Monday 23rd January 2017

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Posts tagged ‘saskatchewan’

Diamonds—2016 glitter in review

December 22nd, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 22, 2016

The stones began the year still mired in their 2015 slump, in which rough prices reportedly fell 15%. The two biggest players, representing nearly two-thirds of global production, didn’t exactly agree on strategy. De Beers cut production and lowered prices while Alrosa initially boosted production, held prices stable and stockpiled some output. By April De Beers raised prices and Alrosa lowered production. The following month had De Beers talking about a “fragile recovery.”

Diamonds—2016 glitter in review

Sales records for polished got pulverized, though. In May Sotheby’s raked in $32 million for the 15.38-carat Unique Pink in a jewelry sale that totalled a world record $175.1 million. The next day Christie’s scooped up $58.25 million for the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, “a new record price for any gemstone and per carat.”

Rough rode roughshod over records, too. The week before Sotheby’s and Christie’s big sales, Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC got $63.11 million for its fresh-from-the-mine 812.77-carat Constellation. High expectations led to disappointment in late June, however, when the company rejected a $61-million offer for its 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough stone, the second-biggest diamond ever found. Lucara wanted at least $70 million.

As for Canadian diamond mining, it thrived.

A 100-million-carat production milestone brought celebrations to Diavik, the Northwest Territories JV of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC. In July Dominion finally decided to add the Jay pipe and its 78.6 million carats to the company’s majority-held Ekati mine.

The year brought new mines to Canada too. Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond producer in 13 years, was officially opened in September by partners De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV. October saw Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY do the same at Renard, Quebec’s first diamond mine. It reached commercial production just days before Christmas.

Looking at potential mines-to-be, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD took its Chidliak project on Baffin Island to PEA in July. In Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne region, meanwhile, Shore Gold TSX:SGF continued working on a feasibility update for its majority-held Star-Orion South project. Back in the NWT, Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI completed its maiden resource in December.

The company’s Kennady North project sits in the same Lac de Gras region hosting Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué. November marked the 25th anniversary of the Chuck Fipke/Stewart Blusson Ekati discovery that triggered the world’s biggest staking rush, brought diamond mining to Canada and helped transform the diamond industry.

In December the vertically integrated company Almod Diamonds announced plans to broaden the NWT diamond industry, the backbone of the territorial economy, by re-opening a Yellowknife cutting and polishing facility.

A few days after that announcement, the allure of diamonds played out differently in an Atlanta department store. Eighty-six-year-old Doris Payne, a determined, unrepentant and often unsuccessful diamond thief, wracked up another arrest. She’s been stealing stones for over sixty years.

Polymetallic promise

December 16th, 2016

Pistol Bay Mining brings regional exploration to Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

by Greg Klein

During the doom and gloom of mid-2015 Charles Desjardins saw a hopeful sign in zinc. A search for prospective sources led the president of Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST to the volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits of western Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. There he found different operators left what he considered a mixed legacy—work that was very impressive but carried out in a rather unco-ordinated manner. Now, with a commodity that’s justified his optimism and a portfolio that’s poised to be the belt’s largest, his company’s launching an ambitious new program to take a region-wide approach to Confederation Lake.

“Even though there’s been a lot of money spent in that region there really hasn’t been a lot of continuity in exploration programs,” says Desjardins. “For example we found 8,000 rock geochemistry samples that Noranda did. In today’s terms that’s about $300,000 worth of work just for the analysis, never mind actually acquiring all those samples. We don’t know if Noranda did anything with this, it might have been right when they were getting out of there. But it showed us some obvious things, including a couple of new, big, big targets and extensions of known targets.”

Pistol Bay Mining brings regional exploration to VMS-rich Confederation Lake

That’s just part of the inspiration for a two-tiered program to begin in January. Drilling would start with about six holes and a few thousand metres, he says. “Beyond that, the plan is to do a regional airborne survey with new technology that can see VMS-style mineralization at 600 to 700 metres. When you look at Flin Flon and Snow Lake, geophysics there found two major deposits at the 500-metre level.”

Confederation Lake characterizes the tendency of VMS deposits to appear in clusters, Desjardins points out. He attributes the region’s largest mine, South Bay, for around 354 million pounds of zinc, 57.6 million pounds of copper and 3.74 million ounces of silver produced between 1972 and 1981. Grades averaged about 11.06% zinc, 1.8% copper and 72.7 g/t silver.

Pending exchange approval for a four-year option on AurCrest Gold’s (TSXV:AGO) regional holdings, Pistol Bay’s turf comprises 7,050 hectares along a 43-kilometre stretch of the 60-kilometre-long belt. The projects include four historic deposits.

Already under a four-year option is a contiguous group of properties named Dixie 17, 18, 19 and 20 that’s been consolidated into a single project. Dixie comes with a 1992 historic, non-43-101 “mineral inventory” from Noranda estimating 150,000 short tons with an average 14% zinc.

Some eight kilometres southeast, the Dixie 3 property, formerly called Snake Falls, hosts another historic, non-43-101 Noranda estimate, this one 91,000 short tons averaging 1% copper and 10% zinc.

Roughly 20 kilometres northeast sits the Arrow zone, one of the acquisitions waiting approval. Arrow comes with a 2007 resource compiled by AurCrest predecessor Tribute Minerals that Pistol Bay isn’t treating as 43-101 and intends to re-do. Using three cutoff grades, the estimate showed:

3% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 2.07 million tonnes averaging 5.92% zinc, 0.75% copper, 21.1 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

  • inferred: 120,552 tonnes averaging 2.6% zinc, 0.56% copper, 18.6 g/t silver and 0.4 g/t gold

5% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 1.76 million tonnes averaging 6.75% zinc, 0.79% copper, 22.3 g/t silver and 0.61 g/t gold

  • inferred: 51,631 tonnes averaging 3.86% zinc, 0.79% copper, 23.9 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

10% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 633,000 tonnes averaging 14.3% zinc, 1.11% copper, 31.7 g/t silver and 0.85 g/t gold

That acquisition includes the contiguous Copperlode A or Fredart zone, with its historic, non-43-101 estimate of 425,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper and 33.6 g/t silver.

Even though there’s been a lot of money spent in that region there really hasn’t been a lot of continuity in exploration programs.—Charles Desjardins,
president of Pistol Bay Mining

Obviously these deposits cry out for 43-101 treatment. Pistol Bay intends to begin with Arrow, the most recent resource but with another 16 holes to consider. Desjardins hopes to have that done within six months.

He points to assays that followed historic estimates on the other deposits, like 7.34% zinc and 1.4% copper over 9.5 metres, and another 15.44% zinc and 0.43% copper over 4.3 metres at Dixie. Intriguing zinc-copper intercepts also came from the Joy-Caravelle area, part of the AurCrest package. Historic sampling at Copperlode A found molybdenum grading up to 1.46%.

Then there’s the 8,000 geochemistry samples left by Noranda. Additionally, Pistol Bay has MPH Consulting at work on an extensive review of previous geophysics. Add to that the new airborne and drilling to begin in January and Desjardins looks forward to a wealth of data with considerable potential waiting to be unlocked.

There’s strong community support too, he adds. “One First Nation invested I think about $600,000 in AurCrest,” he says.

In Saskatchewan’s uranium-prolific Athabasca Basin, Pistol Bay JVs with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 project. Having earned 75% of its option already, Rio has stated its intention to acquire the full 100% by the end of 2019. That would bring Pistol Bay $5 million and a 5% net profit interest.

The company expects to soon close the first tranche of a private placement offered up to $810,000. Other financings would follow, as Confederation Lake’s regional exploration continues in stages.

“We already have significant deposits that might be developed with one central mill,” Desjardins says. “But we’ll be looking for an elephant too.”

With maiden resource complete, Kennady Diamonds sees PEA late next year

December 14th, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 14, 2016

It’s “quite possibly a record timeframe in the history of Canadian diamond exploration,” according to Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI president/CEO Rory Moore. One of several small dykes discovered by the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV JV in 2000, the Kelvin kimberlite wasn’t drilled until 2012. By that time Mountain Province, preoccupied with the adjacent Gahcho Kué, had created Kennady to investigate the neighbouring turf. On December 12 the spinout released Kelvin’s resource, the first such estimate for the 71,000-hectare Kennady North property.

With maiden resource complete, Kennady Diamonds sees PEA late next year

Kennady has a busy year ahead, with plans for resource
estimates on two additional kimberlites prior to PEA.

Using a one-millimetre bottom cutoff, the all-indicated resource shows 8.5 million tonnes averaging 1.6 carats per tonne for 13.62 million carats of diamonds. Average value comes to $63 per carat.

The deposit extends to a depth of 510 metres, with about 85% within a potential open pit to 330 metres’ depth and the rest a possible underground mine.

It’s been a productive four years and five months since Kennady first put rigs to work. The resource considered 175 holes totalling 40,041 metres, microdiamond samples totalling 20.23 tonnes. a mini-bulk sample of 44.8 tonnes and two more bulk samples totalling 1,067 tonnes. The bulk samples gave up 2,262 carats for valuation.

Announced last month, Antwerp’s verdict—actually two separate valuations that arrived at the same amount—came to an average $52 per carat. But Kennady emphasized the lopsided values of bigger diamonds, including a 2.84-carat stone valued at $2,640 per carat.

Moore pointed to a “similar trend” at Gahcho Kué, five kilometres away. “The five highest-value Kelvin diamonds represent 1% of the sample weight but 20% of the total value. This trend is a key determinant of overall value.”

A PEA’s now scheduled for late 2017 and would incorporate resource estimates to come from the Faraday 2 and 3 kimberlites, which will undergo bulk sampling this winter. Kennady also plans geophysics over 4,233 hectares acquired in August just south of Gahcho Kué. The company will consider exploration drilling following the bulk samples.

Earlier this month Kennady, along with Athabasca Basin uranium standout NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, shared the 2016 Exploration Company of the Year award at Mines and Money London.

ALX Uranium president/CEO Mark Lackey explains his decision to join the company

November 22nd, 2016

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Denison Mines VP of exploration Dale Verran discusses the Hook-Carter project, held 80%/20% with ALX Uranium

November 9th, 2016

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An expert view

October 27th, 2016

ALX Uranium’s new CEO Mark Lackey discusses the commodity and the company

by Greg Klein

Thirty-six years in key positions give Mark Lackey a well-rounded perspective on the uranium sector. Added to that is an investor’s outlook gained by experience in the brokerage industry. A prolific media commentator—with over 300 TV appearances—he’s frequently asked to discuss commodities, often focusing on uranium trends and uranium companies. Lackey spoke with ResourceClips.com on October 26, the day he joined ALX Uranium TSXV:AL as president/CEO/director.

Industry expert Mark Lackey takes the helm at ALX Uranium

Mark Lackey brings extensive
expertise to ALX Uranium.

Lackey has served as Bank of Canada economist responsible for U.S. economic forecasting and senior commodities manager at the Bank of Montreal. Stints with Gulf Canada, a uranium producer like many other oil companies of the time, and Ontario Hydro, a major uranium consumer, enhanced his supply/demand insight.

That uranium career includes his 16 years in the brokerage industry, serving with Brawley Cathers, Blackmont Capital, Hampton Securities and Pope & Company. More recently he’s been executive VP at CHF Investor Relations and technical adviser at Presmont Group.

To those who watch uranium, its underachieving price hasn’t just been an ongoing disappointment. It’s a source of frustration to those who’ve made bullish forecasts. Lackey has been less surprised than others, however.

“I spoke at a conference last year and might have been the only one who thought uranium was actually going to go down this year,” he recalls. “It did go down, but way more than I thought, which was about $29 or $28. I thought everybody else was too optimistic about Japan restarting all the units and we’ve seen excess supply coming out of places like Kazakhstan. So the weakness this year didn’t surprise me.”

History gives him a sense of perspective, not to mention optimism. “I’ve seen this from $8 in the late ’90s to $136 in 2007. It fell during the 2008 recession, then came back nicely to $72 in 2011, the day Fukushima was hit. So we’ve had some big moves both ways over the years but now we’re down to a price that’s not sustainable. How many new mines would you get at these prices? I can’t think of too many unless you find something huge in the Basin, because high-volume, low-grade projects in many other places have people looking for $50 to $60—not $21.”

ALX Uranium’s new CEO Mark Lackey discusses the commodity and the company

He sees a number of price catalysts over the next few years: increased buying from utilities, a possible reduction in Kazakhstan supply, Japanese restarts and nuclear expansion elsewhere.

Kazakhstan provided 39% of world supply last year (compared with Canada’s 22%). But Lackey wonders whether low prices will force the global leader to cut output. Kazakhstan has been disregarding a 2011 self-imposed production cap of 20,000 tonnes per year, the World Nuclear Association states. WNA data attributes last year’s output to 23,800 tonnes.

As for Japan, it “will have to do something ultimately,” Lackey maintains. “There are 51 of the 54 reactors idled, that’s six or seven billion dollars a plant, roughly three or four hundred billion dollars of infrastructure. Thirty of the units have been tested positively. There are political concerns and the closer you are to Fukushima the more difficult it would be to restart them, but southern Japan doesn’t seem to have the same anti-nuclear view. Japan’s burning a lot of coal, they’re burning LNG and I hear from my sources that there are brownouts and blackouts. You can’t have that in an industrial country.”

Japan’s restarts would have a symbolic effect. But it is, after all, just one country. “There are about 60 plants under construction around the world right now, and more and more of them are coming into play,” Lackey points out.

“It’s cleaner than most baseload sources and relatively cheap. The planet has 1.2 billion people with no power and another two billion with just intermittent power.”

As someone who’s been watching uranium companies for 36 years, I’ve seen it’s the team you have, the projects you have and the jurisdiction you’re in.—Mark Lackey,
president/CEO of ALX Uranium

Although near-term price scenarios can certainly influence investors, there are other priorities in assessing junior explorers. “As someone who’s been watching uranium companies for 36 years, I’ve seen it’s the team you have, the projects you have and the jurisdiction you’re in. My favourite jurisdiction’s been the Athabasca Basin. It’s got the highest grades and Saskatchewan’s a great province to work in.

“I follow the companies in this space and I can see that ALX has a very strong board, management and technical staff,” he adds. “I’m extremely bullish about uranium and extremely excited about working with such an impressive team. It’s a great opportunity and I’m glad to be part of it.”

Lackey replaces Jon Armes, who steps down to pursue other opportunities but stays on as a consultant. During his six years of leadership at ALX and its predecessor Lakeland Resources, Armes helped build one of the Athabasca Basin’s largest and most prospective uranium exploration portfolios. Most recently he negotiated the Hook-Carter transaction that benefits ALX with the budget and experience of Denison Mines TSX:DML.

Pistol Bay Mining plans November drilling on Dixie zinc projects in Ontario

October 26th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 26, 2016

It’s neither the land of cotton nor of traditional jazz, but of zinc with additional metals. And that’s why Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST has a November drill program planned for three of its western Ontario Dixie properties. Totalling about 1,900 hectares, Dixies 17, 18 and 19 host lenses of volcanogenic massive sulphides with zinc, copper, silver and minor gold in the Confederation Lake greenstone belt southeast of Red Lake.

Pistol Bay Mining plans November drilling on Dixie zinc projects in Ontario

All three have historic zinc-copper assays.

A review of previous geophysics will help determine drill targets for the three zones. Additionally, Pistol Bay proposes confirmation holes for Dixie 17 and 18.

Also on October 25, the company announced a private placement of up to $820,000. Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 placement in August.

Earlier this month the company announced a letter of intent to acquire regional properties from AurCrest Gold TSXV:AGO, which would make Pistol Bay the greenstone belt’s largest claimholder. The 5,136-hectare package includes a zinc-copper-silver resource and an historic, non-43-101 estimate.

In Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin, the company has a joint venture with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 uranium property. Having earned 75% of its option so far, Rio intends to acquire the full 100%.

See an infographic: Eleven things every metal investor should know about zinc.

Industry expert Mark Lackey takes the helm at ALX Uranium

October 26th, 2016

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Cigar Lake faces more challenges as wolves stalk and attack employees

October 21st, 2016

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Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

October 19th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 19, 2016

Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

Pistol Bay’s newest holdings will cover a 31-kilometre length
of the VMS-rich Confederation Lake greenstone belt.

 

A new acquisition would make Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST the biggest claimholder in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. The 5,136-hectare package comprises all the regional claims held by AurCrest Gold TSXV:AGO and includes a zinc-copper-silver resource compiled by AurCrest as well as an historic, non-43-101 estimate. Along with Pistol Bay’s optioned Dixie and Dixie 3 properties, the letter of intent announced October 19 would increase the company’s holdings to 7,050 hectares on the volcanogenic massive sulphide-rich belt.

With three cutoff grades, AurCrest’s resource for the Arrow zone showed:

3% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 2.07 million tonnes averaging 5.92% zinc, 0.75% copper, 21.1 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

  • inferred: 120,550 tonnes averaging 2.6% zinc, 0.56% copper, 18.6 g/t silver and 0.4 g/t gold

5% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 1.76 million tonnes averaging 6.75% zinc, 0.79% copper, 22.3 g/t silver and 0.61 g/t gold

  • inferred: 51,630 tonnes averaging 3.86% zinc, 0.79% copper, 23.9 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

10% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 633,000 tonnes averaging 14.3% zinc, 1.11% copper, 31.7 g/t silver and 0.85 g/t gold
Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

Pistol Bay’s Dixie properties have been
undergoing field work and a review of historic data.

Additionally, the Copperlode A or Fredart zone has an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 425,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper. Exploration in the 1970s produced samples up to 1.46% molybdenum.

The 100% option would cost $25,000 and one million shares on closing and $25,000 90 days later, as well as $50,000 and one million shares on each of the four anniversaries following closing. In addition to regulatory approvals, the transaction needs the consent of Glencore plc, whose rights to the Confederation Lake property include a 2% NSR.

The companies expect to close within a week.

“Pistol Bay proposes an ambitious exploration program that will not only pursue existing targets and known VMS deposits, but will use the latest airborne geophysical survey technologies to explore the whole area to a greater depth than was possible in the past,” said president Charles Desjardins.

Earlier this month the company announced MPH Consulting will review historic geophysical data on Pistol Bay’s Confederation Lake-region Dixie properties, where field work began in September. Historic drilling has found zinc, copper and silver, while the recently optioned Dixie 3 project comes with an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 82,500 tonnes averaging 1% copper and 10% zinc.

The company has a joint venture with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 uranium property in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Having already earned 75% of its option, Rio has stated its intention to acquire the full 100%.

Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 private placement last August.