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Integra turns to crowdsourcing to find more gold - The Northern Miner (subscription)

Integra Gold (TSXV: ICG; OTCQX: ICGQX) is getting creative with the treasure trove of data it acquired last year when it bought the past-producing Sigma-Lamaque mine and mill, near its Lamaque South gold project in Val-d’Or, Que.

The company is compiling the 75 years of historical mining and exploration data into one digital database. Once finalized, it will launch the Integra Gold Rush Challenge, allowing anyone to access the trove to help the company uncover its next big gold deposit for a $1 million prize. Integra expects to have the database ready by the end of August, with the contest set to start in September.

This open source contest will essentially save Integra time and millions of dollars in interpreting the wealth of information it has, Integra’s chairman George Salamis said on a conference call.

“While we could hire a consulting firm to help us find new targets using this huge database, we think tapping into the collective brainpower of thousands of people around the world is a far more effective way to go for us,” Salamis notes.

The company will join forces with HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform, to attract a variety of participants from multiple countries, including those outside of the mining industry. The initiative is similar to the Goldcorp Challenge, where Goldcorp (TSX:G; NYSE:GG) put all of its Red Lake gold mine data online in 2000 to help find its next 6 million oz. deposit in exchange for prizes.

This is the first time one company is consolidating the six terabytes of data on the historic Sigma and Lamaque mines, as different owners previously operated them, Salamis says. He estimates earlier companies spent over $5 million and 5 years scanning the documents and digitizing them without ever finishing due to budget constraints.

Both mines sit within 500 metres of each other. Given their proximity, Integra’s exploration team treats them as one system. The Sigma mine, largely operated by Placer Dome, produced over 4.5 million oz. gold from a depth of 1,830 metres. The Lamaque mine, run by Teck Cominco, churned out more than 4.5 million oz. from 1,100 metres depth.

For 30 years, Lamaque was Quebec’s largest gold mine from 1955 to when it closed in 1985, mainly due to a slump in gold prices and labour unrest.

Initial findings indicate the Lamaque orebody likely continues to the same depth as the Sigma mine, Integra’s CEO Stephen de Jong said in a recent interview. The most obvious exploration target is Lamaque Deep, the down-dip extension below the previously mined Lamaque mine. The company estimates the target has a conceptual size of 8 to 20 million tonnes grading between 5.5 to 6.5 grams per tonne gold.

But, instead of following up on the target, the company will reveal all of its recently acquired information to contestants, to see if they could provide new exploration targets and ideas, while Integra focuses on drilling 75,000 metres at its high-grade Lamaque South project this year.  

The company has spent the last six months compiling and verifying the historic files, which date back to 1933 and include more than 30,000 historic drill holes, over 50,000 gold assays, along with hundreds of kilometres of mapped underground workings, mining statistics and photos.

“It’s not exactly the most exciting work,” De Jong says of the compilation, “but the idea is we want to have one really reliable database when we are done.”

Integra will release more details on its Gold Rush Challenge in the coming months and says that it will raise the $1 million award through sponsorships. It will announce the winners of the contest next March at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto.  

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