Constantine Metal Resources is increasing spending on exploration of the Palmer deposit this year.
Company president Garfield MacVeigh said the firm would spend $2.5 million during the four-month season, up $500,000 from last year. "We’re pleased with project development and we’re happy with how things are going."
Constantine showed up here in early May and drilling started in early June. Tasks this summer will include 7,500 meters of drilling in 20 holes, focused on expanding the known deposit. A crew of 25 – including eight Haines residents -- is working full-time at the site near 38 Mile Haines Highway.
Residents, including heli-ski guides, work in support positions ranging from whacking weeds and cutting up core samples to assisting drill crews working on steep slopes on safety issues. The local payroll is about $40,000 per month, MacVeigh said.
Drillers at the site are working around the clock, said Liz Cornejo, a geologist and corporate liaison for the exploration firm. The company hopes to continue test drilling into September, depending on what they find, weather and budgets, she said.
The workforce includes nine drillers, two geologists, three managers, two technicians and a helicopter pilot.
Drills on a hillside above Glacier Creek are boring between 700 and 2,000 feet into the mountainside there, furthering the company’s knowledge of a deposit containing copper, zinc, gold and silver.
In conjunction with drilling, crews are using electromagnetic equipment to identify base metals in the area of bore holes. The magnets can pick up conductive materials within 100 feet of the holes. Knowledge of geology of the area is important because not all magnetic substances detected by the equipment are of interest to mine explorers.
An electrified loop placed on the ground can similarly detect base metals as deep as 400 feet below the surface, MacVeigh said.
Five people work at the site at night. Others work 10 to 12 hours per day, Cornejo said.
The crew also has dedicated cooks and support crew at 33 Mile Roadhouse. "There’s basically 25 extra people for breakfast and dinner every day," Cornejo said.
Crews were looking forward to some time off the site this weekend, she said. "Canada Day is July first and half our crew is Canadian, so we’ll have an extra long weekend."
Workers are renting houses around 33 Mile and at Mosquito Lake.