Thursday 5th December 2019

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Posts tagged ‘niobium’

Commerce Resources congratulates Quebec PhD student for research on company’s rare earths project

December 5th, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 5, 2019

A study related to the Ashram rare earths-fluorspar deposit brought Université du Québec PhD candidate Sophie Costis first prize in an academic competition. Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE congratulated her on winning the $2,000 scholarship for her study on flotation tailings using the flowsheet for the company’s deposit. Costis delivered her presentation entitled Impact du gel-dégel et de la salinité sur le comportement de résidus miniers de terres rares en milieu nordique to l’Association Québécoise des Sciences de la Terre. Her first-place finish in le défi de la recherche en géosciences (Geoscience Research Challenge) was announced at last month’s Quebec Mines + Energy conference in Quebec City.

Commerce Resources congratulates Quebec PhD student for research on company’s rare earths project

A first-prize award recognizes the work of PhD candidate
Sophie Costis on Ashram’s flotation management.
(Photo: Université du Québec)

“The company is thrilled to see Sophie recognized for her hard work on the project over the last few years,” said Commerce president Chris Grove. “We are committed to advancing the Ashram project in an environmentally responsible manner and Sophie’s work will help build this foundation through high-quality data-gathering and analysis in a very important field.”

Backed by a $300,000 grant, Costis works in partnership with le Centre Eau Terre Environnement of l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique of l’Université du Québec. Expected to conclude late next year, her project provides further insight on tailings management in the flotation process plant.

Her findings so far show no serious concerns with Ashram’s flotation tailings management, show the process has no acid-generating potential and also show strong indications that there is no metal-leaching potential, Commerce stated.

In early October, Cynthia Kierscht, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, hosted Shawn Tupper, associate deputy minister of Natural Resources Canada, at the first critical minerals working group meeting in Washington. The group will continue talks in coming months to finalize the joint plan.—Canadian Press

The work complements Ashram’s pre-feasibility studies for Ashram, which coincide with heightened concerns about critical minerals like fluorspar and especially rare earths. This week Canadian Press reported Ottawa is examining the role Canada could play in supplying the United States and other allied countries with minerals considered necessary to the economy, technology and defence.

NRCanada has contracted Roskill Consulting to forecast future demand for critical minerals that Canada could supply, CP added.

Last week Commerce released assays from near-surface intervals at Ashram showing high grades over wide widths. The company also has metallurgical studies underway at a Colorado lab to upgrade the project’s fluorspar potential, increase rare earths extraction and produce samples requested by potential customers.

Fluorspar wasn’t considered in the project’s 2012 resource but will be included in an update anticipated for the coming year, as will two seasons of extensive drilling. A major advantage of Ashram is the carbonatite-hosted deposit’s relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy that’s familiar to conventional rare earths processing.

Fluorspar potential also comes under consideration at another critical minerals project two kilometres away, where Saville Resources TSXV:SRE operates the Niobium Claim Group under a 75% earn-in from Commerce. Following a drill program earlier this year, Saville released promising niobium-tantalum-phosphate results in June.

Last month Commerce closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $2.51 million. A private placement in August brought in $413,749.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Commerce Resources reports high grades over wide intervals at Quebec rare earths-fluorspar project

November 28th, 2019

by Greg Klein | November 28, 2019

With core moved from the storage vault to the lab, new assays further confidence in a resource update anticipated for next year as the Ashram deposit advances towards pre-feasibility. The results come from a 14-hole, 2,014-metre program sunk in 2016 but only recently assayed for budgetary reasons. Now cashed-up Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE unveils an impressive batch of near-surface rare earths and fluorspar intercepts from the northern Quebec property.

Commerce Resources reports high grades over wide intervals at Quebec rare earths-fluorspar project

Among the highlights are one of the project’s best-yet intercepts: 2.38% rare earth oxides over 64.54 metres, with sub-intervals including 3.02% over 28.35 metres. Another standout shows 1.71% over 221.95 metres, including 2.18% over 36.16 metres. Yet another hole boasts 2.16% over 53.55 metres. (True widths were unavailable.)

These are near-surface results, starting at downhole depths of 66.5 metres, 2.69 metres and 1.54 metres respectively.

Another critical mineral and one not factored into Ashram’s previous PEA, fluorspar also comes through in impressive grades, such as 7.2% calcium fluoride over 221.95 metres, including 11.5% CaF2 over 36.16 metres. Metallurgical studies currently underway work on upgrading the fluorspar to higher-priced acid grade in a flowsheet that would provide both rare earths and fluorspar concentrates, improve RE extraction and reduce tailings. The Colorado lab will also produce samples to meet requests from potential customers.

This round of definition drilling targeted the deposit’s northern, western and southern margins with holes spaced 50 metres apart, and in some cases 25 metres apart. Additional drilling at 25-metre centres may take place.

Using a 1.25% cutoff, Ashram’s 2012 resource estimate 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

The carbonatite-hosted deposit features relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy, familiar to conventional rare earths processing

Anticipated for the coming year is Ashram’s first resource update since 2012, factoring in 9,625 metres of drilling since then. Previous drilling followed mineralization from near-surface to depths beyond 600 metres where mineralization remains open, as evidenced by 4.13% REO over 0.6 metres beginning at 599.9 metres’ depth.

Work continues as the United States and other allied countries show increasing concern about China’s domination of several critical minerals with a special focus on rare earths but also including fluorspar, tantalum and niobium. Commerce also holds the advanced-stage Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southern British Columbia.

About two kilometres from Ashram, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE operates the Niobium Claim Group under a 75% earn-in from Commerce. After releasing niobium-tantalum-phosphate results last June, Saville now has the project’s fluorspar potential under evaluation.

Earlier this month Commerce closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $2.51 million. Another placement in August garnered $413,749.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Saville Resources to examine fluorspar potential of Quebec niobium-tantalum-phosphate project

November 26th, 2019

by Greg Klein | November 26, 2019

One long-term indication for fluorspar demand can be seen in China, which has become a net importer of the critical mineral despite being the world’s largest producer. Partly for that reason, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE now intends to evaluate that overlooked aspect of its Niobium Claim Group in northern Quebec.

Saville Resources to examine fluorspar potential of Quebec niobium-tantalum-phosphate project

Last spring the property underwent its first drill program in nine years, with results released in June for niobium, tantalum and phosphate. The core has yet to be assayed for fluorine. Yet drilling from 2008 and 2010 at the property’s Mallard prospect does show historic, non-43-101 grades as high as 31.6% calcium fluoride over 20.8 metres and 26.1% CaF2 over 32.4 metres. Along with other promising intersections, the results suggest potential for a significant fluorspar zone, the company states. As a result, Saville says it “intends to further evaluate the fluorite potential at Mallard and incorporate such exploration initiatives within its overall exploration approach for niobium, which remains the focus.”

Saville operates the project under a 75% earn-in from Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, which holds the Ashram rare earths deposit two kilometres away. Earlier this month Commerce announced lab tests to upgrade fluorspar from Ashram to higher-priced acidspar grade and study the extraction of additional rare earths from fluorspar concentrate. The work will be incorporated into Ashram’s pre-feasibility study and also produce samples to meet industry requests.

Fluorspar would add another critical mineral to both companies’ projects. Along with niobium, tantalum and rare earths, fluorspar made the list of 35 critical minerals compiled by the U.S. as that country pays heightened attention to their economic and strategic importance. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, China produced over 60% of world fluorspar supply last year.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

 

Historic, non-43-101 results from Saville Resources’ Mallard prospect:

Hole EC08-015

  • 33% CaF2, 0.34% Nb2O5, 49 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.3% P2O5 over 13.8 metres, starting at 187.8 metres in downhole depth

EC08-016

  • 31.6% CaF2, 0.32% Nb2O5, 105 ppm Ta2O5 and 5% P2O5 over 20.8 metres, starting at 202.4 metres

EC10-032

  • 14.8% CaF2, 0.17% Nb2O5, 63 ppm Ta2O5 and 3.3% P2O5 over 6.2 metres, starting at 248.4 metres

EC10-033

  • 26.1% CaF2, 0.39% Nb2O5, 63 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.2% P2O5 over 32.4 metres, starting at 203.9 metres
  • (including 38.8% CaF2, 0.27% Nb2O5, 42 ppm Ta2O5 and 3.8% P2O5 over 5 metres)

EC10-040

  • 21.7% CaF2, 0.22% Nb2O5, 91 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.3% P2O5 over 29 metres, starting at 275 metres
  • (including 39.8% CaF2, 0.27% Nb2O5 and 4.9% P2O5 over 6.6 metres)

EC10-041

  • 17.3% CaF2, 0.25% Nb2O5, 61 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.1% P2O5 over 5.7 metres, starting at 171.3 metres

  • 21.7% CaF2, 0.34% Nb2O5, 64 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.4% P2O5 over 14.3 metres, starting at 249 metres

True widths were unavailable.

Saville Resources plans Phase II drilling on Quebec niobium-tantalum-phosphate project

September 16th, 2019

by Greg Klein | September 16, 2019

A detailed analysis of last spring’s drill program along with other data has Saville Resources TSXV:SRE looking forward to a Q1 return engagement. Activity on the Niobium Claim Group in Quebec’s Labrador Trough occurs as the U.S. takes steps to secure reliable supplies of critical minerals including niobium and tantalum. The country relies on imports for its entire supply of both metals.

Near-surface assays previously released for this year’s five-hole, 1,049-metre campaign reached as high as 0.79% Nb2O5, 163 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.1% P2O5 over 37 metres, as well as 0.8% Nb2O5, 81 ppm Ta2O5 and 9% P2O5 over 31.5 metres. The latter intercept, the final hole of the season, featured a sub-interval showing 1.36% Nb2O5, 70 ppm Ta2O5 and 12.3% P2O5 over 4.5 metres.

Saville Resources plans Phase II drilling on Quebec niobium-tantalum-phosphate project

Saville’s drilling targeted the project’s Mallard prospect, where three programs so far have totalled 14 holes and 3,537 metres. Each campaign excelled its predecessor for grades and widths, expanding three known zones of mineralization which remain open in all directions, the company reported.

Predominating the host material are pyrochlore-group minerals and/or ferrocolumbite, familiar to the industry as the world’s main source of niobium production, Saville added.

“We appear to have only scratched the surface at Mallard and have yet to drill-test our other high-priority targets including Spoke and Miranna,” said president Mike Hodge.

Although work will focus on building an initial Mallard resource, Spoke and Miranna might also get rig attention to determine their potential for connecting with Mallard.

Saville operates the project under a 75% earn-in from Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE. On another critical minerals project two kilometres away, Commerce advances its Ashram rare earths deposit towards pre-feasibility.

Saville’s portfolio also includes the Bud project in southern British Columbia’s busy Greenwood camp. Grab sample assays released last April showed grades up to 4.57 g/t gold, 27.7 g/t silver and 6.7% copper; as well as 4.44 g/t gold, 17 g/t silver and 6.84% copper.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Commerce Resources’ rare earths metallurgy optimized by university lab

August 1st, 2019

by Greg Klein | August 1, 2019

Successful methods applied in separate laboratories further demonstrate the amenability of a Quebec rare earths deposit that’s progressing towards the pre-feasibility stage. Using material from Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram project in northern Quebec, l’Université Laval successfully used an alternative flowsheet approach to create a mixed REE concentrate. The tests add to the work of Hazen Research in Colorado and Merker Mineral Processing/UVR-FIA in Germany.

Commerce Resources’ rare earths metallurgy optimized by university lab

Commerce announced receipt of Laval’s final report on August 1. The university tested Ashram material on bench-scale levels of one kilogram and on larger batches of 10 to 30 kilograms. A total of about 1,500 kilograms went through Laval’s own flotation circuit and reagent scheme.

The large batches produced around 170 kilos of flotation concentrate grading 11.2% rare earth oxides, with a mass pull of 11.3% (percent of material reporting to concentrate), the company stated. Laval’s new reagent scheme offers Ashram potentially greater flotation performance, Commerce added.

“We are very happy with the results of our collaboration with Laval and look forward to continued work with local academic institutions to further develop REE expertise in the province of Quebec and, moreover, to move the Ashram deposit closer to production,” commented president Chris Grove.

The news comes amid heightened concern in the U.S. for critical minerals supply, especially rare earths.

Commerce holds interests in two other critical minerals projects. On the Niobium Claim Group, just a few kilometres from Ashram, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE drilled high-grade, near-surface niobium along with tantalum and phosphate last spring while working towards a 75% earn-in from Commerce. The latter company also holds the advanced-stage Blue River tantalum-niobium project in southern British Columbia.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Saville Resources president Mike Hodge considers the potential of his company’s Quebec critical minerals project

July 25th, 2019

…Read more

Commerce Resources to provide rare earths and byproduct samples to potential customers

July 5th, 2019

by Greg Klein | July 5, 2019

Commerce Resources to provide rare earths and byproduct samples to potential customers

 

With trade tensions once again demonstrating the need for rare earths supply outside China, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE announced plans for its advanced-stage Ashram deposit in northern Quebec. The company intends to resume pilot plant metallurgical work, provide rare earths samples to interested parties and also upgrade its potential fluorspar byproduct.

Using lab facilities in Colorado, Commerce plans to produce several kilograms of material for companies that have requested samples. The lab will also work on upgrading the deposit’s fluorspar from metallurgical grade to the usually more expensive acid grade.

An essential ingredient for coolants used in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, acid grade fluorspar is also integral to processing uranium and aluminum. Like rare earths, fluorspar ranks among the 35 critical minerals listed by the United States. Over 60% of 2018 global production came from China, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. NorFalco Sales, a division of Glencore Canada Corp, has requested the fluorspar sample.

The pilot plant work will complement Commerce’s pre-feasibility studies as the Ashram deposit progresses.

Using Ashram material, the Colorado plant has already produced high-grade concentrates above 45% total rare earth oxides with recovery surpassing 70%, “comparable to current and past hard rock producers,” Commerce noted.

Separate, Quebec-funded studies at l’Université Laval produced a mixed rare earth oxide concentrate from Ashram material, showing the deposit’s versatility to processing procedures.

A key advantage of Ashram lies in its carbonatite-hosted mineralization and relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy, amenable to conventional rare earths processing.

The near-surface deposit hosts a 2012 resource estimate using 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

Ashram also features strong distribution of the high-demand magnet feed elements neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium.

In a report issued last month, Adamas Intelligence stated that permanent magnets accounted for over 90% of TREO consumption by value last year. “This share is poised to expand further as demand (and prices) for neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium continue to rise strongly in the years ahead.”

Ashram’s distinctions suggest the project could require a relatively smaller metallurgical plant, along with potentially lower capex and opex, Commerce stated.

Last May Commerce and two Inuit organizations signed a letter of intent to ensure participation as the project moves forward.

At another critical minerals project just a few kilometres away, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE works towards a 75% earn-in from Commerce on the Niobium Claim Group. Following a spring drill program that found high-grade, near-surface niobium along with tantalum and phosphate, Saville looks forward to a Phase II campaign.

In southern British Columbia, Commerce also holds the advanced-stage Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit.

Read more about China’s dominance in global rare earths supply.

Saville Resources/Commerce Resources release niobium-tantalum-phosphate results from northern Quebec

June 13th, 2019

In three batches during early June 2019, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE and Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE released assays from the first drill program in nine years on the Niobium Claim Group in Quebec’s Labrador Trough. Saville operates the program under a 75% earn-in from Commerce, which is advancing its Ashram rare earths deposit towards pre-feasibility.

Of five holes totalling 1,049 metres, one hole was lost. The other four exceeded near-surface high grades and wide widths of historic drilling conducted between 2008 and 2010, the companies stated. Previous campaigns totalled 41 holes for 8,175 metres.

Here are highlights from the spring 2019 program. True widths weren’t provided. Fluorine results are still to come.

Hole EC19-174A

  • 0.8% Nb2O5, 81 ppm Ta2O5 and 9% P2O5 over 31.5 metres, starting at 17 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.98% Nb2O5, 70 ppm Ta2O5 and 10.5% P2O5 over 13.5 metres)
  • (which includes 1.13% Nb2O5, 73 ppm Ta2O5 and 10.6% P2O5 over 9 metres)
  • (which includes 1.36% Nb2O5, 70 ppm Ta2O5 and 12.3% P2O5 over 4.5 metres)
  • (and also including 1.04% Nb2O5, 136 ppm Ta2O5 and 11.9% P2O5 over 7.7 metres)

  • 0.79% Nb2O5, 163 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.1% P2O5 over 37 metres, starting at 96.5 metres
  • (including 0.95% Nb2O5, 168 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.6% P2O5 over 9.94 metres)
  • (which includes 1.01% Nb2O5, 178 ppm Ta2O5 and 9% P2O5 over 7.5 metres)
Saville Resources exceeds historic high grades for niobium-tantalum in Quebec

  • 0.67% Nb2O5, 170 ppm Ta2O5 and 9.4% P2O5 over 19.95 metres, starting at 167.52 metres

  • 0.5% Nb2O5, 70 ppm Ta2O5 and 5% P2O5 over 33.5 metres, starting at 197 metres

Hole EC19-172

  • 0.62% Nb2O5, 92 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.1% P2O5 over 19 metres, starting at 43.5 metres

  • 0.6% Nb2O5, 302 ppm Ta2O5 and 9.9% P2O5 over 7.5 metres, starting at 76 metres
  • (including 1.64% Nb2O5, 490 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.1% P2O5 over 1.5 metres)

  • 0.45% Nb2O5, 274 ppm Ta2O5 and 6.9% P2O5 over 100.84 metres, starting at 123.44 metres
  • (including 0.67% Nb2O5, 181 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.9% P2O5 over 27 metres)

EC19-173

  • 0.66% Nb2O5, 53 ppm Ta2O5 and 6.6% P2O5 over 14.5 metres, starting at 87 metres
  • (including 0.78% Nb2O5, 55 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.7% P2O5 over 8.78 metres)
  • (which includes 1.1% Nb2O5, 500 ppm Ta2O5 and 11.6% P2O5 over 1.5 metres)

  • 0.38% Nb2O5, 233 ppm Ta2O5 and 6.2% P2O5 over 26.5 metres, starting at 136.5 metres
  • (including 0.66% Nb2O5, 337 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.6% P2O5 over 4.5 metres)

  • 0.59% Nb2O5, 168 ppm Ta2O5 and 9.7% P2O5 over 7.5 metres, starting at 222 metres

EC19-171

  • 0.43% Nb2O5, 267 ppm Ta2O5 and 9.1% P2O5 over 26 metres, starting at 23 metres

  • 0.76% Nb2O5, 64 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.2% P2O5 over 7.5 metres, starting at 49 metres

  • 0.7% Nb2O5, 116 ppm Ta2O5 and 6.6% P2O5 over 38.28 metres, starting at 71.22 metres
  • (including 1.1% Nb2O5, 182 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.2% P2O5 over 5.41 metres)

  • 0.63% Nb2O5, 95 ppm Ta2O5 and 6.2% P2O5 over 34 metres, starting at 145 metres

Read more about the Saville/Commerce Niobium Claim Group project.

Towards a critical resource

June 13th, 2019

Saville Resources exceeds historic high grades for niobium-tantalum in Quebec

by Greg Klein

The project’s first drill campaign in nine years poses a big question: Why was this the project’s first drill campaign in nine years?

Saville Resources/Commerce Resources report best-yet niobium hole from Quebec critical minerals project

Saville president Mike Hodge examines
core at the Niobium Claim Group.

Even in the face of highly encouraging historic niobium-tantalum results, this program’s first hole exceeded expectations. More near-surface high grades and wide widths followed, culminating in a fourth hole that surpassed them all. Now Saville Resources TSXV:SRE looks forward to more drilling to build an inferred resource on the Niobium Claim Group in northern Quebec’s Labrador Trough.

But why the nine-year hiatus? The answer can be illustrated by Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram rare earths deposit, two kilometres away. Moving that project towards pre-feasibility took precedence, even when the company found strong niobium-tantalum intercepts on another part of its Eldor property. To give these other critical minerals their due, Commerce and Saville signed an agreement last year allowing the latter company to earn 75% of the 1,223-hectare niobium claims.

Additional high-grade boulder samples renewed interest in a number of prospective areas but Saville’s initial drill program in spring 2019 targeted Mallard, the most advanced zone with 17 historic holes totalling 4,328 metres. The new program added five holes (one hole was lost) and 1,049 metres.

“We were confident that we could improve on the historic drill results and we did that,” notes Saville president Mike Hodge.

Near-surface highlights from the best hole showed 0.8% Nb2O5 over 31.5 metres, 0.79% over 37 metres, 0.67% over 19.95 metres and 0.5% over 33.5 metres. Eleven individual samples from that hole exceeded 1%, with one sample reaching as high as 1.68% over 1.5 metres. (True widths were unknown.) Tantalum and phosphate also brought strong numbers.

A 50-metre step-out east of another of the campaign’s successful holes, 50 metres southeast of a second and 200 metres southeast of a third, EC19-174A was also proximal to impressive historic results.

Saville Resources exceeds historic high grades for niobium-tantalum in Quebec

In just a few of the recent highlights, however, EC19-173 featured 0.66% Nb2O5 over 14.5 metres. EC19-171 hit 0.7% over 38.28 metres, including 1.1% over 5.41 metres. EC19-172 reached 0.62% over 19 metres.

Among tantalum grades were 274 ppm Ta2O5 over 100.8 metres from EC19-172, and 267 ppm over 26 metres from EC19-171.

The step-outs extend Mallard’s strike 100 metres southeast and also suggest a possible northern extension towards the project’s Miranna and Spoke targets, as yet undrilled.

That’s despite very high-grade boulder samples from Miranna showing 2.75%, 4.24%, 4.3% and an exceptional 5.93% Nb2O5.

“These are still untested targets which we believe could have significantly higher grades than Mallard,” says Hodge. “But my first goal would be an inferred near-surface resource in the Mallard area.”

Contributing to that would be historic data, which includes intervals of 0.82% Nb2O5 over 21.9 metres, 0.9% over 4.8 metres and 1.09% over 5.8 metres.

In all, the Niobium Claim Group underwent 41 historic holes for 8,175 metres, with all field work since 2008 conducted by Dahrouge Geological Consulting. Saville has so far exceeded its first-year spending commitment of $750,000 out of a five-year, $5-million exploration agenda that would earn 75% of the project from Commerce.

But if Miranna’s 5.93% Nb2O5 sample looks outstanding, another boulder collected west of the project’s Northwest area soared up to 16.1%, also showing 7,540 ppm Ta2O5.

“That was the highest, but there were plenty in the 3% to 6% niobium range,” Hodge emphasizes.

Saville Resources exceeds historic high grades for niobium-tantalum in Quebec

With overlapping boulder trains on the property, “there are a few locations they could be coming from,” he adds. “But the likelihood of it coming from the Spoke or Miranna areas would be the highest probability.”

Other areas of interest include the Northwest zone, northwest of Miranna. Location of 11 historic holes totalling 2,257 metres, its results included 0.61% Nb2O5 over 12 metres.

South of Mallard, the Star Trench area has four historic holes for 664 metres, with results including 1.5% Nb2O5 and 1,810 ppm Ta2O5 over 0.52 metres, and 1.69% Nb2O5 and 2,220 ppm Ta2O5 over 0.31 metres.

Niobium and tantalum both rank on the U.S. list of 35 critical minerals. Heightened concern has brought concerted American efforts to develop reliable sources and create supply chains domestically and with allied countries. In early June the U.S. unveiled its Energy Resource Governance Initiative to work with allies as part of the president’s critical minerals strategy announced a few days earlier.

Imports provide America’s total supply of both niobium and tantalum. Niobium, used for alloys and super-alloys in jet engines, rockets and other manufactures, comes to the U.S. mostly from one company in Brazil. According to 2018 figures from the U.S. Geological Survey, Brazil mined 88.2% of global supply, while Canada extracted another 10.3%.

Tantalum finds widespread use in electronics as well as super-alloys for jet engine components. USGS numbers from last year attribute 39.5% of global supply to the Democratic Republic of Congo, 27.8% to Rwanda, 8.3% to Nigeria and 6.7% to China. Apart from security of supply, concerns about conflict minerals result from troubling conditions and murky supply routes in the DRC and Rwanda.

Meanwhile Hodge wants to get back to the field. “We made a great first step in expanding on what we had,” he says. “All of these holes ended in a mineralized zone. The reason we stopped them there was to start a near-surface inferred resource. There’s carbonatite with mineralization in niobium, tantalum and phosphate open in all directions, so the results definitely call for more drilling.”

See more highlights from the Niobium Claim Group’s spring 2019 program.

Saville Resources/Commerce Resources report best-yet niobium hole from Quebec critical minerals project

June 11th, 2019

This story has been expanded and moved here.