Sudbury

Ring of Fire could benefit from Laurentian University's new Metal Earth project

The mineral exploration community is welcoming news of a major mining research project. This week, Laurentian University announced it's starting a seven-year initiative called Metal Earth. The goal is to figure out more precisely where ore deposits are, making exploration less costly for companies.
A mining camp in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario. (Noront Resources)

The mineral exploration community is welcoming news of a major mining research project.

This week, Laurentian University announced it's starting a seven-year initiative called Metal Earth.

The goal is to figure out more precisely where ore deposits are, making exploration less costly for companies.

The president of the Sudbury Prospectors and Developers Association, Joshua Bailey, says it's great to see more than $100-million being spent on mining research.

Bailey, who is also the vice-president of exploration with Wallbridge Mining and the head of the Ontario Prospectors Association, says there hasn't been a lot of innovation in mineral exploration.

"A lot of the geophysics that we use was technology initially developed during World War 2, you know, looking for submarines and that sort of thing," says Bailey.

The funding for the Metal Earth project is coming from the federal government, and other partners from academia and industry.

Ryan Weston, the vice-president of exploration at NorOnt expects the new Metal Earth project at Laurentian University to help move the Ring of Fire project forward. (NorOnt)

Noront Resources is one of the mining companies backing the project. It has several claims in the Ring of Fire region of northern Ontario.

"For Metal Earth to come in and do their work effectively, they're going to need access to that data and we will be providing it to them," says Ryan Weston, vice president of exploration with Noront Resources.

From an industry standpoint, Weston says the discovery of the Ring of Fire deposit is still in its early stages, but he adds having access to additional research will help Noront decide where to do more exploration.

Weston says the research could help the company move forward with its claims in the Ring of Fire. He says Noront has already spent a lot of time and money exploring the Ring of Fire area.

He says data collected by the company will be shared with the Metal Earth project to help move it forward.

"I expect that the work that Metal Earth will be doing in the Ring of Fire will just help us to understand the regional framework and geological framework such that it will help guide our exploration efforts moving forward," says Weston.

Weston admits there are still lots of questions to be answered regarding the Ring of Fire, which was first discovered in 2003.

"Because it's the James Bay lowlands, traditional mapping methods where you're out in the field is not an option. We have to rely heavily on geophysics and drilling and most of the geophysics that's been done up there has been fairly shallow level, it sort of tells us what's in the top couple hundred metres."

Noront has already spent upwards of $250-million exploring in the Ring of Fire. "Between drilling and geophysics, running the camp and personnel," says Weston. He added the company has acquired a lot of data through the research and through the acquisition of claims from other companies.

With files from Martha Dillman. Edited/packaged by Angela Gemmill

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