The Red Lake Area is one of the most prolific gold regions in the world. The area hosts several gold mines, where the combined production and remaining proven resources are more than 30 million ounces of gold. Initial gold production occurred at the Howey mine in 1930, and two mines (Campbell and Red Lake) remain in operation today. The largest mines historically are Placer Dome's Campbell Mine (cumulative production and remaining resources of 13 million ounces), Goldcorp's Red Lake (10 million ounces) and Madsen mines (2.5 million ounces). Goldcorp's Red Lake Mine lies immediately adjacent to Placer's Campbell Mine, which Goldcorp acquired in 2006. The deposits that were mined by Placer and Goldcorp were interpreted to be portions of the same ore body. However, the deep high-grade zone of the Red Lake Mine continues to be one of the highest-grade deposits in the world, averaging more than 2.0 ounces of gold per ton.
As a result of the proven potential of this gold camp and the continued excitement being generated by Goldcorp's Red Lake Mine, the Red Lake greenstone belt has attracted many firms, from senior producers to junior exploration companies, to stake and explore the district. Active major companies in Red Lake include Goldcorp, Placer Dome and Newmont. In addition, there are many junior exploration companies actively exploring the camp.
The Red Lake gold district is situated in the Red Lake greenstone belt, an Archaean series of metavolcanic and metasedimentary rocks. Most of the gold production in this district has come from structurally controlled vein-type gold deposits hosted in sequences of ultramafic mafic to felsic volcanics and sediments. Regionally, the belt exhibits a system of five northeast and northwest-trending deformation zones with associated hydrothermal alteration. All of the key producers in the district are located close to a regional mafic volcanic-sediment contact or 'break' - which for years may have been overlooked as an important control on gold mineralization.
Gold deposits in the district have been classified into three main categories: mafic volcanic-hosted; felsic intrusive-hosted; and, stratabound. The majority of the productive zones in the Red Lake camp, including the Campbell and Red Lake Mines, are of the mafic volcanic-hosted type and occur as vein systems within a lower mafic to komatiitic and ultramafic volcanic sequence. Goldcorp's Red Lake Mine lies in the eastern section of the Red Lake Precambrian Greenstone Belt, an older assemblage of mafic and felsic volcanic rocks within a sedimentary sequence.
Major gold camps in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake areas of northeastern Ontario also show a close association with similar breaks. The Campbell, Red Lake and Cochenour Mines, the most prolific gold producers in the Red Lake district, are hosted by the northwest-trending Cochenour-Gullrock Deformation Zone and are situated within the well-established "mine trend" of the Red Lake gold district.