The Ranoke copper-gold project is located in northern Ontario, Canada. Recently staked by VR, the Ranoke property extends the Company’s platform of blue-sky exploration on large-footprint copper-gold systems using new exploration technologies and modern mineral deposit models.
Ranoke is centered on a large and complex magnetic and co-spatial gravity anomaly that is targeted as an iron oxide copper-gold breccia pipe (IOCG) or carbonatite intrusion, and the source to local and regional copper-gold-fluorite heavy mineral anomalies. There is no outcrop in the region, and the near-surface target is under cover and not previously explored.
The magnetic anomaly is within the Kapuskasing Structural Zone (KSZ), a crustal-scale shear zone hundreds of kilometres long which bisects the Archean Superior province between James Bay and Lake Huron. The KSZ is well defined based on geophysical surveys and geologic mapping; it is a mega-structure with a long-lived history of repeated ultrabasic and alkaline intrusions spanning 1.6 billion years, and it is a prospective setting for a large IOCG hydrothermal system or carbonatite intrusion.
The Company completed three low-cost but high impact geophysical and geochemical surveys during the summer field season of 2019. The surveys were designed based on drill targets already apparent from the compilation of high-quality regional government surveys and archived mineral exploration assessment reports.
Upon completion of the gravity, magnetics, induced polarization and soil geochemistry surveys, the Company identified and prioritized a dozen locations for first-pass drilling, and successfully obtained a drill permit from the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. Drilling began in November, 2019, and resumed in January, 2020. Three holes were complete by March when the program was suspended due to lack of surface water and the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Company continues to evaluate a return to Ranoke to complete the first-pass drilling.
The Ranoke property is in the Moose River basin in northern Ontario, Canada. It is located between the Mattagami and Missinaibi rivers. The nearest town is Moosonee located on tide water some 100 kilometres to the northeast at James Bay. Kapuskasing is located about the same distance to the southwest, on the Trans-Canada Highway (Provincial HWY 11).
The property is 15 kilometers west of the active CNR railway spur line which connects the town of Moosonee with the mainline at Cochrane on the Trans Canada Highway, thus providing port access to the Moose River region.
Otter Rapids is an Ontario hydroelectric facility located on the Abitibi River about 50 kilometres to the southeast of the property. Provincial Highway 634 provides road access to Otter Rapids from Smooth Rock Falls, located at the junction of HWY 634 with the Trans-Canada Highway.
The Ranoke property is located in a boreal region of lowland muskeg, with black spruce forest along river drainages. Topographic relief is minimal, and there is no outcrop in the lowland region; Ranoke is tens of kilometres north of the northern limit of exposed Archean Superior Province shield in northern Ontario.
Ranoke is a large property, comprising 360 claims in a single contiguous block covering 7,400 ha in an area approximately 12 x 12 kilometres in size.
The property is on Federal crown land. Mineral rights are managed by the provincial Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (MENDM). There are no annual payments, but the MENDM requires certain annual exploration expenditures and reporting (ie. mineral assessment reports) in order to maintain a mineral claim in good standing. The property falls within the Moose Cree First Nation traditional territory.
The property is owned 100% by VR. There are no underlying annual lease payments, nor are there any joint venture or carried interests associated with the property. There are no royalties attached to the property.
Ranoke is previously unexplored.
VR completed the compilation, synthesis and interpretation of all available regional federal and provincial government survey data in the area, and archived provincial mineral exploration assessment data.
Ranoke is amenable for the effective use of new exploration technologies for base and precious metal deposits. Near-by towns with road access facilitate cost-effective exploration. Subdued topography will allow for optimal airborne geophysical surveys such as gravity and magnetics. Ground-based geophysical surveys such as induced polarization (IP), and grid-based geochemistry are useful because the Ranoke target, while covered, is believed to be near-surface based on the detailed examination of satellite imagery.
Work completed between May and November, 2019, includes:
- Airborne gravimeter and magnetic gradiometry survey over a 13 x 14 km area with 200 metre line spacing for 1,200 line-kilometres in total, including tie lines.
- Four soil gas geochemistry test lines across four different parts of the Ranoke magnetic complex, using a new soil gas technology that is best-suited for the hydrogeology and surficial geology of the Ranoke region. There were 128 stations in all, spaced 100 metres apart. Three different data streams were collected and analyzed: organic compounds, sulfur compounds and vapour phase multi-elements.
- Three geophysical test lines of ground-based induced-polarization (IP) using the TITAN 24 DCIP system were completed to test the main gravity anomaly for the presence of chargeable sulfide minerals.
The Company applied for and received from the MENDM a permit for completion of up to ten diamond drill holes selected from ten identified drill sites designed to test a variety of different targets for a copper-gold hydrothermal iron oxide breccia body or a copper-gold – bearing carbonatite intrusion based on a variety of magnetic and IP chargeability attributes within the large and well defined, high intensity gravity anomaly in the northern part of the Ranoke magnetic complex. Drilling began in November, 2019, and resumed in January, 2020, for completion during the winter drill season. The helicopter-assisted drill program is facilitated by a road-accessible camp located at the near-by Ontario Power Generation hydro-electric facility at Otter Rapids.
Ranoke is located immediately north of a robust copper-gold-fluorite heavy mineral anomaly evident in several rivers in the Coral Rapids area, based on a regional alluvium survey completed by the Ontario Geological Survey in 2001 and 2002. The unique mineral assemblage underscores the potential for a buried carbonatite or IOCG deposit (iron oxide copper-gold) as the source of the geochemical anomaly.
The Ranoke property covers a well defined, high intensity magnetic complex approximately 12 x 12 kilometres in size and evident on regional-scale Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) aeromagnetic maps. The complex delineates a regional-scale structural intersection, and individual magnetic anomalies are locally discordant to the regional magnetic grain evident in Archean basement rocks. The high resolution airborne survey completed by VR in 2019 confirmed the location, geometry and intensity of the Ranoke complex evident on the historic GSC maps. The northern magnetic anomaly at Ranoke is both the largest, at > 2.3 km’s in diameter, and the highest intensity, at > 1,000 nT. It has a vertical, pipe-like geometry with sharply defined margins and a central apex which is consistent across TMI, RTP and 1VD magnetic products.
The 2019 airborne survey by VR also confirmed the discrete gravity anomaly evident at Ranoke in historic, regional gravity data collected by the Geological Survey of Canada. A singular, 2.5 mgal gravity anomaly is apparent in the 13 x 14 km survey completed by VR. It is co-spatial with the central part of the Ranoke magnetic complex overall, but it is locally discordant to the large, circular magnetic pipe at the north end of the complex.
The schematic cross-section shown at the bottom of the list of figures below this text illustrates the target at Ranoke; a near-surface, large, vertical, magnetic, dense IOCG pipe or carbonatite intrusion. This cross-section is a representation of the discreet magnetic anomaly (pipe) at the northern end of the overall magnetic complex and structural intersection at Ranoke. This pipe is potentially the near-surface but till-covered source to copper and gold grains observed in the unconsolidated overburden in nearby reverse circulation drill holes completed in the early 1980’s during a reconnaissance evaluation of Cretaceous-aged coal seams in the Moose River Basin.
The Ranoke target is previously unexplored: it is under cover, it is north of exposed Archean Superior Province shield, and it is north of road access in northern Ontario. The specific area of the Ranoke property is not included in any mineral exploration assessment reports filed with the MENDM, and there are no historic drill holes located at Ranoke in the MENDM drill hole database.
The Moose River Basin has a varied, checkerboard history of mineral exploration for the past 100 years. Cretaceous coal seams were the focus at the turn of the previous century, while diamond exploration has dominated in the region during the past 60 years.
Overall, exploration in the region is hindered by the lack of outcrop in the boggy, lowland terrain, and by the cover of up to 400 metres of mid-Paleozoic (Devonian) marine shelf strata and Cretaceous in-land basinal strata overlying Archean basement. Archean VMS and Proterozoic orogenic gold deposits occur in the surrounding sub-provinces of the Superior craton, but there are no active base metal or precious metal mines in the Moose River Basin region. The Attawapiskat diamond mine (“Victor”) of Debeer’s located well to the north along the Attawapiskat River has reached the end of its mine life after more than a decade in production.
The oldest mineral exploration in the Moose River region relates to coal, which is documented as far back as 1672 when the Abitibi River was part of an important fur trading route linking Hudson Bay with the Great Lakes. There are lignite occurrences exposed in the banks of the Abitibi River north of Coral Rapids. The coal seams were first studied in detail by the Geological Survey between 1871 and 1912. They extend westward from the Abitibi River within the confines a small Cretaceous successor basin named the Moose River Basin which is less than 50 kilometers in diameter. More than one hundred shallow drill holes were completed by the Ontario Department of Mines between 1926 and 1930 to evaluate the resource, leading ultimately to the completion of two shafts and some 389 metres of interconnecting drifts. Drilling resumed in the early 1950’s with the completion of an additional 182 holes. In 1981, the Ontario Energy Corporation re-visited the potential of the coal and evaluated lignite stratigraphy farther to the west, in the region between the Mattagami and Missinaibi rivers. Hundreds of shallow drill holes were completed on a lease which exceeded 1 million acres. Drill holes were completed around, but not on, VR’s current Ranoke copper-gold property.
Diamonds have been the focus of modern mineral exploration in the James Bay region. Exploration started in the 1960’s by DeBeers (Monoprose Canada), focused initially in the Attawapiskat River region well to the north of the Moose River Basin, and built on the pioneering regional aeromagnetic program of the Geological Survey of Canada. Ongoing and extensive regional till and alluvium heavy mineral sampling and high-resolution magnetic surveys through the late 1980’s eventually led to the discovery of numerous kimberlite pipes, including Victor.
The Ranoke property is near the southeastern margin of the Paleozoic Hudson Platform of Devonian marine strata. The property is within the Moose River Basin, a small, Cretaceous successor basin less than 50 kilometres across and located at the southeastern-most margin of the Paleozoic platform. Devonian and Cretaceous strata in the Moose River area were deposited on a gneissic crystalline basement of metamorphosed sedimentary assemblages and lesser volcano-plutonic complexes of the English River sub-Province, in what is believed to be the thickest part of the Archean Superior craton.
The Ranoke property occurs on the western margin of the Kapuskasing Structural Zone (KSZ), a crustal-scale shear zone which bisects the Superior craton in a complex, northeast-southwest trending zone of uplifted, high grade metamorphic rocks extending for more than 500 kilometres between Lake Superior and James Bay. There is believed to be more than 20 kilometres of vertical crustal displacement along the KSZ. It is clearly defined by positive gravity and magnetic domains on regional geophysical maps.
The KSZ has a long-lived history of repeated ultra-basic, alkaline and carbonatite intrusions and kimberlite facies diatremes which collectively span 1.6 billion years of earth history, to as young as 125 million years ago. Intrusions in and around Coral Rapids and along the western margin of the KSZ where Archean rocks are exposed in major river drainages such as the Abitibi have been explored since the early 1960’s, and many have been age-dated.
Selection Trust (later named Selco) began alluvial sampling in the KSZ region in 1962, and were joined by Esso Minerals in 1979. The first composite kimerlite – lamprophyry dyke was drilled in 1967, followed by drilling of the Valentine carbonatite complex in 1969. Between 1979 and 1983, the Selco – Esso partnership completed regional heavy mineral sampling of till and alluvium over an area exceeding 100,000 hectares, and an aeromagnetic program launched in 1980 led to the identification of numerous post-Paleozoic, pipe-like anomalies, of which 45 were drill-tested; most were ultra-basic and alkaline intrusions, non copper-bearing, and four were kimberlite-facies diatremes.
The Aquitane Company of Canada Ltd. completed airborne and ground geophysics between 1972 and 1974 to evaluate the hydro-carbon potential of Paleozoic strata, and twelve diamond drill holes to test for base metal, MVT mineralization. A kimberlite west of Coral Rapids and south of Ranoke was also detected, delineated and drill-tested during this work. In 1978, Kerr-Addison Mines complete a series of reverse circulation drill holes near Coral Rapids to test exposed basal sandstone at the eastern edge of the Hudson Platform for uranium. These targets were re-visited and re-tested in 2006, during the re-surgent uranium exploration sector.
Regional-scale exploration in the KSZ - Moose River Basin region waned after 1983. Various small-scale airborne magnetic surveys and ground-based EM surveys, and local alluvium sampling programs were completed at the property-scale between 1983 and 2006, with the focus mostly on previously known, ultra-basic and alkaline intrusions and diatremes exposed at surface in and around Coral rapids, but also on limestone for industrial mineral applications.
Lastly, one high resolution airborne magnetic survey was completed north of Ranoke in 2014. The survey targeted kimberlite anomalies over an area of approximately 1,600 square kilometres.
Sixty years after modern mineral exploration arrived in the region, VR is focused on a specific, unexplored and untested geophysical anomaly and integrated target for a post-Archean intrusion or hydrothermal pipe with copper and gold located in a lowland terrain with no outcrop and no roads, and in a geologic domain where the Archean Superior shield is covered by a thin veneer of Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks of the Hudson Platform and Moose River Basin respectively.