Friday 14th December 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘bismuth’

Niobium-tantalum in Quebec

December 5th, 2018

Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

by Greg Klein

“Building momentum” is the way Saville Resources TSXV:SRE president Mike Hodge puts it. Steady progress, shown most recently through another encouraging sampling program, puts the company’s early-stage niobium-tantalum project in Quebec on track for drilling this winter. Assays so far have the company hopeful about proving up a maiden resource in this mining-friendly jurisdiction next door to a country increasingly concerned about sourcing critical metals.

Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

Conducted by Dahrouge Geological Consulting, the fall
program brought the Niobium claim group to drill-ready status.

The autumn field program met all of its objectives, Hodge enthuses. Twenty-two boulder samples surpassed 0.7% Nb2O5, with 14 of them exceeding 0.8% and one peaking at 1.5%. Tantalum made its presence known too. Those same 14 niobium samples also graded between 160 ppm and 1,080 ppm Ta2O5.

The project gained yet another target, where boulders reached 0.88% and 1.28% Nb2O5. A ground magnetics survey highlighted the prospectivity of the Moira area, already the location of exceptionally high-grade samples. In all, the results show a drill-ready project that should see action this winter.

Saville holds a 75% earn-in from Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE on the Niobium claim group, a 1,223-hectare package on the latter company’s Eldor property in Quebec. Just a few kilometres from the Niobium project and with obvious synergistic potential for Saville, Commerce has its Ashram rare earths deposit moving towards pre-feasibility. All this takes place in a province that demonstrates its support for mining through a number of initiatives, including direct investment and the Plan Nord infrastructure program. The northeastern Quebec region has two treaties in place that clearly define procedures for native consultation. Saville’s three-quarters stake in the Niobium claim group calls for $5 million in work over five years.

A 43-101 technical report filed in September followed field programs by previous companies including 41 holes totalling 8,175 metres drilled by Commerce. In addition to niobium-tantalum, the report noted phosphate and fluorspar as potential secondary commodities.

Some of the standout results from previous sampling came from the property’s as-yet undrilled Miranna area, where boulder samples graded as high as 2.75%, 4.24%, 4.3% and an exceptional 5.93% Nb2O5.

Other locations have been drilled, but not since 2010. Some 17 holes and 4,328 metres on the Southeast area brought near-surface highlights that include:

  • 0.82% Nb2O5 over 21.89 metres, starting at 58.93 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.72% over 21.35 metres, starting at 4.22 metres
  • (including 0.9% over 4.78 metres)

  • 0.72% over 17.35 metres, starting at 70 metres

  • 0.71% over 15.33 metres, starting at 55.1 metres

True widths were unavailable. Southeast results also showed tantalum and phosphate, as well as suggesting a possible fluorspar zone.

A wide, near-surface interval from the Northwest area showed:

  • 0.46% Nb2O5 over 46.88 metres, starting at 30.65 metres
  • (including 0.61% over 11.96 metres)
Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

Surface outcrops and near-surface core
produce encouraging grades for Saville Resources.

As in the Southeast, the Northwest area showed encouraging signs of tantalum and phosphate. But tantalum came through most strongly in the property’s Star Trench area, with results as high as 1,810 ppm Ta2O5 (with 1.5% Nb2O5) over 0.52 metres, as well as 2,220 ppm Ta2O5 (with 1.69% Nb2O5, and phosphate grading 20.5% P2O5) over 0.31 metres.

Another area gains greater prominence too, thanks to this autumn’s ground magnetics survey. A strong anomaly at the Moira target, about 250 metres north of Miranna, coincides with several overlapping boulder trains that suggest Moira could be one of several possible sources of mineralization.

And a new, yet-to-be-named area gave up two of the fall program’s best assays. About 400 metres south of the drill area, the new target produced boulder samples hitting 1.28% Nb2O5 and 260 ppm Ta2O5, along with 0.88% Nb2O5 and 1,080 ppm Ta2O5.

Intriguingly, glacial ice suggests the two rocks, found about 100 metres apart, originated in an area farther southeast that’s had very little attention so far.

Saville also holds the 3,370-hectare Covette project in Quebec’s James Bay region, where last summer’s field program found surface samples including 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver. Three other samples returned nickel values ranging from 0.13% to 0.19%.

Work focused on a highly conductive area identified by a 2016 VTEM survey. Samples gathered in 2017 included grades of 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt. One historic, non-43-101 grab sample brought 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver, while another historic sample returned 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

As for niobium, it’s considered a critical metal by the American government for its use in steels and super-alloys necessary for jet engine components, rocket sub-assemblies, and heat-resisting and combustion equipment, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Almost 90% of last year’s world production came from Brazil, where new president Jair Bolsonaro has expressed concern about increasing Chinese ownership of resources.

Also a component of military super-alloys, tantalum additionally plays a vital role in personal electronics including phones and computers. The U.S. imports its entire supply of tantalum. About 60% of last year’s world production came from the troubled countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With the advantages of markets, jurisdiction and geology, Hodge looks forward to winter drilling. “We’ve now got about 20 targets that we can go after,” he says. “One priority would be to define the Southeast area because we’ve got such good niobium numbers there. On getting a potential inferred resource, we’d go after Miranna or Moira and the untested targets. We’re looking forward to a busy, productive season.”

Read more about U.S. efforts to secure critical minerals here and here.

Saville Resources discovers new zinc-silver-nickel zone at surface in Quebec

August 8th, 2018

by Greg Klein | August 8, 2018

A property with limited exploration but encouraging geophysics shows further promise following a recent field program. Of eight surface samples collected by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE on its 3,370-hectare Covette project in Quebec’s James Bay region, one returned 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver, while three others assayed between 0.13% and 0.19% nickel.

Saville Resources discovers new zinc-silver-nickel zone at surface in Quebec

Saville Resources now plans trenching and channel
sampling to follow Covette’s grab sample assays.

Sampling took place along a visible strike of about 200 metres directly above an area of high conductivity found by a 2016 VTEM program that spotted several EM conductors coinciding with strong magnetic anomalies.

Underlying the region is a greenstone belt “comprised of various mafic to ultramafic rock units considered prospective for base and precious metals (nickel-copper-cobalt-platinum group elements-gold-silver), as well as pegmatite-hosted rare metals (lithium-tantalum),” Saville reported. “Komatiites have also been described in the region with such rock types known to host significant nickel-copper massive sulphide deposits at other localities globally, adding further to the prospective nature of the region.”

A sampling program in 2017 brought 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt. One historic, non-43-101 grab sample returned 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver. Another historic sample showed 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

Further plans include follow-up trenching and channel sampling. Saville filed a 43-101 technical report on the property and closed its 100% acquisition in June.

Covette sits about 190 kilometres east of the town of Radisson and 10 kilometres north of the all-weather Trans-Taiga road and the adjacent hydro-electricity transmission line.

In another northern Quebec project, Saville has a 43-101 technical report underway for the Miranna claims situated on the Eldor property that hosts Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit. Saville would acquire a 75% earn-in subject to exchange approval. In April the companies released niobium-tantalum boulder sample grades as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5.

Last month Saville offered two private placements totalling up to $2 million.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Saville Resources closes Quebec nickel-copper-cobalt acquisition, files 43-101, readies summer program

June 26th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 26, 2018

An undrilled property with encouraging geophysical results will undergo a summer field program, now that Saville Resources TSXV:SRE has finalized its acquisition of the James Bay-region Covette project. A 1,402-line VTEM survey from 2016 outlined at least six areas of high conductivity on the 3,315-hectare property, with one zone extending southeast about 4.5 kilometres and another trending northeast. Those areas “need to be evaluated,” stated a 43-101 technical report filed this month.

Saville Resources closes Quebec nickel-copper-cobalt acquisition, files 43-101, readies summer program

A pegmatite ridge on Saville Resources’ Covette
project, which now has Phase I field work planned.

Sampling conducted last year showed 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt, but the field program wasn’t sufficient to explain the source of the VTEM anomalies, which may indicate a source at depth, the company stated.

An historic, non-43-101 sample assayed 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver. Another brought 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

A Phase I field program recommended by the technical report would include detailed mapping and sampling in areas of high-conductivity, channel sampling and further geophysics. The project sits about 10 kilometres north of the all-weather Trans-Taiga road and adjacent transmission line.

Meanwhile work continues on another Quebec acquisition as Saville prepares a 43-101 technical report on the Miranna claims, located on the Eldor property that hosts Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) advanced-stage rare earths deposit. In April the companies reported assays as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5, results in line with previous high grades. Subject to exchange approval, Saville would acquire a 75% earn-in on Miranna.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Critical Quebec commodities

January 11th, 2018

Saville Resources moves into Commerce Resources’ niobium-tantalum target

by Greg Klein

A rare metal find on a property hosting a rare earths deposit becomes a project of its own under a new agreement between two companies. With a 75% earn-in, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE can now explore the niobium claims on Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Eldor property in northern Quebec, where the latter company advances its Ashram rare earths deposit towards pre-feasibility.

Saville Resources moves into Commerce Resources’ niobium-tantalum target

A map illustrates the mineralized boulder
train’s progress, showing its presumed source.

Grab samples collected by Commerce on a boulder train about a kilometre from the deposit brought assays up to 5.9% Nb2O5. “That’s right off the charts,” enthuses Saville president Mike Hodge. “People in the niobium space hope for 1%—5.9% is excellent.”

He’s no newcomer to the space or even to the property. Hodge helped stake Commerce’s tantalum-niobium deposit on southern British Columbia’s Blue River property, which reached PEA in 2011.

“I did a lot of the groundwork for Commerce in the Valemount-Blue River area and I was one of the first guys on the ground at the camp that now supports Ashram,” he points out. “I’ve been involved with these two properties since 1999.” That’s part of a career including field experience on over 25 projects as well as raising money for junior explorers.

Miranna’s grab samples brought tantalum too, with a significant 1,220 ppm Ta2O5. Forty of the 65 samples graded over 0.5% Nb2O5, with 16 of them surpassing 1%.

The company describes the sampling area as a “strongly mineralized boulder train with a distinct geophysical anomaly at its apex.”

The 980-hectare Eldor Niobium claims have also undergone drilling on the Northwest and Southeast zones, where some wide intervals gave up 0.46% Nb2O5 over 46.88 metres and 0.55% over 26.1 metres (including 0.78% over 10.64 metres).

Samples from Miranna and the Southeast zone also show that niobium-tantalum occurs within pyrochlore, described by Saville as the dominant source mineral for niobium and tantalum in global mining. That’s the case, for example, at Quebec’s Niobec mine, one of the world’s three main niobium producers, with 8% to 10% of global production. Moreover, pyrochlore on the Saville project “is commonly visible to the naked eye, thus indicating a relatively course grain size, which is a favourable attribute for metallurgical recovery,” the company added.

Hodge already has a prospective drill target in mind. “I pulled the rig around with a Cat for a lot of the holes on Ashram itself so I’m very familiar with the ground. We’d of course do more prospecting and try to prove up some more numbers while we’re drilling.”

Saville Resources moves into Commerce Resources’ niobium-tantalum target

Should Saville find success, a ready market would be waiting. The company cites niobium demand growth forecasts of 7.66% CAGR from 2017 to 2021. A December U.S. Geological Survey report lists niobium and tantalum among 23 minerals critical to American security and well-being.

The country relies on foreign exports for its entire supply of both minerals, according to an earlier USGS study. From 2012 to 2015, 80% of America’s total niobium imports came from Brazil, where one mine alone produces 85% to 90% of global supply. Looking at tantalum imports during that period, the U.S. relied on China for 37% and Kazakhstan for another 25%. A troubling source of tantalum remains the Democratic Republic of Congo, from where conflict minerals reach Western markets through murky supply chains.

Days after the USGS released its December study, American president Donald Trump ordered a federal strategy “to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” Although he emphasized the need for domestic deposits and supply chains, Trump also called for “options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.”

Meanwhile Saville also sees potential in Covette, the company’s other northern Quebec property. Historic, non-43-101 grab samples reported up to 4.7% molybdenum, with some bismuth, lead, silver and copper. A 1,402-line-kilometre VTEM survey in late 2016 found prospectivity for base and precious metals. “The VTEM and some sampling that we did indicates that drilling could find something valuable,” Hodge says. “Although it is early-stage, the Geotech guys that did the VTEM survey said they hadn’t seen targets like that all year.”

Still, “the niobium claims are my first priority,” Hodge emphasizes. “I’m very excited about this. I believe we can have a winning project here.”

Subject to approvals, a 75% interest in the new property would call for $25,000 on signing, another $225,000 on closing and $5 million in work over five years. Commerce retains a 1% or 2% NSR, depending on the claim, with Saville holding a buyback option.

Last month the company offered private placements totalling up to $500,000, with insiders intending to participate.

Read more about the U.S. critical minerals strategy.

Quebec acquisition brings Saville Resources precious, base and rare metals prospectivity

November 27th, 2017

by Greg Klein | November 27, 2017

A flurry of updates shows a new project, new faces and new financing for a rejuvenated Saville Resources TSXV:SRE. The company now moves into Quebec’s James Bay region by taking on the 3,370-hectare Covette property. Although it’s seen limited exploration so far, Covette underwent a 1,402-line-kilometre VTEM survey late last year, along with prospecting and sampling this year. The coincidence of EM conductors with magnetic highs suggests prospectivity for base and precious metals, the company reported. This year’s field program included pegmatite sampling for evidence of lithium.

Quebec acquisition brings Saville Resources precious, base and rare metals prospectivity

Of two historic, non-43-101 grab samples, one returned 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver; while the other showed 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

An underlying greenstone belt could offer base and precious metals potential as well as pegmatite-hosted lithium and tantalum. “Komatiites have also been described in the region, with such rock types known to host significant nickel-copper massive sulphide deposits at other localities globally,” the company stated.

Covette lies just 10 kilometres north of the all-weather Trans-Taiga road, which runs parallel to the LG-3 transmission line.

Pending TSXV approval, Saville gets the property by paying Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC $350,000.

Additionally, Saville announced Michael Hodge’s appointment as president/CEO/director. Having started his career in 1999 on the staking program for Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Blue River tantalum-niobium project in British Columbia, Hodge has field experience on over 25 exploration projects as well as success in raising capital for junior miners.

Jody Bellefleur joins Saville as CFO, bringing over 20 years’ experience as a corporate accountant for the sector.

Saville also announced a private placement of up to $270,000. The company closed an $857,300 placement in July. Among other updates, Saville settled $219,000 in debt by issuing shares and warrants that would represent 18.7% of the company’s outstanding shares.

Cobalt: A precarious supply chain

January 14th, 2017

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist

Cobalt: A precarious supply chain

 

How does your mobile phone last for 12 hours on just one charge? It’s the power of cobalt, along with several other energy metals, that keeps your lithium-ion battery running.

The only problem? Getting the metal from the source to your electronics is not an easy feat, and this makes for an extremely precarious supply chain for manufacturers.

This infographic comes to us from LiCo Energy Metals TSXV:LIC and it focuses on where this important ingredient of green technology originates from, and the supply risks associated with its main sources.

What is cobalt?

Cobalt is a transition metal found between iron and nickel on the periodic table. It has a high melting point (1493° C) and retains its strength to a high temperature.

Similar to iron or nickel, cobalt is ferromagnetic. It can retain its magnetic properties to 1100° C, a higher temperature than any other material. Ferromagnetism is the strongest type of magnetism: it’s the only one that typically creates forces strong enough to be felt and is responsible for the magnets encountered in everyday life.

These unique properties make the metal perfect for two specialized high-tech purposes: superalloys and battery cathodes.

Superalloys

High-performance alloys drive 18% of cobalt demand. The metal’s ability to withstand intense temperatures and conditions makes it perfect for use in:

  • Turbine blades

  • Jet engines

  • Gas turbines

  • Prosthetics

  • Permanent magnets

Lithium-ion batteries

Batteries drive 49% of demand—and most of this comes from cobalt’s use in lithium-ion battery cathodes:

Type of lithium-ion cathode Cobalt in cathode Spec. energy (Wh/kg)
LFP 0% 120
LMO 0% 140
NMC 15% 200
LCO 55% 200
NCA 10% 245

The three most powerful cathode formulations for li-ion batteries all need cobalt. As a result, the metal is indispensable in many of today’s battery-powered devices:

  • Mobile phones (LCO)

  • Tesla Model S (NCA)

  • Tesla Powerwall (NMC)

  • Chevy Volt (NMC/LMO)

The Tesla Powerwall 2 uses approximately seven kilograms and a Tesla Model S (90 kWh) uses approximately 22.5 kilos of the energy metal.

The cobalt supply chain

Cobalt production has gone almost straight up to meet demand, more than doubling since the early 2000s.

But while the metal is desired, getting it is the hard part.

1. No native cobalt has ever been found.

There are four widely distributed ores that exist but almost no cobalt is mined from them as a primary source.

2. Most cobalt production is mined as a byproduct.

Mine source % cobalt production
Nickel (byproduct) 60%
Copper (byproduct) 38%
Cobalt (primary) 2%

This means it is hard to expand production when more is needed.

3. Most production occurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country with elevated supply risks.

Country Tonnes %
Total 122,701 100.0%
United States 524 0.4%
China 1,417 1.2%
DRC 67,975 55.4%
Rest of World 52,785 43.0%

(Source: CRU, estimated production for 2017, tonnes)

The future of cobalt supply

Companies like Tesla and Panasonic need reliable sources of the metal and right now there aren’t many failsafes.

The United States hasn’t mined cobalt in significant volumes since 1971 and the USGS reports that the U.S. only has 301 tonnes of the metal stored in stockpiles.

The reality is that the DRC produces about half of all cobalt and it also holds approximately 47% of all global reserves.

Why is this a concern for end-users?

1. The DRC is one of the poorest, most corrupt and most coercive countries on the planet.

It ranks:

  • 151st out of 159 countries in the Human Freedom Index

  • 176th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index

  • 178th out of 184 countries in terms of GDP per capita ($455)

  • 148th out of 169 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index

2. The DRC has had more deaths from war since WWII than any other country on the planet.
Recent wars in the DRC:

  • First Congo War (1996-1997)—An invasion by Rwanda that overthrew the Mobutu regime.

  • Second Congo War (1998-2003)—The bloodiest conflict in world history since WWII, with 5.4 million deaths.

3. Human rights in mining

The DRC government estimates that 20% of all cobalt production in the country comes from artisanal miners—independent workers who dig holes and mine ore without sophisticated mines or machinery.

There are at least 100,000 artisanal cobalt miners in the DRC and UNICEF estimates that up to 40,000 children could be in the trade. Children can be as young as seven years old and they can work up to 12 hours with physically demanding work earning $2 per day.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International alleges that Apple, Samsung and Sony fail to do basic checks in making sure the metal in their supply chains did not come from child labour.

Most major companies have vowed that any such practices will not be tolerated in their supply chains.

Other sources

Where will tomorrow’s supply come from and will the role of the DRC eventually diminish? Will Tesla achieve its goal of a North American supply chain for its key metal inputs?

Mining exploration companies are already looking at regions like Ontario, Idaho, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories to find tomorrow’s deposits.

Ontario: Ontario is one of the only places in the world where cobalt-primary mines have existed. This camp is near the aptly named town of Cobalt, which is located halfway between Sudbury, the world’s nickel capital, and Val-d’Or, one of the most famous gold camps in the world.

Idaho: Idaho is known as the Gem State while also being known for its silver camps in Coeur d’Alene—but it has also been a cobalt producer in the past.

B.C.: The mountains of B.C. are known for their rich gold, silver, copper, zinc and met coal deposits. But cobalt often occurs with copper and some mines in B.C. have produced cobalt in the past.

Northwest Territories: Cobalt can also be found up north, as the NWT becomes a more interesting mineral destination for companies. One hundred and sixty kilometres from Yellowknife, a gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper deposit is being developed.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

B.C. buys coal licences to resolve aboriginal dispute

May 5th, 2015

by Greg Klein | May 5, 2015

In an effort to placate a native band, Fortune Minerals TSX:FT and POSCO Canada have sold their British Columbia coal licences to BC Rail, a provincially owned railway company without a railway. Announced May 5, the $18.3-million sale of 61 claims totalling 16,411 hectares in northwestern B.C. contains a 10-year buy-back option should the Tahltan First Nation agree to development of the Arctos anthracite project.

B.C. buys coal licences to resolve aboriginal dispute

A 2013 company photo shows environmental field work underway.
As project operator, Fortune continues with land reclamation at Arctos.

Calling the deal a good outcome in the current market, Fortune president/CEO Robin Goad said the joint venture “invested significant funds” to try to resolve the band’s concerns. “Mining is a cyclical industry and, considering the weak metallurgical coal prices at the present time, it was considered prudent to step back from Arctos and focus our efforts on our near-term production assets.”

A PwC report on B.C. mining, also released May 5, noted that steelmaking coal now trades around $100 per tonne, “a considerable drop from its record price around $330 in 2011.” The report quotes Don Lindsay of Teck Resources TSX:TCK.A and TCK.B saying prices can’t recover without further production cuts around the world.

Fortune and the South Korean steel producer subsidiary will divide the proceeds evenly, with Fortune allocating its share to working capital and debt repayment. The company operates the Revenue silver mine in Colorado and holds the proposed NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper mine in the Northwest Territories, along with exploration projects in the NWT.

CN TSX:CNR took over BC Rail’s railway system in 2004 in a highly controversial $1-billion deal that the province insisted was a lease, not a sale. Once the deal was complete, the BC Liberal government acknowledged the lease would run for 990 years. Corruption allegations and a police raid on B.C.’s legislature followed. In 2010 the province paid $6 million in legal bills for two government aides who pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges.

Although BC Rail no longer has a railway to run, the government kept the Crown corporation intact with management, board of directors and staff responsible for maintenance of a 40-kilometre spur line and property sales.

“It’s a new NWT”

October 7th, 2014

Miners welcome the Northwest Territories’ plans to encourage investment

by Greg Klein

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His tone sounded taunting, if only slightly so. While attending a meeting of resource politicos in Sudbury last August, Northwest Territories minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay told the Globe and Mail that the NWT’s “Ring of Ice” has resources to rival Ontario’s Ring of Fire. The huge difference, of course, is that the Ring of Fire remains all but inaccessible while the NWT’s riches have already been opened up. Now the territory has taken specific measures to emphasize it’s open for business.

That came through in the first annual implementation plan of the NWT’s Mineral Development Strategy. And the plan drew praise in an October 6 announcement from the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. The organization sees last April’s devolution of federal responsibilities for land, water and resources to the territory as a turning point for the industry. “The legislature has said mining development has big consequences for our government now,” chamber executive director Tom Hoefer tells ResourceClips.com. “So it’s saying we’re going to be more nimble on our feet, we’re going to encourage economic development.”

Miners welcome the Northwest Territories’ plans to encourage investment

The NWT has done so by setting ambitious goals, some with established budgets and target dates, on a number of fronts including energy, transportation and a “new leading edge Mineral Resources Act.” That marks a major departure from past practice, according to Hoefer.

“We’ve suffered a loss of reputation over probably the last seven years. If you look at our exploration figures during that period you can see our investment just flatlined. We saw Yukon, Nunavut and the rest of the world getting huge investment. We languished.”

Indeed, last year’s Fraser Institute Policy Perception Index placed the NWT nearly halfway down a list of 112 jurisdictions globally and sixth on a list of 12 Canadian jurisdictions.

“A big piece of this was the regulatory front,” Hoefer explains. “It was getting very complex, in part because we had a number of different land claim groups and that created a number of different regulatory boards. So the federal government launched a northern regulatory improvement initiative in 2009 and that culminated in amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.” That was completed shortly before last April’s devolution milestone.

The NWT considers those amendments a starting point for a new regulatory environment. But the government’s not promising rapid reform. Calling this a “time of transition and learning,” the territory has come up with the slogan “devolve then evolve.” Still, it’s stated intentions to provide clear, concise documentation and to guide companies through regulatory processes and aboriginal engagement.

The territory already leads Canada in at least one respect, Hoefer maintains. “I’d say we’re probably a leader in the country for settling land claims. That helps provide more certainty.”

Devolution also brings the territory 50% of the royalties that once went solely to the feds. Aboriginal groups that signed onto the devolution agreement get 25% of the territory’s share, Hoefer says.

With grants announced just last week, a new mining incentive program has awarded a total of $396,000 to two prospectors and six exploration companies.

“A new and easier-to-use web portal for discovery and dissemination of geoscience information” will get $1.3 million over two years.

But that’s small change compared to price tags for infrastructure. Although money hasn’t been allocated yet, the NWT’s talking about a three-year, $31-million energy program and a 10-year, $200-million transportation plan.

None of the territory’s four existing mines connect to the grid. Only North American Tungsten’s (TSXV:NTC) CanTung operation has year-round road access—and that links to the Yukon.

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