Tuesday 17th October 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘finland’

Arctic Star Exploration finds “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate at B.C. project

September 25th, 2017

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2017

Highly anomalous means highly encouraging, especially at such an early stage of exploration. That’s how Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD characterized its first batch of assays from the Cap property in east-central British Columbia. The news follows last month’s announcement of an extremely rare carbonatite-syenite discovery, suggesting potential for a range of commodities. Now assays for grab samples and the first drill hole show highly anomalous niobium, rare earths and phosphate, the company stated.

Arctic Star Exploration finds “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate at B.C. project

Some intervals of
carbonatite from CAP17-004.

Five selected grab samples assayed 0.2% niobium pentoxide, hitting a peak of 0.96% Nb2O5, while three grab samples brought more than 0.2% total rare earth oxides, peaking at 0.39% TREO. Three samples contained over 5% phosphorus pentoxide with a peak value of 12.62% P2O5.

CAP17-004, the first of four drill holes, showed:

  • 0.35% Nb2O5 over 10.42 metres, starting at 85.24 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.63% Nb2O5 over 2.26 metres)

  • 9.94% P2O5 over 19.63 metres, starting at 98.87 metres
  • (including 20.97% P2O5 over 2.55 metres)

  • 0.81% TREO over 2.4 metres, starting at 136.1 metres

True widths weren’t provided. The last interval also showed a peak value of 69 ppb gold and over 1% TREO.

Along with sampling and drilling, the summer program included mapping and prospecting over an area of about three kilometres by one kilometre.

“The discovery of highly anomalous concentrations of niobium, phosphate and REOs at such an early stage in the exploration of the Cap project should be considered highly encouraging,” said consulting geologist Jody Dahrouge. “Future exploration at Cap will follow up on surface samples that contained highly anomalous concentrations of niobium and may be related to drill hole CAP17-004.”

Reporting from their Diagras diamond project in the Northwest Territories late last month, Arctic Star and 60% JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA announced geophysical results that could potentially indicate “the largest kimberlite complex in the Lac de Gras field.” Further geophysics are on the 18,699-hectare property’s spring agenda, with drilling to follow.

As for Arctic Star’s recently acquired Timantti diamond project in Finland, assays released in July from historic core on the White Wolf kimberlite showed 111 microdiamonds. The company had earlier found 58 microdiamonds in an 18.9-kilogram sample taken from the same kimberlite.

Timantti covers part of the Fennoscandian Shield, host to major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib.

In July the company offered a $1.25-million private placement.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star president/CEO Patrick Power.

Arctic Star Exploration’s Patrick Power discusses the Timantti property in Finland

August 30th, 2017

…Read more

Geophysics show potential kimberlite expansion on Margaret Lake Diamonds/Arctic Star Exploration’s Lac de Gras JV

August 29th, 2017

by Greg Klein | August 29, 2017

Borrowing techniques that proved successful at Kennady North, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA and Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced geophysical results that potentially expand their Diagras property’s known kimberlites. The partners hold 60% and 40% respectively of the joint venture in the Northwest Territories’ diamond-rich Lac de Gras region, where Margaret Lake acts as operator.

Geophysics show potential kimberlite expansion on Margaret Lake Diamonds/Arctic Star Exploration’s Lac de Gras JV

Last spring’s ground program of magnetics, gravity and electromagnetics targeted known kimberlites as well as “unresolved targets generated from public domain data,” the companies stated. Similar techniques have helped Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI further its understanding of the Kennady North property’s Kelvin and Faraday kimberlites.

Results dating to 2005 on Diagras’ Jack Pine kimberlite identified a north-south axis extending more than 500 metres, with about four to five hectares at surface. But recent work north of Jack Pine shows a possible new discovery that’s been named Sequoia. Although verification would call for more drilling, the new findings indicate an anomaly that doubles the geophysical footprint, potentially making this “the largest kimberlite complex in the Lac de Gras field,” according to the partners.

Geophysics around Diagras’ Black Spruce kimberlite show anomalous gravity lows up to about 200 metres south and east of a magnetic low and its corresponding diamondiferous drill results by a previous operator. Again, drilling will be necessary to confirm the presence of additional kimberlite.

The partners also reported other geophysical signatures that might indicate additional kimberlite in and around other known kimberlites on the 18,699-hectare property. Further geophysical evaluations are planned for next spring, along with a drill program.

In addition to its Diagras interest, Margaret Lake holds its namesake Margaret Lake project adjacent to Kennady North. In July, Arctic Star announced plans to acquire the Timantti project in Finland, where due diligence has confirmed the presence of micro-diamonds. Arctic Star also holds the CAP rare earths and rare metals prospect in east-central British Columbia. Early this month the company announced discovery of a carbonatite-syenite complex, an extremely rare occurrence potentially associated with “a plethora of commodities” and “the dominant source for niobium and rare earth elements,” the company stated.

Late last month Arctic Star offered a private placement up to $1.25 million.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star president/CEO Patrick Power.

Arctic Star’s B.C. discovery potentially associated with “a plethora of commodities”

August 8th, 2017

by Greg Klein | August 8, 2017

Even before the drill core reached the lab, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced a discovery that’s both rare and potentially associated with several metals. The company found a carbonatite-syenite complex on its Cap project in east-central British Columbia.

The potential rewards associated with a new discovery such as at Cap cannot be overstated.—Jody Dahrouge

“Carbonatite is an extremely rare rock type with only around 550 complexes identified worldwide,” explained Jody Dahrouge, president of Dahrouge Geological Consulting, which oversees the exploration program. “In addition to their rarity, they are also well known for being the source of production for a plethora of commodities, including being the dominant source for niobium and rare earth elements. The potential rewards associated with a new discovery such as at Cap cannot be overstated.”

Also associated with mineralized carbonatite systems are tantalum, copper, nickel, iron, titanium, zirconium, platinum group elements, gold, fluorspar, lime, sodalite and vermiculite, Arctic Star added.

Some of the world’s better-known carbonatite deposits include Palabora in South Africa (copper, nickel, gold and PGEs), Bayon Obo in China (REEs, iron ore, niobium and fluorspar), Araxa in Brazil (niobium), Cargill in Ontario (phosphate), Niobec in Quebec (niobium), Mountain Pass in California (REEs), and Mount Weld in Western Australia (REEs).

Arctic Star’s B.C. discovery potentially associated with “a plethora of commodities”

Carbonatite in drill core from hole Cap17-004.

The discovery prompted Arctic Star to stake another 7,657 hectares, expanding its property to over 10,482 hectares. The new turf covers a ridge that extends towards the Wicheeda REE deposit, about 50 kilometres northwest.

Cap’s exploration has so far focused on an area of about 3,000 by 1,000 metres, the site of prior geophysics and anomalous niobium-REE geochemical samples. This season’s work consisted of mapping, sampling, prospecting and four drill holes. Assays are pending but carbonatite and/or alkaline rock types were found in two holes.

Carbonatite in outcrop has been mapped approximately 90 metres in strike, with an estimated thickness surpassing 50 metres. Additional outcrops of carbonatite and related rocks have been found across an area measuring about 800 by 200 metres, the company added.

Last month Arctic Star announced plans to acquire Timantti, a Finnish diamond project on the Fennoscandian Shield, which also hosts Russia’s Lomonosov and Grib diamond mines. Due diligence revealed 58 small diamonds in an 18.9-kilogram sample from Timantti’s White Wolf kimberlite. More recent assays on 48.65 kilograms of historically extracted split core showed 111 microdiamonds.

In late July the company offered a $1.25-million private placement.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star president/CEO Patrick Power.

Finland’s Arctic welcome

August 2nd, 2017

Arctic Star finds the Scandinavian north an hospitable place for diamond exploration

by Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel: I would like to introduce the CEO and president of Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD, Patrick Power. Hi Patrick, it is a pleasure to talk to you again.

To give the readers a chance to get to know you a bit, would you be so kind as to tell more about your background and your experiences in the mineral exploration business?

Patrick: I started in the business as a floor trader in 1984. I did that until 1990. In that period I met someone who became soon very prolific in the diamond world, Chuck Fipke. He found the Ekati mine, the first diamond mine in Canada and he got my interest up in diamonds and the exploration for diamonds. When I finished with the floor in 1990, I joined up with a company called Kelco Resources and I became a director there. That is how I got involved with the diamond world in Canada. Subsequent to that, I worked with a company called Montello Resources, and became the president and CEO. We did a lot of diamond exploration with that company from 1993 to 2000, primarily in Alberta.

We found the Legend field in Alberta with our venture partner Canaccord Canada, which is a Rio Tinto company. We didn’t have the numbers in the pipes that we wanted to. So my partner Tom Yingling and I started our own company called Arctic Star Exploration. We started with a diamond project in Manitoba with Rio Tinto. It kicked off with that project. We never did intersect in kimberlites. Shortly after that, we managed to encourage Buddy Doyle to leave Rio Tinto and he joined us on the Arctic Star board. That happened in 1996. Buddy Doyle brought over a project with him that we called Credit Lake. We spent about $25 million on Credit Lake over a period of seven to 10 years I believe. It was a long time. It just ended recently.

Isabel: Interesting! That tells already a bit of the history of Arctic Star itself. Congratulations on the news on a new member of the board and your new project in Finland. What made the connection to Finland?

Arctic Star finds the Scandinavian north an hospitable place for diamond exploration

Patrick: Thank you, we are very excited and happy about both. It was about 2006 when Buddy Doyle looked at this project we just took into the company. We made an offer for a percentage of it. But they wanted €12.5 million for 25% of it, which we didn’t have the ability to do back then. Then 2008 came and everything became really difficult for all resource companies, specifically for diamond companies. It became very, very difficult.

Roy Spencer, who you could call the father of the Cinnamon project, found the Grip pipe, 450 kilometres east in Russia as the president of Arctic Angel in 1996. That turned out to be a mine, which started producing about two years ago. But as usual in Russia, he got kicked out before it became productive. He traced chemistry trails to the Finnish border and all those trails originated in Finland somewhere.

Isabel: What makes you so excited about this project?

Patrick: No exploration was done there in historical terms. You cannot tell the quality of the diamonds from the chemistry, but usually you can tell the amount of diamonds. All that chemistry was flooding in over 80 kilometres with no answers as to the sources. In 2007, Roy drilled first in this new field. The important part of this is that fields usually have a minimum of 30 and a high of 300 pipes. The upside potential is that it is the first pipe in a new field and that is extremely important because it has good chemistry. It is a great jurisdiction, Finland. A couple of years ago, the Fraser Institute made Finland the number one mining jurisdiction in the world. Mining and exploration friendly!

Infrastructure-wise, the Black and White Wolf, which were the two first pipes discovered—they might actually be one, because they are only 48 metres apart, we will know more about this after further geophysics being done—are only two miles away from a bus stop. Compared to Canada this is amazing infrastructure and that translates right into that you would need far less grade to become a mine. You can have a lot less compared to the north of Canada in order to be still productive. That is a big point! Also it is a very stable country since it is rated a great jurisdiction to be in. We have got Roy on the board now, the man who found this particular discovery when he was with a different company. Another interesting fact: Roy was Buddy Doyle’s first boss at Rio Tinto. They were in the outback of Australia together for two years looking for diamonds. That was more than 30 years ago. And now they are reunited. So the team is back together again. This is one of the prime reasons we got this project because of this relationship between Buddy and Roy; Roy wanted Buddy to lead the project.

Isabel: What is the plan of the re-united team now?

The project offers everything if you are looking for diamonds. Great jurisdiction, great infrastructure, it is a new field, and it has got history in the same craton with productive mines in Russia.—Patrick Power

Patrick: We are going to get out there. We will go back to the Black and the White Wolf, the two pipes that he found in 2006/2007. We will do some geophysics on top of it that wasn’t done 10 years ago. We want to see if they join, get bigger, have multiple phases, do some more drilling, etc. With those two pipes, or maybe it is one, we can potentially make a mine. So there is work to do on the first two pipes of a new field. We expect to find a lot more pipes and that is exciting because the chemistry going into them is dynamic. The project offers everything if you are looking for diamonds. Great jurisdiction, great infrastructure, it is a new field, and it has got history in the same craton with productive mines in Russia.

Isabel: Let me interrupt you for a moment. Could you explain what a craton is?

Patrick: Sure. A craton is a thick, old chunk of continental plate where diamonds form. Kimberlite pipes are created when magma bubbles up through a craton, expanding and cooling on its way up.

I am really glad that we have got all that exceptional expertise within Arctic Star…. Roy was part of the team that found Orapa, the second-largest producing mine in the world that is in Botswana. So we have got lots of positive diamond experience with the two guys, plus they work together and like each other. Their records speak for themselves. They are probably the two most awesome diamond guys with that combined experience and mine-finding ability. They are pretty amazing. We’ve got the best people in the world.

Isabel: Yes, it sounds like it! So the next step is to do more work on your new project. Will you drill, and how deep will you have to drill?

Patrick: The two pipes are very close to the surface, so it is not that deep at all. We have two phases of two programs here. The first program will be carried out on Black and White Wolf, the two existing kimberlites. We will do geophysics on the ground, to determine whether they get larger, whether they come together and whether they have multiple phases. We will also put more drill holes into it to get more samples to get a better diamond count. Buddy thinks we need about 1,000 kilograms before he can make a judgement if we go ahead with it or if we drop it, so we only have a very small amount of material so far. We will take a lot more tonnage out of these drill holes.

Arctic Star finds the Scandinavian north an hospitable place for diamond exploration

Arctic Star VP of exploration Buddy Doyle collecting
float samples at the Timantti project in Finland.

And then out of a bigger concept, we have 250 hectares of mineral claim permitted; 140,000 square kilometres around it. So on that bigger puzzle we could encompass the entire field. We are going to fly EM and mag first and then we want to fly a gravity survey, which is quite expensive. It costs probably about three to four million dollars to get the gravity survey done, but it will be a tool that will be very useful. It has not been used that much in the diamond world; it is only a few years old. Gravity is a very difficult thing to produce on the ground. There are a lot of factors involved with that. This new tool that was developed by the U.S. military was re-developed into a commercial application by BHP and has been on the market for just a few years. Very expensive!

So that is what we plan to do on the big package, not just the claims we acquired, but the much bigger exploration permits that we are in the process of acquiring from the government. We think that this would give us the entire field picture. We will be able to prospect for the pipes in that field. That will be a big thing! We think there are a lot of pipes in this area. If the chemistry is good, it is suggested to have a lot of diamonds. But I repeat to state that it doesn’t tell you the quality of diamonds, but the quantity of diamonds.

Isabel: What is the time frame for that? This is not going to happen this year, is it?

Patrick: The only thing that is restricting us up there is the darkness. The latitude is pretty high, but it is not as cold as in northern Canada. So there is no temperature issue and again the infrastructure is great. It is just within the dark months that we can’t really do much.

Isabel: What is going on at your Cap property in northeast B.C.?

Patrick: In 2008 we diversified a bit from diamonds. We picked up a project from Zimtu [TSXV:ZC]. It is Jody Dahrouge [of Dahrouge Geological Consulting] who has been doing all the work on it for us. We spent only about $1 million developing a really nice niobium and rare earth target. It is probably in carbonatite; we are drill-testing as we speak. It has really good niobium numbers on surface and it is prospective. We decided with a million dollars into it, we need to drill it right now and we are crossing our fingers. It could be something really interesting. If we are successful, we are probably going to spin it out into a new company. We don’t want to mix niobium and diamonds. It will benefit the shareholders with a new share in a new company and we will staff it with people that know a lot about niobium.

Isabel: That sounds like a good plan! How much money do you have in the bank?

Patrick: We are planning to finance soon.

Isabel: How much of Arctic Star is held by the management?

Patrick: That sums up to be 25% by now.

Isabel: What do you like about the mineral exploration business?

Patrick: It is a difficult business, but it can be explosive on the upside. That is the thrill I like about it, which makes the difficult part worthwhile.

Isabel: What is your favourite commodity and why?

Patrick: Definitely diamonds! The reason for that is because it is so hard to find an economic deposit. It is very challenging.

Isabel: Good luck with the ongoing drilling in B.C. and with the new project in Finland. Thank you so much for your time and your insights. It is always a pleasure to talk to you.

Patrick: Thanks for having me, Isabel.

Patrick Power

Patrick Power, president/CEO
of Arctic Star Exploration

Bio

Patrick Power is a seasoned venture capitalist and financier with over 20 years of experience as a stock market professional and as director of public companies. He has been president and CEO of Arctic Star since its inception in 2002. Additionally, Mr. Power serves as a director of other mineral exploration companies. Arctic Star benefits from Mr. Power’s wealth of experience as a shrewd dealmaker, an adept financier and a tireless, results-driven leader of dynamic public companies. The company enjoys Mr. Power’s large network of contacts within the industry, his enthusiasm and his efforts as a member of the audit and remuneration panels.

Fun facts

My hobbies: Travelling and horse racing

Sources of news I use: Internet

My favourite airport: London Heathrow

My favourite tradeshow: PDAC in Toronto

My favourite commodity: Diamonds

With this person, I would like to have dinner: My wife

If I could have a superpower, it would be: Power for peace

Read more about Arctic Star Exploration here and here.

New assays on old core reveal more diamonds on Arctic Star Exploration’s new Finnish acquisition

July 26th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 26, 2017

Just weeks after announcing plans to take on a diamond project in Finland, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD has found further encouragement by reanalyzing previous work. Recent assays on 48.65 kilograms of historically extracted split core showed 111 microdiamonds. The results represent approximately 52.7 metres of core from the Timantti property’s White Wolf kimberlite.

New assays on old core reveal more diamonds on Arctic Star Exploration’s new Finnish acquisition

A due diligence program reported earlier this month confirmed 58 microdiamonds from an 18.9-kilogram White Wolf sample.

With most of the world’s diamond-bearing kimberlites showing an exponential relationship between small and large stones, the company plans to gather enough caustic fusion samples to evaluate the property’s diamond size distribution. Following ground geophysics, Arctic Star hopes to drill Timantti for additional samples, delineating the kimberlites’ size and shape.

Looking at an entirely different range of commodities, the company last week sent a drill crew to the Cap project in east-central British Columbia’s Rocky Mountain Rare Metal Belt. Tantalum, niobium and rare earths are among the targets on the 2,825-hectare property. In 2010 sampling results included 0.14% Nb2O5, 3,191 ppm zirconium and 547 ppm total rare earth elements. More sampling the following year brought grades including 0.27% Nb2O5 and 773 ppm TREE, while two historic, non-43-101 samples showed 0.13% and 0.1% TREE.

Arctic Star also holds a 40% interest in the Northwest Territories’ Diagras diamond project, where JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA conducted a short geophysical program last May.

Diamond explorer Arctic Star to drill B.C. property for rare earths and rare metals

July 19th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 19, 2017

With a crew now en route, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD prepares to begin a summer field program at its Cap project in east-central British Columbia. Located in the Rocky Mountain Rare Metal Belt, the 2,825-hectare property has undergone geochemical and geophysical surveys suggesting potential for carbonatite intrusions which might host niobium, tantalum and/or rare earth elements. A program of about three holes and 1,000 metres will further investigate the potential.

Diamond explorer Arctic Star to drill B.C. property for rare earths and rare metals

Piquing interest in the property is a circular magnetic anomaly measuring about three to five kilometres in diameter that the company interprets to represent a carbonatite or similar intrusion. Geochem sampling in 2010 on two dykes near the most prominent mag anomaly brought grades including 0.14% Nb2O5, 3,191 ppm zirconium and 547 ppm total rare earth elements, Arctic Star reported.

In 2011, following radiometrics and additional magnetics, the company found more highly anomalous grades with samples containing 0.27% Nb2O5 and 773 ppm TREE. Two historic, non-43-101 samples assayed 0.13% and 0.1% TREE.

Contrasting luxuries with critical minerals, Arctic Star last week announced plans to acquire a diamond project in Finland. The diamondiferous kimberlites of the Timantti property sit on the Fennoscandian Shield, home to the major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib.

In May the company announced a short program of geophysics on the Diagras diamond project in the Northwest Territories, where Arctic Star has a 40% stake with JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA holding the rest.

Arctic Star sees new diamond frontier in Finland

July 12th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 12, 2017

A plan that so far has been a year in the making would have Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD shift its diamond exploration focus from northern Canada to northern Finland. The Timantti (Finnish for “diamond”) project would begin with exploration rights over 243 hectares of kimberlites, with an additional 95,700 hectares of land to come under an exploration reservation permit for which the company has applied.

Arctic Star sees new diamond frontier in Finland

Small bulk samples dating to 2005 have revealed diamonds, while a more recent due diligence program confirmed 58 small stones in an 18.9-kilogram sample from the project’s White Wolf kimberlite.

The Wolf kimberlites lie on the Fennoscandian Shield, which also hosts the major diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region.

Because kimberlites tend to occur in clusters, the Wolf kimberlites could indicate a more extensive group, according to Roy Spencer, who discovered the Wolf kimberlites. Data in the public domain shows a “cloud” of kimberlite indicator minerals across an approximately 80-kilometre-wide area roughly centred on the Wolf kimberlites, the company added. “The exploration reservation will allow Arctic Star to explore the entire region,” Spencer said.

A diamond exploration veteran with De Beers and other companies, Spencer “was largely responsible for the discovery of the world-class Grib kimberlite,” Arctic Star added. Spencer joins the company as a director.

On closing the acquisition, Arctic Star plans magnetic, gravity and EM surveys prior to drilling and a subsequent bulk sample on the road-accessible property, as well as regional airborne surveys.

Ranking fifth globally in the annual Fraser Institute survey of overall mining investment attractiveness, Finland boasts arctic infrastructure in relative profusion to northern Canada.

The deal would involve Arctic Star taking over Foriet Oy, a Finnish company that would become a wholly owned subsidiary, for 14.5 million shares at a deemed price of $0.20.

Arctic Star also welcomed Scott Eldridge’s appointment to the board. A co-founder and president/CEO of Euroscandic International Group, which provides accounting and investment banking services to resource companies, he has raised over $500 million in equity and debt for mining-related projects around the world.

Last May Arctic Star announced a brief geophysical program at the Diagras diamond project in the Northwest Territories, with work expected to finish mid-month. The company has a 40% stake in the JV, with Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA holding the rest and acting as project operator.

Cobalt’s Congo conundrum

May 3rd, 2017

The battery market’s DRC dependency can only grow, says Benchmark

by Greg Klein

“If there’s any nation that contributes over 50% of supply for a mineral, alarm bells start to go off.” That’s especially true when the country is as troubled as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence analyst Caspar Rawles told a Vancouver conference on April 21. Social and political instability combined with child labour concerns intensify what he calls the “cobalt conundrum,” in which battery manufacturers have no choice but to increase their reliance on DRC resources. That’s his forecast, even as he acknowledges demand for new sources from elsewhere.

The DRC easily dominates global cobalt, with 64% of mined supply according to the most recent Benchmark figures. No more reassuring, China dominates refined supply with 57%. Without significant cobalt reserves of its own, the country holds a prominent position in DRC mining, where the energy ingredient results as a byproduct of copper extraction.

The battery market’s DRC dependency can only grow, says Benchmark

That position expanded this year with the Freeport-McMoRan NYSE:FCX/Lundin Mining TSX:LUN sale of their DRC Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine to China Molybdenum and a Chinese private equity firm. An anticipated and equally geopolitically feckless follow-up would be the American/Canadian JV’s sale of its Finnish cobalt refinery to the same people. By processing Fungurume ore, the facility provides about 10% of the world’s refined supply, Rawles says.

For all the disturbing news coming out of the Congo, “there will be no lithium-ion battery industry without DRC cobalt,” Rawles maintains. “We expect cobalt supply from the DRC to become more dominant in the market, and that’s because of where the large projects are, plus-10,000 tonnes a year.”

Yet by no means is Congo cobalt necessarily conflict cobalt, even when artisanal supply is considered. Some artisanal operations are perfectly legal, he says, while media-reported numbers can be “inflated.”

Tackling the issue presents difficulties, Rawles says. Companies often mine a small part of huge concessions, with no power to prevent the desperately poor from working other parts of the claims. The only people with any such power in the DRC “are the mining police and they just confiscate the material, they don’t take away the problem. It’s a longstanding problem and it’s going to take time to resolve.”

Not surprisingly, “substitution is definitely something that cathode companies are working on,” he points out. Not all cathodes require cobalt, unlike lithium. Even so, he sees about 81% of the market continuing to use cobalt cathodes.

As the Li-ion battery market grows from 70 GWh last year to Benchmark’s estimated 170 GWh in 2020, “cobalt demand will be high but won’t surpass supply.” Beyond 2020, Rawles predicts a deficit growing to 2023, then ending around 2024 or 2025.

“The only thing that can accelerate a reduction in cobalt is supply disruption,” he adds. Critics of DRC President Joseph Kabila attribute the country’s delayed elections to his determination to retain power after 16 years in office. Protests have resulted in scores of fatalities, raising fears of even wider civil unrest.

Another possible impact on supply/demand forecasts could come “if EVs take off even more quickly than we expect.”

The DRC hosts the world’s two big near-term copper-cobalt operations, Glencore’s majority-held Katanga mine and Eurasian Resources Group’s Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation project. Rawles expects Katanga to resume production early next year after its 2015 suspension. While the project’s technical report sets annual cobalt capacity at 30,000 tonnes, he expects the early years will probably realize half of that.

There will be demand from certain companies that don’t want to touch DRC cobalt.—Caspar Rawles,
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

RTR’s slated for 2019 startup, Rawles says. ERG targets an initial 14,000 tonnes of cobalt annually, increasing to 20,000 tonnes over the next three to five years.

So despite “a number of other, smaller projects in the pipeline,” DRC dominance will prevail. Still, Rawles does see opportunity for other sources of cobalt. But new suppliers will have to follow a “value-added strategy,” he argues. They must produce a cobalt chemical that meets a manufacturer’s precise requirements. And the suppliers need to do that without refining their product in China, where it might be blended with conflict supply.

“That’s how they can brand themselves,” he says. “There’s going to be demand for that. Certainly the large supply is going to come from the DRC and if you’re really serious about EVs, that’s where the cobalt’s going to come from. It’s not going to happen without that.”

But, he emphasizes, “there will be demand from certain companies that don’t want to touch DRC cobalt.”

Saskatchewan and Manitoba first and second globally as mining jurisdictions

March 1st, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2017

Saskatchewan edged one notch upwards to take first place worldwide while Manitoba soared from 19th to second in this year’s Fraser Institute survey of mining and exploration jurisdictions. Those two provinces pushed last year’s top performer, Western Australia, down to third place. Canada’s other top 10 spot went to Quebec, rising to sixth from eighth the year before. All continents but Antarctica came under scrutiny but Canadian, American, Australian and European locales monopolized the top 10.

Farther down the list, the strongest Canadian improvements were Newfoundland and Labrador, climbing to 16th from 25th, and the Northwest Territories, now 21st, previously 35th. Most disappointing were British Columbia (falling to 27th from 18th), Nunavut (31st from 23rd) and Alberta (47th from 34th).

Those findings come from the survey’s Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indices—Policy Perception, a “report card” on government attitudes, and Best Practices Mineral Potential, concerning geological appeal. Representatives of 104 companies responded with their 2016 experiences in mind, giving a numerical rating to questions in several categories regarding their likelihood of investing in a particular jurisdiction. The previous year 109 companies responded.

Here’s the top 10 globally for overall investment attractiveness, with last year’s standings in parentheses:

1 Saskatchewan (2)

2 Manitoba (19)

3 Western Australia (1)

4 Nevada (3)

5 Finland (5)

6 Quebec (8)

7 Arizona (17)

8 Sweden (13)

9 Ireland (4)

10 Queensland (16)

Here are the Canadian runners-up:

15 Yukon (12)

16 Newfoundland and Labrador (25)

18 Ontario (15)

21 Northwest Territories (35)

27 British Columbia (18)

31 Nunavut (23)

40 New Brunswick (45)

47 Alberta (34)

52 Nova Scotia (59)

At least those provinces and territories steered far clear of the bottom 10, where Argentina figures prominently:

95 Mozambique (84)

96 Zimbabwe (98)

97 India (73)

98 Mendoza province, Argentina (101)

99 La Rioja province, Argentina (109)

100 Afghanistan (not available)

101 Chubut province, Argentina (104)

102 Venezuela (108)

103 Neuquen province, Argentina (93)

104 Jujuy province, Argentina (86)

“We believe that the survey captures, at least in broad strokes, the perceptions of those involved in both mining and the regulation of mining in the jurisdictions included in the survey,” stated authors Taylor Jackson and Kenneth P. Green.

Download the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016.