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Commerce Resources and two Inuit corporations sign LOI to advance northern Quebec rare earths

by Greg Klein | May 15, 2019

Commerce Resources and two Inuit corporations sign LOI to advance northern Quebec rare earths

The parties consider Inuit involvement critical to this critical minerals project.

 

While a project that would provide essential raw materials continues towards pre-feasibility, a letter of intent ensures Inuit participation, the signatories announced May 15. The Nayumivik Landholding Corporation of Kuujjuaq and the Makivik Corporation signed the LOI with Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE regarding the Ashram rare earths deposit in arctic Quebec’s Nunavik region.

The letter marks “a first for Nunavik mining development, specifically for a pre-development project,” said Maggie Emudluk, Makivik VP of economic development. The LOI ensures “Inuit will be directly involved upstream in any discussions and proposed planning of this project. They will also be enabled to provide insights and share concerns during the progression of the project. Makivik is pleased that the LOI is in accordance with the Nunavik Inuit Mining Policy objectives that look forward to establishing clear lines of communication with the industry.”

Commerce Resources and two Inuit corporations sign LOI to advance northern Quebec rare earths

The Nunavik Mineral Exploration Fund held the recent
Nunavik Mining Workshop to discuss the region’s
mineral potential as well as its rich culture.

With one of the most advanced deposits outside China hosting these elements deemed critical by the U.S., Ashram shows favourable metallurgy as well as grade. The project’s rare earths occur within carbonatite host rock and the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, which are familiar to commercial REE processing. Near-surface mineralization further optimizes potential cost advantages.

Using a base case 1.25% cutoff, a 2012 resource shows:

  • 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

The deposit also features some of the most sought-after REEs, with a strong distribution of neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium. Metallurgical tests also show potential for a fluorspar byproduct.

“We look forward to working closely with Commerce and Makivik Corporation to implement the LOI during the pre-development phase of the proposed Ashram deposit,” commented Sammy Koneak, Nayumivik Landholding president. “We are confident that continued communication between the parties under the terms and spirit of the LOI will result in ongoing respect for our rights and our environment.”

Commerce president Chris Grove heralded the LOI as “a milestone that speaks to the cooperation between all parties— a document that recognizes the primacy of the James Bay Agreement, the practicalities of advancing our Ashram deposit through the next few years of development, the practicalities of getting our material to world markets, and the best way to achieve our collective goals of a new producing mine in Nunavik through the cooperation of the Inuit and Commerce towards our mutual benefit. We look forward to this future with the Inuit in Nunavik.”

The urgency of securing rare earths and other critical minerals has been recognized in a number of American government initiatives. This week the U.S. exempted rare earths and other critical minerals from tariffs imposed on China, emphasizing America’s reliance on a trade war enemy for commodities essential to the economy and defence. Last week a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed legislation to reduce their country’s reliance on unreliable sources of critical minerals.

Looking at other critical minerals, Commerce holds the Niobium Claim Group just a few kilometres from Ashram. Working towards a 75% earn-in, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE awaits assays from this year’s spring drill program. Previous intervals of near-surface, high-grade niobium along with tantalum support the company’s optimism.

Commerce also holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011.

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