Saturday 20th January 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘niobium’

Critical Quebec commodities

January 11th, 2018

Saville Resources moves into Commerce Resources’ niobium-tantalum target

by Greg Klein

A rare metal find on a property hosting a rare earths deposit becomes a project of its own under a new agreement between two companies. With a 75% earn-in, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE can now explore the niobium claims on Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Eldor property in northern Quebec, where the latter company advances its Ashram rare earths deposit towards pre-feasibility.

Saville Resources moves into Commerce Resources’ niobium-tantalum target

A map illustrates the mineralized boulder
train’s progress, showing its presumed source.

Grab samples collected by Commerce on a boulder train about a kilometre from the deposit brought assays up to 5.9% Nb2O5. “That’s right off the charts,” enthuses Saville president Mike Hodge. “People in the niobium space hope for 1%—5.9% is excellent.”

He’s no newcomer to the space or even to the property. Hodge helped stake Commerce’s tantalum-niobium deposit on southern British Columbia’s Blue River property, which reached PEA in 2011.

“I did a lot of the groundwork for Commerce in the Valemount-Blue River area and I was one of the first guys on the ground at the camp that now supports Ashram,” he points out. “I’ve been involved with these two properties since 1999.” That’s part of a career including field experience on over 25 projects as well as raising money for junior explorers.

Miranna’s grab samples brought tantalum too, with a significant 1,220 ppm Ta2O5. Forty of the 65 samples graded over 0.5% Nb2O5, with 16 of them surpassing 1%.

The company describes the sampling area as a “strongly mineralized boulder train with a distinct geophysical anomaly at its apex.”

The 980-hectare Eldor Niobium claims have also undergone drilling on the Northwest and Southeast zones, where some wide intervals gave up 0.46% Nb2O5 over 46.88 metres and 0.55% over 26.1 metres (including 0.78% over 10.64 metres).

Samples from Miranna and the Southeast zone also show that niobium-tantalum occurs within pyrochlore, described by Saville as the dominant source mineral for niobium and tantalum in global mining. That’s the case, for example, at Quebec’s Niobec mine, one of the world’s three main niobium producers, with 8% to 10% of global production. Moreover, pyrochlore on the Saville project “is commonly visible to the naked eye, thus indicating a relatively course grain size, which is a favourable attribute for metallurgical recovery,” the company added.

Hodge already has a prospective drill target in mind. “I pulled the rig around with a Cat for a lot of the holes on Ashram itself so I’m very familiar with the ground. We’d of course do more prospecting and try to prove up some more numbers while we’re drilling.”

Saville Resources moves into Commerce Resources’ niobium-tantalum target

Should Saville find success, a ready market would be waiting. The company cites niobium demand growth forecasts of 7.66% CAGR from 2017 to 2021. A December U.S. Geological Survey report lists niobium and tantalum among 23 minerals critical to American security and well-being.

The country relies on foreign exports for its entire supply of both minerals, according to an earlier USGS study. From 2012 to 2015, 80% of America’s total niobium imports came from Brazil, where one mine alone produces 85% to 90% of global supply. Looking at tantalum imports during that period, the U.S. relied on China for 37% and Kazakhstan for another 25%. A troubling source of tantalum remains the Democratic Republic of Congo, from where conflict minerals reach Western markets through murky supply chains.

Days after the USGS released its December study, American president Donald Trump ordered a federal strategy “to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” Although he emphasized the need for domestic deposits and supply chains, Trump also called for “options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.”

Meanwhile Saville also sees potential in Covette, the company’s other northern Quebec property. Historic, non-43-101 grab samples reported up to 4.7% molybdenum, with some bismuth, lead, silver and copper. A 1,402-line-kilometre VTEM survey in late 2016 found prospectivity for base and precious metals. “The VTEM and some sampling that we did indicates that drilling could find something valuable,” Hodge says. “Although it is early-stage, the Geotech guys that did the VTEM survey said they hadn’t seen targets like that all year.”

Still, “the niobium claims are my first priority,” Hodge emphasizes. “I’m very excited about this. I believe we can have a winning project here.”

Subject to approvals, a 75% interest in the new property would call for $25,000 on signing, another $225,000 on closing and $5 million in work over five years. Commerce retains a 1% or 2% NSR, depending on the claim, with Saville holding a buyback option.

Last month the company offered private placements totalling up to $500,000, with insiders intending to participate.

Read more about the U.S. critical minerals strategy.

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.

New research suggests further metallurgical advantages to Commerce Resources’ Quebec rare earths deposit

December 6th, 2017

by Greg Klein | December 6, 2017

An advanced rare earths project with relatively simple mineralogy could benefit from an even more efficient process of separating wheat from chaff. A paper presented at a Cape Town technical conference last month explains how Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram deposit could increase recovery to over 50% rare earth oxides through flotation alone. Previous tests on two flowsheets have already produced concentrates grading more than 45% REO as the northern Quebec project moves towards pre-feasibility.

New research suggests further metallurgical advantages to Commerce Resources’ Quebec rare earths deposit

An even simpler process could produce higher-grade
concentrate from Commerce Resources’ Ashram deposit.

Delivered to the Flotation ’17 conference, the paper titled Flotation of Rare Earth Minerals from Fluorite by pH-Shift was written by lead author Gerhard Merker of Merker Mineral Processing, with Ashram project manager Darren Smith and Henning Morgenroth of UVR-FIA. The study based its findings on work conducted for Ashram at UVR-FIA in Germany.

“The key to this success was the discovery of the significant role of pH in the separation of rare earth minerals from fluorite as well as various carbonates,” stated Commerce. “Without such a separation, a mineral concentrate at appreciable recovery could not exceed 20% REO using flotation alone. As such, a multi-stage flotation technique comprising milling and sizing, high solids conditioning and a controlled pH-shift, which is not conventionally applied to REE [material], was developed…. In terms of the Ashram deposit, the technique continues to hold significant promise as an alternative processing approach.”

Ashram remains one of the world’s few advanced projects capable of upgrading its whole rock to a high-grade concentrate similar to that of current REE producers, the company added. The carbonatite-based deposit features the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, all familiar to conventional processing. Ashram also hosts a strong distribution of the critical elements neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.

While Commerce wrapped up its summer-fall field program in October, an assay lab continues to work through core from a 14-hole, 2,014-metre drill program intended to increase and upgrade the project’s 2012 resource. In addition to Ashram’s field work, metallurgical studies and project planning, Commerce has been investigating early-stage niobium-tantalum-phosphate potential on the Miranna area about one kilometre away.

Looking at its advanced tantalum-niobium deposit in southern British Columbia, Commerce signed an MOU in July to test a one-tonne sample from its Blue River project for a proprietary method of processing.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Exploration begins at Arctic Star’s Finnish diamond project

November 23rd, 2017

Update: On November 24 Arctic Star announced the closing of a final tranche of an oversubscribed private placement totalling $1.7 million.

by Greg Klein | November 23, 2017

Having closed the acquisition a week earlier, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD now has a crew busy at its Timantti diamond project in Finland. Located among favourable regional infrastructure in the Fennoscandian Shield, which hosts the major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib, the property has geophysics, sampling and drilling planned.

Exploration begins at Arctic Star’s Finnish diamond project

Arctic Star VP of exploration Buddy Doyle
gathers kimberlite float samples at Timantti.

Timantti’s White Wolf kimberlite has already revealed 169 microdiamonds, 111 from 52.7 metres of historically extracted core and another 58 from an 18.9-kilogram sample. The current program will include ground magnetic, gravity and electromagnetic surveys over the Black and White kimberlites to define their sizes and identify other drill-worthy anomalies.

Additionally, 20 backhoe till samples will be taken to search for diamond indicator minerals. Drilling will consist of about eight holes totalling 1,500 metres, with a 500-kilogram core sample from each of the two kimberlites. Results of the program will determine whether to proceed with bulk sampling.

Work will focus on a 243-hectare area covered by an exploration permit. The project also includes a 95,700-hectare exploration reservation.

Among other projects, Arctic Star holds the Cap property in east-central British Columbia, host to an extremely rare carbonatite-syenite complex that’s potentially associated with several commodities. In September the company reported “highly anomalous” assays for niobium, rare earths and phosphate from sampling and a drill hole.

In the Northwest Territories’ diamondiferous Lac de Gras region, Arctic Star also holds a 40% stake in the Diagras JV, where majority partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA carried out geophysics last summer.

This week Arctic Star appointed Scott Eldridge as president/CEO. From 2008 to 2016 Eldridge led Euroscandic International Group, providing investment banking and advisory services to resource companies. He has been responsible for raising over $500 million in equity and debt financing for mining projects internationally.

Earlier this month the company closed a private placement first tranche of $965,000.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star’s Patrick Power.

Commerce Resources closes season on Quebec quest for rare earths and rare metals

October 11th, 2017

by Greg Klein | October 11, 2017

With this year’s field program now complete, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE reports progress on a Quebec property hosting both advanced and early-stage projects. The bulk of the work brings the Eldor property’s Ashram rare earths deposit closer to pre-feasibility. About one kilometre east of Ashram, meanwhile, the company has Eldor’s Miranna target under scrutiny for its niobium-tantalum-phosphate potential.

Commerce Resources closes season on Quebec quest for rare earths and rare metals

Core from a 14-hole, 2,014-metre infill
campaign now makes its way to the lab.

Renewing anticipation of Ashram assay results, the team sent 1,256 core samples from last year’s drilling to the lab. The 14-hole, 2,014-metre program focused on definition drilling of the carbonatite-based deposit featuring the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, all familiar to conventional REE processing. The deposit also features a strong distribution of the critical elements neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.

Using a 1.25% cutoff, Ashram’s 2012 resource showed:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

Nine composite core samples will be tested to determine rock geomechanical characteristics to aid design of the processing plant. “Initial comminution testing indicates that the Ashram material is relatively soft, which directly correlates to lower energy consumption during the crushing and grinding process, where often the bulk of a mining operation’s energy is consumed,” the company stated. Other work included downloading data from an on-site weather station, as well as from lake and downhole instruments.

As for early-stage work, the crew collected 36 samples that largely targeted the Miranna area. Observing significant niobium-tantalum mineralization on surface, the team identified overlapping mineralized boulder trains that appear to end in the same area, increasing Miranna’s potential, Commerce added. Samples taken last year graded as high as 5.9% niobium pentoxide, with impressive tantalum, phosphate and rare earths numbers as well.

In southern British Columbia the company also has tantalum-niobium at its Blue River deposit, which reached PEA in 2011. Commerce signed an MOU in July to test a one-tonne sample for a proprietary method of processing.

Another MOU would have Ucore Rare Metals TSXV:UCU test a selective separation process on Ashram material. Samples have already undergone favourable metallurgical tests at a Colorado facility.

Hoping to bring clean, cost-effective energy to northern Quebec, Commerce also has an MOU with TUGLIQ Energy to determine Eldor’s potential for wind-generated electricity.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Arctic Star Exploration finds “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate at B.C. project

September 25th, 2017

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2017

Highly anomalous means highly encouraging, especially at such an early stage of exploration. That’s how Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD characterized its first batch of assays from the Cap property in east-central British Columbia. The news follows last month’s announcement of an extremely rare carbonatite-syenite discovery, suggesting potential for a range of commodities. Now assays for grab samples and the first drill hole show highly anomalous niobium, rare earths and phosphate, the company stated.

Arctic Star Exploration finds “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate at B.C. project

Some intervals of
carbonatite from CAP17-004.

Five selected grab samples assayed 0.2% niobium pentoxide, hitting a peak of 0.96% Nb2O5, while three grab samples brought more than 0.2% total rare earth oxides, peaking at 0.39% TREO. Three samples contained over 5% phosphorus pentoxide with a peak value of 12.62% P2O5.

CAP17-004, the first of four drill holes, showed:

  • 0.35% Nb2O5 over 10.42 metres, starting at 85.24 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.63% Nb2O5 over 2.26 metres)

  • 9.94% P2O5 over 19.63 metres, starting at 98.87 metres
  • (including 20.97% P2O5 over 2.55 metres)

  • 0.81% TREO over 2.4 metres, starting at 136.1 metres

True widths weren’t provided. The last interval also showed a peak value of 69 ppb gold and over 1% TREO.

Along with sampling and drilling, the summer program included mapping and prospecting over an area of about three kilometres by one kilometre.

“The discovery of highly anomalous concentrations of niobium, phosphate and REOs at such an early stage in the exploration of the Cap project should be considered highly encouraging,” said consulting geologist Jody Dahrouge. “Future exploration at Cap will follow up on surface samples that contained highly anomalous concentrations of niobium and may be related to drill hole CAP17-004.”

Reporting from their Diagras diamond project in the Northwest Territories late last month, Arctic Star and 60% JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA announced geophysical results that could potentially indicate “the largest kimberlite complex in the Lac de Gras field.” Further geophysics are on the 18,699-hectare property’s spring agenda, with drilling to follow.

As for Arctic Star’s recently acquired Timantti diamond project in Finland, assays released in July from historic core on the White Wolf kimberlite showed 111 microdiamonds. The company had earlier found 58 microdiamonds in an 18.9-kilogram sample taken from the same kimberlite.

Timantti covers part of the Fennoscandian Shield, host to major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib.

In July the company offered a $1.25-million private placement.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star president/CEO Patrick Power.

Crucial commodities

September 8th, 2017

Price/supply concerns draw end-users to Commerce Resources’ rare earths-tantalum-niobium projects

by Greg Klein

“One of the things that really galls me is that the F-35 is flying around with over 900 pounds of Chinese REEs in it.”

That typifies some of the remarks Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE president Chris Grove hears from end-users of rare earths and rare metals. Steeply rising prices for magnet feed REEs and critical minerals like tantalum—not to mention concern about stable, geopolitically friendly sources—have brought even greater interest in the company’s two advanced projects, the Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec and the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia. Now Commerce has a list of potential customers and processors waiting for samples from both properties.

XXXX

F-35 fighter jets alongside the USS America:
Chinese rare earths in action.
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Of course with China supplying over 90% of the world’s REEs, governments and industries in many countries have cause for concern. Tantalum moves to market through sometimes disturbingly vague supply lines, with about 37% of last year’s production coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 32% from Rwanda, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. One company in Brazil, Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM), produces about 85% of the world’s niobium, another critical mineral.

As Ashram moves towards pre-feasibility, Commerce has a team busy getting a backlog of core to the assay lab. But tantalum and niobium, the original metals of interest for Commerce, have returned to the fore as well, with early-stage exploration on the Quebec property and metallurgical studies on the B.C. deposit.

The upcoming assays will come from 14 holes totalling 2,014 metres sunk last year, mostly definition drilling. Initial geological review and XRF data suggest significant intervals in several holes, including a large stepout to the southeast, Grove’s team reports.

“We’re always excited to see this project’s drilling results,” he says. “We know we’re in carbonatite basically all of the time and over the last five years, in all the 9,200 metres we’ve done since the last resource calculation, we’ve basically always hit more material than was modelled in the original resource—i.e. we’ve always found less waste rock at surface, we’ve always hit material in the condemnation holes and we’ve always had intersections of higher-grade material. So all those things look exciting for this program.”

Carbonatite comprises a key Ashram distinction. The deposit sits within carbonatite host rock and the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, which are well understood in commercial REE processing. That advantage distinguishes Ashram from REE hopefuls that foundered over mineralogical challenges. Along with resource size, mineralogy has Grove confident of Ashram’s potential as a low-cost producer competing with China.

As for size, a 2012 resource used a 1.25% cutoff to show:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

A near-surface—sometimes at-surface—deposit, Ashram also features strong distribution of neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium, all critical elements and some especially costly. Neodymium and dysprosium prices have shot up 80% this year.

XXXX

Commerce Resources’ field crew poses at the Eldor property,
home to the Ashram deposit and Miranna prospect.

Comparing Ashram’s inferred gross tonnage of nearly 220 million tonnes with the measured and indicated total of less than 30 million tonnes, Grove sees considerable potential to bolster the M&I as well as increase the resource’s overall size and average grade.

This season’s field program includes prospecting in the Miranna area about a kilometre from the deposit. Miranna was the site of 2015 boulder sampling that brought “spectacular” niobium grades up to 5.9% Nb2O5, nearly twice the average grade of the world’s largest producer, CBMM’s Araxá mine, Grove says. Some tantalum standouts showed 1,220 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5. Significant results for phosphate and rare earth oxides were also apparent.

Should Miranna prove drill-worthy, the synergies with Ashram would be obvious.

That’s the early-stage aspect of Commerce’s tantalum-niobium work. In B.C. the company’s Blue River deposit reached PEA in 2011, with a resource update in 2013. Based on a tantalum price of $381 per kilo, the estimate showed:

  • indicated: 48.41 million tonnes averaging 197 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,610 ppm Nb2O5 for 9.56 million kilograms Ta2O5 and 77.81 kilograms Nb2O5

  • inferred: 5.4 million tonnes averaging 191 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,760 ppm Nb2O5 for 1 million kilograms Ta2O5 and 9.6 million kilograms Nb2O5

Actually that should be 1,300 kilograms less. That’s the size of a sample on its way to Estonia for evaluation by Alexander Krupin, an expert in processing high-grade tantalum and niobium concentrates. “As with Ashram, we’ve already found that standard processing works well for Blue River,” Grove points out. “However, if Krupin’s proprietary method proves even more efficient, why wouldn’t we look at it?”

We’re always excited to see this project’s drilling results. We know we’re in carbonatite basically all of the time and over the last five years, in all the 9,200 metres we’ve done since the last resource calculation, we’ve basically always hit more material than was modelled in the original resource.—Chris Grove,
president of Commerce Resources

Back to rare earths, Commerce signed an MOU with Ucore Rare Metals TSXV:UCU to assess Ashram material for a proprietary method of selective processing. Others planning to test proprietary techniques on Ashram include Texas Mineral Resources and K-Technologies, Rare Earth Salts, Innovation Metals Corp, the University of Tennessee and NanoScience Solutions at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Should proprietary methods work, all the better, Grove states. But he emphasizes that standard metallurgical tests have already succeeded, making a cheaper process unnecessary for both Blue River and Ashram.

Potential customers show interest too. Concentrate sample requests have come from Solvay, Mitsubishi, Treibacher, BASF, DKK, Albemarle, Blue Line and others covered by non-disclosure agreements. Requests have also come for samples of fluorspar, a potential Ashram byproduct and another mineral subject to rising prices and Chinese supply dominance.

A solid expression of interest came from the province too, as Ressources Québec invested $1 million in a February private placement. The provincial government corporation describes itself as focusing “on projects that have good return prospects and foster Quebec’s economic development.”

Also fostering the mining-friendly jurisdiction’s economic development is Plan Nord, which has pledged $1.3 billion to infrastructure over five years. The provincial road to Renard helped make Stornoway Diamond’s (TSX:SWY) mine a reality. Other projects that would benefit from a road extension towards Ashram would be Lac Otelnuk, located 80 kilometres south. The Sprott Resource Holdings TSX:SRHI/WISCO JV holds Canada’s largest iron ore deposit. Some projects north of Ashram include the Kan gold-base metals project of Barrick Gold TSX:ABX and Osisko Mining TSX:OSK, as well as properties held by Midland Exploration TSXV:MD.

But, Grove says, it’s rising prices and security of supply that have processors and end-users metaphorically beating a path to his company’s door. And maybe nothing demonstrates the criticality of critical minerals better than a nearby superpower that relies on a geopolitical rival for commodities essential to national defence.

Geophysics show potential kimberlite expansion on Margaret Lake Diamonds/Arctic Star Exploration’s Lac de Gras JV

August 29th, 2017

by Greg Klein | August 29, 2017

Borrowing techniques that proved successful at Kennady North, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA and Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced geophysical results that potentially expand their Diagras property’s known kimberlites. The partners hold 60% and 40% respectively of the joint venture in the Northwest Territories’ diamond-rich Lac de Gras region, where Margaret Lake acts as operator.

Geophysics show potential kimberlite expansion on Margaret Lake Diamonds/Arctic Star Exploration’s Lac de Gras JV

Last spring’s ground program of magnetics, gravity and electromagnetics targeted known kimberlites as well as “unresolved targets generated from public domain data,” the companies stated. Similar techniques have helped Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI further its understanding of the Kennady North property’s Kelvin and Faraday kimberlites.

Results dating to 2005 on Diagras’ Jack Pine kimberlite identified a north-south axis extending more than 500 metres, with about four to five hectares at surface. But recent work north of Jack Pine shows a possible new discovery that’s been named Sequoia. Although verification would call for more drilling, the new findings indicate an anomaly that doubles the geophysical footprint, potentially making this “the largest kimberlite complex in the Lac de Gras field,” according to the partners.

Geophysics around Diagras’ Black Spruce kimberlite show anomalous gravity lows up to about 200 metres south and east of a magnetic low and its corresponding diamondiferous drill results by a previous operator. Again, drilling will be necessary to confirm the presence of additional kimberlite.

The partners also reported other geophysical signatures that might indicate additional kimberlite in and around other known kimberlites on the 18,699-hectare property. Further geophysical evaluations are planned for next spring, along with a drill program.

In addition to its Diagras interest, Margaret Lake holds its namesake Margaret Lake project adjacent to Kennady North. In July, Arctic Star announced plans to acquire the Timantti project in Finland, where due diligence has confirmed the presence of micro-diamonds. Arctic Star also holds the CAP rare earths and rare metals prospect in east-central British Columbia. Early this month the company announced discovery of a carbonatite-syenite complex, an extremely rare occurrence potentially associated with “a plethora of commodities” and “the dominant source for niobium and rare earth elements,” the company stated.

Late last month Arctic Star offered a private placement up to $1.25 million.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star president/CEO Patrick Power.

Arctic Star’s B.C. discovery potentially associated with “a plethora of commodities”

August 8th, 2017

by Greg Klein | August 8, 2017

Even before the drill core reached the lab, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced a discovery that’s both rare and potentially associated with several metals. The company found a carbonatite-syenite complex on its Cap project in east-central British Columbia.

The potential rewards associated with a new discovery such as at Cap cannot be overstated.—Jody Dahrouge

“Carbonatite is an extremely rare rock type with only around 550 complexes identified worldwide,” explained Jody Dahrouge, president of Dahrouge Geological Consulting, which oversees the exploration program. “In addition to their rarity, they are also well known for being the source of production for a plethora of commodities, including being the dominant source for niobium and rare earth elements. The potential rewards associated with a new discovery such as at Cap cannot be overstated.”

Also associated with mineralized carbonatite systems are tantalum, copper, nickel, iron, titanium, zirconium, platinum group elements, gold, fluorspar, lime, sodalite and vermiculite, Arctic Star added.

Some of the world’s better-known carbonatite deposits include Palabora in South Africa (copper, nickel, gold and PGEs), Bayon Obo in China (REEs, iron ore, niobium and fluorspar), Araxa in Brazil (niobium), Cargill in Ontario (phosphate), Niobec in Quebec (niobium), Mountain Pass in California (REEs), and Mount Weld in Western Australia (REEs).

Arctic Star’s B.C. discovery potentially associated with “a plethora of commodities”

Carbonatite in drill core from hole Cap17-004.

The discovery prompted Arctic Star to stake another 7,657 hectares, expanding its property to over 10,482 hectares. The new turf covers a ridge that extends towards the Wicheeda REE deposit, about 50 kilometres northwest.

Cap’s exploration has so far focused on an area of about 3,000 by 1,000 metres, the site of prior geophysics and anomalous niobium-REE geochemical samples. This season’s work consisted of mapping, sampling, prospecting and four drill holes. Assays are pending but carbonatite and/or alkaline rock types were found in two holes.

Carbonatite in outcrop has been mapped approximately 90 metres in strike, with an estimated thickness surpassing 50 metres. Additional outcrops of carbonatite and related rocks have been found across an area measuring about 800 by 200 metres, the company added.

Last month Arctic Star announced plans to acquire Timantti, a Finnish diamond project on the Fennoscandian Shield, which also hosts Russia’s Lomonosov and Grib diamond mines. Due diligence revealed 58 small diamonds in an 18.9-kilogram sample from Timantti’s White Wolf kimberlite. More recent assays on 48.65 kilograms of historically extracted split core showed 111 microdiamonds.

In late July the company offered a $1.25-million private placement.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Arctic Star president/CEO Patrick Power.