Instead of a suit, I was wearing jeans, heavy boots, and a heavy work shirt. I was mosquito bit, foot-sore, and more tired than I’ve been in years.
There were many times I wanted to quit, but pushed on. I wanted to see how prospectors stake claims on ground they believe holds gold.
Not just a few traces of gold. Good ground that holds prime deposits of gold bearing rock. Ground that may turn into the next big discovery.
During a week in the Northern Ontario bush, I got to see a prospecting methodology that hasn’t changed in decades, but is now on the cusp of entering the modern age.
With a guide to help me along — I’m a Venture Strategist, not a prospector — I trekked around the area for days, tracing mining claims and talking to prospectors who have explored and staked one of the richest gold mining territories in the world.
For generations, they’ve been taking metals out of the hard rock of the area around Sudbury and Timmins. But many believe they haven’t taken it all, and there is still much economic material left to be found in the area.
Certainly at today’s high metals prices, it’s worth it for them to keep looking.
Our trip started in Sudbury where we rented a car, drove to the mining recorder’s office and got me a prospector’s license. We then headed north a few hundred kilometres to the Timmins/Sudbury area. I can’t specify exactly where we went, due to the nature of the work we were doing, but we were in Canada’s greenstone belt, where much of the mineral wealth of our country sits.
Every inch of ground up there has been staked many times over. Our main job was to trace old claim lines and make sure everyone’s boundaries are where they are supposed to be. Trekking through the dense forests was made easier with light humor and my guide’s amazing patience.
As a city boy, I needed that patience.
It rained on one of the days so we took a drive over to Gowganda, in the heart of Canada’s Boreal Forest, and the staging area for much mining activity, to check out some projects.
Companies like Golden Harp, Mineral Mountain, Tamex, Creso and ThreeGold are running exploration programs in the area. We visited camps, outcroppings, drill rigs and core shacks. My guide made sure I had as diverse an experience as possible.
In a few years staking claims will all be done online and this kind of business won’t really exist any more. So I was glad to witness an age-old system where the mining process begins with a hike in the woods.
I also was able to get a real sense for how difficult it is to take a large piece of ground, zero in on a particular piece of dirt to explore further, soil sample, trench it, do surveys, and eventually drill it out.
You start to get a feel for how incredibly difficult it is to get a mine up and running and how all these junior mining shares are really much further away than we all think from being producing mines.
After coming here, I feel more cautious as an investor but more passionate than ever.
To think that the bush we were standing in had 10 billion dollars worth of gold underneath it was an amazing feeling, despite the vagaries involved in the resource’s development.
You won’t see me leaving my day job for a life in the bush any time soon but I’m extremely appreciative for this experience.
Beyond learning about mineral exploration and prospecting, it was nice to see this part of Ontario. We covered a lot of ground — about 60kms on foot, but several hundred kms by truck, through logging roads, back roads and back country.
Also, the culture up here on the border between Quebec and Ontario is quite something, and we met a lot of interesting people.
New friends Ron and Sylvain stand out in particular. They live together in a trailer park and work at one of the mills near by. They were among two of the funniest characters I’ve ever met in my life. Every night with them was filled with roaring laughter.
Guy says at gathering where you from, other guy says Timmins, first guy says, Timmins — nothing but whoers and hockey players come from Timmins, 2nd guy says my wife is from Timmins too!. First guy says, oh yeah, what position she play?
I never thought I’d enjoyed camping so much and never thought I’d enjoy this sort of rugged experience as much as I did. More important, I know I’ll be a better investor in the mining sector as a result.
I’m home now, tired and sore, looking forward to getting back to work, before the busy fall season starts up again.
I will continue to blog my journeys and hope you’re all well.
Thanks for reading.
PS. I wrote this while sitting on a stump and uploaded it via satellite. A nice melding of modern and old-time methodology!