Friday 21st July 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘niobium’

Diamond explorer Arctic Star to drill B.C. property for rare earths and rare metals

July 19th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 19, 2017

With a crew now en route, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD prepares to begin a summer field program at its Cap project in east-central British Columbia. Located in the Rocky Mountain Rare Metal Belt, the 2,825-hectare property has undergone geochemical and geophysical surveys suggesting potential for carbonatite intrusions which might host niobium, tantalum and/or rare earth elements. A program of about three holes and 1,000 metres will further investigate the potential.

Diamond explorer Arctic Star to drill B.C. property for rare earths and rare metals

Piquing interest in the property is a circular magnetic anomaly measuring about three to five kilometres in diameter that the company interprets to represent a carbonatite or similar intrusion. Geochem sampling in 2010 on two dykes near the most prominent mag anomaly brought grades including 0.14% Nb2O5, 3,191 ppm zirconium and 547 ppm total rare earth elements, Arctic Star reported.

In 2011, following radiometrics and additional magnetics, the company found more highly anomalous grades with samples containing 0.27% Nb2O5 and 773 ppm TREE. Two historic, non-43-101 samples assayed 0.13% and 0.1% TREE.

Contrasting luxuries with critical minerals, Arctic Star last week announced plans to acquire a diamond project in Finland. The diamondiferous kimberlites of the Timantti property sit on the Fennoscandian Shield, home to the major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib.

In May the company announced a short program of geophysics on the Diagras diamond project in the Northwest Territories, where Arctic Star has a 40% stake with JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA holding the rest.

Commerce Resources signs MOU for tantalum-niobium processing

July 11th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 11, 2017

While focused on its Ashram rare earths deposit in Quebec, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE has plans for its other critical minerals project. Under a memorandum of understanding announced July 11, a one-tonne sample from the company’s Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in British Columbia would be tested for suitability under a proprietary separation process developed in Estonia by Alexander Krupin.

Commerce Resources signs MOU for tantalum-niobium processing

Previous drilling has established a resource estimate for two
critical minerals on Commerce Resources’ Upper Fir deposit.

The sample should arrive within the next several weeks, with tests expected to begin immediately afterward. The goal would be to process Upper Fir feed stock into independent tantalum and niobium products.

Krupin’s background includes over 35 years in this area, including more than 15 years processing high-grade tantalum and niobium ore concentrates, Commerce stated. “His research activities have developed new technologies for the chemical upgrading of low-grade tantalum and niobium ore concentrates.”

Based on a tantalum price of $381 a kilo, Upper Fir has a 2013 resource showing:

  • indicated: 48.41 million tonnes averaging 197 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,610 ppm Nb2O5 for 9,560 tonnes Ta2O5 and 77,810 tonnes Nb2O5

  • inferred: 5.4 million tonnes averaging 191 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,760 ppm Nb2O5 for 1,000 tonnes Ta2O5 and 9,600 tonnes Nb2O5

The road-accessible east-central B.C. project has transmission lines and CN Rail crossing the western part of the 105,373-hectare property, and a 20-MW run-of-river electricity facility situated adjacently.

Commerce has found niobium in Quebec too, where samples showed very high grades up to 5.9% Nb2O5 on the company’s property about a kilometre from Ashram. Nevertheless the advanced-stage rare earths deposit remains the company’s priority, as it advances towards pre-feasibility. Among Ashram’s features are high grades, an impressive distribution of magnet feed elements and, crucial to the REE space, relatively simple mineralogy amenable to commercial processing. The deposit shows potential for a fluorspar byproduct as well.

Last month Commerce signed an MOU with Ucore Rare Metals TSXV:UCU to assess the suitability of Ashram concentrate for a proprietary method of REE processing at a plant Ucore plans to build in Utah. A Colorado pilot plant has already produced an Ashram concentrate exceeding 45% rare earth oxides at about 75% recovery.

The U.S. Geological Survey lists tantalum, niobium and rare earths among the critical minerals that the United States depends entirely on imports.

Read more about Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths deposit.

Margaret Lake, Arctic Star begin geophysical search for NWT diamonds

May 9th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 9, 2017

Modern geophysics and a new approach come to a property with diamondiferous kimberlites in the Northwest Territories’ prolific Lac de Gras region, as Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA and Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD start work on their Diagras JV. Expected to finish in mid-May, the program consists of ground gravity, magnetics and Ohm Mapper EM.

Margaret Lake, Arctic Star begin geophysical search for NWT diamonds

Margaret Lake and Arctic Star hold a 60% and 40% stake respectively, with Margaret Lake acting as project operator.

The companies hope to find non-magnetic evidence that was missed in the 1990s when De Beers flew airborne surveys that identified the property’s magnetic kimberlites.

Diagras hosts 13 known kimberlites, most of them diamondiferous, according to historic data. The property’s Jack Pine kimberlite shows “multiple phases with different geophysical responses,” the JV stated. “It is hoped that our planned surveys will reveal similar geology around the other pipes. There is also a good chance to find new kimberlites using these new ground geophysical techniques.”

In November the JV attributed those techniques to Kennady Diamonds’ (TSXV:KDI) progress at Kennady North, Lac de Gras’ most advanced exploration project.

Results of the Diagras program will be considered for follow-up drilling.

In January Arctic Star applied for a drill permit for its 100%-held CAP niobium-tantalum-REE property in north-central British Columbia. The company raised over $1.47 million in private placements that closed late last year.

Commerce Resources and TUGLIQ Energy ink MOU on wind power for Quebec rare earths project

March 1st, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2017

Looking at the dual benefits of cutting costs and cutting emissions, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE and TUGLIQ Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding to assess the potential for wind energy on the Ashram rare earths project. Announced February 28, the MOU follows TUGLIQ’s preliminary evaluation of local and regional wind data proximal to the northern Quebec deposit that Commerce is advancing towards pre-feasibility. Funding for the wind energy study comes partly from the province’s Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles.

Commerce Resources and TUGLIQ Energy ink MOU on wind energy for Quebec rare earths project

TUGLIQ Energy provides wind-generated electricity
for Glencore’s Raglan mine. (Photo: TUGLIQ Energy)

An independent power producer already active in northern Quebec, TUGLIQ operates a 3 MW wind turbine with energy storage that the company built in 2014 at Glencore’s Raglan mine. In the Northwest Territories, the Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC Diavik mine has been supplementing its diesel power with a four-turbine, 9.2 MW wind farm since 2012.

TUGLIQ’s Ashram study will consist of wind resource assessment, electrical system engineering and an integration study including assessment of greenhouse gas emission reductions.

“We are excited to be collaborating with TUGLIQ and to have the support of the Quebec government on this renewable resource project,” said Commerce president Chris Grove. “We look forward to evaluating this potential in much further detail. The potential to incorporate cost-effective renewable energy into the Ashram project only makes it that much more attractive for development.”

In mid-February the company closed a $1.71-million private placement that included $1 million from Ressources Québec, a subsidiary of the provincial government corporation Investissement Québec. The money will be used to complete Ashram’s pilot plant and produce REE and fluorite concentrates for companies that requested samples. Among them are Solvay, Mitsubishi, Treibacher, BASF, DKK, Albemarle and Blue Line.

Having reached PEA in 2012, the high-grade, near-surface deposit features an impressive distribution of magnet feed elements and relatively simple metallurgy, suggesting a potentially low-cost operation.

Quebec maintains its respected position as a mining jurisdiction, according to a Fraser Institute study released February 28. “Quebec ranks third in Canada and sixth globally—up from eighth spot last year—and is the only other Canadian jurisdiction [along with Saskatchewan and Manitoba] in the top 10 worldwide for overall investment attractiveness,” the FI stated.

In another rare metals project, Commerce holds the Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Province of Quebec invests in Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths project

February 17th, 2017

by Greg Klein | February 17, 2017

With potential customers waiting for rare earths concentrate samples, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE closed a $1.72-million private placement on February 17 that included $1 million from Ressources Québec. A subsidiary of the provincial government corporation Investissement Québec, Ressources Québec “focuses on projects that have good return prospects and foster Québec’s economic development,” the organization says. “Its role is complementary to private funders.”

We are excited to have the support of the Quebec government with this investment from Ressources Québec. The province of Quebec continues to prove that it is one of the most attractive jurisdictions to develop a mineral project. —Chris Grove,
president of Commerce Resources

“We are excited to have the support of the Quebec government with this investment from Ressources Québec,” Commerce president Chris Grove stated. “The province of Quebec continues to prove that it is one of the most attractive jurisdictions to develop a mineral project. We are excited to be advancing our Ashram project with this financing.”

The private placement will be used to complete the project’s pilot plant, to produce samples of REE and fluorite concentrates, and for general working capital. Among companies requesting REE samples are Solvay, Mitsubishi, Treibacher, BASF, DKK, Albemarle and Blue Line.

The money comes in addition to a three-year, $300,000 environmental grant from the province to optimize tailings management.

Ashram’s high-grade, near-surface deposit benefits from relatively simple metallurgy, suggesting a potentially low-cost operation with an impressive distribution of magnet feed elements. Now moving towards pre-feas, the project reached PEA in 2012.

Commerce also holds the Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

January 31st, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 31, 2017

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

China stands out in a map showing major sources of non-fuel mineral
commodities of which the U.S. imported more than 50% of its supply in 2016.
(Graphic: U.S. Geological Survey)

 

Lacking any domestic sources at all, the United States imported 100% of its supply of 20 minerals last year, the USGS reports. That number increased from 19 the previous year and 11 in 1984. Included in the 2016 list were rare earths, manganese and niobium, “which are among a suite of materials often designated as ‘critical’ or ‘strategic’ because they are essential to the economy and their supply may be disrupted.”

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

Imports of rare earth compounds and metals increased 6% over 2015, although the value dropped from $160 million to $120 million. China supplied 72% directly, with other imports coming from Estonia (7%), France (5%), Japan (5%) and other countries (11%).

But the Estonian, French and Japanese material was derived from concentrates produced in China and elsewhere, the USGS added.

American imports of tantalum increased about 40% over 2015. The USGS attributed about 37% of 2016 global production to the Democratic Republic of Congo and 32% to Rwanda. Estimates reverse those numbers for the previous year.

An alphabetical list of the 20 minerals follows, with rare earths, scandium and yttrium each comprising a separate category:

  • arsenic
  • asbestos
  • cesium
  • fluorspar
  • gallium
  • graphite
  • indium
  • manganese
  • mica
  • niobium
  • quartz crystal
  • rare earths
  • rubidium
  • scandium
  • strontium
  • tantalum
  • thallium
  • thorium
  • vanadium
  • yttrium

The report listed 50 minerals for which the U.S. imported over half of its supply. Overall China was the largest exporter, with Canada running second.

The Ashram advantage

January 30th, 2017

Commerce Resources prepares for a rare earths paradigm shift

by Greg Klein

The appeal to Western markets is obvious—an advanced, low-cost rare earths project in a friendly jurisdiction. So even before the recent military build-up in the South China Sea, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE experienced an increase in American requests for concentrate samples from its northern Quebec Ashram deposit. With the U.S. Navy now challenging Chinese territorial aggression, the confrontation seems to pit two superpowers against each other. But what does that really indicate?

It’s actually “one lonely small old Russian-built carrier against three U.S. Nimitz-class supercarriers,” Commerce president Chris Grove points out. “So when Beijing says it’s going to take off the gloves, I think they’re referring to trade.”

Commerce Resources prepares for a rare earths paradigm shift

That brings to mind the Senkaku incident, a much smaller 2010 confrontation in the same region that prompted China to cut off rare earths exports to Japan, sending global supply chains into turmoil and prices soaring. A possible Senkaku redux is one of a number of aspects to a global paradigm shift that Grove sees coming, to the benefit of Western industry in general and Ashram in particular.

The U.S. might easily outgun China, but China produces about 90% of the world’s rare earths. They’re essential to several defence needs, “a fact that really drives certain people in the U.S. absolutely apoplectic,” says Grove.

While Westerners have struggled to compete with China on costs, prices mean little to the U.S. Department of Defense, which last year began putting money behind potential domestic processors, Grove says. That support complements a multi-faceted advantage that the West is gaining over China, he explains. The latter country struggles with rising labour costs and the need to finally address its environmental woes. Meanwhile Western countries offset their labour costs with technological innovation and maintain the world’s highest environmental standards.

Even putting aside defence, demand for rare earths continues to grow with another global development. The international commitment to address climate change through clean energy, exemplified by the Paris Agreement, increases rare earths demand for numerous applications ranging from EVs to wind turbines.

In a research report last year, Chris Berry noted that “REE usage continues to grow at a pace well above global GDP growth with demand CAGRs growing anywhere from 4% to 8%, with permanent magnet demand forecast to lead this charge to 2020.”

Commerce Resources prepares for a rare earths paradigm shift

Ashram has undergone another 9,200 metres since
its resource estimate, often hitting even higher grades.

Clearly there’s a market for non-Chinese sources. And Grove sees Ashram uniquely positioned to help serve that market. Certainly others have failed but, he emphasizes, they lacked Ashram’s benefits of mineralogy, metallurgy, grade and jurisdiction—all of which add up to lower costs.

The project reached PEA in 2012, with an amended PEA in 2015. Since then the company’s been busy on multiple fronts as it advances towards pre-feasibility.

Ashram’s advantage begins with its relatively simple mineralogy, with carbonatite host rock and rare earths within the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, which dominate commercial REE processing.

Pilot plant metallurgical tests have quadrupled the PEA’s concentrate grade, producing 41% total rare earth oxides and 43% TREO, both at 71% recovery. That puts the grade well within the range of commercial producers and does so through a single-leach process that simplifies the flowsheet.

Requests for concentrate samples have come from Solvay, Mitsubishi, Treibacher, BASF, DKK, Albemarle and Blue Line, among others covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Metallurgy has also found a potential fluorspar byproduct, offering an advantage to both revenue and opex. Grove credits Glencore Canada’s interest in fluorspar with the willingness of its NorFalco Sales division to supply Commerce with sulphuric acid on highly favourable terms.

Proud as he is of Ashram’s high-grade, near-surface resource, Grove anticipates an even more impressive upgrade. The current estimate uses 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

Commerce has since drilled another 9,200 metres, mostly infill but always with some stepout holes as well. “In all those drill programs, we always hit mineralized material in the stepouts, we always encountered less waste rock at surface than was modelled in the resource and we always hit zones that were higher than the average grade,” he says.

Ashram’s magnet feed distribution also has Grove enthused. Overall, the deposit ranks with the largest producers for praseodymium, neodymium, terbium and dysprosium. Ashram’s medium-to-heavy REO resource, moreover, surpasses the producers for those elements. And, as Grove points out, those are critical elements. Efforts to find substitutes for magnet REEs have failed.

Companies with higher operating costs are probably praying for higher prices. Commerce Resources doesn’t need them. We still have a margin at today’s prices.—Chris Grove

Benefiting both Ashram’s opex and the environment would be wind energy, currently being studied for the project. Commerce’s environmental commitment as well as its community outreach have been recognized by the e3 Plus Award for social responsibility from l’Association de l’exploration minière du Québec.

The company has also received a $300,000 provincial grant to optimize tailings management, funding that shows Quebec’s commitment to mining as well as the environment. Grove calls the province “a fantastic jurisdiction,” one that invests directly in companies through Ressources Québec and makes tangible progress on the visionary Plan Nord infrastructure program.

Following a private placement of up to $2.5 million offered last month, Grove looks forward to a number of near-term milestones. Still to come are final assays from last year’s drilling. The agenda also calls for completing the pilot plant and filling requests for REE and fluorspar concentrate samples. The samples, Grove suggests, could spur interest in a JV or offtake agreement.

The Commerce quest for rare metals hasn’t been confined to rare earths. Last September sampling on the company’s property about a kilometre from Ashram found “spectacular” results up to 5.9% niobium pentoxide, described by Grove as “approximately double the grade of the largest and longest-running niobium producer’s head grade, CBMM’s Araxa deposit in Brazil.”

Commerce also holds the Blue River project in southeastern British Columbia. The property’s Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

But Commerce remains very much focused on Ashram. Whether events in the South China Sea send RE prices soaring, Grove sees possible increases coming from producers boosting revenues. But, he emphasizes, Ashram doesn’t need higher prices. “Companies with higher operating costs are probably praying for higher prices,” he says. “Commerce Resources doesn’t need them. We still have a margin at today’s prices.”

Canadian International Minerals reconsiders niobium potential of B.C. REE project

January 26th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 26, 2017

Canadian International Minerals reconsiders niobium potential of B.C. REE project

A rare earths property in British Columbia’s Rocky Mountain rare metal belt gains new attention as Canadian International Minerals TSXV:CIN takes another look at previous assays. An 11-hole program on the Wicheeda alkaline-carbonatite project in 2011 targeted rare earths but the company didn’t consider the niobium results to be material info. On January 26, however, CIN released niobium assays from four 2011 holes, with highlights showing:

Hole CA-11-010

  • 0.188% Nb2O5 over 16.06 metres, starting at 171.8 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.27% over 6.3 metres)
  • (which includes 0.731% over 0.98 metres)

CA-11-014

  • 0.156% over 24.43 metres, starting at 173.23 metres
  • (including 0.217% over 9.57 metres)
  • (which includes 0.337% over 3.9 metres)

  • 0.226% over 37.6 metres, starting at 232.98 metres
  • (including 0.297% over 18.27 metres)
  • (which includes 0.321% over 8.48 metres)
  • (which includes 0.632% Nb2O5 and 158 ppm tantalum over 2.2 metres)

True widths weren’t available.

Formerly called the Carbo project, Wicheeda showed RE results in the range of 0.2% to 0.5% total rare earth oxides in most of the 11 holes sunk during 2011. The previous year’s campaign found significant RE mineralization in all nine holes, with one intercept hitting 1.43% TREO over 37.3 metres.

Adjacent to CIN’s Wicheeda, Spectrum Mining’s Wicheeda project holds an inferred 11.3 million tonnes averaging 2.5% TREO.

CIN noted two niobium deposits hosted in the Rocky Mountain rare metal belt. The Upper Fir deposit on Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Blue River project holds an indicated 48.41 million tonnes averaging 0.161% Nb2O5 and 197 ppm Ta2O5. Located about 330 kilometres southeast of Wicheeda, Upper Fir also holds an inferred 5.4 million tonnes averaging 0.176% Nb2O5 and 191 ppm Ta2O5.

About 240 kilometres northwest of Wicheeda, Taseko Mines TSX:TKO brought the Aley project to pre-feas in 2014 with proven and probable reserves of 83.8 million tonnes averaging 0.5% Nb2O5.

CIN stated it “continues to re-evaluate the exploration targets for the Wicheeda project and will be investigating a number of partnership avenues in the coming weeks.”

In November the company released sample results from a due diligence program on its proposed Tisova acquisition, a former copper-polymetallic mine in the Czech Republic.

Arctic Star looks to B.C. for rare metals and rare earths

January 17th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 17, 2017

A previously acquired property gets new attention as Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD applies for a drill permit to search for niobium, tantalum and rare earth elements in central British Columbia.

Arctic Star looks to B.C. for rare metals and rare earths

Field work during 2010 on the 2,825-hectare CAP project found 481 to 981 parts per million niobium, 1,125 to 3,191 ppm zirconium, over 100 ppm lanthanum, over 100 ppm cerium and over 50 ppm neodymium. Two historic, non-43-101 samples returned strongly anomalous results of 0.13% and 0.1% rare earth elements, the company stated.

A circular magnetic anomaly of about three to five kilometres’ diameter could indicate a carbonatite or similar intrusion at depth, Arctic Star added. “Carbonatite-related deposits are a major host for rare metals, such as niobium and tantalum, and rare earth elements.”

Located about 80 kilometres from Prince George, CAP can be reached by logging roads during the summer and helicopter year-round.

In December the company closed a second tranche of financings totalling $1.47 million, including $300,000 of flow-through earmarked for CAP.

In November Arctic Star announced a JV with Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA on their newly compiled Diagras property in the Northwest Territories’ diamondiferous Lac de Gras region.

Commerce Resources announces successful close of 2016 field season

October 20th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 20, 2016

A series of hydrogeological tests concluded the 2016 field season as Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram rare earths deposit moves towards pre-feasibility. Last month the company finished the year’s definition drilling and environmental data collection on the northeastern Quebec project.

“With the three main field objectives now completed, drill core processing and sample collection for analysis are the next steps,” the company stated.

Commerce Resources announces successful close of 2016 field season

Still to come are assays from the season’s
14-hole, 2,000-metre, near-surface drill campaign.

The hydrogeological data will help evaluate sub-surface water flow and slope stability of different pit shell configurations. The environmental program included surface water and groundwater samples for baseline data collection and related studies. Last June the Quebec government granted Commerce $300,000 towards studies to optimize tailings management.

The season’s drill program sunk 14 holes totalling about 2,000 metres on the deposit’s northern, western and southern margins. While assays are pending, “initial geologic review and portable XRF data indicates significant mineralization is present over appreciable widths in several holes,” Commerce added. The goal is to expand and upgrade the project’s 2012 high-grade, near-surface resource.

The company keeps busy on a number of fronts as the project advances. Metallurgical studies have simplified Ashram’s flowsheet and shown a potential byproduct in fluorspar. Ashram’s rare earth elements mostly appear in monazite and to a lesser extent bastnasite and xenotime, minerals that dominate commercial extraction processes. Ashram’s REE distribution shows enrichment in the critical and magnet feed elements neodymium, praseodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.

While rare earths remain the company’s focus, a sampling program on the same property but one kilometre from the deposit brought a “spectacular” result of 5.9% niobium pentoxide last month. Forty out of 64 samples graded above 0.5% Nb2O5, with 16 surpassing 1%. Significant tantalum, phosphate and rare earth oxide grades were also found.

In August the company closed a private placement of $551,040 and the second tranche of a short-form prospectus that totalled nearly $1.45 million.

Commerce also holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

Read more about Commerce Resources.