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Athabasca Basin and beyond

June 29th, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for June 22 to 28, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Fission/Alpha strike gold at PLS, report geochem results

Patterson Lake South’s potential might go beyond the stuff of yellowcake to include yellow metal. After releasing all those high-grade, near-surface uranium assays, Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW and Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU finally reported high-grade, near-surface gold on June 24. Where it was found, the gold frequently correlated with high-grade uranium, although the reverse wasn’t always true. But they did find gold in all three zones.

Some highlights include:

Zone R390E

  • 1.58 grams per tonne gold over 63.5 metres, starting at 82 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 8.8 g/t over 2.5 metres)
  • (and including 35.6 g/t over 0.5 metres)
  • 1.02 g/t over 53 metres, starting at 95 metres
  • (including 2.6 g/t over 10.5 metres).
Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere

Zone R00E

  • 1.9 g/t over 20.5 metres, starting at 65.5 metres.

Zone R780E

  • 1.71 g/t over 7 metres, starting at 144 metres
  • (including 4.48 g/t over 2.5 metres).

True thicknesses weren’t available. The 50/50 joint venture partners pointed to other uranium-gold occurrences in the western Athabasca Basin including Cluff Lake, which produced over 16,000 gold ounces in 1987, and the high gold grades reported from the UEX Corp TSX:UEX/AREVA Resources Canada Shea Creek JV. But Fission and Alpha cautioned that Athabasca gold typically occurs irregularly, making extraction viable only with a mineable uranium deposit.

The companies also reported that, unlike some Basin deposits, PLS has shown low arsenic values. High arsenic requires more costly processing and disposal, the partners stated.

Additionally, geochemical work showed strongly anomalous boron related to the hydrothermal alteration in and around uranium mineralization. “The extent of the alteration halo around the mineralization can enlarge the target area and be used as a guide to focus on an area in a suitable geophysical setting,” the companies stated.

Project operator Fission plans to resume drilling in July, part of a program jointly budgeted at $6.95 million.

$6-million program for PLS-area’s largest package proposed by Skyharbour, Athabasca Nuclear, Lucky Strike, Noka

The plan calls for four companies funding exploration on the Patterson Lake South area’s largest land package. Under a memorandum of understanding announced June 24, Skyharbour Resources TSXV:SYH and Athabasca Nuclear TSXV:ASC would combine their Basin properties into one 287,130-hectare bundle, with Lucky Strike Resources TSXV:LKY and Noka Resources TSXV:NX also contributing to a two-year, $6-million campaign.

The properties include Athabasca Nuclear’s Preston Lake, 26 kilometres south of the PLS discovery, and Skyharbour’s adjacent West Patterson, South Patterson and Draco properties. Also included are Skyharbour’s nearby North Patterson, RY and South Basin properties, and its 11,769-hectare Wheeler claims in the eastern Basin.

Noka and Lucky Strike already hold a 25% earn-in each on Skyharbour’s properties. The MOU would give Athabasca Nuclear a 25% option on the properties as well. The other three companies would each get 25% options on Athabasca Nuclear’s 125,375-hectare Preston Lake. Lucky Strike and Noka would each fund $1 million of exploration per year for two years, while Skyharbour and Athabasca Nuclear would each put up $500,00 a year.

Cash and shares would change hands as Noka and Lucky Strike each pay $100,000 and issue $100,000 in shares to each of Skyharbour and Athabasca Nuclear. The latter two would issue each other shares worth $100,000.

Finally, the four companies would form a JV. They hope to sign a definitive agreement by June 30.

Speaking to ResourceClips.com, Skyharbour president/CEO Jordan Trimble emphasized that the plan minimizes his company’s risk and future equity dilution. “We decided this approach made the most sense from both an exploration standpoint and a financial standpoint,” he said. “This will also create value-added synergies that will further improve our chances of raising money and making a new discovery.”

Already underway at the PLS-area properties is an airborne VTEM-plus time domain survey, to be followed by radiometrics later this summer. Another co-operative effort, the surveys are jointly funded by Skyharbour, Athabasca Nuclear, Aldrin Resource TSXV:ALN and Forum Uranium TSXV:FDC to explore their contiguous claims.

Plans call for further exploration by the newly announced strategic alliance, with operator Athabasca Nuclear consulting with the other geological teams as well as Alpha’s 43-101 technical report for PLS. “They’ve really written the book on how to discover deposits in this specific area,” Trimble said.

Read more about the four-way strategic alliance.

International Enexco JVs with Denison on Bachman Lake

A JV announced June 25 brings together International Enexco TSXV:IEC and Denison Mines TSX:DML on the Bachman Lake project, about four kilometres from Cameco Corp’s TSX:CCO proposed Millennium mine in the southeastern Basin. Enexco may earn 20% of Bachman by funding $500,000 of exploration by year-end. Denison remains project operator. The 11,419-hectare property is scheduled for a helicopter-supported 1,900-metre drill program beginning in August to focus on three conductors identified by geophysics and historic drilling.

Twenty kilometres northeast Enexco holds a 30% interest in the 3,407-hectare Mann Lake project, a JV with operator Cameco (52.5%) and AREVA Resources Canada (17.5%). In Nevada, Enexco has a feasibility study underway on its Contact copper project.

Kivalliq releases assays from its Angilak project in Nunavut

Exploration drilling on two new zones at Kivalliq Energy’s TSXV:KIV Angilak project produced a batch of assays released June 27. Some highlights from the Nunavut property show:

ML zone

  • 0.46% uranium oxide (U3O8), 0.48% copper, 0.15% molybdenum and 53.6 g/t silver over 4.3 metres, starting at 90.2 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 1.42% U3O8, 0.64% copper, 0.4% molybdenum and 139 g/t silver over 1.2 metres).

J1 zone

  • 0.06% U3O8, 0.08% copper, 0.01% molybdenum and 8.3 g/t silver over 1.3 metres, starting at 38 metres
  • 1.06% U3O8, 0.28% copper, 0.03% molybdenum and 3.6 g/t silver over 0.3 metres, starting at 60.1 metres
  • 0.56% U3O8, 0.05% copper, 0.28% molybdenum and 15.5 g/t silver over 0.6 metres, starting at 77.2 metres
  • (including 1.31% U3O8, 0.09% copper, 0.66% molybdenum and 33.9 g/t silver over 0.3 metres)
  • 0.15% U3O8, 0.05% copper, 0.07% molybdenum and 9.2 g/t silver over 0.2 metres, starting at 114.8 metres.

Intercepts are estimated true widths. Kivalliq president Jeff Ward said the two zones show geological similarity and proximity to current deposits on the project’s Lac 50 trend, which has a March 2013 inferred resource of 2.83 million tonnes averaging 0.69% U3O8, Canada’s highest-grade uranium resource outside the Athabasca Basin.

Kivalliq operates the 138,000-hectare project, 225 kilometres south of Baker Lake, in partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Drilling resumes in July.

Macusani releases assays from Peru, says resource updates are imminent

In southeastern Peru, Macusani Yellowcake TSXV:YEL announced drill results from the Chilcuno Chico anomaly on its Kihitian property. Some highlights from the June 26 release include:

  • 0.121% U3O8 over 17 metres, starting at 220 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.346% over 4 metres)
  • 0.172% over 4 metres, starting at 103 metres
  • 0.032% over 41 metres, starting at 248 metres
  • (including 0.308% over 3 metres)
  • 0.056% over 16 metres, starting at 35 metres
  • 0.059% over 9 metres, starting at 232 metres
  • (including 0.163% over 2 metres).

True widths weren’t available. With 45,000 metres since 2011, drilling has delineated an area about 1,050 metres by 1,100 metres, where the Manto B zone remains open in all directions. Macusani believes the project’s Quebrada Blanca anomaly forms part of the same mineralized sequence as Manto B.

The company has two drills turning at Chilcuno Chico and two more at its Tupuramani project, also on the Macusani Plateau. Resource updates for Colibri 2 and 3/Tupuramani and for Chilcuno Chico/Quebrada Blanca are expected within days.

Read more about exploration and mining in Peru.

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April 4th, 2013

Canadian junior mining companies—and independent brokers—have a bright future by VantageWire
Eric Sprott & Shree Kargutkar: Caveat depositor by GoldSeek
Why Rick Rule bought $280 million of platinum and palladium by the Gold Report
I’ll take my chances the central banks are right on gold by the Grandich Report
Lucara Diamond president/CEO William Lamb discusses a 239-carat diamond found on the Karowe Mine in Botswana by Equedia

April 1st, 2013

Rest easy Canadians, your bank accounts are as safe as those in Cyprus
I’ll take my chances the central banks are right on gold by the Grandich Report
Insider buying of gold stocks surges to multi-year highs by VantageWire
Lucara Diamond president/CEO William Lamb discusses a 239-carat diamond found on the Karowe Mine in Botswana by Equedia
Don Mosher: Is the Venture exchange on its deathbed? by the Gold Report

Overcoming country risk

January 31st, 2013

Canada Fluorspar and Prima Fluorspar develop critical mineral projects at home

by Greg Klein

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(Update: On April 19, 2013, Prima Fluorspar Corp TSXV:PF began trading on the TSX Venture. Read more here.)

When country risk threatens a vital commodity’s supply, it’s time to find new sources. And it’s because of country risk that fluorspar gained its designation as a critical mineral. Recent news from Canadian juniors, however, offers some reassurance for this widely used but less-widely known commodity.

Canada Fluorspar and Prima Fluorspar develop critical mineral projects at home

The rock looks almost too pretty to be practical,
yet fluorspar products are nearly ubiquitous in their uses.

So what is this stuff? Also known as fluorite and measured in calcium fluoride (CaF2), fluorspar comes in two grades. Metspar, or metallurgical grade, is used to make steel, aluminum, ceramics and glass, among other necessities. The higher grade and more highly valued acidspar, or acid grade, is largely used in hydrofluoric acid, which is used in hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and their successors, hydrofluoro-olefins (HFOs), used in coolants for fridges, freezers and air conditioners. Fluorspar finds its way into several other uses from pharmaceuticals to pesticides and toothpaste to Teflon.

Fluorspar customers can be formidable in size, including such giants as Alcoa, BASF, Honeywell, DuPont, Dow, 3M and Rio Tinto Alcan.

With China producing up to 58% of world fluorspar supply, a familiar story unfolds. The country has restricted exports to protect its own stocks, which the Chinese use to produce value-added products that the rest of the world needs. Mexico, Mongolia and South Africa comprise the planet’s other major sources.

Not surprisingly, country risk was “a huge factor” in the European Union designation of fluorspar as a critical mineral, says Simon Moores. A writer for the authoritative London-based journal Industrial Minerals, Moores spoke to ResourceClips in Vancouver while attending the Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference 2013.

Country risk actually works out to be “positive for the Canadian-based junior companies,” he says. “One of their selling points is having a stable, friendly country to build a new mine.” That doesn’t necessarily mean other supplies will replace China, he emphasizes. But the market needs diversity of supply as a long-term approach.

Hoping to provide some of that supply is Canada Fluorspar TSXV:CFI. On January 30 the company released an updated pre-feasibility study for its St. Lawrence fluorspar project in southern Newfoundland, a 50/50 joint venture with Arkema, a worldwide producer of chemicals headquartered in France.

Based on a fluorspar price of $500 a tonne and using a discount rate of 5%, the pre-feas projects a pre-tax net present value of $124 million and a 16.4% pre-tax internal rate of return. Should fluorspar average $550 a tonne, the numbers would change to a pre-tax NPV of $182 million and a 21.1% pre-tax IRR.

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Spotlight on the juniors

January 21st, 2013

Companies, investors and pundits converge on the 2013 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference

by Greg Klein

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A marketplace of ideas about the market itself—that partly describes the 2013 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference. This year the Cambridge House event brings several hundred companies together with prospective investors. But the conference also features about 50 speakers with maybe 50 divergent (although often overlapping) perspectives on the state of the juniors.

Cambridge House calls this Vancouver event the world's largest investor-focused resource exploration conference

Cambridge House calls this Vancouver event “the world’s
largest investor-focused resource exploration conference.”

Among those on hand January 20 were Michael Berry speaking on Obamanomics, Rick Rule on his love for bear markets and Chris Berry on specific critical and strategic commodities for 2013.

Canadian-born Michael Berry, co-founder of Discovery Investing, fell just short of doom and gloom in his cautionary tale about the transformation of United States economics, culture and governance. More than ever before, he said, taxation, deficit spending and redistribution of wealth are firmly entrenched as government polices. The purpose, he stated, was to remake America. The program has disturbing implications for Canada and the rest of the world, he added.

“We have now turned the corner with the second administration of Barack Obama. Politics, not economics, is now the driving force—period, end of story.”

When it comes to boosting its power, U.S. government methods are myriad: Executive orders, challenges to the constitution, the appointment of czars who aren’t checked by the constitution, redistribution of wealth, repression of investment and market manipulation of gold, silver and currency. Outright confiscation, Berry warned, has happened historically and could happen again.

Helping rationalize government policies is a government belief that “anyone in government is smarter than anyone else.” Society, meanwhile, becomes ever more polarized. “It’s not violent yet but it could be violent at some point in the future,” he warned. “It’s happened before.”

The market of course went off the cliff in 1997, so there was the ’97-to-2002 bear market, a truly dismal bear market—when my net worth skyrocketed.—Rick Rule, chairman of Sprott Global Resource Investments

But just from an economic viewpoint, the future looks bleak indeed. “Sometime around 2030, which is not all that far in the future, we will have amassed 200% federal debt relative to GDP…. That’s exactly what the Obama administration wants to do…. When that happens, the current structure will not be sustainable and the government will have to step in and reorganize the economy.”

Massive, growing government debt “is the tool the government is using to socialize the economy,” Berry stated. “It’s not a legacy we want to leave to our children. But it is a legacy with great implications for gold and silver.”

To protect themselves, Berry suggested investors “must eschew the dollar and every fiat currency you can think of,” own precious metals and consider other investments including water and infrastructure.

“I think you need to be looking at risk, thinking about risk, and those ten-baggers that will help you tread water as the U.S. moves towards an ultimate socialist state,” he concluded.

Following with good-natured overstatement was Rick Rule, chairman of Sprott Global Resource Investments. “There’s basically nothing I could say that would depress you more,” he quipped. But ever the contrarian, Rule added, “It defines me well that when everyone else seems to be depressed, I’m on my way to being elated.”

He predicted the junior bear market—the “nice, ugly bear market,” as he called it—has another 18 to 24 months to go. And for anyone who wants to make money, “it’s an extremely good thing.” It’s time to do some bargain-hunting, he maintained.

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Year in review: Part II

December 29th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2012

by Greg Klein

Read Part I of Year in Review.

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Graphite boom, bust and echo

One of the commodities that excited the 2012 market, graphite began stirring interest in 2011 and really gained momentum early this year. But the precipitous fall, right around April Fool’s Day, let cynics bask in schadenfreude. It was a bubble all along, they insisted.

Well, not quite. Despite reduced share values, work continued as the front-runners advanced their projects and earlier-stage companies competed for position in graphite’s second wave of potential producers. By autumn some of the advanced-stage outfits, far from humbled by last spring’s events, boldly indulged themselves in a blatant bragging contest.

Old king coal to regain its throne

If clean carbon doesn’t excite investors like it used to, plain old dirty carbon might. By 2017 coal’s share of the global energy market will rival that of oil. So says the International Energy Agency, which issued its Medium-Term Coal Market Report in December.

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2012

The forecast sees China consuming over half the world’s production by 2017. “Even if Chinese GDP growth were to slow to a 4.6% average over the period, coal demand would still increase both globally and in China,” the report stated. India, with the world’s “largest pocket of energy poverty,” will take second place for consumption.

Coal’s growth in demand is slowing, however. But its share of the energy mix continues to increase even though Europe’s “coal renaissance” (sic) appears to be temporary.

Bringing coal miners to new hassle

Chinese provide much of the market and often the investment. So why shouldn’t they provide the workers too? That seems to be the rationale of Chinese interests behind four British Columbia coal projects.

The proponents plan to use Chinese underground workers exclusively at the most advanced project, HD Mining International’s Murray River, for 30 months of construction and two additional years of mining. Only then would Canadians be initiated into the mysteries of Chinese longwall mining. But with only 10% of the workforce to be replaced by Canadians each year, Chinese “temporary” workers would staff the mine until about 2026. The B.C. government has known about these intentions since at least 2007.

The HD Mining saga has seen new developments almost every week since the United Steelworkers broke the story on October 9.

As Greenland’s example suggests, the scheme might represent another facet of China’s growing power.

Geopolitical geology

Resource imperialism aside, resource nationalism and other aspects of country risk continued throughout 2012. South American Silver TSX:SAC continues to seek compensation after spending over $16 million on a silver-polymetallic project that the Bolivian government then snatched as a freebie. Centerra Gold TSX:CG escaped nationalization in Kyrgyzstan but works its way through somewhat Byzantine political and regulatory intrigue, as does Stans Energy TSXV:HRE. In November the latter claimed a court victory over a hostile parliamentary committee.

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