TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2012) - MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:BMK) ("MacDonald" or the "Company") provides an exploration update in the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region of the James Bay Lowlands.

Ring of Fire Area

MacDonald began exploring in the Ring of Fire starting in 2003, shortly after the first volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) discovery at McFaulds Lake by Spider Resources and KWG Resources. The McFaulds VMS discovery is characterized by very high-grade intersections of VMS mineralization (McF-04-57 intersected 18.8 meters of 8.02% Copper (Cu), Mc-03-18 averaged 4.83% Zinc (Zn) over 25.75 meters) and at 250 meter-plus depths.


In addition to the McFaulds VMS discovery, the Ring of Fire has two additional discoveries, the Noront Resources' Eagle 1 nickel (Ni) and platinum group elements (PGE) discovery in August 2007, with a National Instrument (NI) 43-101 indicated resource of 6.9 million tonnes (Mt) averaging 2.04% Ni, 0.95% Cu, 1.30 g/t platinum (Pt) and 3.40 g/t palladium (Pd) and an inferred resource of 4.3 Mt averaging 1.42% Ni, 0.87% Cu, 0.80 g/t Pt and 3.40 g/t Pd. This was followed in 2009 by Freewest Resources' Black Thor chromite discovery, containing an NI 43-101 inferred resource of 69.6 Mt @ 31.9% Cr2O3.

These discoveries have confirmed that the Ring of Fire region of the James Bay Lowlands is mineral-rich in copper, zinc, nickel, PGEs, vanadium, gold and chrome and this environment provides the potential opportunity for future discoveries.

Billion Dollar Investment Planned for James Bay Region

Exploration impetus in the western James Bay area took a dramatic upturn in 2010 when Cliffs Natural Resources purchased Freewest's and Spider's interest in a world-class chrome deposit for $248 million and signaled a billion dollar plus investment in James Bay. This was validated further by the Ontario Provincial Government, which publically identified the mining potential of James Bay as "World Class" and highlighted the mining opportunities as key for Ontario. Cliffs Natural Resources recently announced its 2012 capital expenditure projection for the chrome project to be $2.25 billion.

MacDonald is the second largest landholder in the Ring of Fire and has a proven track record of environmentally and socially responsible exploration practices. The Company's established rapport with First Nation Communities in this region culminated in the signing of exploration agreements with the Kasabonika Lake, Webequie and Summer Beaver First Nations.

Exploration Overview - Butler Project - Geophysics, Diamond Drill Holes & Chemical Analysis

Exploration in the James Bay Lowlands is challenging due to the area being almost entirely a wetland. As a result, there is minimal outcrop, helicopter support is required and exploration time lines are longer. Over $18 million dollars has been spent to date on the Butler property and we have discovered six zones of multi-element mineralization with copper-zinc VMS systems, vandiferous titano-magnetite and magmatic nickel sulphide. This was accomplished through comprehensive exploration programs including geophysics, diamond drill holes and geochemistry.

Map 1. Magnetic map (TF) of the Butler Property showing the location of identified multi-element, mineralized zones. Click here to see the image.


The lack of outcrop requires that a significant amount of attention and detail has to be paid to the geophysical techniques used in the area. Historically the programs focused on shallow targets; however down-hole surveys, ground magnetic and gravity surveys have indicated that the potential deposit(s) of interest lies deeper in the structural sequence.

A comprehensive suite of geophysical tools has been applied at Butler.

  • Airborne EM, Magnetics & Gravity
    • 2004 VTEM - 2138.9 line kilometers of data were collected
    • 2008 VTEM - 1325.6 line kilometers of data were collected
    • 2010 AeroTEM IV - 261 line kilometers of data were collected
    • 2011 HeliGeoTEM - 261 line kilometers of data were collected
    • OGS/GSC Airborne Gravity Gradiometer
  • Surface EM
    • Butler 1 - 13 line kilometers of data were collected
    • Butler 3 - 39.3 line kilometers of data were collected
    • Butler 5 - 12.5 line kilometers of data were collected
    • Butler 3, 5, 6, and 7 - 30.17 line kilometers of data were collected
  • Surface Magnetics
    • 7 Ground Magnetic surveys completed in 2011 covering 81.1 line kilometers
  • Down hole EM
    • 64 diamond drill holes probed and modeled

The Company is currently enhancing the geophysical model to include the geochemistry data results. Collectively, all of the above geophysical results have consistently shown that an electrically conductive unit with magnetic properties and high density lies below those prospective zones. These are the characteristics expected from a sulphide rich zone.

Map 2. Magnetic map (TF) of the Butler 3 area showing the location of the EM target and magnetic susceptibility anomaly. Click here to see the image.

Diamond Drill Holes

  • To-date, 157 holes have been drilled on the Butler Property totaling 28,862 meters. The core from these drill holes was subsequently logged and samples were submitted to certified laboratories for assay and geochemical analysis in accordance with QC/QP protocols.

  • In 2011, drill core was re-logged under the direction of our consultants to identify and minimize the lithogogies (geology). This was critical to develop a sound lithological model.

Chemical Sampling

  • Developed a geochemical method of identifying lithologies and alteration zones with assistance from consulting geologists Dr. James Franklin & Dr. Larry Hulbert

  • This geochemical method resulted in re-logging the core from 130 holes.

  • Completed 618 samples for whole rock analysis

  • 6,015 assays were analyzed and reported using the following geochemical packages: Ultratrace 4 - Total Digestion - ICP/MS, 1F2 - Total Digestion - ICP, 1C-Exp Fire Assay - ICP/MS(i)

  • This information is currently being used to plan the 2012 drill campaign by providing insight into the lithological setting

Butler 3 Exhibits Characteristics of a VMS Deposit

The targets drilled to date have intersected stringer mineralization and it is interpreted that a potential massive sulphide body exists down-plunge and stratigraphically overlying this stringer zone. Given the size of observed alteration zone a larger body may be located below.

Dr. James Franklin PhD, FRSC, P.Geo

Dr. Franklin stated, "The volume of alteration is exceptional, indicating that a very large volume of hydrothermal fluid discharged in this region. There is good potential for a world-class VMS deposit here, possibly on the extension of the core of the Zn-Cu rich zone as mapped thus far."

Our knowledge about Butler 3 can be summarized as follows:

  • The Company believes its greatest chance of success lies stratigraphically above the copper rich stinger/stock work material intersected in this area
  • Historical Exploration has concentrated on shallow conductive anomalies - the prize is deeper
  • There is a substantial alteration sequence associated with Butler 3. The size of the alteration system is typically directly related to the size of the massive sulfide part of the deposit
  • Geophysical Investigations were "clouded" due to extensive stringer materials. EM techniques could not penetrate the shallow mineralized horizons - we did not see deep enough
  • Butler 3 exhibits the characteristics of a VMS deposit - the tenor of the stringer sulphides intersected to date are greater than 3% Cu

Butler 3 Conclusions

  • The volume of alteration is exceptional, indicating that a very large volume of hydrothermal fluid discharged in this region.

  • The presence of an overturned massive sulfide zone has been postulated to be located stratigraphically below stringer mineralization located at the Butler 3 zone.

  • Butler 3 is contained in an overturned felsic-dominated sequence.

  • Nearly all of the holes have been drilled from footwall to hangingwall, and contain extensive alteration. The alteration zone is Cu-enriched, and the Cu content increases stratigraphically upwards (but structurally downwards) towards the mineralized horizon. Cu tenor is high (greater than 3%).

  • The footwall alteration assemblage is capped by a massive, black, aphanitic, predominantly felsic unit, about 25 meter in true thickness that is unaltered, and is a key marker horizon and can be used to determine the structure of the area.

  • The best potential occurs on the down-plunge extension of the line of intersection between the geophysical anomaly with a coincident conductive plate, magnetic susceptibility anomaly and density anomaly.

  • The stringer zone is capped by a key marker horizon comprised of a siliceous relatively impermeable, black felsic unit that possibly formed an aquatard for the discharging system. This marker horizon is a massive fine-grained predominantly unaltered felsic unit about 25 meters in thickness.

  • Immediately overlying the marker horizon, massive sulfides have been discovered at Butler 3, and it's the down-dip extension of these that may contain the larger massive sulfide zone. A similar unit has been noted at Butler 4.

Butler 4 Zone - High Potential for Mineralization

The Butler 4 zone is south of the Butler 3 zone and has similar potential and lithologic characteristics as compared to the aforementioned area. The same capping fine-grained black felsic unit is present, and the presence of stringer mineralization and geophysical conductors make this an important additional target. Given the volume of alteration and its similarity to Butler 3, it was decided that additional drilling on the Butler 4 zone would only proceed after we have realized the full benefit from the work and analysis on Butler 3. Of additional interest, this zone has higher gold values than intersected to date at Butler 3 zone. MN06-27 intersected 8.83 Au g/t over 2.02 meters.

Butler 4 Conclusions

  • Large alteration sequence is of a similar type to Butler 3
  • The same "cap" consisting of the easily identifiable black felsic unit

Nickel Exploration at Butler

The Company now believes that based on the following information the potential for a Ni and/or Cr discovery has gone up exponentially with the discovery that the magnetite rich gabbros overlay ultramafic materials. Given that the two economic discoveries to date in the Ring of Fire are associated with ultramafics - we believe this is a good place to look.

The Company also realized other discoveries from the last drill program: Dr. Hulbert states, "hole V5 suggests a northwest facing direction at this locality. Hole V5 should be considered as the Butler "type area" mafic-ultramafic differentiated intrusion. The cumulate succession is gabbronorite; olivine gabbronorite; troctolite; troctolite-magnetite; magnetite; peridotite (Fe-rich). Continuation of this hole which was terminated in peridotite could lead to chrome-rich oxides (chromitites) since spinel (oxides) was on the liquidus for most of the crystallization history of this hole and the peridotite is very iron and chrome-rich." Dr. Hulbert's interpretation of the facing direction (geologic sequence) is critical in targeting Ni (EM anomalies), vanadium, iron and chromite.

The Company is conducting a detailed interpretation of the available public data over the known economic discoveries in the Ring a Fire. These "type" models will be used to identify favorable targets for further exploration efforts.

Vanadium Mineralization in Butler 6 Zone

Significant values of vanadiferous titano-magnetite units are found within the layered mafic-ultramafic sequences of the Butler properties. All drill holes targeted for vanadium from the past exploration program were found to be mineralized, with assay values to 1.24% V2O5, and composited intervals ranging from 0.57% to 1.24% V2O5. Widths of the composited down-hole data ranged from 1.5 to 21 meters.

Many of the magmatic vanadium deposits found elsewhere in the world are in this form and they are a part of mafic-layered sequences. Vanadium and chrome are key elements in strengthening and hardening steel for the purposes of manufacturing. Like nickel and chromium, vanadium is viewed as a strategic element in the steel industry.

Winter 2012 Exploration Program to Focus on Butler

MacDonald's upcoming drill program will focus on the Butler property.

  1. Prior to drilling, the targets will first be refined using a deep penetrating geophysical method, similar to that used to detect the HudBay - Lalor deposit at Snow Lake, Manitoba
  2. Drill the down plunge extensions (stratigraphically deeper) of the most copper rich zone at Butler 3. Re-evaluate the data from Butler 4. Although hole BP11-Cu04 intersected significant alteration, the combination of base and precious metals in these holes indicate that this hole may be on the periphery of a large system
  3. Lengthen hole BP11-Cu04 to pierce the black felsic unit (marker horizon) in which it ended. There may be more sulfides beyond it, if the relationships of this unit to sulfides are the same as at Butler 3.

About MacDonald Mines Technical Advisors

Larry Hulbert, Ph.D, D.Sc., P. Geo. was retained by the Company in January 2011 to review the magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE potential of the Company's properties and further the geologic understanding of the mafic and ultramafic geology, particularly regarding the potential of the properties to host Ni-Cu-PGE deposits.

Dr. Hulbert has over 38 years of extensive geological knowledge and expertise on Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization, with 23 years as Senior Research Scientist specializing in the Metallogeny of Mafic-Ultramafic Rocks and associated Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC).

James Franklin, PhD, FRSC, P.Geo. was also retained by the Company in January 2011 to review the volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) potential of the Company's properties.

Dr. Franklin has over 40 years of extensive geological knowledge and expertise of mineral deposits and regional metallogney. He serves as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, was past President of both the Geological Association of Canada and the Society of Economic Geologists, has served as Chief Geoscientist of Earth Sciences Sector for the GSC, and is an Adjunct Professor at Queen's, Laurentian and Ottawa universities.

Hadyn Butler - B. Sc., P.Geo was retained by the Company in 2003 as a consultant on the Project based on his extensive knowledge of the spatial associations of producing nickel and gold mines, and nickel sulphide and VMS mineralization in Northern Ontario.

Mr. Butler graduated with a degree in geology in 1974 (Bachelor of Science, with First Class Honours and University Medal) at the University of New England, Armidale and New South Wales, Australia. He has 30 years consulting experience with INCO and has enjoyed substantial success in mineral exploration. He has over 40 years of geological experience. He has been a Director of MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd. since August 14, 2003, has been a consultant for Red Pine Exploration since May 2004.

Qualified Person

Quentin Yarie, P.Geo., is the qualified person in regard to the technical data contained within this news release and will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Company's exploration programs.

About MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

MacDonald Mines is a mineral exploration company with an established exploration history in the Canadian Northlands. MacDonald Mines has set upon a strategic direction of exploration with particular focus on nickel, chrome, copper, zinc, vanadium and titanium in the "Ring of Fire" area of the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.

More detailed information about the Company is available on the website:

Cautionary Statement: We seek safe harbour.

Contact Information:

MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.
Brent Nykoliation
Vice President of Business Development
(416) 364-4986
(416) 364-2753 (FAX)

MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.
Kirk McKinnon
President & CEO
(416) 364-4986
(416) 364-2753 (FAX)