Wednesday 26th October 2016

Resource Clips

Posts tagged ‘platinum group elements’

Nickel One Resources moves closer to PGE-copper-nickel acquisition in Finland

October 19th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 19, 2016

Nickel One Resources moves closer to Finnish PGE-copper-nickel acquisition

Over $10 million in previous work has given Lantinen Koillismaa
resource estimates for two potential open pits.

Nickel One Resources’ (TSXV:NNN) Finland entry took another step forward with a binding letter agreement announced October 19. Already holding the Tyko project in western Ontario, Nickel One would get a 100% interest in Finore Mining’s (CSE:FIN) Lantinen Koillismaa platinum group element-copper-nickel project in north-central Finland. An LOI was announced in August.

The property would come through the purchase of Finore subsidiary Nortec Minerals Oy in a deal costing five million shares and 2.5 million warrants exercisable at $0.12 for two years. Nickel One has paid $50,000, which would be applied to a private placement of up to $100,000 into Finore following due diligence.

Benefiting from over $10 million in previous work, LK has 2013 resource estimates for two potential open pits.

The Kaukua deposit shows:

  • indicated: 10.4 million tonnes averaging 0.73 g/t palladium, 0.26 g/t platinum, 0.08 g/t gold, 0.15% copper, 0.1% nickel and 65 g/t cobalt

  • inferred: 13.2 million tonnes averaging 0.63 g/t palladium, 0.22 g/t platinum, 0.06 g/t gold, 0.15% copper, 0.1% nickel and 55 g/t cobalt

The Haukiaho deposit has three zones totalling:

  • inferred: 23.2 million tonnes averaging 0.31 g/t palladium, 0.12 g/t platinum, 0.1 g/t gold, 0.21% copper, 0.14% nickel and 61 g/t cobalt

The acquisition would bring Nickel One into “a mining-friendly jurisdiction with some of the best infrastructure in the world,” commented president Vance Loeber. The project also provides “a foothold in Finland from which we will be taking a hard look at other opportunities to continue to build a strong portfolio of projects,” he added.

Read more about Nickel One Resources and the Lantinen Koillismaa acquisition.

The optimistic route

August 26th, 2016

As one Ring of Fire road study disappoints proponents, another surfaces

by Greg Klein

A 2013 expression of Ring of Fire optimism now sounds dispiriting: “With the support of the critical parties, planning and permitting for the main all-weather access road could be completed in 2014, and actual construction operations could commence in 2015.” That was the conclusion of a study commissioned by KWG Resources CSE:KWG three years ago but not published until August 26.

The company posted the 18-page “preliminary scoping exercise” on its website four days after CBC reported that a federally and provincially funded study on the same subject had been completed but not released. Although anticipated to herald a breakthrough, that study simply called for more study, the network stated. Moreover the report didn’t even consider a route to the proposed mining region, focusing only on connecting four native bands with a highway.

As one Ring of Fire road study disappoints proponents, another surfaces

Warmer temperatures make winter roads increasingly
unreliable, according to a KWG-commissioned study.

Release of the $785,000 report would be up to the four communities that led it, Ontario mines minister Michael Gravelle told the CBC. The network somehow obtained a copy but quoted only a few short excerpts. KWG president Frank Smeenk tells he wanted to counter disappointment with “an alternative that is feasible, financeable and attractive.”

KWG’s study estimated the cost of connecting its proposed north-south rail line with an existing road near Pickle Lake, about 305 kilometres west, between $83.6 million and $99.9 million. Trunk roads to four reserves would add another $36.1 million to $73.1 million. The four communities total roughly 2,500 people, according to numbers then available to the researchers.

The study didn’t consider expenses related to potential cultural or archaeological surveys, or the environmental assessment.

As for the region’s existing winter road, access “appears … increasingly unreliable as a consequence of warmer winter temperatures.”

Socio-economic benefits would include training and employment, as well as easier access to health care, police, schools and social services. The road would lower shipping and personal travel costs. Economic spinoffs could encourage growth in forestry and tourism, along with industrial, mechanical, transportation, commercial, financial and legal sectors, according to the study.

It was conducted by GreenForest Management, a Thunder Bay-based firm whose previous work included planning, construction and maintenance of 700 kilometres of all-weather roads north of Sioux Lookout and of 360 kilometres of all-weather roads north of Nakina.

Smeenk calls the report, which cost KWG between $25,000 and $35,000, “a good news story” that counters disappointment in the government-funded study.

While a proponent of a north-south railway, Smeenk says year-round east-west road access will be “a necessary ingredient to building the rail, which in turn is a necessary ingredient to creating a mining camp at the Ring of Fire.” A railway would be necessary to develop chromite deposits, the company argues.

But Noront Resources TSXV:NOT proposes to develop its Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-PGE project first, using an east-west road. That company holds about 75% of the region’s claims, having closed a 75% acquisition of MacDonald Mines Exploration’s (TSXV:BMK) RoF properties this week. Noront holds 70% of the Big Daddy chromite deposit and 85% of the McFaulds copper-zinc deposits. Noront is also KWG’s largest shareholder.

KWG holds 30% of Big Daddy, an 80% option on the Koper Lake project/Black Horse chromite deposit and 15% of McFaulds.

KWG has an agreement with China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group to conduct a feasibility study on a link to a Canadian National Railway TSX:CNR line 340 kilometres south. China Railway expects to add that to the Ring of Fire library by year-end.

News of the government-funded study prompted opposition politicians to criticize the federal and provincial Liberals. But the proposals seem mired in the duty to consult. On August 25 the Globe and Mail stated it obtained that report’s three-page conclusion. “Some of the unresolved issues include who would own and manage the roads and how the new road connections would affect social assistance payments,” the paper stated. “Some social programs pay more to residents of remote fly-in communities.”

Late August 26 the G&M said it now had the entire 147-page final report, which estimated road-building costs between $264 million and $559 million. “Among the positives, people said road access would make it easier for parents to visit children who must move away to attend high school,” the story noted. “Cheaper food and other goods from the south are also viewed as a benefit, along with new links between first nations communities. Common concerns were that a road could bring more hunters from the south, which could negatively affect trap lines and other traditional hunting practices. Many fear that more drugs and alcohol could reach the communities.”

Clearly nothing is going to be built in that part of Canada without social licence.—Frank Smeenk,
president of KWG Resources

While emphasizing the positive, Smeenk seems resigned to slow progress. “Clearly nothing is going to be built in that part of Canada without social licence,” he emphasizes. “We’ve flown a number of trial balloons on how that might best be accomplished. The best is that the first nations whose traditional territories will be traversed by this transportation infrastructure should be equal partners in it. So we’ve proposed to the first nations of Webequie and Marten Falls that we create an equal partnership in both the mine and transportation.”

In June KWG announced that chiefs of those bands were considering a proposal to place its mining claims in a limited partnership to be held half by KWG and half by the two communities. To buy their way in, KWG offered the bands a non-recourse loan of $40 million.

This week a Webequie drum group opened a new drill program at Eagle’s Nest “to ensure minimal disturbance to the land and water and for the health and safety of the workers,” Noront stated. The project reached feasibility in 2012. Earlier this month, in apparent expectation of the latest government-funded study, Noront said it “anticipates that mine construction will begin in 2018 when road construction starts, resulting in first concentrate production in 2021.”

Despite pessimistic reports of the government-funded study, Noront reiterated its expectation that Ontario will “make a joint announcement with local first nations regarding plans for a shared regional access road before the end of this year.”

The province has committed $1 billion for RoF infrastructure and has asked Ottawa for matching funds.

Update: Ring of Fire road study stalls as KWG rail study proceeds

August 22nd, 2016

by Greg Klein | August 22, 2016

Hours after KWG Resources CSE:KWG updated its Ring of Fire rail proposal, CBC reported that a highly anticipated government-funded road study simply called for more study. Specifically excluded from its scope, the network added, was a route to the potential mining sites.

CBC obtained a copy of the document entitled All Season Community Road Study, Final Report June 30, 2016 and quoted this excerpt:

KWG’s Ring of Fire rail study proceeds, government road announcement anticipated

KWG looks to China to support its proposed railway.

“This study has always been considered to be focused on an all-season community service road rather than an industrial road to connect to the Ring of Fire mineralized zone. Its intention was always to (1) link the four communities together and (2) link the communities to the existing highway system.”

Release of the federally and provincially funded report had been expected since its scheduled completion in June. Ontario has pledged $1 billion to Ring of Fire infrastructure and asked Ottawa for matching funds.

“This study was going to be the one that was going to give us the road map forward, literally,” the network quoted NDP MP Charlie Angus. “Now it’s just going to be kicked down the road for more delay, more study and more excuses.”

CBC stated that Ontario mines minister Michael Gravelle “said those discussions are ongoing and there is no timeline for coming to definitive answers. The study was led by the First Nations and it’s up to them to release it to the public, he added.”

Besides the report’s disappointing lack of a call to action, news that the study excluded the Ring’s mineral deposits will take many observers by surprise. Noront Resources TSXV:NOT favoured an all-season east-west road that would connect its deposits and four native communities with Highway 599 at Pickle Lake, which leads south to a Canadian National Railway TSX:CNR line at Savant Lake.

KWG maintained that rail would be necessary to develop the region’s chromite assets. Noront countered that its nickel-copper-platinum-palladium deposits should be developed first, pending better market conditions for chromite. A road would be the faster, cheaper option, the company argued. KWG has said Chinese investors have shown interest in a railway.

Hours before CBC posted its exclusive, KWG announced that a “conditional bankable feasibility study” for its proposed railway should be complete by year-end. The company stated it has “agreed on the deliverables and timetable” with China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group to examine a 340-kilometre north-south route linking its properties with CN at Exton.

Noront’s flagship Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-PGE project reached feasibility in 2012. In an optimistic news release earlier this month, the company stated it “anticipates that mine construction will begin in 2018 when road construction starts, resulting in first concentrate production in 2021.”

Noront’s other Ring of Fire assets include the Blackbird chromite deposit and the Black Thor and Black Label chromite deposits. Noront and KWG hold 70%/30% respectively of the Big Daddy chromite deposit and 85%/15% of the McFaulds copper-zinc deposits. Noront is KWG’s largest shareholder.

Noront recently signed a definitive agreement to buy a 75% stake in MacDonald Mines Exploration’s (TSXV:BMK) regional properties, increasing Noront’s portfolio to around 75% of the Ring’s staked claims.

KWG also holds an 80% option on the Koper Lake project with its Black Horse chromite deposit.

Both companies have faced recent public criticism. Last week CBC reported the Neskantaga First Nation issued a “cease and desist” order to Noront, after the company announced a drill program. An online video posted by KWG drew widespread censure for its display of bikini-clad women.

A second flagship

August 11th, 2016

Nickel One Resources plans a Finnish acquisition as well as Ontario drilling

by Greg Klein

A position in Scandinavia would give Nickel One Resources TSXV:NNN a dual approach or, as president/CEO Vance Loeber describes it, “a double-barrelled shotgun.” On August 11 the company announced an LOI to gain a Finore Mining CSE:FIN subsidiary with a 100% interest in Lantinen Koillismaa, a nickel-copper-PGE deposit in an active mining region of Finland. Additionally, encouraged by positive results from last spring’s assays, the company plans to resume drilling on its Tyko project in Ontario.

Nickel One Resources plans Finnish acquisition as well as Ontario drilling

With equally spectacular aurora borealis, arctic Finland
boasts far greater infrastructure than northern Canada.

A 3,750-hectare property just 65 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, LK actually enjoys a favourable location—and that demonstrates the contrast between the Canadian and Scandinavian north. An all-weather, government-maintained road comes right to the property, a rail line runs 40 kilometres away and Oulu, a Gulf of Bothnia port that’s home to 200,000 people, sits 160 kilometres west. Work is practical right through the winter, as several mines and three smelters in the region attest.

“The local community is very supportive, the Finnish Geological Survey is very supportive and it’s a beautiful place to work,” enthuses Loeber.

Finore took LK to resource level in 2013 for two deposits with open pit potential. The Kaukua deposit shows:

  • indicated: 10.4 million tonnes averaging 0.73 g/t palladium, 0.26 g/t platinum, 0.08 g/t gold, 0.15% copper, 0.1% nickel and 65 g/t cobalt

  • inferred: 13.2 million tonnes averaging 0.63 g/t palladium, 0.22 g/t platinum, 0.06 g/t gold, 0.15% copper, 0.1% nickel and 55 g/t cobalt

Three zones at the Haukiaho deposit total:

  • inferred: 23.2 million tonnes averaging 0.31 g/t palladium, 0.12 g/t platinum, 0.1 g/t gold, 0.21% copper, 0.14% nickel and 61 g/t cobalt

Further study might put a new perspective on the resource. “Although the plan is to look at it from a fresh approach, a higher-grade/lower-tonnage point of view, we’re not going to lose sight of the higher-tonnage aspect either,” explains Loeber. “But in the short term we’ll be looking at some higher-grade tonnage, both through additional exploration and a re-engineered 43-101 report.”

A new perspective maybe, but from experienced eyes. “With this acquisition we also get the combined geological talent of Finore’s founders, Mohan Vulimiri and Peter Tegart,” Loeber points out. “They’re pretty serious guys so it’s not like we’re going in blind.”

Another Finland veteran is Nickel One VP of exploration and former PDAC president Scott Jobin-Bevans. “He did his PhD dissertation on this type of mineralization,” says Loeber.

The deal would cost Nickel One five million shares. The company would also contribute up to $100,000 towards any future private placement undertaken by Finore. Loeber doesn’t offer an anticipated closing date but says his team wants the deal wrapped up “sooner rather than later.”

But looking at Finland doesn’t mean neglecting western Ontario. “Tyko is still very much in our sights. We had some great results in our initial program and we’re planning a late-summer, early-fall follow-up program.”

That would take the crew about 40 kilometres north of Hemlo in an area that’s surprisingly more remote than arctic Finland. Still, Tyco’s accessible by highway, logging roads and float plane.

The 14 holes and 1,780 metres drilled so far this year followed 13 holes and 2,230 metres sunk by North American Palladium TSX:PDL up to 2007. Nine North American holes revealed mineralization.

Near-surface intercepts reported by Nickel One in June returned as much as 1.47% nickel, 0.49% copper and 0.71 ppm PGEs over 6.05 metres. Another assay showed 1.06% nickel, 0.35% copper and 0.65 ppm PGEs over 6.22 metres. Along with the other results, the company sees increasing optimism in its magma conduit theory suggesting a potential link between the property’s RJ and Tyko zones, 1.5 kilometres apart.

The extent of Tyco’s upcoming program remains “finance-dependent,” Loeber says. But given market response to the LOI, he’s confident of raising funds. As for a closing date for LK, “We’re going to make this happen as quickly as we can.”

Exploring opportunity

June 17th, 2016

A capacity crowd attends the first annual Vancouver Commodity Forum

by Greg Klein
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A capacity crowd attends the first annual Vancouver Commodity Forum


“There’s excitement in the air,” said Cambridge House International founder Joe Martin. That’s the mood he senses as junior explorers emerge from the downturn. And certainly optimism was evident on June 14 as more than 450 people converged on the Vancouver Commodity Forum for an afternoon of expert talks amid a showcase of two dozen companies. Keynote speakers included Martin, Chris Berry of the Disruptive Discoveries Journal, Jon Hykawy of Stormcrow Capital, John Kaiser of Kaiser Research Online and Stephan Bogner of Rockstone Research.

A capacity crowd attends the first annual Vancouver Commodity Forum

Lithium, not surprisingly, stood out as a commodity of interest. While cautioning against over-enthusiasm for the exploration rush, Berry and Hykawy each affirmed the need for juniors to find new sources of the metal. Cobalt and scandium featured prominently too, as did other commodities including what Kaiser called “the weird metals”—lesser known stuff that’s vital to our lives but threatened with security of supply.

Kaiser also noted he was addressing a crowd larger than his last PDAC audience, another indication that “we’ve turned the corner.”

Attendees also met and mingled with company reps. Potential investors learned about a wide gamut of projects aspiring to meet a growing demand for necessities, conveniences and luxuries.

Presented by Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC, the forum’s success will make it an annual event, said company president Dave Hodge. Berry emceed the conference, holding the unenviable task of “making sure Dave stays well-behaved.”

Read interviews with keynote speakers:

Meet the companies

Most companies were core holdings of Zimtu, a prospect generator that connects explorers with properties and also shares management, technical and financing expertise. Zimtu offers investors participation in a range of commodities and companies, including some at the pre-IPO stage.

After sampling high-grade lithium on its Hidden Lake project in the Northwest Territories earlier this month, 92 Resources TSXV:NTY plans to return in mid-July for a program of mapping, exposing spodumene-bearing pegmatite dykes, and channel sampling. The company closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $318,836 in April. Hidden Lake’s located near Highway 4, about 40 kilometres from Yellowknife and within the Yellowknife Pegmatite Belt.

With one of the Athabasca Basin’s largest and most prospective exploration portfolios, ALX Uranium TSXV:AL has a number of projects competing for flagship status. Among them is Hook-Carter, which covers extensions of three known conductive trends, one of them hosting the sensational discoveries of Fission Uranium TSX:FCU and NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE. ALX’s strategic partnership with Holystone Energy allows that company to invest up to $750,000 in ALX and retain the right to maintain its ownership level for three years. ALX closed a private placement first tranche of $255,000 last month, amid this year’s busy news flow from a number of the company’s active projects.

A capacity crowd attends the first annual Vancouver Commodity Forum

Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD boasts one of northern Canada’s largest 100%-held diamond exploration portfolios. Among the properties are the drill-ready Stein project in Nunavut and others in the Lac de Gras region that’s the world’s third-largest diamond producer by value. North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR holds an option to earn up to 55% of Arctic Star’s Redemption property.

Aurvista Gold TSXV:AVA considers its Douay property one of Quebec’s largest and last undeveloped gold projects. The Abitibi property has resources totalling 238,400 ounces of gold indicated and 2.75 million ounces inferred. Now, with $1.1 million raised last month, the company hopes to increase those numbers through a summer program including 4,000 metres of drilling. Douay’s 2014 PEA used a 5% discount rate to forecast a post-tax NPV of $16.6 million and a post-tax IRR of 40%.

Looking for lithium in Nevada, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA now has a geophysics crew en route to its Kibby Basin property, which the company believes could potentially host lithium-bearing brines in a similar geological setting to the Clayton Valley, about 65 kilometres south. Results from the gravity survey will help identify targets for direct push drilling and sampling.

A mineral perhaps overlooked in the effort to supply green technologies, zeolite has several environmental applications. Canadian Zeolite TSXV:CNZ holds two projects in southern British Columbia, Sun Group and Bromley Creek, the latter an active quarrying operation.

With a high-grade, near-surface rare earths deposit hosted in minerals that have proven processing, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE takes its Ashram project in Quebec towards pre-feasibility. The relatively straightforward mineralogy contributes to steady progress in metallurgical studies. Commerce also holds southeastern B.C.’s Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

Permitted for construction following a 2014 PEA, Copper North Mining’s (TSXV:COL) Carmacks copper-gold-silver project now undergoes revised PEA studies. The agenda calls for improved economics by creating a new leach and development plan for the south-central Yukon property. In central B.C. the company holds the Thor exploration property, 20 kilometres south of the historic Kemess mine.

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Nickel One reports near-surface assays north of Hemlo

June 8th, 2016

by Greg Klein | June 8, 2016

With results in from an additional 10 holes and 1,200 metres, Nickel One Resources TSXV:NNN found promising near-surface intervals at its Tyko project in northwestern Ontario. The campaign targeted the property’s RJ and Tyko zones, as well as the Bruce Lake anomaly.

Highlights reported June 8 show:

Hole TK-06-006 at the Tyko zone

  • 0.93% nickel, 0.5% copper and 0.68 ppm platinum group elements over 15.86 metres, starting at 22.28 metres in downhole depth

  • (including 1.03% nickel, 0.55% copper and 0.75 ppm PGEs over 13.42 metres)

  • (which includes 1.51% nickel, 0.73% copper and 1.02 ppm PGEs over 2.62 metres)
Nickel One reports near-surface assays north of Hemlo

Hole TK-06-010 at the upper Tyko zone

  • 0.84% nickel, 0.39% copper and 0.59 ppm PGEs over 8 metres, starting at 7 metres

  • (including 2.52% nickel, 0.9% copper and 1.62 ppm PGEs over 1 metre)

Hole TK-06-010 at the lower Tyko zone

  • 1.06% nickel, 0.35% copper and 0.65 ppm PGEs over 6.22 metres, starting at 49.93 metres

  • (including 4.71% nickel, 0.82% copper and 2.55 ppm PGEs over 0.87 metres)

Hole TK-06-011 at the Tyko zone

  • 1.47% nickel, 0.49% copper and 0.71 ppm PGEs over 6.05 metres, starting at 8.75 metres

  • (including 2.12% nickel, 0.48% copper and 0.94 ppm PGEs over 3.15 metres)

True widths weren’t available.

The announcement follows results for four holes reported in April, which included an RJ zone intercept of 1.04% nickel over 16.19 metres. This year’s drilling totalled 14 holes and 1,780 metres.

“The new results support the magma conduit model, developed by Fladgate Exploration Consulting and previously tested at the RJ occurrence,” said president/CEO Vance Loeber. “Initial results support this model which potentially links the RJ and Tyko zones, separated by 1.5 kilometres, as part of a pipe-like feeder system.”

The 11,168-hectare property features very high “sulphide tenors of the nickel-copper-platinum group elements mineralization,” the company stated. “Total sulphur analysis completed by Nickel One indicated tenors in 100% sulphide that average 8.6% nickel, 4.6% copper and 3.3 ppm PGEs at the RJ zone and 16.3% nickel, 8.7% copper and 12.8 ppm PGEs at the Tyko zone.” Those results strengthen the case for finding a potentially economic disseminated sulphide deposit, as well as the theory that the property contains a magmatic feeder system, the company added.

Nickel One hopes “to delineate this feeder system and ultimately develop a mineral resource.”

Located about 40 kilometres north of Hemlo, the project can be reached by float plane and logging roads.

Read more about Nickel One Resources.

Nickel One Resources begins drilling its Tyko project in Ontario

March 8th, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 8, 2016

Nickel One Resources begins drilling Tyko project in Ontario

Outcrops on Nickel One’s recently acquired Tyko
project show nickel and copper mineralization.

Hoping to confirm historic results and extend known mineralization, Nickel One Resources TSXV:NNN has a minimum 10-hole, 1,500-metre program underway at its Tyko project in Ontario’s Thunder Bay mining district. The company sees potential in two historic showings of nickel-copper-platinum group elements and a 10-kilometre ultramafic conduit structure. Previously, only 12 shallow holes had been sunk on the 11,168-hectare property.

The campaign’s budgeted at about $300,000. Nickel One recently closed an $890,000 private placement.

Having made its Venture debut on February 29, the company now trades on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as well, under the symbol 7N1.

Read more about Nickel One Resources.

Mining the heavens

November 27th, 2015

It could be 10 years away, with water as the first commodity

by Greg Klein

How best to describe the asteroid mining act that the U.S. signed into law on November 26? A skeptic might say, “One small penstroke for POTUS, one giant leap of fantasy.” But to Eric Anderson, it’s “the single greatest recognition of property rights in history.” The co-founder/co-chairperson of Planetary Resources added, “This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history and will encourage the sustained development of space.”

While the law doesn’t actually grant Americans extraterrestrial property rights, it does say they can keep anything they find out there. Maybe other earthlings will follow through with their own finders-keepers laws. And there’s a hell of a lot to be found, according to enthusiasts of asteroid mining.

It might happen in 10 years, with water as the first commodity

A simulated image shows Planetary’s next satellite.
Image: Planetary Resources

A 500-metre asteroid “can contain more platinum group metals than have ever been mined in human history,” according to Anderson’s company, perhaps alluding to the possibility of non-humans mining elsewhere. Not-quite 43-101 estimates bandied about for asteroid 2012 DA14 range from $195 billion to $20 trillion.

To put the last figure in perspective, that’s about 20 Afghanistans, according to an oft-repeated but completely unsubstantiated estimate for another difficult-to-access part of the universe.

Visionaries see the market for off-planet resources not so much on Earth but in outer space, helping colonize beyond the continents exploited during our Age of Exploration. In fact Moon Express refers to its hoped-for robotic mining location as Earth’s “eighth continent.” But asteroids remain the destinations of choice for companies like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources.

Chris Lewicki, the latter company’s president/chief engineer, foresees asteroid mining within 10 years.

Speaking to, he says Planetary now has a “very small, very innovative spacecraft” circling Earth. “It’s about the size of a loaf of bread. It uses a new, advanced form of computer processing to automate and reduce data. When we’re that far from Earth the phone bill can get very expensive, so we want to do a lot of those computations locally.”

The company lost an earlier spacecraft last year with the explosion of a commercial rocket, which would have carried the satellite to the International Space Station prior to re-launch into orbit.

Arkyd 6, another spacecraft scheduled for launch in spring, will orbit with an infrared imager to determine asteroid content, including water. “We’ll be the first commercial company to put one of those into space. A few more satellites are planned after that, then we plan on heading out to our asteroid of choice.”

That’s anticipated to happen by 2020, even though the company states there are 11,000 near-Earth asteroids, with about three new ones being discovered every day.

Once we’ve identified the asteroid, it will probably be a year or two before we can go back to it. I would expect that in the first half of the 2020s we’d have a mission that would begin the first small-scale extraction …—Chris Lewicki,
president/chief engineer
of Planetary Resources

“Once we’ve identified the asteroid, it will probably be a year or two before we can go back to it. I would expect that in the first half of the 2020s we’d have a mission that would begin the first small-scale extraction, demonstrating that we can extract water, hydrogen and oxygen from asteroids.”

As the first priority, water would be the easiest commodity to pull out and one already with a relatively local market. Out there, it costs as much as $50 million a tonne, Lewicki says. “So if we can get it in space, that really helps us establish an industry in space. Water of course supports human life, but it’s also oxygen and hydrogen, which are rocket fuel.”

Technology has progressed further than most people realize, he insists. Formerly with NASA, he took part in Mars missions as flight director for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, and as surface mission manager for Phoenix. He even has an asteroid named after him, 13609 Lewicki.

Among lessons learned at NASA, he says “there are cheaper ways to do things if the goals are simpler, especially if you can incorporate some commercial innovations. But when we get to the mining and resource extraction, many of those technologies have already been developed. Things that can concentrate sunlight in space have been tested on the Space Shuttle in the 1990s. Things you can use to contain that energy are commercially available.”

Enthusiasts point out advantages of mining the heavens. The primitive evolutionary state of asteroids simplifies geology. There’s no atmosphere or weather getting in the way. Nobody’s saying so out loud, but there’s no permitting to bother with. And, unless there are surprises in store, no indigenous communities either.

It might happen in 10 years, with water as the first commodity

The Arkyd 3, now in Earth orbit, poses with some of its creators.
Photo: Planetary Resources

“It’s not necessarily harder or easier to do things than on Earth, it’s just different,” Lewicki maintains. “Free energy from the sun 24 hours a day is a great advantage and you’d be able to move tonnes and tonnes of material around with only very light structures because you don’t have to fight gravity.”

Still, such ambitions don’t come cheaply. Planetary gets revenue from contracts with NASA, the U.S. Defense Department and private companies. The endeavour also has deep-pocketed backing from the likes of Google founder/Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Ross Perot Jr and Richard Branson, among other “well-known entrepreneurs who understand how important it is to develop this industry.” But the company keeps its financials confidential.

Getting back to those supposedly bountiful resources, Lewicki says there are three main ways to assess asteroids. “Just as we use astronomy and spectroscopy to determine the make-up of a star light years away, we can use the same techniques to understand the rock composition of asteroids.”

Scientists also have some 50,000 bits of those rocks that fell to Earth.

“Perhaps the best way, and this has been done several times now, is to go out with a spacecraft and take that instrumentation right out to the asteroids, and even bring pieces back, as the Japanese did almost 10 years ago. We can actually know more about asteroids than we can about many things mined on Earth that are a kilometre below our feet because there’s nothing between you and it but the vast emptiness of space.”

Wondrous as all this seems, it comes from a soft-spoken NASA veteran. “A lot of people think this is way far off in the future, but it’s actually something we’ve been working on for several years.”

Who knows, maybe one day companies trying to crack Ontario’s Ring of Fire might look on in envy.

Athabasca Basin and beyond

February 14th, 2015

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere to February 13, 2015

by Greg Klein

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Fission Uranium expands main zone at PLS

With a 100% hit rate so far, the first 14 holes of Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) winter campaign extend the geography of Patterson Lake South’s largest zone. Nine holes reported February 10 expand R780E at different points laterally 40 metres north, 30 metres eastward along strike and 50 metres vertically up dip—continuing a process begun with five step-outs released January 26. The R780E zone already holds about 96% of indicated and 90% of inferred categories from last month’s estimate for Triple R, the Athabasca Basin’s largest undeveloped uranium deposit. The resource “remains open in several directions, including strike, width and vertically,” the company stated.

Scintillometer readings, which are no substitute for assays, showed strong mineralization for all holes. R780E now stretches about 900 metres in strike length. Beyond a 225-metre gap to the west, Triple R’s R00E zone adds another 125 metres in strike. Overall, the 31,039-hectare property hosts four zones running east-west along 2.24 kilometres of potential strike.

This year’s exploration budget comes to $15 million. Winter drilling gets a $10-million, four-rig, 20,230-metre program. Thirty-five holes will focus on the Triple R deposit as well as the R600W zone. Another 28 holes will test regional targets. Of special interest is the Forest Lake conductive corridor, which features “geophysics and radon signatures similar to the Patterson Lake conductive corridor” that hosts Triple R.

Read about the Patterson Lake South resource estimate.

See an historical timeline of the Patterson Lake South saga.

Fission Uranium buys into Fission 3.0

On February 11 Fission Uranium announced its intention to pay $3.08 million to get about 12% of its own spinout Fission 3.0 TSXV:FUU, a company not exactly known for monogamy.

Dev Randhawa, who leads both companies, resigned from the board of Azincourt Uranium TSXV:AAZ, according to a February 6 statement. Three days later came the announcement that he joined Aldrin Resource’s (TSXV:ALN) board.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere to February 13, 2015

On February 5 Aldrin had announced a plan to acquire up to 50% of Fission 3.0’s Key Lake properties, an 18,392-hectare package on the southeastern Basin. The deal would cost Aldrin $100,000 cash, 1.9 million shares and $6.9 million in expenditures up to May 2019. Fission 3.0 remains project operator.

Fission 3.0’s already busy with winter campaigns on two PLS-vicinity projects. At the PLN project, a joint venture with Azincourt, a $1.45-million program of seven holes and geophysics has begun. The Clearwater project, a JV with Brades Resource TSXV:BRA, has 10 holes plus geophysics underway at an expected cost of $1.04 million.

In a mid-January announcement, Brades described three northeastern Basin acquisitions as part of an “objective to stake highly prospective areas near, and in the case of Perron Lake and Cree Bay, adjacent to, properties of Fission 3.0.”

NexGen honoured for 2014 performance, reports 2015 progress

A Fission Uranium next-door neighbour, NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE made it into the TSX Venture 50, the company announced February 12. The TSXV compiles the list by ranking the top 10 companies in five sectors for market cap, share appreciation, volume and analyst coverage.

Last year’s last batch of Rook 1 assays hit as high as 2.34% U3O8 over 26.5 metres, starting at 592.5 metres in downhole depth. Impressive as it was, the result fell short of earlier assays considered among the Basin’s best.

A three-rig, 18,000-metre program began last month, focusing on the project’s Arrow zone as well as “regional targets on the Rook 1 claim that covers all the major uranium-bearing conductor corridors in the southwestern region of the Athabasca Basin.”

One target was noted in a January 20 announcement, a radon-in-lake-water anomaly 480 metres long by 20 to 150 metres wide that was found 400 metres northeast along strike from Arrow.

One week later the company reported scintillometer results for the first four holes from Arrow, all of them finding “substantial broad mineralization.” Then, the following day, NexGen announced that VTEM, ground gravity and magnetic surveys identified six targets on the Fury area, about 13.5 kilometres southeast of Arrow. As a result, Fury’s slated for about 4,500 metres of winter drilling.

Denison reports eU3O8 from Mann Lake and Wheeler River

Denison Mines TSX:DML released the year’s first results on February 4 from Mann Lake and Wheeler River, two eastern Basin projects five kilometres apart and among the company’s 14 drill campaigns scheduled for this year.

Measured with a downhole probe, the single Mann Lake hole showed 9.8% uranium oxide-equivalent (eU3O8) over 3.5 metres, starting at 671.7 metres in downhole depth. True thickness would come to at least 80%.

Denison holds a 30% stake in the JV, along with operator Cameco Corp TSX:CCO (52.5%) and AREVA Resources Canada (17.5%).

Three holes at Wheeler River’s Gryphon zone showed:

  • 0.3% eU3O8 over 2 metres, starting at 664.5 metres in downhole depth

  • 2.9% over 2.4 metres, starting at 764.2 metres

  • 2.8% over 2.4 metres, starting at 786.3 metres

  • 9% over 4.6 metres, starting at 641.6 metres

True thickness is estimated at about 75%.

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Drilling now underway at Lakeland Resources’ Star/Gibbons Creek uranium project

January 27th, 2015

by Greg Klein | January 27, 2015

A minimum 1,500-metre drill program has begun at Lakeland Resources’ (TSXV:LK) Star/Gibbon’s Creek uranium project on the Athabasca Basin’s north-central edge. Announced January 27, the campaign follows recent and historic exploration that found anomalous uranium, nickel, gold, platinum group elements and rare earths.

Drilling now underway at Lakeland Resources’ Star/Gibbons Creek uranium project

A sampling program helped define drill targets for Lakeland Resources’ Phase I campaign at Star/Gibbon’s Creek.

“The augmentation of historic exploration data with recent exploration results for these properties, coupled with a modern understanding of uranium mineralization in the Basin, has greatly enhanced the potential of this Phase I drill program,” said Lakeland president/CEO Jonathan Armes. “The company is well funded to carry out exploration on a number of its wholly owned Basin properties, and we expect a very busy and exciting year.” Last year’s financings raised over $5.1 million.

Star and Gibbon’s Creek are two adjacent properties explored as a single project. The 12,771-hectare Gibbon’s features some of the Basin’s highest RadonEx readings and a radioactive boulder field grading up to 4.28% U3O8. Surface samples from the Star property have revealed gold up to 5.7 grams per tonne, PGEs up to 0.75 g/t, rare earth elements up to 6.9% TREO, as well as highly anomalous uranium. All of that suggests a robust hydrothermal system, Lakeland stated.

The Star sampling program focused on part of a basement outcrop covering about 350 metres by 700 metres. Linking it to the boulder field is a structural corridor that’s been reactivated by hydrothermal fluids many times over the millennia.

The project also benefits from shallow depths to the unconformity, nearby roads and power lines, and the town of Stony Rapids a few kilometres away.

Holding one of the Basin’s largest land packages, the company has two other drill-ready projects, Lazy Edward Bay on the Basin’s southern rim and Newnham Lake, east of Star/Gibbon’s.

In December Lakeland announced a 50% option on its Fond du Lac uranium property by Takara Resources TSXV:TKK.

Read more about Lakeland Resources’ Star/Gibbon’s Creek project.

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