Tuesday 19th November 2019

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Posts tagged ‘Rio Tinto Plc (RTPPF)’

Athabasca Basin and beyond

February 15th, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 8 to 14, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission Uranium reports more off-scale radiometrics from Patterson Lake South

Having suddenly dumped its final Patterson Lake South summer assays the previous week, Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU reverted to its scintillometer strategy on February 10. As is often the case, some intervals are showing off-scale readings.

“Off scale” means the hand-held device reaches its maximum measure of gamma ray particles at 9,999 counts per second. Scintillometer results are no substitute for assays, which will likely follow in weeks or months. For more accurate radiometric readings, Fission Uranium also uses a downhole gamma probe. But the company hasn’t been releasing those results.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 8 to 14, 2014

Of seven holes from four zones, six showed off-scale intervals. Among the most impressive, hole PLS14-132 showed a total of 6.1 metres above 9,999 cps within 134 metres of mineralization that occurred between downhole depths of 71.5 metres to 263 metres.

PLS14-131 came up with a total of 1.9 metres of off-scale readings within 125.5 metres of mineralization between depths of 145 to 420 metres.

PLS14-136 gave up a total of 2.26 off-scale metres within 49.5 metres of mineralization between depths of 86.5 to 284.5 metres.

Drilling was vertical and true interval widths weren’t provided.

Lateral widths increased for parts of all four zones, in some cases doubling along specific grid lines.

Along with geophysics, the 90-hole, 30,000-metre winter program will take about $12 million out of this year’s $20-million budget. Although the current campaign focuses on trying to connect five high-grade zones, no target date has been announced for an initial resource estimate. Toll Cross Securities analyst Tom Hope notes that because the project’s “far from existing mills, Fission will need to delineate a 100-million-pound resource.”

Uracan, UEX, AREVA get drill turning at northern Basin’s Black Lake

Near the Athabasca Basin’s northern rim, drilling has resumed at the 30,381-hectare Black Lake project. The $650,000 program calls for about 3,000 metres, Uracan Resources TSXV:URC reported February 11. Project operator UEX Corp TSX:UEX has an 89.99% interest with AREVA Resources Canada holding the remainder. Uracan has an option to earn 60% from UEX. Found throughout the property are “prospective fault structures offsetting the unconformity (reverse faulting on the main conductor, southeast-northwest cross structures),” Uracan stated.

Previous drilling has found intervals as high as 0.69% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 4.4 metres, starting at 310 metres in downhole depth, 0.79% over 2.82 metres, starting at 310 metres, and 0.67% over 3 metres, starting at 274 metres.

UEX wholly owns six Basin projects and has joint ventures in another eight. Resource estimates have been completed for Shea Creek and Hidden Bay.

Black Lake borders Gibbon’s Creek, where Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK and option partner Declan Resources TSXV:LAN last month reported boulder samples grading up to 4.28% U3O8 and some of the Basin’s highest-ever radon readings.

VTEM finds conductive anomalies on Makena’s Patterson project

Initial geophysical data from a VTEM max electromagnetic survey over Makena Resources’ TSXV:MKN Patterson prospect shows two distinctive anomalous zones, the company reported February 14. “Of particular note is the relationship of the conductive zones associated with the breaks in the magnetic pattern,” stated geologist Karl Schimann. “These breaks are often associated with uranium mineralization.” The company is considering ground EM and drilling to follow up.

Makena optioned a 50% stake in the project from CanAlaska Uranium TSXV:CVV last August. The prospect totals 6,687 hectares divided into three PLS-vicinity claim blocks, one of them adjacent to Fission Uranium’s property.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

February 10th, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 1 to 7, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission Uranium releases final summer 2013 assays from Patterson Lake South

Having spent months doling out only occasional assays from last summer’s drilling at Patterson Lake South, on February 5 Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU suddenly dumped results for 20 holes—half of which showed no significant mineralization. They did, however, improve the company’s “understanding of the geological setting and controls of mineralization at PLS.”

The best results came from R780E, the fifth of seven zones along a 1.78-kilometre potential strike. R780E now boasts a 75-metre strike, with a lateral width up to about 60 metres. A few highlights show:

Hole PLS13-105

  • 3.93% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 3 metres, starting at 128 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 10.85% over 1 metre)

  • 1.12% over 3.5 metres, starting at 189 metres
Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 1 to 7, 2014

Hole PLS13-107

  • 1.94% over 3 metres, starting at 171.5 metres

  • 0.57% over 6.5 metres, starting at 192.5 metres
  • (including 1.58% over 1 metre)

  • 0.23% over 13.5 metres, starting at 251.5 metres

Hole PLS13-108

  • 0.99% over 19.5 metres, starting at 152.5 metres
  • (including 3.46% over 2 metres)
  • (and including 3.92% over 1.25 metres)

  • 0.67% over 6.5 metres, starting at 174.5 metres
  • (including 1.64% over 2.5 metres)

  • 1.33% over 11 metres, starting at 184.5 metres
  • (including 6.52% over 1.5 metres)

  • 3.48% over 4.5 metres, starting at 228 metres

Hole PLS13-109

  • 4.22% over 8 metres, starting at 108 metres
  • (including 11.1% over 3 metres)
  • (which includes 24.6% over 0.5 metres)

  • 0.55% over 17.5 metres, starting at 141 metres

  • 5.89% over 6 metres, starting at 205.5 metres
  • (including 14.57% over 1.5 metres)

Off the lake and onto dry land, zone R600W shows a 30-metre strike and a lateral width up to 20 metres. Some of the better results include:

Hole PLS13-118

  • 0.34% over 6.5 metres, starting at 192 metres

Hole PLS13-121

  • 0.2% over 11.8 metres, starting at 98.7 metres

Hole PLS13-124

  • 0.29% over 6 metres, starting at 97.5 metres

The company also released assays from one hole on the R585E zone, 150 metres west of R780E. R585E now shows a 30-metre strike and a lateral width up to 10 metres. Some highlights from PLS13-106 include:

  • 0.19% over 5.5 metres, starting at 158.5 metres

  • 0.11% over 17 metres, starting at 166.5 metres

  • 0.39% over 12.5 metres, starting at 202 metres

True widths weren’t provided. Holes were vertical or close to it. One R600W hole and nine stepouts east of the zone drew blanks. These results constitute the final batch of summer assays. The current $12-million campaign, including ground geophysics as well as 90 holes totalling 30,000 metres, will primarily try to fill in the gaps separating the high-grade zones.

Rio drills Purepoint’s Red Willow

Rio Tinto NYE:RIO has begun winter drilling at Red Willow, Purepoint Uranium TSXV:PTU announced February 5. About 2,500 metres will test four target areas identified by geophysics, geochemistry and historic assays, the company stated. Rio is nearly halfway into its $5-million option to earn 51% of the 25,612-hectare property by December 31, 2015. The major may spend a total of $22.5 million by the end of 2021 to earn 80% of the eastern Athabasca Basin project.

In another project with some big name buddies, Purepoint began a $2.5-million, 5,000-metre program at its Hook Lake project in January. Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada each hold a 39.5% interest in the PLS-vicinity property, leaving the junior with 21%.

Continental Precious Minerals updates PEA for Swedish polymetallic project

An updated resource and preliminary economic assessment takes a new approach to Continental Precious Minerals TSX:CZQ Viken uranium-polymetallic project in central Sweden. Using a 6.5% discount rate, the study calculates an after-tax net present value of US$943 million and a 12.9% internal rate of return. Pre-production capital comes to $1.23 billion with payback in 6.9 years from an operation with two open pits and a 34-year lifespan, according to the February 6 announcement.

Viken’s original 2010 PEA considered uranium-vanadium-molybdenum production using fine grinding, tank leaching and roasting. Now Continental plans bio-heap leaching for nickel, zinc and copper sulphides as well as uranium. “This has substantially lowered operating and capital costs, and has led to more robust project economics,” stated CEO/chairperson Rana Vig.

More details will be available on sedar.com within 45 days.

Eagle Plains options out eastside Basin project

Eagle Plains Resources TSXV:EPL announced a definitive option agreement on February 4 for its Tarku property in the eastern Basin. The non-arms-length deal would give Clear Creek Resources a 60% interest for $500,000 cash, $5 million in exploration and 1.2 million shares over five years. Clear Creek may increase its interest to 75% by paying Eagle Plains another $1 million and completing feasibility. Previous work, including historic airborne surveys that found northeast-trending conductors, make the property prospective for both gold and uranium, Eagle Plains stated.

Next month Clear Creek expects to complete a three-way amalgamation with Ituna Capital TSXV:TUN.P and its subsidiary. Eagle Plains holds interests in over 35 properties.

Alpha airborne over Noka’s Carpenter Lake; Noka boosts private placement

Project operator Alpha Exploration TSXV:AEX has begun flying a VTEM and magnetic survey over Carpenter Lake on the Basin’s south-central edge. The 1,892-line-kilometre survey will test the 19-kilometre strike of the Cable Bay Shear Zone, a “major regional shear zone with known uranium enrichment,” Alpha stated on February 3. The work initiates the company’s 60% earn-in on Noka Resources’ TSXV:NX 20,637-hectare property.

About 10 to 14 days have been allotted to this portion of the winter campaign, which will also include radon sampling. Spring and summer should see airborne radiometrics, ground prospecting and geochemical sampling.

With interests in several properties, the Alpha Minerals spinco announced other exploration plans in December and January.

Noka, a member of the four-company Western Athabasca Syndicate, stated on February 6 it would increase a “heavily oversubscribed” private placement from $500,000 to $1.1 million, subject to exchange approval.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

February 1st, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 25 to 31, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission envisions possibility of “one very large zone” at Patterson Lake South

Ever in search of new superlatives for Patterson Lake South, Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU claims its best hole yet for total composite (not continuous) off-scale scintillometer readings. The company released results on January 27 for the first five holes of winter drilling, which it said narrowed the gaps between high-grade zones R390E and R945E, the third to sixth of seven zones along a 1.78-kilometre strike. All five holes produced off-scale readings, prompting company president/COO and chief geologist Ross McElroy to say the news provides “further evidence that the system consists of one very large zone.”

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 25 to 31, 2014

Week one of winter work has given Fission a superlative start.

The hand-held scintillometer measures gamma ray particles in drill core up to a maximum off-scale reading above 9,999 counts per second. Scintillometer results are no substitute for assays, which will likely follow in weeks or months.

Among the best holes, PLS14-129 showed a continuous 9.5 metres above 9,999 cps, among a total of 36.72 metres of off-scale results. Total mineralization came to 111.5 metres between downhole depths of 56 metres and 268 metres.

PLS14-126 showed 3.09 metres of composite off-scale radioactivity within 64.5 metres of composite mineralization between depths of 131 metres and 374 metres.

PLS14-125 showed 1.96 metres of composite off-scale radioactivity within 88 metres of composite mineralization between depths of 70 metres and 240.5 metres.

One week earlier the company announced the start of its winter campaign, in which five rigs will drill 30,000 metres in 90 holes, most of them in effort to connect five high-grade zones. Along with geophysics, the current program will use up about $12 million of this year’s $20-million budget.

Cameco’s $450-million cash infusion excites acquisition anticipation

Cameco Corp’s TSX:CCO $450-million asset sale could have implications for Athabasca Basin juniors. On January 31 the uranium giant announced an agreement to sell its 31.6% interest in Bruce Power to Borealis Infrastructure, a branch of the Ontario Municipal Employees pension fund. Bruce Power operates Candu reactors at a 930-hectare site on Lake Huron capable of generating 6,300 megawatts. The sale will allow Cameco to “continue to reinvest in our core uranium business where we see strong potential for growth,” according to president/CEO Tim Gitzel.

Fission Uranium chairman/CEO Dev Randhawa told Bloomberg the sale “certainly gives Cameco a war chest to go after some names and we’re very happy to hear that.” Randhawa’s recently restructured company comprises the Basin’s most likely takeover target. A maiden resource from its closely watched project is expected this year.

Reuters, on the other hand, said Gitzel is “in no rush” to spend the loot. “We’ve got significant uranium pounds under our control and we’re just waiting for the market to improve,” the news agency quoted him. “As the uranium market improves as we believe it will over the next period of time—years, I would say—we want to be ready.”

According to the Financial Post, BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Sterck “noted that Cameco had more than enough liquidity to cover its uranium growth plans before this deal. But this gives it greater flexibility to grow as uranium demand rises in the future.”

On the other hand a tax dispute could cost Cameco up to $850 million, plus interest and penalties.

Although the sale’s effective date was December 31, 2013, the deal remains subject to waiver of the right of first offer held by three other Bruce Power partners.

Purepoint announces drilling at Hook Lake JV; issues new and reprices old options

A $2.5-million, two-rig, 5,000-metre campaign has begun at Purepoint Uranium’s TSXV:PTU Hook Lake project. Of three prospective corridors on the 28,683-hectare property, drilling will focus on the same electromagnetic trend that hosts the PLS discovery five kilometres southwest, the company stated on January 30.

With a 21% interest in Hook Lake, Purepoint acts as project operator in joint venture with Cameco and AREVA Resources Canada, which hold 39.5% each.

On January 30 Purepoint also announced 2.51 million options to insiders at $0.075 for five years. The following day the company stated 1.94 million options granted last April would be repriced from $0.10 to $0.07.

In November Purepoint announced winter drilling plans for Red Willow, a 25,612-hectare project on the Basin’s eastern rim. Rio Tinto NYE:RIO acts as operator under an option to earn 51% by spending $5 million before the end of 2015.

International Enexco announces drilling at Mann Lake JV

Another Cameco/AREVA JV partner, International Enexco TSXV:IEC announced January 27 that a $2.9-million program has begun on the eastern Basin’s Mann Lake property. Up to 18 holes and 13,000 metres will test three types of targets—a footwall to the western axis of the property’s main C trend, conductive features near the western margin of the Wollaston sedimentary corridor and the remaining undrilled C trend targets, Enexco reported on January 27.

Cameco, with a 52.5% interest in the 3,407-hectare property, acts as operator. Enexco and AREVA hold 30% and 17.5% respectively. Enexco’s share of the $2.9 million amounts to $870,000, most of which comes from a $750,000 private placement that closed in December. The company also has a 20%/80% JV with Denison Mines TSX:DML on the southeastern Basin’s Bachman Lake project. Denison owns 7.4% of Enexco, which is also pursuing pre-feasibility at its wholly owned Contact copper project in Nevada.

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Rio Tinto’s record output another sign of shifting luck for miners

January 16th, 2014

by Cecilia Jamasmie | January 16, 2014 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Rio Tinto NYE:RIO has given investors fresh reasons to smile as the world’s second-largest miner beat its 2013 cost-cutting targets and reported January 15 record-high output of iron ore, coal and other minerals.

Rio Tinto’s record output another sign of shifting luck for miners

CEO Sam Walsh passed
his first year at the helm
with flying colours.

The company is the first of the diversified mining giants to report its 2013 annual production figures, which showed strong growth despite industry concerns of weakening Chinese demand for steel and the impact of cyclone Christine in the Western Australia Pilbara region.

Rio, the world’s second-largest iron ore miner behind Brazil’s Vale NYE:VALE, said production of the steel-making material reached 70.4 million tonnes in the fourth quarter last year, a 6% increase compared to the same period in 2012. The commodity accounts for about 85% of Rio’s earnings.

Production of copper—Rio’s other key earner—jumped up 15% last year with 631,500 tonnes mined, well above expectations of 590,000 tonnes.

The mining giant also said it implemented $2 billion in operating cost cuts and slashed exploration costs by $1 billion, exceeding the $750-million target set for 2013.

The healthy figures triggered the biggest one-day rally for the miner’s shares since November. Shares in the company closed 2.09% higher than January 15 on the Australian Securities Exchange at AU$65.6 each, while in London shares were up almost 3.8%, hitting £3,374 each at 9:30 a.m. ET.

A few of the firm’s largest shareholders and former executives applauded Sam Walsh’s first year as CEO, with some stating they are ready to increase their stakes in the diversified miner.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Canada’s northern gems

December 18th, 2013

Strong results continue to show NWT and Nunavut’s diamond potential

by Greg Klein

Even Antarctica might have diamonds, according to a study published December 17 by Nature. But the remoteness, not to mention a ban on mining, rules out an economically viable deposit for the foreseeable future. Put in that perspective, the opposite end of the globe looks all the more hospitable and geologically attractive. To reinforce those impressions comes recent news from diamond companies in Canada’s north.

Results released December 16 from Kennady Diamonds’ TSXV:KDI second Northwest Territories drill campaign showed an average grade of 4.56 carats per tonne from 3,454 kilograms taken from the Kelvin kimberlite. The grade fell far below last winter, in which Kelvin showed 8.13 ct/t from 987 kilos. But the results remain “outstanding,” the company boasted, and with a winter/summer combined sample grade of 5.38 ct/t they rank “amongst the highest kimberlite sample grades ever recorded.”

Out of 11,834 diamonds above 0.1 mm, combined sieve sizes for Kelvin’s winter and summer programs found 474 commercial-size stones distributed as follows:

  • 279 from 0.85 mm to 1.18 mm, 2.84 carats
  • 126 from 1.18 mm to 1.7 mm, 3.23 carats
  • 52 from 1.7 mm to 2.36 mm, 2.74 carats
  • 10 from 2.36 mm to 3.35 mm, 2.73 carats
  • 6 from 3.35 mm to 4.75 mm, 4.55 carats
  • 1 at 4.75 mm, 2.48 carats
Strong results continue to show NWT and Nunavut’s diamond potential

Five white/colourless octahedrons from Peregrine Diamonds’
Chidliak project include a 2.42-carat stone on the right.

Recoveries show approximately one commercial-size diamond for every nine kilos of kimberlite, the company added. With 16 holes along an approximately one-kilometre strike, results suggest Kelvin “hosts commercial-size diamonds across the length and breadth of the kimberlite.”

As for Kelvin’s colour and clarity, approximately 60% of the stones are white and transparent, most with no or only minor inclusions. Another 2% are yellow and transparent, again with no or minor inclusions. Most of the rest are off-white and transparent.

New year plans for the Kennady North project include ground-penetrating radar and resistivity surveys for both the Kelvin and Faraday kimberlites beginning in February. The following month should see another 10,000 metres of delineation and exploration drilling, then a 25- to 30-tonne bulk sample from Kelvin. Looking farther ahead, a summer drill campaign would lead to a maiden resource, currently scheduled for Q3 2014.

Only 10 kilometres southwest, Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV and De Beers Canada hope the coming year will see construction on Gahcho Kué, their 49%/51% joint venture and most probably Canada’s next diamond mine—not to mention “the world’s largest and richest new diamond development project,” as the JV modestly puts it. Earlier this month the partners received a permit to begin site preparation in anticipation of a full land use permit and water licence.

Gahcho Kué’s looming presence raises the question of whether Kennady North might, should all go well, become a standalone or satellite operation. Mountain Province and its spinout Kennady share a number of team members including president/CEO Patrick Evans.

On December 17, one day after Kennady released its summer results, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD offered a $3-million private placement to further its northern diamond projects. Two weeks earlier the Eric Friedland company released bulk sample results confirming the Chidliak project’s CH-6 pipe as “one of the highest-grade kimberlite pipes in the world.”

A 222.1 dry tonne bulk sample from the Baffin Island project graded 2.7 ct/t. Commercial-size stones above 0.85 mm weighed in at 600.5 carats. Forty-eight stones came in over one carat. Out of that 48, 16 were over two carats and three over three. Thirty-three percent of those 48 diamonds were white or colourless, 35% off-white, 13% yellow and 19% grey and brown. “The majority of stones show high transparency and high clarity with only minor inclusions or flaws present,” the company stated. “Most stones are whole and of good shape, with octahedra and lesser modified octahedra predominating.”

Peregrine maintains the sample grade outperforms any Canadian kimberlite pipes under development or advanced exploration, which so far rules out Kennady’s Kelvin. Indeed CH-6 “is surpassed only by the grades of five kimberlite pipes” in the NWT’s Lac de Gras district the company says, pointing to four at the Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC/Rio Tinto NYE:RIO Diavik mine and the Misery pipe at Dominion’s 80% Ekati operation.

Misery, slated for 2017 production, holds a probable reserve of three million tonnes grading 4 ct/t and an approximate value of $112 per carat, according to Dominion.

Peregrine’s new year plans include an evaluation of the Chidliak diamonds’ quality and an initial resource.

Among other diamond explorers treading Canada’s north is Olivut Resources TSXV:OLV, which holds the early-stage 52,600-hectare HOAM project in the NWT. North Arrow Minerals TSXV:NAR, which in November found success south of 60 with a Saskatchewan diamond discovery, has a number of northern projects including a 55% earn-in on Arctic Star Exploration’s TSXV:ADD 11,500-hectare Redemption project southwest of Ekati in the Lac de Gras region.

Read more about diamond mining and exploration in Canada.

Athabasca Basin and beyond

December 7th, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 30 to December 6, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Introducing the Alpha Minerals spinco—Alpha Exploration Inc

With court blessing announced December 2 for the Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW takeover by Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU, the deal faces just one more approval, this one from the TSXV. That was expected, but not announced, on December 6. Alpha’s spinco, Alpha Exploration Inc (anticipated ticker TSXV:AEX) gets about $3 million cash and all non-Patterson Lake South assets, including properties in Ontario and British Columbia as well as Saskatchewan. Each Alpha Minerals share fetches 5.725 Fission shares and one-half spinco share. Since December 3 Alpha Minerals shares have no longer traded with spinco shares attached.

The current Alpha Minerals board and management will “substantially” move into AEX positions.

Court approval for Fission Uranium’s spinco—tentatively titled Fission 3.0 to also commemorate Fission Uranium’s predecessor and Denison Mines’ TSX:DML acquisition Fission Energy—was announced the previous week. Each Fission Uranium shareholder gets one share of post-arrangement Fission Uranium as well as a share of the Fission spinout, expected to start trading December 10.

Having obtained full PLS ownership from its 50/50 joint venture ally, Fission Uranium has undoubtedly caught the attention of much bigger takeout artists.

Read more about the takeover.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

Lakeland/Declan Resources JV accelerates work, strengthens their positions

In this market you have to work with strong partners. You have to collaborate and be a bit creative. We’re fortunate to work with people like Declan president Wayne Tisdale’s team and the financial connections they can bring.—Ryan Fletcher, director of Lakeland Resources

A new team of Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK and Declan Resources TSXV:LAN means an accelerated winter drill program for their Gibbon’s Creek flagship as well as the opportunity to put additional work into other Basin-area projects.

Declan’s first-year commitment will inject another $1.25 million into Gibbon’s, a 12,771-hectare north-central Basin property that already underwent over $3 million of work prior to last fall’s field campaign by Lakeland. Declan may earn 50% of the project by spending that $1.25 million, paying Lakeland $100,000 and issuing two million shares in 12 months. Over four years Declan may obtain a 70% interest for a total of $1.5 million in cash, 11 million shares and $6.5 million in spending.

The agreement further demonstrates Declan’s new direction, following its acquisitions in September and October of the 9,000-hectare Patterson Lake Northeast and 50,000-hectare Firebag River properties.

Declan’s commitment also allows Lakeland to ramp up its campaign for two other north-central Basin properties, South Pine and Perch Lake. Work on all those properties will be managed by Dahrouge Geological Consulting, led by PLS and Waterbury Lake veteran Jody Dahrouge.

Field results from Lakeland’s fall campaign are pending, while new appointments are anticipated from Declan.

Read more about the Lakeland/Declan JV and their other projects.

Read more about Lakeland Resources here and here.

Macusani claims low-cost uranium potential in Peruvian PEA

Macusani Yellowcake TSXV:YEL presented its case for a low-grade but potentially low-cost uranium mining operation in Peru with a preliminary economic assessment released December 5. The company envisions both open pit and underground operations with “a low stripping ratio in the open pit operations, anticipated low acid consumption and high process plant recoveries expected to be achieved in a short period of time.”

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 30 to December 6, 2013

The under-explored Macusani plateau shows considerable
uranium potential, according to the eponymous Macusani Yellowcake.

The report, using U.S. dollars, uses an 8% discount rate to calculate a $417-million after-tax net present value with a 32.4% internal rate of return. Those numbers assume a long-term price of $65 a pound uranium oxide (U3O8).

Initial capital expenditures would come to $331 million to build the mine and a plant processing 8.5 million tonnes per year. Total sustaining capital costs for the 10-year lifespan would reach $228 million. Payback would take 3.5 years.

Life of mine cash costs would average $20.57 a pound but, Macusani emphasized, years one to five would average $19.45, “placing it in the lowest quartile in the world using 2012 production figures.” Those first five years would produce an average 5.17 million pounds annually which would, were it operating now, rank the mine the world’s sixth largest, the company maintained. The 10-year average would be 4.3 million pounds.

The project, on the Macusani plateau in southeastern Peru, features multiple deposits, some adjacent to each other, others a few to several kilometres apart. The December 5 news release once again claimed last August’s resource update showed a 167% increase in measured and indicated categories. But there was no increase in the measured category. In fact measured pounds equal less than 1% of the M&I total.

Calling the project potentially “one of the lowest-cost uranium producers in the world,” Macusani CEO Laurence Stefan added, “The PEA demonstrates that the Macusani plateau has significant potential to become a major uranium-producing district, considering that only small areas have been explored to date.”

The company expects to begin pre-feasibility work in 2014.

NexGen announces initial geophysical results for Rook 1

An airborne radiometric survey over the PLS-vicinity Rook 1 project found at least five zones with elevated readings, NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE reported on December 2. Two of the zones are “proximal” to last summer’s drilling and could provide targets for another program beginning in January. Additionally aeromagnetic data identified regional and local basement structures.

The company will pursue the source of the elevated radiometrics next summer through ground radiometric surveying, mapping and sampling. Meanwhile the current data from 5,772 line-kilometres of high-resolution magnetic, very low frequency and radiometric surveys undergoes more comprehensive analysis.

Still to come are assays from NexGen’s nine-hole, 3,473-metre campaign at the eastside Basin Radio project, where the company holds a 70% option two kilometres east of Rio Tinto’s NYE:RIO Roughrider deposits. Having raised $5 million in late August, NexGen stated it’s still well-financed.

More near-surface, district-wide potential found in Argentina, says U3O8

In mid-November U3O8 Corp TSX:UWE said a discovery roughly 40 kilometres northeast of its Laguna Salada deposit could indicate district-scale potential. On December 4 the company stated another Argentinian discovery, on the southern extension of Laguna Salada, further suggests that potential. In both cases vertical channel sampling found near-surface, soft gravel uranium-vanadium mineralization.

Laguna Salada trials showed that screening could concentrate over 90% of its uranium in about 10% of the gravel’s original mass, resulting in 10 to 11 times greater grade, U3O8 stated. The company maintains its deposits offer continuous surface mining potential with alkaline leaching.

Dubbed La Susana, the new discovery’s slated for pitting and trenching to determine the extent of mineralization. While Laguna Salada’s PEA nears completion, the company continues JV negotiations with a province-owned mining company that could unite Laguna Salada with adjoining concessions.

U3O8 has a Colombian uranium-polymetallic project with a PEA and an earlier-stage project in Guyana.

Aldrin finishes Triple M gravity survey, offers $2-million private placement

With its ground gravity survey complete, Aldrin Resource TSXV:ALN stated anomalies coincide with previous results and already-identified drill targets. Data from 871 stations on Triple M, adjacent to and southwest of PLS, covered two parallel bedrock conductors already noted from an airborne VTEM survey and surface radon anomalies, the company reported on December 4.

Gravity anomalies consist of relatively low readings “reflecting the dissolution and removal of rock mass by the same basinal fluids that may also precipitate uranium,” Aldrin explained.

Two days earlier the company announced a $2-million private placement for Triple M exploration and drilling. The offer comprises 18.18 million units at $0.11, with each unit consisting of one flow-though share and one-half warrant, with each full warrant exercisable at $0.16 for 18 months.

In early November Aldrin reported closing a $972,500 first tranche of a private placement that had been announced the previous month. The company has also indicated plans to buy the Virgin property around the Basin’s south-central rim.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

November 30th, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 23 to 29, 2013

by Greg Klein

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December 6 expected for Fission to finish Alpha acquisition; Fission spinco gets court approval

Now that both companies have put it to a vote, Fission Uranium’s TSXV:FCU acquisition of Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW goes to the TSXV and Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench for final approval. The 50/50 Patterson Lake South joint venture partners announced overwhelming support at their respective meetings on November 28. The companies expect final approval on December 6.

The Fission tally was 99.55% from shareholders and 99.6% from security holders. Alpha’s enthusiasm was slightly more restrained, with 83.18% shareholder and 85.72% security-holder support.

Assuming final approvals come through, the arrangement will put the celebrated PLS uranium project under a single takeover target… er, company. Alpha and Fission will each create a spinco for their non-PLS assets.

Court approval for Fission’s spinco was announced November 29. Itself a spin-out resulting from last April’s Fission Energy acquisition by Denison Mines TSX:DML, Fission Uranium calls the new entity Fission 3.0. Each Fission Uranium shareholder gets one new share of post-arrangement PLS-holding Fission Uranium as well as a share of Fission Mach III, expected to start trading December 10.

Read more about the takeover.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

PLS regional drilling disappoints but Fission/Alpha end campaign triumphantly

Two of the final 11 autumn holes at PLS confirmed continuity along a 30-metre strike at the project’s recently discovered sixth zone. But nine others failed to find significant radioactivity, according to scintillometer results released by Fission and Alpha on November 27. The non-mineralized nonet, sunk further west of the project’s western-most R600W zone, might please only an anti-nuke activist. Nevertheless “varying degrees of secondary hydrothermal alteration were present in all holes, thus providing encouragement for the prospectivity of the western strike extension” of the PL-3B EM conductor corridor. R600W remains open in all directions, the partners maintain.

Their hand-held scintillometer measures gamma ray particles in drill core up to a maximum of 9,999 counts per second. These results are no substitute for assays, which are still to come. But don’t hold your breath—so are assays for 40 holes drilled last summer.

Of the two mineralized holes, PLS13-123 reached a total depth of 260 metres, encountering sandstone at 90.7 metres and the basement unconformity at 100 metres. Some highlights show:

  • <300 to 1,200 cps over 20 metres, starting at 95 metres in downhole depth

  • <300 to 5,100 cps over 7.5 metres, starting at 132.5 metres

  • 320 to 2,300 cps over 2.5 metres, starting at 142.5 metres

Hole PLS13-124 found sandstone at 97.5 metres and the basement unconformity at 99 metres before stopping at 257 metres. Highlights include:

  • 450 to 5,500 cps over 6.5 metres, starting at 97.5 metres

  • <300 to 1,300 cps over 7.5 metres, starting at 114 metres

  • <300 to 2,500 cps over 11.5 metres, starting at 197 metres

True widths weren’t available. With dips of -87 and -89 degrees respectively, the two holes’ downhole depths are close to vertical.

The 11 land-based holes bring an end to this drill program, most of which took place from barges over the lake. Fifty-three holes totalling 16,485 metres found six near-surface zones along a 1.76-kilometre trend. Ending the season on a triumphant note, Alpha president Ben Ainsworth said the 12-month campaign nearly equalled “what was completed in four years of work on Hathor’s Roughrider discovery.”

Research report examines Lakeland Resources as company acquires additional Basin property

Just one day after a research report was released on Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK, the company reported expansionary plans in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Announced November 27, a JV teams the company with Star Minerals Group TSXV:SUV on two claims totalling 1,092 hectares. The new turf sits adjacently north of the Gibbon’s Creek target, focal point of Lakeland’s Riou Lake property.

The acquisition takes place while results are pending from autumn field work at Gibbon’s Creek. “Based on preliminary findings we decided it was important that we acquire that ground,” Lakeland president/CEO Jonathan Armes tells ResourceClips.com. “Star Minerals is focused on a rare earth project north of the Basin so the agreement works well for both companies.”

Gibbon’s autumn campaign, including boulder sampling, line-cutting, a RadonEx survey and a ground DC resistivity survey, has just wrapped up, he adds. “We’re putting all the data together and we’ll get that out imminently.”

A distinct topographical feature of the new property is an uplifted block of basement rock that “highlights the evidence for structural offsets, a key feature of known unconformity-type uranium deposits,” Lakeland stated. Historic work by Cameco Corp TSX:CCO-predecessor Eldorado Nuclear found several anomalous soil samples around the uplifted block measuring up to 0.01% uranium. Trenching by Eldorado showed concentrations of rare earths that might also indicate unconformity-type uranium mineralization. The property has also undergone 14 historic drill holes.

Lakeland plans to follow up on the previous work while reviewing Gibbon’s Creek data to identify drill targets. “We still have two other priority projects, South Pine bordering Riou Lake on the west, and Perch Lake farther east,” Armes says. “There’s lots more field work we can do, even during winter. Both radon and resistivity can be carried out during the winter, so we’re not limited to fair weather programs.”

Gibbon’s Creek and the new claims also benefit from close proximity to the town of Stony Rapids, a few kilometres away. Apart from the new acquisition, Lakeland has a portfolio of nine properties totalling over 100,000 hectares in the northern and eastern Basin.

Under the JV agreement, Lakeland may earn a 100% interest in the two additional claims by paying Star $60,000 and issuing 600,000 shares over 12 months. Star retains a 25% buy-back option for four times the exploration expenditures up to 90 days following a resource estimate.

One day before the announcement, prospect generator Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC released a report on Lakeland. Written by Zimtu research and communications officer Derek Hamill, it places Lakeland in the context of Athabasca Basin exploration, the nuclear energy industry and the outlook for uranium prices. Presented as both research and opinion, Hamill’s work shows a shareholder’s perspective—Lakeland is a core holding of Zimtu.

So a degree of self-interest can be acknowledged. But the breadth of research goes far beyond Lakeland, its people and projects, providing a level of detailed scrutiny not often applied to early-stage companies.

Download the Lakeland Resources research report.

Read more about Derek Hamill’s research.

Read more about Lakeland Resources.

UEX announces final Shea Creek results, initial 2014 uranium exploration plans

North from PLS along Highway 955, and 13 kilometres south of the Cluff Lake past-producer, a year’s drilling has wrapped up at Shea Creek. UEX Corp TSX:UEX reported final results for two concurrent programs reported November 27.

UEX picked up the entire $2-million tab for drilling around the Kianna deposit while funding $1.27 million of $2.6 million sunk into property-scale exploration as part of the company’s 49%/51% JV with AREVA Resources Canada.

Results were given in uranium oxide-equivalent (eU3O8) using readings from a downhole radiometric probe which were calibrated with an algorithm calculated by comparing previous probe results with assays.

The most promising results came from the Kianna deposit. Kianna East hole SHE-142-3 reached a total depth of 1,065 metres, finding the unconformity at 736.9 metres and expanding the zone to the south. Highlights show:

  • 0.99% eU3O8 over 5.3 metres, starting at 961.2 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 3.21% over 1.5 metres)

In addition, UEX credited hole SHE-135-16 with a northwest expansion to Kianna East. Ending at 1,038 metres’ depth, the hole found the unconformity at 750.5 metres. Some of the better results show:

  • 0.16% over 5.2 metres, starting at 956 metres
  • (including 0.41% over 0.9 metres)
  • (and including 0.49% over 0.7 metres)

  • 0.48% over 3 metres, starting at 979.9 metres

Kianna North hole SHE-135-17 hit the unconformity at 732.2 metres before stopping at 1,059 metres, expanding the zone’s eastern extension of basement-hosted mineralization. Highlights include:

  • 0.33% over 9.4 metres, starting at 724.6 metres
  • (including 0.5% over 1.3 metres)
  • (and including 0.53% over 4.4 metres)

  • 0.8% over 31.5 metres, starting at 848.8 metres
  • (including 3.29% over 1.3 metres)
  • (and including 3.22% over 1.3 metres)
  • (and including 4.05% over 4.1 metres)

Of 10 exploration holes that tested two conductors, eight failed to find significant results. Two holes at Anne South showed these results:

  • 0.14% over 0.9 metres, starting at 765.4 metres

  • 0.21% over 0.9 metres, starting at 748.4 metres

(True widths were unavailable for all holes.)

Four of the 10 holes confirmed the Saskatoon Lake East conductor’s location, providing a new target area parallel to the roughly three-kilometre trend hosting Shea’s four deposits. Combined, they comprise the Basin’s third-largest resource after Cameco’s McArthur River and Cigar Lake, showing:

  • indicated: 2.07 million tonnes averaging 1.48% for 67.66 million pounds U3O8

  • inferred: 1.27 million tonnes averaging 1.01% for 28.19 million pounds

Still undecided are next year’s plans for Shea Creek, where AREVA acts as project operator. UEX states work will depend on Q1 capital market conditions.

But another November 27 announcement reported a $2-million budget for three western Basin projects. Plans include about 4,000 metres of drilling to test EM conductors at the Laurie and Mirror River projects, and a 50.4-line-kilometre ground tensor magnetotelluric survey at the Erica project. Work is expected to start in January. By that time ownership will be divided approximately 49.1% by UEX and 50.9% by AREVA, again acting as operator.

Among other UEX projects, its 100%-held Hidden Bay on the Basin’s east side has three deposits totalling:

  • indicated: 10.37 million tonnes averaging 0.16% for 36.62 million pounds U3O8

  • inferred: 1.11 million tonnes averaging 0.11% for 2.71 million pounds

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High profits or low profits, tensions with governments rise

November 28th, 2013

by Ana Komnenic | November 28, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

High profits or low profits, tensions with governments rise

 

The conflict between Romania and Canada’s Gabriel Resources TSX:GBU may be this year’s most high-profile dispute between a mining company and a state. The government has issued a semi-rejection of Gabriel’s plans to build Europe’s largest gold mine, and the company has threatened to sue for $1 billion.

But Rosia Montana is just one example of an increasingly common problem for the resource extraction industry. Since the beginning of the commodities boom more than one decade ago, clashes between companies and governments have been rising.

According to a recent report by Chatham House, the number of disputes that have resulted in international arbitration has increased tenfold for the oil and gas sector and fourfold for the mining industry. And in many parts of the world, these conflicts will only escalate, the report predicts.

Looking back at the 1990s, it seemed as if major disputes between governments and international companies in the oil, gas and minerals sectors would be over, lead researcher Paul Stevens said in an interview posted on the Chatham website.

“Exactly the opposite has been the case,” Stevens said. In fact, research shows that as the price of commodities has gone up, so have the number of conflicts.

High profits or low profits, tensions with governments rise

During the supercycle, commodities prices soared to record highs. Companies put billions toward mega mining projects—some of the biggest the world has ever seen. Barrick Gold TSX:ABX pumped billions into the Peruvian Pascua Lama project. Rio Tinto NYE:RIO launched its massive Simandou iron ore project in Guinea and has already spent $3 billion on it.

The extraction frenzy gave rise to some very high expectations from the public, governments and companies, which in turn led to clashes over how to split the bounty.

“Companies and governments are always competitors when it comes to the distribution of mineral and hydrocarbon revenues and profits,” the report reads.

And disputes are costing investors: Chatham estimates that three recent expropriations affecting Repsol, Rio Tinto and First Quantum Minerals TSX:FM have cost investors about $13 billion.

The reverse may not be true

But today’s low prices offer no relief. Tensions today are “raising questions about the long-term future of the extractive sector,” researchers write. Chatham warns that as companies respond to slumping prices by scaling back, delaying and even cancelling some projects, tensions with governments may rise.

“Higher prices have brought more disputes but the converse may not be true—falling prices could add more fuel to the fire,” Stevens said, as reported by Reuters.

Governments will increasingly adopt the “use-it-or-lose-it” mentality if projects don’t proceed as planned.

In addition to the inherently vulnerable nature of a government-extractive company relationship, the sector is also subject to increased scrutiny. A combination of various factors including fears over climate change, environmental degradation, resource security—especially in regard to water—have put resource companies under a microscope.

“The increasing level of scrutiny from multinational NGOs and the speed and reach of global communication mean that the spread of ideas and access to information about how projects should be conducted will influence local and national demands,” the report reads.

Going forward

The researchers advise caution going forward. The best option, Chatham writes, may be to “go slow” and for both sides to offer more flexibility.

“While economic and political pressure to develop resources quickly will be high, in some countries the best option may be to ‘go slow.’ The emphasis should be on building the capacity to regulate companies, generate employment opportunities and manage revenues in tandem with the resource sector.”

Improving dialogue—both with legislators and civil society—simplifying tax codes and introducing various measures to raise standards of governance are key.

Meanwhile, companies are encouraged to bring their environmental practices and transparency standards in line with “international best practice.” It’s also particularly important for firms to engage all levels of government, including regional and municipal bodies that could be most affected by a project.

Finally, Chatham recommends the creation of a high-level international ombudsperson to try to manage some of these conflicts before relations break down.

“At the heart of the problem is the absence of a practical formula or a benchmark to determine an equitable distribution of revenues between the state and companies in extractive ventures,” researchers found.

Ultimately, managing these projects is important for both sides—a government whose budget depends on the resource industry and a company that has bet billions of dollars on a project’s success.

“It’s also important for markets. Because in some ways if the conflict is not managed, this threatens future supplies of oil and gas and minerals,” Stevens said.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Athabasca Basin and beyond

November 23rd, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 16 to 22, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Azincourt to acquire Peruvian company from Cameco and Vena for $2 million

So far best known for its 50% interest in the Patterson Lake North joint venture with Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU, Azincourt Uranium TSXV:AAZ plans to acquire an advanced-stage uranium project in Peru. Under definitive share purchase agreements announced November 22, the $8.1-million market cap Athabasca Basin junior proposes to buy Minergia S.A.C. from 50/50 co-owners Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and Vena Resources TSX:VEM. As well as the 4,900-hectare Macusani project, Minergia comes with its younger sister, 9,600-hectare Muñani, both in southeastern Peru.

Subject to approvals, the deal would have Azincourt give Cameco and Vena $750,000 worth of shares and $250,000 each. Vena chairman/CEO Juan Vegarra would join Azincourt as an independent director. Azincourt would spend between $1.5 million and $2 million on the projects annually.

The deal would also allow Vena to buy Cameco’s portion of Azincourt shares for the purchase price plus 50% of any increase in the market price.

In a statement accompanying Vena’s announcement, Vegarra noted that Azincourt president/CEO Ted O’Connor is “the former director of Cameco’s corporate development group who was responsible for overseeing Cameco’s significant investment in Minergia.”

With over $12 million of work between 2007 and 2011, Macusani comes with an historic resource that was released in September 2011. Using a 0.009% cutoff, five of the property’s nine areas show:

  • measured: 10.39 million short tons averaging 0.025% for 5.69 million pounds uranium oxide (U3O8)

  • indicated: 34.16 million tons averaging 0.018% for 12.52 million pounds

  • inferred: 37.79 million tons averaging 0.02% for 17.42 million pounds

The project could offer low-cost open pit, acid heap leach potential, according to Azincourt.

As for Muñani, it shows uranium mineralization in sandstone and outcrops, has undergone airborne geophysics and ground prospecting, and has drill targets ready, Azincourt stated.

Although two years of depressed prices have pushed the projects into dormancy, Azincourt plans to complete community agreements and permitting prior to another drill program.

Vena also announced that Silvia Dedios has been named general manager following David Bent’s resignation. Walter Cuba becomes project manager to work with Azincourt on Minergia’s uranium assets.

Last June Vena dropped out of negotiations with a private Peruvian company to create a JV for three other Vena projects. In August the company settled $150,350 of debt for 1.64 million shares.

Azincourt and Fission update winter plans for Patterson Lake North

Back in the Basin, Azincourt and Fission updated their previously announced winter plans for Patterson Lake North on November 18. The program now includes a radon survey at Hodge Lake as well as further electromagnetic work and eight to 10 holes totalling 2,500 to 3,000 metres.

Initial results from a five-kilometre ground magnetotelluric survey over the northern part of an eight-kilometre VTEM conductive trend suggest it comprises a series of parallel west-dipping basement EM conductors, the JV stated. Further EM work will increase resolution and orient a resistivity survey scheduled for next summer. “Many structurally controlled high-grade uranium occurrences in the Athabasca Basin are related to hydrothermal alteration systems associated with basement EM conductors,” the companies emphasized. Drill targets will be refined by identifying an EM basement conductor with a resistivity low signature, especially when associated with a cross-cutting interpreted structural feature, the partners explained.

Diamond drilling is slated to begin in January, after the holes have been pre-collared with RC rigs.

Azincourt is earning a 50% interest in the 27,408-hectare project adjacent to Fission’s better-known project, the Patterson Lake South JV with Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW. Fission acts as operator on both projects.

Denison considers compulsory acquisition as Rockgate takeover now 86% complete

Delighted with “such overwhelming enthusiasm,” Denison Mines TSX:DML president/CEO Ron Hochstein announced on November 18 his company has so far nabbed 100.54 million shares for 86% control of Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT. In another extension to the offer—the final one, this time—Denison now says Rockgate laggards have until November 29 to throw in their lot with the victor.

If the company can get just 4% more of Rockgate’s total shares, Denison intends to acquire the rest through a compulsory acquisition. Otherwise the aggressive uranium miner/explorer will try an “amalgamation or other corporate reorganization” to part the hold-outs from their holdings. On October 30 Denison stated it was lowering the minimum tender condition from 90% to two-thirds of outstanding shares.

At that time directors of the two companies softened their positions considerably. Rockgate president/CEO Karl Kottmeier initially denounced the Denison offer as an “unsolicited opportunistic hostile takeover bid” which scuttled Rockgate’s proposed merger with Mega Uranium TSX:MGA. Rockgate’s board did, however, reluctantly recommend shareholder acceptance.

Read more here and here.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

Read about Denison’s Q3 report.

Denison moves its people into Rockgate management/board positions

Rockgate’s changing of the guard, meanwhile, presages its takeover. The company announced five departures from its seven-person board on November 22. Gone are Doug Ford, Edward Ford, Allen Ambrose, Gord Neal and Phil Williams. Replacing them are Denison directors Ron Hochstein, Robert Dengler and Catherine Stefan, with William Rand becoming chairperson.

Rockgate’s Karl Kottmeier, Doug Ford and Kirk Gamely step down from management, although Kottmeier and Bryan Hyde will remain on Rockgate’s board to smooth the transition of its flagship Falea project in southwestern Mali, which was scheduled for pre-feasibility in early 2014. Denison’s Hochstein now becomes Rockgate president/CEO, David Cates CFO and Sheila Colman corporate secretary.

Denison has said that on acquiring Rockgate it will spin out its African assets to concentrate on the Athabasca Basin.

Mega Uranium closes Australian sale, gains 28% of Toro Energy

Undeterred by its Rockgate failure, Mega has now picked up 28% of an ASX-listed company with “one of the larger pre-development uranium projects worldwide.” That results from the completed sale of Mega’s Lake Maitland property in Western Australia to Toro Energy. In a deal valued at about AU$37 million last August, Mega gets about 28% of Toro shares and fills Toro board positions with Mega executive VP of corporate affairs Richard Patricio and executive VP for Australia Richard Homsany, the Toronto-listed company announced November 19.

Blue Sky drills Ivana project in Argentina, offers $500,000 private placement

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for November 16 to 22, 2013

Located in Argentina’s Rio Negro province, Blue Sky’s
Ivana project currently undergoes a 2,000-metre drill program.

Now underway at Blue Sky Uranium’s TSXV:BSK Ivana project in Argentina, a nine-hole, 2,000-metre drill campaign targets shallow, roll-front uranium mineralization to 400 metres in depth. Announced November 18, Phase I work also includes ground geophysics. The 71,300-hectare property has previously undergone airborne radiometrics, sampling, prospecting, mapping and trenching.

AREVA funds the work under an option to spend $2 million by December 31 on Blue Sky’s Argentinian properties. On completion, AREVA may fund an additional $3 million on one project, or $4 million combined on two projects, to earn a 51% interest by the end of 2017. In addition to the project in Rio Negro province, Blue Sky currently focuses on its Sierra Colonia property in central Chubut province.

The company also announced a private placement of 10 million units at $0.05 for $500,000. Each unit consists of one share and one transferable warrant exercisable at $0.10 for two years.

Ground gravity survey underway on Aldrin Resource’s Triple M

Announced by Aldrin Resource TSXV:ALN on November 20, a ground gravity survey on the PLS-vicinity Triple M property intends to find extensively altered basement rocks associated with two bedrock conductive anomalies shown in last summer’s VTEM survey. Identified by anomalous gravity lows, extensively altered rocks are associated with strong uranium mineralization elsewhere in the region, the company stated. Triple M’s schedule calls for completion of the gravity survey by year-end.

The previous week Aldrin released initial radon results from 527 sample sites. The company also plans to buy the 49,275-hectare Virgin property around the Basin’s south-central edge.

Zadar Ventures acquires two more properties from Canterra Minerals

With two new acquisitions just south of the Basin’s southeastern rim, Zadar Ventures TSXV:ZAD has signed another definitive purchase agreement. The deal, announced November 20, has Zadar issuing 160,000 shares to Canterra Minerals TSXV:CTM and 170,000 to African Oil Corp in return for the 5,831-hectare Highrock and the 5,583-hectare Riverlake projects. Canterra retains a 2% NSR on both properties, of which Zadar may buy half for $1 million.

Both properties have seen historic EM surveys, soil sampling and drilling. Radioactive pitchblende pebbles found immediately west of Highrock might have originated on the property, Zadar stated. Highrock sits eight kilometres from Cameco’s former Key Lake mine.

Riverlake features a 1,200-metre by 600-metre soil anomaly with uranium values up to 0.0374% over three EM conductors with a combined strike of five kilometres, Zadar added. A hole drilled in 2008 found 63 metres of radioactivity five to 10 times the background level.

In September the company announced its acquisition of the 37,445-hectare Pasfield Lake property, also from Canterra. Earlier that month Zadar reported finding radioactive boulders on its PLS-vicinity PNE project.

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Beautiful, brilliant, bloodless

November 22nd, 2013

Exploration gains momentum as the world’s affluent covet Canadian diamonds

by Greg Klein

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The old saying aside, diamonds are not forever—not when existing supplies are depleting. So the search continues for new deposits. And it’s in Canada, the country that transformed the international market with its high-quality, ethically produced stones, that much of the exploration takes place. Now the market might be facing another transformation, not from new supply in Canada but new demand in China and India.

“Historically that’s not where most of the diamonds have been sold,” says Patrick Power, president of Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. “But they’re opening up right now largely due to the efforts of De Beers. China and India have never been incorporated into any [forecast] number before.”

As luxury items—industrial diamonds play a negligible role in the market, Power says—the gems’ value depends on the alliterative vagaries of colour, clarity, cut and carats. Esthetic values can be subjective, but a complete lack of colour generally gives a diamond the highest value. Clarity concerns the absence of imperfections. Cut involves the technical precision in faceting a stone’s shape to enhance its colour and brilliance or “fire.” Of course greater weight, measured in carats, also increases value.

Exploration gains momentum as the world’s affluent covet Canadian diamonds

But the value of Canadian diamonds goes beyond the four Cs. Power puts it bluntly: “They’re not blood diamonds. They’re ethically mined. All parties participate in the wealth. So there’s a premium paid for that,” he explains.

“Plus they’re fantastic diamonds. De Beers’ Victor mine in northern Ontario is producing stones that are $400-plus a carat. That’s an amazing diamond. So we have quality plus branding. Canada was the first country ever to brand diamonds, with the polar bear diamond and the maple leaf diamond. Ekati and Diavik put micro-signatures on each diamond’s girdle. That’s Canadian. No one ever did that before.”

Supply/demand predictions can be troublesome. But the supply of diamonds above one carat (0.2 grams) marks the point “where they start to get scarce,” Power says. “And if you want two, three, four carats of better-quality diamonds, you can tell your supply is dropping.”

Of course growing affluence in emerging markets, where De Beers has been peddling its opulence, would seem to enhance demand. As for the ultra-wealthy, they’re paying record-breaking prices. In early November Christie’s sold “the largest fancy vivid orange diamond ever offered at auction (14.82 carats)” for $35.5 million. The company had hoped for about $20 million.

Just one day earlier, Sotheby’s sold the 59.6-carat Pink Star for $83.2 million.

But the excitement’s not limited to the über rich. The people who search for the stones have a passion of their own. “What’s really exciting for those of us exploring in the Northwest Territories is that the technology is changing for the first time in a long time. We can look again at ground that was previously explored and find new stuff,” Power says.

In particular, a helicopter-borne gravity gradiometry survey over Arctic Star’s Redemption project in the Lac de Gras diamond fields found 32 anomalies, including some at the head of a glacial mineral train. The results, announced in October, could indicate the presence of kimberlite pipes among the more dense granitic rock.

Developed by Lockheed Martin and BHP Billiton NYE:BHP at least 15 years ago, the technology’s been available to other companies for less than three years, Power explains. “It’s now the third generation of that system. We’re amazed at the high-quality data, as compared to the first generation when BHP flew Ekati way back when. Gravity is a very difficult, time-consuming and expensive thing to do on the ground. Surveys are traditionally small. But you can fly the entire area with this system. We’re seeing things that we haven’t seen before.”

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