Exploration

Strategy

NAP is committed to increasing the value of its Lac des Iles (LDI) Mine and Mill complex through exploration success. The Company maintains a three-tiered exploration strategy that encompasses:

  • Mineral Reserves replacement on the LDI Mine Property through extension and conversion drilling adjacent to the principal Mineral Reserves and mining areas
  • Mineral Resource additions (both underground and at surface) on other parts of the LDI Mine Property through exploration drilling, supported by geophysical and geochemical surveys
  • Delineation of new Mineral Resources on other LDI suite intrusions in the immediate vicinity of the mill

Lac des iles mine property

Exploration is central to the LDI operation. Based on structurally-controlled sub-vertical orientation, unusually large thickness and atypical, selective enrichment in palladium relative to platinum, the LDI PGE deposits are truly one-of-a-kind. In recent years, the Mine Exploration team has significantly added to the Mineral Resource inventory (see tabulation of Mineral Reserves and Mineral Resources under the Operations section of this website) on the LDI Mine Property (“the Property”). Recent highlights include:

  • Extension of the Offset Zone deposit to depth and along strike in support of the new, lower-cost sub-level shrinkage mining method
  • The delineation of a new style of palladium mineralization in a breccia pipe referred to as the B2 Zone, from which initial production is scheduled to occur in the second half of 2017
  • The delineation of higher-grade (i.e., higher grade than most of the known near surface mineralization) palladium mineralization in the Sheriff North-Powerline zone, with initial production from the new Sheriff pit expected to occur in Q1 2018
  • The intersection of Offset Zone-style palladium mineralization on the south side of the recently defined Camp Lake fault, representing an exciting new exploration target along the same north-south striking feeder structure that is believed to have controlled the emplacement of most of the highest-grade palladium mineralization identified on the Property

The LDI PGE-Cu-Ni deposits are classified as belonging to the family of magmatic sulfide deposits. These deposits include the classic reef-type, PGE-rich, disseminated sulfide deposits in both the Bushveld Complex (South Africa) and the Stillwater Complex (Montana) and massive, nickel- and copper-rich deposits such as those being mined in the Sudbury (Ontario) and Noril’sk (Siberia, Russia) mining districts. The LDI deposits are clearly distinguished from most other PGE-rich magmatic sulfide deposits by their sub-vertical orientation, much greater thickness and significant enrichment in palladium over platinum with Pd:Pt ratios typically exceeding 10:1.

The recent, increased focus on three-dimensional geological and structural modeling has led to a major refinement to the LDI deposit model. The majority of the known mineral resources at LDI are believed to have formed along a major, north-south trending regional feeder fault system. Intersections between regional feeder structures and local cross-cutting faults provided the pathways for sulfide-bearing noritic magmas into the Mine Block intrusion – host to all of the known Mineral Resources on the Property. These noritic magmas have strong geochemical similarities to the parental magmas that fed the Critical Zone of the Bushveld Complex – host to the Merensky and UG2 reefs and the Platreef deposit. Structures associated with the Mine Block intrusion also provided trap sites for palladium, platinum, gold and copper- and nickel-bearing sulfide minerals. The action of high-temperature magmatic fluids along the feeder structures during the latter stages of magmatic activity appears to have increased the concentration of palladium, particularly within intensely altered hangingwall side of the Roby and Offset zone deposits.

Despite over 50 years of base metal and PGE exploration on the Property, recent geological insights into the primary processes responsible for the observed palladium enrichment have identified a number of new exploration targets. Recent and future exploration success on the Property will be supported by:

  • Greatly improved 3D geological and structural models
  • Applying innovative geophysical and geochemical exploration methods
  • Optimizing the value of the historical knowledge base

As an established PGE producer with a clearly defined strategy for growth, NAP is well positioned to convert exploration success into production and cash flow on an accelerated timeline.

palladium-mineralization-zones

Surface projection of the principal zones of palladium mineralization on the Mine block intrusion, Lac des Iles intrusive complex. Surface geology highlights the adherence of palladium mineralization with late pulses of intrusive breccia and vari-textured gabbro, particularly along fault contacts with older, unmineralized units such as equigranular gabbro.

Longitudinal-projection

Longitudinal projection of the Offset and Roby zones, looking west. Developed and planned stopes in the Offset Zone are shown in green. Ramp development has recently reached a depth of 1,000 metres below surface. A majority of current production is being sourced from the Central Offset Domain between the 765 metre and 925 metre levels. Exploration is focused below the 1065 level, at the top of the Upper Offset Zone (southeast extension) and south of the Camp Lake fault.

Greenfields Exploration

NAP’s northwestern Ontario PGE greenfields properties comprise over 43,000 hectares of land covering several discrete mafic to ultramafic intrusive bodies, all believed to be related to the same magmatic event that formed the LDI deposits some 2.68 billion years ago. All of the greenfields properties are registered or under option to Lac des Iles Mines Ltd. (LDIM) and occur within 50 km of the LDI mill. Discovery of new PGE resources stemming from a sustained investment into PGE greenfields exploration remains a strategic priority for the Company. NAP’s unique status as the only primary PGE producer in Canada provides a major competitive advantage in terms of maintaining exploration activity on its 100%-owned PGE greenfields projects over multi-year timeframes. Many of the greenfields properties are already known to host near-surface occurrences of palladium mineralization having strong similarities to the main mineralized zones at LDI. NAP’s advanced understanding of the controls on PGE mineralization at LDI can now be translated into value-creative discoveries of palladium-rich magmatic sulfide deposits on its attractive greenfields property portfolio.

Green Field Exploration location

Location of the Company’s greenfields exploration properties (black outline polygons) with respect to the Lac des Iles Mine Property (“LDI”). The background image is a colour gradient total magnetic intensity map based principally on government airborne magnetic survey data. The grid coordinates reflect the NAD 83 datum and the UTM Zone 16N projection.

The company remains committed to sustained investment into greenfields exploration, predicated on the first application of the updated LDI exploration deposit model to the other, known LDI-type intrusions. Future exploration success will require the utilization of both tried and proven exploration methods and innovative new search techniques. With valid exploration permits, existing PGE mining infrastructure, a modern and large capacity PGE and Cu-Ni sulfide processing facility, and an unrivalled knowledge of the regional geology and mineral potential, NAP is ideally positioned to make transformative PGE-rich magmatic sulfide discoveries in this part of northwestern Ontario.

Shebandowan Joint Venture Property

LDIM retains a 50% interest in the Shebandowan nickel-copper-PGE property with its partner, Vale Canada Ltd. The Shebandowan Mine was in semi-continuous production between 1972 and 1998 and shipped nickel concentrate to Inco Ltd. smelters in Thompson & Sudbury. The property is located 90 km west of Thunder Bay and includes the past producing Shebandowan nickel mine and the Shebandowan West nickel deposit.

Emerald Lake Property

LDIM holds a 100% interest in the Emerald Lake copper-PGE exploration property, located ~50 km east of Sudbury, Ontario. The Emerald Lake Property was staked in late 2014 and consists of 3 mineral claims comprising 496 hectares. These mineral claims are located near the historic Rathbun Lake PGE-Cu-Ni occurrence; semi-massive Cu- and PGE-rich sulfide mineralization within one of many Paleoproterozoic Nipigon mafic intrusions occurring in the region. The Nipigon intrusions are known to host magmatic Cu-Ni-PGE mineralization including one intrusion, located to the west of Sudbury that hosts the currently inactive Shakespeare Cu-Ni-PGE Mine.