BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
On June 26, Laurentian Goldfields, which had acquired the Madsen, Starratt and Newman-Madsen properties, announced that along with its new board and management team, it would be changing its name.
Pure Gold Mining Inc. is a fresh new face, but the Vancouver-based company has “deep roots” in the area.
Several of the company’s directors, geologists, and geoscience experts have worked extensively in one capacity or another in the Red Lake gold camp over the years. During his 15 years in a number of positions with Placer Dome, Pure Gold’s President, CEO, and Director Darin Labrenz spent two years as a beat geologist at the former Placer Dome Campbell Mine. It was the early 90s – a “very interesting” time to be mining in the area. In fact, Labrenz says that period had a major impact on the modernization of the mining process itself, and on the ability to mine some of the deposits being developed today.
“In some ways it felt a little bit like a mining camp in decline…When I was there, you had the Campbell Mine in operation, the Dickenson Mine was operating but, of course, they entered into legal strike action and it was a really difficult time from that perspective. The strike was ongoing while I was there. It was tumultuous. But when we look back, in hindsight, and in the long term, it was a fantastic result for Red Lake,” Labrenz said in an interview last week.
“What happened was the mine shut down, the team that was left in place there no longer had the day to day pressures of feeding the mill. They were able to sit back and think about the geology. What that did is it gave them time to look over the data they had, come up with some new ideas about how mineralization at the mine was controlled.”
Goldcorp founder and former Chairman CEO Rob McEwen then launched the Goldcorp Challenge, which brought in over 1,400 geologists from over 50 countries to look at the data.
The result was the discovery of the High Grade Zone, says Labrenz, and the rest is history.
“In the end it was a transformation for Goldcorp,” he added. “They went on to be one of the larger mining companies worldwide. They acquired the Placer Dome Canadian assets, largely driven through that discovery in the Red Lake camp. It also brought in a lot of science. So we had the Geological Survey of Canada come in and re-map the area, we had MDRU (Mineral Deposit Research Unit) launch an alteration study looking at the different alteration types that you see around mineralization at the Red Lake Mine, and a lot of exploration dollars came into camp so it lead to new discoveries. We had the discovery of the Bruce Channel deposit under Cochenour. Rubicon discovered the Phoenix F2 deposit underneath the old McFinley Mine. So we look at Madsen and we think we have a real opportunity there to take some of this understanding that’s been gained over the past 15 years, apply it to what is the second largest past producer in the camp, and make a new discovery.”
It’s the new understanding of ultramafic and mafic rock, in particular, that’s most interesting, he says.
“…basically you’re looking at, without getting too technical, the way the rocks break or bend, and the difference in the chemical characteristics of those rocks. It results in gold being in place basically at the contact between the two different rock types,” he says.
Madsen’s 8 Zone, originally discovered in 1969 along 10 kilometres of ultramafic contact, is similar in style and host environment to the some of the area’s most promising deposits.
“We look at that as kind of the proof of concept that that potential lies down at the depth of the Madsen Mine and we’re looking to bring that back up towards the surface.”
The $18.6 million Pure Gold acquired in March 2014 financed the company’s recent acquisitions. The entire property is now a consolidation of the Madsen, Madsen-Newman, and Starratt properties totaling 50 kilometres squared.
Labrenz says, from a venture capital standpoint, the last few years have been quite difficult, but he says more and more investors are starting to zero in on characteristics they like to see in a venture project. The fact that Madsen is connected to roads and power in a safe and stable Canadian jurisdiction, as well as its location in one of the most prolific gold camps in the world, resonates well with investors.