Monday 18th June 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘quebec’

Update: Quebec government, universities contribute to pre-feas studies for Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths project

June 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | Updated June 5, 2018

With financial support from the Quebec government and academic expertise from two universities, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE announced progress on the pre-feasibility studies underway for the Ashram rare earths deposit.

On June 5 the company reported positive results from advanced tailings optimization tests conducted by le Centre Eau Terre Environnement of l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique, a branch of l’Université du Québec. Now in the second year of a three-year project, the work gets funding from les Fonds de recherche du Québec—Nature et technologies and le ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles. The lab work found no serious concerns, no acid generating potential and “strong indications of no metal-leaching potential,” Commerce stated.

The positive outcome benefited from “the inherent low-sulphide and non-acidic nature of the carbonatite host rock,” said company president Chris Grove.

The program also looked at the mineralogy of an Ashram fluorspar concentrate, a potential byproduct of the deposit. Initial findings brought “very encouraging” signs that recovery of monazite grains could upgrade the purity of the fluorspar concentrate and potentially increase the overall recovery of rare earth elements into the primary rare earth concentrate, Commerce added.

The news follows a May 31 annnouncement that l’Université Laval will conduct pilot plant metallurgical tests on Ashram material in a program backed by a $365,000 grant from le ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation.

Quebec government funds metallurgical studies on Commerce Resources’ rare earths

Laval’s coat of arms: Total funding ranks
the school sixth out of Canada’s top 50
research universities.

Focusing on hydrometallurgical extraction of REEs and the use of new software to simulate their separation, the project will further develop Quebec expertise in REE separation and assess the economics of performing that work in the province. Results would help develop an alternative source of rare earths for global markets.

The work takes place as heightened awareness of critical minerals comes from an American strategy to reduce reliance on potentially unstable or unfriendly countries.

Both the hydromet process and simulator software have been tested in bench scale studies. Results brought recoveries surpassing 85% and showed positive correlation with the computer-simulated data. The current project further develops these studies at the pilot plant level.

With approximately two tonnes of Ashram material to work on, the project takes place at the SGS lab in Quebec City. The goal is to produce a high-grade concentrate, then a solution for partial separation into light, medium and heavy rare earth elements.

Beneficiaries of the project will be Quebec R&D and industry, as well as Commerce’s Ashram deposit as it progresses towards pre-feasibility. Previous government support for Ashram came from Ressources Québec, which invested $1 million in the company’s February 2017 private placement.

Looking at other critical minerals in safe jurisdictions, Commerce also holds the advanced-stage Blue River tantalum-niobium project in British Columbia, as well as an early-stage high-grade niobium prospect, conditionally subject to an earn-in by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE, on the Eldor property that hosts Ashram.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Stan Sudol: Ontario politicians disregard mining issues, to the province’s peril

June 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 1, 2018

One of Canada’s greatest mineral discoveries since 1883, the Ring of Fire offers tremendous potential to a region plagued by endemic poverty and to a province burdened with the world’s largest sub-national debt. Meanwhile Ontario law requires mining companies to monitor carbon emissions from portable toilets. With a provincial election coming on June 7, something’s terribly lacking in campaign discussion, not to mention political vision, says Stan Sudol. Backing up his insights with factual detail, the Sudbury native, former mine worker, communications consultant and mining commentator presents a highly informed perspective at his website, The Republic of Mining.

Stan Sudol: Ontario politicians disregard mining issues, to the province’s peril

(Photo: Elections Ontario)

Are the hurdles to Ring of Fire development insurmountable? Sudol points out:

In contrast, the equally isolated territory of Nunavut has built two gold mines (Agnico-Eagle’s Meadowbank and TMAX Resources’ Doris) and one iron ore operation (Baffinland’s Mary River) in some of the most hostile terrain on the planet. A fourth gold mine (Agnico Eagle) should be in operation in 2019 and junior miner Sabina Gold and Silver Corp has been given continued development approvals by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Economic benefits to the indigenous population have been powerful enough to include the bemusing effect of insufficient parking spots in the hamlet of Baker Lake.

Do decision-makers realize, let alone appreciate, the world-class technical expertise centred around Sudbury? Canada’s tallest skyscraper, for example, is downtown Toronto’s 72-storey Bank of Montreal building. But consider this:

The deepest mines in northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec are roughly equal to 650 stories underground! It takes an amazing amount of advanced technology to safely bring workers to those depths. A tidal wave of innovation is engulfing a new era of the digital underground.

Ontario politicians show inadequate concern, let alone leadership, on issues ranging from community consultation, public awareness, problematic regulations and the need for infrastructure. These often intertwined issues remain crucial to an industry that can deliver much more to Ontario than it already does, Sudol explains.

In compiling this call to action he chose thoroughness over brevity, and has no doubt exceeded the typical politician’s attention span. But each party should have someone write a précise for their leader to study. Their federal counterparts would learn something too.

Meanwhile others can learn a lot about the mining industry, its challenges and contributions, by reading Sudol’s post here.

Quebec government funds metallurgical studies on Commerce Resources’ rare earths

May 31st, 2018

This story has been updated and moved here.

Commerce Resources sees additional opportunity in U.S. critical minerals strategy

May 22nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 22, 2018

Taking another step to enhance national security, the U.S. Department of the Interior has formally accepted a draft list of 35 minerals deemed critical to the American economy and defence. Resulting from a presidential order to reduce reliance on essential raw materials from potentially unreliable or unfriendly sources, the list received 453 public comments after being compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey. The agenda now moves to the strategy stage, with a final report expected by August on approaches to cut dependence. Topics will include:

Commerce Resources sees additional opportunity in U.S. critical minerals strategy

  • the status of recycling technologies

  • alternatives to critical minerals

  • options for accessing critical minerals from allies and partners

  • a plan to improve geological mapping in the U.S.

  • recommendations to streamline lease permitting and review processes

  • ways to increase discovery, production and domestic refining of critical minerals

The Americans’ heightened interest in sourcing these necessities from allies and partners brings to mind companies like Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, which has two advanced-stage Canadian properties hosting four critical minerals. At the company’s northern Quebec Eldor property, Commerce undertakes pre-feasibility studies on the Ashram deposit, hosting a rare earths resource with fluorspar byproduct potential. In central British Columbia, the company holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit. Those two metals are also the subject of early-stage exploration on Eldor, a few kilometres from Ashram.

“Ultimately, what’s obvious from this critical minerals list is the U.S. government’s interest in cutting the Chinese umbilical cord,” points out company president Chris Grove. “A commonality that we at Commerce keep hearing is anxiety from companies in all of the major markets outside China—Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria, the U.S., France—companies in all these countries are concerned about future supplies of these commodities and they don’t want to have to depend on them from China. Essentially, the theme of this critical commodities list is getting it from somewhere besides China.”

And although China looms large, it’s not the only source of dubious reliability.

“There’s a huge increase in risk once you step outside North America. With our locations, we definitely benefit from that negation of jurisdictional risk.”

Mineralogy reduces another category of risk. “Looking at the specifics of our projects, both Ashram and Blue River are processed very positively with standard techniques,” Grove adds. “We’re not re-creating the wheel here, we’re not re-splitting the atom. Well-understood metallurgical processes work on both of our projects.

“Meanwhile we have ongoing optimization work on Ashram and also on the flowsheet for Blue River and there will be more data released in a timely manner on these potential successes.”

The company has early-stage prospects too, emphasized by especially high-grade niobium, along with tantalum, on the Miranna claims. Located on the same Eldor property hosting Ashram, the project has a 43-101 technical report now nearing completion. Subject to exchange approval, Miranna would then come under a 75% earn-in by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE.

USGS data accentuates American reliance on foreign sources for Commerce’s four minerals. Data from 2013 to 2016 shows the U.S. imported 78% of its rare earths from China, with much of the other 22% originating in Chinese-produced concentrates. China produced only 8% of American fluorspar imports, but Mexico supplied 71%. U.S. imports of tantalum minerals came 40% from Brazil and 26% from Rwanda, while America’s tantalum metal originated 23% in China and 12% in Kazakhstan. An overwhelming 72% of niobium, a crucial component to military, infrastructure and other uses, came from Brazil—most of it from a single company.

Read more about Commerce Resources here and here.

Commerce Resources president Chris Grove sees promise in B.C. tantalum-niobium as well as Quebec rare earths

May 14th, 2018

…Read more

Proven provenance

April 20th, 2018

B.C. tantalum-niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

by Greg Klein

Not just inadequate reserves but dubious origins threaten security of supply for strategic commodities. A prime example is niobium, a largely single-source product from CBMM in Brazil that gives one company and one country enormous potential power. Tantalum raises further concerns as it passes through shadowy supply lines that could obscure conflict sources. Both metals appear on the recent U.S. draft list of 35 critical minerals. And both appear in substantial quantities in one east-central British Columbia deposit.

That brings additional interest to Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, best-known for its Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec. While that project moves towards pre-feasibility, the company’s Blue River property in B.C. offers advantageous resources, metallurgy, infrastructure and economics for the rare metals age, says company president Chris Grove.

Industry has noticed, evident in the inquiries he’s received from end-users.

“We’re very excited about the new interest in Blue River,” he says. “Companies are looking at the provenance of these commodities and the new executive order signed by President Trump focuses on the origin of these critical commodities, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity to be seen for Blue River.”

The property’s Upper Fir deposit boasts a resource effective February 2015 based on 271 holes totalling 59,100 metres:

  • 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

At this stage, processing looks good. Tantalum and niobium “occur within the minerals pyrochlore and ferrocolumbite and are amenable to conventional flotation and proven refining processes with estimated recoveries of 65% to 70%,” the 43-101 stated. “The industrial processes proposed for the production of high-quality tantalum and niobium products from the concentrates have not been tested using material from the Blue River project but are known processes that are not expected to be difficult to develop for the project.”

Tantalum and niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

Those qualities alone encourage optimism for production costs, Grove points out. But a more recent development suggests even greater potential savings to both capex and opex. In February the company announced successful processing through a patented method called the Krupin Process. That followed months of work on a 1,300-kilogram sample of Blue River material at the Estonian lab of Alexander Krupin. An expert in tantalum and niobium recovery, his CV shows more than 35 years’ experience, including over 15 years processing high-grade concentrates of those two metals.

But it took another expert to confirm the results. To that end Commerce dispatched chairperson Axel Hoppe to Krupin’s lab. Formerly president of the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center and a senior manager at H.C. Starck, a global producer of tantalum and niobium products, Hoppe “confirmed a very significant new development in processing that should save significantly on costs,” Grove says.

As a result, Commerce is now working on a definitive agreement to incorporate the Krupin Process at Blue River and also acquire worldwide rights to the method.

Covering 105,373 hectares, the property sits about 250 highway kilometres north of Kamloops, with access from another four klicks of gravel road. CN rail tracks and a parallel high-voltage transmission line cross the property’s western side, while a 20 MW run-of-river hydro plant operates adjacent to Blue River.

With niobium in a location like that, Blue River has attracted “huge interest from the steel sector,” Grove says. As electronics manufacturers take a closer look at some of the Democratic Republic of Congo mines that supply their cobalt, tantalum’s due for similar scrutiny, he adds.

Meanwhile, highly impressive niobium-tantalum assays from Commerce’s Quebec property have spawned an early-stage exploration project. Samples have graded as high as 4.24%, 4.3% and even 5.93% Nb2O5, as well as 1,040 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,220 ppm Ta2O5. The exceptional grades prompted Saville Resources TSXV:SRE to sign a 75% earn-in for the Niobium Claim Group on the Eldor property that also hosts Commerce’s advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit. Saville now has a 43-101 technical report underway. Dependent on TSXV approval of the deal and subsequent funding, the company plans drilling this year.

Interestingly it was Saville president Mike Hodge who staked the Blue River claims, after Dahrouge Geological Consulting brought the property to the attention of Commerce. Now a former Dahrouge geologist currently with the B.C. Geological Survey plans a public site visit to Blue River. Alexei Rukhlov will co-lead the June 22-24 field trip, an event open to participants of Resources for Future Generations 2018. Click here for more info.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Saville Resources and Commerce Resources announce 4.3% niobium, 700 ppm tantalum from northern Quebec

April 12th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 12, 2018

While preparations continue for this year’s drill program, additional high-grade niobium-tantalum sample assays have arrived from northern Quebec’s Niobium Claim Group. On April 12 Saville Resources TSXV:SRE and Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE reported grades as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5 from the new project, situated on the latter company’s Eldor property. Saville has signed a 75% earn-in agreement on the claim group, which sits a few kilometres from Ashram, one of the Western world’s most advanced rare earths deposits. Commerce has that project advancing towards pre-feasibility.

Saville Resources and Commerce Resources announce 4.3% niobium, 700 ppm tantalum from northern Quebec

High grades from last fall’s sampling program have Saville
and Commerce looking forward to an upcoming drill campaign.

The results fall in line with previous high grades from the project’s Miranna area of 4.24% and an especially impressive 5.93% Nb2O5. Previous tantalum assays from Miranna have reached as high as 1,220 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5.

The Northwest area gave up the richest sample, which reached 16.1% Nb2O5 and 7,540 ppm Ta2O5.

Collected by Commerce last year from the Miranna area, the most recent results show:

  • 4.3% Nb2O5, 240 ppm Ta2O5 and 13.4% P2O5

  • 2.75% Nb2O5, 130 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.6% P2O5

  • 2.24% Nb2O5, 290 ppm Ta2O5 and 11.6% P2O5

  • 0.69% Nb2O5, 350 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.8% P2O5

  • 0.75% Nb2O5, 660 ppm Ta2O5 and 14.2% P2O5

  • 1.18% Nb2O5, 590 ppm Ta2O5 and 13.1% P2O5

  • 1.16% Nb2O5, 700 ppm Ta2O5 and 0.65% P2O5

Miranna forms one of three prospective areas, along with the Northwest and Southeast areas. Miranna features a strongly mineralized boulder train which, a geophysical anomaly called the Miranna target suggests, might have its source partly on the property. The data indicates several overlapping boulder trains might also be present, with one possible source in the Southeast area.

Additional work shows the primary host mineral to be pyrochlore, the dominant source mineral for processing niobium and tantalum.

The upcoming drill program will focus on the Miranna target, as well as testing the Northwest and Southeast areas. Contingent on TSXV approval of Saville’s earn-in, the companies plan to file a 43-101 technical report on the project.

Earlier this month Saville closed the second tranche of a private placement totalling $289,700.

In addition to Ashram, Commerce 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 Saville Resources.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Saville Resources, Commerce Resources prepare for drilling and 43-101 on Quebec niobium-tantalum project

April 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 5, 2018

An early-stage but highly prospective rare metals project continues to advance as two companies identify drill targets and work towards an initial 43-101 technical report. On April 5 Saville Resources TSXV:SRE and Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE released an update for the Niobium Claim Group, an approximately 980-hectare package within Commerce’s northern Quebec Eldor property. Last January Saville inked an agreement for a 75% earn-in on the niobium-tantalum project that’s contingent on the 43-101 and TSXV approval.

Saville Resources, Commerce Resources prepare for drilling and 43-101 on Quebec niobium-tantalum project

Eldor also hosts Commerce’s Ashram project, one of the Western world’s most advanced rare earths deposits, currently moving towards pre-feasibility.

Sampling and drilling so far on the Niobium Claim Group have outlined three focal points called the Miranna, Southeast and Northwest areas. Previously reported niobium samples from the Miranna boulder train include an exceptional result of 5.93% Nb2O5, as well as 4.24% and 1.94% Nb2O5. Tantalum samples graded as high as 1,220 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5. Phosphate assays reached up to 11.9%, 11.5% and 11.1% P2O5.

The team interprets the source of mineralization to be a geophysical anomaly at the boulder train’s apex. As yet undrilled, the location comprises a priority for rig activity.

Some standouts from previously reported drilling at the Northwest area showed:

  • 0.55% Nb2O5, 166 ppm Ta2O5 and 5% P2O5 over 13.15 metres

  • 0.46% Nb2O5, 60 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.6% P2O5 over 46.88 metres
  • (including 0.64% Nb2O5, 20 ppm Ta2O5 and 5.9% P2O5 over 9.95 metres)

A boulder sample with an especially impressive 16.1% Nb2O5 and 7,540 ppm Ta2O5 was collected at the Northwest area’s western edge, where glacial ice direction suggested a potential source within the claim group.

Some previous intercepts from Southeast showed:

  • 0.54% Nb2O5, 71 ppm Ta2O5 and 5.9% P2O5 over 26.1 metres

  • 0.57% Nb2O5, 145 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.9% P2O5 over 74.25 metres
  • (including 0.85% Nb2O5, 97 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.9% P2O5 over 19.54 metres)

  • 0.48% Nb2O5, 329 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.2% P2O5 over 33.93 metres

The Southeast results in particular call for additional infill and step-out drilling for further delineation and to consider completing a maiden resource, the companies stated. Geophysics provides further evidence of drill targets in all three areas.

Tests have identified the primary host mineral for niobium-tantalum to be pyrochlore, the dominant source mineral for processing those metals.

Saville also announced the closing of the second tranche of a private placement totalling $289,700.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Selected bulk sample hits 2.46% cobalt, 6,173 g/t silver for Canada Cobalt Works’ Ontario project

March 16th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 16, 2018

High grades continue as Canada Cobalt Works TSXV:CCW conducts underground bulk sampling at the past-producing Castle mine in eastern Ontario. A pulp assay on a 35-kilogram sample released March 16 showed 2.46% cobalt, 1% nickel and 6,173 g/t or 198.5 ounces per tonne silver.

Selected bulk sample hits 2.46% cobalt, 6,173 g/t silver for Canada Cobalt Works’ Ontario project

Visible cobalt mineralization can be seen
in the former Castle mine’s first level.

A metallic screen fire assay on a 66-gram native silver sample not included in the previous assay brought “a head grade of 818,254 g/t (26,307 ounces per tonne),” Canada Cobalt stated. The samples were selective and not representative, the company emphasized.

Samples came from the historic mine’s first level, where rehab engineers have observed cobalt mineralization in the stopes, Canada Cobalt added. In operation off and on between 1917 and 1989, Castle’s underground workings extend through 11 levels totalling about 18 kilometres.

Last month the company reported two mini-bulk samples, with one assaying 2.47% cobalt, 23.4 g/t silver, 0.68% nickel and 1.83 g/t gold, and the other showing 0.91% cobalt and 460 g/t silver. That followed two mini-bulk samples of 3.124% and 1.036% cobalt released in December. The company also has assays pending from a 2,405-metre surface drill program conducted last summer.

As for the former Beaver mine in Ontario’s Cobalt camp 80 kilometres southeast of Castle, in December Canada Cobalt released three composite samples averaging 4.68% cobalt, 3.09% nickel and 46.9 g/t silver.

Canada Cobalt appointed Ron Molnar as an adviser on the company’s proprietary Re-2OX process for extracting cobalt and lithium from used Li-ion batteries. “Molnar has designed, built and operated over 60 pilot plant circuits extracting, separating and purifying a wide range of metallic elements from cobalt to rare earths,” the company stated.

Canada Cobalt also plans to build a 600-tpd gold processing facility to be financed by Granada Gold Mine TSXV:GGM, which holds a project near Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. The two companies share overlapping management and directors.

Canada Cobalt closed a private placement of $1.03 million in January.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6%; Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

March 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 14, 2018

It’s hardly a boom time scenario but mineral exploration within Canada should see a healthy 6% spending increase this year, according to recent federal government figures. Info supplied by companies shows an estimated total of $2.238 billion planned for exploration and deposit appraisal this year, compared with $2.111 billion in 2017. The second annual increase in a row, it’s far less dramatic than last year’s 29.6% leap.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6% Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

The Natural Resources Canada survey compares preliminary numbers for metals and non-metals from last year with projected budgets for 2018.

Together Quebec and Ontario account for more than half the spending, with la belle province getting 27.3% of last year’s total and 29.3% of this year’s, while Ontario got 24.9% and 26.5%.

Some runners-up were British Columbia (12.2% of Canada’s total in 2017 and 13% in 2018), Saskatchewan (9% and 7.4%) and Yukon (7.8% and 7.7%).

Proportionately Manitoba enjoyed the greatest increase, a 42% jump from $38.5 million to $54.7 million, in a performance at odds with the province’s most recent Fraser Institute ranking. Less spectacularly but still impressive, the figures show Quebec climbing 13.9% from $576.5 million to $656.7 million. British Columbia gets a 12.9% increase from $257.7 million to $290.9 million, and Ontario 12.7% from $526.2 million to $593 million.

Some disappointments include Saskatchewan, falling 13% from $189.9 million to $165.1 million. Nunavut plunged 34.6% from $169.3 million to $110.7 million.

Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.—Gary Vivian, president, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Addressing the territory’s performance along with its neighbour’s 10% drop, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian said, “Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.”

Combining figures for mine complex development with exploration and deposit appraisal, this year’s projected country-wide total rises 8.9% to $14.9 billion, the highest number in the four years of data released in this survey.

Commodities getting the most money are precious metals, although at a nearly 1.5% decrease to $1.35 billion this year from $1.37 billion last year. A more drastic drop was uranium, down 23.4% to $103.7 million. Base metals saw a 38.4% surge to $406.9 million. Coal’s projected for a 31.1% boost to $70.8 million.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenses considered for the survey include field work, engineering, economics, feasibility studies, the environment, land access and associated general expenses. Natural Resources Canada did not consider work for extensions of known reserves.

Recent studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed a marked improvement in junior mining company finances and a relatively stable, if cautious, ambience for more senior Canadian companies.

Covering a different period with different methodology than Natural Resources Canada, a study by EY, the B.C. government and the Association for Mineral Exploration calculated a 20% increase in B.C. exploration spending from 2016 to 2017.

See the Natural Resources Canada survey here.