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Posts tagged ‘sierra leone’

Blood diamonds prominent as multi-billion-dollar Swiss Leaks scandal hits HSBC

February 9th, 2015

by Greg Klein | February 9, 2015

HSBC’s secret Swiss bank accounts facilitated billions of dollars in money laundering, tax evasion, fraud, arms trafficking and possibly terrorism, a team of investigative journalists reported February 8. Almost 2,000 of the account-holders are associated with the diamond industry.

The probe began in 2008 when a former HSBC employee handed files over to French tax authorities. After Le Monde got ahold of the info the paper turned to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which assembled a team of over 140 reporters from 45 countries to “sift through the data from all angles.” Excerpts from their Swiss Leaks report were released February 8 and 9.

Their revelations have rich and famous—from celebrity athletes to politicians, and from rock stars to royalty—running for their spin doctors. Diamonds were central to several enormous crimes.

Diamonds have a long history of being linked to conflict and violence. The ease with which diamonds can be converted into tools of war, when not sourced responsibly, is astonishing.—Michael Gibb
of Global Witness

The report noted that the HSBC files “document huge sums of money controlled by dealers in diamonds who are known to have operated in war zones and sold gemstones to finance insurgencies that caused untold deaths.”

A co-founder of the Kimberley Process, Ian Smillie, told the ICIJ that “diamonds are a great way to launder money, to hide money, to evade taxes and all the rest.” Referring to wars financed by conflict diamonds, he added, “Half a million died in the Angolan civil war. Tens of thousands died in Sierra Leone, Congo and elsewhere. It was a huge humanitarian crisis that destabilized huge regions.”

One HSBC client, Emmanuel Shallop, got a six-year prison sentence and lost $59 million in diamonds and real estate to Belgian authorities in 2010 after being convicted of crimes related to blood diamonds from Sierra Leone.

“Diamonds have a long history of being linked to conflict and violence,” the report quoted Michael Gibb of the human rights group Global Witness. “The ease with which diamonds can be converted into tools of war, when not sourced responsibly, is astonishing.”

HSBC replied that it has “taken significant steps over the past several years to implement reforms and exit clients who did not meet strict new HSBC standards.” Its Swiss unit has shed about 70% of account-holders, the bank added.

Read more about the ICIJ Swiss Leaks report here and here.

Jewellers look at Canadian investments for secure, ethical diamond supply

December 19th, 2014

by Greg Klein | December 19, 2014

Increasing concern about supply has some of the world’s top jewelry companies looking for stakes in diamond mines. Tiffany & Co and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group are now “reaching out to mine operators that range from the Canadian Arctic to the Kalahari Desert,” according to a December 18 Bloomberg report.

We need to measure the political risks, economic risks, deployment of staff—it’s not an easy decision.—Adrian Cheng, executive director for Chow Tai Fook

“Tiffany was a leader in the movement, investing in a Sierra Leone mine in 2011 and lining up agreements to buy future output at projects from South Africa to Canada,” the news agency stated. “Earlier this month, Adrian Cheng, the executive director for Chow Tai Fook, said his company is also examining Canadian projects with the idea of buying stakes.”

Apart from security of supply, jewellers want reassurance that the stones are mined ethically. “While Chow Tai Fook is continuing to examine Canadian projects, the company was put off by political risks in southern Africa,” Bloomberg added.

“There are a lot of opportunities, but it is not very easy because it is always in a foreign country, somewhere in Africa or Botswana, or anywhere around the world,” the agency quoted Cheng. “We need to measure the political risks, economic risks, deployment of staff—it’s not an easy decision.”

Rough diamond demand is expected to grow an average 4% to 5% up to 2024, states a December report from Bain & Company and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. But supply forecasts see only 3.5% to 4% growth up to 2019, then 1.5% to 2% for the following five years.

Canada ranks third for global rough diamond production by value, with most of it coming from the Northwest Territories’ Lac de Gras region.

Read more about diamond supply and demand.

Athabasca Basin and beyond

December 22nd, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for December 14 to 20, 2013

by Greg Klein

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News flash: Fission Uranium releases assays—actual lab assays—from Patterson Lake South

Frenetic as activity has been at Patterson Lake South, assays have been trickling in at a most leisurely pace. Results released by Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU on December 18 come from three holes that were drilled last summer and had scintillometer results reported in August and September. The backlog of assays, from about 50 holes, can only increase speculation about when the project’s maiden resource might appear and what it might show.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for December 14 to 20, 2013

Even so, these results continue to impress with high-grade, near-surface intervals. Taken from R945E, the most easterly of six zones along a 1.78-kilometre trend, some of the better assays show 7.91% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 14 metres, 1.59% over 40 metres and 3.69% over 13.5 metres. One Russian doll interval-within-an-interval-within-an-interval graded 43.7% over 0.5 metres.

Highlights show:

Hole PLS13-084

  • 0.11% U3O8 over 8 metres, starting at 129.5 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.27% over 25.5 metres, starting at 156.5 metres

  • 0.3% over 7 metres, starting at 195 metres

  • 0.13% over 12.5 metres, starting at 206.5 metres

  • 3.69% over 13.5 metres, starting at 232.5 metres
  • (including 9.12% over 1 metre)
  • (and including 7.27% over 4.5 metres)

Hole PLS13-092

  • 0.84% over 16 metres, starting at 163 metres
  • (including 1.62% over 4 metres)
  • (and including 6.22% over 0.5 metres)

  • 0.15% over 7.5 metres, starting at 196 metres

Hole PLS13-096

  • 0.3% over 7.5 metres, starting at 98 metres

  • 1.59% over 40 metres, starting at 138 metres
  • (including 14.22% over 3 metres)

  • 2.4% over 11 metres, starting at 186 metres
  • (including 6.91% over 2 metres)

  • 7.91% over 14 metres, starting at 249.5 metres
  • (including 18.2% over 5.5 metres)
  • (which includes 43.7% over 0.5 metres)

True widths were unavailable. Drilling was vertical or near-vertical, with dips of 90, -88 and -89 degrees respectively.

The previous week, PLS’s now sole owner closed a $12.87-million financing for the project’s “most aggressive drill program to date” with about 100 holes totalling 30,000 metres, along with further geophysics. Winter is not a quiet time in the Athabasca Basin.

Lakeland recruits more expertise while planning Gibbon’s Creek winter program

Two more Lakeland Resources’ TSXV:LK appointments bring additional experience to the company’s management and board. December 16 and 19 announcements reported Neil McCallum joining as director and Frances Petryshen as corporate secretary.

McCallum, a project manager with Dahrouge Geological Consulting, has served a number of companies with target generation, hiring, logistics, land management, data compilation, project reviews and management.

“Among the first Basin projects I worked on was staking the Waterbury Lake project that started with Strathmore Minerals and turned into Fission Energy,” McCallum says. Fission Energy’s 60% interest in Waterbury was the main impetus for Denison Mines’ TSX:DML acquisition of the company earlier this year. The project’s J zone now shows an indicated resource of 291,000 tonnes averaging 2% for 12.81 million pounds U3O8.

“Also with Dahrouge, I worked on the Patterson Lake project, which morphed into Patterson Lake South,” McCallum adds. “Part of that work back in 2004 was digging through historic data, looking for projects that had been passed over by some of the major companies. So I’ve been familiar with the Basin since that time.”

His involvement in a variety of projects with prospect generator Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC led him to Lakeland, a Zimtu core holding, about a year ago. “Having worked with Zimtu and Ryan Fletcher, I found I like the way he operates. He’s similar to me in that he’s a young guy who thinks outside the box. When you work with different projects and different teams you can look at the Basin from a different angle. I think that’s what people like Ryan and myself bring to the table—a bit of a different perspective.”

We’ll continue building our team and our projects so that when uranium’s price environment changes, which it will, we’ll be very well established.—Lakeland Resources
director Ryan Fletcher

As a Lakeland director, McCallum will play a wider role in the company than before. “A big part of Lakeland’s goal is to find projects either by staking or linking up with other companies,” he explains. “So a lot of what I’ll do is review those projects on a technical basis to make informed decisions.”

Fletcher reinforces those comments. “Our group has worked with Neil for several years now and I’ve seen the impact he’s had on other projects. But he’s also focused a lot on uranium and the Athabasca Basin. He has a talent for looking at historic data, filing through the assessment reports and putting it all into context. He’s already been helping with project management on our Gibbon’s Creek/Riou Lake project, but now he’s joining the board to represent shareholders and drive shareholder value.”

As corporate secretary Frances Petryshen brings 25 years of experience specializing in corporate compliance and governance for public, private and not-for-profit organizations. She’s been a director and officer with several public and private companies including CanAlaska Uranium TSX:CVV, where she worked from 2007 to 2012.

Petryshen is an accredited director and a fellow with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, where she currently serves as director and chairperson of the British Columbia branch.

“Her appointment is another important step towards adding the right people to deliver as we grow the company and expand our exploration and activity in the Athabasca,” said Lakeland president/CEO Jonathan Armes in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Frances will be an important contributor and a trusted adviser and associate to our team.”

The news follows several recent Lakeland announcements including the appointments of mining specialists Sam Wong as CFO and Canon Bryan as adviser, JVs with Declan Resources TSXV:LAN and Star Minerals Group TSXV:SUV, and a research report by Zimtu research and communications officer Derek Hamill.

With summer/autumn field work complete, planning now takes place for the 12,771-hectare Gibbon’s Creek winter campaign. “We’ll be very active throughout the new year as well,” Fletcher says. “We’ll continue building our team and our projects so that when uranium’s price environment changes, which it will, we’ll be very well established.”

Mega Uranium to get Energy Fuels’ interest in Bayswater; EFR signs KEPCO agreement

Under a share swap announced December 19, Energy Fuels TSX:EFR signed an agreement to exchange all its Bayswater Uranium TSXV:BYU stock with Mega Uranium TSX:MGA for 1.7 million newly issued Mega shares. Energy Fuels got the 11.5% interest in Bayswater on taking over Strathmore Minerals in September. Subject to all approvals, the co-signers expect to close the transaction by January 17.

The companies are hardly unacquainted. Energy Fuels is already a Mega shareholder. Mega, meanwhile, owns about 17% of NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE. Although Mega lost its bid for Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT in October, the following month it picked up 28% of the ASX-listed Toro Energy in return for Mega’s Lake Maitland pre-development project in Western Australia. Energy Fuels holds a 5% gross production royalty on the Reno Creek uranium project, which last March reached pre-feasibility under a Bayswater affiliate.

Energy Fuels supplies about 25% of American uranium production. In November the company suspended development of its Canyon mine in Arizona due to low commodity prices and legal action challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the mine.

On December 17 the company announced a strategic relationship agreement with the Korea Electric Power Corp. But details were lost in Energy Fuels’ vaguely written news release.

Ur-Energy offered 50% discount on Pathfinder Mines, AREVA to get 5% royalty

A revised agreement offers Ur-Energy TSX:URE a half-price deal on Pathfinder Mines and its two former Wyoming mines with historic resources. The acquisition was originally priced at US$13.25 million in July 2012. Now, “in recognition of current market conditions,” AREVA affiliate COGEMA Resources will let go of Pathfinder for approximately $6.625 million in return for a 5% gross royalty on Pathfinder’s Shirley Basin property. The royalty remains subject to caps depending on uranium’s price. Ur-Energy has already put $1.325 million into escrow. Some other details have yet to be negotiated, the company stated.

Three days after that December 16 announcement, the company reported a private placement expected to close on December 20 for approximately $5.18 million. The money was earmarked for the Pathfinder acquisition.

Earlier in December Ur-Energy reported a first shipment of 35,000 pounds U3O8 left its Lost Creek mine in Wyoming. Lost Creek’s resource update was released in November.

In late October the company closed a $34-million Wyoming state loan after having previously borrowed $35 million from RMB Australia Holdings Ltd.

Uranium exploration finds frac sand potential on Declan Resources’ Firebag River

Initial field work by Dahrouge Geological Consulting shows potential for high-quality frac sand on Declan Resources’ Firebag River property in northeastern Alberta, the company announced December 18. Samples from depths of less than two metres revealed “high silica content, quality sphericity and roundness values, and a high percentage of sand falling within the preferred 20/40 and 40/70 mesh sizes,” Declan stated.

Using figures from consulting firm PacWest, a December 2 Wall Street Journal report says oil and gas companies have boosted sand demand 25% since 2011, with another 20% increase expected over the next two years.

Declan intends to follow up on the finding “along with its principal objective of uranium exploration” at the 50,000-hectare property just southwest of the Basin. One day earlier the company released silver-copper results from its Nimini Hills property in Sierra Leone. In early December Declan signed a JV on Lakeland Resources’ Gibbon’s Creek project, a four-year option which would inject an extra $1.25 million into the property’s 2014 drill program.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

September 15th, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for September 7 to 13, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Denison updates Waterbury Lake resource, releases Wheeler River assays up to 43.8% U3O8 over 12 metres

Denison Mines TSX:DML confirmed its best-ever hole from the eastside Athabasca Basin Wheeler River project on September 11. Releasing lab assays to back up previously reported radiometric results from downhole probes, the company reported hole WR-525 with 43.8% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 12 metres, starting at 400.5 metres in downhole depth.

With intercepts approximately equal to true thicknesses, some other results include:

  • 20% U3O8 over 8 metres, starting at 407.5 metres

  • 10.9% over 8.5 metres, starting at 404.1 metres

  • 7.3% over 8 metres, starting at 405.5 metres

  • 0.5% over 5 metres, starting at 424 metres

  • 0.4% over 3 metres, starting at 411 metres

  • 0.1% over 3 metres, starting at 412 metres

The above results come from the Phoenix A zone. Apart from lab assays, the company released radiometric readings from probes of three new holes at the same zone:

Hole WR-533

  • 1.5% radiometric equivalent uranium oxide (eU3O8) over 4.5 metres, starting at 407.1 metres in downhole depth

Hole WR-534

  • 10.3% over 3.1 metres, starting at 407.7 metres

Hole WR-535

  • 19% over 2.5 metres, starting at 404.9 metres

  • 1.4% over 1 metre, starting at 408.1 metres

With 23 holes totalling 11,074 metres, Wheeler River’s summer campaign has finished. But while Phoenix A continues to impress, other parts of the project so far haven’t. Of 10 holes sunk in the 489 zone, only one found significant mineralization (0.4% over 3 metres, starting at 411 metres). Five others at the Phoenix North and REA areas also failed to find significant results.

The project has a December 2012 resource using a 0.8% cutoff. Phoenix A shows:

  • an indicated category of 133,500 tonnes averaging 15.8% for 46.5 million pounds U3O8

  • an inferred category of 6,300 tonnes averaging 51.7% for 7.2 million pounds

The Phoenix B deposit shows:

  • an indicated category of 19,000 tonnes averaging 14.1% for 5.9 million pounds

  • an inferred category of 5,300 tonnes averaging 3.5% for 400,000 pounds

The joint venture is held 60% by Denison, 30% by Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and 10% by JCU (Canada) Exploration.

On September 12 Denison unveiled a new resource for the J zone of its Waterbury Lake project. The update, entirely in the indicated category, uses a 0.1% cutoff to show 291,000 tonnes averaging 2% for 12.81 million pounds U3O8. The resource reduces the overall tonnage but increases the grade reported in a December 2012 estimate compiled for Fission Energy prior to its acquisition by Denison.

Assays from 268 holes were used for the estimate. With an east-west strike as long as 700 metres and a width up to 70 metres, the J zone generally shows mineralization at depths of 195 to 230 metres, the company reported. No capping was applied because using “high composite values uncut would be negligible to the overall resource estimate,” Denison added. The crew now has a six-hole campaign following up on a DC-resistivity survey northwest along trend of the zone. Denison has a 60% interest in the project, with the Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) holding the remainder.

Denison also updated other Basin projects. Packrat has geochemical results pending, which will determine whether drilling resumes next year. Geochem results are also pending for South Dufferin, where 10 holes failed to find significant mineralization but did confirm the presence of the Dufferin Lake fault system. Crawford Lake, Moon Lake (held 45% by Uranium One TSX:UUU) and Bachman Lake (with International Enexco TSXV:IEC earning 20%) also have small drill programs underway.

Kivalliq reports geochem, metallurgical results for its Angilak property in Nunavut

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for September 7 to 13, 2013

Currently undergoing a $4.8-million campaign, Kivalliq Energy’s
137,699-hectare Angilak project in southern Nunavut hosts Canada’s
highest-grade uranium deposit outside the Athabasca Basin.

Extensive geochemical sampling has helped Kivalliq Energy TSXV:KIV find new anomalous areas and determine drill targets on its 137,699-hectare Angilak project in Nunavut. Some 1,538 samples brought 387 anomalous uranium soil geochem results along the three-by-12-kilometre Lac 50 trend, as well as the Nine Iron-KU trend 5.5 kilometres south. Some of the Lac 50 anomalies were found at least 600 metres beyond existing drill holes “demonstrating much more work is warranted in these areas,” the company stated on September 9. Anomalies also coincided with three electromagnetic conductor targets located 3.8 kilometres northeast, 1.8 kilometres southeast and one kilometre north of the Lac 50 resource.

Another EM target extending 8.1 kilometres from the Nine Iron zone to the KU zone showed 44 anomalous results.

Two days later Kivalliq announced positive metallurgical results for Lac 50 and J4 zone samples. In a statement accompanying the release, Chuck Edwards, director of metallurgy for the engineering firm AMEC, said: “Optimizing sulphide recovery, plus improvements to alkaline leach kinetics using oxygen as oxidant, could have a positive impact on reducing costs associated with potential treatment options.”

In addition, Kivalliq announced a trial run suggested radiometric sorting might “efficiently identify and segregate uranium-bearing minerals” from Lac 50.

Located 225 kilometres south of Baker Lake, Angilak has a 2013 exploration budget of $4.8 million. With Canada’s highest-grade deposit outside the Athabasca Basin, the project has a January inferred resource estimate using a 0.2% cutoff to show 2.83 million tonnes averaging 0.69% for 43.3 million pounds U3O8. The inferred resource also shows 1.88 million ounces silver, 10.4 million pounds molybdenum and 15.6 million pounds copper. Kivalliq operates the project in partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Alpha/Fission release scintillometer results, extend acquisition letter of intent

Somewhere there must be a considerable backlog of Patterson Lake South core waiting to be assayed. So far this year, 50/50 JV partners Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW have mostly released scintillometer readings. A preliminary indication of radioactivity, they measure gamma rays in counts per second, up to an off-scale reading above 9,999 cps. The September 12 batch comes from R780E, the third of four zones along a 1.02-kilometre southwest-northeast trend.

Hole PLS13-082 reached a total depth of 380 metres, finding the basement unconformity at 55.3 metres without striking sandstone. Some results show:

  • <300 to 500 cps over 7.5 metres, starting at 118.5 metres in downhole depth

  • <300 to 820 cps over 3.5 metres, starting at 141 metres

  • <300 to >9,999 cps over 35 metres, starting at 146.5 metres

  • 1,000 to 4,200 cps over 1.5 metres, starting at 237 metres

Hole PLS13-089 encountered no sandstone and hit the basement unconformity at 54.2 metres on its way to a total depth of 393 metres. Some examples show:

  • <300 to 1,800 cps over 5 metres, starting at 142.5 metres

  • <300 to 3,200 cps over 16.5 metres, starting at 150 metres

  • 740 to >9,999 cps over 1.5 metres, starting at 179.5 metres

  • <300 to 6,500 cps over 8 metres, starting at 198.5 metres

True widths were unavailable. Lab assays are pending.

With 25 holes totalling 7,746 metres complete by September 11, the campaign’s $6.95-million, 44-hole, 11,000-metre program is well advanced. Fission acts as project operator.

On September 13 the partners updated Fission’s proposed acquisition of Alpha. They’ve now extended to September 17 “the date by which the obligations set out in the LOI, including the signing of an arrangement agreement, must be completed.”

Zadar finds radioactive boulders in PLS-vicinity PNE project

With Phase I exploration complete on Zadar Ventures’ TSXV:ZAD PNE project, a scintillometer has found boulders measuring 130 to 405 cps. “The anomalous boulders sampled have basement rock lithologies similar to those reported in the early stages” of Alpha/Fission’s PLS, Zadar stated on September 11. The program also included taking boulder chip samples for assays and placing radon gas detector cups.

Phase II calls for additional scintillometer prospecting and boulder sampling, as well as a survey of more than 350 radon cups. The team also plans to locate the 15,292-hectare property’s single historic hole. PNE lies about 11 kilometres northeast of PLS and adjacent to Patterson Lake North, a 50/50 JV between Fission and Azincourt Uranium TSXV:AAZ.

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