Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Cochrane Hill drilling results ‘encouraging,’ mining company says

  • March 6 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

COCHRANE HILL — The Australian-based mining giant that’s been searching for gold in the Cochrane Hill area of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s says it has found “highly encouraging” signs after drilling its “first deep hole” in the area.

In a statement to The Journal last week, Sarah Simpson of National Public Relations, a communications consultant for Australia-based St Barbara’s Atlantic operations in Halifax, said: “St Barbara is encouraged by the results of current exploration drilling at Cochrane Hill and we remain committed to developing the project.”

That followed a press release to investors on Feb. 27, in which St Barbara Managing Director and CEO Andrew Strelein stated: “To hit multiple visible gold occurrences in the first deep hole at Cochrane Hill is highly encouraging. The program is designed to test for potential down dip extensions to the known mineralization and we look forward to seeing the core from the remaining two holes and the assays to follow.”

The so-called Cochrane Hill Deeps exploration program is the latest addition to St Barbara’s plan, since 2018, to develop a working, open-pit gold mine over the next five years, just north of Sherbrooke.

Last August, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Renewables delivered a setback by declaring nearby Archibald Lake – once assumed a ready source of water for thirsty mining operations – off limits. At that time, Strelein told The Journal that the company remained “committed to the gold project at Cochrane Hill,” but he also urged the province to “reflect on the impact these decisions have on the future prosperity of rural communities in Nova Scotia,” adding: “The Cochrane Hill project will create hundreds of long-term, well-paying jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in rural Nova Scotia.”

In her email last week, Simpson said: “St Barbara’s efforts to define the gold resource at the site of the proposed Cochrane Hill gold mine through exploration drilling are ongoing. Reporting the results of exploration programs is standard practice in the mining industry, and we will continue to update St Barbara shareholders on those efforts. Additionally, we will continue to update the local community on any developments related to the proposed Cochrane Hill Gold Mine project in the months and years ahead.”

In an email last week, Scott Beaver, president of the St. Mary’s River Association – one of several community and environmental groups that resisted St Barbara’s intention to use Archibald Lake as a water source – said: “This deep hole drilling project is simply good money after bad. When, and if, [St Barbara] comes back into the picture via the environmental regulators with a new project... we will still be living along the banks of the river – paddling, angling, swimming with our children in this pristine water course… We will campaign [against it].”

[Editor’s note: Alec Bruce is planning to write a book on the St. Mary’s River which may involve support from the St. Mary’s River Association.]