Imagine poking a straw into a cake and then testing what comes out to determine what the cake is made of.
That is how John Gardiner, CEO, explained Taranis’ current exploration and mining operation on Great Northern Mountain near Trout Lake.
Father-son team John and Thomas, as well as a few other employees, have been exploring and mapping the precious metal resource, called Thor, on their property since Taranis purchased it in 2006 from Thor Eaton (grandson of Timothy Eaton, founder of the department stores).
|Taranis recovered gold from their first batches of concentrate in May. Now they are expanding the exploration at the Broadview Mine and starting geophysical surveying northwest of the mine. (Submitted)|
“Our mandate with this project has pretty much just been to keep our nose to the grindstone and develop the resource to the best possible extent and then kind of transition it into a more production oriented phase,” Thomas said.
From the north end of the property, to the south end, there were five mining operations in the early 1900s until the 1970s. From north to south they are St. Elmo, Blue Bell, True Fisher, Great Northern and Broadview.
“One of the reasons we picked this project up was, back in the 1930s and prior to that, even before the second world war actually, they didn’t have diamond drills, so they couldn’t drill holes in this and figure out how big it was,” John said.
With the properties long history comes added responsibility for the Gardiners. Not only do they have to ensure that the mine shafts were blocked off so that the public can’t access them, they were also left with a big mess to clean up and no data from previous operations.
On site Thomas said they have found hundreds of tools that seem to have been abandoned as well as scrap metal from what used to me a hydro-metallurgical plant and stockpiles of un-processed rock sitting on the surface in various locations around the property.
In an attempt to clean the place up and further experiment with their process, next summer Taranis is planning on processing 10,000 tons of the stockpiled material.
“All of that factors in to the picture here and the overall plan of what we are trying to do, cleaning up some of this old disaster while also moving forward with a modern, standardized mine,” Thomas said.
|The drill on site at Taranis’ Thor deposit. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)|
10,000 ton project will see the rock crushed and pre-concentrated–the heavy particles, which are often more valuable, will be separated from the light and transported to a hydro-metallurgical plant for further processing.
Thomas estimated that of the 10,000 tons they will be removing around 3,300 tons from the site.
“That’s an important part of this project, you want to minimize the infrastructure you have on the hill because, in extreme terrain like this it is really hard to operate and then you don’t want to be using a floatational, which uses a lot of water,” John said.
Since purchasing the project, Taranis has drilled more than 250 holes, and processed thousands of core samples in an attempt to map the resource. The data entered can be modelled into two and 3-D maps of the area, outlining where the different metals can be found and how much of what can be found in each area.
So far they have found gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc, among others.
In fact, earlier this year Taranis recovered gold, from what they call “Sif”, an area on the property with high concentrations of the precious metal.
“One thing we found once smelted down this gold and poured it into this little bar is there are some metallurgical hurtles that we need to tackle,” Thomas said.
Though they are recovering precious metals, and have been working on the project for more than a decade, John said that each step at the moment is research and refining the process.
“To get a full blown mine where it’s going to be operating at like 1,000 tons per day that is probably a couple years off,” he said.
On top of drilling and mapping, Taranis monitors the water quality in the area and does reclamation, as required by the permits they work under from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
“As recently as ten years ago you didn’t have to do any of this stuff, but now you have to,” Gardiner said. “And it’s important because it ensures the environment isn’t really impacted by any mining activity.”
The Gardiner’s live in Trout Lake in the summer.
Once the snow hits they continue working on paperwork for the project in Estes Park, Colo., just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.