Saturday 21st July 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘b.c.’

Follow the money, distantly

July 13th, 2018

Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail

by Greg Klein

It was a momentous week for Canadian regulators, seemingly. In a ruling on “one of the largest corporate frauds in Canadian history,” the Ontario Securities Commission slammed Sino-Forest scamsters with over $81 million in sanctions. One day later the Canadian Securities Administrators announced a nationwide total last year of nearly $70 million in penalties and a roughly equal amount in payback orders. All that sounds impressive, but a troubling question remains: How much—or, more accurately, how little—will ever be collected?

Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail

TSX-listed Sino-Forest’s 2012 crash wiped out $6 billion of investors’ money. Six years of OSC reviews expanded on short seller Muddy Waters’ exposé to conclude that “the complexity, scale and duration of the fraud are simply stunning.”

This week the commission imposed disgorgements, penalties and costs on a quartet of Chinese executives totalling $81.4 million, with Gang of Four ringleader Allen Chan responsible for $67.3 million.

In a sense, the OSC showed leniency. “We do not generally apply our penalties to each misstatement or instance of fraudulent conduct occurring even over an extended period of time, as here,” the commission stated. “If that approach were taken, the sanctions sought by staff would be multiplied many times.”

But whether the amounts could be higher would seem a moot point without collection. In an e-mailed response to ResourceClips.com inquiries, OSC public affairs manager Kristen Rose stated: “In addition to the challenges inherent in collecting sanctions generally, there is added difficulty in matters where respondents are outside of North America, and there is uncertainty as to whether there are recoverable assets. That said, as with any such matter, the OSC will make every effort to identify recoverable assets.”

In addition to the challenges inherent in collecting sanctions generally, there is added difficulty in matters where respondents are outside of North America, and there is uncertainty as to whether there are recoverable assets. That said, as with any such matter, the OSC will make every effort to identify recoverable assets.—Kristen Rose,
OSC public affairs manager

She added that Chan faces a civil judgement of US$2.6 billion, as well as a class action suit. Wronged investors would get priority over OSC penalties.

This week’s annual enforcement report from the CSA—the umbrella group for securities commissions in 13 jurisdictions—shows $69.4 million in penalties imposed nationwide during the last calendar year, along with another $68.6 million in restitution, compensation and disgorgement orders.

The report doesn’t say how much was collected. CSA chairperson Louis Morisset doesn’t have the figures either, not even for previous years. But he emphasizes that collection efforts continue.

“Those sanctions don’t always align with a person or company’s ability to pay,” he tells ResourceClips.com. “I can certainly assure you that we’re deploying all efforts to collect those monetary sanctions.”

Among the barriers to collection are bankruptcy, competing claims, lack of recoverable assets or offshore residence.

Nevertheless the performance of securities commissions, especially in British Columbia and Ontario, has come under media scrutiny. Beginning late last year, a series of Postmedia stories by Gordon Hoekstra detailed several cases of B.C. Securities Commission sanctions remaining unenforced, despite offenders holding significant assets. Over the last decade the BCSC collected less than 2% of $510 million in fines and payback orders, while the OSC enforced about 18% of its penalties, Hoekstra found.

In December Globe and Mail reporters Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso released their study of 30 years of regulatory records, finding scams with higher dollar values than the resulting penalties, which often went unenforced anyway.

Morisset declined to comment on the stories, referring only to a December CSA statement that took issue with some aspects of the G&M reports and emphasized the role of police in financial crime investigations.

Still, media coverage seemed to make an impact.

“Immediately after the Postmedia investigation, the BCSC filed at least 10 writs of seizure and sale in B.C. Supreme Court for financial fraudsters owing nearly $70 million in penalties, and renewed three enforcement orders,” Hoekstra reported last month. “Also following the investigation, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James ordered the BCSC to improve its collection record and called for new tools and modernization of the Securities Act to improve collection.”

Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail

CSA chairperson Louis Morisset:
“There is an array of means and we’re deploying
everything available in the circumstances
to ensure deterrence.” (Photo: CSA)

As the CSA report shows, regulators don’t just go after money. Last year courts handed out prison terms totalling 33 years for offences under provincial securities legislation, with sentences for the 17 individuals ranging from 30 days to five years. Criminal Code cases handled by regulators brought eight sentences totalling 14 years.

Six of the jailbirds were repeat offenders. But a low overall recidivism rate of about 4% shows the power of deterrence, Morisset says. And, regardless of whether it’s responding to media criticism about enforcement, the CSA emphasizes the importance of deterrence.

It’s “also achieved by other means like revoking, suspending or imposing restrictions on registration, imposing bans, freezing accounts,” explains Morisset. “There is an array of means and we’re deploying everything available in the circumstances to ensure deterrence.”

Last month the OSC stated its two-year-old whistleblower program brought 11 no-contest settlements, returning more than $368 million to investors.

Beyond that the CSA plays up its “innovative” approaches, to binary options for example. In addition to a public awareness campaign, the group approached Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Visa and MasterCard. “We made them aware of the issues surrounding binary options and that they were used to a certain extent to facilitate fraud, and I think our approach was very innovative and effective in preventing fraudsters from reaching their targets,” says Morisset.

Also innovative was an outright ban on binary options. “It was the first time in Canada that we banned a product, giving a very strong message that these are toxic products.”

He says new approaches to fraud could expand the pool of potential victims, drawing in millennials with little or no investment experience. CSA publicity campaigns encourage awareness of the cryptocurrency world.

Through its Regulatory Sandbox, the CSA tries to streamline the entry of innovative fintech firms into the regulatory world. The CSA’s new Market Analysis Platform will use updated surveillance technology to monitor manipulation and insider trading. Canada’s first Pump and Dump Summit, held in Calgary last September, brought together four Canadian securities commissions and the RCMP, along with the U.S. SEC and FBI. Across Canada and abroad, inter-jurisdictional collaboration helps regulators join forces, says Morisset.

“We are innovative and we have to be, because the markets are innovative.”

But when the regulators fail, others might step in—with fraudsters on one side and, on the other, maybe opportunistic vigilantes like Muddy Waters.

Commerce Resources president Chris Grove discusses his company’s Canadian rare earths and tantalum-niobium projects as the U.S. develops a strategy to secure supply

June 22nd, 2018

…Read more

Sustaining dialogue

June 15th, 2018

Resources for Future Generations brings diverse viewpoints to vital issues

by Greg Klein

Resources for Future Generations brings diverse viewpoints to vital issues

Geo-boffins take part in a pre-conference field trip to the southern British Columbia porphyry belt.
(Photo: Jeanne Liu/UBC Mineral Deposit Research Unit)

 

Evidently the organizers want to find common ground between disparate, even polarized, viewpoints. And Vancouver, as a world capital of mining, a burgeoning high-tech centre for clean energy and a hotbed of environmental activism, might be the ideal venue for such an endeavour. It’s here that Resources for Future Generations will assemble an international and divergent group to discuss three essentials to our survival on this planet: energy, minerals and water.

The event takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre between June 16 and 21 where, to offer just a few examples, representatives of Rio Tinto, the David Suzuki Foundation, Clean Energy Canada, the Tahltan Nation and Resource Works will meet and mingle, where the likes of Ross Beaty and Tzeporah Berman will share perspectives and where the public—the real stakeholders in all this—might gain a better understanding of resource-related issues.

Resources for Future Generations brings diverse viewpoints to vital issues

While describing the event John Thompson keeps using the word “diversity.” The chairperson of the RFG steering committee and Cornell University’s professor in environmental balance for human sustainability says the word applies to the three themes of energy, minerals and water. “Then we’ve got people with this diversity of disciplines, and this diversity of backgrounds and countries, so we can certainly say this will be a diverse conference.”

That applies to viewpoints, too. “We’re absolutely encouraging people to put their issues on the table and listen to each other’s views,” he emphasizes. “We want good dialogue and we want people to express their views as long as they do so in an appropriate manner, and I have no doubt they will.”

Education, debate and awareness will be encouraged through panel discussions, keynote talks, public lectures, interactive events, field trips, short courses and more. From different sectors, disciplines, causes and communities will come executives, professionals, activists and representatives. A series of free public events ensures the broadest possible participation. About half the attendees will come from outside Canada.

This will be RFG’s debut, but Thompson hopes success will make it a regular occurrence. The idea began with the International Union of Geological Sciences, one of UNESCO’s scientific organizations, and was developed further through discussion with other groups. Presenting the event are the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences, the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, the Geological Association of Canada and the Mineralogical Association of Canada. Additional support comes from over 85 sponsors, technical partners and others.

Thompson hopes to realize an ambitious list of goals. Among them, “We certainly want to get resource sectors talking to each other,” he says. “We have a bad habit of doing our thing when we have a lot to learn from each other.

“We’re also trying to give people a better understanding of the relationship between the Earth, all the resources we take for granted and how we can use them more effectively going into the future.”

We do have ‘future generations’ in the title and our goal is to engage young people. We have about 350 students coming to the conference. They’re from almost all parts of the world, they’re the future. They need to be involved in the issues regardless of which side of the fence they’re on.—John Thompson

He notes the importance of “increasing people’s understanding of other people’s needs and views, and promoting interaction between industry, sectors and society at large. A lot of people have concerns that aren’t often discussed at a higher level.”

With a global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, there’s a lot at stake.

“We do have ‘future generations’ in the title and our goal is to engage young people. We have about 350 students coming to the conference. They’re from almost all parts of the world, they’re the future. They need to be involved in the issues regardless of which side of the fence they’re on. We need to get people thinking and solving problems with a view to the future for everybody. If we succeed in that and get more young people engaged, I think that’ll be a great outcome.”

He hopes that outcome will extend well beyond those who attend. “The general public often has a limited understanding of the nature of resources, where they come from, how we extract them and how hard we work to do things appropriately. If we increase the understanding and awareness of where things come from and the challenges, but also the amazing progress people are making in solving those challenges, that would be a great outcome as well.”

Resources for Future Generations 2018 takes place from June 16 to 21 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Click here for more info and registration. See the lineup of free public events here.

PricewaterhouseCoopers comments on a survey of 13 B.C. mining companies

June 13th, 2018

…Read more

Golden Dawn Minerals reports high gold-copper grades in B.C., prepares for trial mining

June 11th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 11, 2018

Channel sample results from the face of previous underground workings auger well for plans to re-start southern British Columbia’s Lexington mine, Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM stated June 11. The company released several dozen assays from a campaign that’s collected 339 samples so far. Four of the best composite results showed:

  • 30.18 g/t gold and 4.93% copper (37.57 g/t gold-equivalent) over 1.8 metres

  • 26.67 g/t gold and 1.77% copper (29.33 g/t gold-equivalent) over 2.3 metres

  • 13.41 g/t gold and 2.08% copper (16.54 g/t gold-equivalent) over 3.9 metres

  • 17.04 g/t gold and 3.42% copper (22.16 g/t gold-equivalent) over 2.6 metres
Golden Dawn Minerals reports high gold-copper grades in B.C. while preparing for trial mining

Underground refurbishment, equipment maintenance,
engineering studies and permitting bring the Lexington mine
closer to renewed operations.

The grades bolster confidence in the 2016 resource and would help reduce dilution of mill feed during trial mining, anticipated to begin later this year, the company stated. Having produced a PEA for its Greenwood properties last year, Golden Dawn hopes to re-start some of the former mines without de-risking at the feasibility level. The 15,400-hectare portfolio includes 31 historic mines. Processing would take place at the company’s nearby Greenwood mill, a 212-tpd facility that’s expandable to 400 tpd.

Using a base case cutoff of 3.5 g/t gold-equivalent, Lexington’s resource shows:

  • measured: 58,000 tonnes averaging 6.98 g/t gold and 1.1% copper (8.63 g/t gold-equivalent) for 16,100 gold-equivalent ounces

  • indicated: 314,000 tonnes averaging 6.38 g/t gold and 1.04% copper (7.94 g/t gold-equivalent) for 80,200 gold-equivalent ounces

  • inferred: 12,000 tonnes averaging 4.42 g/t gold and 1.03% copper (5.96 g/t gold-equivalent) for 2,300 gold-equivalent ounces

Under a previous operator between April and December 2008, the mine produced 5,486 ounces of gold, 3,247 ounces of silver and 860,259 pounds of copper.

Recent work suggests possible extensions to the northwest of two potential parallel mineralized zones near Lexington’s Main zone. Golden Dawn also sees a “one-kilometre-long trend of favourable host rocks” stretching from Lexington into the former Lone Star mine just across the border in Washington state. “The favourable stratigraphy also extends over three kilometres to the northwest through the historic Lexington, Mable and Number 7 mines, where minimal past exploration drilling was done,” the company stated. Previous sampling shows further potential around the nearby City of Paris former mine, Golden Dawn added.

The company continues its extensive work on Lexington’s mine infrastructure, equipment, engineering studies and permitting.

Earlier this month Golden Dawn closed a $734,700 first tranche of a private placement offered up to $5.4 million. Last month the company issued shares to repay $160,339 in debt to Lind Asset Management.

Read more about Golden Dawn Minerals.

The Ontario election: What does Ford’s nation have in store for mining?

June 7th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 7, 2018

He reportedly promised to get Ring of Fire development started even if he had to climb onto a bulldozer to blaze a trail himself. Now Doug Ford and Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have won a resounding majority, already apparent less than half an hour after polls closed and five days after Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne conceded defeat.

The Ontario election: What does Ford’s nation have in store for mining?

As a popular newcomer facing an increasingly unpopular incumbent,
Doug Ford needed few details to back up his platform.
(Photo: Ontario Progressive Conservatives)

Canada-wide, this has probably been the most closely watched provincial election outside Quebec for many years.

Celebrated by some as a populist and disliked by the establishment for the same reason, Ford was nevertheless granted a degree of civility that the media generally begrudged his late brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Although a veteran of municipal politics and a long-time PC member, this marks Doug Ford’s first foray as a provincial candidate.

Elegant for its simplicity was his party’s five-point plan, starting with “scrap the carbon tax.” He’d “cut gas prices by 10 cents a litre, reduce middle class income taxes by 20%, cut your hydro bills by 12%,” create “quality” jobs, slash government waste and “end hallway health care” with new beds and additional treatment.

No doubt more details will come. But his Ring of Fire rhetoric drew criticism for a lack of specifics. At a debate on Northern issues last month, the Ottawa Citizen quoted him saying, “For years, all we’ve heard is talk, talk, talk. No action whatsoever. We’re going to work with the people of the North, we’re going to work with the First Nations, we’re going to respect the treaties that are in place right now. But we’re not going to talk. We’re going to get in there, after the agreements, and get to work.”

According to the Citizen, the Liberal leader “practically threw up her hands. Doing things right takes time, she said, and the agreements you just mentioned are made by talking. ‘You’re just going to drive a bulldozer right across northern Ontario,’ she said.”

Earlier that month Ford announced a revenue-sharing plan for Northern communities, including natives, using provincial revenue from forestry and mining. Again, specifics were scarce but he beat a similar, more detailed, announcement from the Liberals by a few days.

Yet the issues that all parties either neglected in detail or ignored altogether have been documented by mining commentator Stan Sudol at The Republic of Mining and serialized in the Sudbury Star. Sudol wrote the piece with the election in mind, but it’s worth bookmarking for future reference. If the PCs were really serious about mining, they might even hire him as a special adviser.

In other election notes, leaders of all three main parties—plus the Greens—won their own ridings. But Wynne, who edged out her PC challenger by less than 200 votes and dragged the Liberals down to third-place status, announced her resignation as party leader.

Guelph elected Ontario’s first Green Party MPP, Mike Schreiner. Canada has just five other Greens elected provincially (three in British Columbia and one each in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), along with a sole MP from B.C.

Ottawa Centre elected NDP candidate Joel Harden, who publicly supports the party’s extremist Leap Manifesto.

Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston re-elected PC Randy Hillier, defeating a challenge by NDPer and former MiningWatch activist Ramsey Hart.

The huge new northern riding of Mushkegowuk-James Bay—which hosts the Ring of Fire—elected the NDP’s Guy Bourgouin, maintaining a longstanding NDP tradition from the region’s former riding of Timmins-James Bay.

Kiiwetinoong, the massive new riding to the west, had no results available as of 10:30 p.m. local time.

While the election was considered “seismic” by some commentators, the most historic significance might have been high voter turnout on the last game of the Stanley Cup series.

Fabled Klondike gateway sold to cruise ship line for US$290 million

June 7th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 7, 2018

It’s been a local fixture for decades but a company that panders to pampered argonauts will officially take over the Alaska panhandle port of Skagway. This of course was the landing point for an earlier, much hardier breed nicknamed after Jason and his buddies of Golden Fleece fame. The Klondike argonauts also sailed storm-tossed seas but, while passing through this little town seeking gold, often got fleeced themselves.

Fabled Klondike gateway sold to cruise ship line for US$290 million

From frontier hellhole to tourist mecca,
Skagway trades on its Klondike connection.
(Photo: Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Such was the case when frontier bad guy Soapy Smith and his gang ran Skagway like a criminal fiefdom. They succeeded for a while, but it was right on the docks in 1898 that Smith and vigilante Frank Reid shot and killed each other. Their mortal remains rest in a graveyard on the edge of town.

Skagway was one of two main ports of arrival for the Klondike, along with Dyea, about five kilometres northwest. The latter town led to the Chilkoot Trail, where desperate hopefuls would make something like 50 trips of up to six hours each climbing to a North West Mounted Police checkpoint to carry supplies sufficient to survive a Yukon winter.

The rival route led to the White Pass, “a hellish place even for those inured to hardship and disappointment by having survived the different hell that was Skagway,” wrote Douglas Fetherling in The Gold Crusades. Railway construction began a few months before Smith’s death, with the line reaching Whitehorse in 1900. There, the White Pass and Yukon Route transferred its goods and passengers onto riverboats towards Dawson City.

In the 1950s the WP&YR became a world innovator by introducing the concept of containerized freight handling, loading the cargo from the world’s first container ship to rail at Skagway and then truck at Whitehorse. The distinctive containers can still be seen around Skagway, serving various purposes such as garden sheds.

The WP&YR’s fortunes rose and fell with those of the mining industry, recounted Marina McCready in Gateway to Gold. Competition arrived in 1978 from a new Whitehorse-to-Skagway highway. A mining slump shut down the service in 1982, but it reopened in 1988 to offer summer sightseeing excursions. They still run 110 kilometres between the little downtown and Carcross, Yukon, passing through a corner of northwestern British Columbia.

Today “dat tourist trap Skagway,” as a character in Ken Kesey’s Sailor Song called it, features numerous restored turn-of-the-century buildings, some of them transplanted from Dyea. Part of the town comprises the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which in 1998 became an international site managed by both the U.S. and Canada.

From May to September the narrow docks host cruise ships magnificent for their stature but still dwarfed by mountains rising suddenly to the north and south.

On June 6 TWC Enterprises TSX:TWC announced an agreement to sell the WP&YR’s “complete rail, port and merchandise operations” to Carnival Corporation & plc for US$290 million. Debt estimated between $70 million and $80 million will be deducted from the price. TWC may take up to $84 million of the proceeds in Carnival shares. Expected to close by July 31, the transaction would put three docks and four cruise ship berths under a single cruise ship line.

The port also ships concentrate from Yukon’s only hardrock mining operation, the Minto copper-gold-silver mine held by Capstone Mining TSX:CS but subject to a purchase agreement with Pembridge Resources plc. Proponents of some would-be mines in B.C.’s Golden Triangle contemplate shipment through Skagway.

Update: Quebec government, universities contribute to pre-feas studies for Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths project

June 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | Updated June 5, 2018

With financial support from the Quebec government and academic expertise from two universities, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE announced progress on the pre-feasibility studies underway for the Ashram rare earths deposit.

On June 5 the company reported positive results from advanced tailings optimization tests conducted by le Centre Eau Terre Environnement of l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique, a branch of l’Université du Québec. Now in the second year of a three-year project, the work gets funding from les Fonds de recherche du Québec—Nature et technologies and le ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles. The lab work found no serious concerns, no acid generating potential and “strong indications of no metal-leaching potential,” Commerce stated.

The positive outcome benefited from “the inherent low-sulphide and non-acidic nature of the carbonatite host rock,” said company president Chris Grove.

The program also looked at the mineralogy of an Ashram fluorspar concentrate, a potential byproduct of the deposit. Initial findings brought “very encouraging” signs that recovery of monazite grains could upgrade the purity of the fluorspar concentrate and potentially increase the overall recovery of rare earth elements into the primary rare earth concentrate, Commerce added.

The news follows a May 31 annnouncement that l’Université Laval will conduct pilot plant metallurgical tests on Ashram material in a program backed by a $365,000 grant from le ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation.

Quebec government funds metallurgical studies on Commerce Resources’ rare earths

Laval’s coat of arms: Total funding ranks
the school sixth out of Canada’s top 50
research universities.

Focusing on hydrometallurgical extraction of REEs and the use of new software to simulate their separation, the project will further develop Quebec expertise in REE separation and assess the economics of performing that work in the province. Results would help develop an alternative source of rare earths for global markets.

The work takes place as heightened awareness of critical minerals comes from an American strategy to reduce reliance on potentially unstable or unfriendly countries.

Both the hydromet process and simulator software have been tested in bench scale studies. Results brought recoveries surpassing 85% and showed positive correlation with the computer-simulated data. The current project further develops these studies at the pilot plant level.

With approximately two tonnes of Ashram material to work on, the project takes place at the SGS lab in Quebec City. The goal is to produce a high-grade concentrate, then a solution for partial separation into light, medium and heavy rare earth elements.

Beneficiaries of the project will be Quebec R&D and industry, as well as Commerce’s Ashram deposit as it progresses towards pre-feasibility. Previous government support for Ashram came from Ressources Québec, which invested $1 million in the company’s February 2017 private placement.

Looking at other critical minerals in safe jurisdictions, Commerce also holds the advanced-stage Blue River tantalum-niobium project in British Columbia, as well as an early-stage high-grade niobium prospect, conditionally subject to an earn-in by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE, on the Eldor property that hosts Ashram.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Quebec government funds metallurgical studies on Commerce Resources’ rare earths

May 31st, 2018

This story has been updated and moved here.

Commerce Resources sees additional opportunity in U.S. critical minerals strategy

May 22nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 22, 2018

Taking another step to enhance national security, the U.S. Department of the Interior has formally accepted a draft list of 35 minerals deemed critical to the American economy and defence. Resulting from a presidential order to reduce reliance on essential raw materials from potentially unreliable or unfriendly sources, the list received 453 public comments after being compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey. The agenda now moves to the strategy stage, with a final report expected by August on approaches to cut dependence. Topics will include:

Commerce Resources sees additional opportunity in U.S. critical minerals strategy

  • the status of recycling technologies

  • alternatives to critical minerals

  • options for accessing critical minerals from allies and partners

  • a plan to improve geological mapping in the U.S.

  • recommendations to streamline lease permitting and review processes

  • ways to increase discovery, production and domestic refining of critical minerals

The Americans’ heightened interest in sourcing these necessities from allies and partners brings to mind companies like Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, which has two advanced-stage Canadian properties hosting four critical minerals. At the company’s northern Quebec Eldor property, Commerce undertakes pre-feasibility studies on the Ashram deposit, hosting a rare earths resource with fluorspar byproduct potential. In central British Columbia, the company holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit. Those two metals are also the subject of early-stage exploration on Eldor, a few kilometres from Ashram.

“Ultimately, what’s obvious from this critical minerals list is the U.S. government’s interest in cutting the Chinese umbilical cord,” points out company president Chris Grove. “A commonality that we at Commerce keep hearing is anxiety from companies in all of the major markets outside China—Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria, the U.S., France—companies in all these countries are concerned about future supplies of these commodities and they don’t want to have to depend on them from China. Essentially, the theme of this critical commodities list is getting it from somewhere besides China.”

And although China looms large, it’s not the only source of dubious reliability.

“There’s a huge increase in risk once you step outside North America. With our locations, we definitely benefit from that negation of jurisdictional risk.”

Mineralogy reduces another category of risk. “Looking at the specifics of our projects, both Ashram and Blue River are processed very positively with standard techniques,” Grove adds. “We’re not re-creating the wheel here, we’re not re-splitting the atom. Well-understood metallurgical processes work on both of our projects.

“Meanwhile we have ongoing optimization work on Ashram and also on the flowsheet for Blue River and there will be more data released in a timely manner on these potential successes.”

The company has early-stage prospects too, emphasized by especially high-grade niobium, along with tantalum, on the Miranna claims. Located on the same Eldor property hosting Ashram, the project has a 43-101 technical report now nearing completion. Subject to exchange approval, Miranna would then come under a 75% earn-in by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE.

USGS data accentuates American reliance on foreign sources for Commerce’s four minerals. Data from 2013 to 2016 shows the U.S. imported 78% of its rare earths from China, with much of the other 22% originating in Chinese-produced concentrates. China produced only 8% of American fluorspar imports, but Mexico supplied 71%. U.S. imports of tantalum minerals came 40% from Brazil and 26% from Rwanda, while America’s tantalum metal originated 23% in China and 12% in Kazakhstan. An overwhelming 72% of niobium, a crucial component to military, infrastructure and other uses, came from Brazil—most of it from a single company.

Read more about Commerce Resources here and here.