Newfoundland had is what made him want to explore its underground. Discoveries such as these are what can bring larger companies to the province.
“What we are doing is looking for new deposits,” said Stares. “We’re explorers first. We want to make discoveries and advance the project so that a bigger company will want to buy it out. That is the goal of most junior companies.”
Although that may be the goal for some companies, Stares’ goal is to put the resources found back into the province of Newfoundland for sustainable living. He believes it is the best way his company can give back.
“We are in search of beneficial minerals at all times,” said Stares. “Lithium can do so much from growing plants to building batteries; it has endless potential. As long as there are our mining plants, it will always be beneficial for giving people jobs and opening eyes for a whole new market.”
He adds that anything found in the province would be beneficial for Newfoundland and its residents.
To uncover everything that Newfoundland has to offer, Stares says, will take 500 years or more. He hopes that people will continue the work of discovery for years to come to help put the province on the map.
Stares is immensely proud of the discoveries made and will continue to look for more beneficial minerals to ensure sustainable living in the province.
“It is one of the biggest moments of my career,” said Stares. “We were all jumping up and down when he got those results back saying it was lithium. That’s something I’ll never forget. As I said this province has endless potential and it is my goal to discover all I can in Newfoundland.”
Matador Mining continues to develop and expand its operations at its camp near Isle aux Morts. The company originally focused on mining in Newfoundland for a variety of reasons, including small number of gold explorations on the island, coupled with little risk and an undervaluing of the mining industry in general compared to international peers.
“Having selected Canada as a preferred investment location the group reviewed projects in several provinces but identified Newfoundland and Labrador as the best one due to its prior mining history,” said Matador. “At the same time our initial discussions with the provincial government were very positive and it was evident that the government would be supportive of a new mine.”
Newfoundland offers some unique and rare geography which favours gold and resource mining.
“The Cape Ray Gold Project is located on one of the major Appalachian structural corridors that host multi-million ounce gold deposits throughout north-east America. To the north-east of our Project the same structure hosts Marathon Gold’s >4 million oz Valentine Lake Project, to the southwest the Appalachian structural corridor hosts Anaconda’s Cape Spencer Mine in New Brunswick and OceanaGold’s 5 million oz Haile Mine in South Carolina. The advantage of Matador’s Cape Ray project is that most of the project has a shallow cover of glacial till which has “hidden” the gold mineralization from past explorers. The existing Mineral Resources at Cape Ray were all discovered where this cover is absent and gold-rich veins outcrop at surface (which is rare). Matador are having great success applying new methods to explore through this shallow till cover. This opens up exciting exploration and discovery opportunities across the 120km long project.”
Through a process of reviews, the company decided the Cape Ray Gold Project best fit what they were searching for. Matador saw through extensive exploration over multiple years, that the project could be capable of producing approximately 100,000oz of gold per year for at least 10 years.
With continuing exploration as their current main focus, Matador wants residents of the province to know the project can and will offer major benefits to the region.
“The operation itself would provide a significant number of jobs to locals during both the construction and operation phases,” said Matador. “Training and education opportunities would also be available and the local companies and businesses could also provide services to the mine.”
The high-grade potential of the mine is the main reason the company wanted to invest in the mine but, with the gold being at such shallow depths, Matador also saw it as a rare opportunity.
“The fact that we have a relatively shallow high-grade deposit means that our primary mining method will be simple open-cut mining,” stated a company representative. “At this stage, we don’t expect to go into underground mining which does streamline the process and our plans. Based on our initial study work, the Cape Ray Gold Project could be one of the higher grade open-pit mines in the world.”
Along with the gold, the company has also taken a minor interest in the silver deposits in the mine. They say the process is the same for recovering the minerals but silver doesn’t share the same production or revenue value as gold.
“At Cape Ray we will produce a gold/silver doré product which is almost pure gold and silver (around 80-90 per cent pure). This is flown to the specialist gold refineries such as the Royal Canadian Mint to be further refined to produce 99.99 per cent pure gold and 99.9 per cent pure silver, which is what is bought by federal banks, investors etc.”
Matador has also recently staked out a new project in Hermitage. With its interest already being in the province, when it was suggested utilizing this open piece of land, the company wanted to take it.
“Matador’s principal geologist, Crispin Pike, is a Newfoundland local with extensive knowledge of the island’s geology,” noted the company. “When he joined Matador earlier this year he strongly recommended the open ground opportunity at Hermitage.”
The Hermitage claim comes with more challenges compared to the Cape Ray Gold Project but Matador says it is nothing they can’t handle.
“The cover at Hermitage is deeper than at Cape Ray, thus potentially posing challenges to some explorers,” said Matador. “However, with our expertise in innovative methods for exploring through cover, we saw the opportunity and pegged the best of the Hermitage ground.”
Matadors’ extreme interest in the province has brought a new light to the mining industry in Newfoundland. The company is prepared to see out both plans, but says its journey has only just begun. They hope to extend their stay on the island for decades to come.
“We will continue to explore even after we have started production so we can increase our gold resources further,” said Matador. “We intend on being a long-term explorer and operator in Newfoundland, hopefully for multiple decades, thereby benefiting not just this generation but also the next generation of Newfoundlanders.”