Going for bulk
Bulk sampling under way

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 21/00) - An environmental assessment report of the Camsell Lake property will trigger regulatory review of the Snap Lake project as early as April, Winspear Resources announced last week.

"Collection and evaluation of environmental and geotechnical data from the project area is sufficiently well-advanced to support submission of an environmental assessment report planned for early in the second quarter," Winspear said in a release.

Winspear says that so far there are "no areas of significant" environmental concern.

"Based on our scoping study (last year), we have very much an economic deposit," said John McConnell, Snap Lake project manager.

"In future, we'll explore for the pipe, but we're focused on developing what we have there into a mine."

McConnell is former senior vice-president of Breakwater Resources' subsidiary Canzinco. Breakwater owns Nanisivik mine which is located on Baffin Island.

The Snap Lake project, located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, promises to be a world-class diamond deposit.

Winspear has yet to determine if the kimberlite dyke -- a tabular layer of diamond-bearing igneous rock -- has a kimberlite pipe, or root, somewhere underneath it. If found, it could have a dramatic effect on an already promising deposit.

McConnell adds that post Bre-X, companies need bulk sample numbers for potential investors.

"To bring in a mine, we're going to have to finance it with debt and equity. Investors want to see an underground bulk sample," he said.

The bulk sample will also send a message that Snap Lake is going ahead, he adds.

"From our point of view, with Diavik (possibly delayed a year), it's cast a shadow over mining. We wanted to get the word out that we're going ahead and we have the permits.

"The NWT is not closed for business," he added.

In the wake of Winspear's announcement that the Snap Lake advanced exploration project had commenced, the company's stock jumped as much as 26 per cent, trading as high as $2.43 Thursday.

Winspear is operator and majority owner of the Camsell Lake property. Aber, 40 per cent owner of the Diavik project, has a stake in the Camsell Lake property which includes the Snap Lake diamond project.

Winspear and Aber have committed to funding their respective shares of the Snap Lake advanced exploration program.

The proposed footprint of the Snap Lake project is considerably smaller than Ekati and the proposed Diavik mine.

Planned mining of the Snap Lake northwest dyke will be underground as opposed to open pit and will not interfere with Snap Lake. Also, there will not be large waste-rock piles. The bulk of the tailings would be mixed with cement and pumped back underground to provide support for pillar extraction.

The Snap Lake advanced exploration program includes taking a 20,000 tonne kimberlite bulk sample. From the 20,000 tonnes, three 2,000- tonne samples will be processed.

The 6,000 tonnes of kimberlite will be processed at a plant that is being constructed on the property.

Winspear has land-use and quarrying permits as well as a Class B water licence.

The advanced exploration program, now under way, is designed to obtain all the information that will be required to support what Winspear called a "bankable" feasibility study for the Snap Lake project.

Results from 189 drill intersections suggest the northwest dyke, as opposed to a kimberlite pipe, is relatively uniform in thickness and diamond grade.

MRDI Canada, currently conducting a Snap Lake feasibility study, has established a resource of 21.3 million tonnes of kimberlite.

So far, the firm suggests there is an indicated resource of 8.4 million tonnes with a grade of 1.97 carats per tonne. An additional 8.1 million tonnes of kimberlite is deemed to be an inferred resource with 2.07 carats per tonne.

Last year, 10,708 carats worth $105 US per carat were recovered from 5,986 tonnes kimberlite from the northwest dyke.