Friday 17th November 2017

Resource Clips


January, 2017

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

January 31st, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 31, 2017

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

China stands out in a map showing major sources of non-fuel mineral
commodities of which the U.S. imported more than 50% of its supply in 2016.
(Graphic: U.S. Geological Survey)

 

Lacking any domestic sources at all, the United States imported 100% of its supply of 20 minerals last year, the USGS reports. That number increased from 19 the previous year and 11 in 1984. Included in the 2016 list were rare earths, manganese and niobium, “which are among a suite of materials often designated as ‘critical’ or ‘strategic’ because they are essential to the economy and their supply may be disrupted.”

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

Imports of rare earth compounds and metals increased 6% over 2015, although the value dropped from $160 million to $120 million. China supplied 72% directly, with other imports coming from Estonia (7%), France (5%), Japan (5%) and other countries (11%).

But the Estonian, French and Japanese material was derived from concentrates produced in China and elsewhere, the USGS added.

American imports of tantalum increased about 40% over 2015. The USGS attributed about 37% of 2016 global production to the Democratic Republic of Congo and 32% to Rwanda. Estimates reverse those numbers for the previous year.

An alphabetical list of the 20 minerals follows, with rare earths, scandium and yttrium each comprising a separate category:

  • arsenic
  • asbestos
  • cesium
  • fluorspar
  • gallium
  • graphite
  • indium
  • manganese
  • mica
  • niobium
  • quartz crystal
  • rare earths
  • rubidium
  • scandium
  • strontium
  • tantalum
  • thallium
  • thorium
  • vanadium
  • yttrium

The report listed 50 minerals for which the U.S. imported over half of its supply. Overall China was the largest exporter, with Canada running second.

BonTerra Resources hits 15.7 g/t gold over 8.5 metres in Abitibi stepout drilling

January 31st, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 31, 2017

With the year’s first stepout hole to the east, BonTerra Resources TSXV:BTR announced three gold intercepts on January 31 from its Abitibi-region Gladiator project. The first interval revealed a new zone, the company stated, while the two deeper intercepts marked the 7,563-hectare property’s Main and Footwall zones, near the contact between mafic volcanic units and a mineralized felsic porphyritic intrusive. Results for hole BA-17-01 show:

  • 1.6 g/t gold over 10 metres, starting at 262 metres in downhole depth

  • 15.7 g/t over 8.5 metres, starting at 367 metres

  • 20.7 g/t over 5 metres, starting at 566 metres
BonTerra Resources hits 15.7 g/t gold over 8.5 metres in Abitibi stepout drilling

A placid camp contrasts with strenuous
activity elsewhere on the Gladiator property.

True widths weren’t available.

Gladiator’s 2012 resource used a 4 g/t cutoff to show an inferred 905,000 tonnes averaging 9.37 g/t for 273,000 ounces of gold. Last year’s campaign expanded the known mineralization from about 200 metres long and 200 metres deep to about 1,200 metres long and 650 metres deep. With two rigs now at work and a third waiting for suitable ice conditions, a resource update could arrive in spring or summer. The 2016-2017 campaign calls for about 25,000 metres of drilling.

Just over the Ontario border, BonTerra’s Larder Lake project has two historic, non-43-101 estimates, with Bear Lake showing 683,000 ounces of gold inferred, and Cheminis 43,800 ounces of gold indicated and 233,400 ounces inferred. The company is compiling a new 43-101 incorporating another 25,000 metres drilled by Gold Fields NYSE:GFI since the historic estimates.

Read more about BonTerra Resources.

January 31st, 2017

China sets the stage to replace the U.S. as global trade leader Stockhouse
John Mauldin on economists, madmen and other topics GoldSeek
Chinese provinces crack down on rare earth activities Industrial Minerals
The U.S. president has inherited “a much bigger disaster than even he comprehends” SmallCapPower
Three issues for Europe in 2017 Equities.com
A year in review: 2016 Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
Lithium in 2017: Quacking ducks, execution and continuation of the secular bull The Disruptive Discoveries Journal
Precious metals bull market will continue in 2017, says David Morgan Streetwise Reports
Molybdenum: Commodity overview Geology for Investors

The Ashram advantage

January 30th, 2017

Commerce Resources prepares for a rare earths paradigm shift

by Greg Klein

The appeal to Western markets is obvious—an advanced, low-cost rare earths project in a friendly jurisdiction. So even before the recent military build-up in the South China Sea, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE experienced an increase in American requests for concentrate samples from its northern Quebec Ashram deposit. With the U.S. Navy now challenging Chinese territorial aggression, the confrontation seems to pit two superpowers against each other. But what does that really indicate?

It’s actually “one lonely small old Russian-built carrier against three U.S. Nimitz-class supercarriers,” Commerce president Chris Grove points out. “So when Beijing says it’s going to take off the gloves, I think they’re referring to trade.”

Commerce Resources prepares for a rare earths paradigm shift

That brings to mind the Senkaku incident, a much smaller 2010 confrontation in the same region that prompted China to cut off rare earths exports to Japan, sending global supply chains into turmoil and prices soaring. A possible Senkaku redux is one of a number of aspects to a global paradigm shift that Grove sees coming, to the benefit of Western industry in general and Ashram in particular.

The U.S. might easily outgun China, but China produces about 90% of the world’s rare earths. They’re essential to several defence needs, “a fact that really drives certain people in the U.S. absolutely apoplectic,” says Grove.

While Westerners have struggled to compete with China on costs, prices mean little to the U.S. Department of Defense, which last year began putting money behind potential domestic processors, Grove says. That support complements a multi-faceted advantage that the West is gaining over China, he explains. The latter country struggles with rising labour costs and the need to finally address its environmental woes. Meanwhile Western countries offset their labour costs with technological innovation and maintain the world’s highest environmental standards.

Even putting aside defence, demand for rare earths continues to grow with another global development. The international commitment to address climate change through clean energy, exemplified by the Paris Agreement, increases rare earths demand for numerous applications ranging from EVs to wind turbines.

In a research report last year, Chris Berry noted that “REE usage continues to grow at a pace well above global GDP growth with demand CAGRs growing anywhere from 4% to 8%, with permanent magnet demand forecast to lead this charge to 2020.”

Commerce Resources prepares for a rare earths paradigm shift

Ashram has undergone another 9,200 metres since
its resource estimate, often hitting even higher grades.

Clearly there’s a market for non-Chinese sources. And Grove sees Ashram uniquely positioned to help serve that market. Certainly others have failed but, he emphasizes, they lacked Ashram’s benefits of mineralogy, metallurgy, grade and jurisdiction—all of which add up to lower costs.

The project reached PEA in 2012, with an amended PEA in 2015. Since then the company’s been busy on multiple fronts as it advances towards pre-feasibility.

Ashram’s advantage begins with its relatively simple mineralogy, with carbonatite host rock and rare earths within the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, which dominate commercial REE processing.

Pilot plant metallurgical tests have quadrupled the PEA’s concentrate grade, producing 41% total rare earth oxides and 43% TREO, both at 71% recovery. That puts the grade well within the range of commercial producers and does so through a single-leach process that simplifies the flowsheet.

Requests for concentrate samples have come from Solvay, Mitsubishi, Treibacher, BASF, DKK, Albemarle and Blue Line, among others covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Metallurgy has also found a potential fluorspar byproduct, offering an advantage to both revenue and opex. Grove credits Glencore Canada’s interest in fluorspar with the willingness of its NorFalco Sales division to supply Commerce with sulphuric acid on highly favourable terms.

Proud as he is of Ashram’s high-grade, near-surface resource, Grove anticipates an even more impressive upgrade. The current estimate uses a 1.25% cutoff to show:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

Commerce has since drilled another 9,200 metres, mostly infill but always with some stepout holes as well. “In all those drill programs, we always hit mineralized material in the stepouts, we always encountered less waste rock at surface than was modelled in the resource and we always hit zones that were higher than the average grade,” he says.

Ashram’s magnet feed distribution also has Grove enthused. Overall, the deposit ranks with the largest producers for praseodymium, neodymium, terbium and dysprosium. Ashram’s medium-to-heavy REO resource, moreover, surpasses the producers for those elements. And, as Grove points out, those are critical elements. Efforts to find substitutes for magnet REEs have failed.

Companies with higher operating costs are probably praying for higher prices. Commerce Resources doesn’t need them. We still have a margin at today’s prices.—Chris Grove

Benefiting both Ashram’s opex and the environment would be wind energy, currently being studied for the project. Commerce’s environmental commitment as well as its community outreach have been recognized by the e3 Plus Award for social responsibility from l’Association de l’exploration minière du Québec.

The company has also received a $300,000 provincial grant to optimize tailings management, funding that shows Quebec’s commitment to mining as well as the environment. Grove calls the province “a fantastic jurisdiction,” one that invests directly in companies through Ressources Québec and makes tangible progress on the visionary Plan Nord infrastructure program.

Following a private placement of up to $2.5 million offered last month, Grove looks forward to a number of near-term milestones. Still to come are final assays from last year’s drilling. The agenda also calls for completing the pilot plant and filling requests for REE and fluorspar concentrate samples. The samples, Grove suggests, could spur interest in a JV or offtake agreement.

The Commerce quest for rare metals hasn’t been confined to rare earths. Last September sampling on the company’s property about a kilometre from Ashram found “spectacular” results up to 5.9% niobium pentoxide, described by Grove as “approximately double the grade of the largest and longest-running niobium producer’s head grade, CBMM’s Araxa deposit in Brazil.”

Commerce also holds the Blue River project in southeastern British Columbia. The property’s Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

But Commerce remains very much focused on Ashram. Whether events in the South China Sea send RE prices soaring, Grove sees possible increases coming from producers boosting revenues. But, he emphasizes, Ashram doesn’t need higher prices. “Companies with higher operating costs are probably praying for higher prices,” he says. “Commerce Resources doesn’t need them. We still have a margin at today’s prices.”

Pistol Bay Mining president Charles Desjardins discusses the VMS potential of his company’s portfolio in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt

January 30th, 2017

…Read more

January 30th, 2017

China sets the stage to replace the U.S. as global trade leader Stockhouse
John Mauldin on economists, madmen and other topics GoldSeek
Chinese provinces crack down on rare earth activities Industrial Minerals
The U.S. president has inherited “a much bigger disaster than even he comprehends” SmallCapPower
Three issues for Europe in 2017 Equities.com
A year in review: 2016 Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
Lithium in 2017: Quacking ducks, execution and continuation of the secular bull The Disruptive Discoveries Journal
Precious metals bull market will continue in 2017, says David Morgan Streetwise Reports
Molybdenum: Commodity overview Geology for Investors

January 30th, 2017

Chinese provinces crack down on rare earth activities Industrial Minerals
It might be time to grab the commodities bull by the horns GoldSeek
The U.S. president has inherited “a much bigger disaster than even he comprehends” SmallCapPower
Three issues for Europe in 2017 Equities.com
Ranking the metals 2017, Part II Stockhouse
A year in review: 2016 Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
Lithium in 2017: Quacking ducks, execution and continuation of the secular bull The Disruptive Discoveries Journal
Precious metals bull market will continue in 2017, says David Morgan Streetwise Reports
Molybdenum: Commodity overview Geology for Investors

Visual Capitalist: What’s needed to sustain uranium’s resurgence?

January 27th, 2017

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 27, 2017

What’s needed to sustain uranium’s resurgence?

 

Uranium miners up 59% on pro-nuclear hopes since U.S. election

The Chart of the Week is a Friday feature from Visual Capitalist.

Uranium’s spot price had a rough ride throughout the course of 2016, but for many investors there is suddenly a new aura of optimism around the troubled metal.

It all starts with Donald Trump’s “America First” strategy, which is being perceived by many as a potential boon to the uranium sector. Official details are slim, but industry executives are currently speculating that the Trump administration will be better for nuclear power than the previous government.

If that’s true, then it would mean far less regulatory hurdles for nuclear power, and likely even funding to bring more power plants online in the United States.

A shot in the arm

Perhaps such a catalyst is just what the metal needed. The spot price and the share prices of uranium miners have been in a gruesome bear market ever since the 2011 Fukushima incident in Japan. The prolonged pain has worn down investors and companies alike, but everything has to bottom at some point.

As David Erfle from Kitco pointed out last week, the chart for the Global X Uranium ETF (URA) makes any other downturn look like a piece of cake. The ETF, which tracks global uranium miners, has lost a whopping 90% of its value over the last six years, including two rollbacks (in 2013 and 2015).

Lately, thanks to the “Trump bump” and a 10% production cut in Kazakhstan announced earlier this month, the URA is suddenly buzzing with volume. The ETF is now back up on its feet, gaining a solid 59% since the election.

But can uranium be great again?

A bounce in uranium stocks is something that was way overdue. However, if nuclear-related announcements aren’t made soon from the Trump administration, the newfound optimism could fade pretty fast.

Statistically speaking, the World Health Organization says that nuclear power kills less people per terawatt hour than any other major source of power, even rooftop solar. Nuclear is also friendly from an emissions perspective: using a life-cycle emissions analysis, nuclear generates similar emissions to wind or hydropower.

The problem, of course, lies in the fat tail risk of a nuclear catastrophe, which is something that is still fresh in people’s minds in the wake of Fukushima.

Whether nuclear and uranium can be great again depends on the public’s tolerance for such projects, as well as a significant amount of support from the government to push new projects through. The rally is much welcomed by uranium investors—but it will remain unclear if it has any long-term legs until these two considerations are met.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

January 27th, 2017

Chinese provinces crack down on rare earth activities Industrial Minerals
It might be time to grab the commodities bull by the horns GoldSeek
The U.S. president has inherited “a much bigger disaster than even he comprehends” SmallCapPower
Three issues for Europe in 2017 Equities.com
Ranking the metals 2017, Part II Stockhouse
A year in review: 2016 Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
Lithium in 2017: Quacking ducks, execution and continuation of the secular bull The Disruptive Discoveries Journal
Precious metals bull market will continue in 2017, says David Morgan Streetwise Reports
Molybdenum: Commodity overview Geology for Investors

Canadian International Minerals reconsiders niobium potential of B.C. REE project

January 26th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 26, 2017

Canadian International Minerals reconsiders niobium potential of B.C. REE project

A rare earths property in British Columbia’s Rocky Mountain rare metal belt gains new attention as Canadian International Minerals TSXV:CIN takes another look at previous assays. An 11-hole program on the Wicheeda alkaline-carbonatite project in 2011 targeted rare earths but the company didn’t consider the niobium results to be material info. On January 26, however, CIN released niobium assays from four 2011 holes, with highlights showing:

Hole CA-11-010

  • 0.188% Nb2O5 over 16.06 metres, starting at 171.8 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.27% over 6.3 metres)
  • (which includes 0.731% over 0.98 metres)

CA-11-014

  • 0.156% over 24.43 metres, starting at 173.23 metres
  • (including 0.217% over 9.57 metres)
  • (which includes 0.337% over 3.9 metres)

  • 0.226% over 37.6 metres, starting at 232.98 metres
  • (including 0.297% over 18.27 metres)
  • (which includes 0.321% over 8.48 metres)
  • (which includes 0.632% Nb2O5 and 158 ppm tantalum over 2.2 metres)

True widths weren’t available.

Formerly called the Carbo project, Wicheeda showed RE results in the range of 0.2% to 0.5% total rare earth oxides in most of the 11 holes sunk during 2011. The previous year’s campaign found significant RE mineralization in all nine holes, with one intercept hitting 1.43% TREO over 37.3 metres.

Adjacent to CIN’s Wicheeda, Spectrum Mining’s Wicheeda project holds an inferred 11.3 million tonnes averaging 2.5% TREO.

CIN noted two niobium deposits hosted in the Rocky Mountain rare metal belt. The Upper Fir deposit on Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Blue River project holds an indicated 48.41 million tonnes averaging 0.161% Nb2O5 and 197 ppm Ta2O5. Located about 330 kilometres southeast of Wicheeda, Upper Fir also holds an inferred 5.4 million tonnes averaging 0.176% Nb2O5 and 191 ppm Ta2O5.

About 240 kilometres northwest of Wicheeda, Taseko Mines TSX:TKO brought the Aley project to pre-feas in 2014 with proven and probable reserves of 83.8 million tonnes averaging 0.5% Nb2O5.

CIN stated it “continues to re-evaluate the exploration targets for the Wicheeda project and will be investigating a number of partnership avenues in the coming weeks.”

In November the company released sample results from a due diligence program on its proposed Tisova acquisition, a former copper-polymetallic mine in the Czech Republic.