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Athabasca Basin and beyond

January 19th, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 11 to 17, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission Uranium’s Patterson Lake South gives up more high-grade assays

More results from Fission Uranium’s TSXV:FCU Patterson Lake South show last summer’s sowing continues to reap high-grade rewards. Released January 15, the latest batch comes from two holes on the Athabasca Basin project’s R390E zone and four on the R780E zone, the third and fifth of seven zones trending northeast.

All holes were vertical or near-vertical. The R390E zone currently has a strike length of 255 metres and a lateral width of about 40 metres. Some highlights show:

Hole PLS13-102

  • 0.32% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 12.5 metres, starting at 119.5 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.58% over 9.5 metres, starting at 138 metres
  • (including 1.44% over 1 metre)

  • 0.12% over 9 metres, starting at 154 metres

  • 0.73% over 4 metres, starting at 171.5 metres

Hole PLS13-104

  • 0.13% over 12 metres, starting at 61 metres

  • 4.97% over 13 metres, starting at 99 metres
  • (including 13.2% over 4.5 metres)
  • (which includes 35.9% over 0.5 metres)

  • 0.42% over 6.5 metres, starting at 131 metres
  • (including 2.1% over 1 metre)

  • 0.22% over 17 metres, starting at 146.5 metres

Zone 780E shows a 60-metre strike and approximately 50-metre lateral width. The best assays include:

Hole PLS13-082

  • 1.25% over 41 metres, starting at 141 metres
  • (including 4.94% over 9 metres)

Hole PLS13-089

  • 0.17% over 16 metres, starting at 150 metres

  • 0.18% over 8 metres, starting at 198.5 metres

Hole PLS13-097

  • 0.99% over 48 metres, starting at 119 metres
  • (including 1.94% over 5 metres)
  • (and including 2.05% over 2.5 metres)
  • (and including 6% over 3.5 metres)

  • 0.54% over 6 metres, starting at 228.5 metres
  • (including 1.1% over 1 metre)

Hole PLS13-101

  • 0.5% over 34.5 metres, starting at 103 metres
  • (including 1.89% over 4.5 metres)

  • 0.63% over 11.5 metres, starting at 163 metres
  • (including 2.27% over 1 metre)

  • 1.04% over 17 metres, starting at 179 metres
  • (including 2.44% over 3.5 metres)

True widths were unavailable. Both zones remain open in all directions.

And the project’s potential remains open to speculation, not to mention exploration. On January 13 the company announced a new radon survey to follow up on 10 basement electromagnetic conductors. So far the technique has been used systematically on only one of the property’s over 100 basement EM conductors, Fission Uranium stated. Expected to last five or six weeks, the survey will take some 2,300 samples from three areas within Patterson Lake and a fourth within Forrest Lake, immediately south.

$50-million Uranium Participation financing bolsters commodity price confidence

In what’s been hailed as a testament of faith in uranium prices, Uranium Participation Corp TSX:U announced a $50-million private placement on January 16. “By mid-day the bought deal was complete,” reported Toll Cross Securities analyst Tom Hope.

Uranium Participation describes itself as “an investment alternative for investors interested in holding uranium.” Proceeds of the financing will be used to stockpile further purchases of U3O8 and uranium hexafluoride (UF6). Hope estimates the company will buy up to 1.28 million pounds to hold a total of about 14.7 million pounds “or approximately 9% of our estimated 2014 global mine output.”

A Denison Mines TSX:DML subsidiary manages Uranium Participation.

Declan grabs more ground north of Gibbon’s Creek

North of the company’s Gibbon’s Creek joint venture with Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK, Declan Resources TSXV:LAN has acquired the 11,100-hectare North Star property, the company announced January 17. The property “is believed to contain the northerly extensions of a number of important regional structures associated with uranium projects in the area,” Declan stated. “An interpretation of the magnetic background at Gibbon’s Creek shows a northerly trending structure which continues to the north through Lakeland Resources Ltd’s Star property, and onto the North Star property.”

The deal costs Declan $15,000 and 1.5 million shares, with a 2% gross sales royalty in effect. The previous week Declan and Lakeland reported Gibbon’s Creek boulder samples grading up to 4.28% U3O8, as well as some of the Basin’s highest-ever radon readings.

Read more about Lakeland Resources here and here.

Azincourt closes Peru property acquisitions

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 11 to 17, 2014

Along with the more advanced Macusani project, Azincourt’s newly acquired Muñani property positions the company in Peru’s emerging uranium district.

Azincourt Uranium TSXV:AAZ announced January 16 completion of its $2-million cash-and-share deal with Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and Vena Resources TSX:VEM. Coming with the advanced-stage Macusani project and the earlier-stage Muñani property, the buyout of Cameco and Vena’s Minergia S.A.C. places the purchaser prominently in Peru.

Back in Saskatchewan, Azincourt is earning into a 50/50 JV with Fission Uranium on their Patterson Lake North project. In December Azincourt closed two private placements totalling $2.5 million.

As for Vena, the deal “reactivates our investment in the uranium business,” chairman/CEO Juan Vegarra stated. The agreement allows Vena to double its Azincourt holdings within months.

Read more about Azincourt’s Peru acquisitions.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

November 23rd, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 16 to 22, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Azincourt to acquire Peruvian company from Cameco and Vena for $2 million

So far best known for its 50% interest in the Patterson Lake North joint venture with Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU, Azincourt Uranium TSXV:AAZ plans to acquire an advanced-stage uranium project in Peru. Under definitive share purchase agreements announced November 22, the $8.1-million market cap Athabasca Basin junior proposes to buy Minergia S.A.C. from 50/50 co-owners Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and Vena Resources TSX:VEM. As well as the 4,900-hectare Macusani project, Minergia comes with its younger sister, 9,600-hectare Muñani, both in southeastern Peru.

Subject to approvals, the deal would have Azincourt give Cameco and Vena $750,000 worth of shares and $250,000 each. Vena chairman/CEO Juan Vegarra would join Azincourt as an independent director. Azincourt would spend between $1.5 million and $2 million on the projects annually.

The deal would also allow Vena to buy Cameco’s portion of Azincourt shares for the purchase price plus 50% of any increase in the market price.

In a statement accompanying Vena’s announcement, Vegarra noted that Azincourt president/CEO Ted O’Connor is “the former director of Cameco’s corporate development group who was responsible for overseeing Cameco’s significant investment in Minergia.”

With over $12 million of work between 2007 and 2011, Macusani comes with an historic resource that was released in September 2011. Using a 0.009% cutoff, five of the property’s nine areas show:

  • measured: 10.39 million short tons averaging 0.025% for 5.69 million pounds uranium oxide (U3O8)

  • indicated: 34.16 million tons averaging 0.018% for 12.52 million pounds

  • inferred: 37.79 million tons averaging 0.02% for 17.42 million pounds

The project could offer low-cost open pit, acid heap leach potential, according to Azincourt.

As for Muñani, it shows uranium mineralization in sandstone and outcrops, has undergone airborne geophysics and ground prospecting, and has drill targets ready, Azincourt stated.

Although two years of depressed prices have pushed the projects into dormancy, Azincourt plans to complete community agreements and permitting prior to another drill program.

Vena also announced that Silvia Dedios has been named general manager following David Bent’s resignation. Walter Cuba becomes project manager to work with Azincourt on Minergia’s uranium assets.

Last June Vena dropped out of negotiations with a private Peruvian company to create a JV for three other Vena projects. In August the company settled $150,350 of debt for 1.64 million shares.

Azincourt and Fission update winter plans for Patterson Lake North

Back in the Basin, Azincourt and Fission updated their previously announced winter plans for Patterson Lake North on November 18. The program now includes a radon survey at Hodge Lake as well as further electromagnetic work and eight to 10 holes totalling 2,500 to 3,000 metres.

Initial results from a five-kilometre ground magnetotelluric survey over the northern part of an eight-kilometre VTEM conductive trend suggest it comprises a series of parallel west-dipping basement EM conductors, the JV stated. Further EM work will increase resolution and orient a resistivity survey scheduled for next summer. “Many structurally controlled high-grade uranium occurrences in the Athabasca Basin are related to hydrothermal alteration systems associated with basement EM conductors,” the companies emphasized. Drill targets will be refined by identifying an EM basement conductor with a resistivity low signature, especially when associated with a cross-cutting interpreted structural feature, the partners explained.

Diamond drilling is slated to begin in January, after the holes have been pre-collared with RC rigs.

Azincourt is earning a 50% interest in the 27,408-hectare project adjacent to Fission’s better-known project, the Patterson Lake South JV with Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW. Fission acts as operator on both projects.

Denison considers compulsory acquisition as Rockgate takeover now 86% complete

Delighted with “such overwhelming enthusiasm,” Denison Mines TSX:DML president/CEO Ron Hochstein announced on November 18 his company has so far nabbed 100.54 million shares for 86% control of Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT. In another extension to the offer—the final one, this time—Denison now says Rockgate laggards have until November 29 to throw in their lot with the victor.

If the company can get just 4% more of Rockgate’s total shares, Denison intends to acquire the rest through a compulsory acquisition. Otherwise the aggressive uranium miner/explorer will try an “amalgamation or other corporate reorganization” to part the hold-outs from their holdings. On October 30 Denison stated it was lowering the minimum tender condition from 90% to two-thirds of outstanding shares.

At that time directors of the two companies softened their positions considerably. Rockgate president/CEO Karl Kottmeier initially denounced the Denison offer as an “unsolicited opportunistic hostile takeover bid” which scuttled Rockgate’s proposed merger with Mega Uranium TSX:MGA. Rockgate’s board did, however, reluctantly recommend shareholder acceptance.

Read more here and here.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

Read about Denison’s Q3 report.

Denison moves its people into Rockgate management/board positions

Rockgate’s changing of the guard, meanwhile, presages its takeover. The company announced five departures from its seven-person board on November 22. Gone are Doug Ford, Edward Ford, Allen Ambrose, Gord Neal and Phil Williams. Replacing them are Denison directors Ron Hochstein, Robert Dengler and Catherine Stefan, with William Rand becoming chairperson.

Rockgate’s Karl Kottmeier, Doug Ford and Kirk Gamely step down from management, although Kottmeier and Bryan Hyde will remain on Rockgate’s board to smooth the transition of its flagship Falea project in southwestern Mali, which was scheduled for pre-feasibility in early 2014. Denison’s Hochstein now becomes Rockgate president/CEO, David Cates CFO and Sheila Colman corporate secretary.

Denison has said that on acquiring Rockgate it will spin out its African assets to concentrate on the Athabasca Basin.

Mega Uranium closes Australian sale, gains 28% of Toro Energy

Undeterred by its Rockgate failure, Mega has now picked up 28% of an ASX-listed company with “one of the larger pre-development uranium projects worldwide.” That results from the completed sale of Mega’s Lake Maitland property in Western Australia to Toro Energy. In a deal valued at about AU$37 million last August, Mega gets about 28% of Toro shares and fills Toro board positions with Mega executive VP of corporate affairs Richard Patricio and executive VP for Australia Richard Homsany, the Toronto-listed company announced November 19.

Blue Sky drills Ivana project in Argentina, offers $500,000 private placement

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 16 to 22, 2013

Located in Argentina’s Rio Negro province, Blue Sky’s
Ivana project currently undergoes a 2,000-metre drill program.

Now underway at Blue Sky Uranium’s TSXV:BSK Ivana project in Argentina, a nine-hole, 2,000-metre drill campaign targets shallow, roll-front uranium mineralization to 400 metres in depth. Announced November 18, Phase I work also includes ground geophysics. The 71,300-hectare property has previously undergone airborne radiometrics, sampling, prospecting, mapping and trenching.

AREVA funds the work under an option to spend $2 million by December 31 on Blue Sky’s Argentinian properties. On completion, AREVA may fund an additional $3 million on one project, or $4 million combined on two projects, to earn a 51% interest by the end of 2017. In addition to the project in Rio Negro province, Blue Sky currently focuses on its Sierra Colonia property in central Chubut province.

The company also announced a private placement of 10 million units at $0.05 for $500,000. Each unit consists of one share and one transferable warrant exercisable at $0.10 for two years.

Ground gravity survey underway on Aldrin Resource’s Triple M

Announced by Aldrin Resource TSXV:ALN on November 20, a ground gravity survey on the PLS-vicinity Triple M property intends to find extensively altered basement rocks associated with two bedrock conductive anomalies shown in last summer’s VTEM survey. Identified by anomalous gravity lows, extensively altered rocks are associated with strong uranium mineralization elsewhere in the region, the company stated. Triple M’s schedule calls for completion of the gravity survey by year-end.

The previous week Aldrin released initial radon results from 527 sample sites. The company also plans to buy the 49,275-hectare Virgin property around the Basin’s south-central edge.

Zadar Ventures acquires two more properties from Canterra Minerals

With two new acquisitions just south of the Basin’s southeastern rim, Zadar Ventures TSXV:ZAD has signed another definitive purchase agreement. The deal, announced November 20, has Zadar issuing 160,000 shares to Canterra Minerals TSXV:CTM and 170,000 to African Oil Corp in return for the 5,831-hectare Highrock and the 5,583-hectare Riverlake projects. Canterra retains a 2% NSR on both properties, of which Zadar may buy half for $1 million.

Both properties have seen historic EM surveys, soil sampling and drilling. Radioactive pitchblende pebbles found immediately west of Highrock might have originated on the property, Zadar stated. Highrock sits eight kilometres from Cameco’s former Key Lake mine.

Riverlake features a 1,200-metre by 600-metre soil anomaly with uranium values up to 0.0374% over three EM conductors with a combined strike of five kilometres, Zadar added. A hole drilled in 2008 found 63 metres of radioactivity five to 10 times the background level.

In September the company announced its acquisition of the 37,445-hectare Pasfield Lake property, also from Canterra. Earlier that month Zadar reported finding radioactive boulders on its PLS-vicinity PNE project.

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Gold mines output to reach record high

November 20th, 2013

by Cecilia Jamasmie | November 20, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

The world’s gold mines are set to hit record highs in terms of production this year, which won’t help bullion prices recover much from this year’s 25% decline, Reuters reports.

A clear sign of this trend can be seen in the world’s top three gold miners’ latest results, with Barrick Gold TSX:ABX, Newmont Mining NYE:NEM and AngloGold Ashanti NYE:AU all reporting higher production.

Large gold projects put into motion during gold’s 12-year rally are set to start production in the new year, including new mine production and expansion in and around the Nevada gold fields and the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, whose significant gold byproduct potential is estimated to be 330,000 ounces per year.

Add to the mix the fact that gold output in China, the world’s top producer of the yellow metal, is up 6.8% in the last nine months, as figures published November 20 by the China Gold Association show and the fact that the World Gold Council said recently that Q3 bullion demand hit its lowest level in the last four years. Then the outlook doesn’t look promising for gold bulls.

The Asian superpower has been the world’s top gold producer since 2007, when it churned out 270.491 tonnes of the precious metal and replaced South Africa in the number one spot.

The World Gold Council has forecast that China will overtake India as the world’s largest gold consumer this year. In 2012, Chinese gold consumption jumped 9.35% to 832 tonnes.

Read also: Seven reasons the gold price may not see $1,400 again.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Mongolia sees return to 17% growth next year

November 19th, 2013

by Frik Els | November 19, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Mongolia’s economy is set to return to strong growth next year, the Asian nation’s central bank governor said November 19.

Central bank head Naidansuren Zoljargal said gross domestic product could expand as much as 17% next year from around 11% this year, according to WSJ Online.

Foreign direct investment in the country dropped 49% to September 2013 compared with last year, which had already marked a 17% year-on-year decline. The value of the currency, the tugrik, is down more than 20% this year, inflation has returned to double digits and the Mongolian central bank’s off-balance sheet spending is burning through foreign reserves as foreign debts balloon to 55% of GDP.

Changes to Mongolia’s 2012 Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) came into force at the start of the month and are designed to turn around a slowdown in its economy, which was the world’s fastest-growing at the start of the decade, and a steep fall-off in foreign investment.

While the new investment law has been universally hailed as a positive step, the number one issue that has to be resolved before investor confidence will return is the future of the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine.

Oyu Tolgoi, which could have a final bill of as much as $14 billion, is 34% owned by the Mongolian government with Rio Tinto NYE:RIO-controlled Turquoise Hill TSX:TRQ owning the rest.

Talks over Oyu Tolgoi’s expansion and the reworking of the initial 2009 deal that first unleashed the Mongolian investment boom have dragged on for the better part of a year. Both sides provided fresh faces for the Oyu Tolgoi board in September to break the impasse.

Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill last week suspended work on the $5.1-billion underground expansion of Oyu Tolgoi, saying it will move forward with a $2.4-billion rights offering, as talks on financing arrangements with the Mongolian government including a World Bank-led $4.5-billion debt package—the largest in the history of mining—have gone nowhere.

The rights offering will help the company repay a bridge loan and a $1.8-billion interim funding facility.

In a November 18 press release from the company that holds Mongolia’s share of the mine, representatives stated that the government “is flexibly available to prioritize and continue the discussions on terms and conditions of the project financing separate from any other issues.”

The disputes are centred on costs with Rio’s management fees and the Mongolian government’s share of funding of surrounding infrastructure proving particular sticking points.

Production at Oyu Tolgoi’s open pit began this year and the mine is now operating at nameplate capacity of 100,000 tonnes of ore processed per day.

The giant copper mine is set to contribute as much as a third of the nation’s economy if the underground expansion goes through.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Athabasca Basin and beyond

November 10th, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 2 to 8, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Alpha/Fission find sixth zone with 525-metre step-out west of PLS discovery

Almost exactly a year ago joint venture partners Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW announced their Patterson Lake South discovery hole in what came to be known as zone R00E. Since then drilling from ice or barge extended east along the lake, finding five zones along a 1.23-kilometre trend. Now initial results from a $2.25-million, 11-hole, 3,700-metre land-based extension to the 2013 summer program have found a sixth zone, R600W, 525 metres west of the discovery.

The 50/50 JV bases its claim on scintillometer results—which measure gamma radiation up to 9,999 counts per second and are no substitute for lab assays—for two holes released November 4.

Hole PLS13-116 was sunk at a dip of -74 degrees, reaching 323 metres in total downhole depth, encountering basement bedrock at 106.4 metres. Results show:

  • 300 to 310 cps over 1 metre, starting at 143 metres in downhole depth

Collared from the same location but with better results, PLS13-118 went vertical to 314 metres and hit basement at 97.2 metres. The shallower depth “possibly suggest[s] structural faulted off-set between the holes,” the companies stated. Results show:

  • <300 to 680 cps over 9 metres, starting at 174.5 metres

  • <300 to 750 cps over 3 metres, starting at 186 metres

  • 314 to 5,550 cps over 8 metres, starting at 191.5 metres

  • 650 to 880 cps over 1 metre, starting at 222 metres

  • 380 cps over 0.5 metres, starting at 254.5 metres

True widths were unavailable. Assays, as well as downhole radiometric probe results, are pending.

The targets result from a radon in sediment anomaly found last summer, which “may be associated with inferred north-south cross-cutting structures. This anomaly lies along an east-northeast trend, parallel and just north of the PL-3B EM conductor,” according to the JV. The companies plan further drilling to focus on this zone, which moves activity closer to the high-grade radioactive boulder field that sparked the PLS rush.

Non-compliant quote of the week

Despite all the verifiably positive news, Alpha disregarded geological best practices and NI 43-101 disclosure rules by distributing this semantically confused whopper about PLS, courtesy of a magazine called ResourceWorld:

“No uranium resource/reserves figures have been inferred from the status of the project as yet, but it can be implied that PLS will become a standalone operation with a minimum 50 million pounds of U3O8.”

International Enexco, Denison report three holes from Bachman Lake

Four kilometres west of Cameco Corp’s TSX:CCO proposed Millennium mine in the southeastern Athabasca Basin, JV partners International Enexco TSXV:IEC and Denison Mines TSX:DML have wrapped up their 2013 Bachman Lake drill program. Three holes reported November 4 tested two of the property’s three conductors.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 2 to 8, 2013

One hole intersected the ML-1 conductor, finding “a large graphitic shear zone in contact with granite gneiss, a favourable host for mineralization warranting additional drilling,” Enexco stated.

An intersection of the CR-2 conductor “confirm[s] that the dominant clay species is illite with some dravite, both of which are commonly elevated near unconformity-related mineralization.” The partners are considering follow-up drilling.

A sandstone alteration zone encountered by the third hole suggests “it may have just overshot the favourable conductive basement horizon.”

Now that Enexco has earned its 20% interest, both companies will fund further work on a pro-rata basis. Denison, which holds a 7.4% interest in Enexco, acts as project operator on the 11,419-hectare property. Enexco also holds a 30% interest in the Mann Lake JV 20 kilometres northeast, along with Cameco (52.5%) and AREVA Resources Canada (17.5%). In Nevada, Enexco has a pre-feasibility study underway on its 100%-held Contact copper project.

Ashburton’s Phase I exploration finds three anomalous areas at Sienna West

Disruptions by the animal kingdom notwithstanding, a radon survey on Ashburton Ventures’ TSXV:ABR Sienna West project found three anomalous areas for follow-up work. Of 35 cups that were buried to measure radon gas, eight were dug up by wildlife. But some of the others identified areas of interest, the company stated on November 4.

In addition, 12 previously reported radioactive boulders have now been analysed, with two showing 12.4 and 184.5 parts per million uranium. The latter was found in an area with high radon counts.

Ashburton also announced the resignation of director Phil Taneda.

The Sienna project comprises the 1,090-hectare Sienna West property about 40 kilometres southwest of PLS and the 147-hectare Sienna North property contiguously north of PLS.

Western Athabasca Syndicate announces winter plans for Preston Lake

With its summer field program complete, a four-company alliance prepares for winter at the PLS-proximal Preston Lake property. Work so far consisted of rock, soil, radon and biogeochemical sampling, as well as airborne electromagnetic, magnetic and radiometric surveys, the companies announced November 5. The Western Athabasca Syndicate consists of Skyharbour Resources TSXV:SYH, Athabasca Nuclear TSXV:ASC, Noka Resources TSXV:NX and Lucky Strike Resources TSXV:LKY.

Still to come are final results. But the campaign identified eight potential corridors with 15 drill target areas to be refined with ground gravity, EM and radon surveys between December and February. The companies anticipate drilling to begin in March. So far only about half of the alliance’s 246,643-hectare land package has been explored.

Energy Fuels suspends Arizona mine development, updates corporate news

Blaming litigation and low prices, Energy Fuels TSX:EFR has suspended construction of its Canyon mine in Arizona, the company announced November 5. Legal action by environmentalists and local natives challenges the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the mine. With all surface infrastructure complete, the company has put underground development on hold until December 2014, or earlier if a court decides on the merits of the case.

According to Associated Press, low uranium prices had put the project “on standby status before, from 1992 until work resumed earlier this year.” The news agency added, “The mine sits in a nearly [404,680-hectare] area that was placed off limits to new mining claims in January 2012. Companies with existing claims that were proven to have sufficient quantity and quality of mineral resources could be developed.”

Canyon has an inferred resource of 82,800 tons averaging 0.98% for 1.63 million pounds U3O8. The deposit is part of Energy Fuels’ Arizona Strip project, acquired when the company bought out Denison’s American assets in June 2012. Canyon had been slated for production in 2015.

In another November 5 announcement rather lacking in specifics, Energy Fuels stated it had applied “to be listed on a recognized U.S. stock exchange.” The same day the company’s post-consolidation shares began trading on the TSX and OTCQX following a 1:50 reverse split agreed to the previous week. The company also changed its fiscal year-end from September 30 to December 31.

Energy Fuels supplies about 25% of American uranium production.

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Mongolian coal mine resumes operations

November 4th, 2013

by Ana Komnenic | November 4, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Suspended since July 2012, the Ulaan Ovoo thermal coal project in northeastern Mongolia is up and running again.

Prophecy Coal TSX:PCY, the Canadian company that owns the mine, announced on November 1 that it has re-hired all the required staff and that with a fleet of excavators and dump trucks, production should reach up to 50,000 tonnes per month until the end of the year.

Mongolian coal mine resumes operations

Ulaan Ovoo pit. (Photo: Prophecy Coal)

The $55-million project was temporarily suspended last year because the stockpile of coal was enough to meet the company’s contractual obligations for the year. Following the suspension, the company said it was in active discussions with potential customers to increase sales.

Earlier this month, the company announced a sales contract with a new customer for 30,000 tonnes of coal. The first shipment is planned for November.

Ulaan Ovoo is located 17 kilometres from the Russian border and 120 kilometres from Mongolian and Russian rail links. Customers include both Russian and Mongolian companies, as well as the Mongolian government-owned power plants.

Prophecy Coal gained nearly 17% on the Toronto exchange on November 4, trading at 11 cents per share.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Athabasca Basin and beyond

November 3rd, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for October 26 to November 1, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Alpha/Fission hit 5.98% U3O8 over 17.5 metres, including 19.51% over 5.5 metres

With so many scintillometer results announced already, assays for the same holes can be anti-climactic. But that’s the way Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW have orchestrated their Patterson Lake South campaign, now giving observers a near sense of déjà vu. Assays from four holes announced October 29 add little to the news of August 8, although results from the lab are much more reliable than those from the hand-held radiation-detecting gizmo. The assays come from R00E, the farthest southwest of the project’s five zones.

Hole PLS13-074

  • 0.13% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 2.5 metres, starting at 65 metres in downhole depth

PLS13-076

  • 0.09% over 2 metres, starting at 178.5 metres

  • 0.08% over 1.5 metres, starting at 183 metres

  • 0.16% over 4.5 metres, starting at 186.5 metres

PLS13-077

  • 0.39% over 11.5 metres, starting at 59 metres

  • 0.13% over 15.5 metres, starting at 73 metres

PLS13-079

  • 5.98% over 17.5 metres, starting at 83 metres

  • (including 19.51% over 5 metres) (Update: On November 4 the JV partners corrected the intercept width from 5.5 metres to 5 metres.)

True widths were unavailable. Three of the holes were vertical, while 079 dipped at -75 degrees. That hole expands the zone’s high-grade southern area, the companies stated, while all four holes confirm R00E’s east-west strike at 165 metres. The zone remains open in all directions.

With the summer barge-based campaign complete, attention now turns to a land-based program west of R00E. Fission acts as project operator on the 50/50 joint venture until its acquisition of Alpha closes. Fission shareholders will vote on the deal’s spinout aspect on November 28.

(Update: On November 4 the JV announced a sixth PLS zone west of the discovery. Read more.)

Rio Tinto plans winter drilling at Purepoint’s Red Willow

Purepoint Uranium Group TSXV:PTU announced plans on October 29 by Rio Tinto Exploration Canada for 2,500 metres of drilling at Red Willow, a 25,612-hectare property on the Athabasca Basin’s eastern edge. Rio identified targets based on historic drill logs and more recent geophysical and geochemical work. The company built a 28-person camp last summer.

Depth to unconformity in the area varies from zero to 80 metres, Purepoint stated. The company says five major deposits—JEB, Midwest, Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Millennium—“are located along a NE to SW mine trend that extends through the Red Willow project.”

Rio has so far spent about $2.25 million out of a $5-million commitment to earn an initial 51% interest by December 31, 2015. The giant’s Canadian subsidiary may earn 80% by spending $22.5 million by the end of 2021.

In early October Purepoint announced a winter drill campaign for the Hook Lake JV held 21% by Purepoint and 39.5% each by Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada.

Strong Q3 financials surprise Cameco shareholders

Despite historic low uranium prices, Cameco came out with Q3 earnings far beyond the same period last year. In his October 29 statement, president/CEO Tim Gitzel attributed the success to a contracting strategy “providing us with higher average realized prices that are well above the current uranium spot price.”

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for October 26 to November 1, 2013

Rabbit Lake was one of three Cameco operations that received
10-year licence renewals the same week that the company
surprised investors with an especially strong quarterly report.

Adjusted net earnings for three months ending September 30 came to $208 million, a 324% increase over Q3 2012 or, at 53 cents a share, a 342% increase. Year-to-date figures came to $295 million (up 48%) and 75 cents a share (up 47%).

Gitzel added that Cameco’s “starting to see some of the cost benefits of the restructuring we undertook earlier” and plans to “take advantage of the opportunity we see in the long term.”

However the company’s statement noted “there have been some deferrals of future projects due to uranium prices insufficient to support new production. The deferrals will not directly impact the near-term market, but could have an effect on the longer term outlook for the uranium industry. Complicating the supply outlook further is the possibility of some projects, primarily driven by sovereign interests, moving forward despite market conditions.”

The company forecast strong long-term fundamentals, mostly to China which has “reaffirmed its substantial growth targets out to 2020 and indicated plans to pursue further growth out to 2030. Their growth is palpable as construction on two more reactors began during the third quarter, bringing the total under construction to 30.”

As for Cameco’s long-delayed Cigar Lake mine, the company’s sticking to its current plan of Q1 2014 production and Q2 milling.

But while junior exploration flourishes, especially in the Athabasca Basin, the major plans a 15% to 20% cut in exploration spending this year.

Three Cameco operations get 10-year licence renewals

Licences for Cameco’s Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake operations have been renewed for 10 years, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced October 29. The CNSC granted the extensions after three days of public meetings that heard from the company, 27 interveners and CNSC staff. The commission agreed to Cameco’s request for 10-year renewals, twice the previous term.

MillenMin finds radioactive outcrops on east Basin properties, reports AGM results

MillenMin Ventures TSXV:MVM completed initial field work at two eastside Basin properties, the 2,759-hectare Highrock Lake NE and 1,648-hectare Smalley Lake W. Work included prospecting, outcrop mapping and examination of previously found mineralization, the company announced October 28.

Grab samples from radioactive outcrops on both properties have been sent for assays. MillenMin first announced its foray into uranium last May and has staked 11 claims totalling about 18,983 hectares in and around the Basin.

On October 31 the company reported AGM results with directors re-elected, auditors re-appointed and other business approved.

Declan options northeastern Alberta property

Southwest of the Basin’s Alberta extremity, Declan Resources TSXV:LAN has optioned the 50,000-hectare Firebag River property. Previous geophysical survey data “shows a complex pattern of magnetic lows and highs, truncated or offset in the northern part of the property by the Marguerite River Fault,” Declan stated on October 29. Exploration in 1977 “confirmed the presence of a southwest-oriented fault zone and a geochemical anomaly with 11 ppm cobalt in lake sediments atop this structure,” the company added.

The deal would have Declan paying $85,000, issuing five million shares over two years and spending $3 million over three years. The optioner retains a 2% NSR on metals and a 4% gross overriding royalty on non-metallic commodities.

In September Declan announced an option to acquire the Patterson Lake Northeast property. The company plans to engage Dahrouge Geological Consulting to explore its uranium properties.

Rockgate takeover offer: Denison softens conditions, extends deadline

Denison Mines TSX:DML advanced its attempted takeover of Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT by lowering the minimum tender condition from 90% to two-thirds of outstanding shares. In an October 30 statement Denison also extended the offer’s deadline again, this time to November 18, and dropped conditions related to staff retention and consulting agreements.

The same day Rockgate said insiders agreed not to exercise their options unless another company comes up with a better offer. Denison had requested a cease trade order on 11 million Rockgate options granted on September 30, which Denison termed “improper defensive tactics.” The British Columbia Securities Commission didn’t agree. But rather than risk Denison withdrawing its offer, Rockgate insiders “put the interests of the shareholders of Rockgate before their own personal interests and agreed to amend the terms of the options,” company president/CEO Karl Kottmeier said.

The tone of the companies’ statements has warmed considerably since Kottmeier labelled Denison’s offer an “unsolicited opportunistic hostile takeover bid.” Denison president/CEO Ron Hochstein thanked Kottmeier and the Rockgate board “for their contributions to allowing the offer to proceed towards a successful conclusion.”

Meanwhile Rockgate continues prefeasibility work on its flagship Falea uranium-silver-copper project in Mali.

Read how Denison’s offer defeated Rockgate’s proposed merger with Mega Uranium.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

Lakeland Resources’ JV partner New Dimension to drill for gold

Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK announced on October 31 an imminent drill campaign of at least 1,800 metres by JV partner New Dimension Resources TSXV:NDR on the Midas gold property in north-central Ontario. Lakeland optioned the project to New Dimension in September in order to focus on Saskatchewan uranium exploration. But Lakeland will retain a 30% interest in Midas carried to an initial 43-101 resource estimate.

I’m excited that the project’s going to continue to be worked while we focus on uranium.—Jonathan Armes, president/CEO
of Lakeland Resources

“New Dimension is a great group to work with and the deal was easy to do,” Lakeland president/CEO Jonathan Armes tells ResourceClips.com. “I’m excited that the project’s going to continue to be worked while we focus on uranium. The onus is on them to explore that project and we share in any benefits that result.”

The previous week Lakeland closed a private placement for a total of $1,057,718 and announced the appointment of Basin veteran John Gingerich to the company’s advisory board. Field work continues on Lakeland’s Riou Lake uranium project.

Read more about Lakeland Resources.

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Neglected potential

October 24th, 2013

Investors increasingly realize how industrial minerals permeate our lives

by Greg Klein

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Lacking the aura of precious metals and the prominence of base metals, industrial minerals play little-known but essential roles throughout our society. So it was largely industry insiders who attended an October 22 to 23 Vancouver conference on the subject. One afternoon was devoted to the most elusive commodity of all—money. Without that stuff, the other commodities can’t be found. Accordingly, four speakers addressed different ways of funding explorers and producers, offering insights that might also benefit retail investors.

The event was the 24th annual Canadian Conference on Markets for Industrial Minerals, hosted by Blendon Information Services. Among the attendees was Michel Dumont, a senior commodity analyst with Natural Resources Canada. Speaking to ResourceClips.com, he said the meeting is the only Canadian event of its kind, providing some of the best coverage available on North American companies.

Industrial minerals often differ from their exchange-traded counterparts because miners have to match the distinct qualities of a deposit to a specific end user’s needs, he explained. In other words, producers have to find a customer who matches the deposit, or even the other way around.

Investors increasingly realize how industrial minerals permeate our lives

The automotive industry alone uses any number of minerals,
some of them relatively obscure, for manufacture and operation.

That doesn’t make it easier for miners and explorers to find investors. End users are also misunderstood, Dumont pointed out. “People are not aware that they live inside industrial minerals end products, be it paint, ceramics, pharmaceuticals. People will take Tums and they don’t know that it’s calcium carbonate. But the calcium carbonate can also be used to make the windshield wipers of your vehicle or the linoleum tiles on the floor. A lot of people aren’t aware of their surroundings and what goes into their lifestyle. The same goes for the companies that lend money.”

Investor awareness is coming, though. Dumont credits the Industrial Minerals Association North America and its European predecessor for testifying to their products’ ubiquity.

Presentations and conversations alike focused on topics like frac sand, dolomite, hectorite, gilsonite and some of salt’s 14,000 uses. If those topics appear dry, the talk wasn’t. “We gained a reputation here in Vancouver as being the go-to guys for weird commodities,” joked Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC president Dave Hodge. In a presentation about financing industrial commodities through public markets he asked, “How’d you like to have that title? I walk down the street and people say, ‘That’s the guy that does weird commodities.’”

Some of them aren’t so weird anymore, judging by their increasing prominence. Zimtu was well ahead of the pack with graphite. One of the company’s core holdings, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, has taken its Blue River tantalum-niobium project in British Columbia and Ashram rare earths project in Quebec both to preliminary economic assessment. Another core holding, Prima Fluorspar TSXV:PF, has an early stage project in B.C. and a letter of intent to acquire a past-producer with near-term potential in Mongolia.

Although industrial minerals differ from commodities like copper, gold and silver, Hodge noted, it’s still the juniors’ job to discover and develop projects.

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Turquoise Hill brings Oyu Tolgoi up to nameplate capacity

October 15th, 2013

by Frik Els | October 14, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Turquoise Hill Resources TSX:TRQ on October 14 announced third quarter 2013 production at its massive copper-gold-silver Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia was broadly in line with expectations.

Turquoise Hill brings Oyu Tolgoi up to nameplate capacity

Kay Priestly, CEO of the Vancouver-based company, said: “During the third quarter, the Oyu Tolgoi concentrator continued to ramp up and is now operating at nameplate capacity of approximately 100,000 tonnes of ore processed per day. Concentrate shipments began early in the quarter and Oyu Tolgoi’s customers are making good progress with Chinese customs officials to resolve matters with purchased concentrate at the border.”

“Head grades improved in the quarter with a lower proportion of stockpiled ore processed as open pit mining activities ramped up after being reduced in the second quarter to preserve cash. Given the mine and concentrator are still early in development and operation, ore grades and recovery rates are expected to continue to improve throughout the fourth quarter.”

Turquoise Hill owns 66% of the mine located in the South Gobi desert. The government of Mongolia holds the rest.

Turquoise Hill said it expects the $6.6-billion mine, which shipped its first copper in July, to produce between 75,000 and 85,000 tonnes of copper in concentrates for 2013 and that shipments of concentrate are expected to be aligned with production rates by the end of 2013.

Turquoise Hill and controlling shareholder Rio Tinto NYE:RIO are currently locked in talks with the Mongolian government about phase two of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, which could push the mine’s final bill to as much as $13 billion.

Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Prima Fluorspar CEO Robert Bick tells Industrial Minerals about his company’s LOI to acquire a Mongolian past-producer

October 10th, 2013

…Read More