Sunday 21st April 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘gold’

Pistol Bay Mining branches out to Nevada with vanadium acquisition

April 10th, 2019

by Greg Klein | April 10, 2019

Despite historic reports of what’s now a sought-after energy metal, this former mining region has never been systematically explored for vanadium. Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST hopes to change that by purchasing a new property in Clark County, Nevada.

Pistol Bay Mining branches out to Nevada with vanadium acquisition

Known collectively as the Vanadium Claims Group, the 397-hectare property covers two groups of claims, each about one by 1.6 kilometres hosting former mines and historic reports of vanadium. U.S. Geological Survey info from the 1920s states that one of the former mines shipped 14 tons of material to the American Vanadium Company, although no data on content or grade was available. The USGS also stated that outcrops within the current VCG project showed vanadium mineralization. 

Other occurrences of vanadium mineralization noted by the USGS suggest the potential for district-scale, low-cost exploration, as well as lead-zinc-silver byproduct potential, commented Pistol Bay president/CEO Charles Desjardins.

“We’re very excited about this new project and look forward to getting boots on the ground this month for sampling and other field work,” he said.

The price comes to an initial $15,000 (all amounts in U.S. dollars), $50,000 and eight million shares on TSXV approval and another $100,000 six months later. The vendor retains a 2% royalty, 75% of which Pistol Bay may buy for $1 million.

In northwestern Ontario, the company holds the largest land package in the Confederation Lake greenstone belt. The claims host several historic estimates as well as a 2017 43-101 resource for the Arrow zone. Using a base case 3% zinc-equivalent cutoff, the estimate outlines an inferred category:

  • 2.1 million tonnes averaging 5.78% zinc, 0.72% copper, 19.5 g/t silver and 0.6 g/t gold, for a zinc-equivalent grade of 8.42%

Contained amounts come to:

  • 274 million pounds zinc, 34.3 million pounds copper, 1.33 million ounces silver and 41,000 ounces gold

Results from last year’s three-hole 1,555-metre drill program “confirm the consistent nature of mineralization in the Arrow zone and give us more confidence in the existing mineral resource estimate,” Desjardins stated at the time. Assays reached as high as 5.15% zinc-equivalent over 12.85 metres.

Ximen Mining to do due diligence on B.C.’s first underground gold mine

April 8th, 2019

by Greg Klein | April 8, 2019

Ximen Mining to do due diligence on B.C.’s first underground gold mine

Connected to power and paved road, the Kenville property has mining
equipment, offices, mechanic shop, core storage and accommodation on site.

 

Just days after picking up additional land in one historic southern British Columbia camp, Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM turned its attention to another former mine. A new option agreement would give the company a stake in another company whose chief asset is another option—to acquire the site of B.C.’s first underground lode gold operation.

Located eight kilometres west of the city of Nelson in southeastern B.C.’s Kootenay region, the Kenville gold mine operated intermittently between 1889 and 1954, extracting 181,395 tonnes containing 2,029 kilograms of gold, 861 kilograms of silver, 23.5 tonnes of lead, 15 tonnes of zinc, 1.6 tonnes of copper and 37 kilograms of cadmium, Ximen stated.

Ximen Mining to do due diligence on B.C.’s first underground gold mine

An historic, non-43-101 estimate gives Kenville’s
257 level 16,289 gold ounces measured and indicated.

Some 13,000 metres of drilling between 2007 and 2008 targeted previously untested areas southwest of the former mine, the company added. Detailed sampling also took place on the 257 level, which alone of the mine’s seven levels remains accessible. In 2009 an historic, non-43-101 resource for the 257 level used a 1.1 g/t cutoff to estimate:

  • measured: 3,312 tonnes averaging 31.72 g/t gold for 3,377 gold ounces

  • indicated: 21,312 tonnes averaging 18.84 g/t for 12,912 ounces

  • inferred: 522,321 tonnes averaging 23.01 g/t for 356,949 ounces

Further drilling took place between 2009 and 2012, finding at least four new veins with potential strike lengths of over 700 metres, according to historic, non-43-101 reports.

Historic accounts of soil surveys and drilling suggest potential for porphyry-type copper-molybdenum-silver-gold mineralization elsewhere on the property, Ximen stated.

Pending due diligence and TSXV approval, the acquisition would take place by optioning an interest in a company that holds an option to acquire Kenville. According to the terms, Ximen would option a promissory note to the vendor amounting to $780,000 plus interest, another promissory note to the vendor amounting to $1 million plus interest convertible into shares of 0995237 B.C. Ltd, mining equipment located in Alberta, and 5,333,334 shares in 0995237 B.C. Ltd.

“The principal asset of 0995237 is its option to acquire the Kenville gold mine,” Ximen stated.

The combined assets would cost Ximen 1,408,333 shares at a deemed price of $0.80, $1.38 million payable in installments and settling of the vendor’s $270,000 debt to arm’s length third parties.

Last week Ximen announced its acquisition of over 12,900 hectares in B.C.’s historic Greenwood camp. The new turf surrounds the company’s Gold Drop project, now optioned to GGX Gold TSXV:GGX. Last year’s Gold Drop drill program found near-surface, high-grade intervals of gold and silver, along with tellurium.

Ximen’s southern B.C. portfolio also includes the Treasure Mountain property under option to New Destiny Mining TSXV:NED and the Okanagan-region Brett gold project.

Ximen closed private placements of $540,000 in December and $250,000 in February. In March the company arranged a private placement of $405,000 subject to TSXV approval.

Read more about Ximen Mining here and here.

Ximen Mining expands its presence in British Columbia’s Greenwood camp

April 5th, 2019

by Greg Klein | April 5, 2019

A former mining region about 500 highway kilometres east of Vancouver continues to attract interest as another company picks up additional property. Through a combination of purchase and staking, Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM acquired over 12,900 hectares surrounding its Gold Drop project, now optioned to GGX Gold TSXV:GGX.

Last year’s drilling at Gold Drop returned near-surface, high-grade intervals of gold and silver along with tellurium, classified by the U.S. government as a critical mineral. Some highlight assays include:

Ximen Mining expands its presence in British Columbia’s Greenwood camp

A quartz sample from Ximen’s recent site
visit brought 2.87 g/t gold and 127 g/t silver.

Hole COD18-67

  • 129.1 g/t gold, 1,154.9 g/t silver and 823.4 g/t tellurium over 7.28 metres, starting at 23.19 metres in downhole depth

COD18-70

  • 107.5 g/t gold, 880 g/t silver and 640.5 g/t tellurium over 6.9 metres, starting at 22.57 metres

True widths were unavailable. The operator has spring drilling scheduled to begin this month.

Ximen’s new Providence claim also borders Grizzly Discoveries’ (TSXV:GZD) Greenwood project, where Kinross Gold TSX:K subsidiary KG Exploration works towards a 75% earn-in. Other companies active in the Greenwood area include Quebec niobium-tantalum explorer Saville Resources TSXV:SRE, which this week announced sampling found high-grade gold and copper along with silver on its Bud project. Last week Nevada lithium explorer Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA announced its acquisition of the Greenwood-area Pathfinder project. Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM has been working a number of properties in the area, home to numerous former mines.

Ximen Mining expands its presence in British Columbia’s Greenwood camp

An historic pit yielded this sample
of copper-rich massive sulphide.

Among those within or bordering Ximen’s acquisition is the Providence mine, which produced 10,426 tonnes containing 183 kilograms of gold, 42,552 kilograms of silver, 183 tonnes of lead and 118 tonnes of zinc during intermittent operation between 1893 and 1973, according to historic reports. The historic Combination deposit gave up 11 tonnes for 60,340 grams of silver and 653 grams of gold. Ximen’s new claims cover 11 known mineral occurrences, the company stated.

Recent sampling returned 2.87 g/t gold and 127 g/t silver from a mine dump northeast of the former Providence operation. Another sample showed 2,350 ppm copper from one of the property’s undocumented exploration pits that show exposed massive sulphides containing chalcopyrite, bornite and magnetite.

In southern B.C.’s Okanagan region, Ximen also holds the Brett gold project. In November the company announced that metallurgical tests on material stockpiled in the 1990s during early-stage mine development support an historic account of 4 g/t to 5 g/t gold.

About three and a half hours’ driving distance from Vancouver, Ximen has its Treasure Mountain property under option to New Destiny Mining TSXV:NED. Grab samples collected last year included 11.3 g/t and 8.81 g/t gold, as well as samples showing up to 1.45% zinc, 122 g/t silver, 0.87 g/t gold, 57 g/t tellurium and 12.3 g/t indium.

Ximen closed private placements of $540,000 in December and $250,000 in February. Last month the company arranged a private placement of $405,000 subject to TSXV approval.

Read more about Ximen Mining.

Saville Resources samples 4.57 g/t gold and 6.7% copper at southern B.C.’s Greenwood camp

April 3rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | April 3, 2019

High gold-copper grades from a 2018 field program indicate another encouraging project in the portfolio of a company now drilling for niobium-tantalum in Quebec. Saville Resources TSXV:SRE released 20 sample assays from its Bud property, located in an historic southern British Columbia mining camp that has attracted considerable exploration activity.

Six highlights show elevated gold grades coinciding with elevated copper:

Saville Resources samples 4.57 g/t gold and 6.7% copper at southern B.C.’s Greenwood camp

Mining at the Bud property’s Morrison showing from
the late 1890s to 1903 produced 2,918 tons containing
230 ounces of gold, 837 ounces of silver and 23,629 pounds
of copper, according to historic reports.

  • 4.57 g/t gold, 27.7 g/t silver and 6.7% copper

  • 4.44 g/t gold, 17 g/t silver and 6.84% copper

  • 3.54 g/t gold, 76.4 g/t silver and 2.41% copper

  • 1.96 g/t gold, 12.3 g/t silver and 1.2% copper

  • 1.74 g/t gold, 19.3 g/t silver and 1.65% copper

  • 1.23 g/t gold, 66.3 g/t silver and 7.14% copper

The program shows renewed interest in the 381-hectare property following a hiatus. Excavator trenching in 2003 revealed 1.9 g/t gold, 19.5 g/t silver and 1.5% copper over 1.3 metres. One sample averaged 7.8 g/t gold, 9.3 g/t silver and 2,156 ppm copper, while another graded 51.6 g/t gold, 403 g/t silver and 4.16% copper.

A three-hole, 538-metre drill program in 2005 identified a large hydrothermal system with prospective structure and stratigraphy, the company stated. A few selected intervals showed:

  • 3.82 g/t gold, 5.5 g/t silver and 656 ppm copper over 1.15 metres
  • (including 14.3 g/t gold, 22.6 g/t silver and 2,653 ppm copper over 0.15 metres)

  • 3.97 g/t gold, 23.8 g/t silver and 2.03% copper over 0.5 metres

True widths weren’t provided.

The 380-hectare property sits about four kilometres northwest of the town of Greenwood, roughly 500 kilometres by highway east of Vancouver. The surrounding Boundary district includes the former camps of Republic, Belcher, Rossland and Greenwood, which historically produced over 7.5 million ounces of gold, Saville noted. A resurgence of activity has included the Gold Drop property two kilometres southwest of Bud, where last month Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM and GGX Gold TSXV:GGX reported near-surface intervals of tellurium in addition to gold and silver.

Other Greenwood-area explorers include Kinross Gold TSX:K subsidiary KG Exploration, working towards a 75% earn-in on Grizzly Discoveries’ (TSXV:GZD) Greenwood project, Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM, and Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA, which last week announced acquisition of the Pathfinder property.

In Quebec’s James Bay region, meanwhile, a crew prepares to drill Saville’s flagship Niobium Claim Group, where the agenda calls for at least four holes and 700 metres in an area with encouraging historic assays. More recent boulder samples on the property have provided niobium grades as high as 2.75%, 4.24%, 4.3% and an outstanding 5.93% Nb2O5.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Belmont Resources moves into B.C.’s historic Greenwood mining camp

March 28th, 2019

by Greg Klein | March 28, 2019, updated April 2

A company drilling for Nevada lithium has taken on new turf in a storied southern British Columbia gold-copper district. The acquisition brings Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA a 253-hectare property that formed part of the former Pathfinder project, about 18 kilometres north of Grand Forks and 500 klicks by highway east of Vancouver. The location sits on the northeastern edge of the Boundary mining camp, also known as the Republic-Greenwood gold district.

Belmont Resources moves into B.C.’s historic Greenwood mining camp

Greenwood-area mining dates back to the late 1880s. Approximately 26 former mines produced more than 1.2 million ounces of gold and over 270,000 tonnes of copper, as well as silver, lead and zinc, according to Geoscience BC. Among the past-producers are some workings on the former Pathfinder property. More recent prospecting, sampling, drilling and a magnetic survey on Pathfinder have provided historic data to help Belmont plan a 2019 exploration program.

Kinross Gold TSX:K subsidiary KG Exploration holds property bordering three sides of the Belmont acquisition. The Kinross subsidiary has so far spent $1.28 million towards a 75% earn-in on Grizzly Discoveries’ (TSXV:GZD) Greenwood project and plans further work this year. Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM and GGX Gold TSXV:GGX have recently reported near-surface gold, silver and tellurium assays from their Greenwood-area Gold Drop project. Other companies in the district include Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM and Quebec niobium-tantalum explorer Saville Resources TSXV:SRE.

To close the acquisition Belmont pays each of two vendors 625,000 shares and 625,000 warrants on TSXV approval, along with another 125,000 shares and 125,000 warrants each within a year. Together, the vendors retain a 1.5% NSR, half of which Belmont may buy for $1 million.

Reporting from their Kibby Basin lithium project in Nevada last week, Belmont and MGX Minerals CSE:XMG announced a “milestone” permit to extract up to 943 million U.S. gallons of water annually for brine processing and potential production of lithium compounds. Assays are pending from last winter’s drilling, which tested a potential fault about 2,300 metres from a previous target that averaged 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres.

Belmont’s portfolio also includes an interest in two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Subject to exchange approval, Belmont expects to close a private placement first tranche of $67,500. The company closed a private placement totalling $375,000 in July.

Margaret Lake Diamonds/Arctic Star Exploration begin new program on NWT diamond project

March 25th, 2019

by Greg Klein | March 25, 2019

State-of-the-art exploration techniques will target Lac de Gras diamonds as a new campaign begins on the Diagras joint venture. Detailed ground gravity, magnetic and electromagnetic geophysics will test areas around kimberlites discovered through historic work and around airborne geophysical anomalies that suggest potential kimberlites.

Margaret Lake Diamonds Arctic Star Exploration begin new program on NWT diamond project

Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA and Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD hold 60% and 40% respectively of the JV. Margaret Lake acts as project operator on the 22,595-hectare property in the diamondiferous Northwest Territories region.

The current exploration strategy uses techniques that weren’t used in historic work but proved successful at Kennady Diamonds’ (TSXV:KDI) Kennady North project. At Diagras, the strategy has located drill-worthy anomalies proximal to the property’s previously discovered Black Spruce, Jack Pine and Suzanne kimberlites. Historic drilling has found diamonds at Jack Pine.

Part of the program’s funding comes from the NWT’s Mining Incentive Program.

Last month Margaret Lake announced an imminent campaign on its newly optioned Kiyuk Lake gold project, a 59,000-hectare property north of the Manitoba border in Nunavut. Pending receipt of permits, the company plans 5,000 metres of spring drilling in a program that would also include ground magnetics. Historic drilling brought impressive near-surface results.

Back in the NWT, the company also holds the Margaret Lake diamond project.

Visual Capitalist: A brief history of jewelry through the ages

March 21st, 2019

by Iman Ghosh | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist

A brief history of jewelry through the ages

 

Jewelry has been an integral aspect of human civilization for centuries, but it was the discovery and subsequent spread of precious metals and gemstones that really changed the game.

In this infographic from Menē TSXV:MENE, we visualize how the uses and symbolism of jewelry have evolved across time and space to become the industry we’re familiar with today.

Antique, yet ageless

There isn’t a single corner of the world that’s untouched by the influence of jewelry.

Ancient Egypt
Gold accompanied the affluent into the afterlife—the famous 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb was filled to the brim with gold jewelry.

Ancient Greece and Rome
Jewelry was used practically and as a protection against evil. The gold olive wreath design was highly popular during this time.

Mesopotamia
Both men and women in the Sumer civilization wore intricate pieces of jewelry, incorporating bright gems like agate, jasper or lapis lazuli.

Meso-America
The aristocracy in Aztec culture wore gold jewelry with gemstones to demonstrate rank. The jewelry also doubled up as godly sacrifices.

Ancient India
The Mughal Empire introduced the combination of gemstones with gold and silver. Today pure gold jewelry is often gifted to new brides for financial security.

Ancient China
Both rich and poor wore jade jewelry for its durable and protective properties. Pure gold jewelry is making a fashion comeback, doubling as a form of investment.

Modern jewelry: At a crossroads

Today jewelry is at once the very same and vastly different from what it used to be.

The industry is worth upwards of $348 billion per year and it’s not hard to see why. As an alternative asset, jewelry has grown 138% in value over the last decade—only outperformed by classic cars, rare coins and fine wine.

However, perceptions of jewelry vastly differ. It’s not a stretch to say that Western jewelry buyers are enamoured with diamonds, given their enduring association with special occasions—but it’s interesting to note how that ideal was fabricated.

The invention of diamonds

The De Beers Group is well known for making diamonds great again. In the early 1900s, the company had already monopolized the diamond trade and stabilized the market, but they faced the challenge of marketing diamonds to consumers at all income levels.

The average American considered diamonds an extravagance, preferring to spend money on cars and appliances instead. The concept of engagement rings existed but they weren’t widely adopted. The #1 slogan of the century—“A Diamond is Forever”— transformed all that.

Even as more companies like Tiffany and Cartier entered the playing field, De Beers had set a successful industry standard. But there’s a catch—diamonds are actually:

  • Not all that rare in nature

  • Intrinsically low in value

  • Easily replicated in a lab

  • Decreasing in sales

Despite these caveats, the popularity of diamonds illustrates how Western consumers do not approach jewelry in the same way as Eastern economies, where its function as a store of wealth persists.

The Eastern gold standard

In Eastern economies, jewelry often takes the form of pure gold. The reasons behind this difference are surprisingly pragmatic: gold is considered a secure and innate store of wealth that maintains its purchasing value over decades, allowing families to pass wealth from generation to generation.

The rich history of the precious metal has made it a sought-after commodity for centuries, and China and India drive more than half of global gold jewelry demand every year:

Year Share of demand (India + China) Total global jewelry demand (tonnes)
2014 57% 2,510 tonnes
2015 58% 2,426 tonnes
2016 55% 2,068 tonnes
2017 57% 2,201 tonnes
2018 58% 2,200 tonnes

Source: Gold Hub. Values have been rounded up to the nearest tonne.

Why are Eastern cultures so attracted to the properties of pure gold?

Part 2 of this series will show why gold is the world’s most incredible metal and why it’s coveted by billions of people.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Update: Ximen Mining/GGX Gold add tellurium to B.C. gold-silver project, drilling resumes in April

March 18th, 2019

by Greg Klein | updated March 20, 2019

New assays add impressive critical mineral results to near-surface, high-grade precious metals at southern British Columbia’s Greenwood mining camp. The news comes from the Gold Drop project, where earlier this month Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM and GGX Gold TSXV:GGX reported intervals as high as 129.1 g/t gold and 1,154.9 g/t silver over 7.28 metres, along with 107.5 g/t gold and 880 g/t silver over 6.9 metres. After 14 intervals surpassed the upper analytical limit of 500 g/t tellurium, the core was re-assayed specifically for the critical mineral.

Among the results were 823.4 g/t tellurium over 7.28 metres and 640.5 g/t over 6.9 metres. Combined with the gold-silver results, the intervals now show:

Ximen Mining/GGX Gold examine tellurium potential of B.C. gold-silver project

Hole COD18-67

  • 129.1 g/t gold, 1,154.9 g/t silver and 823.4 g/t tellurium over 7.28 metres, starting at 23.19 metres in downhole depth

COD18-70

  • 107.5 g/t gold, 880 g/t silver and 640.5 g/t tellurium over 6.9 metres, starting at 22.57 metres

True widths were unavailable.

Other individual samples graded as high as 3,860 g/t and 2,250 g/t tellurium, both in near-surface 0.38-metre intervals from COD18-67. COD18-70 also showed individual samples up to 3,340 g/t over 0.45 metres and 2,960 g/t over 0.4 metres.

“Tellurium occurs in a soft silver-grey telluride mineral,” the companies stated. “Whenever this mineral is observed in the drill core, the interval has elevated silver, gold and tellurium values. This telluride mineral is likely a silver-tellurium-gold alloy named sylvanite.”

The decision to re-assay the core was prompted by “multiple industry inquiries and spiked interest with regards to the tellurium grades,” Ximen president/CEO Chris Anderson said earlier this month.

Due to the multiple industry inquiries and spiked interest with regards to the tellurium grades, as well as the fact that the grades have exceeded upper analytical limits at the lab, the decision was made to re-assay these drill core samples.—Chris Anderson,
Ximen Mining president/CEO

The 2018 program sunk 71 holes on the COD vein in the property’s Southwest zone and also conducted trenching in the COD area along with drilling on the Everest vein. Drilling and trenching have followed COD’s vein system for 400 metres along strike, leaving it open along strike and at depth. The upcoming drill campaign will continue testing the vein’s southern extension.

GGX acts as operator on the 5,628-hectare property. If GGX completes its 100% option, Ximen may form a JV by reimbursing GGX 30% of its spending to that date. Ximen retains a 2.5% NSR. The property sits about 500 kilometres by highway east of Vancouver.

Included in last year’s U.S. government list of 35 critical minerals, tellurium finds uses globally in solar applications (40%), thermo-electric production (30%), metallurgy (15%), rubber applications (5%) and other purposes (10%), according to a recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S. imports over 75% of its tellurium supply.

Ximen’s flagship is the Brett project in southern B.C.’s Okanagan region. Last November the company announced that metallurgical tests on material stockpiled during early-stage mine development in the 1990s support an historic account of 4 g/t to 5 g/t gold.

Ximen has its Treasure Mountain property under option to New Destiny Mining TSXV:NED. Grab samples from last year’s program included gold grades of 11.3 g/t and 8.81 g/t from the property’s east-northeast areas, and up to 1.45% zinc, 122 g/t silver, 0.87 g/t gold, 57 g/t tellurium and 12.3 g/t indium in the southeast region. Grab samples from a trench in the southeast area showed anomalous gold grades including 0.877 g/t, 0.46 g/t and 0.359 g/t.

The companies received permits last month for additional work on the property, which partly surrounds Nicola Mining’s (TSXV:NIM) Treasure Mountain project, about three and a half hours’ driving distance from Vancouver. Nicola’s property underwent silver-lead-zinc underground mining in 2008 and 2013.

Last month Ximen appointed Mathew Ball as VP of exploration. With over 30 years of experience, he’s served as president/COO of B.C.’s Bralorne gold mine and currently acts as interim CEO/COO/chief geologist for Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM, another company active in the Greenwood camp. “Dr. Ball brings a wealth of practical experience and knowledge of lode and epithermal gold-silver, porphyry copper-gold and related skarn deposits,” all of which potentially occur in Ximen’s three projects, the company stated.

Ximen closed private placements of $540,000 in December and $250,000 in February. On March 18 the company announced it arranged a private placement of $405,000 subject to TSXV approval.

Ximen Mining/GGX Gold examine tellurium potential of B.C. gold-silver project

March 7th, 2019

This story has been updated and moved here.

Got the minerals?

March 4th, 2019

A new book says self-imposed obstacles block U.S. self-sufficiency

by Greg Klein

“The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths.”

Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 implied threat became all too real eight years later in the Senkaku aftermath, when RE dependency put Japan and the West at China’s mercy. But just as the United States overcame the 1973 OPEC embargo to become the world’s leading oil producer, that country can overcome its growing reliance on dodgy sources of mineral production and processing. So say authors Ned Mamula and Ann Bridges in Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence.

Their country’s problem isn’t geology but policies, the book argues. Repeatedly pointing to Canada and Australia as role models, the authors say their own country’s mining potential can restore mining self-sufficiency, or at least minimize a crippling dependency.

A new book says self-imposed obstacles block U.S. self-sufficiency

Indeed, the mighty nation has a mighty problem with minerals: Imports supply many critical minerals and metals in their entirety, with heavy reliance on Russia and especially China, “countries we consider at best our competitors, and at worst our adversaries.”

Rare earths stand out as the “poster child for U.S. critical mineral vulnerability.” As the authors note, REs remain “essential for military and civilian use, for the production of high-performance permanent magnets, GPS guidance systems, satellite imaging and night vision equipment, cellphones, iPads, flat screens, MRIs and electric toothbrushes, sunglasses, and a myriad of other technology products. Since they offer that extra boost to so many new technologies, these rare earth metals rival energy in importance to our 21st century lifestyle.”

Industrial countries not only surrendered rare earths mining and processing to China, but gave up technological secrets too. That happened when China forced RE-dependent manufacturers to move their operations to China. After Apple transplanted some of its manufacturing to that country, China copied and reproduced the company’s products, at times outselling the iPhone with knock-offs.

A new book says self-imposed obstacles block U.S. self-sufficiency

Other intellectual property faces threats. “U.S. companies—Intematix, GE (Healthcare/MRI Division), Ford (Starter Motor Division), and Battery 1,2,3—have all added manufacturing capacity in China, and so has Japan’s Showa Denko, Santoku, and scores of other global electronics companies.”

RE dominance has also allowed China to lead the world in technology for electric vehicles, renewable energy and next-generation nuclear power. And America relies on its rival for defence: “Most of the U.S.’ advanced weapon systems procurement is 100% dependent on China for advanced metallurgical materials.”

Foreign dependency includes tantalum, “critical to the economy and national defense,” gallium, cobalt, uranium and the list goes on.

According to a just-published report from the U.S. Geological Survey, “in 2018, imports made up more than half of U.S apparent consumption for 48 non-fuel mineral commodities, and the U.S. was 100% net import-reliant for 18 of those.

“For 2018, critical minerals comprised 14 of the 18 mineral commodities with 100% net import reliance and 15 additional critical mineral commodities had a net import reliance greater than 50% of apparent consumption. The largest number of non-fuel mineral commodities were supplied to the U.S. from China, followed by Canada.”

The takeover of former TSX listing Uranium One by Russia’s state-owned Rosatom brings threats worse than most observers realized, the authors say. The acquisition granted the Russian government membership in trade organizations and therefore valuable intel formerly available only through espionage. Uranium One also gives Russia the ability to curtail future American uranium production and use its influence on Kazakhstan, the world’s top producer, to flood the U.S. with cheaper, subsidized supply. That could put both U.S. production and processing out of business in a tactic reminiscent of China’s RE machinations.

China’s communist government uses a ‘debt trap’ model of economic development and finance which proffers substantial financing to developing countries in exchange for an encumbrance on their minerals resources and access to markets. This predatory model has been particularly effective in countries characterized by weak rule of law and authoritarian regimes.—Ned Mamula
and Ann Bridges

The Chinese “are now masters at securing and controlling core natural resources globally, especially minerals.” The country uses long-term contracts, equity investments and joint ventures, as well as the “debt trap” that provides “substantial financing to developing countries in exchange for an encumbrance on their minerals resources and access to markets. This predatory model has been particularly effective in countries characterized by weak rule of law and authoritarian regimes.”

The U.S., meanwhile, suffers not only from naivete and short-term thinking, but from self-induced challenges. The authors devote an entire chapter to Alaska’s Pebble project, maybe the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold-molybdenum deposit. After more than two decades and over $150 million in spending, “Pebble is still more about politics than geology, much less mining the minerals known to exist there.”

The story stands out as “the classic cautionary tale in U.S. history of how a powerful federal regulatory agency can go rogue and impose its will on an unsuspecting permit applicant.”

Suggestions to alleviate these ills include streamlining the permitting process, among other recommendations to open up domestic production and re-build supply chains. One of the authors’ more interesting ideas concerns teaming up with environmental activists to promote ethical green supply chains that would shut out conflict minerals.

The book’s marred by repetition, sloppy English and some bold-faced typographical shouting. It’s also cluttered with a few questionable information sources and excerpts from a novel that would have been better left unwritten. The portrayal of Canada as a role model, moreover, might induce bitter laughter from this side of the border. But Groundbreaking offers a vital message to general readers. In doing so, it could reinforce a growing awareness in the U.S. about the need to minimize foreign dependency.

Read more about U.S. efforts to secure critical minerals here and here.