Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry
June 2011

Vol. 16, No. 26 Week of June 26, 2011

Mining News: Eagle Plains spin-out of ‘geos’ pays off

TerraLogic emerges as capable independent mineral exploration and geologic consulting services firm for Northwest Canada explorers

By Rose Ragsdale

For Mining News

More junior mining companies are turning to the experts to lead their exploration programs, hoping to hit the ground running and substantially shorten the time required between identifying a likely prospect and targeting commercial quantities of minerals on that property.

The strategy is not only helping the industry to control costs, it is also enabling some explorers with accomplished technical teams to preserve this expertise during tough economic times.

TerraLogic Exploration Services Inc. is one such company. Launched as a fully independent mineral exploration and geologic consulting services firm in 2008, it is making its mark in the industry as with ‘soup-to-nuts’ mineral exploration services.

The Cranbrook, B.C.-based firm is actually a subsidiary of Eagle Plains Resources Ltd., an aggressive mineral exploration project generator. Formerly known as Bootleg Exploration, TerraLogic served Eagle Plains and its project partners in western and northern Canada for the first 16 years of its existence. Past clients include Teck Resources Ltd., BP, Northern Freegold Resources Ltd., Copper Canyon Resources Ltd., and Zimtu Capital Corp. in addition to its parent company.

Since 1992, the consultant has amassed considerable experience exploring mineral prospects in northwestern Canada that its parent, Eagle Plains, acquired and farmed out to partners, company spokesman Mike Labach told Mining News June 21.

“We had taken the risk of acquisition of these projects, particularly when mining in British Columbia was a swear word. Everybody else was leaving for Guiana or someplace, and it was an opportunity to get a lot of ground with relatively little competition,” he explained.

But in 2008 when investment in mining exploration nosedived, Eagle Plains suddenly found itself fighting for survival and looking for a way to save its consulting arm.

“The entire strategy was designed to keep our technical team intact when the market downturn happened,” Labach said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What are we going to do to survive?’ Our option deals were falling off the table, and we had very (few) prospects for exploration.”

By allowing Bootleg to “morph” into an independent company, Labach said Eagle Plains envisioned expanding TerraLogic and making the services of its geoscientists available to other companies and other projects.

“They always were available but primarily, internally,” he said. “In 2008, no one knew what would happen. Things were looking bad, and we saw this as a way to keep our team together. Mining is a cyclical business, and this is way to reduce the amplitude of those waves.”

Consulting ‘win-win’

Eagle Plains not only survived, it has thrived. With about 50 projects in its portfolio, it has “reloaded” many of its option deals, so that it currently has about 20 project partners, Labach said.

By farming out the projects to other companies, Eagle Plains not only mitigates its own risk, it also engages TerraLogic as a contractor. This is designed to be a win-win, with the project partner gaining access to a professional team with valuable expertise and experience and Eagle Plains enjoying the benefits of someone paying for TerraLogic’s services without the potential perception of a conflict of interest.

Aben Resources Ltd., for example, hired TerraLogic to oversee all aspects of its 2011 exploration and drilling programs in Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories, including some projects it optioned from Eagle Plains. The junior also expanded the base and precious metal projects, which are in various stages of development, by staking additional claims in the Yukon and securing more exploration permits in Northwest Territories.

Through TerraLogic, the junior also arranged for field crews, support staff, camps, supplies, helicopters and drill rigs to conduct the exploration programs planned for this year. With an estimated C$5 million budget, the work was expected to commence in early June, depending on the rate of snow melt.

Full range of services

TerraLogic provides geologic services, exploration technology and project support and management. It employs 12-16 professionals year-round and has ramped up to about 25-35 geoscientists for the 2011 summer field season, according to Labach.

The firm touts the quality of its services, including its custom Geographic Information Systems, which can streamline the collection, storage, analysis and display of geologic data quickly and accurately when integrated into an exploration program.

TerraLogic said it also has invested significant resources in research and development related to XRF technology and has integrated it into its custom GIS database.

“Through training, field testing and rigorous QA/QC procedures, we have become proficient in the application of portable XRF in a multitude of geologic and logistical settings,” the company said on its website.

The firm also said it has newly integrated its portable XRF (X-Ray Florescence) units into its custom GIS.

“These analytical tools can be used in geochemical surveys to rapidly identify anomalies for specific ore and pathfinder elements. Not only can anomalies be identified immediately, they also can be further delineated and assessed during the same program. XRF units also can assist in recognizing finely disseminated mineralization and unknown minerals,” TerraLogic added.

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