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A Brief Description of Major Gold Deposits of Saskatchewan

The people of Saskatchewan not directly concerned with mining are scarcely aware of the mineral potential of the province. We are the prime source of Potash and Uranium in the world. We also have and have had "world class" gold mines in our province. The recognition that Saskatchewan geology provides the framework and vast potential for truly world class mines has been slow in coming. Gold, that most elusive of noble metals, is abundant in our Precambrian shield areas. The surface has barely been scratched, the potential has barely been touched at this point.

Some excellent reference books are available to those who would wish to delve further. The best and most accessible "Gold in Saskatchewan" (Open File Report 84-1) is available from the Department of Mineral Resources' Core Lab in La Ronge or the main office in Regina.

Beginnings are vague, with word from trappers preceding the initial discovery of placer gold in the North Saskatchewan River (1859). Rumours of one ounce nuggets and larger were prevalent during the building of the North Battleford bridge. Fine, flour gold can still be recovered by panning gravels along the North Saskatchewan River from Prince Albert to west of Edmonton. It is not uncommon to see businessmen with rolled-up pant legs panning gold over their lunch hours and weekends in Edmonton. No interested person visiting La Ronge and spending the time in the sun outside of Robertson's trading post with the locals can fail to hear stories of "where Grampa fell down the cliff or into the gold-laced stream but couldn't remember just where.....but there sure was a lot of it just sitting there on the surface". Historically, this may not be far from the truth. The first discovery of free gold in the province was reported to be "from outcrops of quartz along the north shore of Pine Channel, Lake Athabasca in 1910". The report also notes that free gold in quartz veins was found on the north shore of Amisk Lake in the eastern part of the province shortly afterwards.

The Churchill subprovince (with the possible exception of the Rottenstone Domain) has been explored (in many cases cursorily) and revealed the presence of gold. The Beaverlodge and Pine Channel areas along Lake Athabasca have been mined while the Glennie and Kisseynew domains are potential economically viable mining areas. The La Ronge belt supported several major gold producers despite only sporadic exploration by small, aggressive companies and somewhat skeptical majors. The Box Mine (1930-1942: more than 64,000 ounces of gold), the Prince Albert Mine (1937-1942: more than 4800 ounces of gold) and the more recent Jolu, Star Lake and Jasper Mines were major producers. At present, the largest gold producer in Saskatchewan history: Claude Resources' SeaBee Mine is still operating and producing excellent gold grades and tonnages. The company is presently concentrating on the Amisk Lake area with an eye to opening yet another mine. To date, Claude has produced over 200,000 oz of gold with 1- 21 million tonnes of 9-10 gram/ton gold reserves. Amisk Lake has previously published reserves of 470,000 tons of 0.33 ounces/ton gold with drilling underway at present. Golden Rule Resources is well into the early phases of mining the Waddy Lake deposit while Cameco and Uranertz continue exploration and drilling within the La Ronge Domain around the (presently producing) Contact Lake Mine. They produced in excess of 45,000 oz gold in 1995 alone.

We are fortunate that "our" rocks have trapped and crystallized a vast amount of gold. Gold sightings over the years can be traced from those first reports by canoeists in the early 1900s spotting visible gold in quartz veins in Western Craton outcrops on Pine Channel (north shore of Lake Athabasca). This predated visible gold discovered at Amisk Lake (The Prince Albert Deposit) in 1914. Exploration/ prospecting during and immediately after the first world war resulted in further discoveries related to the original Pine Channel and Amisk Lake showings. In the early 1930's the north shore of Lake Athabasca saw renewed exploration initiated by the discovery of yet more gold. The Box Mine resulted.

The La Ronge Gold Belt early discoveries were the result of increasing interest in Saskatchewan gold. Much credit is due to the early mapping and scientific work done by Geological Survey of Canada geologists and J.B. Mawdsley and his compatriots from the University of Saskatchewan. They provided the geological framework and specific recommendations for gold prospectors to exploit. For example, the La Ronge Gold Belt exploration is arguably a direct result of Mawdsley's early work. The Star Lake, Jolu, Jasper and Contact Lake Mines were the ultimate results of his interest and competence.

It may be that a canoeist, taking a tea-break, spots the next major gold occurrence in Saskatchewan. I urge you therefore to be aware of the history and rocks of the province with further reading recommended.

Geological History | Geological Domains | Churchill River Study | Geological Definitions | Gold in the Rocks | Reading list
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Modified on 19 Mar 96