Monday 5th December 2016

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘IAMGOLD Corp (IMG)’

Kapuskasing Gold drills near-surface 4.68 g/t over 1.6 metres in northern Ontario

September 27th, 2016

by Greg Klein | September 27, 2016

A brief drill program of three shallow holes confirmed significant gold mineralization on the Rollo project in northern Ontario, Kapuskasing Gold TSXV:KAP announced September 27. The 150-metre summer campaign tested continuity of the property’s Racicot gold showing. The previous summer’s channel sampling found results up to 8.82 g/t gold over 0.6 metres. Grab samples assayed 1 g/t, 1.89 g/t and 11.41 g/t gold.

Kapuskasing Gold drills 4.68 g/t over 1.6 metres in northern Ontario

Some highlights from the most recent program show:

Hole RO-16-01

  • 3.24 g/t gold over 0.7 metres, starting at 8.5 metres in downhole depth

  • 2.32 g/t over 0.5 metres, starting at 10.6 metres

Hole RO-16-02

  • 3.3 g/t over 0.9 metres, starting at 8.2 metres

Hole RO-16-03

  • 4.68 g/t over 1.6 metres, starting at 14 metres
  • (including 8.05 g/t over 0.8 metres)

True widths were unavailable.

Results support an interpretation that associates mineralization with a red syenite dyke that strikes approximately 100 degrees, the company stated

Located along a projected extension of the Destor-Porcupine fault zone, Rollo sits between IAMGOLD’s (TSX:IMG) Cote Lake gold deposit and Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) Borden gold project. Last week Richmond Minerals TSXV:RMD announced results from its Ridley Lake property about three kilometres southwest of Rollo, hitting up to 1.26 g/t gold over 33 metres, including 4.11 g/t over 7 metres.

Future plans for Kapuskasing include additional drilling and ground geophysics. The company intends to resume work this autumn.

A 10-hole, 1,000-metre program at Kapuskasing’s West Keefer property found no significant gold but did identify lithologies favourable for hosting mineralization, the company added.

Kapuskasing holds seven gold properties along extensions of the Destor-Porcupine structure or the Borden gold project. The company closed a $246,600 private placement in July.

In the land of giants

June 24th, 2016

Aurvista Gold sees super pit potential for its Douay gold project in Abitibi

by Greg Klein

A new Abitibi gold mine, maybe the region’s last—could that be Douay’s destiny? Jean Lafleur sees such potential in the project that attracted him to Aurvista Gold TSXV:AVA, where he took on the role of president/CEO. The geologist’s international career includes considerable experience in Quebec’s most auriferous region, including Malartic, where he was instrumental in developing the project’s campaign of bulk gold exploration. He sees similarities in Douay. But this one also stands apart for its distinctions.

Aurvista Gold sees super pit potential for its Douay gold project in Abitibi

This year’s campaign calls for more geophysics
followed by another 4,000 metres.

A bulk deposit with higher-grade “jewelry boxes” on the Casa Berardi fault, Douay’s “unique because it’s never been mined, it’s a disseminated-type deposit, there are no quartz veins so it goes against the grain of these old Archean-type deposits, it’s Crown land, but what makes it really unique is it’s the last one left in the Abitibi,” Lafleur says.

“There might be others farther north, but when you talk about strictly Abitibi, this is the last one.”

Aurvista plans to support that theory with a summer/fall campaign of geophysics and drilling backed by last month’s $1.1-million financing. The 14,500-hectare property features eight zones along a five-kilometre trend. Using a cutoff of 0.3 grams per tonne, a 2012 resource estimate totalled:

  • indicated: 2.69 million tonnes averaging 2.76 g/t for 238,435 gold ounces

  • inferred: 114.65 million tonnes averaging 0.75 g/t for 2.75 million ounces

The resource was limited to a vertical depth of about 400 metres.

With the same cutoff, a west-to-east, zone-by-zone breakdown shows the jewelry boxes amid bulk mining potential:

Douay West zone

  • indicated: 2.56 million tonnes averaging 2.77 g/t for 227,980 ounces

  • inferred: 1.41 million tonnes averaging 1.65 g/t for 74,915 ounces

North West zone

  • inferred: 1.05 million tonnes averaging 2.59 g/t for 87,605 ounces

Porphyry zone

  • inferred: 107.21 million tonnes averaging 0.68 g/t for 2.36 million ounces

20 zone

  • inferred: 340,000 tonnes averaging 0.66 g/t for 7,231 ounces

Central zone

  • inferred: 780,000 tonnes averaging 0.99 g/t for 24,935 ounces

10 zone

  • inferred: 959,000 tonnes averaging 1.32 g/t for 40,705 ounces

531 zone

  • inferred: 1.55 million tonnes averaging 1.54 g/t for 76,620 ounces

Main zone

  • indicated: 130,000 tonnes averaging 2.47 g/t for 10,450 ounces

  • inferred: 1.35 million tonnes averaging 1.97 g/t for 85,480 ounces

Pushing the cutoff up to three g/t, seven of the eight zones still show ounces, with these two standouts—Douay West revealing 153,890 ounces indicated and 28,420 ounces inferred, and the Adams section of the Porphyry zone bearing 274,200 ounces inferred.

A 2014 PEA examined Douay West alone as a combination open pit and underground operation that would cost $56.8 million to build, producing 156,000 ounces over a 3.7-year life. The study used a 5% discount rate to calculate a post-tax NPV of $16.6 million and a post-tax IRR of 40%. But the proximity of other zones, especially Porphyry, encouraged Aurvista to consider other approaches.

To that end the company has an imminent two-stage 2016 program scheduled for a three-by-10-kilometre expanse. Primarily focus will be some eight kilometres of porphyry targets. Also under scrutiny will be a six-by-one-kilometre cluster of EM anomalies immediately south that have affinities to VMS mineralization associated with gold, along with potential copper and other base metal targets, the company states.

Aurvista Gold sees super pit potential for its Douay gold project in Abitibi

Past operators left behind camp infrastructure.

Stage 1 calls for additional mapping, re-logging previous core and flying magnetic, electromagnetic and radiometrics. That would lead to Stage 2’s 4,000-metre Q4 drill program. The company also hopes to find new trends at about 300 to 500 metres in depth, below the currently known mineralization.

With Abitibi infrastructure as well as gold, Douay has road access to a highway five kilometres away leading to Val-d’Or, 165 kilometres south, and an electrical line connecting the property with the grid.

A solid share structure supports the company. After vending Douay to Aurvista in 2011, Société d’exploration minière Vior TSXV:VIO now holds 24%. The 1,193-hectare North West zone comes under a JV with 25% partner SOQUEM, the mineral exploration division of the provincial government’s Investissement Québec. Together, the province and company insiders account for 14%. Among them is chairperson Gerry McCarvill, who helped create Repadre Capital, now IAMGOLD TSX:IMG, and Desert Sun Mining, later picked up by Yamana Gold TSX:YRI. McCarvill also helped develop Consolidated Thompson Iron Ore from its $2-million beginning to the $4.9-billion takeover by Cliffs Natural Resources NYSE:CLF.

Lafleur expects this year’s work to further support the “super pit” potential that he believes could position Douay as the next mine to be surrounded by the giants of Abitibi. A resource update could arrive this year but more likely in 2017, he says. Lafleur anticipates a three- to five-year plan for the project. “We want to follow the same story that Detour and Osisko did—just keep drilling and prove up as many ounces as we can.”

Vancouver Commodity Forum adds speakers: Gerald McCarvill, Jon Hykawy and Joe Martin

May 30th, 2016

by Greg Klein | May 30, 2016

Three more names bring additional expertise and insight to the June 14 Vancouver Commodity Forum. Prince Arthur Capital chairperson/CEO Gerald McCarvill, Stormcrow Capital president/director Jon Hykawy and Cambridge House International founder Joe Martin will address the conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Already booked are Chris Berry of the Disruptive Discoveries Journal, John Kaiser of Kaiser Research Online and Stephan Bogner of Rockstone Research.

Vancouver Commodity Forum adds speakers Gerald McCarvill, Jon Hykawy and Joe Martin

The speaker lineup grows as the June 14 Vancouver event approaches.

McCarvill’s 30-year CV includes conducting mining and energy projects globally, as well as private equity and finance transactions. Among other career highlights, he helped establish Repadre Capital, now IAMGOLD TSX:IMG, and Desert Sun Mining, later acquired by Yamana Gold TSX:YRI. McCarvill also helped develop and finance Consolidated Thompson Iron Ore from a $2-million entry valuation to its $4.9-billion sale to Cliffs Natural Resources NYSE:CLF.

An expert in areas such as lithium, rare earths, fluorspar and tin, Hykawy combines a 14-year Bay Street background with an MBA in marketing, along with post-doctoral work as a physicist with Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. His technical background also includes work on rechargeable batteries and fuel cells, as well as wind and solar energy.

Starting off in business journalism, Martin created BC Business magazine, then founded Cambridge House International to present some of the world’s largest mining/exploration conferences. He remains active in semi-retirement as a prominent advocate for investment regulatory reform.

The Vancouver Commodity Forum also features a range of companies pursuing lithium, uranium, rare earths, gold, nickel, copper, diamonds, jade, scandium, zeolite, magnesium and potash. Click here for free registration.

Interview: Chris Berry discusses the lithium boom.

Gold stocks slaughtered, Barrick drops 10%

October 31st, 2013

by Frik Els | October 31, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

The gold price slid more than $24 or 2% an ounce on October 31 to a week low of $1,323 after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled it may cut back its stimulus program sooner than thought and Chinese demand for the metal waned.

After a fightback from near three-year lows below $1,200 struck at the end of June, gold’s momentum now seems to have turned negative again with gold stocks sold off heavily on a relatively modest fall in the price of the metal.

By the October 31 close Barrick Gold TSX:ABX had lost 5.9%, after announcing results that were in line with expectations and the suspension of its troubled Pascua Lama project on the border between Chile and Argentina.

The world’s number one miner of the precious metal followed up after hours with more damaging news. The Toronto-based miner announced it is raising $3 billion by issuing 163.5 million common shares at $18.35 per share.

Barrick is now worth $19.4 billion, down 44% so far this year and nowhere near its $54-billion market value a mere two years ago.

Investors duly marked down the stock again with the counter shedding an additional 5.7% to $18.31 in after-hours trade in New York, wiping more than $2 billion off the value of the company on the day.

Barrick is now worth $19.4 billion, down 44% so far this year and nowhere near its $54-billion market value a mere two years ago.

Newmont Mining NYE:NEM, with a market value of $13.5 billion, escaped the worst of it, down 2.8% in regular trading and trading slightly to the upside after hours, after announcing profits up 11% despite a fall in revenue.

Attributable gold production rose 4% to 1.28 million ounces, while attributable copper output decreased 3% to 34 million pounds during the third quarter at the Denver-based company.

The world’s third-largest gold producer behind Newmont, AngloGold Ashanti NYE:AU was one of the worst performers of October 31. The Johannesburg-based company’s ADRs listed in New York slid 6.7% on October 31 and the value of the company has now halved this year.

Fellow South African miner Gold Fields NYE:GFI, the worst performer among the gold majors this year, gave up 4.4% in New York. The world’s fourth-largest gold producer has had its value slashed 63% in 2013, with investors punishing it for its contrarian purchase of high-cost mines amid the slump.

Goldcorp TSX:G, expected to produce around 2.5 million ounces of gold this year, declined 3.9%. The Vancouver-based company retained the top spot as the most valuable gold stock, with a Toronto big board market capitalization of $21.6 billion.

Toronto’s Kinross Gold TSX:K managed to hold above a $6-billion value despite losing 5.3% on the day. Investors in the company are nursing a $5-billion loss in market cap this year after Kinross, like all the majors, took multi-billion charges against the value of its operations.

Canada’s second-tier gold miners also suffered a loss of confidence from gold investors, giving up much of the gains of recent weeks.

Yamana Gold TSX:YRI skid 3.4%, Agnico Eagle Mines’ TSX:AEM losses were fairly modest at 2.5% while Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD declined 5.1% and IAMGOLD TSX:IMG dropped 5.3%.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Investors pile back into gold stocks, Goldcorp up $2 billion in a week

October 22nd, 2013

by Frik Els | October 22, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Investors pile back into gold stocks, Goldcorp up $2 billion in a week

Good day for the gold team. Photo: Perpetual Tourist

The gold price jumped more than $20 or 1.8% an ounce on October 22 to a three-week high above $1,340 after disappointing U.S. economic data.

The much weaker-than-expected employment numbers in the U.S. convinced gold buyers that any reduction in economic stimulus by the Federal Reserve will come later rather than sooner.

With positive sentiment returning to the gold market, investors took the chance to jump back into mining stocks which have been decimated by the 20% retreat in the price of the metal this year.

On October 22 Barrick Gold TSX:ABX shot up 4.8%, scaling the $20-billion market value for the first time in a month.

The Vancouver-based company has jumped more than $2 billion in market value over the past week and is now worth $21.3 billion.

The world’s number one miner of the precious metal has added more than $5 billion in market value since hitting 21-year lows early July.

Barrick is now worth $20.5 billion on the TSX, still down 41% so far this year amid an aggressive divestment and cost-cutting drive that is beginning to bear fruit.

Newmont Mining NYE:NEM, with a market value of $14.1 billion, added 3.5%. The company recently cut predictions for its copper output, but gold production targets remain unchanged at 4.8 million to 5.1 million ounces for the year.

The Denver-based company has not escaped the carnage in the gold sector and is down 38% this year.

The world’s third-largest gold producer behind Newmont, AngloGold Ashanti NYE:AU was one of the best performers on October 22. The Johannesburg-based company’s ADRs listed in New York gained 9% to a four-month high, but are still trading down 48% this year.

Fellow South African miner Gold Fields NYE:GFI, which is the worst performer among the gold majors this year, jumped 5% in New York. The world’s fourth-largest gold producer has had its value slashed 62% in 2013 with investors punishing it for its contrarian purchase of high-cost mines amid the slump.

Goldcorp TSX:G, expected to produce around 2.5 million ounces of gold this year, jumped 4.9%, helping retain its top spot as the most valuable gold stock.

The Vancouver-based company has jumped more than $2 billion in market value over the past week and is now worth $21.3 billion.

Toronto’s Kinross Gold TSX:K scaled the $6-billion mark, gaining 3.3% but investors in the company are still nursing a $5-billion loss in market cap this year after Kinross, like all the majors, took multi-billion-dollar charges against the value of its operations.

Australia’s Newcrest Mining declined 0.5% on the Sydney bourse, missing out on the gold price rally in New York. The Melbourne-based company earlier this month ousted its CEO and chairman after its August results showed an AU$5.6-billion loss.

Canada’s second-tier gold miners also enjoyed a rerating with Yamana Gold TSX:YRI adding 4.6%, Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM jumping more than 4.7%, Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD advancing 3.8% and IAMGOLD TSX:IMG upping its value 4.5%.

Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Five reasons China is coming to buy your gold mine

August 21st, 2013

by Frik Els | August 21, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Chinese producers are aggressively looking at picking up gold companies and mines elsewhere as domestic demand reaches record highs.

Takeovers and asset purchases by Hong Kong and mainland miners increased to a record $2.2 billion in 2013 according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Five reasons China is coming to buy your gold mine

Chinese companies like Zijin Mining Group and Zhaojin Mining Industry Co are in a good position to take a bite out of struggling North American and European-based producers because:

Chinese gold demand is soaring and at 1,000 tonnes will overtake Indian purchases this year, but domestic deposits are less than 5% of the global total.

Targets are cheap—the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index of the globe’s 49 biggest gold companies are down 31% this year alone.

Domestic Chinese producers enjoy some of the lowest cash costs—Zhaojin manages $549 an ounce, compared with a global average of $831.

Chinese and Hong Kong companies have access to cheap capital—Zijin got $4.9 billion in soft loans from a state bank for M&A.

The majors are actively looking to sell as debt levels increase and high-cost mines are mothballed—Barrick Gold TSX:ABX could dump as many as 12 of its mines.

Possible targets include:

While these companies are looking to get rid of a number of mines:

See also: $45bn and counting: China’s foreign mining misadventures

Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Caribbean calling

April 10th, 2013

Sandspring’s pre-feas moves another Guyana gold project forward

by Greg Klein

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A revised development plan has reduced initial capital expenditures for Sandspring Resources’ TSXV:SSP Toroparu gold-copper project in Guyana. A pre-feasibility study released late April 9 laid out the economics for a 16-year open pit operation.

Using a 5% discount rate, the base case forecasts a pre-tax net present value of US$992 million and a 27.2% internal rate of return. After taxes the numbers show a $691-million NPV and a 23.1% IRR.

Sandspring’s pre-feas moves another Guyana gold project forward

Sandspring incorporated last year’s discovery of a
satellite gold deposit into Toroparu’s pre-feasibility study.

The study cut the initial capex to $464 million from the $482 million estimated by the January 2012 preliminary economic assessment update. Contributing to the more optimistic figures is an estimated $37 million that would come from cyanide leach processing of saprolite gold ore prior to commercial production. By year three, cash flow should fund the $50-million expansion to a 22,500-tonne-per-day operation. Payback would come in 2.6 years. Average annual production over 16 years would be 228,000 gold ounces at a cash cost of $700 an ounce, with copper credits factored in. About 78% of production would go into doré bars, with the rest in concentrate.

The project’s reserves include a satellite pit 1.2 kilometres from Toroparu that was discovered in May 2012. Combining three types of ore—saprolite gold, fresh gold and fresh gold-copper—the reserves show:

  • a proven category of 29.78 million tonnes averaging 1.1 grams per tonne gold and 0.13% copper for 1.05 million gold ounces and 64 million copper pounds
  • a probable category of 97.33 million tonnes averaging 0.98 g/t gold and 0.1% copper for 3.06 million gold ounces and 147 million copper pounds.

Within the pit shell but outside the reserves are resources that use a 0.3 g/t gold cutoff to show:

  • measured and indicated categories totalling 90.24 million tonnes averaging 0.83 g/t gold and 0.06% copper for 2.42 million gold ounces and 112 million copper pounds
  • an inferred category of 124.34 million tonnes averaging 0.74 g/t gold and 0.04% copper for 2.97 million gold ounces and 111 million copper pounds.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Sandspring CEO Rich Munson said, “We are encouraged by recent approaches from third parties expressing interest in developing Toroparu jointly with Sandspring. Despite the expressions of interest, we recognize that funding a project of this scale is challenging in the current environment. We have therefore engaged Cutfield Freeman & Co, a leading independent advisory firm in the mining sector, to conduct a process to determine the options available for financing.”

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Golden Guyana

January 29th, 2013

Companies like Eagle Mountain find near-surface deposits offset dismal markets

by Greg Klein

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Gold at surface—it’s an explorer’s dream and the attraction for several companies working in Guyana. Notwithstanding thick jungles, heavy rain and limited infrastructure, the country inspires optimism among juniors working to overcome pessimistic capital markets.

And it’s here that one company found not only a project but also an in situ team that might transform the explorer into a producer. To do so, Eagle Mountain Gold TSXV:Z has set an ambitious timeline with hopes of bringing 2014 production to its eponymous project in central Guyana.

Companies like Eagle Mountain find near-surface deposits offset dismal markets

Eagle Mountain Gold wants to phase in production
with a low initial capex and minimal share dilution.

Certainly president/CEO/director Ioannis (Yannis) Tsitos sounds confident. “First of all, we’ve got a board and management team that has put projects into production. Secondly, we’re looking at a robust gold price and my view and all the macro-economic analysis suggest this will continue. In terms of operating in Guyana, we can run this with decent costs. I don’t see why we should follow the formula of building up a company just to sell it.”

The company holds 50% of the project, with an option to pick up another 45% from IAMGOLD TSX:IMG for $1 million in cash and/or shares by April. The Guyanese government holds the remainder.

This year’s schedule looks busy, with more drilling to build the resource, work on the environmental impact assessment and a PEA, which is slated for Q2. Tsitos then plans to skip the pre-feasibility stage to reach full feas in 2014. Should economics, permitting and financing fall into place, open-pit gold production could begin the same year, he says.

Ambitious as it is, the schedule’s cost-effective, Tsitos maintains. “This plan calls for minimum dilution because the capex would be smaller. We’d first focus on the easiest parts of the deposits, which are the oxide parts, effectively mining the top 25 metres over a very extensive area. Later we’d expand into mining hard rock with a bigger mill and power requirement. Our approach is a phased development, therefore the timeline is aggressive but viable.” He foresees the mine expanding to several open pits feeding a central processing facility.

Companies like Eagle Mountain find near-surface deposits offset dismal markets

Dense jungle doesn’t deter drilling in gold-rich Guyana.

Last November’s resource update for the Zion and Kilroy zones uses a cutoff of 0.5 grams per tonne gold, showing:

  • an indicated category of 3.92 million tonnes averaging 1.49 g/t for 188,000 gold ounces
  • an inferred category of 20.63 million tonnes averaging 1.19 g/t for 792,000 gold ounces.

The deposit remains open in three lateral directions and at depth, the technical report states. Mineralization so far covers just 300 hectares of the 5,050-hectare property.

To offer perspective on the strategy of phased development, the resource gives separate numbers for oxidized rock, or saprolite, and for non-oxidized “fresh” or hard rock underneath:

  • the indicated category includes 74,000 gold ounces in saprolite material and 114,000 ounces in fresh material
  • the inferred category includes 306,000 gold ounces in saprolite material and 486,000 ounces in fresh material.

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Burkina bulletins

September 18th, 2012

A steady stream of gold news flows from west Africa

By Greg Klein

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A poor country rich in gold. That contradiction might someday correct itself if mining can improve life for the people of Burkina Faso. Over the last six years several Canadian companies have explored its potential, among them Riverstone Resources TSXV:RVS. (Update: On February 25, 2013, Riverstone Resources Inc began trading as True Gold Mining Inc TSXV:TGM.) In what’s almost a weekly event, the company announced drill results September 17 from its Karma Gold Project.

Assay highlights from the Kao Deposit include

  • 9.5 grams per tonne gold over 12 metres
  • (including 33.6 g/t over 2 metres)
  • 2.02 g/t over 30 metres
  • (including 2.54 g/t over 18 metres)
  • 2.97 g/t over 14 metres
  • 13.45 g/t over 2 metres
  • 1.73 g/t over 12 metres
  • 3.21 g/t over 6 metres
  • 3.19 g/t over 4 metres
A steady stream of gold news flows from west Africa

Adversity notwithstanding, wide-ranging gold exploration
continues in Burkina Faso.

True widths are estimated between 90% and 100%. Depths extend to 260 metres, but most were less than 54 metres. The company states that its resource update, scheduled for release later this month, is expected to show an increase in more easily recoverable oxide resources.

Karma’s current estimate, issued last January, shows an indicated resource of 54.1 million tonnes grading 1.02 g/t gold for 1.77 million gold ounces and an inferred resource of 37.4 million tonnes grading 0.8 g/t for 959,000 ounces. Over 80% of the resource falls within five Whittle open pit shells. Over 85,000 metres of additional drilling will be incorporated into this month’s update.

On September 17 the company also filed the technical report for Karma’s PEA, which was announced last month. The study projects an initial capex of $125 million, which might be cut to $96 million through contract mining. The study also shows a pre-tax net present value of $271 million and a 47% internal rate of return, or an after-tax NPV of $192 million and a 37% IRR. Payback is estimated at two years.

The study examined three processing options, favouring a heap leach operation that would process three million tonnes of oxide and transition mineralization annually to produce 70,000 to 90,000 gold ounces a year over a 10-year life. Cash costs would come to $525 an ounce. Calculations are based on a gold price of $1,350 an ounce.

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Home Continent Advantage

April 4th, 2012

Quantum’s Nebraska Niobium Resource Project Will Reduce Foreign Dependence

By Ted Niles

That the US imports 100% of its niobium—indeed, that 85% of the world’s niobium is produced by just one Brazilian company—doesn’t inspire panic in the average person. While familiarity with the metal and its uses is not widespread, the US National Academy of Sciences has deemed it a “critical” metal, and the absence of a domestic producer troubles Washington. Particularly as worldwide demand is predicted to outstrip supply by 2018. Enter Quantum Rare Earth Developments TSXV:QRE, whose Elk Creek Project in Nebraska boasts America’s only NI 43-101-compliant niobium resource.

The 3,802-hectare property was acquired in 2010 by Quantum, which was quick to take advantage of the work carried out by Molycorp in the 1970s and 1980s. “They did over 150,000 feet of drilling,” reports Quantum President/CEO Peter Dickie. “Molycorp walked away from a lot of their exploration projects as they put their Mountain Pass Mine into production, and this was one of them.”

Quantum's Nebraska Niobium Resource Project Will Reduce Foreign Dependence

Niobium is both a strategic and a critical metal

Based on a reanalysis of Molycorp‘s historical work, Quantum released an initial inferred resource for the property in March 2011. The company undertook a drill program the same year—the first the site had seen in 25 years—which was used towards an updated estimate announced April 2, 2012. It reported indicated resources of 19.32 million tonnes grading 0.67% niobium and inferred resources of 83.29 million tonnes grading 0.63%, both at a 0.4% cutoff.

While the new resource reflects increases in tonnage and grade, Dickie notes, “We’re realizing that the more drilling we do, the [greater] likelihood we’re going to see improvement in not only overall tonnage but grade and category as well. If you look at our drill results, we had substantial intercepts of well over 1% material. Obviously, the more drilling we do in that vicinity, the more we’ll be able to elevate our resource and our grade.”

Niobium is used in small quantities to both strengthen and reduce the weight of steel. In the form of ferro-niobium it is used in the automotive, pipeline and construction industries. It is also used in superalloys by the aerospace and defense industries. It has been estimated that demand for the metal has grown at a 10% compound annual growth rate over the last 10 years and that future demand is likely to increase at the same rate.

As mentioned above, about 85% of world supply is produced by Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração. Anglo American’s Catalão Mine, also in Brazil, produces approximately 6%, while IAMGOLD’s TSX:IMG Quebec Niobec Mine produces most of the rest. Dickie points out that there is only one other North American niobium producer in the wings—Taseko’s TSX:TKO Aley project in BC. Aley has inferred resources of 159 million tonnes grading 0.43%, at a 0.2% cutoff. “Obviously our grade and tonnage is quite significant from a North American standpoint,” Dickie says. “Elk Creek is likely the largest deposit with that kind of grade. And it’s the only one we know of in the US, where niobium is considered a strategic metal and subject to potential stockpiling.”

Quantum will next undertake a preliminary economic assessment. A metallurgical test program is ongoing, and Dickie hopes to see “some concrete numbers within the next few months. [The PEA] is about a four- to six-month process following receipt of the metallurgy.”

Our indicated resource contains just under 129 million kilograms of niobium. Our inferred resource has another 523 million kilograms. The current price for niobium in the form of ferro-niobium is about $43 a kilogram. So the numbers are very big on this —Peter Dickie

Quantum intends taking Elk Creek to production, but between the resource and the infrastructural advantages offered by the American heartland, Dickie admits that the project now entices larger companies. “We have had some discussions ourselves and been made aware of others who have had their eyes on this project. I would suspect that one or more may act on it prior to us getting into production.” He adds, “Potentially we’ll have a partner involved by the time we start drilling on this project again.”

While it has been a difficult year for mining equities generally, Dickie believes Quantum is undervalued more as a consequence of niobium’s obscurity. He explains, “Close to 90% of the market comes from a private mine in Brazil. A lot of the transactions are dealt with between a private company and the end user, so they’re never reported. It’s not as widely known a market as other commodities.”

He concludes, “It’s not normally done on smaller-market materials such as niobium, but certainly if you want to look at the in situ value at [Elk Creek], it’s very valuable. Our indicated resource contains just under 129 million kilograms of niobium. Our inferred resource has another 523 million kilograms. The current price for niobium in the form of ferro-niobium is about $43 a kilogram. So the numbers are very big on this.”

At press time, Quantum had 86 million shares trading at $0.205 for a market cap of $17.6 million. Its other projects include the Archie Lake REE property in Saskatchewan and the Jungle Well and Laverton rare earth projects in Western Australia.