After North Arrow Minerals ($NAR:CA) (NHAWF) discovered diamond-bearing kimberlite in east-central Saskatchewan last year, at least six other diamond explorers have aggressively staked the surrounding area; a bid of confidence that NAR’s Pikoo discovery represents just the tip of the iceberg of diamond potential in the region.
Pikoo was North Arrow’s first big discovery since the company restructured and focused on diamonds in early 2013. The success was proof of the company’s concept: to assemble a team of highly experienced diamond explorers including Gren Thomas, Chris Jennings, and Ken Armstrong and take advantage of a downturn in the diamond exploration sector to pick up a portfolio of some of Canada’s most prospective projects and guide them through their next stages of exploration.
North Arrow made the discovery after striking a JV deal in April 2013 with Stornoway Diamond Corporation ($SWY:CA) , who identified two well-defined kimberlite indicator mineral (KIM) trains on the property in 2011 but was focused on progressing its world-class Renard project and unable to give Pikoo the attention it deserved.
In the summer of 2013, North Arrow drilled 2,000 meters, testing high priority targets located at the cut off of the two KIM trains, and successfully hit kimberlite in 9 of 10 holes. Three of the holes hit the PK-150 target, which is now confirmed to be a 10- to 15-metre-wide kimberlite that extends at least 75 metres along strike. A 210-kg sample of PK-150 returned 23 commercial-sized diamonds larger than 0.85mm, considered to be a threshold for commercial recovery, and a sample grade of 1.34 carats per tonne.
“The initial diamond results from PK-150 compare very favourably to diamond discoveries made elsewhere in Canada. The results are, in fact, better than the initial microdiamond results from the Point Lake pipe – which was the first kimberlite discovered in the Lac de Gras region,” points out North Arrow CEO Ken Armstrong in an exclusive interview with the Canadian Financial Press. “That’s not to say we will for sure find kimberlites with diamond grades comparable to the Ekati and Diavik mines, but it is certainly a very good start,” Armstrong continues.
Saskatchewan, while not traditionally recognized for its diamonds, was explored by industry giant De Beers in the 1980’s and hosts one of the largest diamond resources in the world at Fort a la Corne hosting a reserve of over 30 million carats, some 200 kilometers south west of the Pikoo discovery.
Fort a la Corne and Pikoo both sit on the Sask craton, which is an Archean craton, similar to the Slave province which hosts of the three of the worlds most important diamond mines including Dominion Diamond’s ($DDC:CA) Ekati; De Beers’ Snap Lake; and Rio Tinto (RIO) and Dominion’s Diavik, discovered by aforementioned Gren Thomas.
“The Slave craton is much larger and much better exposed (than the Sask craton). It has been well documented and defined by government mapping surveys. The Sask craton, on the other hand is smaller and largely buried beneath much younger sedimentary rocks of the Western Canada basin”, explains Armstrong. “In fact, the existence of the Sask craton is still a relatively new concept in geological circles. Very little of the Sask craton is exposed,” he continues.
The relatively under-explored nature of the Sask craton combined with North Arrow’s Pikoo discovery has led to somewhat of a staking rush as diamond exploration companies such as Alto Ventures ($ATV:CA), Canadian International Minerals ($CIN:CA), Strike Diamond ($SRK:CA), and GemOil (private) have staked over 1 million hectares of land surrounding all-sides of North Arrow’s 33,000 hectare property. “With each round of news, additional staking (has been) completed which might be as expected,” says Armstrong.
A greater indication of Pikoo’s potential will be known in 2015 as North Arrow kicks off a winter drill program set to start in Q1. According to Armstrong, the company’s primary objective of the program is to “delineate PK-150 and to discover new kimberlite bodies within the property.”
When asked how many kimberlites Pikoo could host, Armstrong replied “that is what we are trying to figure out, but there are definitely more kimberlites to be discovered.”
Pikoo is 80% owned and operated by North Arrow Minerals and 20% by Stornoway Diamond Corporation.
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