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March 2011

Explore Minnesota: GOLD


Exploration companies are actively drilling

gold prospects on state-owned mineral leases in
Minnesota’s Superior Province granite-greenstone
The Archean Superior Province greenstone belts that host Overburden thickness and composition in Minnesota
many of Canada’s richest gold camps continue along strike range from thin layers of glacial drift in the northeast,
across the U.S. border and into the northern portion of to saprolite buried under more than 100 meters of gla-
Minnesota. The potential for gold production in Minne- cial deposits in the northcentral part of the State. The pos-
sota’s portions of the Wawa and Wabigoon Subprovinces is sibility of supergene enrichment within saprolitic zones
excellent, and the exploration models used for nearby gold adds to the list of viable ore deposit models, and ex-
deposits in Northwestern Ontario (e.g. Rainy River, Ham- pands the area of viable greenstone belt gold exploration.
mond Reef, Moss Lake/Shebandowan), should be considered.

Visible gold grain in a

Virginia Horn quartz-
feldspar porphyry drill
core that has 77.9 gpt/2.3
After MGS (2010) and OGS (2003) ft. (photo courtesy of
Vermillion Gold LLC)
History of Gold
Exploration in
The Archean greenstone belts of
Minnesota are considerably under-
explored, compared to green-stone
belts along strike in Ontario or Que-
bec. There was an active round of
gold exploration and drilling pro-
grams during the 1980’s that iden-
tified several gold prospects in six
distinct areas (see below). There has
Gold prospects and showings identified during historic exploration and drilling within the Vermilion
been very little gold exploration activ-
District (see location below). Gold mineralization is hosted within a wide range of geologic environments,
ity when measured in terms of num- including quartz-feldspar porphyries and late intrusives (pink) within the greenstone terrane. Modified
bers of drill holes since that time. from Peterson and Jirsa (1999) MGS Map M-98

Drill core from the Bigfork West Exploration Area. Gold-bearing iron
formation with 5.3 gpt/5 ft. (photo courtesy of Vermillion Gold LLC)

Active Gold Exploration

Vermillion Gold LLC is actively exploring multiple areas within
Minnesota’s Archean greenstone belts, and has done recent ex-
ploration drilling in the Virginia Horn and Bigfork West areas
(see map above). Two other exploration companies have active
leases, but they have not done exploration drilling at this time.

Land Available to Explore

The State of Minnesota is the
largest holder of mineral rights
within its borders, and offers
leases to companies wishing
to explore for gold in these ar-
eas. A number of private min-
eral rights holders offer leases
Active mineral leases (gold boxes) on State lands with areas on their large land holdings.
of active gold exploration. There are other active mineral There is still land available to
leases in the region (not shown) associated with taconite lease over Archean Superior
mining and the Duluth Complex. Province greenstone belts. It
is possible that an exploration
1. International Falls company could put together
2. Vermilion District a land package to search for a
3. Virginia Horn mining camp scale cluster of
4. Bigfork East gold mines along a trend simi-
5. Bigfork West lar to those in the gold mining
6. Linden Grove camps of Ontario or Quebec.
Drill Core and Exploration Data:
On-line or In Your Hands
Minnesota maintains an assessment file system that contains the historic data
from exploration on State-owned lands. This includes more than 2.3 mil-
lion feet of publically accessible drill core, stored in a modern Drill Core Li-
brary that offers you a first-hand look at core from thousands of drill holes.
In addition to this historic exploration data in the state continues to build
an information base of geophysics, geology maps, structural geology re-
ports and geochemistry. There is a statewide aeromagnetic layer. There are
many regional scale geology maps available, and a list of geochemical sur-
veys. There are glacial drift gold anomalies that have not yet been traced to
a bedrock source. Gold geochemical anomalies, bed-rock alteration zones,
and gold mineralization in bedrock have been identified in some locations.

Governance and Infrastructure:

100 Years of Support for Mining Spot gold concentrations (ppm) in drill core from a
Minnesota offers exploration companies a safe, conflict free work zone with- greenstone belt near International Falls, Minnesota.
New semiquantitative XRF analyses by MnDNR.
in a politically stable democracy. Its gold bearing greenstone belts are locat-
ed near the Canadian border, and within a part of the State that has a well This is an example of the drill core accessible to the
educated workforce and a 100-year tradition of large-scale iron mining. The public as part of the Drill Core Library’s collection of
public school system owns 2.5 million acres of mineral rights, from which it more than 2.3 million feet of archived materials. This
receives mineral royalties. The state has a policy that supports mineral diversi- specific section of core was submitted by an explora-
tion company that was focused on a different interval
fication. There is a moderate overall taxation policy in comparison to Ontario. of rock.
Minnesota’s mining taxes consist of an occupation tax, which is identical to
the corporate income tax paid by all nonmining corporations, a net proceeds
tax of 2% of net profits, and a $0.40 per acre annual tax on severed mineral
rights where present. The State of Minnesota has also demonstrated willing-
ness to support nonferrous mineral exploration and development by fund-
ing research in minerals technology through agencies and academic groups.
Data Sources: MGS (2010), OGS (2003), OGS MDI-2010
Data Sources: MGS (2010), OGS (2003), OGS MDI-2010

Base Map Data Sources

Jirsa M and Southwick D (2003) Mineral Potential and Geology of Minnesota. Minnesota Geological Survey, University of
Minnesota. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
Jirsa M, Boerboom T, Chandler V, Mossler J, and Runkel A (2010) Preliminary Bedrock Geologic Map of Minnesota. Minne-
sota Geological Survey Map Open-File Report OFR10_02. Scale 1:500,000.
Ontario Geological Survey (1993) Bedrock geology, seamless coverage of the Province of Ontario; Ontario Geological Survey,
Data Set 6. Scale 1:1,000,000.
Ontario Geological Survey (2010) Mineral Deposit Inventory—2010.
Peterson DM and Jirsa M (1999) Bedrock geologic map and mineral exploration data, Western Vermilion District, St. Louis
and Lake Counties, Northeastern Minnesota. Minnesota Geological Survey Miscellaneous Map Series Map M-141, Scale

Dennis Martin, Manager Harvey Thorleifson, Director Steven Hauck, Deputy Director
Mineral Potential Section Minnesota Geological Survey Economic Geology Group
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2642 University Ave W Natural Resources Research Institute
Division of Lands and Minerals St. Paul, MN 55144-1057 University of Minnesota, Duluth
500 Lafayette Road (612) 627-4780 (ext. 203) 5013 Miller Trunk Highway
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045 (612) 627-4778 (fax) Duluth, MN 55811-1442
(651) 259-5405 (218) 720-4273
(651) 296-5939 (fax)
Sponsored by Minnesota Minerals Coordinating Committee March 2011