Tuesday 22nd October 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘indium’

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.

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.

Infographic: Climate Smart Mining and minerals for climate action

March 14th, 2019

sponsored by the World Bank | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | March 14, 2019

Climate Smart Mining Minerals for climate action

 

Countries are taking steps to decarbonize their economies by using wind, solar and battery technologies, with an end goal of reducing carbon-emitting fossil fuels from the energy mix.

But this global energy transition also has a trade-off: to cut emissions, more minerals are needed.

Therefore, in order for the transition to renewables to be meaningful and to achieve significant reductions in the Earth’s carbon footprint, mining will have to better mitigate its own environmental and social impacts.

Advocates for renewable technology are not walking blindly into a new energy paradigm without understanding these impacts. A policy and regulatory framework can help governments meet their targets, and mitigate and manage the impacts of the next wave of mineral demand to help the communities most affected by mining.

This infographic comes from the World Bank and it highlights this energy transition, how it will create demand for minerals and also the Climate Smart Mining building blocks.

Renewable power and mineral demand

In 2017, the World Bank published The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future, which concluded that to build a lower carbon future there will be a substantial increase in demand for several key minerals and metals to manufacture clean energy technologies.

Wind
Wind power technology has drastically improved its energy output. By 2025, a 300-metre-tall wind turbine could produce about 13 to 15 MW, enough to power a small town. With increased size and energy output comes increased material demand.

A single 3 MW turbine requires:

  • 4.7 tons of copper

  • 335 tons of steel

  • 1,200 tons of concrete

  • 2 tons of rare earth elements

  • 3 tons of aluminum

Solar
In 2017 global renewable capacity was 178 GW, of which 54.5% was solar photo-voltaic technology (PV). By 2023, it’s expected that this capacity will increase to one terawatt with PV accounting for 57.5% of the mix. PV cells require polymers, aluminum, silicon, glass, silver and tin.

Batteries
Everything from your home, your vehicle and your everyday devices will require battery technology to keep them powered and your life on the move.

Lithium, cobalt and nickel are at the centre of battery technology that will see the greatest explosion in demand in the coming energy transition.

Top five minerals for energy technologies

Add it all up, and these new sources of demand will translate into a need for more minerals:

 

  2017 production 2050 demand from energy technology Percentage change (%)
Lithium 43 KT 415 KT 965%
Cobalt 110 KT 644 KT 585%
Graphite 1200 KT 4590 KT 383%
Indium 0.72 KT 1.73 KT 241%
Vanadium 80 KT 138 KT 173%

 

Minimizing mining’s impact with Climate Smart Mining

The World Bank’s Climate Smart Mining (CSM) supports the sustainable extraction and processing of minerals and metals to secure supply for clean energy technologies, while also minimizing the environmental and climate footprints throughout the value chain.

The World Bank has established four building blocks for Climate Smart Mining:

  • Climate change mitigation

  • Climate change adaptation

  • Reducing material impacts

  • Creating market opportunities

Given the foresight into the pending energy revolution, a coordinated global effort early on could give nations a greater chance to mitigate the impacts of mining, avoid haphazard mineral development and contribute to the improvement of living standards in mineral-rich countries.

The World Bank works closely with the United Nations to ensure that Climate Smart Mining policies will support the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

A sustainable future

The potential is there for a low carbon economy, but it’s going to require a concerted global effort and sound policies to help guide responsible mineral development.

The mining industry can deliver the minerals for climate action.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Can’t live without them

March 23rd, 2018

The U.S. Critical Materials Institute develops new technologies for crucial commodities

by Greg Klein

A rare earths supply chain outside China? It exists in the United States and Alex King has proof on his desk in the form of neodymium-iron-boron magnets, an all-American achievement from mine to finished product. But the Critical Materials Institute director says it’s up to manufacturers to take this pilot project to an industry-wide scale. Meanwhile the CMI looks back on its first five years of successful research while preparing future projects to help supply the stuff of modern life.

The U.S. Critical Materials Institute develops new technologies and strategies for crucial commodities

Alex King: “There’s a lot of steps in rebuilding that supply chain.
Our role as researchers is to demonstrate it can be done.
We’ve done that.” (Photo: Colorado School of Mines)

The CMI’s genesis came in the wake of crisis. China’s 2010 ban on rare earths exports to Japan abruptly destroyed non-Chinese supply chains. As other countries began developing their own deposits, China changed tactics to flood the market with relatively cheap output.

Since then the country has held the rest of the world dependent, producing upwards of 90% of global production for these metals considered essential to energy, defence and the overall economy.

That scenario prompted U.S. Congress to create the CMI in 2013, as one of four Department of Energy innovation hubs. Involving four national laboratories, seven universities, about a dozen corporations and roughly 350 researchers, the interdisciplinary group gets US$25 million a year and “a considerable amount of freedom” to pursue its mandate, King says.

The CMI channels all that into four areas. One is to develop technologies that help make new mines viable. The second, “in direct conflict with the first,” is to find alternative materials. Efficient use of commodities comprises the third focus, through improvements in manufacturing, recycling and re-use.

“Those three areas are supported by a fourth, which is a kind of cross-cutting research focus extending across a wide range of areas including quantum physics, chemistry, environmental impact studies and, last but certainly not least, economics—what’s the economic impact of the work we do, what’s its potential, where are the economically most impactful areas for our researchers to address,” King relates.

With 30 to 35 individual projects underway at any time, CMI successes include the Nd-Fe-B batteries. They began with ore from Mountain Pass, the California mine whose 2015 shutdown set back Western rare earths aspirations.

The U.S. Critical Materials Institute develops new technologies and strategies for crucial commodities

Nevertheless “that ore was separated into individual rare earth oxides in a pilot scale facility in Idaho National Lab,” explains King. “The separated rare earth oxides were reduced to master alloys at a company called Infinium in the Boston area. The master alloys were brought to the Ames Lab here at Iowa State University and fabricated into magnets. So all the skills are here in the U.S. We know how to do it. I have the magnets on my desk as proof.”

But, he asks, “can we do that on an industrial scale? That depends on companies picking up and taking ownership of some of these processes.”

In part, that would require the manufacturers who use the magnets to leave Asia. “Whether it’s an electric motor, a hard disk drive, the speakers in your phone or whatever, all that’s done in Asia,” King points out. “And that means it is most advantageous to make the magnets in Asia.”

America does have existing potential domestic demand, however. The U.S. remains a world leader in manufacturing loudspeakers and is a significant builder of industrial motors. Those two sectors might welcome a reliable rare earths supply chain.

“There’s a lot of steps in rebuilding that supply chain. Our role as researchers is to demonstrate it can be done. We’ve done that.”

Among other accomplishments over its first five years, the CMI found alternatives to both europium and terbium in efficient lighting, developed a number of improvements in the viability of rare earths mining and created much more efficient RE separation.

“We also developed a new use for cerium, which is an over-produced rare earth that is a burden on mining,” King says. “We have an aluminum-cerium alloy that is now in production and has actually entered the commercial marketplace and is being sold. Generating use for cerium should generate additional cash flow for some of the traditional forms of rare earths mining.”

Getting back to magnets, “we also invented a way of making them that is much more efficient, greatly reduces sensitive materials like neodymium and dysprosium, and makes electric devices like motors and generators much more efficient.”

All these materials have multiple uses. It’s not like they don’t have interest in the Pentagon and other places.—Alex King

Future projects will focus less on rare earths but more on lithium. The CMI will also tackle several others from the draft list of 35 critical minerals the U.S. released in February: cobalt, manganese, gallium, indium, tellurium, platinum group metals, vanadium and graphite. “These are the ones where we feel we can make the most impact.”

While the emphasis remains on energy minerals, “all these materials have multiple uses. It’s not like they don’t have interest in the Pentagon and other places.”

But the list is hardly permanent, while the challenges will continue. “We’ve learned a huge amount over the last five years about how the market responds when a material becomes critical,” he recalls. “And that knowledge is incredibly valuable because we anticipate there will be increasing incidences of materials going critical. Technology’s moving so fast and demand is shifting so fast that supply will have a hard time keeping up. That will cause short-term supply shortfalls or even excesses. What we need to do is capture the wisdom that has been won in the rare earths crisis and recovery, and be ready to apply that as other materials go critical in the future.”

Alex King speaks at Argus Specialty Metals Week, held in Henderson, Nevada, from April 16 to 18. For a 15% discount on registration, enter code RARE2018.

Critical attention

December 21st, 2017

The U.S. embarks on a national strategy of greater self-reliance for critical minerals

by Greg Klein

A geopolitical absurdity on par with some aspects of Dr. Strangelove and Catch 22 can’t be reduced simply through an executive order from the U.S. president. But an executive order from the U.S. president doesn’t hurt. On December 20 Donald Trump called for a “federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” The move came one day after the U.S. Geological Survey released the first comprehensive update on the subject since 1973, taking a thorough look—nearly 900-pages thorough—at commodities vital to our neighbour’s, and ultimately the West’s, well-being.

U.S. president Trump calls for a national strategy to reduce foreign dependence on critical minerals

The U.S. 5th Security Forces Squadron takes part in a
September exercise at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
(Photo: Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force)

The study, Critical Mineral Resources of the United States, details 23 commodities deemed crucial due to their possibility of supply disruption with serious consequences. Many of them come primarily from China. Others originate in unstable countries or countries with a dangerous near-monopoly. For several minerals, the U.S. imports its entire supply.

They’re necessary for medicine, clean energy, transportation and electronics but maybe most worrisome, for national security. That last point prompted comments from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose jurisdiction includes the USGS. He formerly spent 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer.

“I commend the team of scientists at USGS for the extensive work put into the report, but the findings are shocking,” he stated. “The fact that previous administrations allowed the United States to become reliant on foreign nations, including our competitors and adversaries, for minerals that are so strategically important to our security and economy is deeply troubling. As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the very real national security risk of relying on foreign nations for what the military needs to keep our soldiers and our homeland safe.”

Trump acknowledged a number of domestic roadblocks to production “despite the presence of significant deposits of some of these minerals across the United States.” Among the challenges, he lists “a lack of comprehensive, machine-readable data concerning topographical, geological and geophysical surveys; permitting delays; and the potential for protracted litigation regarding permits that are issued.”

[Trump’s order also calls for] options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.

Trump ordered a national strategy to be outlined within six months. Topics will include recycling and reprocessing critical minerals, finding alternatives, making improved geoscientific data available to the private sector, providing greater land access to potential resources, streamlining reviews and, not to leave out America’s friends, “options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.”

Apart from economic benefits, such measures would “enhance the technological superiority and readiness of our armed forces, which are among the nation’s most significant consumers of critical minerals.”

In fact the USGS report finds several significant uses for most of the periodic table’s 92 naturally occurring elements. A single computer chip requires well over half of the table. Industrialization, technological progress and rising standards of living have helped bring about an all-time high in minerals demand that’s expected to keep increasing, according to the study.

“For instance, in the 1970s rare earth elements had few uses outside of some specialty fields, and were produced mostly in the United States. Today, rare earth elements are integral to nearly all high-end electronics and are produced almost entirely in China.”

The USGS tracks 88 minerals regularly but also works with the country’s Defense Logistics Agency on a watch list of about 160 minerals crucial to national security. This week’s USGS study deems the critical 23 as follows:

  • antimony
  • barite
  • beryllium
  • cobalt
  • fluorite or fluorspar
  • gallium
  • germanium
  • graphite
  • hafnium
  • indium
  • lithium
  • manganese
  • niobium
  • platinum group elements
  • rare earth elements
  • rhenium
  • selenium
  • tantalum
  • tellurium
  • tin
  • titanium
  • vanadium
  • zirconium

A January 2017 USGS report listed 20 minerals for which the U.S. imports 100% of its supply. Several of the above critical minerals were included: fluorspar, gallium, graphite, indium, manganese, niobium, rare earths, tantalum and vanadium.

This comprehensive work follows related USGS reports released in April, including a breakdown of smartphone ingredients to illustrate the range of countries and often precarious supply chains that supply those materials. That report quoted Larry Meinert of the USGS saying, “With minerals being sourced from all over the world, the possibility of supply disruption is more critical than ever.”

As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the very real national security risk of relying on foreign nations for what the military needs to keep our soldiers and our homeland safe.—Ryan Zinke,
U.S. Secretary of the Interior

David S. Abraham has been a prominent advocate of a rare minerals strategy for Western countries. But in an e-mail to the Washington Post, the author of The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age warned that Trump’s action could trigger a partisan battle. He told the Post that Republicans tend to use the issue to loosen mining restrictions while Democrats focus on “building up human capacity to develop supply chains rather than the resources themselves.”

Excessive and redundant permitting procedures came under criticism in a Hill op-ed published a few days earlier. Jeff Green, a Washington D.C.-based defence lobbyist and advocate of increased American self-reliance for critical commodities, argued that streamlining would comprise “a positive first step toward strengthening our economy and our military for years to come.”

In a bill presented to U.S. Congress last March, Rep. Duncan Hunter proposed incentives for developing domestic resources and supply chains for critical minerals. His METALS Act (Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security) has been in committee since.

Speaking to ResourceClips.com at the time, Abraham doubted the success of Hunter’s bill, while Green spoke of “a totally different dynamic” in the current administration, showing willingness to “invest in America to protect our national security and grow our manufacturing base.”

Update: Read about Jeff Green’s response to the U.S. national strategy.

“Shocking” USGS report details 23 minerals critical to America’s economy and security

December 19th, 2017

This story has been expanded and moved here.

EU names six new critical materials, warns of industry challenges

May 26th, 2014

by Greg Klein | May 26, 2014

Six new critical raw materials bring the European Commission’s list up to 20, posing a “major challenge for EU industry,” the EC announced May 26. An update to the original 2011 collection, the set now includes borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal. No longer included is tantalum, now considered to have a lower supply risk. The division of rare earths into two categories, light and heavy, brings the total to 20 materials:

Raw materials are everywhere—just consider your smartphone. It might contain up to 50 different metals, all of which help to give it its light weight and user-friendly small size. Key economic sectors in Europe—such as automotive, aerospace and renewable energy—are highly dependent on raw materials. These raw materials represent the lifeblood of today’s industry and are fundamental for the development of environmental technologies and the digital agenda.—EC Enterprise and Industry

  • antimony
  • beryllium
  • borates
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • coking coal
  • fluorspar
  • gallium
  • germanium
  • graphite (natural)
  • indium
  • magnesite
  • magnesium
  • niobium
  • phosphate rock
  • platinum group metals
  • rare earths (heavy)
  • rare earths (light)
  • silicon metal
  • tungsten

With 54 candidates considered, materials were evaluated largely on two criteria, economic importance and supply risk. Economic importance was determined by “assessing the proportion of each material associated with industrial megasectors” and their importance to the EU’s GDP.

Supply risk was assessed through the World Governance Indicator, which considers factors “such as voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law or control of corruption.”

Not surprisingly, the report names China as the biggest global supplier of the 20. “Several other countries have dominant supplies of specific raw materials, such as Brazil (niobium). Supply of other materials, for example platinum group metals and borates, is more diverse but is still concentrated. The risks associated with this concentration of production are in many cases compounded by low substitutability and low recycling rates.” About 90% of the critical materials’ primary supply comes from outside the EU.

The commission hopes its list will encourage European production of the materials. The list will also be considered when negotiating trade agreements and promoting R&D, as well as by companies evaluating their own supplies.

As for the future, the EC sees growing demand for all 20 critical raw materials, “with niobium, gallium and heavy rare earth elements forecast to have the strongest rates of demand growth, exceeding 8% per year for the rest of the decade.”

The commission adds that “all raw materials, even when not critical, are important for the European economy” and therefore should not be neglected.

The EC intends to update its list at least every three years.

Download the EU report on critical raw materials.

Focused on Fox

July 25th, 2013

Happy Creek Minerals drills high-grade, near-surface tungsten in B.C.

by Greg Klein

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“It’s not often that a junior delivers the best drill result in the Western world, at least in recent memory.” That bold statement comes from David Blann, president/CEO of Happy Creek Minerals TSXV:HPY. He’s referring to just one of the assays that show near-surface, high-grade tungsten at his company’s Fox project in central British Columbia. But for all tungsten’s importance as a critical mineral, “no one I know of in Australia, South America, North America or Europe has found anything new,” Blann tells ResourceClips.com. “This is a brand new, from-scratch discovery.”

As pointed out by Core Consultants managing director Lara Smith, both the European Union and the U.S. Department of Defense rate tungsten in their top three list of critical minerals. Speaking at Vancouver’s World Resource Investment Conference in May, House Mountain Partners founder and Morning Notes co-editor Chris Berry called tungsten one of four critical metals on which he’s now focusing.

Happy Creek Minerals drills high-grade, near-surface tungsten in B.C.

Happy Creek Minerals says its near-surface tungsten grades
compare favourably with high-grade underground mines.

Among its refractory metal qualities, tungsten combines special strength, hardness and density, along with the highest melting point of any metal (3,422 degrees C). That gives tungsten a range of vital uses from light filaments, ballpoint pens, electronics, blades, drills, saws and munitions to fishing lures and strings for musical instruments.

As for its critical mineral status, the tungsten story is a familiar one. Mining Weekly quoted Smith saying that China accounted for most of the world’s supply as well as demand. “This has placed an unprecedented threat on the tungsten sector outside of China, which presents enormous opportunities for the development of tungsten ores, concentrates and intermediary products outside of China,” she said.

Naturally that draws attention to tungsten in reliable jurisdictions and, Blann maintains, further emphasizes Fox’s significance. Consisting of four zones along a three-kilometre north-south axis, as well as a fifth zone about four kilometres south, the 16,491-hectare Fox has been showing strong results since late 2011. The “best drill result in the Western world” that Blann speaks of was released in November 2012 from the BN zone, where hole F12-27 showed:

  • 4.04% tungsten trioxide (WO3), 0.91% zinc, 4.51 grams per tonne indium and 4.1 g/t silver over 14.8 metres, starting at 83.2 metres in downhole depth.

(True width wasn’t available.)

The same hole also showed:

  • 1.78% WO3, 0.36% zinc and 1.56 g/t indium over 4.1 metres, starting at 1.9 metres
  • 0.79% WO3 over 24 metres, starting at 136 metres
  • (including 2.01% WO3, 0.84% zinc, 3.9 g/t indium and 9 g/t silver over 5.8 metres).

Tungsten highlights from the RC zone showed:

  • 0.74% WO3 over 12.4 metres, starting at 8.3 metres
  • 0.82% over 19.4 metres, starting at 14 metres
  • 0.8% over 11 metres, starting at 15 metres
  • 0.68% over 14 metres, starting at 27 metres.

Blann maintains Fox’s grades stand up to those of North American Tungsten’s TSXV:NTC Cantung mine, a diesel-operated, fly-in/fly-out underground producer in the Northwest Territories that’s “probably considered the highest-grade tungsten mine in the Western world.” Fox’s location, however, makes infrastructure more accessible.

A power line to the former Boss Mountain molybdenum mine (under option to NMC Resource TSXV:NRC) passes within 17 kilometres of Fox. A logging road links Nightcrawler, Fox’s most southerly zone, to the community of Forest Grove, about 45 minutes away. From there it’s another 20 minutes to highway and rail at the town of 100 Mile House. Helicopter-supported drilling now takes place about four kilometres north of Nightcrawler, at about 1,800 metres in altitude. That could eventually require Happy Creek to extend the road. “A logging company already has a plan and permit to build a road halfway there anyway,” Blann says.

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Year in review: Part II

December 29th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2012

by Greg Klein

Read Part I of Year in Review.

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Graphite boom, bust and echo

One of the commodities that excited the 2012 market, graphite began stirring interest in 2011 and really gained momentum early this year. But the precipitous fall, right around April Fool’s Day, let cynics bask in schadenfreude. It was a bubble all along, they insisted.

Well, not quite. Despite reduced share values, work continued as the front-runners advanced their projects and earlier-stage companies competed for position in graphite’s second wave of potential producers. By autumn some of the advanced-stage outfits, far from humbled by last spring’s events, boldly indulged themselves in a blatant bragging contest.

Old king coal to regain its throne

If clean carbon doesn’t excite investors like it used to, plain old dirty carbon might. By 2017 coal’s share of the global energy market will rival that of oil. So says the International Energy Agency, which issued its Medium-Term Coal Market Report in December.

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2012

The forecast sees China consuming over half the world’s production by 2017. “Even if Chinese GDP growth were to slow to a 4.6% average over the period, coal demand would still increase both globally and in China,” the report stated. India, with the world’s “largest pocket of energy poverty,” will take second place for consumption.

Coal’s growth in demand is slowing, however. But its share of the energy mix continues to increase even though Europe’s “coal renaissance” (sic) appears to be temporary.

Bringing coal miners to new hassle

Chinese provide much of the market and often the investment. So why shouldn’t they provide the workers too? That seems to be the rationale of Chinese interests behind four British Columbia coal projects.

The proponents plan to use Chinese underground workers exclusively at the most advanced project, HD Mining International’s Murray River, for 30 months of construction and two additional years of mining. Only then would Canadians be initiated into the mysteries of Chinese longwall mining. But with only 10% of the workforce to be replaced by Canadians each year, Chinese “temporary” workers would staff the mine until about 2026. The B.C. government has known about these intentions since at least 2007.

The HD Mining saga has seen new developments almost every week since the United Steelworkers broke the story on October 9.

As Greenland’s example suggests, the scheme might represent another facet of China’s growing power.

Geopolitical geology

Resource imperialism aside, resource nationalism and other aspects of country risk continued throughout 2012. South American Silver TSX:SAC continues to seek compensation after spending over $16 million on a silver-polymetallic project that the Bolivian government then snatched as a freebie. Centerra Gold TSX:CG escaped nationalization in Kyrgyzstan but works its way through somewhat Byzantine political and regulatory intrigue, as does Stans Energy TSXV:HRE. In November the latter claimed a court victory over a hostile parliamentary committee.

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Week in review

October 12th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for October 6 to 12, 2012

by Greg Klein

«Le Plan Nord est enterré»

Plan Nord was nothing more than “marketing” for projects that were already in the pipeline. So says Quebec’s new natural resources minister, according to Sunday’s Montreal Gazette. But industry observers still don’t know how the newly elected Parti Quebecois will treat the mining sector.

Prior to the province’s September 4 election, then-premier Jean Charest vowed his Liberal government would spend $2.1 billion on a massive infrastructure program to develop Quebec north of the 49th parallel. Over a 25-year period, Plan Nord would attract $80 billion in private and public investment, he said. During the election campaign, however, PQ leader Pauline Marois called the Liberals’ planned expenditure a $2.1-billion giveaway to the private sector.

A mining and exploration retrospect

Marois also talked of imposing a 5% royalty on all minerals extracted and a 30% tax on all mining profits above 8%. Her election victory raised obvious concerns throughout the sector.

“People involved in the Plan Nord are very anxious to know the position of the government,” Nochane Rousseau, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Montreal office, told the Gazette. He pronounced the Plan Nord “brand” dead but added, “In order to create wealth, we absolutely will have to develop our natural resources, and northern Quebec is overflowing with them.”

Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet made her dismissive comment in a meeting with the editorial board of La Presse. She refused the Gazette’s requests for an interview.

New regulations disappoint Ontario explorers

Ontario’s exploration sector suffered a setback with a new mining law that takes full effect April 1. Probably the industry’s biggest chagrin is the requirement to consult native bands prior to early-stage exploration drilling on Crown land. The bands will have 30 days to express concerns, which could then block a permit, according to a Tuesday dispatch from Bloomberg. “It’s going to cost a lot more now and there are going to be a lot more delays,” the news agency quoted Mistango River CEO Robert Kasner.

Solid Gold Resources TSXV:SLD CEO Darryl Stretch told Bloomberg, “It should be the government’s duty to consult with first nations, not the mining industry’s.”

Stretch was a vocal member of Miners United, a group representing about 60 companies that surfaced at last spring’s Toronto PDAC convention to express concern about native relations. In a March 27 Globe and Mail story about the group, Ontario Prospectors Association Executive Director Garry Clark said that native bands charge companies for exploration drilling in confidential deals that often surpass $100,000.

Bullish, but …

Among those predicting more merger-and-acquisition activity are the three principals of NewGen Asset Management, which was written up in Friday’s Financial Post. “Our strategy is to identify those [most] likely M&A candidates,” said Manager David Dattels. The FP explained that one of the company’s portfolios “typically has about 20 core holdings, with others used as trading positions, including short positions that usually represent 5% to 20% of the portfolio.”

Dattels’ enthusiasm for the industry has its limits. “Mining has traditionally been a poorly managed industry. Corporate governance is probably the worst relative to other industries. Investors are smartening up to that.”

Consumers acquire critical commodity companies

Increasing demand and a 15% Chinese export tax have put another EU-designated critical mineral in the spotlight. Fluorspar “is used throughout the world, primarily by the chemical industry, for refrigerants and foam products and in the manufacturing of aluminum, Teflon, refined petroleum products, glass and medicine,” the Gold Report quoted Jennings Capital Analyst Ken Chernin on Tuesday. “There are virtually no substitutes for many of its uses and it is an essential ingredient in hydrofluoric acid.”

Chernin added that companies with deposits outside China are candidates for acquisition—and not necessarily by other miners. “In February 2012, the aluminum company RUSAL acquired the remaining 50% of Russia’s only fluorspar producer, [Yaroslavsk Mining Company], from Russkaya Gornorudnaya Kompaniya,” he said. “Fluorspar is used to produce aluminum fluoride, which is used in the production of aluminum. And in January 2012, the chemical group Solvay announced it acquired a 30,000 tonne-per-year fluorspar mine in Bulgaria from Italy’s M&M Group. DuPont and Honeywell are also big consumers of fluorspar.”

More of the same for Venezuela

Hugo Chavez “gets six more years to squeeze industries.” That’s how the Globe and Mail commemorated the results of Venezuela’s Sunday election. His 54% vote gives Chavez another six years in office, which would extend his presidency to 20 years. The Reuters commentary notes that “the nationalization campaign Mr. Chavez launched in 2007 has saddled the state with scores of loss-making companies.” Nevertheless he plans to continue nationalizing companies and confiscating mining operations.

Sad SAC

“Vehement” was South American Silver’s TSX:SAC denial of the latest allegations from the Bolivian government. The company’s Tuesday statement responded to an October 5 threat of legal action from Minister of Mines Mario Virreira, who claimed South American Silver had been working in Bolivia illegally.

The accusations “are patently false and have no factual basis,” the company said, repeating its intention to seek international arbitration “to obtain full compensation, including the fair market value of the Malku Khota Project.” Bolivia confiscated the silver-indium project in July, after SAC had sunk over $16 million building a resource. On October 3 Virreira stated the company would get zero compensation.

Cry the troubled country

Reports from South Africa said two more people died in labour-related violence early Thursday, while on Friday the three-week truck drivers’ strike ended. Also on Friday Atlatsa Resources TSXV:ATL announced that 2,161 fired employees would be reinstated provided they return to work at the company’s Bokoni Platinum Mines by October 15.

An attempt at reassurance came from Platinum Group Metals TSX:PTM. On Friday the company stated that progress continues on its application for a $260-million loan to build the WBJV Project 1 Platinum Mine in South Africa. Phase I development “has been progressing steadily and well…. There are approximately 325 people on site and the project has completed 880,000 man hours with a single minor lost-time incident.”

Not surprisingly the news was buried by allegations that surfaced on Thursday. South African President Jacob Zuma reportedly spent $23 million of public money renovating his home.

On Monday Kitco News summarized the situation for 10 major companies recently affected by South African strikes.

Canadian juniors explore the world. But beyond?

It’s twice the size of earth, mostly diamond with some graphite thrown in—but credit for the discovery goes to astronomers, not geologists. Apparently not the first diamond planet ever discovered, 55 Cancri e, as it’s unhelpfully named, “is the first time one has been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail,” according to a Thursday report from Reuters.

And, as the news agency pointed out, “any fortune-hunter not dissuaded by The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age morality tale of thwarted greed, will find Cancri e about 40 light years, or 230 trillion miles, from Park Avenue.”