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CIN, on the other hand, doesn’t consider the Basin a change of direction. “We have a diverse portfolio of projects covering different commodities,” Schuss says. “We specialize in acquiring projects basically by staking or through people we’re associated with. We are a geological company and our biggest shareholders are mostly geo-technical people.”
The market certainly took note of Alpha and Fission, who’ve become darlings of the junior exploration sector. Although Denison Mines TSX:DML expects to wrap up its Fission acquisition in April, the Fission team will retain their 50% PLS interest under a spinout.
Nevertheless, PLS excitement has so far been limited largely to techies, Schuss says. A uranium event at PDAC 2013 showed considerable interest from explorers “but not retail people.”
Still, some companies have seen considerable market interest. A tentative eight-project, 190,000-hectare acquisition announced March 1 by Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK coincided with a wild share price ride. That day the stock doubled to $0.14 before closing on $0.10. On March 2 the shares hit $0.125 before another 10-cent close. Since then the price has pulled back to a March 22 close of $0.07.
The acquisition, which depends on the recommendations of an NI 43-101 technical report, would bring big changes to Lakeland, maintains corporate communications officer Roger Leschuk. The northern Saskatchewan native says the company would bring on Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC president/director Dave Hodge as Lakeland’s director/president/CEO. Also joining as a director would be Steven Khan, a Fission founder and currently president/director of Strathmore Minerals TSX:STM, which holds uranium projects in the U.S. Dahrouge Geological Consulting would then undertake a work program.
[Patterson Lake South] is probably going to be one of the biggest discoveries in Canadian history. I wouldn’t call us ambulance-chasers by nature, but we saw the opportunity and thought we better move on it.—Michael Schuss, president/CEO of Canadian International Minerals
As for Skyharbour’s plans, Trimble says ground work and geophysics will likely begin in late spring or early summer “so we can determine whether it warrants drilling.”
Schuss sees the land rush as a chance for competitors to co-operate. “We’ve already been in discussions with other companies on doing an airborne survey in a joint fashion,” he says. “It makes sense to pool your resources because one of the biggest costs is mobilization and de-mobilization. Also it’ll be a lot easier to interpret the area data on a regional basis.”
There’s no shortage of other potential competitors/co-operators. Among other recent west Basin entrants, Ashburton Ventures TSXV:ABR announced on March 14 two acquisitions, a 147-hectare property contiguous to the PLS northern boundary and another 1,090 hectares about 25 kilometres south of the JV. Six days later the company announced another acquisition, although on the east side this time, with 1,800 hectares about 12 kilometres from Cameco Corp’s TSX:CCO soon-to-open Cigar Lake mine, said to hold “the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit.” Cameco holds 50% of the mine, with France’s state-owned AREVA Resources holding a 37% interest.
On March 21 UEX Corp TSX:UEX announced completion of its 25% earn-in on the 6,688-hectare Beatty River project, 25 kilometres north of PLS, leaving project operator AREVA with 50.7% and JCU Exploration 24.3%.
Already active in other parts of the Basin, Forum Uranium TSXV:FDC announced in January it staked three claims immediately southwest of PLS. The company already holds a JV within a JV, in which Forum and NexGen Energy may earn 30% each of the Northwest Athabasca project, which would leave Cameco with 27.5% and AREVA with 12.5%. In the eastern Basin, Forum holds 100% of the Key Lake Road project and 40% of the Henday JV, with Rio Tinto holding the other 60%.
At the end of February Yellowjacket Resources TSXV:YJK picked up over 133,000 hectares, about 90% of it in the PLS region. On March 18 the Eagle Plains Resources TSXV:EPL spinout came back boasting more acquisitions. Now with over 158,000 hectares, Yellowjacket is “the largest mineral claim holder in the Patterson Lake area,” the company stated.
But the situation’s changing from day to day, with new claims being staked and existing claims changing hands. Skyharbour’s Trimble says his company will “look at JV-ing or optioning some of our ground if there’s an appetite for it. The prices are going up. I think they’ll continue to go up and hopefully a second wave of companies comes in and the play heats up even more.”
CIN’s Schuss goes even further: “I’ll make a bold prediction that we’ve seen the bottom of the junior resource market and this will be a major factor in the turnaround.”
Disclaimer: Zimtu Capital Corp TSXV:ZC is a client of OnPage Media.
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