Thursday 2nd July 2020

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Posts tagged ‘fluorspar’

A critical first for the U.S.

June 26th, 2020

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

by Greg Klein | June 26, 2020

The way James Walker tells it, Utah’s Lost Sheep fluorspar mine was down to a part-time operation for just two men. Having seen better days between 1948 and 2007, operations dwindled to the point that “a couple of old guys were just driving a loader straight into the face of the fluorspar and putting that into bags. The grade was so rich that was all they had to do. So they just did that a couple of days a week and then they’d go off and fish most of the time.”

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

VP of exploration Raul Sanabria at
one of the project’s fluorspar showings.

Sounds idyllic, but the president/CEO of Ares Strategic Mining TSXV:ARS saw far greater potential. Walker was looking for a project “that was close to cash-flow and didn’t need a huge investment like $20 million to boost production,” he relates. “We looked over a couple of hundred projects and this one came up. It had been overlooked because the mineral itself wasn’t very well known. It was the only mine in all of America that was permitted and producing fluorspar.”

A year of effort consummated in February with Ares’ 100% acquisition which, along with additionally staked claims, delivered a 586-hectare potentially near-term producer that would comprise an American mining monopoly.

That’s based on a bold plan to move forward without the usual 43-101 de-risking stages. Walker attributes his confidence partly to the project and partly to the market.

As he said, fluorspar isn’t well known. But it’s highly coveted nonetheless. Also known as fluorite and more technically referred to as calcium fluoride (CaF2), it’s considered a critical mineral by the U.S. and EU.

Acidspar, the higher-priced fluorspar grading over 97% CaF2, is used to create hydrofluoric acid for refrigerants, pharmaceuticals and electronics, among other applications, and is also used in lithium-ion batteries and aluminum production. Lower-priced metspar, grading under 97%, goes into steel and cement production.

China produced over 57% of world fluorspar supply last year, according to U.S. Geological Survey data, followed by Mexico at 17%. With no significant production of its own, the U.S. has been importing about 66% of supply from Mexico, 13% from Vietnam, 8% from South Africa and 6% from China. Several of the world’s mines have been operating at or near full capacity, the USGS added. Roskill considers China likely to become a net fluorspar importer.

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

Assays are pending from last spring’s
delineation and exploration drill campaigns.

Ares’ work so far has Walker enthusiastic.

Although assays are still to come, last spring the company sunk 12 holes totalling 900 metres to delineate the old guys’ target area. Another five-hole, 300-metre exploration program revealed visible fluorspar in three holes. Metallurgical tests, meanwhile, upgraded Lost Sheep material beyond 97% CaF2, into the higher-priced acidspar level. That highlights the potential for bulk mining instead of selective extraction, Walker says.

He foresees possible production by October or even September with an initial 15- to 20-person operation. The mine plan calls for an adit to intersect a fluorspar-bearing pipe which would be drilled and blasted from the bottom. An underground loader or conveyor belt would move material to a truck which would carry it to the company’s own crushing, grinding, flotation and bagging facility.

“We also have a stockpile of discarded low-grade just sitting there. The other guys couldn’t sell it, they didn’t have a refining process.”

An impressive vote of confidence quickly came from the Mujim Group, a multinational fluorspar mining and distribution company. Soon after Ares announced the Lost Sheep acquisition, Mujim engineers visited the property. A strategic partnership resulted, with the group buying a 9% stake in Ares. Mujim managing director Bob Li joined Ares’ board earlier this month, bringing with him experience running fluorspar mines in Thailand and Laos, along with fluorspar trading companies in India, China and the Emirates. He’ll advise Ares on topics ranging from equipment selection and mining methods to processing techniques.

Walker himself is an engineer, not a common background for a junior mining CEO but especially suitable for a near-term producer. He’s worked on design projects for nuclear reactors, submarines, chemical plants, factories, infrastructure and automotive machinery, as well as mine processing facilities.

In charge of the Lost Sheep mine plan is Keith Minty, a mining engineer with 26 years of project development and operation experience over three continents. “He’s helped put nine mines into production that are way bigger than ours,” enthuses Walker.

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

CEO James Walker foresees operations
by September or October.

VP of exploration Raul Sanabria’s 20-year background includes five years with the Minersa Group, an industrial minerals company that’s Europe’s largest fluorspar producer. Denise Nunes brings over 20 years of experience as a process engineer and metallurgist to manage Ares’ bench testing and design a processing facility.

“We’re quite well-connected in the mining world so we have access to the best personnel for this project,” Walker emphasizes.

He points to financial backing too. Sprott Capital Partners helped broker a private placement that closed on $1.97 million in February. Haywood Securities acted as financial adviser on an over-subscribed private placement that closed on $1.13 million earlier this month. Walker anticipates a debt financing with Sprott on completing the mine plan.

In northern British Columbia, meanwhile, the company acquired the Liard fluorspar project last April. The highway-accessible 476-hectare property comes with historic, non-43-101 resources for seven areas. A joint venture, possibly with Mujim, might be the vehicle to drive the project, Walker says.

Other acquisitions are possible too, especially in the U.S., he adds. Should all go to plan with Lost Sheep, Ares would hold an American mining monopoly on fluorspar. That’s a distinction Walker would like to maintain.

Watch a January interview with Roskill analyst Adam Coggins on fluorspar demand and prices.

Commerce Resources further tests acid-grade fluorspar potential of Quebec rare earths project

June 11th, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 11, 2020

Another round of metallurgical studies endeavours to add a critical mineral byproduct to a critical mineral project. Commerce Resources (TSXV:CCE) has re-engaged Hazen Research’s Colorado lab for Phase II studies on the fluorspar component of its Ashram rare earths deposit. Phase I results reported in February have already produced calcium fluoride grading 97.8%, exceeding the 97% level of fluorspar’s more expensive acid-grade.

Phase II will focus on removing impurities, taking advantage of a flowsheet that doesn’t require a complicated secondary circuit for fluorspar. Using conventional methods, coarser and looser fluorspar grains will be recovered prior to entering the initial rare earths circuit. Most of the remaining fluorspar will be recovered as a tailings stream.

Commerce Resources further tests acid-grade fluorspar potential of Quebec rare earths project

Although not considered in Ashram’s PEA report, fluorspar offers considerable economic potential as the project moves towards pre-feasibility.

Previous lab work has demonstrated the ability to produce over 45% rare earths oxides with an impressive 75% recovery rate. In addition to tests by Hazen Research, studies on Ashram material have been conducted at academic and research institutions including McGill University, l’Université du Québec, l’Université Laval, the University of Windsor and the CanmetMINING division of Natural Resources Canada. Earlier this month Ashram came to global attention through an article by PhD candidate Sophie Costis and her team in the international peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment.

Apart from hosting a domestic supply of critical minerals, Ashram’s advantages include carbonatite host rocks with relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy amenable to conventional rare earths processing. The near-surface and at-surface deposit features a strong presence of sought-after magnet feed elements.

Ashram’s resource uses a base case 1.25% cutoff to show:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

Following extensive drilling, Commerce now has geological modelling underway for a resource update.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Commerce Resources’ Quebec rare earths project gets international academic attention

June 1st, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 1, 2020

Not a subject that normally excites investors, tailings management is nevertheless an important consideration for advanced-stage projects. A previously announced academic article on Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram rare earths deposit now comes to an international audience.

Commerce Resources’ Quebec rare earths project gets international academic attention

Written and researched by a six-person team led by PhD candidate Sophie Costis, Assessment of the Leaching Potential of Flotation Tailings from Rare Earth Mineral Extraction in Cold Climates was published last month in Science of the Total Environment, an international peer-reviewed journal.

The study results from tailings characterization test programs still underway by le Centre Eau Terre Environnement of l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS).

Funding comes from a $300,000 grant provided jointly by le Fonds de recherche du Québec—Nature et technologies and le Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles. Although the program was scheduled to finish next December, Commerce and INRS hope to extend the project through the same funding sources.

An earlier presentation on her Ashram research won Costis first prize in the Geoscience Research Challenge held by l’Association Québécoise des Sciences de la Terre. Her award was announced in November at the Quebec Mines + Energy conference in Quebec City.

“We continue to be impressed by the quality of work being completed by Sophie Costis and the team at the INRS, and are very happy to have been able to be involved and contribute to REE research in Quebec, and now globally,” said Commerce president Chris Grove.

The company’s work continues on the northern Quebec Ashram rare earths-fluorspar project, which hosts two of the 35 minerals considered critical by the U.S. Rare earths have been an increasing cause of concern to the American government, which relies heavily on China for these elements essential to defence, medicine and clean energy technology, among other applications.

Apart from a friendly jurisdiction, Ashram benefits from carbonatite host rocks with relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy that’s familiar to conventional rare earths processing.

See other news about flowsheet studies for Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths deposit.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Commerce Resources’ NRCan collaboration moves forward on rare earths metallurgy

May 13th, 2020

by Greg Klein | May 13, 2020

A co-operation with Natural Resources Canada brings significant progress to an advanced-stage northern Quebec critical minerals deposit. Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE announced the findings from NRCan’s CanmetMINING division, which has been working on the flotation circuit for material from the company’s Ashram rare earths and fluorspar project in northern Quebec.

Commerce Resources NRCan collaboration moves forward on rare earths metallurgy

As the U.S. shows increasing interest in Canadian
critical mineral deposits, a poll finds widespread
Canadian support for their development and export.

CanmetMINING “has completed collector screening, an evaluation of mixed collectors, reverse conditioning tests, cleaning stage tests and a continuous process simulation with a locked cycle test,” Commerce stated.

The work has identified “an alternative reagent scheme and flotation circuit to achieve, and potentially exceed, the target objective of less than 25% mass pull at more than 80% recovery. This has also been achieved using one-half to one-quarter of the quantity of reagents utilized in prior test work completed by other metallurgical labs. Previous work has identified reagents as a key area of optimization in the Ashram deposit’s flotation circuit and where significant cost advantages may be found by screening the performance of each pertinent reagent with respect to its consumption and purchase cost.”

Improved flotation performance “has been achieved through a combination of distributed reagent additions, reagent synergism and reverse conditioning in a very simple and basic flotation circuit,” the company added.

The findings precede a detailed report, Mineral Processing Flowsheet Approaches for the Ashram Rare Earth and Fluorspar Deposit, that CanmetMINING will present to the 2020 Conference of Metallurgists in Toronto next August.

Some aspects of CanmetMINING’s upcoming work will involve Corem, which claims Canada’s largest concentration of R&D resources for mineral processing. Partnering with the governments of Quebec and Canada, Corem works with its 15 mining company members and its international clients to provide specialized services and research expertise. Corem’s tests on a 400-kilogram delivery of Ashram material is expected to resume as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Funding comes from NRCan through CanmetMINING’s rare earth element and chromite R&D program to develop new extraction technologies, address Canadian regulations and learn more about Canadian deposits.

Metallurgical studies elsewhere have also advanced Commerce’s Ashram project. In February the company announced that Hazen Research’s Colorado pilot plant had produced a calcium fluoride concentrate grading 97.8%, surpassing the 97% level typical of fluorspar’s more expensive acid-spar grade.

The previous December Commerce released promising results from Université Laval metallurgical studies on Ashram material.

Both fluorspar and rare earths figure in the American list of 35 critical minerals. In January Canada and the U.S. announced their Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, encouraging the use of Canadian resources to reduce American dependency on rival countries.

Commerce’s May 13 announcement coincides with poll results showing widespread support for critical minerals development in Canada. Released by the Mining Association of Canada, the survey found:

  • 88% of respondents want Canada to increase its role in producing critical minerals for world markets

  • 86% want to encourage international investment into Canadian critical minerals and metals companies that are sustainability leaders

  • 83% want to encourage Canadian production of critical minerals to compete with China

  • 81% want to promote interest in Canadian critical minerals by drawing attention to Canada’s high standards of sustainability

Commerce’s Ashram deposit features carbonatite-hosted mineralization and relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy that’s favourable to conventional rare earths processing.

Using a 1.25% cutoff, Ashram’s 2012 resource estimate shows:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

The near-surface deposit also shows a strong distribution of the high-demand magnet feed elements neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium.

Earlier this week Commerce offered a private placement up to $1 million. The company closed private placements of $300,000 this month and $2.51 million in November.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Commerce Resources president Chris Grove remarks on his company’s critical minerals project in Quebec

April 8th, 2020

…Read more

Update: Commerce Resources’ metallurgy upgrades Quebec fluorspar to acid-spar

March 9th, 2020

On March 9 Commerce Resources announced a collaboration with CanmetMINING to enhance beneficiation performance for the company’s Ashram rare earths deposit. Funded by Natural Resources Canada, the study takes place within CanmetMINING’s rare earths and chromite R&D program. Commerce and CanmetMINING will present a paper on Ashram at the 2020 Conference of Metallurgists (COM2020) in Toronto next August.

 

by Greg Klein | Updated February 28, 2020

With further progress on a strong potential byproduct, an advanced rare earths project could provide a second critical mineral from a Canadian source. Metallurgical tests on material from Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram deposit in northern Quebec have achieved 97.8% calcium fluoride, surpassing the 97% level typical of the more expensive acid-spar grade.

Conducted at the Colorado lab of Hazen Research, the tests show Ashram’s amenability to standard physical separation techniques to upgrade fluorspar from a head grade of about 7.5% CaF2 to over 97%, Commerce pointed out.

Ashram is primarily a rare earth deposit that is well-positioned to supply the permanent magnet industry over the long term. However, these fluorspar test results also demonstrate the potential for Ashram to be a significant contributor to the acid-spar market.—Chris Grove,
president of Commerce Resources

The lab’s next trials will focus on removing impurities well as further improving fluorspar recovery, Commerce added.

The achievement follows December reports of flotation tests conducted by l’Université Laval and last month’s announcement that Hazen had studied an alternative or complimentary approach at the front end of the project’s current flowsheet.

This approach “includes a coarser-grind followed by a fluorspar pre-float as an initial beneficiation step to isolate a sizable portion of the fluorspar prior to material entering the primary REE recovery flowsheet,” Commerce stated.

Fluorspar’s higher-priced acid-grade is converted to hydrofluoric acid for the chemical industry and aluminum production. Considerable demand potential also comes from increasing use of refrigerants and from the growing lithium-ion battery market, according to Roskill. Met-spar, grading below 97%, is used in steel and cement production.

Apart from upgrading fluorspar, the Colorado lab has worked on improving REE recovery and producing concentrate samples requested by potential customers.

High-grade, near-surface drill results released by Commerce in November further highlight Ashram’s dual potential for rare earths and fluorspar. A few examples:

  • 1.71% rare earth oxides and 7.2% calcium fluoride over 221.95 metres, starting at 2.69 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 2.18% REO and 11.5% CaF2 over 36.6 metres)

  • 1.68% REO and 8.4% CaF2 over 101.86 metres, starting at 1.59 metres
  • (including 2% REO and 9.6% CaF2 over 13.28 metres)

True widths were unavailable.

Amid heightened concern about critical minerals, rare earths have gained considerable attention for their importance to the economy, clean energy and defence, among other applications. Less prominent, however, has been fluorspar, which also comes under the U.S. list of 35 critical minerals. China controls well over 50% of production but has become a net importer due to increasing domestic demand and mine shutdowns caused by environmental concerns, according to Roskill.

Commerce Resources’ metallurgy upgrades Quebec fluorspar to acid-spar

Working on northern Quebec’s Eldor property,
Commerce and Saville offer the Western world
potential for critical minerals including
rare earths, fluorspar, niobium and tantalum.

In January, Canada and the U.S. signed a Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals to develop deposits and supply chains.

Looking at yet more critical minerals on the Eldor property that hosts Ashram, earlier this month Commerce joined Saville Resources TSXV:SRE to announce a preliminary mineralogical analysis on material from the Niobium Claim Group. Saville operates that project, two kilometres from Ashram, under a 75% earn-in from Commerce.

Using core from last year’s drill program, a University of Windsor research project found three encouraging signs for the project, the companies reported.

The property’s dominant niobium minerals are pyrochlore and columbite, the main source minerals for niobium globally, a fact that suggests favourable processing.

The property’s niobium may have been mobilized, which could potentially enhance a project’s grade.

The mineralogy supports a model of a continuous niobium mineralized trend through the complex.

Commerce and Saville noted parallels between the project’s Mallard prospect and Magris Resources’ Niobec mine in Quebec. Both projects feature carbonatites, and Niobec’s mineralization is hosted by pyrochlore and columbite similar in grain size to that found in Mallard’s preliminary analysis. Additionally, both Mallard and Niobec show mineralization in moderate to steeply dipping elongate lenses.

Having assayed high-grade niobium and tantalum from 2019 drilling, Saville plans further exploration this year.

In November Commerce closed a private placement totalling $2.51 million.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Read more about Saville Resources..

Watch Roskill analyst Adam Coggins discussing fluorspar demand and prices.

Update: Saville Resources reports B.C. Greenwood sample results, vends project

March 3rd, 2020

by Greg Klein | March 2, 2020, updated March 3, 2020

Update: On March 3 Saville Resources announced the sale of its Bud property to Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM for 388,888 Ximen shares, subject to TSXV approval.

A company focused on critical minerals in Quebec has also kept busy in an historic southern British Columbia mining camp. On March 2 Saville Resources TSXV:SRE released grab sample assays from a 2019 field program at the Bud property in the Boundary district that includes the Republic, Belcher, Rossland and Greenwood camps of B.C. and Washington. Some highlights included:

  • 3.84 g/t gold, 105 ppm cobalt, 2,200 ppm copper and 824 ppm zinc

  • 1.52 g/t gold, 247 ppm cobalt, 4,070 ppm copper and 50 ppm zinc

  • 0.864 g/t gold, 476 ppm cobalt, 6,540 ppm copper and 127 ppm zinc
Saville Resources reports B.C. Greenwood sample results

Grab samples from the previous year reached up to 4.57 g/t gold, 27.7 g/t silver and 6.7% copper; as well as 4.44 g/t gold, 17 g/t silver and 6.84% copper.

Saville stated the 381-hectare property potentially hosts copper-gold skarn mineralization similar to the Motherlode and Sunset properties 500 metres away that had historic production of 4.2 million tonnes averaging 0.8% copper and 1.3 g/t gold. The company also sees potential for gold-bearing epithermal veins.

Reporting on its flagship Niobium Claim Group in northern Quebec last month, Saville announced completion of a preliminary mineralogical analysis conducted as part of a University of Windsor research project. Among the results, the study found three encouraging signs for the project:

The dominant niobium minerals are pyrochlore and columbite, a potential processing advantage with the most common minerals for niobium globally.

The niobium may have been mobilized, which might enhance a project’s grade.

The mineralogy supports a model of a continuous niobium-mineralized trend through the complex.

Saville drew parallels between the project’s Mallard prospect and Magris Resources’ Niobec mine in Quebec. Both feature carbonatites, while Niobec’s mineralization is hosted by pyrochlore and columbite similar in grain size to that found in Mallard’s preliminary analysis. Additionally, both Mallard and Niobec show mineralization in moderate to steeply dipping elongate lenses.

Following near-surface, high-grade niobium and tantalum intercepts from last year’s drilling, Saville plans further exploration this year. The company also plans to evaluate the property’s fluorspar potential after reviewing impressive historic grades for calcium fluoride.

Niobium, tantalum and fluorspar appear on the United States list of 35 critical minerals. Amid increasing concern, in January the U.S. and Canada signed a Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals to develop deposits and supply chains.

Saville operates the Niobium Claim Group under a 75% earn-in from Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, which holds the advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit two kilometres away.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Saville Resources reports B.C. Greenwood sample results

March 2nd, 2020

This story has been updated and moved here.

Update: Commerce Resources’ metallurgy upgrades Quebec fluorspar to acid-spar

February 28th, 2020

This story has been updated and moved here.

Commerce Resources reports fluorspar upgrade progress from the Ashram rare earths deposit

January 28th, 2020

This story has been updated and moved here.