March 12, 2018

Canadian mining company 'very pleased' with initial Pickett Mountain results

Photo / LandVest
Photo / LandVest
Wolfden Resources Corp., a mineral exploration company based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has said initial mineral findings on Pickett Mountain, which it bought last year, are positive. The company bought the Penobscot County mountain after the Legislature passed a law last year regulating metals mining.

A Canadian engineering firm that is testing a Penobscot County mountain to see if it can be mined for heavy metals is happy with initial results.

Testing by Wolfden Resources of Thunder Bay, Ontario, will continue through the year on Pickett Mountain, where results so far this year "are excellent for a [volcanogenic massive sulfide ore] deposit in the Appalachians," according to a news release from the company.

"We are very pleased with these initial results," Don Hoy, Wolfden CEO said in a February news release. He said the thickness and high grade tenor is comparable to those of earlier drill results on the mountain.

Preliminary metallurgical work yielded recoveries of zinc (88%), lead (77%) and copper (74%), according the company. It is testing for zinc, copper, lead, gold and silver.

Wolfden bought the mountain after the Legislature last year passed a mining law that strictly regulates operations to protect the environment, including banning open pit mining. Until then, mining in the state was stalled for decades as environmental concerns were raised.

A company official told the Bangor Daily News the exploration studies will cost $1 million and the company is several years frommining at the site.

"There's lots of hurdles to get through if we're ever going to see this into production," said Wolfden geologist Art Hamilton.

He said zinc is likely the material the company would focus on, but added, "There's quite a lot of copper, lead, silver as well."

The drill program will continue and results will be released in batches as they become available, the company said. It intends to complete a qualified mineral resource estimate by the end of the year.

It will also focus on expanding, both in depth and length, on the previously defined sulphide mineralization at the site. Large lenses — pockets of ore — were identified in the 1980s, and the company believes there is potential for more may extend in both directions from the strike.

Huge potential, new law

The company has said that Pickett Mountain is one of the highest grade undeveloped volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits in North America that remains open for potential expansion.

"Wolfden sees significant exploration opportunity in this jurisdiction that it believes is vastly under-explored," the company said in a news release in September, when it announced it was buying the mountain.

Wolfden cited the legislation, L.D. 820, as one of the reasons it is pursuing mining at the site, which is part of Mount Chase and north of Patten. The acquisition includes all mineral, timber and surface rights.

It also noted that "price appreciation" in zinc and copper has revived interest in mining projects like Pickett Mountain.

The company said last month that its initial work is to confirm findings from the 1980s from about 90 drill holes.

The company said that the site is attractive because it has access from nearby Route 11, there is no population in the area and there is potential income from timber sales.

The mineral potential of the mountain was discovered in 1979 by Getty Mines Ltd., according to the Wolfden site. Diamond drilling, metallurgical work, environmental and feasibility studies were done from 1979 to 1984 by Chevron Ltd. Deeper drilling and and metallurgical work was done from 1984 to 1989. But the mountain was never mined.

Meanwhile, the state had become embroiled in a battle over mining legislation that lasted until the new law last year.

One of the last open pit mines, the Callahan mine in Brooksville, on the Cape Rosier peninsula closed in 1972, and is undergoing a superfund project that began in 2010 and is estimated to cost $27 million.

The last large-scale metal mine in the state closed in 1977, and large-scale mining was banned in 1990. The state in 2012 agreed to update mining laws, but the legislation stalled until last year.

Last year's law was passed over a veto by Gov. Paul LePage, who said the strict environmental regulations would discourage mining companies from looking at Maine.

Proponents said that the regulations would allow mining to go forward in the state, adding to the economy, while protecting the environment from situations like the one cause by the Callahan mine.

Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated the 87,500 acres that are now part of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which is southwest of Pickett Mountain, said last fall that industrial activity can coexist with the national monument, but also said Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters would monitor any mining operations in the region to make sure Maine's mining laws are enforced.


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