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An aerial view of Nighthawk Gold Corp.'s Damoti Lake gold camp, about 200-km north of Yellowknife, last summer. Nighthawk (formerly Merc International Minerals Inc.), is beginning its summer drill program. - photo courtesy of Discovery Air Inc.

Exploration season starts

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Plans have been struck, remote camp orders are in place, and the summer exploration season is quickly approaching.

Despite some areas around the city being inaccessible because of the thawing ice, some summer programs have already begun, said Gary Vivian, geologist and president of Aurora Geosciences Ltd., depending on what the exploration companies are doing, from drilling to mapping and geophysics.

"They are certainly gearing up," said Vivian. "The plans are all in place."

Orders are ramping up at Weaver and Devore, which provides a significant amount of bush supplies to the North's exploration companies each year.

"Exploration season has definitely started," said Ken Weaver, anticipating the opening of the Mackenzie River crossing to restock the Old Town business's shelves. "We've had a few inquiries from camps so I think, early indications are it's going to be a fairly busy year."

According to preliminary Natural Resources Canada figures, exploration spending intentions for the Northwest Territories are $124 million in 2012, up from an estimated $105.4 million last year.

While the regulatory environment has been a deterrent for companies in past years, the regulatory process is getting better, Vivian said, and the issue looming over the season this year, is the markets.

"The money's dried up," said Vivian, noting the current global economic climate limits the financing options for junior exploration companies.

"There's been a lot of programs cut already because there's not that much funding available."

While some projects are being cut, Nighthawk Gold Corp., formerly Merc International Minerals Inc., recently raised $12.2 million for its 100-per-cent-owned Colomac Gold Project, after purchasing the historic Colomac gold mine last year.

"I think it's because it's a good project," said David Wiley, president and CEO. "I also think it's because we've got very good support from our current shareholders. We believe it to be an excellent project, as do our investors."

With Nighthawk's summer drilling program already started, Colomac is among several gold projects expected to be active this exploration season, as gold prices remain strong.

Exploration is also expected to begin at Tyhee Gold Corp.'s Big Sky Property, 17 km north of Yellowknife, after a recent joint venture agreement with Williams Creek Gold Ltd., which will see a minimum of $100,000 per year in exploration or development.

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