Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for July 12 to 18, 2014
by Greg Klein
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High-grade U3O8 helps Fission delineate
Still enthusiastically proving that high grades can come from shallow depths, Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU released more assays from winter drilling on July 14. Six infill holes from the central portion of R780E, the middle and largest of five zones, complemented the previous week’s batch from the zone’s eastern area. An additional hole from R1155E proved less impressive but provided the strongest results so far from that zone.
Some highlights from R780E show:
- 2.1% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 28 metres, starting at 86 metres in downhole depth
- (including 5.88% over 8.5 metres)
- 0.23% over 11 metres, starting at 131.5 metres
- 0.54% over 18 metres, starting at 168 metres
- (including 1.62% over 4.5 metres)
- 0.6% over 10 metres, starting at 224 metres
- 0.46% over 27.5 metres, starting at 118 metres
- (including 1% over 9 metres)
- 6.01% over 17.5 metres, starting at 148 metres
- (including 23.53% over 4 metres)
- 0.14% over 18 metres, starting at 109 metres
- 0.21% over 10.5 metres, starting at 147 metres
- 0.66% over 13.5 metres, starting at 176.5 metres
- (including 1.22% over 5.5 metres)
- 1.63% over 3.5 metres, starting at 193.5 metres
- 1.1% over 6.5 metres, starting at 213 metres
- 0.48% over 6 metres, starting at 244 metres
- (including 1.11% over 2 metres)
- 2.02% over 14.5 metres, starting at 110.5 metres
- (including 8.31% over 2 metres)
- 7.66% over 2 metres, starting at 136 metres
- 1.65% over 19 metres, starting at 158.5 metres
- (including 4.45% over 3.5 metres)
- 1.93% over 15 metres, starting at 262.5 metres
- 0.44% over 13 metres, starting at 281 metres
- (including 1.03% over 4.5 metres)
- 0.22% over 6.5 metres, starting at 99 metres
- 0.62% over 9 metres, starting at 122 metres
- (including 1.7% over 2.5 metres)
- 1% over 3.5 metres, starting at 152.5 metres
On the R1155E zone, the better results from PLS14-191 showed:
- 0.2% over 8 metres, starting at 197.5 metres
- (including 1.28% over 0.5 metres)
- 0.33% over 3.5 metres, starting at 211 metres
- 0.1% over 5.5 metres, starting at 359 metres
True widths weren’t provided. Fission Uranium stated PLS14-191 “opens up the potential to discover increased amounts and higher grades of mineralization from this area, including further to the south and within the 75-metre gap separating R780E and R1155E.” The 31,039-hectare project’s 2.24-kilometre potential strike remains open to the east and west.
Still to come are assays for 32 holes from last winter’s 92-hole program. Now underway is a 63-hole, 20,330-metre campaign worth $12 million to focus on R780E. That would bring the project’s total to about 263 holes totalling around 83,500 metres. December’s the deadline for the maiden resource.
Cigar Lake suspended as Cameco encounters freezing failure
Progress continues on the technological challenge of extracting Cigar Lake’s uranium deposit—but not “as quickly as expected,” Cameco Corp TSX:CCO conceded July 16. As a result production has been suspended to allow some areas of the mine to freeze more thoroughly. In an innovative method to prevent flooding “where the water-saturated Athabasca sandstone meets the underlying basement rocks,” the company injects and freezes a brine solution around the rock body. Water jet boring then extracts the ore. (Watch a video here.) Now Cameco has stopped operations to allow “additional freezing.”
Noting that the McClean Lake mill, 70 kilometres away, hasn’t started processing Cigar Lake feed, the suspension “will allow more continuous production at the mine once the mill is operational.” Cameco anticipates a couple of months’ delay that will affect 2014 production, which was originally estimated at 770 to 1,100 tonnes of uranium concentrate. The long-term annual target of 18 million pounds U3O8 by 2018 remains unaffected.
The company will provide another update during its July 31 Q2 discussion.
Flooding in 2006 and 2008 had already set back development at the eastside Athabasca Basin mine, which began construction in 2005. The first ore shipment finally left Cigar Lake in March. McClean Lake was scheduled to begin processing last quarter, following modifications to the leaching circuit.
The world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, Cigar Lake holds grades 100 times the global average. The joint venture is held 50.025% by Cameco, 37.1% by AREVA Resources Canada, 7.875% by Idemitsu Canada Resources and 5% by TEPCO Resources.
Another JV, McClean Lake is held 70% by AREVA, 22.5% by Denison Mines TSX:DML and 7.5% by OURD Canada.
Athabasca Nuclear/Strike Graphite merger would combine uranium and diamond projects
Exploration in two Saskatchewan plays would come together under one entity should a merger go through between Athabasca Nuclear TSXV:ASC and Strike Graphite TSXV:SRK. The companies announced that intention on July 15, subject to conditions and approvals. Athabasca Nuclear holds a number of uranium properties including its Preston Lake flagship, which the company operates for the four-company Western Athabasca Syndicate. Strike has received conditional TSXV approval for its 80% acquisition of two properties in the Sask Craton that are contiguous to the Pikoo diamond discovery made last November by North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR.
The deal would exchange one Athabasca Nuclear share for each Strike share, with a similar swap of options and warrants. Strike would then become a wholly owned subsidiary of Athabasca Nuclear but presumably would not be called Nuclear Strike. Athabasca Nuclear would be held 73.9% by its current shareholders and 26.1% by Strike shareholders. Athabasca Nuclear’s officers and BOD would remain unchanged, except for the board addition of Blair Way, now a Strike director.
Among the deal’s conditions is two-thirds approval by Strike shareholders. The companies hope to consummate by September 20.
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