Sunday 23rd September 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Rio Tinto PLC ADS (RIO)’

Gary Vivian of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines celebrates Ekati’s 20th year of production and Diavik’s new A21 operation

September 17th, 2018

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How to flog glitter to the young and affluent: A De Beers special report

September 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 14, 2018

Last year’s global market for diamond-encrusted jewelry rose 2.2% to a new high of $82 billion, largely due to the planet’s most populous age groups, says the world’s largest purveyor of the bling. But as “consumer power” shifts from elderly Boomers and middle-aged Generation X to Millennials and Gen Z, manufacturers and retailers must meet a new set of consumer expectations, De Beers’ Diamond Insight Report warns.

Americans again demonstrated the largest demand for diamond jewelry, splurging $43 billion, up 4.2% from the previous year’s $41 billion extravagance in a market that’s expected to show steady growth.

How to flog glitter to the young and affluent: A De Beers special report

(Photo: Matt Crabb/Anglo American)

Looking at diamonds’ pre-jewelry market, rough sales to cutting and polishing facilities rose 2% to $16.6 billion. De Beers claimed 34% of the total, down from its 2016 portion of 37%. Alrosa’s share came to 25%, compared with 27% the previous year. This year’s H1 sales to cutting centres, however, have surpassed the same period in 2017.

Last year’s global production climbed 15% in value to $17.5 billion and 14% in volume to 164 million carats. De Beers took credit for the largest increase of 6.1 million carats, followed by Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO with 3.7 million and Alrosa with 2.3 million carats. The top three diamond mining countries remained Russia, Botswana and Canada.

Forecasts see this year’s global production slipping “due largely to Alrosa’s suspension of operations at the Mir mine and Rio Tinto’s guided fall in production at its operations. Looking further ahead, production is expected to continue falling as new projects and expansions fail to replace lost output from closing mines. By 2025, several large mines will reach the end of their life, while only a few new projects are in the pipeline.”

With the younger consumers’ desire for qualities that diamonds can perfectly embody—including love, connections, authenticity, uniqueness and positive social impact—the most exciting times for the diamond industry are still ahead of us if we can seize the opportunities.—Bruce Cleaver,
De Beers Group CEO

Much of the report focuses on Millennials and Gen Zedders, and why they matter more than those doddering old Boomers and clapped out Gen Exers. Not only are the newcomers more numerous than their predecessors (64% of the planet’s 7.39 billion potential customers) but they’ll soon have more money to splash around. Additionally “they represent more than two-thirds of total diamond jewellery demand value in the four largest diamond-consuming countries,” the U.S., China, India and Japan.

But don’t mistake these affluent upstarts for status-conscious materialists with more money than values, the report emphasizes. Those who would sell to them must recognize four key traits: “Love is meaningful to them in many ways; they are digital natives; they value authenticity, individuality and self-expression; they are engaged with society and social issues.” Indeed, crass marketing’s passé as enlightened purveyors appeal to young adults’ desire for “love, connections, authenticity, uniqueness and positive social impact.”

Still, differences persist between the two groups. Millennials multi-task across two screens and think in 3D. Gen Zedders do that stuff across five screens and in 4D. Now-focused, idealistic and expectant Millennials contrast with future-focused, pragmatic and persistent Gen Z. The divide continues, pitting Millennials’ Harry Potter/armchair activist lifestyle and their team orientation versus Gen Z’s Hunger Games/active volunteer approach credited with collective consciousness.

De Beers doesn’t divulge the methodology for its detailed but seemingly subjective analysis. Buried in the report, however, might be one of the most important traits for a marketing pitch to consider.

Millennials boast an attention span reaching all of 12 seconds, 50% higher than Gen Z’s eight-second feat of endurance.

Related: Could synthetics bring death to diamond mining? Or a kind of reincarnation?

The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

August 24th, 2018

from the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines | August 24, 2018

The Northwest Territories diamond mining industry celebrated two milestones this month, gratefully acknowledged by northern government, Indigenous and industry leaders.

The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

NWT government, miners and Indigenous community representatives
celebrate the official opening of Diavik’s fourth diamond pipe.
(Photo: Rio Tinto)

On August 9, Dominion Diamonds celebrated the 20th year of diamond mining at Ekati, the first diamond mine to have opened in Canada in 1998. An unexpected and initially unbelieved discovery of diamonds by geologists Chuck Fipke and Stu Blusson in 1991 proved that the ground they staked held significant deposits of jewelry-grade diamonds. In partnership with a major global mining corporation BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, they would see the new Ekati mine approved, constructed and producing high-quality diamonds a short seven years later. The mine is owned and operated today by the Washington Group.

Just a short 30 kilometres to the south, Diavik Diamond Mines celebrated the start of mining of their fourth ore body, named A21, on August 20. The planned US$350-million project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Mining and diamond production is expected to reach full production in Q4 2018. As with Diavik’s other three ore bodies, A21 was discovered under the large lake Lac de Gras and required the construction of a highly engineered dyke to allow open pit mining. Diavik’s dyke design received Canada’s top engineering award as a Canadian engineering achievement for its significant positive impact on society, industry or engineering. The Diavik mine is operated today by Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, which owns 60% of the mine, with the Washington Group owning 40%.

Generations of Northerners have benefited from our diamond mines. Our mining partners have provided thousands of rewarding careers for our residents; enriched our communities through grants, scholarships and contributions; and spent billions with local businesses.—Wally Schumann,
NWT Minister of Industry,
Tourism and Investment

Leaders and representatives of the NWT government and from the Indigenous groups that traditionally used the area participated in and helped celebrate the events at Ekati and Diavik.

In September, the NWT’s newest diamond mine—Gahcho Kué—will celebrate its second anniversary. In that short time, the mine has set production records, has hired over half of its workforce from the North (with one-third Indigenous) and this year has already spent $142.6 million with NWT businesses. The mine is operated by De Beers (51% ownership) and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD (49%).

“The Ekati and Diavik mines are world class operations and have helped put Canada on the map as the third most valuable diamond producer in the world,” said Gary Vivian, president of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines. “Most importantly, along with our third diamond mine Gahcho Kué, they operate to the highest of environmental standards, they continue to create significant socio-economic benefits for the North, and are also leaders in Indigenous reconciliation.”

Since 1996 when construction of Ekati began, all the NWT diamond mines have created significant economic benefits for Canada and for the North. These include:

  • Over 58,000 person years of employment for Canada, with half northern and half of that Indigenous

  • $20 billion in spending, of which nearly $14 billion is northern and $6 billion Indigenous

See Mining North Works, a new website highlighting the opportunities and benefits of NWT and Nunavut mining.

Related:

Canada’s six biggest miners boost exploration spending by 31%: PwC

July 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | July 5, 2018

Canada’s six biggest miners boost exploration spending by 31%: PwC

(Photos: PricewaterhouseCoopers)

 

The half-dozen Canadian companies among the world’s top 40 miners increased exploration expenditures last year at twice the rate of the others. That info comes from the upbeat results found in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Mine 2018, a study of the planet’s 40 biggest companies by market cap. The six Canadians spent C$620 million looking for new resources last year, compared with C$473 million in 2016. The report forecasts continued improvement throughout the current year.

Globally, exploration rose 15% in 2017 to US$8.4 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence figures cited by PwC.

Not so impressive, though, was the equity raised on three key mining markets, which fell $1.7 billion last year for the industry as a whole. Especially hard-hit was Toronto, which plunged 36%. Australia slipped 9%, while London actually jumped 47%. However this year’s Q1 investing “reveals that activity in Toronto and Australia is starting to pick up and signals a renewed interest in exploration and early development projects.”

Overall, higher commodity prices propelled the top 40 companies’ revenues 23% to about US$600 billion, with cost-saving efficiencies contributing to a “sharp increase in profits.” The report sees several years of continued growth as global annual GDP increases about 4% for the next five years.

Meanwhile market caps for the top 40 soared 30% last year to US$926 billion.

The top 40 companies’ capex outlay, however, floundered at its lowest level in 10 years. But the authors “expect next year’s level to increase as companies press ahead with long-term strategies, be it growth through greenfield or brownfield investments, or new acquisitions.”

Should that investment fail to materialize, the report asks, “will there be a temptation to spend without sufficient capital discipline when demand outstrips supply?”

At a number of points PwC admonishes miners not to “give in to the impulses” engendered by the previous boom: “Perhaps the most significant risk currently facing the world’s top miners is the temptation to acquire mineral-producing assets in order to meet rising demand. In the previous cycle, many miners eschewed capital discipline in the pursuit of higher production levels, which set them up to suffer when the downturn came.”

Canadians among the 2017 top 40 consisted of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (since merged with Agrium to create Nutrien TSX:NTR) in 13th place, Barrick Gold TSX:ABX (14th), Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A and TSX:TECK.B (16th), Goldcorp TSX:G (25th), Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM (26th) and First Quantum Minerals TSX:FM (30th).

The top five companies, holding a top-heavy 47% of the top-40 combined market cap, were BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, Glencore, China Shenhua Energy and Vale NYSE:VALE.

In addition to exploration spending, the half-dozen Canadian companies also got special mention for workplace safety, as “world leaders in digital transformation” and for boardroom diversity in which “women make up 25% of directors among Canadian miners, compared to 19% among their global peers.”

Download PwC’s Mine 2018 report.

Update: Belmont Resources permitted for July drilling on Nevada lithium property

June 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | Updated June 20, 2018

With permits now in hand, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA expects to activate a rig on its Kibby Basin lithium project next month. Once completed, the boreholes may be converted to exploration wells to test for lithium brine aquifers.

Located 65 kilometres north of Nevada’s Clayton Valley, the 2,760-hectare property underwent deep-sensing magnetotelluric geophysics earlier this year, finding a conductive zone that starts at about 500 metres in depth. The program followed last year’s initial drill campaign that sunk two holes totalling 624 metres. Core samples graded between 70 ppm and 200 ppm Li2O, with 13 of 25 samples surpassing 100 ppm.

Preparations move Belmont Resources toward Nevada lithium drilling

This year’s magnetotelluric geophysical program helped identify
drill targets for Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project.

The company has described the upcoming program as “work of a significant scope” that includes water well installation and monitoring.

In May Belmont announced the appointment of Ian Graham to the company’s advisory board. A former principal geologist with De Beers’ South African division, he also spent 15 years with Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO where he took part in evaluation and pre-development projects including the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories and the Resolution copper deposit in Arizona. He also oversaw permitting for the Eagle nickel mine in Michigan and played a key role in the initial economic assessment for the Bunder diamond project in India. More recently Graham served as CEO of United Energy Corp, which held a Nevada lithium project.

Belmont also holds the Mid-Corner/Johnson Croft property in New Brunswick, where historic, non-43-101 sampling has shown zinc, copper and cobalt potential. In Saskatchewan the company shares a 50/50 interest with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT in the Crackingstone and Orbit Lake uranium properties.

Belmont closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $198,000 in April.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Belmont CFO/director Gary Musil.

Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

May 30th, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 30, 2018

As work resumes at Diagras, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA now returns to a second front in its search for Northwest Territories gems. On May 30 the company announced a new geophysics program had begun at Diagras, coinciding with a drill campaign that started earlier this month at the company’s Margaret Lake project.

Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

The Diagras agenda calls for ground gravity, magnetic and EM surveys around known kimberlites, as well as around potential kimberlites suggested by earlier geophysics.

The strategy will employ techniques that weren’t used when De Beers explored the area but have since proven successful elsewhere. Some examples include two other Lac de Gras-region projects, Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Kennady North and Peregrine Diamonds’ (TSX:PGD) Tli-Kwi-Cho DO-27/DO-18 kimberlite complex, Margaret Lake stated.

The company holds a majority interest and acts as operator on the 18,699-hectare Diagras property in a 60/40 joint venture with Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. The project sits 35 kilometres from Canada’s largest diamond producer, the Diavik mine of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond Mines.

Margaret Lake’s 100%-held, 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property lies nine kilometres north of the De Beers/Mountain Province Gahcho Kué diamond mine and two kilometres from Mountain Province’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits.

Last year’s Diagras work found “gravity and EM anomalies proximal to known magnetic kimberlites that constitute compelling drill targets,” Margaret Lake stated. Among areas of special interest is Jack Pine, one of the largest kimberlite complexes in Lac de Gras. Previous drilling has revealed diamonds, while an area of further kimberlite potential has yet to be drilled.

Additionally, gravity anomalies near the property’s Black Spruce kimberlite show similarities to other kimberlites in the region.

Meanwhile Margaret Lake has a rig testing six kimberlite targets on the company’s namesake property. Each target shows a gravity low, bedrock conductor or both. The company interprets those characteristics as potentially representing kimberlite.

Last month Margaret Lake closed a $495,500 first tranche of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

Read more about Margaret Lake Diamonds.

Preparations move Belmont Resources toward Nevada lithium drilling

May 23rd, 2018

This story has been updated and moved here.

Pistol Bay Mining begins drilling its expanded zinc-copper-polymetallic Ontario VMS project

March 22nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 22, 2018

With about 3,500 metres planned, Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST has drilling now underway at northwestern Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake greenstone belt. Three holes of about 500 metres each will supply material from the project’s Arrow zone for preliminary metallurgical tests. From there the rig shifts roughly eight kilometres west to the Fredart zone, aka the Copperlode A zone.

Pistol Bay Mining resumes drilling at its expanded zinc-polymetallic Ontario VMS project

Last year the company released a 43-101 resource for Arrow that used a base case 3% zinc-equivalent cutoff for an inferred category showing:

  • 2.1 million tonnes averaging 5.78% zinc, 0.72% copper,19.5 g/t silver and 0.6 g/t gold, for a zinc-equivalent grade of 8.42%

Contained amounts come to:

  • 274 million pounds zinc, 34.3 million pounds copper, 1.33 million ounces silver and 41,000 ounces gold

Obviously overdue for renewed attention is Fredart. The zone has conflicting historic, non-43-101 estimates of 386,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper and 33.6 g/t silver, or 219,500 tonnes averaging 1.95% copper and 41.8 g/t silver.

A January option agreement expands Pistol Bay’s Confederation Lake package by 3,700 hectares, for a total of about 20,700 hectares. The new turf comprises part of last year’s VTEM-Plus survey, the area’s first state-of-the-art regional geophysics. Some of the available, non-43-101 past intercepts from the acquisition’s Wasp Lake trend include 2.96% zinc and 0.04% copper over 2.79 metres, as well as 1.12% zinc and 0.04% copper over 7.19 metres. The same trend showed a strong conductive response on the VTEM-Plus results, Pistol Bay reported.

Another positive geophysical response came from the acquisition’s Fly Lake zone, where historic, non-43-101 assays reached as high as 1.36% zinc and 0.17% copper over 11.5 metres, along with 1.51% zinc and 0.08% copper over 8.9 metres. The zone appears to remain open along strike and at depth, the company stated. Nine other geophysical anomalies, meanwhile, appear to lack previous drilling.

The January option follows 5,860 hectares of staking last September that covers multiple conductors and IP anomalies identified in the airborne survey, as well as parallel conductors or extensions of known conductors.

Last month the company announced an amended agreement with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary which will increase its hold on the C4, C5 and C6 uranium properties in Saskatchewan from 75% to 100%. The deal will bring Pistol Bay $1 million.

In January the company also announced progress with its PB Blockchain subsidiary as it builds “a suite of blockchain products to address needs that are particular to the data management and security of mining/oil and gas companies.”

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining here and here.

At a regulatory crossroads

October 4th, 2017

It’s time to fix federally induced problems, says the Mining Association of Canada

by Greg Klein

The fundamentals behind the last supercycle remain in place, insists Pierre Gratton. Yet the Mining Association of Canada president/CEO warns that the country has lost ground as a global industry leader. While the current upswing continues, the transition to a cleaner, lower-carbon future will call for even more mineable commodities. Whether Canada participates to its fullest potential, however, depends largely on policies directed by Ottawa.

Addressing a 230-strong Greater Vancouver Board of Trade audience on September 27, Gratton noted that by 2015 Canada lost its first-place spot for exploration investment. The usurper was Australia, which proved itself “much more strategic and successful over the past decade.” Meanwhile this country’s list of active projects has fallen to nearly half its 2011 peak of 2,700. Only two new projects came up for federal environmental assessment in 2016, an historic low. “We’ve got world class deposits sitting idle,” he added, citing Ontario’s Ring of Fire, Nunavut’s Izok Corridor and British Columbia’s New Prosperity.

It’s time to fix federally induced problems, says the Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton: “Hopefully we’ll get it right this time, we’ll lock
it in, we’ll know what the rules are and get down to business.”
(Photo: Matt Borck, courtesy Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.)

Yet opportunities have been improving, he maintained, and not just because of stronger commodity prices. In addition to continued growth among emerging economies, carbon-reducing measures call for new technologies that require more mining products. That’s the case for electrified transportation, wind and solar generation, and energy storage.

“The transition to a low-carbon future is not years away from now—it has already started and it’s accelerating at a rapid pace.” Unless Canada turns that to its competitive advantage, “we will lose this opportunity to other countries… It’s going to be us, Australia or someone else.”

Moreover, Canada can produce these commodities “as a leader in sustainability.” This country “already operates some of the lowest-emitting, highest-tech and most socially responsible mines in the world.” Gratton credited companies that implemented MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining program with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And altruism can be rewarding: “Our Canadian-made mining standard has caught the attention of Apple and other global companies that see it as a program robust enough to demonstrate responsible sourcing.”

But if environmental progress bodes well for Canadian mining, the policy environment remains uncertain. The 2012 regulatory reforms of the previous Conservative government lost both public and investor confidence, Gratton argued.

Ottawa now needs to put “the principle of one project/one review squarely into action. We need a federal process that no longer places an unfair and unequal burden on Canada’s mining sector alone, which has sadly been the case since 2012.”

For a couple of these pieces, like the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act, I think the mining industry is probably going to come out fine. The Environmental Assessment Act, I don’t know.

The Liberals, he said, are “committed to review and replace all of the federal reforms of the previous Harper government…. For a couple of these pieces, like the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act, I think the mining industry is probably going to come out fine. The Environmental Assessment Act, I don’t know. At this point it is still so much in flux it is hard to know exactly where this will land.”

Six years of regulatory uncertainty with the prospect of more to come contributes to “this question mark in Canada. And hopefully we’ll get it right this time, we’ll lock it in, we’ll know what the rules are and get down to business.”

Returning to climate change, Gratton noted some industry initiatives, including wind energy reducing diesel dependency at Diavik and Raglan, and the transformation of B.C.’s former Sullivan mine into a community-owned solar plant that sells electricity to the grid. Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) Borden project, anticipated for 2019 production, would be Canada’s first all-electric underground mine.

Not only would the battery-powered fleet cut emissions, it “will significantly reduce ventilation costs,” Gratton stated.

“But we need to do more to spur innovation.” MAC proposes government support for innovation superclusters, a possible “catalyst to achieve transformative outcomes for our industry and help re-establish Canada as a global leader for mining innovation.”

Northern infrastructure, bringing both roads and electricity to isolated areas, again complements both the industry and the environment. Gratton pointed to the Northwest Territories’ planned $150-million all-season road to the Tlicho community, and the federal/Yukon $360-million road that would access the Coffee and Casino projects, two potential mines that would “contribute billions in new investment … and thousands of direct and indirect jobs.”

With federal funding available for green infrastructure, here’s an opportunity to take more communities off diesel, fully open up B.C.’s Golden Triangle and deliver to Yukon and the projects up there reliable, clean energy.

Referring to the 344-kilometre extension of B.C.’s Northwest Transmission Line in 2014, Gratton said: “I’ve a pitch for you today. Why not finish the job and take that line all the way to the Yukon? With federal funding available for green infrastructure, here’s an opportunity to take more communities off diesel, fully open up B.C.’s Golden Triangle and deliver to Yukon and the projects up there reliable, clean energy.”

Undiscouraged by the rugged 800-kilometre gap between the provincial and territorial grids, he added, “I was meeting recently with Yukon officials and they’re very interested in this. I remember also that Premier Horgan, when he was Energy and Mines critic, was a big champion of this project too. So here’s a nation-building project that maybe he can get behind.”

“I could talk about many other things as well, but the key takeaway is that we need to reposition Canada and enhance our competiveness going forward. And it’s critical because other countries are doing the same.”

But in response to an audience question about native consent, was he optimistic or euphemistic? “We’re not in a world of veto,” Gratton insisted. “We’re in a world of deep and meaningful engagement.”

Speaking with ResourceClips.com, he said MAC’s supercluster proposal could create regional centres for excellence focusing on mining and exploration in Sudbury and Vancouver, processing in Quebec City and oil sands in Edmonton.

There are some issues where we’ve made real progress with this new government that we hadn’t been able to make under the previous government.

Although it’s too early to evaluate the Liberals’ performance, the former Chretien-era government communications guy did say, “There are some issues where we’ve made real progress with this new government that we hadn’t been able to make under the previous government.”

Environmental permitting delays, he pointed out, “have been horrendous. At times it takes five years after an environmental assessment before you get your permit. The previous government announced a policy that would shorten that to eight months but didn’t do anything to implement it. This government has actually put in place the tools to make it happen. So we are seeing those timelines shrink.”

Additionally Ottawa now consults with MAC much more than did the previous government. The Conservatives’ lack of dialogue, he stated, “could be why they got things wrong.”

Confederation Lake in focus

October 2nd, 2017

Regional geophysics bring expansion and JV potential to Pistol Bay’s quest for Ontario VMS zinc-copper

by Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel: I would like to introduce the president and CEO of Pistol Bay Mining [TSXV:PST] Charles Desjardins. I am very glad you could find the time. Charles, tell us something about your background and how you got started in the mineral exploration industry.

Charles: I started in Vancouver as a stockbroker in the 1980s. Then you could say I got lured into the venture capital space, at that time the Vancouver stock exchange. The first thing that I worked on was actually a technology deal. Since then I have worked in a lot of different sectors: tech, biotech, oil and gas, diamonds, mining, etc.

This was a natural transition—I started more as a promoter and then I just became more hands-on because I wanted to get things done the way that I wanted to do them.

Isabel: How did you get involved with Pistol Bay?

Charles: Pistol Bay was actually in the Dave Hodge camp before as Solitaire Minerals and it came from somebody that kind of gave up. I wanted to take it over and one of the first things I acquired were the C3, C4, C5 and C6 uranium properties in Saskatchewan, which we are selling now to Rio Tinto [NYSE:RIO].

I got an e-mail from them last night. Basically I asked them if they were planning to pay the $1.5 million this year and they said probably. If they don’t pay it this year, then they’ll have to pay $2 million next year. It’s most likely that they will pay in 2017.

Isabel: Your principal properties are located in the Confederation Lake VMS greenstone belt in Ontario. Can you give me a little overview of what you have there and what makes your projects valuable?

Charles: Confederation Lake has been explored to some extent since the 1950s with only one producing mine, the South Bay mine. There are about nine historic occurrences there that we control.

Regional geophysics bring expansion and JV potential to Pistol Bay’s quest for Ontario VMS copper-zinc

The technology of exploration and mining has changed a lot just since 2000. I was recently in Toronto and I met the geophysicist who used to handle the area for Noranda. A lot of this ground was Noranda. Up until 2000 they couldn’t see anything beyond 200 metres in depth. Originally my plan two years ago was to tie up zinc and copper properties focusing on zinc. At that time zinc was at 62 cents per pound, now it is more like $1.40. Let’s call it prescience—I was able to tie up most of the belt, which is over 50 kilometres long and about 28 kilometres wide. The whole goal was to explore the belt using modern exploration methods, mostly with a deep-penetrating airborne study. Pistol Bay has just completed that.

I would also like to mention that there are about 800 historic drill holes in this belt and we have data on 600 of them. And we have access to a big geochemical study that was done, probably worth about $500,000 or even $600,000, that was never really followed up on or plotted in to any degree. That is very valuable because it went through all alteration zones and all the occurrences. Recently we did the airborne survey, as I have mentioned. I doubled the size of the survey area, ending up being about 2,100 line-kilometres. What that does, and what it has shown us, is that there are two trends in this belt. The first trend has stronger copper and zinc numbers and the lower trend is more zinc-dominated. The conductors we found are actually deeper in places. They have not been followed up before…. Keeping that in mind we have also staked another 14,500 acres [about 5,860 hectares] of conductors and IP anomalies. So there is a lot to follow up on.

Isabel: What is the plan for the rest of 2017 and where do you see more excitement?

We are talking right now to four companies about joint-venturing this. We don’t really have the capital to pay for our own drill program unless Rio Tinto writes us that cheque. I don’t want to dilute at this moment. I’d rather wait for the cheque if I have to or enter in joint ventures.—Charles Desjardins

Charles: We are talking right now to four companies about joint-venturing this. We don’t really have the capital to pay for our own drill program unless Rio Tinto writes us that cheque. I don’t want to dilute at this moment. I’d rather wait for the cheque if I have to or enter in joint ventures. I can say that we are permitting right now for drilling, but it might be a joint venture partner drilling. In the worst-case scenario we would drill in the first quarter of next year.

But I am pretty sure that Rio Tinto will write the cheque.

Isabel: You have a 5% NPI royalty on the Rio Tinto project, is that correct?

Charles: Yes, we have a 5% net profit interest after they paid the $1.5 million. I am rather confident that at some point they will come and try to buy that. If it is something that they think they are going to take to production—of course it is not even close to that—they would never leave us with 5% NPI.

Isabel: You said that you won’t be able to do a drill program yourself right now. How much money do you have in the bank right now?

Charles: A couple of hundred thousand.

Isabel: How much of Pistol Bay is held by the management?

Charles: Management, friends and family own about 35%.

Isabel: That is quite a bit. Interesting. Let’s talk a bit about zinc and copper. Recently a lot of articles were published on copper. It was Robert Friedland who recently noted that about 150 kilograms of copper is required for each electric vehicle manufactured, whereas people talk mostly about lithium and cobalt and EVs, but not so much about the increasing demand for copper. But I think many people are aware of rising copper prices and what copper is used for, being an interesting commodity in this “rechargeable” era. But maybe not everyone is as well-informed about zinc and what it is used for. Can you say a bit about the usage of zinc and also the zinc market?

Charles: One of the reasons that I got into zinc was that I was looking at all the commodities at a time when the resource market was quite depressed. I was looking for something that looked promising for a commodity shock. The zinc market is working in a production deficit. The prices have more than doubled, I wouldn’t call that a commodity shock, but it has gone well. And the fact that we hadn’t had that jump is probably the length of the bull zinc market.

About its usage, more than half of all zinc that is mined is used for galvanizing other metals, such as steel and iron. And significant amounts of zinc are also used to form alloys with other metals.

Isabel: What do you like most about your job?

Charles: I always like this kind of work. It is risky and can be stressful at times, but it doesn’t mean sitting behind a desk. I was up at the property in Ontario earlier this summer seeing first hand what everything looks like. How much infrastructure there is, which I was certainly quite surprised about, roads and even power lines as well. I love the variety that the job offers.

Isabel: What is your favourite commodity beside the ones in your company?

Charles: Probably gold though we do have some gold in our Confederation Lake. To me, in a world right now with the geopolitics that we are facing it is kind of a must-have. You have to have some gold.

Isabel: Thank you so much for the insights.

Charles: Thanks for having me, Isabel.

Isabel Belger

Charles Desjardins, president/CEO
of Pistol Bay Mining

Bio

Mr. Desjardins brings more than 25 years of experience in public company finance and management. He is president and CEO of Tandem Capital Group Inc, which was active in the investor relations field during the mid 1980s. Mr. Desjardins was also past president of numerous public mineral exploration and technology companies which traded on the TSXV.

Fun facts

My hobbies: Running marathons, biking, fishing
My favourite airport: JFK
My favourite tradeshow: Mines and Money Hong Kong, PDAC
My favourite commodities: Copper, zinc and gold
With this person I would like to have dinner: Elon Musk
If I could have a superpower, it would be: Extraordinary vision

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