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Posts tagged ‘korea’

Towards Canadian REE R&D

June 27th, 2014

Industry calls on government to support a Canadian rare earths supply chain

by Greg Klein

Free markets supposedly work free of government meddling. But what capitalist would refer to free money, even from government, as “meddling”? Anyway, as a number of industry and academic spokespeople told a Canadian parliamentary committee, other governments do it. Canada lags far behind not only China, but also the U.S. and Australia, in funding research and development for a national rare earths industry.

Industry calls on government to support a Canadian rare earths supply chain

That was among the salient points of a 30-page summary of evidence that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources released earlier this month. The challenge, of course, is to develop Canadian expertise that can diminish some of China’s near-monopoly on supply, demand and the various stages of processing commonly considered inscrutable to non-Chinese.

With light and heavy rare earths considered critical minerals for their economic importance and supply risk, the urgency becomes greater. All the more so because China’s “costs of producing ‘cheap’ rare earths are becoming increasingly unsustainable in terms of the environment, the availability of reserves, the health of its communities and the political ramifications,” according to a Secutor Capital Management report about Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram deposit in Quebec.

Other governments are putting up money. The U.S. has invested nearly $120 million to REE R&D over five years, the inquiry heard. Australia has committed $80 million over three years. But during a three-year period ending in March, Canada doled out a mere $1 million.

Canadian industry, on the other hand, matched every federal dollar given to Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetMINING research agency with $5 of its own. Most of it went to R&D.

“Canada is in a race with Australia, the U.S. and others to develop an industry,” Avalon Rare Metals TSX:AVL VP of sales and marketing Pierre Neatby told the committee. “Canada’s opportunity is now.”

There are other contenders too. Urging the feds on, Matamec Explorations TSXV:MAT president/CEO Andre Gauthier said, “Other countries, such as Brazil and Vietnam, are planning the development of their own rare earths industry and they are making it a priority.”

The inquiry also heard that Korea, Japan, the UK, Belgium, Germany and the EU “have created institutions and research programs that aim at diversifying the existing rare earth supply sources, recycling existing products and developing substitute materials to minimize the use of rare earth metals.”

According to Pele Mountain Resources TSXV:GEM president Al Shefsky, Canada “can lead and win, but [it] must act decisively…. If Canada does not adopt a national strategy, it will lose an extraordinary opportunity for economic growth and employment to foreign competitors who are investing heavily to seize this opportunity.”

A national rare earth supply chain “is essential to Canada’s strategic and economic security,” he added. “With world-class deposits of its own, Canada is in a unique position not only to produce rare earths, but to create its own rare earth supply chain, thereby creating billions of dollars of economic activity along with thousands of high-paying jobs.”

That potential comes from Canada’s deposits, roughly 40% to 50% of the world’s known rare earths resources, witnesses told the inquiry. Another advantage lies in Canada’s stability compared to countries like South Africa and Kyrgyzstan.

[The Canadian Rare Earth Elements Research Network wants to] establish a Canadian-based rare earths production and secure 20% of critical REE global supply by 2018.

But “no two REE deposits are the same,” pointed out representatives of the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Research Network. “Each deposit requires unique, costly and innovative engineering on front-end processing.”

Yet CREEN’s ambition expresses considerable optimism. The organization wants to “establish a Canadian-based rare earths production and secure 20% of critical REE global supply by 2018,” the committee stated. “CREEN is comprised of mining companies, academia, government, research centres, consulting firms and other organizations that are working together to develop innovative solutions to the various challenges faced by this sector.” By press time CREEN chairperson Ian London had not responded to a ResourceClips.com interview request. (Update: Read an interview with Ian London here.)

What becomes of the committee’s work isn’t clear. A House of Commons committees directorate clerk tells ResourceClips.com, “There’s no recommendations to the government in the summary evidence and no request to the government to answer back.”

Download the committee’s 30-page summary.

Read more about China’s control of the rare earths supply chain.

Disclaimer: Commerce Resources Corp is a client of OnPage Media Corp, the publisher of ResourceClips.com. The principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Commerce Resources.

Athabasca Basin and beyond

January 12th, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere to January 10, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission Uranium says lower-grade assays confirm new PLS zone 195 metres east

Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU continues to pick away at its nearly 50-hole backlog of assays from Patterson Lake South. Results released December 30 come from the project’s eastern-most high-grade zone as well as a not-so-high-grade zone farther east.

Highlights from hole PLS13-099 on zone R945E include:

  • 0.11% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 15 metres, starting at 122 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.14% over 16 metres, starting at 140 metres

  • 0.99% over 23.5 metres, starting at 159.5 metres
  • (including 2.49% over 8.5 metres)

  • 3.99% over 17 metres, starting at 185.5 metres
  • (including 18.52% over 3.5 metres)
  • (which includes 43.5% over 0.5 metres)

  • 0.12% over 8.5 metres, starting at 205 metres

  • 2.69% over 30.5 metres, starting at 222.5 metres
  • (including 5.1% over 6 metres)
  • (and including 5.4% over 7.5 metres)

True widths were unavailable. With a dip of -88 degrees, downhole depths were close to vertical. Three other holes from R945E were released earlier in December. The zone remains open in all directions.

About 195 metres east, two other holes confirm the existence of the less-spectacular zone R1155E. The single assay released from hole PLS13-090 shows:

  • 0.09% over 12 metres, starting at 189.5 metres

Results from PLS13-103 show:

  • 0.07% over 1.5 metres, starting at 176 metres

  • 0.06% over 3.5 metres, starting at 188 metres

  • 0.06% over 1.5 metres, starting at 199.5 metres

  • 0.05% over 0.5 metres, starting at 209 metres

  • 0.06% over 0.5 metres, starting at 365.5 metres

Again, true widths weren’t provided. Both holes were vertical. The results, from a “geologic setting similar to the high-grade zones to the west, [lead to] encouragement that the mineralized system remains open to the east,” the company stated. Winter drilling will continue east of R945E and between the higher-grade zones to the west.

Just before Christmas the company released assays from one hole at zone R585E and seven from R390E. On January 9 Fission Uranium announced that president/COO/chief geologist Ross McElroy had won PDAC’s 2014 Bill Dennis Award for a Canadian discovery or prospecting success. “It takes a team to make a discovery and I’m delighted to have won this award on behalf of Fission,” the statement quoted McElroy.

Recognition also goes to Fission Uranium’s former joint venture partner. In mid-December the father/son team of Ben and Garrett Ainsworth, formerly with Fission acquisition Alpha Minerals and now with spinco Alpha Exploration TSXV:AEX, won the 2013 Colin Spence Award for excellence in global mineral exploration from the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia for their part in the PLS discovery.

Lakeland Resources surveys historic drilling, finds high-grade boulders and some of Athabasca Basin’s highest radon readings

Lakeland Resources’ TSXV:LK Gibbon’s Creek uranium project now shows some of the highest radon gas readings ever found in the Athabasca Basin, the company says. Data collected last year and released January 8 also confirms an historic boulder field, with assays reaching 4.28% U3O8. Additionally, a DC resistivity survey has mapped basement alteration found by historic drilling.

Lakeland Resources Gibbon's Creek exploration

Existing access trails are among the benefits of more than
$3 million of previous work at Riou Lake/Gibbon’s Creek.

The 12,771-hectare project forms part of the 35,463-hectare Riou Lake property, a joint venture in which Declan Resources TSXV:LAN may earn 70% over four years, with a first-year exploration commitment of $1.25 million.

The survey by RadonEx Exploration Management, whose proprietary technology proved vital to Fission Uranium’s PLS, found Gibbon’s Creek readings peaking at 9.93 picocuries per square metre per second (pCi/m²/s). According to a statement by Lakeland president Jonathan Armes the readings, “to our knowledge, are the highest ever reported for the Athabasca Basin area.”

The highest value coincides with a uranium-in-soil anomaly found in historic work, part of more than $3 million of exploration performed on Riou Lake prior to Lakeland’s acquisition of the northern Basin property. Nine more radon samples reached above 3.2 pCi/m²/s, while the background level showed about 1.3 pCi/m²/s.

Meanwhile assays have confirmed existence of an historically defined radioactive boulder field. Prospecting by Dahrouge Geological Consulting found a 1-by-1.2-kilometre field with eight boulders grading over 1% U3O8, one of them hitting 4.28%. Eleven other samples assayed above 0.2%, with nine more below 0.2%. Also showing were anomalous values for nickel, arsenic, lead and cobalt.

Following up on historic drilling by Cameco Corp TSX:CCO-predecessor Eldorado Nuclear, the DC resistivity survey mapped one trend that ranges from near surface to about 200 metres, roughly coinciding with historic basement alteration and mineralization at 100 metres. A second resistivity trend coincides with strong radon values.

Ranking high on the project’s to-do list is a further radon survey. This year’s field work will also try to track the high-grade boulders to their source. Gibbon’s Creek sits less than three kilometres from the settlement of Stony Rapids, with power lines and highways passing through the property.

Read more about Lakeland Resources here and here.

NexGen Energy reports three mineralized holes at Rook 1

NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE released assays on January 9 for three mineralized holes found in last summer’s 13-hole, 3,032-metre program on the Rook 1 project. The widely spaced holes tested three parallel conductors along strike of the PLS discovery 2.1 kilometres southwest. Highlights show:

Hole RK-13-03

  • 0.00137% U3O8 and 0.0204% thorium over 1 metre, starting at 150 metres in downhole depth

Hole RK-13-05

  • 0.05093% U3O8 and 0.0027% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 220.5 metres

  • 0.07098% U3O8 and 0.0014% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 221 metres

  • 0.022% U3O8 and 0.00163% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 221.5 metres

  • 0.027% U3O8 and 0.0024% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 222 metres

  • 0.03796% U3O8 and 0.0025% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 223.5 metres

  • 0.04834% U3O8 and 0.00268% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 224 metres

Hole RK-13-06

  • 0.00118% U3O8 and 0.026% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 152 metres

  • 0.00125% U3O8 and 0.0315% thorium over 0.5 metres, starting at 153 metres

True widths were unavailable. Assays for RK-13-05 indicate “the uranium occurs almost wholly within pitchblende/uraninite and not in complex refractory minerals,” the company added. Winter drilling, scheduled to begin this month, will follow up on RK-13-05 and also target several regional anomalies interpreted from geophysical surveys and historic drilling.

In early December NexGen announced completion of airborne radiometric and magnetic surveys. Later that month the company closed a $3.11-million private placement, with funds destined for Rook 1. Still pending are assays from a nine-hole, 3,473-metre campaign at the eastern Basin Radio project, where NexGen holds a 70% option.

UEX announces winter work for western Athabasca and Black Lake projects

Along with its JV partners, UEX Corp TSX:UEX has 2014 exploration slated for its Laurie, Mirror River and Erica projects in the western Athabasca as well as Black Lake in the northern Basin, the company stated January 7.

The western Athabasca projects consist of seven or eight sites (depending which UEX info you consult) totalling 116,137 hectares and held 49.1% by UEX and 50.9% by project operator AREVA Resources Canada. UEX funds $982,000 of this year’s $2-million budget. A 2,000-metre drill campaign begins at Laurie imminently, to be followed by another 2,000 metres at Mirror. Both projects are located around the Basin’s southwestern rim. Erica, north of the other two and west of the company’s 49.1%-owned Shea Creek project, undergoes a ground tensor magnetotelluric survey starting in March.

UEX acts as operator on the 30,381-hectare Black Lake project in the Basin’s north. This year’s 3,000-metre, $650,000 drill program will be funded by Uracan Resources TSXV:URC, which has an option to earn 60% of UEX’s 89.97% portion of the project. AREVA holds the remainder. The campaign begins in late January.

Previous UEX drilling at Black Lake in 2004, 2006 and 2007 found intervals of 0.69% U3O8 over 4.4 metres, 0.5% over 3.3 metres, 0.79% over 2.82 metres and 0.67% over 3 metres.

UEX wholly owns six Basin projects and holds JVs in another eight. Resource estimates have been compiled for Shea Creek and Hidden Bay.

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Uranium’s global perspective

July 5th, 2013

David Talbot discusses the metal’s challenges and potential, and the Athabasca Basin’s excitement

by Greg Klein

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With uranium now “languishing below 40 bucks a pound, these are the lowest prices we’ve seen since 2006 or earlier,” says David Talbot. A former exploration geologist who’s currently vice-president and senior analyst for uranium and iron ore with Dundee Capital Markets, he’s specialized in uranium research since 2007. Talbot found time to speak with ResourceClips.com about supply, demand, prices and why the Athabasca Basin continues to attract attention despite the metal’s poor price performance.

He emphasizes that uranium prices must rise if miners are to meet projected demand. And supply could be a problem as early as 2014. This year ends the highly enriched uranium (HEU) program, in which the United States gets fuel from former Soviet warheads. As megatons to megawatts fades to memory, so does up to 24 million pounds of uranium a year.

David Talbot discusses uranium’s challenges and potential, and the Athabasca Basin’s excitement

David Talbot: “There are more power plants planned, proposed
or under construction today than we had before Fukushima.”

Talbot sees little likelihood of the program being renewed. “The Russians say they’re not going to do it. The Russians aren’t making money downblending uranium and they’ve said they’re going to sell forward a lot of their enrichment capacity…. The last time this HEU agreement came into play, it took I think four years and six governments plus all the agencies to put it in place. It was a very gruelling process. That process is not underway right now.”

But HEU’s demise will be just one factor limiting supply. “A lot of the primary supply that had been expected over the next couple of years is not coming down the pipeline. It has everything to do with the uranium price and whether or not these mines can attract investment to be built.” From the United States to Australia to Kazakhstan, proposed mines have been postponed and previously operating mines have shut down. “All told, that’s about 60 million pounds a year that’s not going forward,” he says. That would have equalled nearly half the production for 2011, the most recent annual total reported by the World Nuclear Association.

Despite that, “there are more power plants planned, proposed or under construction today than we had before Fukushima,” Talbot says.

“What do we need to move forward?” he asks. “We definitely need the uranium price to rise. But having said that, I think we need confidence even more. We’ve had a fairly good uranium price over the last eight years and what have we done? We’ve added 46 million pounds, 91% of it from Kazakhstan…. So what do we need by 2020? We need 90 million pounds extra. That’s twice as much as we’ve done in the last eight years.”

Developments in Japan could prove persuasive. “It’s not whether their reactors are coming back online because I think everybody realizes they are. It’s how many reactors are going to come online and how quickly…. How many of these reactors get up and running by the end of the year is probably one of the biggest questions. Once they start coming back online, I think that’s going to give a psychological push to the entire sector.”

Once that happens, there seems little barrier to higher prices. Uranium itself plays a minor role in the cost of nuclear energy. “The big price is the capital cost,” Talbot says. “I think uranium is about 15% of the total cost, and about half of that is enrichment, conversion, fuel fabrication, delivery on site. So that makes uranium a very tiny portion of nuclear power.”

Looking ahead, “the Americans have roughly a year and a half of supply at their utilities. I would say that’s probably less than most of the world. A lot of the world tends to have multiple years of supply. The Americans aren’t going out and buying companies and projects, they’re not taking a strategic interest in projects, like the Chinese, Koreans, Russians and Japanese are doing, or have been doing in the past several years.

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