Baffin mineral exploration
Two Baffin mines predicted to have about seven years left

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 10/97) - Two base metal mines in the Baffin region, Polaris and Nanisivik, will come to the end of their mine lives within the next seven years, Clay Buchanan, Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development (RWED) superintendent with the Baffin, said.

"There are no advanced exploration projects in the region that hold the promise of developing into new mines in the next decade."

To increase mineral exploration activity, government and the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation came together to devise the Baffin Geoscience Project. The project started last month.

The new partners on the project are RWED, The Geological Survey of Canada and the Qikiqtaaluk Corp.

Buchanan says there are no mines in the Baffin that are at a stage where they could be developed.

The zone project will compile all known research of the last 25 years into a package to encourage industry to undertake mineral exploration. Emphasis will mainly be placed on the north Baffin, with focus on the Melville Peninsula and central Baffin. "The north Baffin looked like the best place to start with," Buchanan said.

The intent is for the package to be presented at mining industry trade shows.

Mike Hine, manager of mineral development for Qikiqtaalik Corp. says DIAND is providing data from assessment files in Yellowknife and geological input.

And his corporation is examining ways it can benefit Inuit of the Baffin.

One way to do that is by offering prospecting courses in the communities, says Hine.

"And we're trying to translate the terminology (into Inuktitut)."

Benefits are in the exploration phase, but if people can understand prospecting, they can stake claims, then deal those claims to a mining company.

In Kimmirut, one local company picked up five to 15 people. The whole community knows about the benefits of exploration, he said.

At least 15 individuals are working on the zone project for the Baffin, with help from RWED and DIAND in Yellowknife. The next meeting is scheduled for November in a geoscience forum.

Public release of the package, which will be available on CD-ROM, should be in May, 1998.

The mineral potential in Nunavut is largely unknown but appears "very high," Carolyn Relf, chief geologist with the geology division of the Mineral Resources Directorate, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, said.

Some mineral potential in Nunavut include:

*Recent mapping by the GSC on southern Baffin Island identified rocks similar to the rocks that host the Raglan Nickel Mine in northern Quebec.

*The Kivalik region of Nunavut has geology similar to northern Ontario and Quebec, a region mined for gold and base metals for a century.

*Victoria Island continues to be a focus for base metals, gold and diamonds. Though no economic quantities of diamonds have been found, about 20 kimberlite pipes have been found on Somerset Island.

*Some northern arctic islands have oil and gas potential.

*The northern Slave province, which hosts the Lupin mine, Jericho, Ulu and Hope Bay, contains numerous base and precious deposits.