Sunday 19th November 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘athabasca basin’

Dual discovery

November 18th, 2017

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

by Greg Klein

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

The Southern High Plains of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma
might someday boost U.S. domestic uranium supply.
(Photo: Public domain)

 

The dream of discovery must motivate many a geologist. Through skill, effort and luck they hope to eventually find something precious, useful or otherwise valuable—something well known yet found in a previously unknown location. But a group of geo-boffins from the U.S. Geological Survey not only identified a type of uranium deposit previously unknown to their country, they discovered a new mineral.

It’s finchite, “a new uranium mineral species,” as a press release described it last week. The discovery actually dates to 2015, says Brad Van Gosen, the USGS scientist who did the discovering.

While surveying a Texas cotton ranch Van Gosen collected samples of what he and his colleagues thought was carnotite, “a pretty common yellow, near-surface uranium mineral.” Back in the lab, he put it under a scanning electron microscope, which kept showing strontium with the uranium and vanadium, he recalls. To a geologist, it was unusual—very unusual. A eureka moment was looming.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

First to recognize the new mineral finchite, USGS scientist
Brad Van Gosen examines rock layers in Texas.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

“We looked it up and there’d been no strontium-uranium mineral ever reported before. So [team leader Susan Hall] worked with a crystallography/mineralogy lab that specializes in micro-analysis up at Notre Dame and they concluded, ‘By gosh you’re right.’” Further study continued before sending the evidence to the International Mineralogical Association. “They’re the high council and they blessed it as a new mineral.” Finchite’s moniker honours the late Warren Finch, a USGS uranium expert.

Another major finding was that the uranium was hosted in calcrete rock formations, a style of deposit known elsewhere but reported for the first time in the U.S.

Some previously secret info led to the twin epiphanies. Hall, as leader of a project that’s reassessing national uranium resources, gained privy to some unpublished 1970s and ’80s data from the former Kerr-McGee company. Included were estimates for two deposits, Sulphur Springs Draw and Buffalo Draw, with marginal grades of 0.04% and 0.05% U3O8 respectively. Together they held an estimated 2.6 million pounds U3O8.

(Of course data from historic sources and the U.S. government agency falls outside the framework of NI 43-101 regulations.)

The newly transpired, near-surface deposits led Hall and her group to the Southern High Plains spanning parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. It was there that they recognized calcrete, its first known manifestation in the U.S.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

Surface showings of yellow finchite might have previously
been mistaken for sulphur, says Van Gosen.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

The stuff’s associated with uranium in other countries. Among major calcrete-style deposits listed by the World Nuclear Association are Yeelirrie in Western Australia, along with Trekkopje and Langer Heinrich in Namibia. Yeelirrie is a potential open pit held by a Cameco Corp TSX:CCO subsidiary and averaging 0.16% U3O8. Trekkopje, a potential open pit majority-held by AREVA Resources, averages 0.01%. Langer Heinrich, an open pit mine operated on behalf of Paladin Energy, the majority owner now under administrative control, averages 0.052%.

According to the USGS, grades for potential Southern High Plains deposits range from 0.012% to 0.067%, with a median 0.034% U3O8. Gross tonnage estimates range from 200,000 to 52 million tonnes, with a median 8.4 million tonnes. Together, the region’s calcrete-style potential comes to 39.9 million pounds U3O8.

But that’s a regional assessment, not a resource estimate, reflecting how USGS methodology contrasts with that of exploration companies. The agency uses a three-part approach, explains Mark Mihalasky, who co-ordinated the assessment. The procedure first delineates areas that would allow the occurrence of a particular kind of deposit. Using additional geoscientific evidence, the agency estimates how many deposits might be awaiting discovery. How much those potential deposits hold can be estimated through comparisons with similar known deposits around the world.

Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things…. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.—Mark Mihalasky

“Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things,” Mihalasky emphasizes. “The purpose of our assessment is to help land planners, decision-makers and people in the region get an idea of what could be there, based upon probability. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.

“This whole region is a relatively newly recognized area of potential and while we’re not saying this is a new uranium province we are saying there’s something here that hasn’t been found before in the United States and this might be worth looking into in greater detail if you’re an exploration company.”

Already one company from Australia has been asking “lots of questions,” says Van Gosen. Although most uranium mining in the American west uses in-situ recovery, the shallow depth and soft host rock of the Southern High Plains could present open pit opportunities “assuming uranium prices and other factors are favourable.”

Any positive price assumption will have to wait, however. One week earlier Cameco announced the impending suspension of its high-grade McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. The company said that long-term contracts had shielded it from uranium’s post-Fukushima plunge of over 70%, but those contracts are now expiring. Cameco had previously suspended its Rabbit Lake mine and reduced production at its American operations.

But while production faces cutbacks, controversy over American dependence on foreign uranium flared up again last month with renewed questions about the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. The formerly TSX-listed Uranium One holds American resources that could potentially produce up to 1,400 tonnes of uranium annually, according to the WNA. But last year the company’s sole U.S. operation, the Willow Creek ISR mine, produced just 23 tonnes of the country’s total output of 1,126 tonnes.

As the world’s largest consumer of uranium for energy, the U.S. relies on nukes for about 19% of the country’s electricity, according to USGS numbers. Only 11% of last year’s uranium purchases came from domestic sources.

USGS reports new domestic uranium potential and new uranium “species”

November 14th, 2017

This story has been expanded and moved here.

‘Everyone’s hiring again’

May 24th, 2017

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting presages a wave of M&A

by Greg Klein

As an executive search firm, the Mining Recruitment Group might serve as a bellwether for the industry. Founder and self-described mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says, “I put together management teams for companies, I connect people with opportunities and opportunities with people.” In that role, he experienced the upturn well before many industry players did.

To most of them, the long-awaited resurgence arrived late last year. Pollard saw it several months earlier.

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting could presage a wave of M&A

“The market came back in a huge way, at least in the hiring side, early last year when my phone started ringing a hell of a lot more,” he explains. “There was a huge volume. And what I’ve found is that the available talent pool for executives shrank in a period of about six months. In January 2016, for example, I was working on a search and there was almost a lineup out the door of some really big-name people. What I’m finding now, a year and a half later, is that the available talent has almost evaporated. It’s much harder to recruit for senior positions.”

Lately his work suggests another industry development. “The major upturn I’m seeing in the market now is a huge demand for corporate development people who can do technical due diligence on projects. Over the last few years large mining companies and investment banks cut staff almost to the bone in that regard because no one was interested in doing deals or looking at acquisitions.”

Just completed, his most recent placement was for Sprott. “They had me looking for someone with a technical background who can do due diligence for their investments. In doing so I spoke with everyone on the street, from investment banks to some big name corporate development people and they all said the same thing: Everyone’s hiring again. These are people who couldn’t get job offers a year ago, now every single candidate on the short list for this last search has multiple offers from companies looking to get them. I haven’t seen that in five years.

“So that leads me to believe companies have been staffing up their corporate development teams. I see that as a major sign that you’re going to see M&A pick up in a huge, huge way, probably over the next three to six months.”

An early example would be last week’s Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD buyout of Integra Gold TSXV:ICG—“one of my best clients over the years”—in a deal valued at $590 million.

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting could presage a wave of M&A

Andrew Pollard: Executive recruiting “leads me to believe companies have been staffing up their corporate development teams.”

“I think there’s leverage for other companies to start pulling the trigger faster because they’re adding the expertise to get these things done.”

Having founded the Mining Recruitment Group over a decade ago at the age of 20, “a snotty kid” with only a single year of related experience, he’s placed people in companies with market caps ranging from $5 million to well over $200 million. Now in a position to pick and choose his assignments, Pollard’s business concentrates on “the roles that will have the most impact on a company’s future.” That tends to be CEO, president, COO and board appointments.

Last year he placed five CEOs, as well as other positions. Among those assignments, Pollard worked with Frank Giustra on a CEO search for Fiore Exploration TSXV:F and filled another vacancy for Treasury Metals TSX:TML as it advances Goliath toward production.

But the hiring surge coincides with an industry-wide recruitment challenge. Pollard attributes that to a demographic predicament complicated by mining’s notorious cyclicality.

During the 1990s, he points out, fewer people chose mining careers, resulting in a shortage of staffers who’d now be in their 40s and 50s. Greater numbers joined up during the more promising mid-2000s, only to “get spat out” when markets went south. Now Pollard gets a lot of calls to replace baby boomers who want to retire. Too many of those retirements are coming around the same time, he says, because stock losses during the downturn had forced executives to postpone their exit.

Now, with a wave of retirements coinciding with a demographic gap, Pollard sees a “perfect storm to identify the next batch of young leaders.”

But he also sees promise in a new generation. That inspired him to assemble Young Leaders, one of two panel discussions he’ll present at the International Metal Writers Conference in Vancouver on May 28 and 29.

“By talking with some very successful executives age 35 and under, I want to show that we need to look at people one generation younger, and foster and develop this talent.”

By talking with some very successful executives age 35 and under, I want to show that we need to look at people one generation younger, and foster and develop this talent.

Well, it’s either talent or a precocious Midas touch that distinguishes these panel members. Maverix Metals TSXV:MMX CEO Dan O’Flaherty co-founded the royalty/streaming company just last year, already accumulating assets in 10 countries and a $200-million market cap.

As president/CEO of Skyharbour Resources TSXV:SYH, Jordan Trimble proved adept at fundraising and deal-making while building a 250,000-hectare uranium-thorium exploration portfolio in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Integra president/CEO Steve de Jong raised the company from a $10-million market cap in 2012 to last week’s $590-million takeout.

And, demographic gap notwithstanding, Pollard’s second panel features three other success stories, just a bit older but with lots of potential left after guiding three of last year’s biggest M&A deals. They’ll take part in the Vision to Exit discussion, which closes the conference on May 29.

Eira Thomas burst into prominence at the Lac de Gras diamond fields where she discovered Diavik at age 24. Her most recent major coup took place last year on the Klondike gold fields with Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) $520-million buyout of Kaminak Gold.

Featherstone Capital president/CEO Doug Forster founded and led Newmarket Gold, producing over 225,000 ounces a year from three Australian mines and enticing Kirkland Lake Gold’s (TSX:KL) billion-dollar offer.

Now chairperson of Liberty Gold TSX:LGD and a director of NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, Mark O’Dea co-founded and chaired True Gold Mining, acquired in April 2016 by Endeavour Mining TSX:EDV. Three other companies that O’Dea co-founded, led and sold were Fronteer Gold, picked up by Newmont Mining NYSE:NEM in 2011; Aurora Energy, sold to Paladin Energy TSX:PDN in 2011; and True North Nickel, in which Royal Nickel TSX:RNX bought a majority interest in 2014.

“We’ll be looking at how they go into deals, what their philosophy is, what’s their current reading of the market and what they’re going to do next. They each have a big future ahead of them.”

Pollard’s two panel discussions take place at the International Metal Writers Conference on May 28 and 29 at the Vancouver Convention Centre East. Pre-register for free or pay $20 at the door.

In all, the conference brings generations of talent, expertise and insight to an audience of industry insiders and investors alike.

Read more about the International Metal Writers Conference.

Pistol Bay signs LOI on Confederation Lake property, expands airborne geophysics

May 5th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 5, 2017

Update: On May 8 Pistol Bay announced a further expansion of the airborne VTEM Plus survey, from 1,128 to 2,100 line-kilometres, covering a 40-kilometre length of the Confederation Lake greenstone belt.

An upcoming geophysical program has been extended to fly a potential land acquisition under consideration by Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST. The company announced a letter of intent on the 496-hectare Copperlode property, about four kilometres along strike from Pistol Bay’s Arrow zone in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. Having already assembled the area’s largest land package, the company plans region-wide, state-of-the-art exploration over neglected but VMS-rich ground.

Copperlode would bring Pistol Bay two more historic, non-43-101 estimates:

  • D zone: 32,600 tonnes averaging 7.58% zinc and 0.26% copper

  • E zone: 145,000 tonnes averaging 8.28% zinc, 1.02% copper and 24 g/t silver
Pistol Bay signs LOI on Confederation Lake property, expands airborne geophysics

Additionally, some historic, non-43-101 drill intercepts include:

  • B zone: 2.5% zinc and 1.68% copper over 6.3 metres

  • C zone: 0.21% zinc and 6.02% copper over 1.5 metres

  • Hornet zone: 7.56% zinc and 0.08% copper over 6.6 metres
  • 4.07% zinc and 1.13% copper over 5.03 metres

Hornet remains open at depth and along strike.

On finishing the region-wide airborne VTEM Plus campaign Pistol Bay may acquire an initial 65% option on Copperlode from Frontline Gold TSXV:FGC, which holds an option on the claims from another vendor. Pistol Bay would pay Frontline $26,000 and issue 450,000 shares over two years and spend $150,000 over three years. Another $50,000 and 300,000 shares would boost Pistol Bay’s stake to 80%.

Pistol Bay’s current Confederation Lake portfolio consists of 9,450 hectares with a number of historic estimates, including the 2007 Arrow resource on which the company began a 43-101 update last month.

Also last month, the company closed a $336,000 private placement that followed a $548,436 placement in March. April brought more money with $750,000 from a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary as part of its 100% option on Pistol Bay’s uranium properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.

Pistol Bay readies geophysics, resource update at Ontario’s Confederation Lake

April 12th, 2017

by Greg Klein | April 12, 2017

Taking to the skies to probe deeper underground, the first airborne survey in 20 years will bring state-of-the-art technology to Pistol Bay Mining’s (TSXV:PST) Confederation Lake greenstone belt land package. Geotech Ltd will carry out an initial 1,128-line-kilometre VTEM Plus campaign, the first phase of a belt-scale helicopter-borne program. That’s part of a multi-disciplinary approach planned over the next few years for Pistol Bay’s portfolio, at 9,450 hectares the largest holdings in Confederation Lake.

Pistol Bay readies geophysics, resource update at Ontario’s Confederation Lake

VTEM Plus penetrates deeper and offers better conductor resolution than previous VTEM systems, the company stated.

“We will essentially be exploring a new depth slice of this greenstone belt, with its numerous VMS deposits and occurrences, that has never been explored before,” said president Charles Desjardins. “This newer technology increases the chances of potentially finding a new zinc-copper-silver deposit like the Arrow zone or the former producing South Bay mine.”

Last week Pistol Bay announced an update had begun on Arrow’s 2007 resource, one of the portfolio’s historic estimates.

The company’s currently financed with a $548,436 private placement that closed last month and a recent payment of $750,000 from a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary as part of its 100% option on Pistol Bay’s uranium properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.

Pistol Bay expands Confederation Lake package, adding gold to base metals potential

March 22nd, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 22, 2017

The largest portfolio in western Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt just got larger as Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST increased its holdings to about 9,450 hectares. Two claim groups, Lucky 7 and Moth, cover “a 53-kilometre length of favourable volcanic geology,” the company stated.

Pistol Bay expands Confederation Lake package, adding gold to base metals potential

Neighbouring Pistol Bay’s Garnet Lake and Garnet East properties, the 640-hectare Lucky 7 hosts a copper-gold sulphide zone that was drilled in 1980 and 2002. A zone of massive to disseminated sulphides, the Hilltop copper-gold zone, was trenched but apparently never drilled. One of two Hilltop grab samples taken last year assayed 13.84 g/t gold and 3.21% copper.

Five kilometres from Lucky 7, the 1,360-hectare Moth claims underwent at least 14 holes between 1970 and the mid-1990s, revealing widespread hydrothermal alteration and numerous cases of zinc and/or copper mineralization, Pistol Bay stated. One interval graded 2.86 g/t gold over 0.3 metres. Located two kilometres from the former South Bay zinc-copper-silver mine, Moth sits near the Confederation belt’s most accessible area.

[Assays] suggest that we might be getting into an area with a potential for gold as well as base metals. This is something that hasn’t been widely recognized before in the Confederation Lake belt.—Charles Desjardins,
CEO of Pistol Bay Mining

Assays from both properties “suggest that we might be getting into an area with a potential for gold as well as base metals,” said CEO Charles Desjardins. “This is something that hasn’t been widely recognized before in the Confederation Lake belt.”

Together, the two properties will cost $72,000 and 2.3 million shares over three years. Pistol Bay may buy half of the 1.5% NSR for $400,000.

Last month the company acquired an historic data set for its recently optioned Joy North copper-zinc project. Mostly consisting of drill logs and ground geophysics maps, the info will go into a digital database including drill information, geology, assays, rock chemistry, petrology and geophysics. Now under consideration is an airborne EM and mag survey to penetrate deeper than earlier systems and better discriminate bedrock from overburden conductivity.

Pistol Bay’s overall strategy is to apply modern methods and a regional approach to properties that had previously been explored individually by different companies using earlier techniques.

The company also holds the C4, C5 and C6 uranium properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin, where a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary advances towards a 100% interest.

On March 20 Pistol Bay closed a private placement totalling $548,436.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.

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

With maiden resource complete, Kennady Diamonds sees PEA late next year

December 14th, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 14, 2016

It’s “quite possibly a record timeframe in the history of Canadian diamond exploration,” according to Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI president/CEO Rory Moore. One of several small dykes discovered by the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV JV in 2000, the Kelvin kimberlite wasn’t drilled until 2012. By that time Mountain Province, preoccupied with the adjacent Gahcho Kué, had created Kennady to investigate the neighbouring turf. On December 12 the spinout released Kelvin’s resource, the first such estimate for the 71,000-hectare Kennady North property.

With maiden resource complete, Kennady Diamonds sees PEA late next year

Kennady has a busy year ahead, with plans for resource
estimates on two additional kimberlites prior to PEA.

Using a one-millimetre bottom cutoff, the all-indicated resource shows 8.5 million tonnes averaging 1.6 carats per tonne for 13.62 million carats of diamonds. Average value comes to $63 per carat.

The deposit extends to a depth of 510 metres, with about 85% within a potential open pit to 330 metres’ depth and the rest a possible underground mine.

It’s been a productive four years and five months since Kennady first put rigs to work. The resource considered 175 holes totalling 40,041 metres, microdiamond samples totalling 20.23 tonnes. a mini-bulk sample of 44.8 tonnes and two more bulk samples totalling 1,067 tonnes. The bulk samples gave up 2,262 carats for valuation.

Announced last month, Antwerp’s verdict—actually two separate valuations that arrived at the same amount—came to an average $52 per carat. But Kennady emphasized the lopsided values of bigger diamonds, including a 2.84-carat stone valued at $2,640 per carat.

Moore pointed to a “similar trend” at Gahcho Kué, five kilometres away. “The five highest-value Kelvin diamonds represent 1% of the sample weight but 20% of the total value. This trend is a key determinant of overall value.”

A PEA’s now scheduled for late 2017 and would incorporate resource estimates to come from the Faraday 2 and 3 kimberlites, which will undergo bulk sampling this winter. Kennady also plans geophysics over 4,233 hectares acquired in August just south of Gahcho Kué. The company will consider exploration drilling following the bulk samples.

Earlier this month Kennady, along with Athabasca Basin uranium standout NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, shared the 2016 Exploration Company of the Year award at Mines and Money London.

ALX Uranium president/CEO Mark Lackey explains his decision to join the company

November 22nd, 2016

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Denison Mines VP of exploration Dale Verran discusses the Hook-Carter project, held 80%/20% with ALX Uranium

November 9th, 2016

…Read more