Tuesday 27th September 2016

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Stepping out

Fission Energy/Alpha Minerals expand uranium mineralization in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin

by Greg Klein

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The timing couldn’t have been better for a new uranium discovery. Just as last November’s Patterson Lake South find sparked a staking rush in Saskatchewan’s western Athabasca Basin, several observers forecast a post-Fukushima, post megatons-to-megawatts supply/demand scenario pushing prices up. That same month Rick Rule called the uranium market “irrationally depressed.” Since then Rob Chang forecast “a supply deficit up to 2025,” Chris Berry cited uranium as the mineral with “the brightest future” and Cecil Musgrave said uranium’s long-term fundamentals “have never looked better.” Meanwhile news continues from Patterson Lake South, where a joint venture of Fission Energy TSXV:FIS and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW conducts a busy drill campaign.

Winter drilling at Patterson Lake South has spurred widespread interest in the western Athabasca Basin

Winter drilling at Patterson Lake South has spurred
widespread excitement about the western Athabasca Basin.

On February 7 the companies announced more off-scale scintillometer readings, these ones from shallow step-out holes 15 metres west of a previous hole, itself 10 metres west of the November 5 discovery. The hand-held scintillometer measures gamma ray particles in counts per second (cps) to determine radioactivity in drill core. The actual assays have yet to be completed but scintillometer readings for the two holes show:

  • continuous mineralization for 37 metres (stopping at a down-hole depth of 97.5 metres), with 4.35 metres showing off-scale readings over 9,999 cps
  • continuous mineralization for 21 metres (stopping at a down-hole depth of 84 metres), with 0.75 metres showing off-scale readings over 9,999 cps.

“I have to caution investors that these aren’t assays but simply scintillometer readings,” emphasizes Fission chairman/CEO Dev Randhawa. “But we have been pretty consistent in the past.”

Assays released last December showed impressive grades and intervals, also from shallow drilling. Lab results for the holes announced February 7 are expected in three to four weeks. “We’re putting a rush on them and there’ll be more to come. We’ve got 40 holes to do,” he says.

“The most significant thing here is it’s 37 metres of consistent mineralization. That’s a pretty big system. It’s shallow, 37 metres, with nearly four and a half metres off-scale. We’re very excited.”

He adds, “We only put in four holes before we ended last year so this really shows that we’re extending it to the west.” About 8,000 metres are planned for the $4-million winter campaign, starting from the frozen lake. “We’re trying to drill down about 200 metres plus. We’re hitting mineralization at 50, 60 metres but we’re going down to see what’s below that.”

In addition to step-outs to the west, drilling and additional ground geophysics are taking place east of the discovery. The work will last until spring break-up, which usually hits the region in April. “If the best results are found off the lake, we can do a lot of drilling in the summer. But if we find our best results in the lake, we’ll have to be careful about summer drilling,” Randhawa says. Barge work requires helicopter support, boosting costs by about 30%, he explains.

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