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Northerners hired for short program

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 2, 2009

KANGIQLINIQ/RANKIN INLET - After sitting the summer out, junior exploration company Starfield Resources is now in week two of a last-minute, four-week diamond drilling program at its Ferguson Lake project, creating work for eight people from the nearby communities of Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay and Arviat.

NNSL photo/graphic

Last year, David Illungiayok of Arviat was one of more than 35 people from Rankin Inlet and Arviat who received employment at Starfield Resources' Ferguson Lake nickel-copper-cobalt project, located 240 km west of Rankin Inlet. Eight residents from Rankin Inlet, Arviat and Repulse Bay are currently employed at the site as Starfield explores for diamonds during a four-week program. - photo courtesy of Starfield Resources

"It came together fairly quickly," said Greg Van Staveren, chief financial officer of Starfield.

Like many other junior exploration companies this summer, Starfield cut back on spending, although in April the company conducted an airborne survey of the southern block of Ferguson Lake where a diamond was recovered last year.

"We'd identified, through that airborne survey, that there were 14 interesting anomalies, plus we had the indicator minerals from our ground samples and we'd found that diamond last year. So we felt we needed to move quickly to start to look at the diamond potential on the property," said Van Staveren.

Providing the money and expertise for the program is Thanda Resources, with whom Starfield is partnering on the Ferguson Lake diamond play. Under the terms of the agreement, Thanda must spend $6.5 million in exploration over the next three years in order to earn 50 per cent ownership of the diamond project.

"From there, they would spend substantially more than that to complete a pre-feasibility study. We would have the right to retain a 30 per cent interest in the project at the completion of a pre-feasibility study," said Van Staveren.

Meanwhile, Starfield will continue to independently develop its main nickel-copper-cobalt Ferguson Lake deposit, located 240 km west of Rankin Inlet.

Of the 27 people currently on site, Starfield has 11 staff members, eight of whom are from Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay and Arviat and are serving as camp helpers, housekeepers and assistants to Starfield geologists.

That's good news for those communities, which have benefited from Starfield's activities in previous years but saw no opportunities come their way this past summer.

In 2008, the company provided more than 35 jobs to residents of Rankin Inlet and Arviat.

Rankin Inlet mayor John Hickes had not heard of Starfield's late-in-the-game program but, when informed, said it was a positive development despite being only short-term.

"I know all the exploration camps basically cut back because of the limited resources and access to funding," said Hickes.

"But if they're going to do any kind of a program, that's a plus for us - for the community and for the development of the mining sector."

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