Monday 20th November 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘tantalum’

Commerce Resources closes season on Quebec quest for rare earths and rare metals

October 11th, 2017

by Greg Klein | October 11, 2017

With this year’s field program now complete, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE reports progress on a Quebec property hosting both advanced and early-stage projects. The bulk of the work brings the Eldor property’s Ashram rare earths deposit closer to pre-feasibility. About one kilometre east of Ashram, meanwhile, the company has Eldor’s Miranna target under scrutiny for its niobium-tantalum-phosphate potential.

Commerce Resources closes season on Quebec quest for rare earths and rare metals

Core from a 14-hole, 2,014-metre infill
campaign now makes its way to the lab.

Renewing anticipation of Ashram assay results, the team sent 1,256 core samples from last year’s drilling to the lab. The 14-hole, 2,014-metre program focused on definition drilling of the carbonatite-based deposit featuring the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, all familiar to conventional REE processing. The deposit also features a strong distribution of the critical elements neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.

Using a 1.25% cutoff, Ashram’s 2012 resource showed:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

Nine composite core samples will be tested to determine rock geomechanical characteristics to aid design of the processing plant. “Initial comminution testing indicates that the Ashram material is relatively soft, which directly correlates to lower energy consumption during the crushing and grinding process, where often the bulk of a mining operation’s energy is consumed,” the company stated. Other work included downloading data from an on-site weather station, as well as from lake and downhole instruments.

As for early-stage work, the crew collected 36 samples that largely targeted the Miranna area. Observing significant niobium-tantalum mineralization on surface, the team identified overlapping mineralized boulder trains that appear to end in the same area, increasing Miranna’s potential, Commerce added. Samples taken last year graded as high as 5.9% niobium pentoxide, with impressive tantalum, phosphate and rare earths numbers as well.

In southern British Columbia the company also has tantalum-niobium at its Blue River deposit, which reached PEA in 2011. Commerce signed an MOU in July to test a one-tonne sample for a proprietary method of processing.

Another MOU would have Ucore Rare Metals TSXV:UCU test a selective separation process on Ashram material. Samples have already undergone favourable metallurgical tests at a Colorado facility.

Hoping to bring clean, cost-effective energy to northern Quebec, Commerce also has an MOU with TUGLIQ Energy to determine Eldor’s potential for wind-generated electricity.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

First visit yields surface grades up to 7.32% on 92 Resources’ new Quebec lithium property

October 5th, 2017

by Greg Klein | October 5, 2017

First visit yields surface grades up to 7.32% on 92 Resources’ new Quebec lithium property

A single day of due diligence on a new acquisition brought high lithium values for 92 Resources TSXV:NTY. Selected grab samples from the Corvette property in northern Quebec assayed 0.8%, 3.48% and 7.32% Li2O at surface from one pegmatite outcrop and 1.22% from another, which also showed an anomalous tantalum result of 90 ppm Ta2O5.

The 3,891-hectare property comprises one of three prospective lithium acquisitions in Quebec’s James Bay region announced last month.

The two spodumene-bearing pegmatites, about 75 metres apart and trending sub-parallel, “highlight the prospective nature of the property,” 92 Resources stated. With only a small part of the property explored so far, the company has more prospecting as well as channel sampling planned before winter sets in.

In September the company announced a two-week program of prospecting and channel sampling at its flagship Hidden Lake lithium project in the Northwest Territories. Follow-up metallurgical results released the same month on a concentrate produced from Hidden Lake material showed an overall extraction rate of 97%.

92 Resources also has a 43-101 technical report planned for its Golden frac sand project in eastern British Columbia.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with 92 Resources CEO Adrian Lamoureux.

Crucial commodities

September 8th, 2017

Price/supply concerns draw end-users to Commerce Resources’ rare earths-tantalum-niobium projects

by Greg Klein

“One of the things that really galls me is that the F-35 is flying around with over 900 pounds of Chinese REEs in it.”

That typifies some of the remarks Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE president Chris Grove hears from end-users of rare earths and rare metals. Steeply rising prices for magnet feed REEs and critical minerals like tantalum—not to mention concern about stable, geopolitically friendly sources—have brought even greater interest in the company’s two advanced projects, the Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec and the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia. Now Commerce has a list of potential customers and processors waiting for samples from both properties.

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F-35 fighter jets alongside the USS America:
Chinese rare earths in action.
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Of course with China supplying over 90% of the world’s REEs, governments and industries in many countries have cause for concern. Tantalum moves to market through sometimes disturbingly vague supply lines, with about 37% of last year’s production coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 32% from Rwanda, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. One company in Brazil, Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM), produces about 85% of the world’s niobium, another critical mineral.

As Ashram moves towards pre-feasibility, Commerce has a team busy getting a backlog of core to the assay lab. But tantalum and niobium, the original metals of interest for Commerce, have returned to the fore as well, with early-stage exploration on the Quebec property and metallurgical studies on the B.C. deposit.

The upcoming assays will come from 14 holes totalling 2,014 metres sunk last year, mostly definition drilling. Initial geological review and XRF data suggest significant intervals in several holes, including a large stepout to the southeast, Grove’s team reports.

“We’re always excited to see this project’s drilling results,” he says. “We know we’re in carbonatite basically all of the time and over the last five years, in all the 9,200 metres we’ve done since the last resource calculation, we’ve basically always hit more material than was modelled in the original resource—i.e. we’ve always found less waste rock at surface, we’ve always hit material in the condemnation holes and we’ve always had intersections of higher-grade material. So all those things look exciting for this program.”

Carbonatite comprises a key Ashram distinction. The deposit sits within carbonatite host rock and the minerals monazite, bastnasite and xenotime, which are well understood in commercial REE processing. That advantage distinguishes Ashram from REE hopefuls that foundered over mineralogical challenges. Along with resource size, mineralogy has Grove confident of Ashram’s potential as a low-cost producer competing with China.

As for size, a 2012 resource used a 1.25% cutoff to show:

  • measured: 1.59 million tonnes averaging 1.77% total rare earth oxides

  • indicated: 27.67 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO

  • inferred: 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO

A near-surface—sometimes at-surface—deposit, Ashram also features strong distribution of neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium, all critical elements and some especially costly. Neodymium and dysprosium prices have shot up 80% this year.

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Commerce Resources’ field crew poses at the Eldor property,
home to the Ashram deposit and Miranna prospect.

Comparing Ashram’s inferred gross tonnage of nearly 220 million tonnes with the measured and indicated total of less than 30 million tonnes, Grove sees considerable potential to bolster the M&I as well as increase the resource’s overall size and average grade.

This season’s field program includes prospecting in the Miranna area about a kilometre from the deposit. Miranna was the site of 2015 boulder sampling that brought “spectacular” niobium grades up to 5.9% Nb2O5, nearly twice the average grade of the world’s largest producer, CBMM’s Araxá mine, Grove says. Some tantalum standouts showed 1,220 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5. Significant results for phosphate and rare earth oxides were also apparent.

Should Miranna prove drill-worthy, the synergies with Ashram would be obvious.

That’s the early-stage aspect of Commerce’s tantalum-niobium work. In B.C. the company’s Blue River deposit reached PEA in 2011, with a resource update in 2013. Based on a tantalum price of $381 per kilo, the estimate showed:

  • indicated: 48.41 million tonnes averaging 197 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,610 ppm Nb2O5 for 9.56 million kilograms Ta2O5 and 77.81 kilograms Nb2O5

  • inferred: 5.4 million tonnes averaging 191 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,760 ppm Nb2O5 for 1 million kilograms Ta2O5 and 9.6 million kilograms Nb2O5

Actually that should be 1,300 kilograms less. That’s the size of a sample on its way to Estonia for evaluation by Alexander Krupin, an expert in processing high-grade tantalum and niobium concentrates. “As with Ashram, we’ve already found that standard processing works well for Blue River,” Grove points out. “However, if Krupin’s proprietary method proves even more efficient, why wouldn’t we look at it?”

We’re always excited to see this project’s drilling results. We know we’re in carbonatite basically all of the time and over the last five years, in all the 9,200 metres we’ve done since the last resource calculation, we’ve basically always hit more material than was modelled in the original resource.—Chris Grove,
president of Commerce Resources

Back to rare earths, Commerce signed an MOU with Ucore Rare Metals TSXV:UCU to assess Ashram material for a proprietary method of selective processing. Others planning to test proprietary techniques on Ashram include Texas Mineral Resources and K-Technologies, Rare Earth Salts, Innovation Metals Corp, the University of Tennessee and NanoScience Solutions at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Should proprietary methods work, all the better, Grove states. But he emphasizes that standard metallurgical tests have already succeeded, making a cheaper process unnecessary for both Blue River and Ashram.

Potential customers show interest too. Concentrate sample requests have come from Solvay, Mitsubishi, Treibacher, BASF, DKK, Albemarle, Blue Line and others covered by non-disclosure agreements. Requests have also come for samples of fluorspar, a potential Ashram byproduct and another mineral subject to rising prices and Chinese supply dominance.

A solid expression of interest came from the province too, as Ressources Québec invested $1 million in a February private placement. The provincial government corporation describes itself as focusing “on projects that have good return prospects and foster Quebec’s economic development.”

Also fostering the mining-friendly jurisdiction’s economic development is Plan Nord, which has pledged $1.3 billion to infrastructure over five years. The provincial road to Renard helped make Stornoway Diamond’s (TSX:SWY) mine a reality. Other projects that would benefit from a road extension towards Ashram would be Lac Otelnuk, located 80 kilometres south. The Sprott Resource Holdings TSX:SRHI/WISCO JV holds Canada’s largest iron ore deposit. Some projects north of Ashram include the Kan gold-base metals project of Barrick Gold TSX:ABX and Osisko Mining TSX:OSK, as well as properties held by Midland Exploration TSXV:MD.

But, Grove says, it’s rising prices and security of supply that have processors and end-users metaphorically beating a path to his company’s door. And maybe nothing demonstrates the criticality of critical minerals better than a nearby superpower that relies on a geopolitical rival for commodities essential to national defence.

Update: Berkwood Resources continues to drill visible graphite in Quebec

August 31st, 2017

by Greg Klein | updated August 31, 2017

Assays have yet to arrive, but two holes reported last week and another five on August 31 have all produced near-surface core with visible graphite from Berkwood Resources’ (TSXV:BKR) Lac Gueret South project. The Phase I program calls for nine more shallow holes between about 60 and 120 metres in depth.

The company cautioned that visible indications don’t necessarily coincide with significant grades. But the results do justify continuing the program as planned, Berkwood stated.

Lac Gueret South borders the property hosting Mason Graphite’s (TSXV:LLG) high-grade graphite deposit. A 2014 airborne EM survey over Berkwood’s land found several zones of high conductivity.

Last week’s news from the property’s Site #1 reported 3.1 metres and 38.29 metres of visible graphite from BK1-01-17, along with 2.7 metres and 9.9 metres from BK1-02-17. The depths corresponded with electromagnetic conductors.

Berkwood Resources continues to drill visible graphite in Quebec

The first seven holes have brought observable
encouragement to Berkwood Resources’ Lac Gueret South.

Among new findings from Site #2, about 110 metres north, BK1-03-17 displayed the right stuff in seven intervals ranging between 1.46 metres and 28.2 metres in width.

Another Site #2 hole, BK1-04-17 showed graphite “continuously from 26.7 metres to 79.24 metres in variable amounts and styles,” Berkwood stated.

At Site #3, another 65 kilometres north, BK1-05-17 revealed graphite over four intervals with thicknesses between 3.2 metres and 14.12 metres. BK1-06-17 brought intervals of 13.22 metres and 1.14 metres.

About 87 metres east, BK1-07-17 on Site #4 showed 5.94 metres of graphite.

True widths weren’t provided.

The company holds two land parcels adjacent to the Mason property, Berkwood’s 100%-optioned, 5,714-hectare Lac Gueret South and the 100%-held, 2,052-hectare Lac Gueret East. The properties sit about three hours by road from the deep-sea port of Baie-Comeau.

Last month the company announced acquisition of the Delbreuil property in Quebec’s Abitibi, where an historic, non-43-101 sample assayed 1,290 ppm lithium and 126 ppm tantalum. Historic drill results also showed zinc, nickel, copper, silver and cobalt.

In another energy mineral acquisition last June, Berkwood announced an agreement to take on the Cobalt Ford property, located about four hours’ driving time from Baie-Comeau. Historic, non-43-101 work suggests prospectivity for base metals as well as cobalt.

This week the company closed private placements totalling $985,180.

Berkwood Resources intersects visible graphite as Quebec drilling continues

August 22nd, 2017

This story has been updated and moved here.

New assays on old core reveal more diamonds on Arctic Star Exploration’s new Finnish acquisition

July 26th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 26, 2017

Just weeks after announcing plans to take on a diamond project in Finland, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD has found further encouragement by reanalyzing previous work. Recent assays on 48.65 kilograms of historically extracted split core showed 111 microdiamonds. The results represent approximately 52.7 metres of core from the Timantti property’s White Wolf kimberlite.

New assays on old core reveal more diamonds on Arctic Star Exploration’s new Finnish acquisition

A due diligence program reported earlier this month confirmed 58 microdiamonds from an 18.9-kilogram White Wolf sample.

With most of the world’s diamond-bearing kimberlites showing an exponential relationship between small and large stones, the company plans to gather enough caustic fusion samples to evaluate the property’s diamond size distribution. Following ground geophysics, Arctic Star hopes to drill Timantti for additional samples, delineating the kimberlites’ size and shape.

Looking at an entirely different range of commodities, the company last week sent a drill crew to the Cap project in east-central British Columbia’s Rocky Mountain Rare Metal Belt. Tantalum, niobium and rare earths are among the targets on the 2,825-hectare property. In 2010 sampling results included 0.14% Nb2O5, 3,191 ppm zirconium and 547 ppm total rare earth elements. More sampling the following year brought grades including 0.27% Nb2O5 and 773 ppm TREE, while two historic, non-43-101 samples showed 0.13% and 0.1% TREE.

Arctic Star also holds a 40% interest in the Northwest Territories’ Diagras diamond project, where JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA conducted a short geophysical program last May.

Diamond explorer Arctic Star to drill B.C. property for rare earths and rare metals

July 19th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 19, 2017

With a crew now en route, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD prepares to begin a summer field program at its Cap project in east-central British Columbia. Located in the Rocky Mountain Rare Metal Belt, the 2,825-hectare property has undergone geochemical and geophysical surveys suggesting potential for carbonatite intrusions which might host niobium, tantalum and/or rare earth elements. A program of about three holes and 1,000 metres will further investigate the potential.

Diamond explorer Arctic Star to drill B.C. property for rare earths and rare metals

Piquing interest in the property is a circular magnetic anomaly measuring about three to five kilometres in diameter that the company interprets to represent a carbonatite or similar intrusion. Geochem sampling in 2010 on two dykes near the most prominent mag anomaly brought grades including 0.14% Nb2O5, 3,191 ppm zirconium and 547 ppm total rare earth elements, Arctic Star reported.

In 2011, following radiometrics and additional magnetics, the company found more highly anomalous grades with samples containing 0.27% Nb2O5 and 773 ppm TREE. Two historic, non-43-101 samples assayed 0.13% and 0.1% TREE.

Contrasting luxuries with critical minerals, Arctic Star last week announced plans to acquire a diamond project in Finland. The diamondiferous kimberlites of the Timantti property sit on the Fennoscandian Shield, home to the major Russian diamond mines Lomonosov and Grib.

In May the company announced a short program of geophysics on the Diagras diamond project in the Northwest Territories, where Arctic Star has a 40% stake with JV partner Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA holding the rest.

Commerce Resources signs MOU for tantalum-niobium processing

July 11th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 11, 2017

While focused on its Ashram rare earths deposit in Quebec, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE has plans for its other critical minerals project. Under a memorandum of understanding announced July 11, a one-tonne sample from the company’s Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in British Columbia would be tested for suitability under a proprietary separation process developed in Estonia by Alexander Krupin.

Commerce Resources signs MOU for tantalum-niobium processing

Previous drilling has established a resource estimate for two
critical minerals on Commerce Resources’ Upper Fir deposit.

The sample should arrive within the next several weeks, with tests expected to begin immediately afterward. The goal would be to process Upper Fir feed stock into independent tantalum and niobium products.

Krupin’s background includes over 35 years in this area, including more than 15 years processing high-grade tantalum and niobium ore concentrates, Commerce stated. “His research activities have developed new technologies for the chemical upgrading of low-grade tantalum and niobium ore concentrates.”

Based on a tantalum price of $381 a kilo, Upper Fir has a 2013 resource showing:

  • indicated: 48.41 million tonnes averaging 197 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,610 ppm Nb2O5 for 9,560 tonnes Ta2O5 and 77,810 tonnes Nb2O5

  • inferred: 5.4 million tonnes averaging 191 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,760 ppm Nb2O5 for 1,000 tonnes Ta2O5 and 9,600 tonnes Nb2O5

The road-accessible east-central B.C. project has transmission lines and CN Rail crossing the western part of the 105,373-hectare property, and a 20-MW run-of-river electricity facility situated adjacently.

Commerce has found niobium in Quebec too, where samples showed very high grades up to 5.9% Nb2O5 on the company’s property about a kilometre from Ashram. Nevertheless the advanced-stage rare earths deposit remains the company’s priority, as it advances towards pre-feasibility. Among Ashram’s features are high grades, an impressive distribution of magnet feed elements and, crucial to the REE space, relatively simple mineralogy amenable to commercial processing. The deposit shows potential for a fluorspar byproduct as well.

Last month Commerce signed an MOU with Ucore Rare Metals TSXV:UCU to assess the suitability of Ashram concentrate for a proprietary method of REE processing at a plant Ucore plans to build in Utah. A Colorado pilot plant has already produced an Ashram concentrate exceeding 45% rare earth oxides at about 75% recovery.

The U.S. Geological Survey lists tantalum, niobium and rare earths among the critical minerals that the United States depends entirely on imports.

Read more about Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths deposit.

Equitorial Exploration to drill for NWT lithium

June 28th, 2017

by Greg Klein | June 28, 2017

The rig returns to a Northwest Territories hardrock lithium project for the first time in a decade as Equitorial Exploration TSXV:EXX heads to the field in July. About 30 kilometres from the former Cantung tungsten mine in the territory’s southwest, the Little Nahanni Pegmatite Group project will also undergo mapping, channel sampling and resampling of drill core from 2007 when two holes struck intervals of 1.2% Li2O over 10.94 metres and 0.92% over 18.27 metres.

Equitorial Exploration to drill for NWT lithium

Red paint marks a channel sample
interval from last year’s field work at LNPG.

Summer drilling will test the vertical extent of lithium-cesium-tantalum-type pegmatite dyke swarms now identified at about 300 metres in depth and 13 kilometres in strike. The dykes are well exposed on cirque walls of the mountainous terrain, the company stated.

Channel sampling last year brought assays up to 1.13% Li2O, 71.1 g/t Ta2O5 and 0.03% SnO2 over 10.35 metres. That included a sub-interval of 1.86% Li2O, 116.7 g/t Ta2O5 and 0.05% SnO2 over 6.3 metres.

Three specimen samples released in October brought results up to 2.85% Li2O, 28.1 g/t Ta2O5 and 0.05% SnO2.

Equitorial filed a 43-101 technical report on the LNPG project in March.

In Utah last May, the company staked another 1,092 hectares, expanding its Tule Valley lithium project to about 2,792 hectares. That gives Equitorial the entire Tule Valley Basin, which the company describes as a closed basin which could be similar to Nevada’s Clayton Valley. Equitorial also sees Clayton Valley similarities in the company’s Gerlach property in Nevada.

92 Resources begins frac sand field work while advancing lithium metallurgy

June 6th, 2017

by Greg Klein | June 6, 2017

With a crew already en route, 92 Resources TSXV:NTY has a 10-day exploration program about to begin on its Golden frac sand project in eastern British Columbia. A team from Dahrouge Geological Consulting will undertake further mapping and sampling for a 43-101 technical report. While the company’s focus remains the Hidden Lake lithium project in the Northwest Territories, 92 Resources sees potential in another energy-related commodity.

92 Resources begins frac sand field work while advancing lithium metallurgy

“Despite fluctuating oil and gas prices, North American demand for frac sand is exceptionally robust and there remains a nearly non-existent domestic supply of high-quality proppant within Canada,” said president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux.

Close to the Alberta border and with nearby roads, the property’s located five kilometres from Golden, B.C., on the Canadian Pacific main line. Adjacent to the property is Heemskirk Canada’s Moberly project, a former producer of silica sand for the glass industry that’s now being redeveloped as a frac sand production and processing operation. The parent company, Heemskirk Consolidated, is the object of a takeover bid by Northern Silica, held by Taurus Resources No. 2 Fund.

Running through the 3,211-hectare Golden property is an 18-kilometre strike of the Mount Wilson formation, described as hosting high-purity, white, quartzite and friable sandstones. Four samples collected in 2014 showed silica content averaging 98.6% SiO2, with low boron and iron values. “Preliminary testing on these samples indicates favourable frac sand characteristics, as well as metallurgical-grade silica potential,” 92 Resources stated.

Last week the company announced initial results from Phase I metallurgical tests for its Hidden Lake lithium property in the NWT. Early findings suggest material from the hard rock project might be suitable for a conventional flowsheet. As the program goes into Phase II, potential tantalum recovery will be examined as well. 92 Resources filed a 43-101 technical report on the property in January.

The company also holds the 5,536-hectare Pontax lithium property in northern Quebec.