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Matador Mining refocuses on exploration

Giles Dodds and Kirk Wells answered questions at the Matador Mining booth during the Port aux Basques Lifestyle Expo. – © Jaymie White / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

SOUTHWEST COAST — On Wednesday, May 10, the provincial government highlighted the positive impacts the mining industry has had on Newfoundland and Labrador. According to a release issued by the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET), in 2022 the industry saw over 9,000 person years of work, mineral shipments valued at $5.2 billion, and approximately $243 million was spent on exploration, signifying the largest exploration investment ever. Over 9,000 claims were already staked this year up to the end of April, which also signifies the growth of exploration and investment interest. Overall, IET is currently administering over 200,000 active mineral claims in this province. According to the Fraser Institute’s 2022 Annual Survey of Mining Companies, the province was ranked as the fourth most attractive jurisdiction in the world in terms of mining investment, behind Saskatchewan, Western Australia, and Nevada, which came in first. “Our vision is to see Newfoundland and Labrador become the best place in the world to explore for minerals, develop new projects, and build world-class safe and sustainable mining operations,” said Ed Moriarity, Executive Director of Mining NL. “This Mining Week, we applaud our Association Members who continue to realize the benefits of investing in Newfoundland and Labrador, a recognized top-tier global jurisdiction backed by over 150 years of geoscience discovery and mining activity.” One of the areas with significant potential is gold. Newfound Gold’s Queensway project has a 500,000 metre drill program and the Valentine project with Marathon Gold has an estimated four million ounces of gold as its resource potential, meaning it will be the largest gold mine across Atlantic Canada. In Dec. 2022, the provincial government announced they are currently developing a Critical Minerals Strategy, which will be released this year, and will aim to support further critical mineral development and the transition of Newfoundland and Labrador to a greener economy. In Canada there are 31 critical minerals to be found, and 23 occurrences can be found in Newfoundland and Labrador, which means that even globally the province offers tremendous potential. Lithium mining on the South coast has also shown strong potential, as evidenced by Sokoman Minerals and Benton Resources’ joint venture, the Golden Hope project, and nickel from this province will be supplying Tesla for production on their electric cars. A review is also taking place by IET of the Mineral Act and Mining Act to ensure that mineral resources obtained in Newfoundland and Labrador are done so in a sustainable and responsible manner while also remaining competitive and focusing on job growth and private-sector investment. “Newfoundland and Labrador works hard to be recognized as a jurisdiction for innovative, responsible, and value added mineral development,” said Andrew Parsons, IET Minister. “We know that by creating favourable conditions for mineral development within our province, we are creating favourable conditions to diversify the province’s economy.” On the Southwest coast, Matador Mining is continuing exploration on the Cape Ray Gold project, which covers approximately 120 km along the under-explored Cape Ray Shear, and to date the project has a current resource of 837,000 oz at 2 grams per tonne of gold. During the Lifestyle Expo, Crispin Pike, VP Discovery with Matador Mining, lead a presentation discussing the Cape Ray Gold project and future exploration plans. “What Matador wants to do and what our plan is to do is not to go and see if we have a resource in and around the existing resource, because I don’t think that is going to change what we have significantly, so our plan is to look for a new stake,” said Pike. The goal is for Matador to replicate what Marathon Gold is currently doing on their project, and that is to find a multi-million-ounce gold deposit. “That’s something we can build the project onto and produce gold for a long period of time,” said Pike. “There has been some community engagement with Port aux Basques, Isle aux Morts, and other stakeholders around building the project. There has been a significant amount of gold that we have as a return and previous ideas from Matador was to push that project forward into development; however, that is no longer our mandate now. It would be a short lifeline of our current resource and that’s not why we wanted to come in as well. I’m sure you guys wouldn’t want to be involved in a short project, so what our goal is now is to step back a little bit and go fully into the exploration of it.” The exploration could take some time because of the sheer size of the land Matador has in their purview. “We’ve got a big area to look at and we are just chipping away at it systematically,” said Giles Dodds, Senior Geologist with Matador Mining, during the Lifestyle Expo in Port aux Basques. “It’s going to take multiple years. It’s a patient process. It’s difficult to adequately explore that much land. Just imagine walking that distance and covering everything. It takes time.” Although Matador is moving away from its exploration of Window Glass Hill near Isle aux Morts, the company has no intention of leaving the Southwest coast region. “It’s a general worry, but there should be no worry. The gold is there. It’s not going anywhere, but we want to find more. We’re still here. We’ve had all this land since coming here in 2018. Did a lot of the work in that area. We are comfortable with where that work’s at. We’re not done, but we can’t just focus there. We have to look at everything else,” said Dodds. “We still have our warehouse in Port aux Basques. We are still working up in the hills. We still come back every year. It’s just that we move around in different spots, but Port aux Basques will always be our central workforce.” Even if the workers aren’t as necessarily visible, Dodds said it doesn’t mean they aren’t still here. “There’s no panic. We’re not going anywhere. We are doing the same amount of work that we did (in the Window Glass Hill area). We’re just moving elsewhere. We haven’t left. You just can’t see us because we are getting dropped off by helicopters since there are no roads.” Being dropped in by helicopter does increase the difficulty to explore, but constructing a road isn’t something that will be done in the near future. “From a company perspective, we don’t want to make unnecessary environmental impacts without reason. You don’t just put a road anywhere. You need the resource there to put a road to it. If we find more, we will put another road because it’s beneficial to the project. But to do that, there needs to be environmental applications, monitoring, everything. It’s a multi-tiered process,” said Dodds. Matador has been exploring the Southwest coast for years, but this type of project has been going on much longer. “As the company, we’ve been working (in the Cape Ray/Isle aux Morts area) since 2018, but as a project, people have been working there since the late 70’s,” said Dodds. “Everyone wants you to find it yesterday, but it takes time. The way we and our shareholders, who obviously give us the money to be able to do it, look at it is that these things take time, but we believe in the project. We believe in Newfoundland.”

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