Thursday 23rd November 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘saskatchewan’

Double discovery

November 18th, 2017

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

by Greg Klein

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

The Southern High Plains of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma
might someday boost U.S. domestic uranium supply.
(Photo: Public domain)

 

The dream of discovery must motivate many a geologist. Through skill, effort and luck they hope to eventually find something precious, useful or otherwise valuable—something well known yet found in a previously unknown location. But a group of geo-boffins from the U.S. Geological Survey not only identified a type of uranium deposit previously unknown to their country, they discovered a new mineral.

It’s finchite, “a new uranium mineral species,” as a press release described it last week. The discovery actually dates to 2015, says Brad Van Gosen, the USGS scientist who did the discovering.

While surveying a Texas cotton ranch Van Gosen collected samples of what he and his colleagues thought was carnotite, “a pretty common yellow, near-surface uranium mineral.” Back in the lab, he put it under a scanning electron microscope, which kept showing strontium with the uranium and vanadium, he recalls. To a geologist, it was unusual—very unusual. A eureka moment was looming.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

First to recognize the new mineral finchite, USGS scientist
Brad Van Gosen examines rock layers in Texas.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

“We looked it up and there’d been no strontium-uranium mineral ever reported before. So [team leader Susan Hall] worked with a crystallography/mineralogy lab that specializes in micro-analysis up at Notre Dame and they concluded, ‘By gosh you’re right.’” Further study continued before sending the evidence to the International Mineralogical Association. “They’re the high council and they blessed it as a new mineral.” Finchite’s moniker honours the late Warren Finch, a USGS uranium expert.

Another major finding was that the uranium was hosted in calcrete rock formations, a style of deposit known elsewhere but reported for the first time in the U.S.

Some previously secret info led to the twin epiphanies. Hall, as leader of a project that’s reassessing national uranium resources, gained privy to some unpublished 1970s and ’80s data from the former Kerr-McGee company. Included were estimates for two deposits, Sulphur Springs Draw and Buffalo Draw, with marginal grades of 0.04% and 0.05% U3O8 respectively. Together they held an estimated 2.6 million pounds U3O8.

(Of course data from historic sources and the U.S. government agency falls outside the framework of NI 43-101 regulations.)

The newly transpired, near-surface deposits led Hall and her group to the Southern High Plains spanning parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. It was there that they recognized calcrete, its first known manifestation in the U.S.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

Surface showings of yellow finchite might have previously
been mistaken for sulphur, says Van Gosen.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

The stuff’s associated with uranium in other countries. Among major calcrete-style deposits listed by the World Nuclear Association are Yeelirrie in Western Australia, along with Trekkopje and Langer Heinrich in Namibia. Yeelirrie is a potential open pit held by a Cameco Corp TSX:CCO subsidiary and averaging 0.16% U3O8. Trekkopje, a potential open pit majority-held by AREVA Resources, averages 0.01%. Langer Heinrich, an open pit mine operated on behalf of Paladin Energy, the majority owner now under administrative control, averages 0.052%.

According to the USGS, grades for potential Southern High Plains deposits range from 0.012% to 0.067%, with a median 0.034% U3O8. Gross tonnage estimates range from 200,000 to 52 million tonnes, with a median 8.4 million tonnes. Together, the region’s calcrete-style potential comes to 39.9 million pounds U3O8.

But that’s a regional assessment, not a resource estimate, reflecting how USGS methodology contrasts with that of exploration companies. The agency uses a three-part approach, explains Mark Mihalasky, who co-ordinated the assessment. The procedure first delineates areas that would allow the occurrence of a particular kind of deposit. Using additional geoscientific evidence, the agency estimates how many deposits might be awaiting discovery. How much those potential deposits hold can be estimated through comparisons with similar known deposits around the world.

Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things…. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.—Mark Mihalasky

“Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things,” Mihalasky emphasizes. “The purpose of our assessment is to help land planners, decision-makers and people in the region get an idea of what could be there, based upon probability. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.

“This whole region is a relatively newly recognized area of potential and while we’re not saying this is a new uranium province we are saying there’s something here that hasn’t been found before in the United States and this might be worth looking into in greater detail if you’re an exploration company.”

Already one company from Australia has been asking “lots of questions,” says Van Gosen. Although most uranium mining in the American west uses in-situ recovery, the shallow depth and soft host rock of the Southern High Plains could present open pit opportunities “assuming uranium prices and other factors are favourable.”

Any positive price assumption will have to wait, however. One week earlier Cameco announced the impending suspension of its high-grade McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. The company said that long-term contracts had shielded it from uranium’s post-Fukushima plunge of over 70%, but those contracts are now expiring. Cameco had previously suspended its Rabbit Lake mine and reduced production at its American operations.

But while production faces cutbacks, controversy over American dependence on foreign uranium flared up again last month with renewed questions about the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. The formerly TSX-listed Uranium One holds American resources that could potentially produce up to 1,400 tonnes of uranium annually, according to the WNA. But last year the company’s sole U.S. operation, the Willow Creek ISR mine, produced just 23 tonnes of the country’s total output of 1,126 tonnes.

As the world’s largest consumer of uranium for energy, the U.S. relies on nukes for about 19% of the country’s electricity, according to USGS numbers. Only 11% of last year’s uranium purchases came from domestic sources.

USGS reports new domestic uranium potential and new uranium “species”

November 14th, 2017

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Paved with mineralization

October 27th, 2017

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

by Greg Klein

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

Profitable right from the beginning, Teck’s Elkview mine “would become
the key chip in the consolidation of the Canadian steelmaking coal industry.”
(Photo: Teck Resources)

 

“We were all young and relatively inexperienced in such matters in those days.”

He was referring to copper futures, a peril then unfamiliar to him. But the remark’s a bit rich for someone who was, at the time he’s writing about, 43 years old and president/CEO of a company that opened four mines in the previous six years. Still, the comment helps relate how Norman B. Keevil enjoyed the opportune experience of maturing professionally along with a company that grew into Canada’s largest diversified miner. Now chairperson of Teck Resources, he’s penned a memoir/corporate history/fly-on-the-wall account that’s a valuable contribution to Canadian business history, not to mention the country’s rich mining lore.

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—road to success

Norman B. Keevil
(Photo: Teck Resources)

Never Rest on Your Ores: Building a Mining Company, One Stone at a Time follows the progress of a group of people determined to avoid getting mined out or taken out. In addition to geoscientific, engineering and financial expertise, luck accompanies them (much of the time, anyway), as does acumen (again, much of the time anyway).

Teck gains its first foothold as a predecessor company headed by Keevil’s father, Norman Bell Keevil, drills Temagami, a project that came up barren for Anaconda. The new guys hit 28% copper over 17.7 metres. Further drilling leads to the three-sentence feasibility study:

Dr. Keevil: What shall we do about Temagami?

Joe Frantz: Let’s put it into production.

Bill Bergey: Sounds good to me.

They schedule production for two and a half months later.

A few other stories relate a crucial 10 seconds in the Teck-Hughes acquisition, the accidental foray into Saskatchewan oil, the Toronto establishment snubbing Afton because of its VSE listing, an underhanded ultimatum from the British Columbia government, getting out of the oyster business and winning an unheard-of 130% financing for Hemlo.

Readers learn how Murray Pezim out-hustled Robert Friedland. But when it came to Voisey’s, Friedland would play Inco and Falconbridge “as though he were using a Stradivarius.” Keevil describes one guy welching on a deal with the (apparently for him) unarguable excuse that it was only a “gentleman’s agreement.”

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

Through it all, Teck gets projects by discovery or acquisition and puts them into production. Crucial to this success was the Teck team, with several people getting honourable mention. The author’s closest accomplice was the late Robert Hallbauer, the former Craigmont pit supervisor whose team “would go on to build more new mines in a shorter time than anyone else had in Canadian history.” Deal-making virtuoso David Thompson also gets frequent mention, with one performance attributed to his “arsenal of patience, knowledge of the opponents, more knowledge of the business than some of them had, and a tad of divide and conquer…”

Partnerships span the spectrum between blessing and curse. International Telephone and Telegraph backs Teck’s first foray into Chile but frustrates its ability to do traditional mining deals. The Elk Valley Coal Partnership puts Teck, a company that reinvests revenue into growth, at odds with the dividend-hungry Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Working with a Cominco subsidiary, Keevil finds the small-cap explorer compromised by the “ephemeral response of the junior stock market.” And smelters rip off miners. But that doesn’t mean a smelter can’t become a valued partner.

Keevil argues the case for an almost cartel-like level of co-operation among miners. Co-ordinated decisions could avoid surplus production, he maintains. Teck’s consolidation of Canada’s major coal mines helped the industry stand up to Japanese steelmakers, who had united to take advantage of disorganized Canadian suppliers. “Anti-trust laws may be antediluvian,” he states.

Keevil admits some regrets, like missing Golden Giant and a Kazakhstan gold project now valued at $2 billion. The 2008 crash forced Teck to give up Cobre Panama, now “expected to be a US$6 billion copper mine.” Teck settled a coal partnership impasse by buying out the Ontario Teachers’ share for $12 billion. Two months later the 2008 crisis struck. Over two years Teck plunged from $3.6 billion in net cash to $12 billion in net debt.

But he wonders if his own biggest mistake was paying far too much for the remaining 50% of Cominco when an outright purchase might not have been necessary. Keevil attributes the initial 50%, on the other hand, to a miracle of deal-making.

For the most part Keevil ends his account in 2005, when he relinquishes the top job to Don Lindsay. By that time the company had 11 operating mines and a smelting/refining facility at Trail. A short chapter on the following 10 years, among the most volatile since the early ’70s, credits Teck with “a classic recovery story which deserves a full chapter in the next edition of Never Rest on Your Ores.” Such a sequel might come in another 10 years, he suggests.

Let’s hope he writes it, although it’ll be a different kind of book. As chairperson he won’t be as closely involved in the person-to-person, deal-to-deal, mine-to-mine developments that comprise the greatest strength of this book—that and the fact that the author grew with the company as it became Canada’s largest diversified miner.

Meanwhile, maybe Lindsay’s been keeping a diary.

The author’s proceeds go to two organizations that promote mining awareness, MineralsEd and Mining Matters.

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

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining here and here.

Nevada’s new-era fuel

July 7th, 2017

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

by Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel: I would like to introduce Gary Musil, CFO and director of Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA. Hi Gary, it is a pleasure to talk to you again.

Gary: Likewise, always a pleasure to talk to you.

Isabel: To get started, tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with Belmont Resources.

Gary: Belmont was a client of mine, and in 1992 they asked me to get more involved by joining the board of directors and later as a full-time chief financial officer in 1999.

Isabel: Belmont Resources has two different locations that you are involved with. Could you tell us a bit more about these two?

Gary: Belmont holds 50% interest in a large uranium land package (12,841 hectares) in the northern Athabasca Basin near Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Canada. Approximately $2 million was incurred on the claims from magnetic, radiometric, electromagnetic and radon gas surveys through to a successful 20-hole diamond drill program totalling 3,075 metres. The project is available for a joint venture partner or acquisition. Belmont’s current focus is on its 2,760-hectare Kibby Basin-Monte Cristo Valley, Nevada lithium project.

Isabel: So your focus is on the Kibby Basin lithium project. What makes that project so appealing?

Gary: The demand and price of lithium continues to increase as we move into a new era of electric vehicles and other technology that is requiring lithium. In addition, we are near the construction of a large facility, the Tesla Motors Gigafactory #1, near Sparks, Nevada, which will be a huge consumer of the end product. Secondly, expansion of a large electric bus factory in California to the south will also see increased consumption of lithium production for batteries. Furthermore, our Kibby Basin hosts several key features that are similar to the nearby and only operating lithium mine in North America, the area at Silver Peak-Clayton Valley, Nevada.

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

Lithium assays from last spring’s campaign have
Belmont Resources returning for additional geophysics and drilling.

Isabel: What is the most exciting thing about the Kibby Basin property up to now—what work have you accomplished there?

Gary: We commenced last year with all the baseline work, such as a NI 43-101 geological technical report, followed by a ground geophysical survey and then a detailed gravity survey to map the central basin. This generated a 3D model of the basin which provided the coverage to enhance the potential of the Kibby Basin to host a lithium-bearing brine structure.

The basin model revealed the basin to be in the order of 4,000 metres deep and approximately 7.4 kilometres long. In June Belmont drilled two diamond drill core holes, KB-1c to 548 feet [167 metres] on the eastern basin-bounding fault and KB-2c to a depth of 1,498 feet [457 metres] in the playa-dry lake bed, in the area.

The company was pleased with the core sample assays, to discover the presence of lithium ranging from 70 ppm to 200 ppm lithium with 13 of 25 core samples assaying over 100 ppm lithium, indicating that the sediments could be a potential source of lithium for the underlying aquifers.

Isabel: What are your experiences working in the U.S.A.? It is known that a lot of lithium comes from China and we’ve heard Donald Trump wants to “make America great again.” Has there been any changes in regard to working on a project that could produce lithium in the U.S.A.?

Gary: Belmont’s original mineral project, going back over 30 years ago, was a joint venture in a silver-producing mine in Nevada. We usually contract out work, i.e. geologists, geophysics work, surveys, drilling contractors, etc., to local reputable contractors. This saves costs and develops a good working relationship with the state and county officials. Any changes from the federal and state governments in regards to working on a project that could produce lithium in the U.S.A. should be positive for Belmont Resources. We anticipate governments could add incentives to mining exploration and producing companies to encourage them to expand the mineral resources and sell the end products to factories being built in Nevada, rather than importing lithium and other minerals from foreign countries.

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

Thirteen of 25 Kibby Basin core
samples surpassed 100 ppm lithium.

Isabel: What are the plans for the rest of 2017?

Gary: Belmont’s next stage of evaluation will consist of carrying out a further geophysical survey, i.e. electromagnetic resistivity survey and possibly seismic surveys, of the property, which should generate higher aquifer probability targets for further drilling this year.

Isabel: How much money do you have in the bank right now?

Gary: Belmont recently completed a four-million-unit private placement at $0.05 per share complete with a two-year transferable warrant (eight-cent warrant in year one and 10-cent warrant in year two) which generated $200,000. We will continue to raise further financing in order to continue exploration of the Kibby Basin throughout the year.

Isabel: How much of Belmont Resources is held by the management?

Gary: Belmont’s management currently owns 5.5% of the issued and outstanding shares and is increasing its position as demonstrated in participation in the recently completed private placements, as well as exercising of warrant and stock option shares. Including friends, relatives and close associates, these holdings increase to over 25%.

Isabel: What do you like about the mineral exploration business?

Gary: The anticipation of drilling results and then the discovery of minerals in a new area is always exciting. Also, travelling to new areas of the world and meeting new people there.

Isabel: What is your favourite commodity and why?

Gary: Belmont has explored for silver, antimony, gold, uranium, as well as oil and gas. Lithium will be my favourite for years to come, as I see the uses of this commodity expanding, as technology continues to develop and expand along with it.

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

Gary Musil, CFO/director
of Belmont Resources

Fun facts

Your hobbies: Golf, cycling, hiking

Sources of news you use: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and CNN through TV and the Vancouver Sun/Financial Post newspapers

Your favourite airport: Vancouver International Airport and Phoenix, Arizona, as that usually means a golf vacation during the winter months

Your favourite tradeshow: Outdoor Recreation and Golf Show in Vancouver

Favourite commodity besides the ones in your company: Gold, especially placer gold

People you’d most like to have dinner with: Ha—Fred Couples, senior professional golfer; So Yeon Ryu, ladies’ professional golfer; Shania Twain, country music star; and of course having dinner with my wife in many new places in the world where we have been and not been to yet

If you could have a superpower, it would be: Healing

Saskatchewan Mining Association chairperson Jessica Theriault signals “growing leadership role of women in mining”

May 25th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 25, 2017

The director of environmental affairs for The Mosaic Company NYSE:MOS, Jessica Theriault has been elected to lead the Saskatchewan Mining Association board. A former SMA director and member of its environment committee, she has an environmental engineering degree and MBA from the University of Regina, along with 19 years of environmental experience in Saskatchewan potash mining.

Saskatchewan Mining Association chairperson Jessica Theriault signals “growing leadership role of women in mining”

Jessica Theriault

Theriault succeeds Neil McMillan, who serves as chairperson of Cameco Corp TSX:CCO.

“Given the importance of mining to the Saskatchewan and Canadian economies, and the strength of our industry’s reputation, my focus as chair will be to ensure that we continue to deliver, but also drive improvements across the sector,” said Theriault.

Elected as SMA vice-chairperson was Tammy Van Lambalgen, VP of corporate affairs and general counsel for AREVA Resources Canada.

Although the SMA already has a female president in Pamela Schwann, the association noted that Theriault will be the first woman to lead its board. Her election, along with that of Van Lambalgen, “represents a significant milestone in signalling the growing leadership role of women in mining,” the SMA stated. “It also shines a light on the diversity of rewarding careers for women in the mining sector in Saskatchewan, home to global mining and exploration companies and the top jurisdiction in the world for attracting mineral investment according to the annual Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies.”

The news follows last week’s appointment of Edie Thome as president/CEO of the British Columbia-based Association for Mineral Exploration, which already had a female chairperson in Diane Nicolson. But in 2002, when the position of AME president was voluntary and the executive director was the staff lead position, Shari Gardiner served as president.

That province lost a prominent female industry spokesperson in April, however, when Karina Briño stepped down as B.C. Mining Association president/CEO to take on a mining role in her native Chile.

Earlier this month Saskatchewan mining companies pledged $1 million to the International Minerals Innovation Institute to help encourage greater employment of women and natives in the industry.

‘Everyone’s hiring again’

May 24th, 2017

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting presages a wave of M&A

by Greg Klein

As an executive search firm, the Mining Recruitment Group might serve as a bellwether for the industry. Founder and self-described mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says, “I put together management teams for companies, I connect people with opportunities and opportunities with people.” In that role, he experienced the upturn well before many industry players did.

To most of them, the long-awaited resurgence arrived late last year. Pollard saw it several months earlier.

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting could presage a wave of M&A

“The market came back in a huge way, at least in the hiring side, early last year when my phone started ringing a hell of a lot more,” he explains. “There was a huge volume. And what I’ve found is that the available talent pool for executives shrank in a period of about six months. In January 2016, for example, I was working on a search and there was almost a lineup out the door of some really big-name people. What I’m finding now, a year and a half later, is that the available talent has almost evaporated. It’s much harder to recruit for senior positions.”

Lately his work suggests another industry development. “The major upturn I’m seeing in the market now is a huge demand for corporate development people who can do technical due diligence on projects. Over the last few years large mining companies and investment banks cut staff almost to the bone in that regard because no one was interested in doing deals or looking at acquisitions.”

Just completed, his most recent placement was for Sprott. “They had me looking for someone with a technical background who can do due diligence for their investments. In doing so I spoke with everyone on the street, from investment banks to some big name corporate development people and they all said the same thing: Everyone’s hiring again. These are people who couldn’t get job offers a year ago, now every single candidate on the short list for this last search has multiple offers from companies looking to get them. I haven’t seen that in five years.

“So that leads me to believe companies have been staffing up their corporate development teams. I see that as a major sign that you’re going to see M&A pick up in a huge, huge way, probably over the next three to six months.”

An early example would be last week’s Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD buyout of Integra Gold TSXV:ICG—“one of my best clients over the years”—in a deal valued at $590 million.

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting could presage a wave of M&A

Andrew Pollard: Executive recruiting “leads me to believe companies have been staffing up their corporate development teams.”

“I think there’s leverage for other companies to start pulling the trigger faster because they’re adding the expertise to get these things done.”

Having founded the Mining Recruitment Group over a decade ago at the age of 20, “a snotty kid” with only a single year of related experience, he’s placed people in companies with market caps ranging from $5 million to well over $200 million. Now in a position to pick and choose his assignments, Pollard’s business concentrates on “the roles that will have the most impact on a company’s future.” That tends to be CEO, president, COO and board appointments.

Last year he placed five CEOs, as well as other positions. Among those assignments, Pollard worked with Frank Giustra on a CEO search for Fiore Exploration TSXV:F and filled another vacancy for Treasury Metals TSX:TML as it advances Goliath toward production.

But the hiring surge coincides with an industry-wide recruitment challenge. Pollard attributes that to a demographic predicament complicated by mining’s notorious cyclicality.

During the 1990s, he points out, fewer people chose mining careers, resulting in a shortage of staffers who’d now be in their 40s and 50s. Greater numbers joined up during the more promising mid-2000s, only to “get spat out” when markets went south. Now Pollard gets a lot of calls to replace baby boomers who want to retire. Too many of those retirements are coming around the same time, he says, because stock losses during the downturn had forced executives to postpone their exit.

Now, with a wave of retirements coinciding with a demographic gap, Pollard sees a “perfect storm to identify the next batch of young leaders.”

But he also sees promise in a new generation. That inspired him to assemble Young Leaders, one of two panel discussions he’ll present at the International Metal Writers Conference in Vancouver on May 28 and 29.

“By talking with some very successful executives age 35 and under, I want to show that we need to look at people one generation younger, and foster and develop this talent.”

By talking with some very successful executives age 35 and under, I want to show that we need to look at people one generation younger, and foster and develop this talent.

Well, it’s either talent or a precocious Midas touch that distinguishes these panel members. Maverix Metals TSXV:MMX CEO Dan O’Flaherty co-founded the royalty/streaming company just last year, already accumulating assets in 10 countries and a $200-million market cap.

As president/CEO of Skyharbour Resources TSXV:SYH, Jordan Trimble proved adept at fundraising and deal-making while building a 250,000-hectare uranium-thorium exploration portfolio in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Integra president/CEO Steve de Jong raised the company from a $10-million market cap in 2012 to last week’s $590-million takeout.

And, demographic gap notwithstanding, Pollard’s second panel features three other success stories, just a bit older but with lots of potential left after guiding three of last year’s biggest M&A deals. They’ll take part in the Vision to Exit discussion, which closes the conference on May 29.

Eira Thomas burst into prominence at the Lac de Gras diamond fields where she discovered Diavik at age 24. Her most recent major coup took place last year on the Klondike gold fields with Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) $520-million buyout of Kaminak Gold.

Featherstone Capital president/CEO Doug Forster founded and led Newmarket Gold, producing over 225,000 ounces a year from three Australian mines and enticing Kirkland Lake Gold’s (TSX:KL) billion-dollar offer.

Now chairperson of Liberty Gold TSX:LGD and a director of NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, Mark O’Dea co-founded and chaired True Gold Mining, acquired in April 2016 by Endeavour Mining TSX:EDV. Three other companies that O’Dea co-founded, led and sold were Fronteer Gold, picked up by Newmont Mining NYSE:NEM in 2011; Aurora Energy, sold to Paladin Energy TSX:PDN in 2011; and True North Nickel, in which Royal Nickel TSX:RNX bought a majority interest in 2014.

“We’ll be looking at how they go into deals, what their philosophy is, what’s their current reading of the market and what they’re going to do next. They each have a big future ahead of them.”

Pollard’s two panel discussions take place at the International Metal Writers Conference on May 28 and 29 at the Vancouver Convention Centre East. Pre-register for free or pay $20 at the door.

In all, the conference brings generations of talent, expertise and insight to an audience of industry insiders and investors alike.

Read more about the International Metal Writers Conference.

Pistol Bay signs LOI on Confederation Lake property, expands airborne geophysics

May 5th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 5, 2017

Update: On May 8 Pistol Bay announced a further expansion of the airborne VTEM Plus survey, from 1,128 to 2,100 line-kilometres, covering a 40-kilometre length of the Confederation Lake greenstone belt.

An upcoming geophysical program has been extended to fly a potential land acquisition under consideration by Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST. The company announced a letter of intent on the 496-hectare Copperlode property, about four kilometres along strike from Pistol Bay’s Arrow zone in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. Having already assembled the area’s largest land package, the company plans region-wide, state-of-the-art exploration over neglected but VMS-rich ground.

Copperlode would bring Pistol Bay two more historic, non-43-101 estimates:

  • D zone: 32,600 tonnes averaging 7.58% zinc and 0.26% copper

  • E zone: 145,000 tonnes averaging 8.28% zinc, 1.02% copper and 24 g/t silver
Pistol Bay signs LOI on Confederation Lake property, expands airborne geophysics

Additionally, some historic, non-43-101 drill intercepts include:

  • B zone: 2.5% zinc and 1.68% copper over 6.3 metres

  • C zone: 0.21% zinc and 6.02% copper over 1.5 metres

  • Hornet zone: 7.56% zinc and 0.08% copper over 6.6 metres
  • 4.07% zinc and 1.13% copper over 5.03 metres

Hornet remains open at depth and along strike.

On finishing the region-wide airborne VTEM Plus campaign Pistol Bay may acquire an initial 65% option on Copperlode from Frontline Gold TSXV:FGC, which holds an option on the claims from another vendor. Pistol Bay would pay Frontline $26,000 and issue 450,000 shares over two years and spend $150,000 over three years. Another $50,000 and 300,000 shares would boost Pistol Bay’s stake to 80%.

Pistol Bay’s current Confederation Lake portfolio consists of 9,450 hectares with a number of historic estimates, including the 2007 Arrow resource on which the company began a 43-101 update last month.

Also last month, the company closed a $336,000 private placement that followed a $548,436 placement in March. April brought more money with $750,000 from a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary as part of its 100% option on Pistol Bay’s uranium properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.

Belmont Resources has drilling imminent for Nevada lithium

April 19th, 2017

by Greg Klein | April 19, 2017

In search of lithium-bearing brines similar to those of the Clayton Valley, 65 kilometres south, drilling could resume any day now at Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) Kibby Basin project. Having attempted sonic drilling in February, the company now has Harris Exploration Drilling and Associates mobilizing a track-mounted rig for an HQ program to possible depths of about 300 metres.

Belmont Resources has drilling imminent for Nevada lithium

A new drilling contractor brings considerable Clayton Valley experience
and proprietary techniques to Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin.

The contractor brings extensive Clayton Valley experience in recovering core from unconsolidated lakebed sediments and in testing lithium brine with Harris’ proprietary instrumentation, Belmont stated.

Based on last year’s gravity survey on the 2,760-hectare property, initial holes “are designed to test the eastern basin-bounding fault, where lithium brines are likely to well up in the structural zone, analogous to the concentration of lithium brines along the Paymaster fault in Clayton Valley, and to test the stratigraphy near the central axis of the basin,” the company added. “The holes will test for porous basin sediments, which could serve as aquifers for lithium brines.”

In Saskatchewan’s Uranium City region, Belmont holds a 50/50 JV with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT in the 12,091-hectare Crackingstone and Orbit claims.

Belmont also has international arbitration proceedings underway regarding the revocation of mining rights at a talc project in Slovakia.

During February and March the company closed private placements totalling $467,500.

Pistol Bay readies geophysics, resource update at Ontario’s Confederation Lake

April 12th, 2017

by Greg Klein | April 12, 2017

Taking to the skies to probe deeper underground, the first airborne survey in 20 years will bring state-of-the-art technology to Pistol Bay Mining’s (TSXV:PST) Confederation Lake greenstone belt land package. Geotech Ltd will carry out an initial 1,128-line-kilometre VTEM Plus campaign, the first phase of a belt-scale helicopter-borne program. That’s part of a multi-disciplinary approach planned over the next few years for Pistol Bay’s portfolio, at 9,450 hectares the largest holdings in Confederation Lake.

Pistol Bay readies geophysics, resource update at Ontario’s Confederation Lake

VTEM Plus penetrates deeper and offers better conductor resolution than previous VTEM systems, the company stated.

“We will essentially be exploring a new depth slice of this greenstone belt, with its numerous VMS deposits and occurrences, that has never been explored before,” said president Charles Desjardins. “This newer technology increases the chances of potentially finding a new zinc-copper-silver deposit like the Arrow zone or the former producing South Bay mine.”

Last week Pistol Bay announced an update had begun on Arrow’s 2007 resource, one of the portfolio’s historic estimates.

The company’s currently financed with a $548,436 private placement that closed last month and a recent payment of $750,000 from a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary as part of its 100% option on Pistol Bay’s uranium properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.