Friday 18th January 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘tantalum’

DRC on the brink

January 3rd, 2019

The Congo’s increasing instability heightens critical minerals concern

by Greg Klein

Update: After the DRC’s electoral commission announced Felix Tshisekedi had won the December 30 presidential election, Catholic church observers disputed the outcome and the other opposition frontrunner, Martin Fayulu, asked the Constitutional Court to order a recount. “The court, made up of nine judges, is considered by the opposition to be friendly to Kabila, and Fayulu has said he is not confident that it will rule in his favour,” Al Jazeera reported.

 

This is the place that inspired the term “crimes against humanity.” As a timely new book points out, American writer George Washington Williams coined that phrase in 1890 after witnessing the cruel rapaciousness of Belgian King Leopold II’s rubber plantations in the country now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. After rubber, the land and its people were exploited for ivory, copper, uranium, diamonds, oil, ivory, timber, gold and—of increasing concern for Westerners remote from the humanitarian plight—cobalt, tin, tungsten and tantalum. Controversy over recent elections now threatens the DRC with even greater unrest, possibly full-scale war.

The Congo’s increasing instability heightens critical minerals concern

The country of 85 million people typically changes governments through coup, rebellion or sham elections. Outgoing president Joseph Kabila ruled unconstitutionally since December 2016, when his mandate ended. He belatedly scheduled an election for 2017, then postponed it to last December 23 before pushing that date back a week. The December 30 vote took place under chaotic conditions and with about 1.25 million voters excluded until March, a decision rationalized by the Ebola epidemic in the northeast and violence in a western city.

The epidemic marks the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history, the DRC’s tenth since 1976 and the country’s second this year. Although the government delayed regional voting on short notice, the health ministry officially recognized the current epidemic on August 1.

Responsible for hundreds of deaths so far, this outbreak takes place amid violence targeting aid workers as well as the local population. Like other parts of the country, the region has dozens of military groups fighting government forces for control, and each other over ethnic rivalries and natural resources. The resources are often mined with forced labour to fund more bloodshed.

With no say from two areas that reportedly support the opposition, a new president could take office by January 18. Already, incumbent and opposition parties have both claimed victory.

The Congo’s increasing instability heightens critical minerals concern

Voting in two regions has been delayed
until after the new president takes office.
(Map: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency)

Kabila chose Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor candidate but didn’t rule out a future bid to regain the president’s office himself.

Election controversy contributed to additional violent protests in a month that had already experienced over a hundred deaths through ethnic warfare as well as battles between police and protesters. Yet that casualty toll isn’t high by DRC standards.

Published just weeks before the election, Congo Stories by John Prendergast and Fidel Bafilemba relates a harrowing story of a country the size of Western Europe that’s fabulously rich in minerals but desperately poor thanks to home-grown kleptocracies and foreign opportunists. Forced labour, war and atrocities provide a deeply disturbing backdrop to the story of conflict minerals.

According to 2017 numbers from the U.S. Geological Survey, the DRC supplied about 58% of global cobalt, 34.5% of tin and 28.5% of tantalum. The U.S. has labelled all three as critical metals. Tin and tantalum, along with tungsten and gold, are currently the DRC’s chief conflict metals, Prendergast and Bafilemba note. In addition to Congo tantalum, the world got 30% of its supply from DRC neighbour Rwanda, another source of conflict minerals.

Prendergast and Bafilemba outline the horror of the 1990s Rwandan Tutsi-Hutu bloodshed pouring into the Congo, making the country the flashpoint of two African wars that involved up to 10 nations and 30 local militias. During that time armies turned “mass rape, child soldier recruitment, and village burnings into routine practice.”

For soldiers controlling vast swatches of mineral-rich turf, rising prices for gold and the 3Ts (tantalum, tungsten and tin) provided an opportunity “too lucrative to ignore.” Brutal mining and export operations drew in “war criminals, militias, smugglers, merchants, military officers, and government officials,” Prendergast and Bafilemba write. “Beyond the war zones, the networks involved mining corporations, front companies, traffickers, banks, arms dealers, and others in the international system that benefit from theft and money laundering.”

DRC leaders did well too. “Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Congo from 1965 to 1997, is seen as the ‘inventor of the modern kleptocracy, or government by theft,’” Prendergast and Bafilemba state. “At the time of our writing in mid-2018, President Joseph Kabila is perfecting the kleptocratic arts.”

The Congo’s increasing instability heightens critical minerals concern

Westerners might be even more disturbed to learn of other beneficiaries: Consumers “who are usually completely unaware that our purchases of cell phones, computers, jewelry, video games, cameras, cars, and so many other products are helping fuel violence halfway around the world, not comprehending or appreciating the fact that our standard of living and modern conveniences are in some ways made possible and less expensive by the suffering of others.”

Not all DRC mines, even the artisanal operations, are considered conflict sources. But increasing instability could threaten legitimate supply, even the operations of major companies.

The example of Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining TSX:KAT, furthermore, shows at least one major failing to rise above the country’s endemic problems. In mid-December Katanga and its officers agreed to pay the Ontario Securities Commission a settlement, penalties and costs totalling $36.25 million for a number of infractions between 2012 and 2017.

Katanga admitted to overstating copper production and inventories, and also failing to disclose the material risk of DRC corruption. That included “the nature and extent of Katanga’s reliance on individuals and entities associated with Dan Gertler, Gertler’s close relationship with Joseph Kabila, the president of the DRC, and allegations of Gertler’s possible involvement in corrupt activities in the DRC.”

In December 2017 the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Gertler, a member of a prominent Israeli diamond merchant family, describing him as a “billionaire who has amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in the DRC.

“As a result, between 2010 and 2012 alone, the DRC reportedly lost over $1.36 billion in revenues from the underpricing of mining assets that were sold to offshore companies linked to Gertler.”

Just one day before imposing sanctions, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for a “federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” Approaches to be considered include amassing more geoscientific data, developing alternatives to critical minerals, recycling and reprocessing, as well as “options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.”

Unofficial DRC election results could arrive by January 6. Official standings are due January 15, with the new president scheduled to take office three days later. Should the Congo see a peaceful change of government, that would be the DRC’s first such event since the country gained independence in 1960.

 

January 7 update: The DRC’s electoral commission asked for patience as interim voting results, expected on January 6, were delayed. Internet and text-messaging services as well as two TV outlets remain out of service, having been shut down since the December 30 election ostensibly to prevent the spread of false results. On January 4 the U.S. sent 80 troops into nearby Gabon in readiness to move into the DRC should post-election violence threaten American diplomatic personnel and property. The United Nations reported that violence in the western DRC city of Yumbi over the last month has driven about 16,000 refugees across the border into the Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville.

Updated: DRC’s increasing instability heightens critical minerals concern

December 31st, 2018

This story has been updated, expanded and moved here.

Niobium-tantalum in Quebec

December 5th, 2018

Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

by Greg Klein

“Building momentum” is the way Saville Resources TSXV:SRE president Mike Hodge puts it. Steady progress, shown most recently through another encouraging sampling program, puts the company’s early-stage niobium-tantalum project in Quebec on track for drilling this winter. Assays so far have the company hopeful about proving up a maiden resource in this mining-friendly jurisdiction next door to a country increasingly concerned about sourcing critical metals.

Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

Conducted by Dahrouge Geological Consulting, the fall
program brought the Niobium claim group to drill-ready status.

The autumn field program met all of its objectives, Hodge enthuses. Twenty-two boulder samples surpassed 0.7% Nb2O5, with 14 of them exceeding 0.8% and one peaking at 1.5%. Tantalum made its presence known too. Those same 14 niobium samples also graded between 160 ppm and 1,080 ppm Ta2O5.

The project gained yet another target, where boulders reached 0.88% and 1.28% Nb2O5. A ground magnetics survey highlighted the prospectivity of the Moira area, already the location of exceptionally high-grade samples. In all, the results show a drill-ready project that should see action this winter.

Saville holds a 75% earn-in from Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE on the Niobium claim group, a 1,223-hectare package on the latter company’s Eldor property in Quebec. Just a few kilometres from the Niobium project and with obvious synergistic potential for Saville, Commerce has its Ashram rare earths deposit moving towards pre-feasibility. All this takes place in a province that demonstrates its support for mining through a number of initiatives, including direct investment and the Plan Nord infrastructure program. The northeastern Quebec region has two treaties in place that clearly define procedures for native consultation. Saville’s three-quarters stake in the Niobium claim group calls for $5 million in work over five years.

A 43-101 technical report filed in September followed field programs by previous companies including 41 holes totalling 8,175 metres drilled by Commerce. In addition to niobium-tantalum, the report noted phosphate and fluorspar as potential secondary commodities.

Some of the standout results from previous sampling came from the property’s as-yet undrilled Miranna area, where boulder samples graded as high as 2.75%, 4.24%, 4.3% and an exceptional 5.93% Nb2O5.

Other locations have been drilled, but not since 2010. Some 17 holes and 4,328 metres on the Southeast area brought near-surface highlights that include:

  • 0.82% Nb2O5 over 21.89 metres, starting at 58.93 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.72% over 21.35 metres, starting at 4.22 metres
  • (including 0.9% over 4.78 metres)

  • 0.72% over 17.35 metres, starting at 70 metres

  • 0.71% over 15.33 metres, starting at 55.1 metres

True widths were unavailable. Southeast results also showed tantalum and phosphate, as well as suggesting a possible fluorspar zone.

A wide, near-surface interval from the Northwest area showed:

  • 0.46% Nb2O5 over 46.88 metres, starting at 30.65 metres
  • (including 0.61% over 11.96 metres)
Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

Surface outcrops and near-surface core
produce encouraging grades for Saville Resources.

As in the Southeast, the Northwest area showed encouraging signs of tantalum and phosphate. But tantalum came through most strongly in the property’s Star Trench area, with results as high as 1,810 ppm Ta2O5 (with 1.5% Nb2O5) over 0.52 metres, as well as 2,220 ppm Ta2O5 (with 1.69% Nb2O5, and phosphate grading 20.5% P2O5) over 0.31 metres.

Another area gains greater prominence too, thanks to this autumn’s ground magnetics survey. A strong anomaly at the Moira target, about 250 metres north of Miranna, coincides with several overlapping boulder trains that suggest Moira could be one of several possible sources of mineralization.

And a new, yet-to-be-named area gave up two of the fall program’s best assays. About 400 metres south of the drill area, the new target produced boulder samples hitting 1.28% Nb2O5 and 260 ppm Ta2O5, along with 0.88% Nb2O5 and 1,080 ppm Ta2O5.

Intriguingly, glacial ice suggests the two rocks, found about 100 metres apart, originated in an area farther southeast that’s had very little attention so far.

Saville also holds the 3,370-hectare Covette project in Quebec’s James Bay region, where last summer’s field program found surface samples including 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver. Three other samples returned nickel values ranging from 0.13% to 0.19%.

Work focused on a highly conductive area identified by a 2016 VTEM survey. Samples gathered in 2017 included grades of 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt. One historic, non-43-101 grab sample brought 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver, while another historic sample returned 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

As for niobium, it’s considered a critical metal by the American government for its use in steels and super-alloys necessary for jet engine components, rocket sub-assemblies, and heat-resisting and combustion equipment, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Almost 90% of last year’s world production came from Brazil, where new president Jair Bolsonaro has expressed concern about increasing Chinese ownership of resources.

Also a component of military super-alloys, tantalum additionally plays a vital role in personal electronics including phones and computers. The U.S. imports its entire supply of tantalum. About 60% of last year’s world production came from the troubled countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With the advantages of markets, jurisdiction and geology, Hodge looks forward to winter drilling. “We’ve now got about 20 targets that we can go after,” he says. “One priority would be to define the Southeast area because we’ve got such good niobium numbers there. On getting a potential inferred resource, we’d go after Miranna or Moira and the untested targets. We’re looking forward to a busy, productive season.”

Read more about U.S. efforts to secure critical minerals here and here.

U.S. military’s new super-alloy would increase American dependence on a critical metal

November 26th, 2018

by Greg Klein | November 26, 2018

Researchers hail it as the material most similar to vibranium, the wondrous substance associated with the land of Wakanda and Captain America’s shield—except that this stuff actually exists outside of comic books, movies and games.

U.S. military’s new super-alloy would increase American dependence on a critical metal

A real-life Captain America would find himself
depending on geopolitical rivals. (Image: U.S. Army)

Described as a “super-strong alloy of copper and tantalum that can withstand extreme impact and temperature,” it was concocted by boffins from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Arizona State University.

Its features could prove useful in space exploration, weaponry, and protection for soldiers and military vehicles, said Kristopher Darling, a materials scientist with ARL.

The alloy’s strength and conductivity offer possibilities for other metals too. “Materials based on iron or aluminum for instance could be used for protection and lethality applications,” he added.

The copper-tantalum alloy “can withstand high rates of impact and temperatures in excess of 80% of their melting point, which is higher than 1,073 kelvin or greater than 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit, with very little change in its microstructure,” ARL explained.

U.S. military’s new super-alloy would increase American dependence on a critical metal

The new alloy’s fictional competition.
(Image: Natural Resources Canada)

The multidisciplinary team developed the new alloy originally to replace copper-beryllium. Although that alloy’s also known for its strength, conductivity, hardness and resistance to corrosion, exposure to beryllium can cause a serious lung condition.

Should the new alloy prove a practical substitute, it would also substitute one critical metal for another. Both beryllium and tantalum can be found in a list of 35 critical minerals drafted by the U.S. last February and confirmed in May.

Although the U.S. holds about 60% of the world’s known beryllium resources, the country relies entirely on imports for tantalum, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

American president Donald Trump has called for a national strategy to reduce the country’s dependence on critical minerals from potentially hostile or unstable jurisdictions.

Read more about U.S. efforts to secure critical minerals here and here.

U.S. military’s new super-alloy would increase American dependence on a critical metal

November 23rd, 2018

This story has been moved here.

92 Resources adds B.C. vanadium project to Quebec lithium package

November 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | November 20, 2018

Expanding its portfolio of energy metals, 92 Resources TSXV:NTY moves into a vanadium exploration region in eastern British Columbia. The 3,735-hectare Silver Sands property sits directly east of Ethos Gold’s (TSXV:ECC) Pine Pass project, where a recent trenching program brought results including 0.48% V2O5 over 130 metres, part of a cumulative, non-continuous extent averaging 0.43% V2O5 over 218 metres. Ethos reports approximately 20 kilometres of subcrop strike distance on the property.

92 Resources adds B.C. vanadium project to Quebec lithium package

Silver Sands hosts similar features, 92 states. The company interprets the property’s rock types as “an adjacent thrust sheet, of analogous or identical lithologies” to those at Pine Pass, with both properties hosting “regionally mapped early Triassic-aged Spray River Group rocks (containing the Toad River and Grayling formations), which have been known to host vanadium-bearing horizons associated with phosphatic shales.

“Specifically, the project is host to the Lemoray phosphate prospect, a phosphatic horizon which has been historically noted in the academic literature, but its relation to vanadium mineralization has not yet been tested.”

92 hopes to begin initial field work once snow melts, says Neil McCallum of Dahrouge Geological Consulting.

92 president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux said the acquisition suits the company’s strategic plans. “With a focus on future energy metals such as lithium and frac sand, we have now positioned the company with a key vanadium asset in a mine-friendly jurisdiction. We will now evaluate and put together our winter exploration plans that should contain our Phase I drill program at the Corvette-FCI lithium project in Quebec.”

An option signed in September with Osisko Mining TSX:OSK gives 92 a 75% earn-in on the 10,000-hectare FCI claims adjacent to the flagship Corvette project. Corvette channel samples released that month averaged 1.35% Li2O, along with tantalum averaging 109 ppm Ta2O5.

Vanadium prices now approach an all-time high, having jumped over 550% since September 2016, Lamoureux added. Chinese steel accounts for most demand but vanadium-redox flow batteries offer additional future potential.

Pine Pass regional infrastructure includes Highway 97, the Canadian National Railway, transmission lines and natural gas pipelines.

92 gets Silver Sands by paying staking costs of $15,000, while the vendor keeps a 2% NSR.

In addition to Silver Sands and Corvette, the company holds three other Quebec lithium projects, Pontax, Eastmain and Lac du Beryl, as well as the Golden frac sand project in southern B.C.

Read more about 92 Resources.

Out crops opportunity

October 31st, 2018

Outcrops, pegmatites and spodumene mean lithium and tantalum for 92 Resources

by Greg Klein

Outcrops, pegmatites and spodumene mean lithium for 92 Resources

92 Resources’ James Bay-region Corvette property features
drill-ready targets as well as 15 kilometres of potential strike to evaluate.

 

An early-stage but steadily advancing project shows 92 Resources TSXV:NTY focusing firmly on northern Quebec’s lithium. Successful field work so far has inspired two large property expansions, one in a deal with Osisko Mining TSX:OSK. Now with about 15 kilometres of potential strike length in one package, 92 hopes to prove up grade and tonnage to bring its Corvette property to an advanced level.

A series of outcrops reveals lithium along with tantalum occurring in spodumene-bearing pegmatite over at least two sub-parallel structures, explains Darren Smith. “We have drill-ready targets as well as lots of highly prospective ground to explore.” Having worked with the company for about two years through Dahrouge Geological Consulting and been a 92 advisory board member since July, he’s obviously enthusiastic about the project.

Outcrops, pegmatites and spodumene mean lithium for 92 Resources

Surface showings have 92 Resources
optimistic about Corvette’s deeper potential.

And as a resident of Quebec City, he likes the jurisdiction too. “Quebec offers a lot of provincial support for mining,” Smith points out. “Also our Quebec projects fall within the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement, which has structures in place for First Nations engagement and resource management.”

Corvette marked a change of direction for the company, after 92 optioned its Hidden Lake lithium property in the Northwest Territories to Far Resources CSE:FAT last January. Despite that project’s favourable sampling and metallurgical results, 92 saw even greater potential in its Quebec acquisitions. The theory found support from subsequent channel sampling grades and widths.

In September 92 released assays from 40 channel samples taken on the property’s CV1 pegmatite that averaged 1.35% Li2O. Tantalum showed up too, grading an average 109 ppm Ta2O5. Some highlights revealed:

  • 1.54% Li2O and 136 ppm Ta2O5 over 8 metres

  • 1.77% Li2O and 54 ppm Ta2O5 over 6 metres

  • 1.36% Li2O and 128 ppm Ta2O5 over 11 metres

  • 1.2% Li2O and 128 ppm Ta2O5 over 4 metres

  • 1.02% Li2O and 95 ppm Ta2O5 over 11 metres

About 50 metres north, the CV2 pegmatite showed:

  • 0.73% Li2O and 140 ppm Ta2O5 over 4 metres

  • 0.55% Li2O and 136 ppm Ta2O5 over 4 metres

True widths weren’t known.

Another promising development was the discovery of two more spodumene-bearing pegmatites. A grab sample grading 1.61% Li2O came from CV3, about 250 metres south of CV1. A 0.74% grab sample marked CV4, about three kilometres northeast and along strike of CV1.

Outcrops, pegmatites and spodumene mean lithium for 92 Resources

Corvette outcrops can host a helicopter
as well as spodumene-bearing pegmatite.

“We’re looking for tonnage and grade, and the grade has been demonstrated to be quite favourable,” Smith says. “The program added more tonnage potential through the CV3 and CV4 pegmatites, which show there might be multiple parallel structures. Because we have large occurrences over a three-kilometre strike length, it is inferred that it could be decent depth and that’s how to build tonnage. So now we have a structure over three kilometres along strike with mineralized spodumene-bearing pegmatite at either end. This is very positive because pegmatites tend to occur in swarms and congregations.”

The potential strike could be much greater yet, thanks to recent property expansions. In August the company staked another 4,918 hectares, more than doubling Corvette’s size. The following month 92 announced a 75% earn-in on Osisko’s neighbouring FCI claims, adding 14,034 hectares to the project and putting a potential strike of 15 kilometres into one package.

“Satellite imagery suggests favourable-looking outcrops there as well, so we’re pretty excited about that. We now have a lot of strike length that remains to be evaluated on the joint venture with Osisko, as well as drill-ready targets on the CV1 and 2 pegmatites.”

With a $250,000 work commitment for year one, FCI might take precedence over CV1 and 2. Plans will be determined shortly by a committee made up of two reps from each company. Osisko will act as operator on FCI in accordance with a previous ownership agreement.

Outcrops, pegmatites and spodumene mean lithium for 92 Resources

An earn-in with Osisko Mining
expands Corvette’s size and potential.

Gold and base metals possibilities also merit attention. An earlier grab sample from FCI reported by Virginia Mines brought historic, non-43-101 results of 38.1 g/t gold, while another graded 0.3 g/t gold, 150 g/t silver, 1.89% copper, 11.15% lead and 1.45% zinc.

Interestingly, that was the report that tipped off 92 about Corvette’s lithium potential. Not focused on the energy metal, Virginia just briefly noted the presence of pegmatite. Intrigued, 92 made an initial one-day visit in October 2017 “and saw massive spodumene sparkling on this big outcrop,” remembers Smith. Grab samples revealed 0.8%, 3.48% and 7.32% Li2O from the then-unnamed CV1 pegmatite and 1.22% from CV2, which also returned 90 ppm Ta2O5.

Currently helicopter-accessible, the exploration area sits about 15 kilometres south of the all-season Trans-Taiga Road and transmission line.

92’s also been busy with lithium-bearing pegmatite on its Pontax project, roughly 260 crow-flying kilometres southwest of Corvette. A week of work curtailed by last summer’s forest fires brought one grab sample grading 0.94% Li2O and 520 ppm Ta2O5, while another taken 600 metres away showed 0.72% Li2O and 87 ppm Ta2O5. A third sample taken another 1.3 kilometres along strike assayed 631 ppm Ta2O5 and an anomalous 0.02% Li2O.

“The samples come from an area of large outcrops that likely connect. The samples are random and separated by a decent distance, so they’re probably representative,” says Smith. “It’s a very good secondary project that complements Corvette.”

The company holds two other James Bay-region properties hosting pegmatite, Eastmain and Lac du Beryl. Looking at an entirely different energy-related commodity, 92 filed a 43-101 technical report for the Golden frac sand project in southern British Columbia last April. Located adjacent to the Moberly silica mine where Northern Silica restarted operations last year, Golden “hits the criteria for grade, rail and other infrastructure, proximity to markets and commodity demand,” says Smith.

As for Corvette, “I think it has enormous potential. It has a lot of tonnage potential, it’s in a new area, the geology works and the next program could really make the difference. So it’s positioned with a maximum amount of upside. The Osisko deal is very positive too and they’re a good partner to have, so I think 92 is well-positioned to really maximize the value of this asset.”

Saville Resources president Mike Hodge discusses the fall field program on the company’s niobium-tantalum project in Quebec

October 30th, 2018

…Read more

92 Resources expands Quebec lithium potential with new pegmatite discovery

October 25th, 2018

by Greg Klein | October 25, 2018

While remaining focused on its flagship Corvette project, 92 Resources TSXV:NTY announced surface exploration results from another Quebec lithium property. A week of field work at the James Bay-region Pontax project found pegmatite hosting lithium along with tantalum. One outcrop grab sample graded 0.94% Li2O and 520 ppm Ta2O5, while another taken 600 metres away assayed 0.72% Li2O and 87 ppm Ta2O5. A third sample taken another 1.3 kilometres along strike revealed 631 ppm Ta2O5 and an anomalous 0.02% Li2O.

92 Resources expands Quebec lithium potential with new pegmatite discovery

Last summer’s field program found lithium-bearing pegmatite
at surface on 92 Resources’ Pontax property in northern Quebec.

The program followed a review of historic work, satellite imagery and last spring’s tightly spaced airborne magnetic survey. Satellite imagery suggests the presence of several outcrops which might indicate a larger body under thin overburden, the company stated.

Further prospecting brought samples grading up to 141 ppb gold. Forest fires limited work, leaving some geophysical targets yet to be assessed.

The 5,536-hectare property sits in a region hosting other lithium projects including Nemaska Lithium’s (TSX:NMX) Whabouchi mine now under construction about 90 kilometres east.

Last month 92 Resources announced channel sample results from Corvette, another James Bay-region project and the company’s flagship. Forty samples taken from the property’s CV1 pegmatite ranged between 0.02% and 3.85% Li2O, averaging 1.35%. CV1 samples also averaged 109 ppm Ta2O5, while CV2 pegmatite samples averaged 138 ppm Ta2O5.

CV3 and CV4, two recently discovered spodumene-bearing pegmatites, showed grab samples grading 1.61% Li2O and 0.74% Li2O respectively. The company has permitting underway for an initial drill program on CV1 and CV2, and plans follow-up surface work on CV3 and CV4.

Earlier last month 92 Resources signed a 75% option on adjoining claims that make up the eastern area of Osisko Mining’s (TSX:OSK) FCI property. The acquisition would place the entire pegmatite trend currently defined by Corvette’s four known pegmatites in one project.

In April 92 Resources filed a 43-101 technical report on the Golden silica property in eastern British Columbia.  The company has optioned its Hidden Lake lithium project in the Northwest Territories to Far Resources CSE:FAT, which earned an initial 60% on completing last summer’s 10-hole drill campaign.

Depending on the enemy

October 10th, 2018

The U.S. calls for new supply strategies to meet economic and defence risks

by Greg Klein

The goal might be summed up by a new slogan: Make America Self-Reliant Again. Or, with a tad less concision: Let’s Stop Relying on an Economic Rival that’s a Potential Military Threat for the Stuff We Need to Compete with an Economic Rival that’s a Potential Military Threat.

A newly released study from the U.S. Secretary of Defense illustrates that absurd dilemma. The dependency runs the gamut from sourcing raw materials to refining them, manufacturing key components, developing R&D, training workers, even setting prices. As the report says, “The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.”

The U.S. calls for new supply chain strategies to meet economic and defence risks

But Russia merits little mention in the 146-page document. China comes up again and again as the pre-eminent economic and military threat with a long-term hegemonic strategy.

That strategy’s been very successful, leaving the U.S. sorely unprepared for the resulting risks. Ordered by President Donald Trump in July 2017, the report urges a government-wide program to address the entire range of supply chain challenges.

The 2010 Senkaku incident, dramatic as it was, can be seen as a mere microcosm of a much bigger threat.

“China’s domination of the rare earth element market illustrates the potentially dangerous interaction between Chinese economic aggression guided by its strategic industrial policies and vulnerabilities and gaps in America’s manufacturing and defense industrial base,” the report warns. “China has strategically flooded the global market with rare earths at subsidized prices, driven out competitors, and deterred new market entrants. When China needs to flex its soft power muscles by embargoing rare earths, it does not hesitate, as Japan learned in a 2010 maritime dispute.”

It was a lesson learned by other countries too. The report describes rare earths as “critical elements used across many of the major weapons systems the U.S. relies on for national security, including lasers, radar, sonar, night vision systems, missile guidance, jet engines, and even alloys for armored vehicles.”

Rare earths figure prominently in the U.S. list of 35 critical minerals drafted last February and confirmed in May. American dependency was further highlighted when the country dropped rare earths from a revised list of tariffs on Chinese imports announced in September.

China’s soft power hardball has targeted other American allies as well, waging “aggressive economic warfare” against South Korea after the country installed an American air defence system. Other examples of “economic coercion” include “a ban on Philippine bananas over territorial disputes in the South China Sea; the aforementioned restriction of rare earth exports to Japan following the Senkaku Islands dispute in 2010; persistent economic intimidation against Taiwan; and the recent ceding of a Sri Lankan port.”

China can play nice too. But at a price. The country invests heavily in developing countries, often building infrastructure “in exchange for an encumbrance on their natural resources and access to their markets.”

As for Chinese electronics exports, they “lack the level of scrutiny placed on U.S. manufacturers, driving lower yields and higher rates of failures in downstream production, and raising the risk of ‘Trojan’ chips and viruses infiltrating U.S. defense systems.”

Technological expertise becomes a strategic weapon too. “As part of its industrial policy aggression, China has forced many American companies to offshore their R&D in exchange for access to the Chinese market.”

With an advanced-stage rare earths project in northern Quebec as well as advanced-stage tantalum-niobium in southern British Columbia, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE president Chris Grove keeps tabs on Canada’s neighbour. “People in Washington tell me the anxiety level on these issues has never been higher,” he notes.

Here’s the world’s biggest military and they’re saying, ‘We need Chinese stuff to make it all work?’ That’s really for most Americans an absolutely untenable and unbelievable position of weakness.—Chris Grove,
president of Commerce Resources

“Apart from the trade imbalance between the U.S. and China, there’s the vulnerability of the U.S. military. Here’s the world’s biggest military and they’re saying, ‘We need Chinese stuff to make it all work?’ That’s really for most Americans an absolutely untenable and unbelievable position of weakness.”

Sources in Washington encouraged Grove to apply for a research grant from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. If successful, the application would bring up to $3 million to further metallurgical progress on his company’s Ashram rare earths project, advancing a potential source in a stable and allied country.

That would complement one of the report’s key recommendations, to “diversify away from complete dependency on sources of supply in politically unstable countries who may cut off U.S. access; diversification strategies may include re-engineering, expanded use of the National Defense Stockpile program, or qualification of new suppliers.”

Other recommendations include creating an industrial policy that supports national security, working with allies and partners on industrial development, expanding industrial investment, addressing manufacturing and industrial risk within the energy and nuclear sectors, encouraging home-grown scientific expertise and occupational skills, and exploring next generation technology for future threats.

In ordering the study, Trump stated the loss of key companies, over 60,000 American factories and almost five million manufacturing jobs since 2000 “threatens to undermine the capacity and capabilities of United States manufacturers to meet national defense requirements and raises concerns about the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base.”