Friday 24th November 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Cameco Corp (CCO)’

Double discovery

November 18th, 2017

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

by Greg Klein

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

The Southern High Plains of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma
might someday boost U.S. domestic uranium supply.
(Photo: Public domain)

 

The dream of discovery must motivate many a geologist. Through skill, effort and luck they hope to eventually find something precious, useful or otherwise valuable—something well known yet found in a previously unknown location. But a group of geo-boffins from the U.S. Geological Survey not only identified a type of uranium deposit previously unknown to their country, they discovered a new mineral.

It’s finchite, “a new uranium mineral species,” as a press release described it last week. The discovery actually dates to 2015, says Brad Van Gosen, the USGS scientist who did the discovering.

While surveying a Texas cotton ranch Van Gosen collected samples of what he and his colleagues thought was carnotite, “a pretty common yellow, near-surface uranium mineral.” Back in the lab, he put it under a scanning electron microscope, which kept showing strontium with the uranium and vanadium, he recalls. To a geologist, it was unusual—very unusual. A eureka moment was looming.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

First to recognize the new mineral finchite, USGS scientist
Brad Van Gosen examines rock layers in Texas.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

“We looked it up and there’d been no strontium-uranium mineral ever reported before. So [team leader Susan Hall] worked with a crystallography/mineralogy lab that specializes in micro-analysis up at Notre Dame and they concluded, ‘By gosh you’re right.’” Further study continued before sending the evidence to the International Mineralogical Association. “They’re the high council and they blessed it as a new mineral.” Finchite’s moniker honours the late Warren Finch, a USGS uranium expert.

Another major finding was that the uranium was hosted in calcrete rock formations, a style of deposit known elsewhere but reported for the first time in the U.S.

Some previously secret info led to the twin epiphanies. Hall, as leader of a project that’s reassessing national uranium resources, gained privy to some unpublished 1970s and ’80s data from the former Kerr-McGee company. Included were estimates for two deposits, Sulphur Springs Draw and Buffalo Draw, with marginal grades of 0.04% and 0.05% U3O8 respectively. Together they held an estimated 2.6 million pounds U3O8.

(Of course data from historic sources and the U.S. government agency falls outside the framework of NI 43-101 regulations.)

The newly transpired, near-surface deposits led Hall and her group to the Southern High Plains spanning parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. It was there that they recognized calcrete, its first known manifestation in the U.S.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

Surface showings of yellow finchite might have previously
been mistaken for sulphur, says Van Gosen.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

The stuff’s associated with uranium in other countries. Among major calcrete-style deposits listed by the World Nuclear Association are Yeelirrie in Western Australia, along with Trekkopje and Langer Heinrich in Namibia. Yeelirrie is a potential open pit held by a Cameco Corp TSX:CCO subsidiary and averaging 0.16% U3O8. Trekkopje, a potential open pit majority-held by AREVA Resources, averages 0.01%. Langer Heinrich, an open pit mine operated on behalf of Paladin Energy, the majority owner now under administrative control, averages 0.052%.

According to the USGS, grades for potential Southern High Plains deposits range from 0.012% to 0.067%, with a median 0.034% U3O8. Gross tonnage estimates range from 200,000 to 52 million tonnes, with a median 8.4 million tonnes. Together, the region’s calcrete-style potential comes to 39.9 million pounds U3O8.

But that’s a regional assessment, not a resource estimate, reflecting how USGS methodology contrasts with that of exploration companies. The agency uses a three-part approach, explains Mark Mihalasky, who co-ordinated the assessment. The procedure first delineates areas that would allow the occurrence of a particular kind of deposit. Using additional geoscientific evidence, the agency estimates how many deposits might be awaiting discovery. How much those potential deposits hold can be estimated through comparisons with similar known deposits around the world.

Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things…. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.—Mark Mihalasky

“Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things,” Mihalasky emphasizes. “The purpose of our assessment is to help land planners, decision-makers and people in the region get an idea of what could be there, based upon probability. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.

“This whole region is a relatively newly recognized area of potential and while we’re not saying this is a new uranium province we are saying there’s something here that hasn’t been found before in the United States and this might be worth looking into in greater detail if you’re an exploration company.”

Already one company from Australia has been asking “lots of questions,” says Van Gosen. Although most uranium mining in the American west uses in-situ recovery, the shallow depth and soft host rock of the Southern High Plains could present open pit opportunities “assuming uranium prices and other factors are favourable.”

Any positive price assumption will have to wait, however. One week earlier Cameco announced the impending suspension of its high-grade McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. The company said that long-term contracts had shielded it from uranium’s post-Fukushima plunge of over 70%, but those contracts are now expiring. Cameco had previously suspended its Rabbit Lake mine and reduced production at its American operations.

But while production faces cutbacks, controversy over American dependence on foreign uranium flared up again last month with renewed questions about the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. The formerly TSX-listed Uranium One holds American resources that could potentially produce up to 1,400 tonnes of uranium annually, according to the WNA. But last year the company’s sole U.S. operation, the Willow Creek ISR mine, produced just 23 tonnes of the country’s total output of 1,126 tonnes.

As the world’s largest consumer of uranium for energy, the U.S. relies on nukes for about 19% of the country’s electricity, according to USGS numbers. Only 11% of last year’s uranium purchases came from domestic sources.

USGS reports new domestic uranium potential and new uranium “species”

November 14th, 2017

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Saskatchewan Mining Association chairperson Jessica Theriault signals “growing leadership role of women in mining”

May 25th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 25, 2017

The director of environmental affairs for The Mosaic Company NYSE:MOS, Jessica Theriault has been elected to lead the Saskatchewan Mining Association board. A former SMA director and member of its environment committee, she has an environmental engineering degree and MBA from the University of Regina, along with 19 years of environmental experience in Saskatchewan potash mining.

Saskatchewan Mining Association chairperson Jessica Theriault signals “growing leadership role of women in mining”

Jessica Theriault

Theriault succeeds Neil McMillan, who serves as chairperson of Cameco Corp TSX:CCO.

“Given the importance of mining to the Saskatchewan and Canadian economies, and the strength of our industry’s reputation, my focus as chair will be to ensure that we continue to deliver, but also drive improvements across the sector,” said Theriault.

Elected as SMA vice-chairperson was Tammy Van Lambalgen, VP of corporate affairs and general counsel for AREVA Resources Canada.

Although the SMA already has a female president in Pamela Schwann, the association noted that Theriault will be the first woman to lead its board. Her election, along with that of Van Lambalgen, “represents a significant milestone in signalling the growing leadership role of women in mining,” the SMA stated. “It also shines a light on the diversity of rewarding careers for women in the mining sector in Saskatchewan, home to global mining and exploration companies and the top jurisdiction in the world for attracting mineral investment according to the annual Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies.”

The news follows last week’s appointment of Edie Thome as president/CEO of the British Columbia-based Association for Mineral Exploration, which already had a female chairperson in Diane Nicolson. But in 2002, when the position of AME president was voluntary and the executive director was the staff lead position, Shari Gardiner served as president.

That province lost a prominent female industry spokesperson in April, however, when Karina Briño stepped down as B.C. Mining Association president/CEO to take on a mining role in her native Chile.

Earlier this month Saskatchewan mining companies pledged $1 million to the International Minerals Innovation Institute to help encourage greater employment of women and natives in the industry.

Rio continues 100% option on Pistol Bay Mining’s Athabasca Basin uranium project

January 24th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 24, 2017

Having resumed drilling, a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary advances towards a 100% interest in Pistol Bay Mining’s (TSXV:PST) C4, C5 and C6 uranium properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Rio Tinto Exploration Canada has so far earned 75% of the properties and stated its intention to exercise the full option. That would bring Pistol Bay $5 million by the end of 2019 and a 5% net profits interest.

Rio continues 100% option on Pistol Bay Mining’s Athabasca Basin uranium project

Located in a prolific area, C4, C5 and C6 adjoin Wheeler River, a JV of Denison Mines TSX:DML, Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and JCU (Canada) Exploration that hosts two exceptionally high-grade deposits. The Phoenix zone holds an indicated resource of 70.2 million pounds averaging 19.13% U3O8, the world’s highest-grade undeveloped uranium deposit.

Wheeler’s Gryphon zone shows an inferred 43 million pounds averaging 2.3%. C4, C5 and C6 are located about halfway between Cameco’s majority-held McArthur River, the world’s largest high-grade uranium mine, and Key Lake, the world’s largest uranium mill.

Rio plans four to six holes totalling about 2,600 metres on C5 beginning this month. Past work at C5 has included 12 holes totalling 6,104 metres, along with gravity and DC resistivity surveys.

Five kilometres of rough roads link the three properties to the all-weather route connecting McArthur River with Key Lake.

Last week Pistol Bay updated plans for its properties in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt, where the company holds the area’s largest property package. Pistol Bay plans to bring modern geophysics and a region-wide approach to a district where previous companies have explored individual properties at different times.

Late last month the company closed a private placement first tranche totalling $201,850.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.

Cigar Lake faces more challenges as wolves stalk and attack employees

October 21st, 2016

…Read more

ALX Uranium welcomes Denison Mines to southwestern Athabasca Basin’s “elephant country”

October 13th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 13, 2016

ALX Uranium TSXV:AL gets 7.5 million shares of Denison Mines TSX:DML, retains a 20% stake in the Hook-Carter project and has its portion of $12 million in spending covered as Denison moves into the southwestern Athabasca Basin. Under a deal announced October 13, Denison becomes project operator, bringing its expertise to the 16,805-hectare property in the Patterson Lake South region.

ALX Uranium welcomes Denison Mines to southwestern Athabasca Basin’s elephant country

“This is elephant country—a large property that has seen very little drilling on a geological trend with a precedent for large and high-grade uranium deposits,” commented Denison VP of exploration Dale Verran.

“The Hook-Carter property is uniquely situated on the Patterson Lake corridor, offering potential for both basement-hosted deposits, similar to Triple R and Arrow, and unconformity-hosted deposits which remain the largest and highest grade in the Athabasca Basin, namely McArthur River and Cigar Lake which are both operating mines. With Athabasca sandstone thicknesses similar to the Wheeler River project, the property plays to our team’s strengths and we are very excited to get started with exploration in 2017.”

So far Hook-Carter has undergone just eight historic holes, five of them on the property’s 15 kilometres of the Patterson Lake conductive corridor, which hosts Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Patterson Lake South, NexGen Energy’s (TSX:NXE) Rook 1 and Hook Lake, a joint venture of Purepoint Uranium TSXV:PTU, Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada. Hook-Carter also features additional potential along significant sections of the Derkson and Carter corridors.

Subject to approvals, Denison’s work requirement calls for $3 million over the first three years. Should the company fail to meet the commitment, ALX’s stake in the property increases from 20% to 25%. Additionally, Denison funds ALX’s portion of the first $12 million in spending. The companies plan a JV three years after closing the agreement.

“Denison has made a number of world class uranium discoveries within the Athabasca Basin and, given their experience, we believe that they will advance the project diligently and methodically,” said ALX president/CEO Jon Armes. “Knowing that Hook-Carter will see considerable exploration efforts over the next 36 months, the company will focus on exploration at its other high-quality exploration projects in and around the shallow margins of the Athabasca Basin, which include Gorilla Lake, Newnham Lake, Gibbon’s Creek and Lazy Edward Bay.”

Wolf attacks bring Jack London redux to Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin

September 14th, 2016

by Greg Klein | September 14, 2016

Nature has inflicted many challenges on Cigar Lake, but most of them have been geological. Now local wildlife has turned against the project.

In what’s reported as strange behaviour for the species, wolves are stalking and even attacking the uranium mine’s employees. On September 14 the National Post reported one such canine wrapped its jaws around the neck of a kitchen worker. A security guard’s vehicle scared the attacker away. Considered unusual, the wolf “had apparently lain in wait for the young mining camp worker,” the NP stated.

Wolf attacks bring Jack London redux to Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin

Cigar Lake staff have cited several instances of being watched or followed by wolves, the paper added. “They are absolutely huge … they have no fear of man and come into the job sites often at night,” a former employee informed the NP.

Cameco Corp’s (TSX:CCO) majority-held operation lies roughly halfway between two 2005 wolf attacks, one of them fatal. As a result, the company fenced off Cigar Lake, cautioned employees and implemented deterrence devices such as “scare cannons,” according to the NP. Nevertheless, wolves and also bears continue to breach the barricades, Cameco acknowledges.

The newspaper characterizes the canine actions as a startling new phenomenon. But Jack London portrayed much more disturbing events in his 1906 novel White Fang.

It’s 50 below as two Yukon prospectors and their dog team find themselves tracked by an increasingly aggressive wolf pack. With gleaming eyes, the predators circle the men’s camps night after night, encroaching closer and closer and closer.

At times like that, “it’s a blame misfortune to be out of ammunition,” one guy observes.

Simply food for the predators, the dog team dwindles one by one. The two men dwindle to one.

The surviving prospector realizes his “living flesh was no more than so much meat, a quest of ravenous animals, to be torn and slashed by their hungry fangs, to be sustenance to them as the moose and the rabbit had often been sustenance to him.”

Evidently the quest for metals has always called for fortitude. And the world’s highest-grade uranium mine continues to face challenges.

Saskatchewan miners sponsor six days of site visits for teachers

August 15th, 2016

by Greg Klein | August 15, 2016

A 5,000-kilometre tour offers Saskatchewan schools insight into mining’s importance to the province and the province’s importance to mining. This year’s Rock’n the Classroom GeoVenture Program began August 15 as 19 teachers took a half-day workshop in Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Mining Association sponsors the annual event, paying all expenses except a $50 fee.

Saskatchewan miners sponsor six days of site visits for teachers

On the itinerary are PotashCorp’s (TSX:POT) Patience Lake solution mine, Mosaic’s (NYSE:MOS) Esterhazy underground potash mine and mill, Westmoreland Coal’s Poplar River open pit operation and the world’s largest uranium operation at Cameco Corp’s (TSX:CCO) majority-owned McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill.

Other destinations will include earth science-related attractions such as the Potash Interpretive Centre in Esterhazy. Handouts include resource kits, lesson plans, posters and maps for the classroom.

The program “offers educators a front-row seat to explore Saskatchewan’s mineral industry and learn of related career opportunities for their students,” the SMA stated.

Ontario teachers also qualify for multi-day mining tours, these ones hosted by the non-profit Canadian Ecology Centre.

NexGen Energy’s latest discovery emphasizes PLS camp’s regional potential

August 11th, 2016

by Greg Klein | August 11, 2016

Described as “strong visible uranium mineralization” with “dense accumulations of massive to semi-massive pitchblende,” the Harpoon discovery adds another weapon to NexGen Energy’s (TSX:NXE) arsenal. Announced August 11, hole HP-16-08 features 17 metres of continuous mineralization, 4.5 metres of it “off-scale” or above the 9,999-counts-per-second limit of older scintillometers. At least one point surpassed 61,000 cps. To put that in perspective, 500 cps rates as anomalous. Impressive as they are, results like that keep in line with the Rook 1 project’s Arrow resource, the Athabasca Basin’s largest undeveloped deposit. But this hole’s located 4.7 kilometres northeast.

NexGen Energy’s latest discovery emphasizes PLS camp’s regional potential

A regional discovery 4.7 kilometres northeast of NexGen’s
Arrow deposit delivered a boxful of pitchblende treasures.

Once again demonstrating the Patterson Lake South region’s overall potential, NexGen collared HP-16-08 as a 250-metre stepout from HP-16-06, which scintillated another 1.5 metres of continuous mineralization. The company now traces 5.6 kilometres in northeasterly mineralized strike between Arrow and Harpoon. Another 300 metres northeast of Harpoon lies the Spitfire discovery of JV partners Purepoint Uranium TSXV:PTU, Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada.

Results for NexGen’s latest four holes, all land-based, show:

HP-16-05

  • <500 to 890 cps over 1.5 metres, starting at 292 metres in downhole depth

HP-16-06

  • <500 to 2,200 cps over 1.5 metres, starting at 303 metres

HP-16-08

  • <500 to >61,000 cps over 17 metres, starting at 220 metres

HP-16-07 returned nothing of significance. True widths weren’t available.

Calling HP-16-08 “an extremely exciting development,” CEO Leigh Curyer credited VP of exploration Garrett Ainsworth and his team for the success. The discovery has “severely elevated the prospectivity of some of the other targets we’ve got along the Patterson [conductive] corridor, and we want to be able to test those as well,” Curyer told a conference call. The seven-rig, 35,000-metre summer campaign has focused on both infill and expansion at Arrow, with about 25% of the program on regional targets. Harpoon has prompted the company to consider adding an eighth rig.

The geophysics done on [the Derkson conductive corridor] show that’s got multiple targets as well, which are identical to what we’re seeing at Arrow and what we’re learning about at Harpoon as well…. We could be there for many, many years with seven drill rigs before we truly understand the magnitude of what we’re dealing with.—Leigh Curyer,
CEO of NexGen Energy

Curyer noted the proximity of Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Patterson Lake South to the southwest, as well as Spitfire to the northeast.

Home to all the PLS discoveries so far, the Patterson corridor remains “very under-drilled and we’ve got a lot of drilling to do … until we ultimately understand the scale of the deposition,” Curyer emphasized. Rook 1 is “obviously massive and there’s not a property like it that I’m aware of on the planet.”

But he pointed out that Rook 1 hosts seven known corridors. Parallel east to Patterson is the Derkson corridor, “and the geophysics done on that show that’s got multiple targets as well, which are identical to what we’re seeing at Arrow and what we’re learning about at Harpoon as well…. We could be there for many, many years with seven drill rigs before we truly understand the magnitude of what we’re dealing with. But suffice to say at the minimum—it’s huge.”

If the company misses its H2 target for the Arrow resource update, the team will attribute that to continued drilling success, he added. A postponement to early 2017 might be necessary “to do justice” to the deposit.

NexGen’s bankroll currently holds about $91 million.

ALX Uranium readies geophysics for northern Basin, drilling for PLS vicinity

August 9th, 2016

by Greg Klein | August 9, 2016

This month has ALX Uranium TSXV:AL returning to two projects at opposite ends of Saskatchewan’s prolific Athabasca Basin. On the Basin’s northern margin, the Perch property undergoes ground gravity while the Hook-Carter project in the Patterson Lake South camp gets both gravity and drilling, the company announced August 9.

The 1,682-hectare Perch offers shallow targets along a four-kilometre-long conductor and coincident magnetic low running through the central area of the property. The 470-station gravity survey will consist of 24 900-metre lines at 100-metre spacing perpendicular to the conductor. Work begins in about a week with the crew heli-commuting from the community of Stony Rapids, 65 kilometres west.

ALX Uranium readies geophysics for northern Basin, drilling for PLS vicinity

At 16,458 hectares, Hook-Carter features northeastern extensions of three known conductive corridors, Carter, Derkson and Patterson Lake. The latter hosts at least seven discoveries on three properties, Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Patterson Lake South, NexGen Energy’s (TSX:NXE) Rook 1 and the Hook Lake JV of Purepoint Uranium TSXV:PTU, Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada. Cameco recently enlarged another property it holds bordering Hook-Carter to the northeast.

ALX now plans gravity on two areas over the Patterson corridor and one over Derkson. Weather permitting, up to two holes will follow on each of the corridors.

Previous geophysics show the Patterson corridor extending at least 12.7 kilometres along Hook-Carter, with depth to the sub-Athabasca unconformity estimated between 320 and 500 metres.

Derkson runs about 5.8 kilometres on the property, with the unconformity estimated to be 350 to 470 metres below surface. An historic hole on the corridor about 4.5 kilometres south of Hook-Carter found 0.24% uranium and 1.35% nickel over 2.5 metres in basement rocks about five metres below the unconformity.

The Carter corridor has undergone historic geophysics but remains relatively unexplored. Two separate portions of the corridor run through the property, each for about two kilometres of strike.

Plans for the Patterson and Derkson corridors follow a recent audio-magnetic transient EM survey as well as a study of the distribution of geochemical and radiochemical signatures against interpreted litho-structural features. As a result, the three priority targets were chosen.

ALX also announced an LOI to vend its Mikwam gold property to Galena International Resources NEX:GTO.H. The price tag comes to $20,000, two million shares and a 0.5% NSR, half of which Galena may buy for $1 million.

Last month ALX announced Lon Shaver’s appointment to its advisory board. His nearly 20 years of mining sector experience includes investment banking roles with Raymond James, Merrill Lynch Canada and Midland Walwyn Capital. Shaver has also held CFO positions with a publicly listed mining company and a private technology company.

In June ALX closed the second tranche of a private placement totalling $750,000, part of a strategic partnership with Holystone Energy. That month ALX also closed the final tranche of a separate private placement totalling $348,750.

With a number of active projects in its large, highly prospective portfolio, ALX reported highly anomalous radon values at its Lazy Edward Bay project on the Basin’s southeastern margin in April. The previous month preliminary geophysical results showed gravity lows on the company’s 80%-held Gorilla Lake project on the Basin’s west side.

Read Chris Berry’s report: A Closer Look at Uranium.