Monday saw Canadian exploration business Forum Energy Metals (TSX.V:FMC) reveal that its partner Rio Tinto has kicked off a major drilling project on the Janice Lake copper project in northern Saskatchewan. Rio Tinto Exploration Canada, which is planning to spend c.$3m on Janice Lake in 2019 as part of a seven-year, $30m option to earn 80pc of the project, is looking to drill 20 to 30 holes as part of the 7,000m programme.

The work, which is being assisted by a helicopter and completed using two rigs, is centred around areas of known copper mineralisation. Specifically, the project team has prioritised four project areas called Jansem, Janice, Kaz, and Genie North (Juno.

One of four holes drilled by Forum’s initial programme last year intersected 18.5m grading 0.94pc copper and 6.7g/t silver at Jansem, including 5.2m grading 2.22pc copper and 16.5g/t silver. Meanwhile, mining company Noranda historically hit 33m grading 0.77pc copper and 15.1m grading 0.32pc copper at Janice and Kaz respectively. Finally, Genie North (Juno) is an interpreted structural target with nearby grab samples returning up to 1.9pc copper and 32g/t silver.

Through its work, Rio Tinto hopes to determine the dip and attitude of copper mineralisation at Janice Lake as well as the possibility of multiple, strata-bound copper-bearing mineralised horizons. It will also work to find out the association of magnetics and copper in rocks at the asset and the potential for high-grade zones of mineralisation caused structure or mafic-rich layers.

Alongside the results of a recently-completed airborne geophysical survey, the drilling results will be used to identify future drilling targets n Janice Lake’s 52km-long sedimentary basin.

Upon announcing the beginning of the geophysical survey earlier this month, Forum said that Janice Lake’s geological attributes suggested the potential for finding a large tonnage open pit deposit on site. A helicopter-borne magnetometer stringer survey covered 430km2 at a 100m line spacing to explore this opportunity. According to Forum, this technology can provide high-resolution information that will aid in locating drill targets in the sedimentary layers hosting copper at Janice Lake.

Investigations completed by the company in a drilling programme last year suggested that the higher grades of copper are associated with magnetite and mafic-rich layers in the strata. Indeed, all four of the company’s drill holes intersected shallow chalcocite, bornite, and native copper mineralisation above 80m in depth. 

Author: Daniel Flynn

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