Gold, a dense, malleable and ductile yellow metal, is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It is also somewhat rare, and therefore is highly desirable as a medium of exchange, as a monetary reserve, and for use in jewellery. In Canada gold is found in three main forms: free flakes, grains, or nuggets. In terms of value, gold is measured by troy weight; when mixed with other metals it is defined in terms of carats, typically ranging from 10 carats to pure gold which is measured at 24 carats. Since 1985 the price of gold has seen dramatic fluctuations ranging from approximately US $300/oz that year to a peak of US $500/oz in 1988. On January 1, 2004, the price of gold was US $416.25 /oz. The first discovery of gold in what is now Saskatchewan took place in 1859 in the North Saskatchewan River, near Prince Albert. In the 1920s and 1930s, gold discoveries were also reported in the La Ronge area. Many of the earlier attempts were focused on dredging operations in rivers. Gold was discovered in the Lake Athabasca and Amisk Lake regions in the early 20th century. Considerable amounts of gold were then located on the Crackingstone Peninsula, and in smaller quantities near Prince Albert and Flin Flon.
More recently, the province experienced a gold boom in the late 1980s when over $50 million was spent on gold exploration. During this period, exploration focused on the Precambrian Shield—especially the La Ronge metavolcanic belt, the Glennie Domain and the Beaverlodge District—and a number of deposits were found and have been successfully developed. For the most part, gold occurrences in these areas fall into the class of mesothermal vein deposits of gold or orogenic lode gold deposits. Since 1987, five new gold mines have begun. Saskatchewan’s largest primary gold producer is Claude Resources Inc., based in Saskatoon, whose largest project is the Seabee mine, located 125 km northeast of LaRonge. The project, in operation since 1991, has produced over 600,000 ounces of gold and continues to be a successful venture for the Saskatchewan company.
Julie L. Parchewski