| Mar 05, 2009

Back to HomeLetters - March 5, 2009Letters: March 5

Frontenac Ventures drilling at Robertsville site, Sheila King

Frontenac Ventures drilling at Robertsville site

Mr. Alan Davidson, Ministry of Labour Inspector in his June 23, 2008 report, quoted the drilling contractor as saying, "drilling operations ceased on June 17, 2008 and the drilling equipment was transported off the site". Yet in the Feb. 12, 2009 article Diamond Driller Confirms Drilling at Frontenac Ventures Exploaration Site in the Frontenac News, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM), Christine Kaszycki, is quoted as stating, "We have confirmed with the exploration company that some drilling did take place in May". Who is correct here? What is MNDM trying to hide?

MNDM has seen fit to investigate themselves! I would be surprised if a drilling contractor would leave a very expensive and a high-demand piece of equipment idle at the Robertsville site for 2 1/2 weeks from the end of May until June 17. This time factor is obviously important as Ms. Kaszycki seems to want to stress that the drilling took place "prior to the negotiation of the agreement", signed on November 28, 2008 as mentioned in the article.

It is obvious after reading the MOU on the CCAMU website, that monitoring of drilling by a steering committee was a very important part of accommodation of Algonquin concerns. But, absolutely no monitoring was done by anyone on the diamond drilling that was done in May-June 2008, and Ontario has no plans to re-inspect the Robertsville site now that they have been made aware of the drilling.

I am also puzzled when George White, president of Frontenac Ventures Corporation (FVC), is quoted as saying "the samples weren't even assayed".  Back in March of 2007, their geologist, Greg Lester and Dr. Sethu Raman were interviewed by Jeff Green. They outlined their plan to spend approximately $120 per meter to drill test holes and "the core samples will be taken away and analyzed to determine if indeed we have an economic resource here". Why would FVC go to the expense of drilling 15 holes, 51-100 meters deep at a cost of over $100,000 and not assay the core samples?

Furthermore, Mr. White comments that drilling for core samples for uranium "was not much different from drilling for a well, which people do all the time". How many people when drilling for a well are trying to hit uranium hotspots, drill in an area of highly fractured bedrock, have to wear personal dosimeters and have to check for traces of Radon daughters? When drilling wells, contractors must meet stringent municipal and MOE regulations, which include submitting a record of depth, geological materials encountered, GPS co-ordinates, construction and owner details to MOE. A pressure test of nearby wells may also be ordered in some cases. Surprisingly, there are no such environmental requirements for diamond drilling of 15 deep holes by a mineral exploration company.

An MOE Water Well Sustainability report of 2006, states "abandoned wells present a significant risk of contamination of aquifers, since they provide a direct conduit from the surface to the aquifer". Apparently, the fifteen 51-100 meter deep holes drilled by FVC were capped, but not grouted with bentonite, a practise that is mandatory in Saskatchewan when drilling for uranium core samples.

As a minimum, to remedy their lack of oversight of FVC's uranium exploration and drilling operations, the province should inspect the drill holes and order FVC to grout all holes with bentonite to ensure that the Mississippi watershed, the source of potable water for hundreds of residents is properly protected.

Sheila King, North Frontenac

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