Capstone Mining Corporation found two new ore deposits near Minto mine this summer, thanks to a new gadget that uses jolts of electricity to peer deep into the earth.
It’s called Titan 24, the brainchild of Toronto’s Quantec Geoscience.
The device builds on an already-familiar tool to mining exploration companies, called induced polarization, or IP.
In essence, IP involves sticking electrodes into the ground and running a current. When the current is cut, sensors measure how quickly electricity dissipates in the ground. Metals can be seen because they retain an electric charge longer than other substances, and through other telltale clues.
Typically, IP surveys only use two electrodes at a time. The Titan 24 uses at least two dozen, sends out an unusually large electrical blast, and then uses sophisticated computers to capture and crunch the results.
“It reads everything simultaneously,” said Stephen Quin, Capstone’s CEO. In doing so, the Titan 24 eliminates errors that crept into simpler IP tests because of changing weather and other factors.
“It is a true snapshot at that instant.”
It can also see far deeper. Traditional IP may peer 100 metres underground, said Quin. The Titan 24 is advertised as being able to see as far as 700 metres.
“I’d say it goes down to 300-plus, from our experience,” said Quin. “We haven’t found anything deeper, so we can’t tell you if it can go deeper than that.”
Capstone hired Quantec last summer and put them to the test. They had the survey team troll areas that had already been drilled, to see whether the gadget’s findings would match Capstone’s own data.
It did. And it found some surprises.
One was a new deposit now known as Minto East. Subsequent drilling so far suggests the deposit is “modest in tons, but a very good grade,” said Quin.
“It’s a little less than a year in production, which isn’t a huge impact. But it is another year.”
Another surprise is the Wildfire deposit, which Capstone is still exploring.
“It has interest because it has multiple intercepts. There seem to be stacked deposits. That’s encouraging,” said Quin.
Over the past summer, the Titan 24 surveyed 85 per cent of the Minto property. In doing so it came across 73 anomalies.
“It took them a week with a high-powered mainframe computer just to process the data,” said Quin. “You think about how much computers can process these days. It’s a NASA level of computer power.”
Quin cautions that an anomaly isn’t necessarily an ore deposit, and that an ore deposit isn’t necessarily profitable to mine.
“Anomalies are like noses. Everybody has one. In your backyard, you’ll find an anomaly of some kind. You need to pick carefully.”
Other companies in the Yukon that have used the Titan 24, including Western Copper at its Casino property, Northern Tiger at Sonora Gulch, Northern Freegold at Freegold Mountain and Yukon-Nevada Gold at Ketza River.
Hiring Quantec isn’t cheap. “It’s a fairly expensive survey compared to the other ones,” said Quin.
“But we’ve already done the other ones: conventional IP, magnetics, gravity, that kind of stuff. This is the next generation.”
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