Friday 25th May 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘tantalum’

Commerce Resources sees additional opportunity in U.S. critical minerals strategy

May 22nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 22, 2018

Taking another step to enhance national security, the U.S. Department of the Interior has formally accepted a draft list of 35 minerals deemed critical to the American economy and defence. Resulting from a presidential order to reduce reliance on essential raw materials from potentially unreliable or unfriendly sources, the list received 453 public comments after being compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey. The agenda now moves to the strategy stage, with a final report expected by August on approaches to cut dependence. Topics will include:

Commerce Resources sees additional opportunity in U.S. critical minerals strategy

  • the status of recycling technologies

  • alternatives to critical minerals

  • options for accessing critical minerals from allies and partners

  • a plan to improve geological mapping in the U.S.

  • recommendations to streamline lease permitting and review processes

  • ways to increase discovery, production and domestic refining of critical minerals

The Americans’ heightened interest in sourcing these necessities from allies and partners brings to mind companies like Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, which has two advanced-stage Canadian properties hosting four critical minerals. At the company’s northern Quebec Eldor property, Commerce undertakes pre-feasibility studies on the Ashram deposit, hosting a rare earths resource with fluorspar byproduct potential. In central British Columbia, the company holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit. Those two metals are also the subject of early-stage exploration on Eldor, a few kilometres from Ashram.

“Ultimately, what’s obvious from this critical minerals list is the U.S. government’s interest in cutting the Chinese umbilical cord,” points out company president Chris Grove. “A commonality that we at Commerce keep hearing is anxiety from companies in all of the major markets outside China—Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria, the U.S., France—companies in all these countries are concerned about future supplies of these commodities and they don’t want to have to depend on them from China. Essentially, the theme of this critical commodities list is getting it from somewhere besides China.”

And although China looms large, it’s not the only source of dubious reliability.

“There’s a huge increase in risk once you step outside North America. With our locations, we definitely benefit from that negation of jurisdictional risk.”

Mineralogy reduces another category of risk. “Looking at the specifics of our projects, both Ashram and Blue River are processed very positively with standard techniques,” Grove adds. “We’re not re-creating the wheel here, we’re not re-splitting the atom. Well-understood metallurgical processes work on both of our projects.

“Meanwhile we have ongoing optimization work on Ashram and also on the flowsheet for Blue River and there will be more data released in a timely manner on these potential successes.”

The company has early-stage prospects too, emphasized by especially high-grade niobium, along with tantalum, on the Miranna claims. Located on the same Eldor property hosting Ashram, the project has a 43-101 technical report now nearing completion. Subject to exchange approval, Miranna would then come under a 75% earn-in by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE.

USGS data accentuates American reliance on foreign sources for Commerce’s four minerals. Data from 2013 to 2016 shows the U.S. imported 78% of its rare earths from China, with much of the other 22% originating in Chinese-produced concentrates. China produced only 8% of American fluorspar imports, but Mexico supplied 71%. U.S. imports of tantalum minerals came 40% from Brazil and 26% from Rwanda, while America’s tantalum metal originated 23% in China and 12% in Kazakhstan. An overwhelming 72% of niobium, a crucial component to military, infrastructure and other uses, came from Brazil—most of it from a single company.

Read more about Commerce Resources here and here.

Commerce Resources president Chris Grove sees promise in B.C. tantalum-niobium as well as Quebec rare earths

May 14th, 2018

…Read more

Proven provenance

April 20th, 2018

B.C. tantalum-niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

by Greg Klein

Not just inadequate reserves but dubious origins threaten security of supply for strategic commodities. A prime example is niobium, a largely single-source product from CBMM in Brazil that gives one company and one country enormous potential power. Tantalum raises further concerns as it passes through shadowy supply lines that could obscure conflict sources. Both metals appear on the recent U.S. draft list of 35 critical minerals. And both appear in substantial quantities in one east-central British Columbia deposit.

That brings additional interest to Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, best-known for its Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec. While that project moves towards pre-feasibility, the company’s Blue River property in B.C. offers advantageous resources, metallurgy, infrastructure and economics for the rare metals age, says company president Chris Grove.

Industry has noticed, evident in the inquiries he’s received from end-users.

“We’re very excited about the new interest in Blue River,” he says. “Companies are looking at the provenance of these commodities and the new executive order signed by President Trump focuses on the origin of these critical commodities, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity to be seen for Blue River.”

The property’s Upper Fir deposit boasts a resource effective February 2015 based on 271 holes totalling 59,100 metres:

  • 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

At this stage, processing looks good. Tantalum and niobium “occur within the minerals pyrochlore and ferrocolumbite and are amenable to conventional flotation and proven refining processes with estimated recoveries of 65% to 70%,” the 43-101 stated. “The industrial processes proposed for the production of high-quality tantalum and niobium products from the concentrates have not been tested using material from the Blue River project but are known processes that are not expected to be difficult to develop for the project.”

Tantalum and niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

Those qualities alone encourage optimism for production costs, Grove points out. But a more recent development suggests even greater potential savings to both capex and opex. In February the company announced successful processing through a patented method called the Krupin Process. That followed months of work on a 1,300-kilogram sample of Blue River material at the Estonian lab of Alexander Krupin. An expert in tantalum and niobium recovery, his CV shows more than 35 years’ experience, including over 15 years processing high-grade concentrates of those two metals.

But it took another expert to confirm the results. To that end Commerce dispatched chairperson Axel Hoppe to Krupin’s lab. Formerly president of the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center and a senior manager at H.C. Starck, a global producer of tantalum and niobium products, Hoppe “confirmed a very significant new development in processing that should save significantly on costs,” Grove says.

As a result, Commerce is now working on a definitive agreement to incorporate the Krupin Process at Blue River and also acquire worldwide rights to the method.

Covering 105,373 hectares, the property sits about 250 highway kilometres north of Kamloops, with access from another four klicks of gravel road. CN rail tracks and a parallel high-voltage transmission line cross the property’s western side, while a 20 MW run-of-river hydro plant operates adjacent to Blue River.

With niobium in a location like that, Blue River has attracted “huge interest from the steel sector,” Grove says. As electronics manufacturers take a closer look at some of the Democratic Republic of Congo mines that supply their cobalt, tantalum’s due for similar scrutiny, he adds.

Meanwhile, highly impressive niobium-tantalum assays from Commerce’s Quebec property have spawned an early-stage exploration project. Samples have graded as high as 4.24%, 4.3% and even 5.93% Nb2O5, as well as 1,040 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,220 ppm Ta2O5. The exceptional grades prompted Saville Resources TSXV:SRE to sign a 75% earn-in for the Niobium Claim Group on the Eldor property that also hosts Commerce’s advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit. Saville now has a 43-101 technical report underway. Dependent on TSXV approval of the deal and subsequent funding, the company plans drilling this year.

Interestingly it was Saville president Mike Hodge who staked the Blue River claims, after Dahrouge Geological Consulting brought the property to the attention of Commerce. Now a former Dahrouge geologist currently with the B.C. Geological Survey plans a public site visit to Blue River. Alexei Rukhlov will co-lead the June 22-24 field trip, an event open to participants of Resources for Future Generations 2018. Click here for more info.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Blue River site visit open to Resources for Future Generations participants

April 20th, 2018

(From the B.C. Geological Survey)

Upper Fir carbonatite-hosted Nb-Ta deposit in the Blue River area, east-central British Columbia

 

Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24

Sponsored by the Mineralogical Association of Canada

Leaders: Alexei S. Rukhlov (British Columbia Geological Survey) and Thomas C. Chudy (Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia)

Cost: $1160. Includes transportation, accommodation, meals and guidebook.

(This site visit is open to registered participants of Resources for Future Generations 2018 in Vancouver.)

Widespread Late Paleozoic carbonatites in the Canadian Cordillera are unusual. In contrast to most carbonatites, which are restricted to intracratonic regions, they were emplaced in a more active setting, along the western margin of Laurentia. The Upper Fir carbonatite complex (330 Ma) hosts one of the largest Nb-Ta deposits in the Cordillera, with unusual, Ta-rich pyrochlore associated with ferrocolumbite, other Nb minerals, and locally coarse molybdenite.

Upper Fir carbonatite-hosted Nb-Ta deposit in the Blue River area, east-central British Columbia

Participants will examine drill-core sections and outcrops of metacarbonatites, related metasomatic rocks, syntectonic pegmatites, enclosing (semi)pelites and amphibolites of the Mica Creek assemblage (750-550 Ma) and Mesozoic-Cenozoic structures related to the Cordilleran orogeny. We will consider the tectono-metamorphic overprinting of igneous features in the Upper Fir carbonatites, as recorded by paragenetic relationships, mineral chemistry, recrystallization and retrograde mylonitization.

Stops along the route from Vancouver to Blue River will offer participants the opportunity to observe key outcrops representing several Cordilleran terranes. A helicopter will ferry participants from the North Thompson valley to the deposit. Participants should be prepared for inclement weather and to walk about 2 km on rugged trails and excavated sites.

For more information please contact Alexei Rukhlov (British Columbia Geological Survey): Alexei.Rukhlov@gov.bc.ca.

See more Resources for Future Generations field trips.

Saville Resources and Commerce Resources announce 4.3% niobium, 700 ppm tantalum from northern Quebec

April 12th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 12, 2018

While preparations continue for this year’s drill program, additional high-grade niobium-tantalum sample assays have arrived from northern Quebec’s Niobium Claim Group. On April 12 Saville Resources TSXV:SRE and Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE reported grades as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5 from the new project, situated on the latter company’s Eldor property. Saville has signed a 75% earn-in agreement on the claim group, which sits a few kilometres from Ashram, one of the Western world’s most advanced rare earths deposits. Commerce has that project advancing towards pre-feasibility.

Saville Resources and Commerce Resources announce 4.3% niobium, 700 ppm tantalum from northern Quebec

High grades from last fall’s sampling program have Saville
and Commerce looking forward to an upcoming drill campaign.

The results fall in line with previous high grades from the project’s Miranna area of 4.24% and an especially impressive 5.93% Nb2O5. Previous tantalum assays from Miranna have reached as high as 1,220 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5.

The Northwest area gave up the richest sample, which reached 16.1% Nb2O5 and 7,540 ppm Ta2O5.

Collected by Commerce last year from the Miranna area, the most recent results show:

  • 4.3% Nb2O5, 240 ppm Ta2O5 and 13.4% P2O5

  • 2.75% Nb2O5, 130 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.6% P2O5

  • 2.24% Nb2O5, 290 ppm Ta2O5 and 11.6% P2O5

  • 0.69% Nb2O5, 350 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.8% P2O5

  • 0.75% Nb2O5, 660 ppm Ta2O5 and 14.2% P2O5

  • 1.18% Nb2O5, 590 ppm Ta2O5 and 13.1% P2O5

  • 1.16% Nb2O5, 700 ppm Ta2O5 and 0.65% P2O5

Miranna forms one of three prospective areas, along with the Northwest and Southeast areas. Miranna features a strongly mineralized boulder train which, a geophysical anomaly called the Miranna target suggests, might have its source partly on the property. The data indicates several overlapping boulder trains might also be present, with one possible source in the Southeast area.

Additional work shows the primary host mineral to be pyrochlore, the dominant source mineral for processing niobium and tantalum.

The upcoming drill program will focus on the Miranna target, as well as testing the Northwest and Southeast areas. Contingent on TSXV approval of Saville’s earn-in, the companies plan to file a 43-101 technical report on the project.

Earlier this month Saville closed the second tranche of a private placement totalling $289,700.

In addition to Ashram, Commerce holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Saville Resources, Commerce Resources prepare for drilling and 43-101 on Quebec niobium-tantalum project

April 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 5, 2018

An early-stage but highly prospective rare metals project continues to advance as two companies identify drill targets and work towards an initial 43-101 technical report. On April 5 Saville Resources TSXV:SRE and Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE released an update for the Niobium Claim Group, an approximately 980-hectare package within Commerce’s northern Quebec Eldor property. Last January Saville inked an agreement for a 75% earn-in on the niobium-tantalum project that’s contingent on the 43-101 and TSXV approval.

Saville Resources, Commerce Resources prepare for drilling and 43-101 on Quebec niobium-tantalum project

Eldor also hosts Commerce’s Ashram project, one of the Western world’s most advanced rare earths deposits, currently moving towards pre-feasibility.

Sampling and drilling so far on the Niobium Claim Group have outlined three focal points called the Miranna, Southeast and Northwest areas. Previously reported niobium samples from the Miranna boulder train include an exceptional result of 5.93% Nb2O5, as well as 4.24% and 1.94% Nb2O5. Tantalum samples graded as high as 1,220 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5. Phosphate assays reached up to 11.9%, 11.5% and 11.1% P2O5.

The team interprets the source of mineralization to be a geophysical anomaly at the boulder train’s apex. As yet undrilled, the location comprises a priority for rig activity.

Some standouts from previously reported drilling at the Northwest area showed:

  • 0.55% Nb2O5, 166 ppm Ta2O5 and 5% P2O5 over 13.15 metres

  • 0.46% Nb2O5, 60 ppm Ta2O5 and 4.6% P2O5 over 46.88 metres
  • (including 0.64% Nb2O5, 20 ppm Ta2O5 and 5.9% P2O5 over 9.95 metres)

A boulder sample with an especially impressive 16.1% Nb2O5 and 7,540 ppm Ta2O5 was collected at the Northwest area’s western edge, where glacial ice direction suggested a potential source within the claim group.

Some previous intercepts from Southeast showed:

  • 0.54% Nb2O5, 71 ppm Ta2O5 and 5.9% P2O5 over 26.1 metres

  • 0.57% Nb2O5, 145 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.9% P2O5 over 74.25 metres
  • (including 0.85% Nb2O5, 97 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.9% P2O5 over 19.54 metres)

  • 0.48% Nb2O5, 329 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.2% P2O5 over 33.93 metres

The Southeast results in particular call for additional infill and step-out drilling for further delineation and to consider completing a maiden resource, the companies stated. Geophysics provides further evidence of drill targets in all three areas.

Tests have identified the primary host mineral for niobium-tantalum to be pyrochlore, the dominant source mineral for processing those metals.

Saville also announced the closing of the second tranche of a private placement totalling $289,700.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

92 Resources finds high-quality silica potential in B.C. frac sand property, plans drilling for Quebec lithium

March 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 5, 2018

With initial sampling results now in, an eastern British Columbia project shows greater potential to serve growing demand from both solar panel manufacturing and oil and gas exploration. During summer field work at its Golden project, 92 Resources TSXV:NTY collected 60 samples from the property’s Mount Wilson formation. Fifty samples surpassed 98% SiO2 and 22 exceeded 99%, peaking at 99.89%.

92 Resources finds high-quality silica potential in B.C. frac sand property, plans drilling for Quebec lithium

Still to come are frac sand results.

The assays also showed low levels of iron contamination, less than 0.1% Fe2O3 for 55 samples. Boron contamination also rated low, between 3 and 13 ppm. Final boron assays are expected soon, the company added.

Most of the samples came from the easily accessible Frenchman’s Ridge area, where the Mount Wilson formation has been mapped over a strike of about 1.2 kilometres and over 400 metres in width, with thickness interpreted to be at least 50 metres, the company reported.

Encouraged by the program, 92 Resources added another 1,800 hectares to Golden, bringing its size to about 5,000 hectares. The original property sits next to the Moberly silica mine, from where Northern Silica ships material 16 kilometres to a facility capable of processing frac sand and other high-grade silica products. 92 Resources’ new turf covers outcrops of the Mount Wilson formation adjacently east and south of HiTest Sand’s Horse Creek project, which 92 Resources states is reportedly being developed as a silica source for a potential refinery in Washington state.

Regional infrastructure includes highways, rail and power.

In January the company announced Far Resources CSE:FAT joined 92 Resources’ Hidden Lake lithium project under a 90% earn-in. The 1,849-hectare Northwest Territories property has revealed grab sample grades up to 1.86% Li2O, as well as channel sample assays of 1.58% Li2O over 8.78 metres, 2.57% Li2O over 0.75 metres and 233 ppm Ta2O5 over one metre.

Also in January 92 Resources announced plans for three properties acquired last fall in Quebec’s James Bay region. Permitting is now underway for a four- to six-hole, 1,000-metre campaign at the Corvette project, where grab samples from one pegmatite included 0.8%, 3.48% and 7.32% Li2O. Another pegmatite sampled 1.22% Li2O and 90 ppm Ta2O5. The company also sees gold potential in the 3,891-hectare property.

The Pontax project has airborne magnetics and electromagnetics planned for Q1, with summer field work to follow. The work will focus on potential pegmatite trends as well as gold targets on the 5,536-hectare property, which the company considers part of the Eastmain River Volcanic Belt.

In early January 92 Resources closed an oversubscribed private placement of $1.14 million.

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

92 Resources finds additional potential on its Northwest Territories lithium project

March 2nd, 2018

…Read more

Tantalum-niobium recovery tests prompt Commerce Resources to negotiate world rights to process

February 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | February 20, 2018

Best known for the advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit in Quebec, Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) rare metals interests also include the Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia. Now a proprietary processing method has brought successful results, leading the company to work on a definitive agreement to acquire global rights to the process.

Tantalum-niobium recovery tests prompt Commerce Resources to negotiate world rights to process

Upper Fir reached the PEA level in 2011
and a resource update in 2013.

Named after Alexander Krupin, an expert with 35 years’ experience in tantalum and niobium recovery, the method was applied to a 1,300-kilogram sample shipped to Krupin’s Estonia facility last year. A visit by Commerce chairperson Axel Hoppe, another internationally recognized expert in tantalum and niobium, verified the Krupin Method’s success. As a result, the parties now have a definitive agreement under negotiation.

Part of Commerce’s Blue River property, Upper Fir reached PEA in 2011. A 2013 resource update used a tantalum price of $381 per kilogram for an estimated:

  • 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

Adjacent to a 20-MW run-of-river electricity project, the 105,373-hectare property has road, rail and power lines.

More niobium-tantalum potential, this time early-stage, has been identified on Commerce’s Eldor property in northern Quebec, which hosts the Ashram rare earths deposit. Last month the company announced that Saville Resources TSXV:SRE had taken on a 75% earn-in to work the property’s niobium claims, where an exceptional sample assay of 5.9% Nb2O5 sparked additional attention in the property.

Ashram remains Commerce’s focus, however, as one of the most advanced REE projects outside China moves towards pre-feasibility. In December the company announced new research that could further streamline the project’s metallurgy, already benefitting from host minerals that are well understood and amenable to conventional processing.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Earn-in brings Far Resources into 92 Resources’ NWT lithium project

January 23rd, 2018

by Greg Klein | January 23, 2018

High-grade sampling and positive Phase I metallurgy have drawn tangible interest to a Northwest Territories hard rock lithium property. In a deal announced January 23, Far Resources CSE:FAT may earn up to 90% of 92 Resources’ (TSXV:NTY) Hidden Lake project 40 kilometres east of Yellowknife. The full 90% would cost Far $50,000, $1.45 million in shares and $2.3 million in spending. 92 would get the cash and $500,000 of the shares on closing, while Far would put $500,000 into the project during the first year to earn an initial 60%. Far would act as project operator.

Earn-in brings Far Resources into 92 Resources’ NWT lithium project

Grab and channel samples from outcropping
pegmatite reveal Hidden Lake’s high lithium grades.

92 stated it would “benefit from bringing in a financially and technically strong partner to further develop the project and, in the process, will become a substantial shareholder of Far Resources with the ability to share in the project’s success.”

With seven known pegmatites, the 1,849-hectare Hidden Lake property has shown grab sample grades up to 1.86% Li2O. Channel sample results include 1.58% Li2O over 8.78 metres, 2.57% Li2O over 0.75 metres and 233 ppm Ta2O5 over 1 metre.

Phase I metallurgy conducted for 92 used conventional methods to produce a high-grade concentrate of 6% to 6.5% Li2O, with recovery rates between 80% and 85%.

The earn-in leaves 92 free to pursue other projects and acquisitions. Its current portfolio includes the Golden frac sand project in eastern British Columbia, adjacent to Northern Silica’s Moberly silica operation, as well as three recently acquired lithium properties in Quebec. A brief site visit to one of them scored a 7.32% Li2O grab sample.

92 closed an oversubscribed private placement of $1.14 million earlier this month.

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