Mining is the industry that drives the economy in the Snow Lake area … it has for over 100 years. All of the mines the industry is based on have been in the ground since the Earth was formed; however, it was only when technology allowed mine finders the ability to locate orebodies that they were able to exploit them. As technology continually advances, many of those occurrences mined or explored in decades past are now getting a second look.
This was the case with the Lalor Mine (Chisel Lake Basin) and the Snow Lake Mine (New Britannia and Nor-Acme), but it is also playing a part in the resurrection of exploration on several lithium properties on the east side of Wekusko Lake (Thompson Brother Cluster and the Sherritt Gordon Cluster), as well as the mine that originally brought pioneers to the area early in the 20th century – Herb Lake’s Rex/Laguna.
Back in the 1930s and ’40s, Herb Lake, Manitoba was a prosperous mining town. It hummed with activity and even though it couldn’t be accessed by anything other than boat and a winter road, it was home to between 600 and 700 people. Its tree-lined streets boasted three or four stores, a dairy, a butcher shop, a restaurant, a barber shop, post office, hotel and beer parlour, a blacksmith shop, a school and churches.
However, with the end of the Second World War and despite the prosperity and technological change that it fostered, the town’s Rex/Laguna mine wavered and waned before crashing completely. The town came to its own demise in the late 1950s. Her streets are mostly rabbit runs now and her carefully tended gardens are a tangle of caragana and poplar trees. This once proud and resourceful community is all but a memory, laid out in the dog-eared photographs owned by the few left who were once a part of her history.
Historical, intermittent gold mining at Herb Lake’s Rex-Laguna, between 1916 and 1939 produced over 60,000 ounces of gold grading 18.7 grams per tonne. Some 80 years after its downfall, another group of pioneers have taken up the mantle and optioned the property. In doing so, they have expanded the depth and range of exploration in hopes of finding the motherlode left behind.
On Jan. 9, Rockcliff Metals Corporation announced that diamond drilling on the property had intersected visible gold at the Laguna, and that within that process they had discovered additional quartz veins. “We look forward to the assay results from the first drill program completed on the property in over 70 years,” said Rockcliff's president and CEO Ken Lapierre. “The drill program not only identified depth extents of several historical gold bearing surface quartz veins − it also discovered new quartz veins with visible gold. Several holes were extended well beyond their original target depths as mineralized quartz veins and surrounding mineralized host rock were intersected at depths of over 500 metres. Exploration will continue in 2019.”
The company noted that the purpose of the drill program was to determine if known historical gold bearing quartz veins had depth potential and to discover additional mineralization. A total of six widely spaced holes totalling 2,552 metres were drilled across a strike length of 2,115 metres within the six-kilometre-long Laguna Gold Mine Trend. All holes intersected mineralized quartz veins and mineralized host rock. Several holes discovered new mineralized targets for future testing. Two of the six holes intersected very fine-grained flecks of visible gold within several mineralized quartz veins. They say that pending assay results in the coming weeks will be announced once all samples are verified.
Rockcliff itself is a Canadian resource exploration company focused on base metals, gold and royalties in the Snow Lake area of Manitoba. The company is the largest junior explorer in the Flin Flon-Snow Lake greenstone belt and its extensive portfolio of properties totals over 2,000 square kilometres. It includes eight of the highest-grade undeveloped base metal deposits and five lode-gold properties including the Rex-Laguna gold mine.
The company’s Laguna Gold Property hosts the Rex-Laguna gold mine, which was last drilled in 1944. That former producer was Manitoba's first and highest-grade gold mine. The Laguna Gold Property includes 28 contiguous mining claims totalling 3,501 hectares, covering a minimum of 6.0 kilometres of prospective strike length of the Laguna Gold Mine Trend.