Thursday 28th May 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Pacific Booker Minerals Inc (BKM)’

B.C. MLA and former Green leader Andrew Weaver questions the province’s rejection of Pacific Booker Minerals’ proposed mine

April 20th, 2020

…Read more

Taranis Resources alleges “catastrophic deficiencies and concerns” with B.C. mines ministry

March 16th, 2020

by Greg Klein | March 16, 2020

Stating it’s “in a unique position to experience every aspect of the permitting process in B.C.,” an explorer levelled strong complaints about how a bulk sampling application has been handled. Taranis Resources TSXV:TRO, operator of the Thor polymetallic project in southeastern British Columbia, made the charges in a March 16 news release following a conference call with ministry officials.

Taranis Resources alleges catastrophic deficiencies and concerns with B.C. mines ministry

Taranis received its most recent drill permit last January, after
filing an application in March 2019. (Photo: Taranis Resources)

In October 2018 the company applied for permission to conduct a 10,000-kilogram sample. The program would supply material for metallurgical tests as part of Thor’s PEA studies and also remove environmentally harmful stockpiles resulting from historic mining, Taranis states. Since then, the company maintains, it has dealt with “28 technical reviewers from four sectors” over a 17-month period.

Responding in 2018, the government applied requirements previously used only for large-scale commercial mining but which were to be adapted to the bulk mining proposal, the company states. Taranis says it agreed, but a technical review that should have taken 60 days has dragged on since September 2019.

Input from 28 technical reviewers led to modifications of site layouts, water treatment and other aspects of the original proposal, Taranis avers, but the process also featured “multiple catastrophic deficiencies and concerns,” as well as “moving goalposts.”

The latter consisted of a demand that engineering drawings be stamped “final” instead of “draft,” undermining “the spirit of technical review.” The company called for assurance that “‘final’ site-engineering plans aren’t modified multiple times based on whims of improperly managed technical reviewers.”

During a March 12 conference call between the company and ministry officials, Taranis states, deputy chief mines inspector Lowell Constable attributed Mount Polley to the decision to apply large-scale commercial mining standards to the bulk sample application.

In a 2014 tailings dam failure at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold operation, some eight million cubic metres of waste poured into the waterways of B.C.’s Cariboo region.

According to Taranis, Constable said that “there are no minor tailings facilities anymore in the code. So big or small, I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of pieces still moving around in the tailings management code.”

The company argues that “it is unreasonable that full-scale commercial mine permitting scope and associated costs be applied carte blanche to any and all test production scenarios.”

While the company believed conditional permitting would be a “cornerstone” of its application, Taranis quoted mines ministry executive regional director Heather Cullen as saying, “We are getting away from issuing conditional permits—conditional permits are not the way we are going.…”

It is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation…—Taranis Resources
board of directors

Taranis maintains that the conference call demonstrated that “there are no clear, concise, reasonable permitting allowances for exploration bulk sampling in B.C.—an essential exploration tool to the mining business. Up until 2018, there was a well-defined permitting process for exploration bulk sampling.”

The company’s board of directors states: “Based on our experience, it is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation, with a complement of inexperienced and unqualified civil servants in positions of authority whose obvious intention is nothing less than making sure nothing gets done.”

A week before the conference call, independent MLA and former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver criticized the New Democratic government for prolonging “regulatory inconsistencies” regarding Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine. After the initial rejection by B.C.’s previous Liberal government in 2012, the provincial Supreme Court found the decision “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.” Ordered to reassess the proposal, the NDP government “once again rejected the project in order to undergo further assessment,” Weaver argued. “However, in its order, the government appeared to issue unclear directions that substantially delay the process.”

Thor’s 2013 maiden resource gave the project open pit and underground resources totalling:

  • indicated: 640,000 tonnes averaging 0.88 g/t gold, 187 g/t silver, 0.14% copper, 2.51% lead and 3.51% zinc

  • inferred: 424,000 tonnes averaging 0.98 g/t gold, 176 g/t silver, 0.14% copper, 2.26% lead and 3.2% zinc

The property includes five zones that began mining in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Was Pacific Booker’s proposed mine sacrificed for an LNG project? Former B.C. Green leader raises questions

March 9th, 2020

by Greg Klein | March 9, 2020

While Greens might seem unlikely defenders of mining, an independent MLA who served as British Columbia party leader has taken up the case of Pacific Booker Minerals TSXV:BKM. In doing so, Andrew Weaver voiced concerns that the previous BC Liberal government, supposedly a supporter of resource development, may have pitted one project against another. He also criticized the current New Democratic Party government for stalling on the company’s latest environmental review.

Was Pacific Booker’s proposed mine sacrificed for LNG project? Former B.C. Green leader raises questions

Considerations more political than environmental
might have caused a B.C. mine’s rejection,
said a climate scientist/MLA.

In legislature on March 5, Weaver criticized the NDP for “regulatory inconsistencies” involving Pacific Booker’s Morrison project. The proposed copper-gold-molybdenum mine first met provincial rejection in 2012 despite an Environmental Assessment Office report which found that, with successful mitigation measures, the mine is “not likely to have significant adverse effects.”

Weaver stated, “There’s some suspicion that the decision around the Morrison mine had less to do with environmental concerns and more to do with political calculation.”

A staunch LNG opponent, Weaver told the legislature that “certain natural gas projects were located in areas close to the Morrison mine. Comments from groups engaged in the Pacific Booker project have indicated that the province was facing significant pressure to avoid reopening discussions around the Morrison mine in order to obtain the support necessary for the Prince Rupert gas transmission line.”

In 2013 then-BC Liberal leader Christy Clark made LNG the focal point of her re-election campaign, vowing the new industry would build three plants by 2020, create 100,000 jobs and provide $100 billion in government revenue, erasing B.C.’s debt. Her party won the election but no LNG facilities were built.

The 900-kilometre Prince Rupert gas transmission line would have connected B.C.’s oil-rich Peace district with the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG plant on the coast. That $11.4-billion project was shelved in July 2017 after the lead investor, Malaysia’s state-owned PETRONAS, backed out.

Morrison’s 2012 rejection “had serious repercussions for Pacific Booker,” Weaver pointed out. “Their share price plummeted from $14.95 to $4.95 in one day and many investors lost their life savings. What’s more is that the ministry failed to inform Pacific Booker of its intention to issue an adverse recommendation and did not provide the company with an opportunity to respond to it.”

In December 2013 B.C.’s Supreme Court ordered the province to reconsider the mine, ruling that the cabinet’s rejection “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.”

But when the BC Liberal government ordered further assessment of the proposal in July 2015, Weaver charged, the province failed to provide clear directions, further stalling the project into the NDP’s administration, which started in June 2017.

Mines minister Bruce Ralston replied that “the EAO continues to work with the company on this, and I’m advised that the latest submission was received by the EAO in December 2019.”

Weaver’s blog stated he was “not particularly impressed with the minister’s response to my questions. I intend to explore this issue further in the coming weeks.”

In a March 9 statement on “recent volatility in our market activity,” Pacific Booker director John Plourde expressed the company’s “appreciation to Dr. Weaver for bringing this matter to the attention of the House and Mr. Ralston, and our hope that his intent to explore this further in the coming weeks brings a resolution to the issue.”

Greens hold the balance of power in B.C.’s minority government. Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist, left the party in January for family reasons and announced his intention to retire from politics.

Earth science for everyone

July 29th, 2016

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

by Greg Klein

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

Outfitted with sensitive magnetometers, three Cessna Super Caravans
will fly the largest survey in Geoscience B.C.’s 11-year history.
(Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

 

It’s probably one of the biggest geophysical surveys underway anywhere. Pilots now have three magnetometer-equipped Cessnas criss-crossing an especially rugged 24,000-square-kilometre expanse of west-central British Columbia on tight, 250-metre linespacing. This is Search Phase II, part of an even bigger project that will make “a generational contribution to better understand the area’s geology and mineral potential,” says Bruce Madu, VP of minerals and mining for Geoscience B.C. But the results will hardly be limited to industry. The non-profit’s mission is to access “earth science for everyone.”

Data of this quality rarely finds its way to junior explorers, let alone prospectors. But proprietary software makes it available to anyone with an internet connection. Besides mineral opportunities, practical advantages include land use planning for regional districts, local communities and First Nations.

The grid extends from Fort Fraser to Smithers, building on two previous surveys. Last year’s Phase I flew over neighbouring terrain between Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers. The 2013 TREK program covered an area bounded by Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Quesnel, conducting sampling and mapping, as well as airborne mag. The three surveys combined will cover 55,500 square kilometres, about the size of Nova Scotia.

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

When combined with two previous surveys, this year’s program
will provide magnetic data for 55,500 square kilometres.
(Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

TREK’s inspiration came from the Blackwater discovery, now New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) proposed open pit mine with reserves of 8.2 million ounces gold and 61 million ounces silver. Yet “the surrounding geology is poorly understood,” Madu says.

The Phase II flyover includes another proposed mine, Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:PBM) Morrison copper-gold project, as well as Thompson Creek Metals’ (TSX:TCM) majority-held Endako molybdenum mine and the former Bell-Granisle copper-gold mines. The survey just bypasses Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) 50%-held Huckleberry copper mine.

Low prices put Endako on care and maintenance, with Huckleberry slated to follow this summer. But Geoscience B.C. helped extend the latter mine’s life by about two years, Madu says. “We flew some geophysics, the company participated and ended up drilling new ore. A couple of hundred jobs were given a couple more years.”

The region “clearly has substantial mineral potential,” Madu points out. “Even more importantly it has excellent infrastructure, lots of road networks, there’s rail in the area and hydro nearby, so it can be quite a cost-effective place to discover and develop a mine.”

Having just reconnoitred with the Search Phase II crew, Madu waxes enthusiastically about the staff, the three Cessna Super Caravans especially suited for this survey’s challenges, the ultra-sensitive magnetometers and the preliminary data. “It excites me—the quality is superb.”

Phase II comprises one of 13 projects scheduled for this year, with a budget totalling $2.5 million. “They cover all sorts of perspectives,” Madu says. “We’ll be active in the Sheep Creek, Barkerville and Cassiar gold camps, the Toodoggone region, we’ve got a mapping crew south of Terrace working on last year’s geophysics, we’ll be east of the Penticton gold camp around the Boundary area. We have chemistry projects re-analyzing almost 5,000 archive samples from southeastern British Columbia as well as the Atlin area. And we’ve got a lot of value-added projects on the go this year, taking existing data and putting together a more complete picture combining geophysics, geochemistry and geology, which I think is a big advantage for the industry’s future, being able to have these super-sized data sets.”

Not limited to mineral exploration, Geoscience B.C. also conducts surveys related to areas such as oil and gas, geothermal energy and groundwater.

In addition to fundamental baseline data creation, we do a lot of innovative research as well.—Bruce Madu,
VP of minerals and
mining for Geoscience B.C.

“On the minerals side, during our 11 years of operation we surveyed a large portion of the province with geophysics, we re-analyzed almost the entire suite of geochemical samples for the province, we provided a lot of innovative research in glacial tills and tree-top sampling, we funded new geochemical methods using water in the field as well as capturing gases and sampling organic materials. So in addition to fundamental baseline data creation, we do a lot of innovative research as well.”

Next year’s plans call for Search Phase III extending northeast to the Quesnel copper belt and covering a region that hosts Imperial’s Mount Polley copper-gold-silver mine, the auriferous turf of Barkerville Gold Mines TSXV:BGM, Thompson Creek’s Mount Milligan copper-gold operation and AuRico Metals’ (TSX:AMI) gold-copper-silver deposits at Kemess.

Looking further ahead, Madu sees the organization “looking at the mining cycle instead of just exploration to see what we can do to help the development or efficiency of mining. We might look at research into subjects like water, tailings and metallurgy, for example.”

The group was founded in 2005 when the province put up money as an inducement to industry contributions. A lot of those contributions come from preferred rates or volunteer work supporting a small staff. Regional trusts have also contributed. Last May the province forked over $5 million.

The results of all that go online, available to everyone. Geoscience B.C.’s Earth Science Viewer opens with a satellite image of the province. Users can zoom in on a particular area, load a layer of data from the selections to the left, then overlay additional data. New info comes online as survey results are processed. Mineral tenures are updated daily, with links to the government’s database of claimholders.

“Viewers can put the tie-dyed geophysical charts on top of the geology layer to see how they agree or don’t agree,” says Madu. “I think that’s quite a powerful prospecting tool because one thing we want to do is challenge assumptions. If the geology and geophysics are telling different stories, we want people to research that and explore it.”

A planned upgrade, possibly within a year, will make the viewer three-dimensional, “something like Google Earth where you can tip it on its side and fly around valleys a bit,” he adds.

With a wealth of practical info for industry and communities alike, the viewer “puts the power of information into the hands of people who can use it.”

How Long Blues

February 23rd, 2016

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

by Greg Klein

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

Mineral explorers in Canada generally wait longer than before for permits, the Fraser Institute reports.
Chart: The Fraser Institute

A country’s mineral output doesn’t necessarily correspond to its geological endowment, a new study reminds us. Other factors also play a role, among them exploration permitting. In many parts of Canada, that early but crucial step towards finding a new mine faces growing wait times, questionable transparency and increasing uncertainty. Those are some of the findings of a Fraser Institute study released February 23. The first-time survey, focusing on this one issue and limited to Canadian jurisdictions, arrives a week before the institute’s annual global survey of miners and explorers.

“This is a topic for which we’ve received feedback both in previous years’ surveys and in conversations we’ve had with explorers, and it’s something they consistently note to us as a growing problem,” says Taylor Jackson, an institute policy analyst and report co-author along with Kenneth Green.

It’s a growing problem in more ways than one. But there’s considerable variation between some jurisdictions, with Saskatchewan shining brightly while Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut look relatively gloomy. And although it’s slowing, Canadian permitting’s still faster than the global average.

Survey answers came from 122 people reporting on 10 jurisdictions. (Alberta, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island drew too few responses to be included.) Five jurisdictions had the majority saying that permitting times had lengthened over the last decade. Those who reported shorter wait times were the minority. But a slim majority of Newfoundland and Labrador respondents (56%) said wait times had stayed the same.

Saskatchewan, which ranked #2 in last year’s global survey, drew the smallest proportion of complaints (27%) about lengthening wait times.

Of Canada’s three biggest exploration targets, Ontario provoked more wait time pessimism than British Columbia or Quebec. Fourteen percent of Ontario explorers forecast waits of 11 to 14 months, compared to B.C.’s 2% and Quebec’s 3%. Another 7% of Ontario explorers anticipated waiting over two years for a permit, compared to another 2% in B.C. and 3% in Quebec.

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

A 1983 study found that mineral production in Western countries correlated poorly with geological riches. More recently, about 60% of Fraser Institute respondents say
they base their investment decisions on geology. The rest
cite policy-related factors. Image: The Fraser Institute

Transparency arises as another critical issue. “When explorers do not understand what the rules are or how they are applied, the result can be a deterrent to investment,” the report states.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan drew the highest proportions of respondents (50% and 47% respectively) saying the jurisdiction’s transparency actually encourages exploration. Moreover, the results were mostly positive when combining those who said a jurisdiction’s transparency encourages exploration with those who at least said that transparency concerns didn’t create a deterrent. Only the NWT flunked that one with a dismal 31%, while neighbouring Nunavut got 50%.

Saskatchewan came out on top with 94%, followed by New Brunswick (83%), Newfoundland and Labrador (78%) and Quebec (71%).

Although respondents remained confidential, they weren’t given the chance to express open-ended comments, as the institute’s global survey allows. Jackson says that could change if the survey’s repeated in future years.

The next time we might open it up to Australia and U.S. and get some feedback on how Australian and American states are performing, with the idea of determining who’s got the best practices and make some policy recommendations for Canada.—Taylor Jackson, Fraser Institute policy analyst and report co-author

Nor does the study report specific problems or make recommendations. This initial effort focused on “identifying which jurisdictions are performing well and which are not,” he explains. “The next time we might open it up to Australia and U.S. and get some feedback on how Australian and American states are performing, with the idea of determining who’s got the best practices and make some policy recommendations for Canada.”

Confidentiality’s the key to companies’ candour. So a similar survey about mine permitting would be problematic, Jackson points out. With mine proposals far fewer than exploration projects, governments might suss out who said what.

“But this is an issue that we would like to look at,” he says. “I don’t know if we’d do it in a survey form but it’s certainly an issue for setting up a mine as well.”

Two weeks ago Taseko Mines TSX:TKO launched a lawsuit alleging serious breaches of transparency in the federal process that rejected the company’s proposed New Prosperity mine. Pacific Booker Minerals TSXV:BKM has filed Freedom of Information requests with the B.C. government regarding its rejection of the proposed Morrison mine. The company had previously taken the province to court over the matter.

The institute’s study follows a January report from the Northern Policy Institute examining why “a major mining boom” with nine potential operations in northwestern Ontario failed to materialize.

Do studies like these influence the people who matter?

“I do know that decision-makers are listening to what’s said in the survey,” Jackson responds. “I can say that about the broader mining survey. We have some general examples where politicians have come and talked to us and we’ve seen policy reform later. They take the survey and it helps them identify which areas they’re performing poorly in, so I think they are listening. I don’t know if the message gets across all the time but I would say they are listening.”

Here are Canada’s rankings from last year’s international survey, with their global position in parentheses:

  • Saskatchewan (2)
  • Manitoba (4)
  • Quebec (6)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (8)
  • Yukon (9)
  • Northwest Territories (15)
  • New Brunswick (21)
  • Alberta (22)
  • Ontario (23)
  • British Columbia (28)
  • Nunavut (29)
  • Nova Scotia (42)

PEI wasn’t included. The institute’s 2015 global survey comes out March 1.

Download Permit Times for Mining Exploration: How Long Are They?

B.C. orders further assessment of Pacific Booker’s proposed Morrison mine

July 8th, 2015

by Greg Klein | July 8, 2015

British Columbia’s ministries of mines and the environment dealt another setback to Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) proposed Morrison mine on July 7. The central B.C. copper-gold-molybdenum project now has up to three years to complete further studies for its environmental assessment.

B.C. orders further assessment of Pacific Booker’s proposed Morrison mine

B.C. originally rejected the open pit operation in October 2012 despite an environmental assessment which repeatedly stated that, with successful implementation of mitigation measures and conditions, the mine is “not likely to have significant adverse effects.” The two provincial ministries, however, considered a “risk/benefit approach” that speculated what might happen if mitigation measures failed. The province also noted native opposition. It later transpired that draft recommendations from the Environmental Assessment Office’s executive director didn’t recommend rejection.

The company lawyered up and in December 2013 the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the province “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.” The court ordered B.C. to let Pacific Booker respond to the environmental decision. The company did, but now faces further requirements.

Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett cited a number of concerns including uncertainty about the mine’s design and mitigation measures, insufficient understanding of the Morrison Lake ecosystem and “whether there may be other design alternatives and/or mitigation measures that might support a higher level of confidence.”

The ministers detailed several studies to take place within three years, also ordering “further engagement with Lake Babine Nation and other first nations with respect to their perspectives and opinions about the mine and the potential effects on their aboriginal interests.”

But according to a July 8 Pacific Booker statement, the additional requirements include “many components which were required to be completed in support of the Mines Act/Environmental Management Act permits and [were] planned to be completed prior to applying for permits after receiving the environmental assessment certificate.”

Since June 2011, four B.C. mine proposals received EA certificates and six mines began production, stated a July 8 president/CEO’s message from Gavin Dirom of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia. He added that last month JDS Silver received construction permits for its Silvertip (formerly Midway) silver-lead-zinc mine near the Yukon border.

Year in review

December 23rd, 2014

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2014

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Another difficult year notwithstanding, the resource sector failed to meet its apocalyptic doom. With a mixed bag of good, bad and quirky news, ResourceClips.com looks at some of the stories that helped characterize 2014.

Mount Polley to the breach

Even British Columbia’s environment minister called it a disaster. The August tailings dam collapse at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold mine presented Canada’s mining industry with its own Exxon Valdez as a river of effluent, later estimated by the company at 24.4 million cubic metres, poured into the once-pristine Quesnel Lake watershed.

The dam’s original engineer was quick to disassociate itself. The current engineer and Imperial each implied the other might be at fault. There were suggestions that the company and the province should have known something was wrong as far back as 2010.

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2014

B.C. appointed a panel of engineers to investigate. B.C.’s Inspector of Mines began a separate investigation. And B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner launched its own investigation—into the government.

B.C. also ordered third-party inspections of 98 tailings facilities at current and former mines. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requested companies report on their uranium tailings facilities.

Alaskans, meanwhile, questioned whether B.C. had the wherewithal to prevent downstream pollution from potential mines in the province’s northwest. A Vancouver Sun study found that the BC Liberal government cut mine inspections by more than half since coming to power in 2001.

Imperial has so far committed $67.4 million towards the disaster. In late December the company announced the sale of a 93-kilometre transmission line extension to the government-owned BC Hydro for $52 million.

B.C.’s performance as a mining jurisdiction

Mount Polley’s shutdown brings to mind the governing BC Liberals’ frequent reminder that more mines closed than opened when the NDP held power. So how’s the province doing under the current regime? According to a list provided by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, seven mines opened since 2001, when the BC Liberals gained power, while five shut down. One mine closed and re-opened. Another seven mines opened and closed. At least one omission in the last category, however, was Treasure Mountain which opened, closed, re-opened and re-closed.

Of course metal and coal prices play a crucial role. But during that period permitting problems plagued other potential operations, like Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity gold-copper project and Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum project. Both were refused environmental permits, arguably on non-environmental grounds—New Prosperity by the feds and Morrison by the province.

On a more positive note, Imperial has its Red Chris copper-gold mine now in development. (Please get it right this time.) Seabridge Gold TSX:SEA won provincial environmental approval in July and federal approval in December for Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM), which the company says hosts “one of the largest undeveloped gold and copper reserves in the world.”

An engineering marvel puts Cigar Lake in operation

Evidently the mining industry calls for optimism and perseverance in abundance. That, along with innovation, is what it took for Cameco Corp TSX:CCO to finally bring its Cigar Lake uranium project into production in March. Encouraging the heroic endeavour is an ore grade 100 times the world average, suggesting that high grade is the mother of invention.

The Saskatchewan mine’s 33-year saga began with a 1981 discovery, then continued with a number of setbacks that stalled construction. Even after the mine’s widely celebrated opening, Cigar Lake shut down from mid-July to early September for remedial freezing. Majority-owner Cameco injects and freezes a brine solution around the rock body to prevent flooding through the Athabasca sandstone. Water jet boring then pummels the ore into a slurry.

But the company’s determination seems at odds with uranium’s price. When a Scotiabank analyst asked why Cameco was bringing new uranium into an oversupplied market, president/CEO Tim Gitzel replied, “We need the pounds. We’ve got sales commitments for those pounds.”

The uranium price tease

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2014

Chart: Ux Consulting

Among the most vociferous prophets of a new uranium order, Paladin Energy TSX:PDN managing director/CEO John Borshoff keeps revising his gotta-happen-soon predictions of rising prices. He’s not the only one, so Borshoff was probably more frustrated than embarrassed when uranium once again proved him wrong.

The recalcitrant commodity seemed to perk up in early August, with a spot price indicator that rose 25% by late October. A nearly 90-degree ascent to $44 by mid-November seemed to justify Borshoff’s outlook. Alas, fickle uranium let down its believers, along with its price.

Borshoff’s boosterism, however, is backed up by others including Cameco’s Gitzel and David Talbot of Dundee Capital Markets, who in November stated, “We have always said, just like in 2006-2007, when [longer-term] contracting begins and the price moves, it will move fast.”

Next Page 1 | 2

Athabasca Basin and beyond

August 23rd, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for August 9 to 22, 2014

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Fission widens main zone, plans more step-outs, arranges $12.5-million bought deal

Although infill drilling has been the priority for Fission Uranium’s (TSXV:FCU) summer program, two step-outs have widened Patterson Lake South’s R780E zone, inspiring a 10-hole addition to the campaign. Radiometric results for nine holes released August 18 include one that extended the zone about 30 metres north and another 15 metres south. All nine holes returned wide mineralization, the company stated.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for August 9 to 22, 2014

R780E is the middle and largest of five zones along a 2.24-kilometre potential strike that’s open to the east and west.

These results, which are no substitute for assays, come from a handheld scintillometer that measures drill core for radiation in counts per second. Last month Fission replaced its old model, which maxed out at 9,999 cps, with a new-fangled gadget capable of measuring up to 65,535 cps. But the company still refers to anything above four nines to be “off-scale.”

By that standard several intervals were well off-scale, with a few reaching past 60,000 cps.

Another innovation introduced last month is barge-based angled drilling, allowing a better understanding of the geometry of mineralization beneath the lake. Encouraged by the widening of R780E, Fission plans another 10 step-outs. That adds 4,700 metres to a summer agenda now expected to total 25,000 metres in 73 holes.

There seems to be little worry about paying for all that. On August 18 Fission announced a $12.52-million bought deal that’s expected to close around September 23. Roughly three months later comes the maiden resource’s due date.

Winter assays reported August 13 further boosted confidence in R780E, while a summer exploration hole released two days earlier showed interesting radiometric results 17 kilometres away. Read more.

NexGen steps out to widen Rook 1’s Arrow zone

If any company can compete with Fission’s top spot as the Athabasca Basin’s number one newsmaker, it might be next-door neighbour NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE. Four “aggressive” step-out holes have extended the company’s Rook 1 Arrow zone from 180 metres to 215 metres in width for a zone that’s 515 metres in strike and open in all directions. The northwest-southeast fence of drilling announced August 20 has also revealed “multiple sub-vertical stacked mineralized shear zones” increasing the company’s hopes of finding additional high-grade areas.

One of the five holes failed to find significant mineralization.

Like Fission’s August 18 news, the results come from scintillometer readings that don’t substitute for assays, which are pending.

So far 25 of 27 Arrow holes totalling 15,318 metres have shown mineralization. Another three holes at Area A, however, failed to find anomalous radioactivity. They tested an electromagnetic conductor that NexGen interprets to be PL-3B, which hosts the PLS discovery.

Lakeland Resources updates three projects, appoints uranium veteran to board

As a busy summer progresses, Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK reported a new addition to its board and further work on one of the largest portfolios in and around the Basin. On August 20 the company announced the appointment of director Steven Khan, a veteran of Canadian investment and corporate governance with specific experience in raising funds and forging joint ventures for uranium companies. The next day Lakeland released a progress update for three of its projects.

The projects are Star, Lazy Edward Bay and Fond du Lac on the northern, southern and eastern margins of the Basin respectively. “That’s the shallowest depth—the depth to the unconformity becomes more shallow as you get closer to the Basin’s margin,” explains president/CEO Jonathan Armes. “At Gibbon’s Creek our target depths are between about 80 and 120 metres below surface. We hope the others will fall into that kind of range so we’ll be drilling 150- to 200-metre holes.”

At the Star property, crews from Dahrouge Geological Consulting have just wrapped up six days of sampling and mapping. They picked up some 73 rock samples and 124 soil samples around a basement outcrop that’s shown anomalous concentrations of gold, platinum group elements and rare earth elements, as well as highly anomalous uranium. The combination suggests a strong hydrothermal system.

“Those are typical pathfinders for uranium in the Basin,” says Armes. “At Patterson Lake South they had gold grades running two or three grams. So with the first pass on our exploration program in late 2013 we had gold grades of four or five grams.”

Lakeland holds a 100% earn-in option on Star, which has year-round road access from the town of Stony Rapids a few kilometres away.

Now that permits have arrived, mobilization to Lazy Edward Bay should begin ASAP, he adds. Under initial scrutiny will be the BAY trend, actually two parallel conductive trends, which will undergo a RadonEx survey. Field crews will also search out boulders or other signs of unconformity-style mineralization.

“We have Lazy Edward drill targets already but a lot of them were defined by yesterday’s technology,” Armes explains. “We’ll use RadonEx and other work to re-interpret the historic data to better define targets.” In all, the property has six known trends.

Lakeland adviser Rick Kusmirski knows the property from his time as president/CEO of JNR Resources. “He dug up some historic data which is very helpful to identify areas to focus on. There’s some historic areas we want to re-visit.”

Also in line for RadonEx is Fond du Lac, initially targeting a coincident geochemical and conductive target. Geologist and Lakeland director Neil McCallum thinks historic work “missed it by a couple of hundred metres,” Armes says.

But while the summer activity continues, he also looks further ahead “from a treasury standpoint as well as our projects. We’re convinced that 2015 is going to see a significant move in uranium prices. If we ever re-visit 2006 and 2007 levels, when there were 50, 60, 70 juniors active, we hope to be ready and get as many drill programs going as possible through the joint venture and prospect generator model, along with any programs we focus on 100% ourselves.”

[Khan’s JV work with Sumitomo and Kepco] was certainly a great experience in negotiating and concluding contracts, and working with them on the joint management committees. That built long-term relationships but also gave me insight into the Asian psyche and some of the issues they have to deal with.—Steven Khan, director
of Lakeland Resources

Just one day before the exploration update, Lakeland announced Steven Khan’s appointment as director. His background includes key positions with uranium companies Energy Fuels TSX:EFR, Strathmore Minerals and Fission Uranium’s predecessor, Fission Energy. He helped found the latter company, holding the role of executive VP. Khan served as president/chairperson of Strathmore Minerals until last year’s takeover by Energy Fuels, where he stayed on as a director until recently.

Khan played an instrumental part in the negotiating team that brought Japan’s Sumitomo Corp into a JV on Strathmore’s Roca Honda project in New Mexico. He also helped bring the Korea Electric Power Corp into two other JVs, with Strathmore on the Gas Hills project in Wyoming and with Fission, leading to the Waterbury Lake discovery.

Khan has nearly 20 years of experience in all aspects of the Canadian investment industry, including fundraising for early-stage private and public companies.

A confluence of factors convinced him to join Lakeland, he says. “I’ve had a long-term relationship with some of the company’s principals and I’ve always been interested in returning to the Athabasca Basin arena after I left Fission Energy in 2010. Strathmore was more focused on the U.S., where I spent the last number of years. That combination of moving back to the Basin, working with a group of people I respect and seeing a number of properties that have potential presented an opportunity for me.”

He says his work with Sumitomo and Kepco “was certainly a great experience in negotiating and concluding contracts, and working with them on the joint management committees. That built long-term relationships but also gave me insight into the Asian psyche and some of the issues they have to deal with.”

Khan thinks Asian companies might revive their previous interest in early-stage explorers. “Before Fukushima they were attracted to earlier-stage projects like Fission had at the time, as well as more advanced projects like those of Strathmore in the U.S. When uranium prices come back I think they’ll be forced to return to earlier-stage projects because most of the advanced projects will have been tied up.”

As for uranium’s current price, “its resurgence has been muted and is taking longer than expected. But I think that in the medium to longer term, demand will certainly outstrip supply.”

“I’m quite excited about getting involved with the Lakeland team and I think the opportunity for the sector is attractive,” Khan emphasizes. “I think there’s going to be more Athabasca Basin discoveries and that bodes well for companies like Lakeland that are properly positioned and properly financed. So for me the timing is good and the interplay of several factors is favourable.”

Read more about Lakeland Resources.

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Backing New Prosperity

December 10th, 2013

Supporters make their case, challenge critics of Taseko Mines’ B.C. gold-copper proposal

by Greg Klein

While Canadian environment minister Leona Aglukkaq ponders the fate of Taseko Mines’ TSX:TKO $1.1-billion New Prosperity proposal, supporters came out in force at a December 10 Vancouver event. Presented by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, a packed audience of 75 to 80 people included politicians, business people, a union representative, a mining engineer and others. Not invited, apparently, were opponents, among the strongest of whom include six regional native chiefs. But if the event was one-sided, it heard support from a range of perspectives. Among the backers was a Tsilhqot’in band member who challenged his community leaders to call a general assembly on the issue.

Supporters make their case, challenge critics of Taseko Mines’ B.C. proposal

Tsilhqot’in band member Ervin Charleyboy challenged opposing native chiefs to call a general assembly to vote on New Prosperity. (Image: YouTube)

The six opposing chiefs won’t do that “because people are going to vote for the mine and they’re scared that the chiefs are going to be proven wrong,” said Ervin Charleyboy, a former Tsilhqot’in National Government chief himself. “I talk to a lot of young people out there and they’re all for the mine. But they’re scared to speak out because they will get intimidated, like they tried to do with me. But I’m not easily intimidated.”

An opponent of Taseko’s original proposal for a gold-copper mine in B.C.’s Cariboo-Chilcotin region, Charleyboy eventually backed the revised New Prosperity proposal on becoming convinced that Fish Lake would be protected. Concern about the 118-hectare body of water, said to have social and spiritual importance to natives, was central to the federal rejection of Taseko’s original proposal. Under that plan, the lake would have been drained for use as a tailings dump.

With a $300-million revision, Taseko now proposes to save the lake by moving the tailings storage two kilometres away. Native opponents, however, maintain the new plan won’t adequately protect the lake and regional watershed.

Apart from criticizing local opponents, Charleyboy said the issue has been clouded by “too many outsiders [who] don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“We have nothing in the Chilcotin,” he said. “We rely on the forest industry but that’s going down fast because of the beetle epidemic…. To this day I’m supporting the New Prosperity mine because I want a future for my grandkids.”

Supporters make their case, challenge critics of Taseko Mines’ B.C. proposal

UBC mining engineer John Meech said the proposal “will not only protect Fish Lake, but it will enhance the quality of the fish that reside in that lake.” (Image: UBC)

Taseko has now taken its hoped-for mine through two federal environmental reviews. The original proposal passed the B.C. review. The second, revised plan would require an amended certificate from the province, should the feds approve it.

But federal approval remains uncertain following a negative report by a review panel, which again largely concerned itself with Fish Lake. While the decision is up to Aglukkaq, Taseko argues that the review panel completely screwed up by studying a tailings storage model “completely different than the Taseko design.” The company has asked a federal court to declare “that certain panel findings relating to seepage and water quality be set aside, and that the panel failed in certain respects to comply with principles of procedural fairness.”

Speaking at the event was a mining engineer who argued that Taseko’s plan “will not only protect Fish Lake, but it will enhance the quality of the fish that reside in that lake.” John Meech heads the University of B.C.’s Centre for Environmental Research in Minerals, Metals and Materials. He told the audience that the lake “will be protected during the mine operating phase and long-term into the future after closure. And I base my assessment on the design’s seepage rates that are being predicted for the mine that match what happens at two other mines in the area, Gibraltar and Mt. Polley. And anyone who tells you the seepage rates are in error is not telling you the truth.”

Meech said sustainability will be further guarded through ongoing monitoring, review and adaptation. But while standards like these apply in Canada, they’re not universal. “To not bring [New Prosperity] onstream means exporting serious pollution problems to the Third World, who do not practise the modern concepts of sustainable mining. We have an obligation in Canada and British Columbia to produce these materials, to meet the global demands and avoid the serious pollution and social issues that will ensue in developing countries should this production be shifted to those countries.”

Canadian mining has presented problems “in the past, but I emphasize the word ‘past,’” Meech said. The redemption of B.C.’s historic Britannia mine site represents “how quickly we can restore a deteriorating environment at a mine.”

Supporters make their case, challenge critics of Taseko Mines’ B.C. proposal

B.C. mines minister Bill Bennett professed his government’s support for mining but dodged questions about cabinet opposition to Pacific Booker’s Morrison proposal.
(Image: Government of B.C.)

Returning to the subject of native opposition, B.C. mines minister Bill Bennett said, “I believe there’s opportunity, if the federal government says yes to this project, for significantly more engagement with the first nations.”

The province’s revenue-sharing policy “can make a difference,” he added. “It has made a difference in the past. I can give you the names of mines in this province that when I was mines minister in 2005 to 2007, the first nations were vehemently opposed to and today they support.” He said existing agreements provide bands with 37% of provincial royalties, as well as impact benefit agreements with the mining company.

“We want this project to go ahead,” Bennett proclaimed.

But not some others, apparently.

Bennett’s appearance followed the previous day’s B.C. Supreme Court decision that ruled BC Liberal cabinet ministers unfairly rejected another project, Pacific Booker Minerals’ TSXV:BKM proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine. Responding to a question from ResourceClips.com, Bennett said his colleagues “made a decision not to grant the certificate on the basis of the evidence in front of them.”

When reminded that the evidence in front of them was a favourable environmental review, Bennett replied, “I’d love to talk to you about New Prosperity.”

On December 12 he begins meetings in Ottawa with 12 B.C. MPs and four federal ministers. The environmental minister wasn’t among those he named. Her decision is expected within the coming months. Should Aglukkaq come to a negative conclusion, the federal cabinet would have to back her rejection.

Read more about Taseko’s New Prosperity proposal.

Pacific Booker wins court case—B.C. ministers must reconsider Morrison mine rejection

December 9th, 2013

by Greg Klein | December 9, 2013

The British Columbia Supreme Court has quashed a B.C. government decision to reject Pacific Booker Minerals’ TSXV:BKM proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine. Late December 9 the company reported that a 55-page court judgement released that afternoon stated the October 2012 decision by B.C.’s then-ministers of mines and environment “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.”

The ministers’ decision followed a favourable environmental review which repeatedly stated that, with successful implementation of mitigation measures and conditions, the mine is “not likely to have significant adverse effects.” The government, however, based its rationale on a “risk/benefit approach” that wasn’t a requirement of the environmental review and speculated what might happen if the mitigation measures failed. In his advice to the cabinet minsters, the Environmental Assessment Office executive director also emphasized strong native opposition and a “moderate to strong prima facie case for aboriginal title.”

The ministers’ decision refusing to issue the certificate failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.—B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck, as reported by Pacific Booker Minerals

At the time Pacific Booker director Erik Tornquist told ResourceClips.com, “We’re at a loss on how you can have a project with no significant environmental effects yet a certificate is denied.”

In a September 2012 statement by Gavin Dirom, the president/CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. said the rejection “does not appear to represent a science-based decision-making process that was transparent, logical or clear. Going forward, for the sake of due process and in the spirit of not losing the opportunity to develop this copper-gold deposit, we are hopeful that the company, first nations, B.C. government and federal government can work together to resolve this matter in a timely and reasonable manner.”

Speaking to ResourceClips.com late afternoon December 9, Pacific Booker executive director John Plourde called the court ruling “very encouraging.” He emphasized that the company doesn’t have to go through another environmental review. But he declined to say more until the company had time to further study the court decision.

“I don’t have enough information yet,” he said. “We just put this out because we have to put out a news release by law.” He added that the documents will be posted on the company’s website soon.

As reported in Pacific Booker’s news release, Justice Kenneth Affleck wrote:

“The petitioner is entitled to a declaration that the executive director’s referral of the application for a certificate to the ministers and the ministers’ decision refusing to issue the certificate failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness. There will be an order in the nature of certiorari quashing and setting aside the ministers’ decision and an order remitting the petitioner’s application for a certificate to the ministers for reconsideration. The petitioner is entitled to costs.”

A new mines minister, Bill Bennett, was named in B.C.’s last round of cabinet appointments. Terry Lake, the environmental minister who took part in the decision to reject the Morrison proposal, remains in the same post.

Read more about Pacific Booker and the B.C. government decision.