In 1989, Goldcorp Inc. took over Dickenson Mines Ltd, a venerable gold mining company that, since 1948, had operated the Arthur White mine in the Red Lake mining camp, located north of Lake Superior, near the Ontario Manitoba border. Robert McEwen, chairman of Goldcorp Inc felt that the adage, "the best place to look for a new orebody is near an old mine" had some credence. Was he right!!? Goldcorp initiated an exploration program while the old mine rolled along as a break-even or money losing gold mining operation. During early 1995 while testing Goldcorp's geological theory, diamond drillers cut across a very high-grade body of mineralization that was soon to become the fabulous "High-Grade Zone (HGZ)". Diamond drilling continued and the HGZ has proven (at time of writing) to contain more than 1.96 million tons of high-grade ore containing 4.6 million ounces of gold. That is an average grade of 2.35 troy ounces per ton! Most gold mines in the world average well under 0.5 troy ounces per ton. So prolific was the change in fortunes of the mine, that the Arthur White mine was re-named the Red Lake mine.
There are other orebodies in the world that, being larger contain more troy ounces of gold. However, to our knowledge, there are no other gold mines that contain the average grade of ore that the Red Lake Mine does. These sorts of orebodies come along only once every several decades, or so.
The HGZ changed the economics of the old mine so much that Goldcorp Inc. decided to build a brand new mine around the new orebody in order to optimize its extraction. A new milling complex and offices were built along with a camp to house contract workers. The only significant parts of the original mine that remained in use were the headframe and shaft needed to access the orebody. Recently, however, Goldcorp has decided to also replace the old shaft and winze with a brand new 7,500 foot single lift, vertical shaft in an effort to speed up the mining of the new orebody and to improve the overall efficiency of the mine.
The impact of the discovery of the new orebody on Goldcorp, the Red Lake mine and the surrounding area have been dramatic. With millions of dollars surging into the local economy from the Red Lake Mine and the exploration efforts of other companies hoping to duplicate the feat, the Red Lake area has experienced a surge of prosperity and confidence not felt since the hey-days of gold mine discoveries in the 1940s and 1950s. Now, Goldcorp is cash rich with no debt, and is one of the most profitable mining companies in the world.
It became apparent early in the exploration of the orebody that visible native gold would often be encountered. The senior management of Goldorp decided, to their credit, that if specimen-grade native gold was encountered, some of it should be preserved as specimens to serve as a legacy of Goldcorp, the Red Lake mine and the fantastic orebody that produced them. David K. Joyce was retained to prepare specimens, on site and, then, to market and sell the specimens. Since production commenced, hundreds of beautiful, rich native gold specimens have been recovered and sold to museums, shareholders, collectors and universities around the world.
Many mines have zones of high-grade ore that are very profitable to mine. Few have had a zone like the High Grade Zone, however, which is still open at depth and, although smaller in width at depth, appears to be increasing in grade. Long article w/good info (to read the entire artice) ://www.321gold.com/editorials/leishman/leishman110904.html