Jeff Green | Jun 21, 2007
Feature Article - March 8, 2007
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Frontenac Ventures Corporation outlines exploration plans
by Jeff Green
Frontenac Venture Corporation is a mining exploration company that was founded by George White, the retired Vice President of Westburne Industrial Enterprise Ltd.
White is not new to the Mississippi Station/Snow Road area. Thirty years ago he was involved in prospecting uranium in the same region, “until Three Mile Island hit and the price of uranium dropped to $8 a pound,” he said in an interview with The News last week. With the price now hovering at $135 US a pound, a lot of uranium finds around the world that were un-economic in the past have suddenly become lucrative.
Within the past year, Frontenac Ventures has staked mining claims on 30,000 acres in the area, which is roughly 5 km wide by 16 kilometres long. Most of the claim territory is bordered by Highway 509 to the east and north, and the Ardoch Road to the south. To the west the claim territory ends about 1 kilometre east of Crotch Lake.
The vast majority of the claims are in North Frontenac Township, but there are some in the Oso and Olden Districts of Central Frontenac.
Frontenac Venture Corporation has set up what they call their base camp at the Robertsville mine buildings on Highway 509. I met last week with the Project Manager Frank Mazewski, Greg Luster from the Queen’s University Geology Department, and George White and Dr. Sethu Raman, who both have 30 years history working on the “Frontenac Project”.
They are in the midst of a two-year exploration project, which will determine the concentration and the extent of uranium that is hidden under the rocky North Frontenac landscape.
Early this spring, airplane sweeps of the staked lands were done, conducting radio-metric, magnetometer, and electromagnetic surveys of the land. Technological advances in the past 30 years are enabling Frontenac Ventures to gather more complete and accurate information about the rock than they were able to when exploration was done in the past.
Not only have they been able to get accurate information about the surface locations with the highest radiation counts, the elecro-magentic surveys have given “detailed information about rock formations as deep as 200 metres below surface level” said geologist Greg Luster.
This summer and next, Frontenac Ventures plans to spend $2 million to determine “if indeed we have an economic resource here,” said Sethu Raman.
Most of the money will be spent drilling test holes. The holes will be diamond drilled, using a 9/8 inch bit. They will be 200 to 400 metres deep, and the core samples will be taken away and analysed.
“It costs $120 a metre, with all costs in, to drill these holes, so we need to be very careful where we drill,” said Sethu Raman.
According to Frontenac Ventures, there are no environmental impacts from the core drilling. No uranium is released in taking the samples, and the entire sample is taken away. The resulting hole is capped.
“Ninety-eight percent of what is being said by people who oppose what we are doing is completely false,” said George White in reference to information provided by groups such as Mining Watch Canada, a watchdog organization based in Ottawa.
There will be impacts on the surface of the ground from the drilling program. The land will have to be cleared to bare rock around the drill sites, and since the drill is pulled by a tractor-sized machine, some trail clearing will have to be done. According to Greg Luster, there are logging and snowmobiling trails all through the area, and they will be used extensively, minimising the amount of clearing that will need to be done.
So, far, some road widening has taken place on the old Robertsville mining road.
“If we end up with an economic claim, that will trigger a whole series of regulations, which will take years to work our way through. Uranium mining today is not what it was in the 1950s and 1960s,” said George White, “It can be done safely, and the tailings would be contained if a mine is ever built.”
What Frontenac Ventures wants to promote to the people of North Frontenac are the economic benefits of uranium exploration and mining. George White estimates a mine would employ between 500 and 600 people, and the spin-off effect would yield another 1000-1500 jobs. “A mine would also pay a whole lot of taxes to the township,” White said.
George White will be bringing this two-pronged message of environmental safety and economic benefits to a meeting of North Frontenac Council on June 28.
It promises to be a lively meeting, as Marilyn Crawford of the Bedford Mining Alert will be speaking to council as well, bringing a vastly different perspective on the impact of uranium mining on the surrounding community.
(Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the meeting with Frontenac Ventures staff at the Robertsville site, much has happened in terms of organised opposition to uranium exploration in North Frontenac. An event is planned at the Robertsville mine on June 28 and 29, organised by the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. George White has decided to give all of the students who are employed at the site some time off until sometime after the 29th.)