Tuesday 25th September 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘brazil’

Emerita Resources expands portfolio with Brazilian lithium acquisition

September 12th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 12, 2018

A company focused on base metals in two continents has broadened its approach by moving into a lithium-producing neighbourhood. By exercising its 100% option, Emerita Resources TSXV:EMO picks up the Falcon Litio MG project, half a kilometre from the Companhia Brasileira de Litio lithium deposit currently being mined. Initial field work on Falcon has found pegmatite dykes similar to mineralized dykes on CBL’s property.

Emerita Resources expands portfolio with Brazilian lithium acquisition

Located in eastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, the region is hardly new to Emerita. The state also hosts the company’s 75%-held Salobro zinc project, where drilling wrapped up in July with an initial release of high-grade assays. Vale NYSE:VALE had previously attributed the property with an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent for 1.3 million zinc-equivalent pounds, using a 3.5% zinc-lead cutoff. Emerita has a 43-101 resource due imminently.

But location was just part of the reason Emerita considered Falcon to be “an exceptional opportunity to add value at a low cost,” said CEO David Gower. “There has been interest expressed by third parties in potentially getting involved in the Litio project.”

Emerita gets Falcon on issuing a third tranche of 500,000 shares. The vendor retains a 2% NSR. Should the project achieve a resource showing at least 20 million tonnes averaging 1.3% Li2O, with at least half in the indicated or measured categories, Emerita pays the vendor $5 million cash or issues an equal amount in shares.

Besides the two Brazilian projects, the company holds three properties in Spain: Plaza Norte, a 50/50 joint venture on a zinc-lead past-producer; Aznalcollar, with an historic, non-43-101 zinc-lead-copper estimate; and Paymogo, with two historic, non-43-101 zinc-lead estimates.

In July Emerita offered a private placement of up to $3 million.

Emerita Resources finishes drilling, plans Brazil zinc resource estimate in two weeks

July 26th, 2018

by Greg Klein | July 26, 2018

With its initial drill program wrapped up on time and on budget, Emerita Resources TSXV:EMO expects to release a resource estimate for its Salobro zinc project in eastern Brazil within two weeks. The campaign totalled 22 holes for 3,676 metres. Thirteen holes were intended to expand the historic resource and four others twinned historic holes, while five large-diameter holes collected material for metallurgical tests.

Some standout assays from the batch released July 26 include:

Emerita Resources finishes drilling, plans Brazil zinc resource estimate in two weeks

Emerita Resources’ drill program expanded Salobro’s
mineralization without exceeding the previous depth.

Hole 012

  • 11.19% zinc and 1.26% lead over 2.8 metres, starting at 111.65 metres in downhole depth

Hole 013

  • 11.62% zinc and 0.4% lead over 1.71 metres, starting at 102.97 metres

Hole 016

  • 3.65% zinc and 0.2% lead over 8.46 metres, starting at 119 metres

  • 7.71% zinc and 0.99% lead over 3.43 metres, starting at 141.1 metres

The company interprets widths to be close to true widths.

The overall program succeeded in expanding mineralization up dip and along strike, with the historic deposit remaining open at depth, Emerita stated. The results also improve continuity, while geophysical analysis shows potential mineralization plunging to the west.

An historic, non-43-101 estimate compiled by Vale NYSE:VALE calculated 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent at a cutoff of 3.5% zinc-lead.

Adding mineralization that does not require increasing depth should have a positive impact on the PEA results.—David Gower,
chairperson and incoming CEO
of Emerita Resources

“We have increased the limits of the near-surface mineralization, which was a key objective of the program,” pointed out chairperson David Gower. “The NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate that is being prepared will be the basis for the planned preliminary economic assessment and adding mineralization that does not require increasing depth should have a positive impact on the PEA results.”

Effective August 1, Gower and current CEO Michael Timmins swap positions, with Gower becoming CEO and Timmins chairing the board.

Also emphasizing the shallow mineralization, project manager Carlos Cravo added: “The relogging of the historical drilling combined with the new data has resulted in an improved understanding of the deposit morphology that will improve drill targeting and should benefit any future mine plan should the deposit be put into production.”

Emerita holds a 75% share of the 1,210-hectare property, with the remainder held by IMS Engenharia Mineral Ltda. Regional infrastructure includes paved roads, rail, power and water.

In northern Spain’s Reocin mining district, Emerita takes part in a 50/50 joint venture on the Plaza Norte zinc-lead project. The JV has drill permitting underway to update historic work.

Emerita also announced a private placement offered up to $3 million, with proceeds intended for Salobro. The company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $4.24 million last December.

Read more about Emerita Resources.

Emerita Resources steps out to cut 5.7% zinc over 8 metres in Brazil

June 7th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 7, 2018

Three more holes from eastern Brazil’s Salobro zinc project have Emerita Resources TSXV:EMO encouraged about potential expansion to an historic, non-43-101 Vale NYSE:VALE estimate. The results follow the first two holes, released June 1, of a program that’s expected to sink 23 holes totalling about 3,500 metres. Seventeen holes have been finished so far.

Emerita Resources cuts 5.7% zinc over 8 metres in Brazil

DDH-007 stepped out 100 metres from an historic, non-43-101 interval of 6.09% zinc and 0.73% lead over 10.43 metres. The new intercept hit:

  • 5.7% zinc and 0.84% lead, for 6.54% zinc and lead, over 8 metres, starting at 239.5 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 8.82% zinc and 1.48% lead, for 10.3% zinc and lead, over 4 metres)

Two near-surface holes tested potential for a starter pit in an area where an historic, non-43-101 trench assay showed 1.35% zinc over 22 metres. The new assays show:

DDH-005

  • 4.59% zinc and 0.08% lead, for 4.67% zinc and lead, over 1.5 metres, starting at 65.82 metres

DDH-006A

  • 1.52% zinc and 0.01% lead, for 1.53% zinc and lead, over 3 metres, starting at 26 metres

True widths weren’t provided.

Scheduled for Q3 is a resource to update Vale’s now historic, non-43-101 estimate of 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent, using a 3.5% zinc-lead cutoff. The campaign will also collect 400 kilograms of material for metallurgical tests.

Last week Emerita released the current program’s first two assays, showing 4.05% zinc and 1.24% lead over 9.62 metres, along with 5.15% zinc and 0.51% lead over 3.32 metres. The company also reported that new assays from Vale core showed consistency with historic results, easing the way to a 43-101 resource.

Emerita has a 75% stake in the 1,210-hectare property, with the remainder held by IMS Engenharia Mineral Ltda. The region’s infrastructure includes paved roads, rail, power and water.

Emerita also shares in a 50/50 joint venture on the Plaza Norte zinc-lead project in northern Spain’s Reocin mining district, where the company has drill permitting underway to update historic work.

In December the company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $4.24 million.

Read more about Emerita Resources.

Drilling, re-sampling move Emerita Resources towards Q3 Brazilian zinc resource

June 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 1, 2018

While a rig remains busy, new assays from old core show consistency with historic results, bringing Emerita Resources TSXV:EMO closer to a 43-101 resource on its Salobro zinc project in eastern Brazil.

Drilling, re-sampling move Emerita Resources towards Q3 Brazilian zinc resource

Emerita Resources has assays pending from
another 15 holes so far on its current drill campaign.

The company sent 1,184 duplicate core samples from historic Vale NYSE:VALE drilling to the lab, where 55 samples with intervals grading over 1% zinc were considered for statistical purposes.

Compared with Vale’s data, the new assays demonstrate that “the previous historic results are consistent, unbiased and meet the QA/QC requirements to support a mineral resource estimate to NI 43-101 standards,” Emerita stated.

The results provide “a powerful advantage for the project that saves the company considerable time, money and effort,” commented chairperson David Gower. “The project has an abundance of high-quality historic drilling data that allows us to expedite the program as we develop the Salobro project further.”

At a 3.5% zinc-lead cutoff, Vale’s historic, non-43-101 estimate showed 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent. Hoping to expand those numbers in a 43-101 resource planned for Q3, Emerita has so far completed 17 holes totalling 2,740 metres of an anticipated 23-hole, 3,500-metre program. Last week the company released results from the campaign’s first two holes:

DDH-001

  • 4.05% zinc and 1.24% lead for 5.29% zinc plus lead over 9.62 metres, starting at 257.9 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 9.74% zinc and 3.66% lead for 13.4% zinc plus lead over 2.72 metres)

DDH-002

  • 5.15% zinc and 0.51% lead for 5.66% zinc plus lead over 3.32 metres, starting at 108.38 metres

True widths weren’t provided. The program will also extract 400 kilograms of material for metallurgical tests.

Emerita closed its 75% acquisition of the 1,210-hectare property last March, retaining the right to pick up the other 25%. Regional infrastructure features paved roads, rail, power and water.

In northern Spain’s Reocín mining district the company has drill permitting underway for Plaza Norte, a zinc-lead 50/50 joint venture that also features considerable historic work and regional infrastructure.

Emerita closed an oversubscribed $4.24-million private placement in December.

Read more about Emerita Resources.

Emerita Resources releases first zinc-lead assays from its Salobro project in Brazil

May 23rd, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 23, 2018

The near-term goal is a 43-101 resource to replace an historic estimate as drilling continues at Emerita Resources’ (TSXV:EMO) Salobro zinc project in eastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. Out of a planned 23-hole, 3,500-metre campaign, the crew has so far sunk 15 holes totalling 2,133.9 metres, with the first two assays released May 23.

Infill hole DDH-001 was collared within 24 metres of an exceptional historic Vale NYSE:VALE interval of 10.39% zinc and 2.13% lead over 13.92 metres. The new hole revealed:

  • 4.05% zinc and 1.24% lead for 5.29% zinc plus lead over 9.62 metres, starting at 257.9 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 9.74% zinc and 3.66% lead for 13.4% zinc plus lead over 2.72 metres)
Emerita Resources releases first zinc-lead assays from its Salobro project in Brazil

A high-grade historic zinc estimate from
Vale brought Emerita Resources to Brazil.

DDH-002 extended an historic mineralized zone approximately 30 metres up-dip, with an assay grading:

  • 5.15% zinc and 0.51% lead for 5.66% zinc plus lead over 3.32 metres, starting at 108.38 metres

True widths weren’t provided.

Vale’s historic, non-43-101 estimate came to 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent using a 3.5% zinc-lead cutoff. Emerita hopes to increase those numbers in a 43-101 resource scheduled for July. The company filed a 43-101 technical report on the 1,210-hectare property in March.

The current program includes six large-diameter holes to collect 400 kilograms of material for metallurgical tests.

Emerita closed its 75% acquisition of Salobro in March, with the right to take on the remaining 25% from IMS Engenharia Mineral Ltda. The region’s infrastructure includes paved roads, cell phone reception, rail, power and water.

Emerita also partners in a 50/50 joint venture on Plaza Norte, a northern Spain zinc-lead project with considerable historic work and regional infrastructure that sits adjacent to the former Reocin mine that produced about 62 million tonnes averaging 11% zinc and 1.4% lead up to 2003. With drill permitting underway, Emerita could produce a maiden resource for Plaza Norte in early 2019.

Last December the company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $4.24 million.

Read more about Emerita Resources.

Emerita Resources chairperson David Gower discusses the Salobro zinc project in Brazil

May 10th, 2018

…Read more

Proven provenance

April 20th, 2018

B.C. tantalum-niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

by Greg Klein

Not just inadequate reserves but dubious origins threaten security of supply for strategic commodities. A prime example is niobium, a largely single-source product from CBMM in Brazil that gives one company and one country enormous potential power. Tantalum raises further concerns as it passes through shadowy supply lines that could obscure conflict sources. Both metals appear on the recent U.S. draft list of 35 critical minerals. And both appear in substantial quantities in one east-central British Columbia deposit.

That brings additional interest to Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, best-known for its Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec. While that project moves towards pre-feasibility, the company’s Blue River property in B.C. offers advantageous resources, metallurgy, infrastructure and economics for the rare metals age, says company president Chris Grove.

Industry has noticed, evident in the inquiries he’s received from end-users.

“We’re very excited about the new interest in Blue River,” he says. “Companies are looking at the provenance of these commodities and the new executive order signed by President Trump focuses on the origin of these critical commodities, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity to be seen for Blue River.”

The property’s Upper Fir deposit boasts a resource effective February 2015 based on 271 holes totalling 59,100 metres:

  • indicated: 48.41 million tonnes averaging 197 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,610 ppm Nb2O5 for 9,560 tonnes Ta2O5 and 77,810 tonnes Nb2O5

  • inferred: 5.4 million tonnes averaging 191 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,760 ppm Nb2O5 for 1,000 tonnes Ta2O5 and 9,600 tonnes Nb2O5

At this stage, processing looks good. Tantalum and niobium “occur within the minerals pyrochlore and ferrocolumbite and are amenable to conventional flotation and proven refining processes with estimated recoveries of 65% to 70%,” the 43-101 stated. “The industrial processes proposed for the production of high-quality tantalum and niobium products from the concentrates have not been tested using material from the Blue River project but are known processes that are not expected to be difficult to develop for the project.”

Tantalum and niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

Those qualities alone encourage optimism for production costs, Grove points out. But a more recent development suggests even greater potential savings to both capex and opex. In February the company announced successful processing through a patented method called the Krupin Process. That followed months of work on a 1,300-kilogram sample of Blue River material at the Estonian lab of Alexander Krupin. An expert in tantalum and niobium recovery, his CV shows more than 35 years’ experience, including over 15 years processing high-grade concentrates of those two metals.

But it took another expert to confirm the results. To that end Commerce dispatched chairperson Axel Hoppe to Krupin’s lab. Formerly president of the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center and a senior manager at H.C. Starck, a global producer of tantalum and niobium products, Hoppe “confirmed a very significant new development in processing that should save significantly on costs,” Grove says.

As a result, Commerce is now working on a definitive agreement to incorporate the Krupin Process at Blue River and also acquire worldwide rights to the method.

Covering 105,373 hectares, the property sits about 250 highway kilometres north of Kamloops, with access from another four klicks of gravel road. CN rail tracks and a parallel high-voltage transmission line cross the property’s western side, while a 20 MW run-of-river hydro plant operates adjacent to Blue River.

With niobium in a location like that, Blue River has attracted “huge interest from the steel sector,” Grove says. As electronics manufacturers take a closer look at some of the Democratic Republic of Congo mines that supply their cobalt, tantalum’s due for similar scrutiny, he adds.

Meanwhile, highly impressive niobium-tantalum assays from Commerce’s Quebec property have spawned an early-stage exploration project. Samples have graded as high as 4.24%, 4.3% and even 5.93% Nb2O5, as well as 1,040 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,220 ppm Ta2O5. The exceptional grades prompted Saville Resources TSXV:SRE to sign a 75% earn-in for the Niobium Claim Group on the Eldor property that also hosts Commerce’s advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit. Saville now has a 43-101 technical report underway. Dependent on TSXV approval of the deal and subsequent funding, the company plans drilling this year.

Interestingly it was Saville president Mike Hodge who staked the Blue River claims, after Dahrouge Geological Consulting brought the property to the attention of Commerce. Now a former Dahrouge geologist currently with the B.C. Geological Survey plans a public site visit to Blue River. Alexei Rukhlov will co-lead the June 22-24 field trip, an event open to participants of Resources for Future Generations 2018. Click here for more info.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Emerita Resources mobilizes rigs to Brazilian zinc project, plans mid-year resource

April 10th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 10, 2018

With one or more rigs now en route, Emerita Resources TSXV:EMO has field staff preparing its Salobro zinc project for a 3,500-metre program and a late-Q2 resource estimate. Located in eastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, the 1,210-hectare property has an historic, non-43-101 estimate compiled by Vale NYSE:VALE of 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent using a 3.5% zinc-lead cutoff.

Emerita Resources mobilizes rigs to Brazilian zinc project, plans mid-year resource

Regional infrastructure includes paved roads,
cell phone service, rail, water and power.

“We see excellent potential to expand the existing resource and the previous work completed by Vale was to a high technical standard, which provides an excellent base from which to accelerate the evaluation of the project,” said Emerita chairperson David Gower.

The company closed its 75% acquisition of Salobro in March, retaining the right to pick up the other 25% from IMS Engenharia Mineral Ltda. Also last month, Emerita filed a 43-101 technical report on the property.

As part of the resource update work, Emerita has assays pending for resampled core from 10 selected historic holes and has relogged 11 holes.

Additionally, an engineering firm has completed a preliminary mine plan for the project. Emerita also has a community engagement proposal under review.

The work comprises part of an ambitious campaign that might reach pre-feasibility as early as next year.

In northern Spain, meanwhile, the company takes part in a 50/50 joint venture on Plaza Norte, another zinc-lead project with substantial historic work and regional infrastructure. Emerita has permitting underway for a drill campaign that could bring a maiden resource early next year.

The company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $4.24 million in December.

Read more about Emerita Resources.

Trans-Atlantic treasures

February 26th, 2018

Emerita Resources fast-tracks high-grade zinc in Brazil and Spain

by Greg Klein

Two years of escalating prices and several years of historic work have Emerita Resources TSXV:EMO in an exceptionally sanguine mood. Following December’s oversubscribed $4.24-million cash infusion and last month’s TSXV approval to close the Brazilian acquisition, the company announced a breathtakingly ambitious timeline for its Salobro zinc project. Should all go to a very optimistic plan, the company would advance from updating an historic resource to completing pre-feas and mine permitting within two to three years.

Emerita Resources fast-tracks high-grade zinc in Brazil and Spain

Should success reward optimism, Salobro
could reach pre-feasibility next year.

The 1,210-hectare former Vale NYSE:VALE project’s located in southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, where regional infrastructure includes a zinc smelter, paved roads, rail, water and power.

Salobro comes with an historic, non-43-101 Vale-compiled resource of 8.3 million tonnes averaging 7.12% zinc-equivalent lying at shallow depth and showing expansion potential along strike and down dip. The geology suggests either a Mississippi Valley-type or sedimentary exhalative deposit, Emerita says. A standout among historic intervals assayed 10.39% zinc and 2.13% lead over 13.92 metres.

The acquisition would give Emerita a 75% stake in Salobro and the right to pick up the remaining 25% from IMS Engenharia Mineral Ltda. Vale, meanwhile, has begun the process of withdrawing a civil claim against IMS concerning ownership of the property, Emerita stated. The company expects to close the deal by the end of March.

“Ambitious” might be an understatement for such an optimistic timeline. But the project “has consistently exceeded our expectations during our scoping and analysis phase,” says newly appointed CEO Michael Timmins. The veteran of Agnico Eagle Mines’ (TSX:AEM) expansion from one to nine operations adds, “We are encouraged by the outcome of this early mine study and are very excited to have the opportunity to utilize our award-winning mine-building team in Brazil to fast-track the development of Salobro.”

With that in mind the company foresees a 43-101 technical report filed by the end of March, a 43-101 resource by the end of Q2, 3,500 metres of exploration drilling to begin in early March, a PEA complete by the end of Q3, baseline enviro studies beginning in Q3, a pre-feas finished by Q3 2019 and mine development permits in hand by Q2 2020.

Obviously such an agenda depends on favourable outcomes at every stage. The company has already been resampling historic core for the new resource, which will also include upcoming step-out holes to expand the deposit’s shallow areas. A conceptual mine plan will build on info inherited from Vale.

Emerita credits its Brazilian team with significant involvement in projects including Belo Sun Mining’s (TSX:BSX) Volta Grande gold project and Aguia Resources’ (TSXV:AGRL) Tres Estradas phosphate deposit.

The deal calls for Emerita to pay Vale an initial US$350,000 after IMS turns Salobro over to a subsidiary held 75% by Emerita and 25% by IMS. Once Vale formally withdraws its claim against IMS, Emerita pays Vale legal costs of approximately 760,000 reals, about C$297,000. Further payments to Vale would cost Emerita US$1.65 million by July 14, US$1.5 million in 2020 and another US$3 million in 2024.

Emerita may buy out the IMS 25% for C$2 million and a million shares by 2021.

Emerita Resources fast-tracks high-grade zinc in Brazil and Spain

The Plaza Norte agenda aims for a late-
2019 preliminary economic assessment.

Helping on the financial side will be December’s oversubscribed $4.24-million private placement. But some of that cash will go to another Emerita zinc project—and for that, the focus shifts to northern Spain.

Situated next to the former Reocin mine that produced about 62 million tonnes averaging 11% zinc and 1.4% lead up to 2003, the 3,600-hectare Plaza Norte property sits amid regional infrastructure including rail, road and port facilities, along with a Glencore zinc smelter about 180 road kilometres away. The project is a 50/50 JV with the Aldesa Group, a specialized construction and infrastructure firm operating in Spain and internationally.

Emerita’s Spanish team now has permitting underway for a 5,000-metre campaign anticipated to start in May. The plan is to build a 43-101 resource over an area that’s already seen more than 300 holes totalling about 73,000 metres. Some historic intercepts include 9.72% zinc and 0.09% lead over 18.96 metres, along with 7.05% zinc and 0.3% lead over 8.2 metres. The company anticipates an initial resource in Q1 next year and a PEA by 2019 year-end.

Meanwhile Emerita awaits resolution of disputed ownership concerning two other Spanish zinc properties, Paymogo and Aznalcollar. The latter’s Los Frailes deposit hosts an historic, non-43-101 estimate showing 20 million tonnes averaging 6.65% zinc, 3.87% lead, 0.29% copper and 148 ppm silver. The company considers the project ready for feasibility studies.

Paymogo’s La Infanta deposit has another historic, non-43-101 estimate of 800,000 tonnes averaging 1.77% copper, 6.91% lead, 12.66% zinc and 148 g/t silver. About seven kilometres away, Paymogo’s Romanera deposit holds an historic, non-43-101 34 million tonnes averaging 0.42% copper, 1.1% lead, 2.3% zinc, 44 g/t silver and 0.8 g/t gold.

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.