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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.

Nickel One Resources signs definitive agreement to acquire Finnish PGE-polymetallic project

February 1st, 2017

by Greg Klein | February 1, 2017

Nickel One Resources signs definitive agreement to acquire Finnish PGE-polymetallic project

The 3,750-hectare LK property
benefits from $10 million of previous work.

Jurisdiction, infrastructure, historic work and a mouthful of a name attracted Nickel One Resources TSXV:NNN to Finland and the Lantinen Koillismaa platinum group element-copper-nickel project. But the company calls it LK for short. On February 1 two parties signed a definitive agreement on a deal that’s been several months in the making.

Subject to regulatory approvals, Nickel One gets the property by taking over a subsidiary of Finore Mining CSE:FIN.

(Update: The property was originally reported to have a 2013 resource estimate for two deposits. In a clarification dated March 22, 2017, Nickel One stated the estimates aren’t supported by a compliant 43-101 technical report and shouldn’t be relied on. On December 1, 2017, the company announced filing a 43-101 technical report that “shows there are no current mineral resources on the LK project.”)

Companies accustomed to the Canadian north might look with envy at LK’s location, 65 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. The property has power, year-round road access, rail 40 kilometres away and a port 160 kilometres west. Nickel One describes the region as “populated by several large-scale producers and three smelters,” while the company’s management “is highly experienced in the exploration and development of ultramafic intrusion-hosted nickel-copper-PGE projects.”

Part of that experience comes from Nickel One’s Tyko property in northwestern Ontario, from where the company announced drill results last spring.

Read more about Nickel One Resources and the Lantinen Koillismaa acquisition.

Nickel One Resources moves closer to PGE-copper-nickel acquisition in Finland

October 19th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 19, 2016

Nickel One Resources moves closer to Finnish PGE-copper-nickel acquisition

Over $10 million in previous work has gone into Lantinen Koillismaa.

Nickel One Resources’ (TSXV:NNN) Finland entry took another step forward with a binding letter agreement announced October 19. Already holding the Tyko project in western Ontario, Nickel One would get a 100% interest in Finore Mining’s (CSE:FIN) Lantinen Koillismaa platinum group element-copper-nickel project in north-central Finland. An LOI was announced in August.

The property would come through the purchase of Finore subsidiary Nortec Minerals Oy in a deal costing five million shares and 2.5 million warrants exercisable at $0.12 for two years. Nickel One has paid $50,000, which would be applied to a private placement of up to $100,000 into Finore following due diligence.

LK benefits from over $10 million in previous work.

(Update: The property was originally reported to have a 2013 resource estimate for two deposits. In a clarification dated March 22, 2017, Nickel One stated the estimates aren’t supported by a compliant 43-101 technical report and shouldn’t be relied on. On December 1, 2017, the company announced filing a 43-101 technical report that “shows there are no current mineral resources on the LK project.”)

The acquisition would bring Nickel One into “a mining-friendly jurisdiction with some of the best infrastructure in the world,” commented president Vance Loeber. The project also provides “a foothold in Finland from which we will be taking a hard look at other opportunities to continue to build a strong portfolio of projects,” he added.

Read more about Nickel One Resources and the Lantinen Koillismaa acquisition.

A second flagship

August 11th, 2016

Nickel One Resources plans a Finnish acquisition as well as Ontario drilling

by Greg Klein

A position in Scandinavia would give Nickel One Resources TSXV:NNN a dual approach or, as president/CEO Vance Loeber describes it, “a double-barrelled shotgun.” On August 11 the company announced an LOI to gain a Finore Mining CSE:FIN subsidiary with a 100% interest in Lantinen Koillismaa, a nickel-copper-PGE project in an active mining region of Finland. Additionally, encouraged by positive results from last spring’s assays, the company plans to resume drilling on its Tyko project in Ontario.

Nickel One Resources plans Finnish acquisition as well as Ontario drilling

With equally spectacular aurora borealis, arctic Finland
boasts far greater infrastructure than northern Canada.

A 3,750-hectare property just 65 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, LK actually enjoys a favourable location—and that demonstrates the contrast between the Canadian and Scandinavian north. An all-weather, government-maintained road comes right to the property, a rail line runs 40 kilometres away and Oulu, a Gulf of Bothnia port that’s home to 200,000 people, sits 160 kilometres west. Work is practical right through the winter, as several mines and three smelters in the region attest.

“The local community is very supportive, the Finnish Geological Survey is very supportive and it’s a beautiful place to work,” enthuses Loeber.

(Update: The property was originally reported to have a 2013 resource estimate for two deposits. In a clarification dated March 22, 2017, Nickel One stated the estimates aren’t supported by a compliant 43-101 technical report and shouldn’t be relied on. On December 1, 2017, the company announced filing a 43-101 technical report that “shows there are no current mineral resources on the LK project.”)

“With this acquisition we also get the combined geological talent of Finore’s founders, Mohan Vulimiri and Peter Tegart,” Loeber points out. “They’re pretty serious guys so it’s not like we’re going in blind.”

Another Finland veteran is Nickel One VP of exploration and former PDAC president Scott Jobin-Bevans. “He did his PhD dissertation on this type of mineralization,” says Loeber.

The deal would cost Nickel One five million shares. The company would also contribute up to $100,000 towards any future private placement undertaken by Finore. Loeber doesn’t offer an anticipated closing date but says his team wants the deal wrapped up “sooner rather than later.”

But looking at Finland doesn’t mean neglecting western Ontario. “Tyko is still very much in our sights. We had some great results in our initial program and we’re planning a late-summer, early-fall follow-up program.”

That would take the crew about 40 kilometres north of Hemlo in an area that’s surprisingly more remote than arctic Finland. Still, Tyco’s accessible by highway, logging roads and float plane.

The 14 holes and 1,780 metres drilled so far this year followed 13 holes and 2,230 metres sunk by North American Palladium TSX:PDL up to 2007. Nine North American holes revealed mineralization.

Near-surface intercepts reported by Nickel One in June returned as much as 1.47% nickel, 0.49% copper and 0.71 ppm PGEs over 6.05 metres. Another assay showed 1.06% nickel, 0.35% copper and 0.65 ppm PGEs over 6.22 metres. Along with the other results, the company sees increasing optimism in its magma conduit theory suggesting a potential link between the property’s RJ and Tyko zones, 1.5 kilometres apart.

The extent of Tyco’s upcoming program remains “finance-dependent,” Loeber says. But given market response to the LOI, he’s confident of raising funds. As for a closing date for LK, “We’re going to make this happen as quickly as we can.”

How fares Canada in the Fraser Institute’s global mining survey?

February 25th, 2015

by Greg Klein | February 25, 2015

Saskatchewan’s number two worldwide, Quebec’s back in the top 10 and Manitoba climbed 17 notches. But Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia took a beating in the latest Fraser Institute survey of mining jurisdictions. Released February 24, the study rates 122 jurisdictions (including provinces and states in Canada, the United States, Australia and Argentina) based on 485 returned questionnaires. Drawing on their 2014 experience, mining and exploration companies provided numerical ratings for a number of factors, which the institute tracked on separate indexes.

Most important is the Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indexes—Best Practices Mineral Potential (geology) and Policy Perception (government attitudes). The institute weighs the IAI 60% for geology and 40% for public policy, roughly the same consideration companies reported for their investment decisions.

Here’s the top 10 IAI globally, with 2013 rankings in brackets:

1 Finland (4)
2 Saskatchewan (7)
3 Nevada (2)
4 Manitoba (13)
5 Western Australia (1)
6 Quebec (18)
7 Wyoming (11)
8 Newfoundland and Labrador (3)
9 Yukon (8)
10 Alaska (5)

Here are the Canadian runner-ups:

15 Northwest Territories (25)
21 New Brunswick (23)
22 Alberta (10)
23 Ontario (14)
28 British Columbia (16)
29 Nunavut (27)
42 Nova Scotia (47)

Prince Edward Island wasn’t included.

As for the bottom 10:

113 Sudan
114 Nigeria
115 Bulgaria
116 Guatemala
117 Egypt
118 Solomon Islands
119 Honduras
120 Kenya
121 Hungary
122 Malaysia

The 122 jurisdictions totalled 10 more than in 2013. For inclusion, the institute requires a minimum of 10 responses per jurisdiction.

The anonymous replies also included comments which, for Canadian provinces and territories, note serious but unsurprising concerns.

But for some people, the rankings rankled. B.C.’s 10th-place finish out of 12 Canadian jurisdictions doesn’t jibe with the province’s second-place status for mining investment, according to the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia. Citing data from Natural Resources Canada, AME BC credited Ontario as Canada’s favourite for attracting investment. Fraser Institute respondents stuck that province with ninth place in Canada.

“Furthermore, one of the best indicators of success in exploration is seeing discoveries move through to mine development,” said AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom. “In recent years, we have seen a number of new major metal mines constructed in our province, including Copper Mountain in 2011, New Afton in 2012 and Mount Milligan in 2013. Also, Red Chris is being readied for commercial operations, and the KSM and Kitsault mine development projects have received environmental assessment certificates.”

The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines noted the Northwest Territories’ considerable improvement and its breakaway territory’s slight slump. The organization vowed to continue working with federal and territorial governments “to improve the investment climate for exploration and mining in the two territories.”

Download the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies 2014.

Alberta most attractive mining destination in Canada, third worldwide

March 3rd, 2014

by Cecilia Jamasmie | March 3, 2014 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Alberta most attractive mining destination in Canada, third worldwide

Oilsands development in northern Alberta.

 

For the second consecutive year, Alberta—home to the booming and controversial oilsands industry—ranked first in the country and third worldwide as the most attractive jurisdiction for mining investors in the Fraser Institute’s annual global survey of mining executives.

The study, released March 3 as the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention kicked off in Toronto, is based on input from 690 mineral exploration and development company executives.

Sweden and Finland scored the top places in this year’s survey, which spotlighted 112 jurisdictions worldwide. Kyrgyzstan and Venezuela were named the worst two countries to venture.

“Miners praise Alberta for its transparent and productive approach to mining policy. The province offers competitive taxation regimes, sound legal systems and relatively low uncertainty around land claims. That’s what miners look for,” said Kenneth Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources.

Two other Canadian jurisdictions—New Brunswick (7), and Newfoundland and Labrador (9)—ranked in the top 10 worldwide, followed by Saskatchewan (12), Yukon (19), Quebec (21), Manitoba (26), Ontario (28), Nova Scotia (29), British Columbia (32), Nunavut (44) and the Northwest Territories (47).

Quebec, once the darling of mining investors, continued to fall down the rabbit hole. From 2007 to 2009, the French-speaking district topped the survey, then dropped to fifth in 2011, 11th in 2012 and finally 21st worldwide in 2013, due in part to amendments to Quebec’s mining act and recent tax policy changes.

“If Quebec wants to renew confidence in the global mining sector, it should reduce red tape, minimize the risk associated with policy changes and tax increases, and respect negotiated contracts,” Green said.

B.C. dropped to 32nd from 31st in 2012, though the survey recorded improved perceptions regarding the western province’s political stability and availability of labour and skills.

The Canadian public policy think tank also identified the 10 places mining enthusiasts should avoid. From the bottom, they are Kyrgyzstan, Venezuela, Philippines, Argentina (La Rioja and Mendoza), Angola, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Madagascar.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com