Tuesday 25th June 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘u3o8’

Ever unconventional

May 24th, 2019

Rick Rule might be even more contrarian than you thought

by Greg Klein

Not for the faint-hearted, resource stocks hardly suit reckless investors either. Rick Rule’s long and successful career in this volatile world likely stems from shrewd insight borne of a non-conformist outlook. The president/CEO of Sprott U.S. Holdings took time to talk with ResourceClips.com about his favourite commodities, mining management, trade wars and critical minerals as well as—if only to demonstrate the principle of enlightened self-interest—the Sprott Natural Resource Symposium returning to Vancouver from July 29 to August 2.

As miners and manufacturers struggle to secure adequate supplies of essential minerals, does he still see justification for gold’s special status?

Rick Rule might be even more contrarian than you thought

“I do,” he replies. “I think gold has a special place of its own among metals in the investment universe in that, while it has fabrication value in things like jewelry, iconography and electronics, it is also simultaneously a unit of exchange and a store of value.

“It is also a metal that attracts a certain class of equity investors precisely because of its volatility, and what that means is that people who have a reputation for being able to either find or produce gold more efficiently than their competitors have the lowest cost of capital of any entrepreneurs in the mining business. So I would suggest that precious metals are unique in the mining space.”

What other metals interest him?

“Well the truth is I’m agnostic as to how I make my money. But traditionally two commodities, iron and copper, have been unusually profitable, although they’re usually the domains of the big mining companies. Iron doesn’t occupy a very large part of the exploration space. What are particularly attractive to me right now are commodities that are so deeply out of favour that, on a global basis, the cost to produce them exceeds the price that they sell for, implying industries that are ostensibly in liquidation. So minerals that especially attract me at present are nickel, zinc, copper and in particular uranium.

“Having said that, Sprott will back a top-quality management team, or will finance what appears to be potentially a Tier I asset, irrespective of commodity.”

Speaking of mining management, that’s a subject he’s previously lambasted with scathing comments. Does he see the problem as unique to mining?

Rick Rule might be even more contrarian than you thought

Rick Rule:
An insider with an outsider’s perspective.

“I’ve spent 40 years in extractive industries and don’t have experience in other industries, so I don’t know how widespread the problem is in other places. I do know that in one study, a young Sprott intern pulled at random financial statements and income statements over I believe five years from 25 junior miners. The median expenditure on general and administrative expenses exceeded 65% of capital raised. That’s not the prescription for a successful industry.

“It’s worth noting that in joint ventures that we’ve observed where a major mining company is earning into an exploration project operated by a junior, the median general and administrative expenses allowed as a percentage of total expenditures is 12%. So that would suggest that the junior public company format is inefficient.

“Now it bears noting that the junior mining industry has been enormously profitable to me personally and also to Sprott. And the conclusion that one has to draw is that functionally all of the value delivered over time by the junior mining industry is delivered by a fairly small number of teams. I would argue that less than 5% of the management teams in the business generate well in excess of 50% of the value created. Their contributions are so valuable that they add legitimacy and sometimes even lustre to a sector that overall has a very poor track record.”

Rule applies his contrarianism to trade wars and legislated efforts to secure critical minerals. He opposes government intervention and considers the U.S.-China dispute unnecessary.

“I believe that tariffs are an indirect form of tax and that protectionism ultimately backfires on the protector by making him or her less efficient. Now having said that, with regards to the Section 232 review of uranium, I would personally be a beneficiary of any action that Trump took. So it would be bad for the United States of America and good for me. I’m an unalloyed believer in free trade and free investment. To benefit a small number of claimants at the expense of a market is, I think, very bad policy.”

While many observers fear the trade war will provoke a second Senkaku with China manipulating its rare earths dominance, Rule thinks the gambit would rebound to the benefit of non-Chinese producers.

If the Chinese decided to obviate their competitive advantage with some stupid political ploy, they would find themselves with a much smaller proportion of the global market.

“If the Chinese decided to obviate their competitive advantage with some stupid political ploy, they would find themselves with a much smaller proportion of the global market. So I’m unconcerned about access to those so-called critical metals.”

Meanwhile he thinks the trade war “is political posturing and it is clientelist in the most pernicious sense, seeking to benefit a few interests who might be big campaign contributors at the expense of markets and consumers.”

Does he think the Sino-American conflict will have long-lasting effects?

“I’m not a political analyst, but I hope this is a circumstance where Xi benefits by looking tough to a domestic political constituency and Trump does the same, and nothing much comes of it. My hope is this is just populist puffery on behalf of both executives.

“At least in my lifetime, every tariff that has ever existed is a euphemism for a tax, and has served no useful purpose and in fact has been destructive to global trade and to the nation imposing the tariff. Similarly, so-called free trade agreements are really political pacts that may serve a political purpose for a favoured few. But the truth is, a free trade agreement could be written on one piece of paper. You could say: There will be no legal impediments between the voluntary buying and selling of any willing parties. Period.

“Instead, NAFTA was 3,600 pages.”

Among the challenges facing junior mining is powerful competition from cannabis stocks. Does he see that as a short-term trend?

“Yeah, I do. I think the cannabis craze will wear itself out the same way any other craze does. I don’t know that the hot money necessarily will move back to mining until after it isn’t needed anymore. Frankly I welcome the move of hot money, dumb money, out of mining and into crypto and cannabis. The mining business has been over-funded and the subject of unrealistic expectations for 30 years to the extent that the industry went on a forced diet for a while, a lot of issuers failed and rational expectations returned to the space. I think that would be a very good thing.

I’m also delighted frankly that in places like Vancouver and Los Angeles management teams that were formally in mining have moved on to substances that they’re interested in and familiar with, like cannabis. If you live in Vancouver, it’s very clear that due diligence is conducted nightly on most street corners downtown.

“I’m also delighted frankly that in places like Vancouver and Los Angeles management teams that were formally in mining have moved on to substances that they’re interested in and familiar with, like cannabis. If you live in Vancouver, it’s very clear that due diligence is conducted nightly on most street corners downtown.”

And speaking of Vancouver, what’s Rule got to say about Sprott’s upcoming event?

“We hope to deliver the best possible experience that we can, all the way from big picture commentators like Danielle DiMartino Booth, Nomi Prins, Jim Rickards and Doug Casey, but also including really interesting industry participants. One of the things we’ve been doing for 25 years is we have always made room for speakers who are active in the mining business today after building billion-dollar companies from scratch. This is important because they talk not just about mining but also how the lessons they learned building their companies impact the way they invest their own money, and the way that speculators should invest theirs. Further, unlike any other conference I know, an exhibitor has to be owned in a Sprott-managed account. Our attendees have told us our exhibitors are not from their point of view mere advertisers, but rather they’re content too.

“Finally, while most resource-oriented conferences have shrunk demonstrably in size over the last four or five years, ours has grown every year. One of the benefits investors get attending our conference is that they do so in the company of 700 of their peers, high net worth investors who have been successful in natural resources. And there is a lot to be gained not merely from the dais or the exhibit hall, but also from talking to other experienced, successful and battle-scarred speculators and investors.”

Rick Rule hosts the Sprott Natural Resource Symposium in Vancouver from July 29 to August 2. Click here for more information.

Belmont Resources announces Nevada lithium results

May 2nd, 2019

by Greg Klein | May 2, 2019

Reporting from the Kibby Basin project in Nevada, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA released assays from the most recent hole on the 2,056-hectare property. After reaching a depth of 256 metres into lakebed sediments, the hole averaged 100 ppm lithium, ranging from 38 ppm to 127 ppm.

Belmont Resources announces Nevada lithium results

With only four holes sunk so far, most
of the 2,056-hectare Kibby Basin project
remains unexplored.

Groundwater samples showed the presence of saline, rather than fresh water that’s rich in sodium and magnesium but low in lithium, the company stated. “The presence of shallow aquifers containing saline groundwater with chemical composition similar to, but lower than that of lithium brines is encouraging for the discovery of lithium brines deeper in the basin.”

Results from previous drilling indicate continued potential for lithium brines in unexplored areas of the property, Belmont added. A 2018 hole about 2,300 metres southwest brought intervals of 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres, reaching a high of 580 ppm.

MGX Minerals CSE:XMG has spent $300,000 on exploration so far to earn 25% of the project. The company may increase its interest to 50% with another $300,000 of work.

In March the companies announced a “milestone” water rights permit that might be the first of its kind for Nevada. The permit allows extraction of up to 943.6 million U.S. gallons of water annually for brine processing and potential production of lithium compounds. About 91% of the water would be returned to the source, the companies stated.

Also last March, Belmont announced a foray into southern British Columbia’s busy Greenwood camp with the acquisition of a 253-hectare property in a region of historic gold, copper, silver, lead and zinc mining. The company has historic data under review to prepare for exploration this year.

In northern Saskatchewan, Belmont shares a 50/50 interest in two uranium properties with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Belmont Resources moves into B.C.’s historic Greenwood mining camp

March 28th, 2019

by Greg Klein | March 28, 2019, updated April 2

A company drilling for Nevada lithium has taken on new turf in a storied southern British Columbia gold-copper district. The acquisition brings Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA a 253-hectare property that formed part of the former Pathfinder project, about 18 kilometres north of Grand Forks and 500 klicks by highway east of Vancouver. The location sits on the northeastern edge of the Boundary mining camp, also known as the Republic-Greenwood gold district.

Belmont Resources moves into B.C.’s historic Greenwood mining camp

Greenwood-area mining dates back to the late 1880s. Approximately 26 former mines produced more than 1.2 million ounces of gold and over 270,000 tonnes of copper, as well as silver, lead and zinc, according to Geoscience BC. Among the past-producers are some workings on the former Pathfinder property. More recent prospecting, sampling, drilling and a magnetic survey on Pathfinder have provided historic data to help Belmont plan a 2019 exploration program.

Kinross Gold TSX:K subsidiary KG Exploration holds property bordering three sides of the Belmont acquisition. The Kinross subsidiary has so far spent $1.28 million towards a 75% earn-in on Grizzly Discoveries’ (TSXV:GZD) Greenwood project and plans further work this year. Ximen Mining TSXV:XIM and GGX Gold TSXV:GGX have recently reported near-surface gold, silver and tellurium assays from their Greenwood-area Gold Drop project. Other companies in the district include Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM and Quebec niobium-tantalum explorer Saville Resources TSXV:SRE.

To close the acquisition Belmont pays each of two vendors 625,000 shares and 625,000 warrants on TSXV approval, along with another 125,000 shares and 125,000 warrants each within a year. Together, the vendors retain a 1.5% NSR, half of which Belmont may buy for $1 million.

Reporting from their Kibby Basin lithium project in Nevada last week, Belmont and MGX Minerals CSE:XMG announced a “milestone” permit to extract up to 943 million U.S. gallons of water annually for brine processing and potential production of lithium compounds. Assays are pending from last winter’s drilling, which tested a potential fault about 2,300 metres from a previous target that averaged 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres.

Belmont’s portfolio also includes an interest in two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Subject to exchange approval, Belmont expects to close a private placement first tranche of $67,500. The company closed a private placement totalling $375,000 in July.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals receive “milestone” water rights permit, await assays from Nevada lithium project

March 21st, 2019

by Greg Klein | March 21, 2019

Considered a milestone for two companies pursuing lithium, a recently granted water rights permit might be the first of its kind for Nevada. Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA and MGX Minerals CSE:XMG received the permit to extract up to 943.6 million U.S. gallons of water annually from the Monte Cristo Groundwater Basin for brine processing and potential production of lithium compounds on their Kibby Basin property. Some 91% of the water will be returned to the source through injection wells or infiltration galleries, the companies stated.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals receive “milestone” water rights permit, await assays from Nevada lithium project

Assays are pending from winter drilling
on the Belmont/MGX Kibby Basin project.

The news follows a winter drill campaign that reached 256 metres into lakebed sediments in hole KB-4, testing a potential fault where geophysical and geological analysis suggests geothermal activity might have brought concentrations of dissolved minerals close to surface.

The team currently has logging and sample preparation from drill cuttings underway, as well as water sampling from a layer near the bottom of the hole. Assays will follow.

Some 2,300 metres southwest of KB-4, KB-3 produced results averaging 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres, reaching a high of 580 ppm.

Having spent $300,000 so far, MGX has earned 25% of the project and may increase its interest to 50% with another $300,000 of work. The 2,056-hectare Kibby Basin property sits 65 kilometres north of Albemarle’s (NYSE:ALB) Silver Peak mine, North American’s only lithium producer.

In northern Saskatchewan, Belmont has a 50% stake in two uranium properties, with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT holding the remainder.

Subject to exchange approval, Belmont expects to close a private placement first tranche of $67,500. In July the company closed a private placement totalling $375,000.

Update: Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals resume drilling Nevada lithium target

March 1st, 2019

Update: On March 1 Belmont Resources announced drilling had restarted after “highly unusual” weather had delayed the program. “Belmont expects that the drilling will proceed with no further delays,” the company stated.

 

by Greg Klein | December 18, 2018

Encouraged by their last round of lithium assays, these two companies aren’t waiting for the post-Christmas season to reactivate the rig. With a new program now underway at the Kibby Basin project in Nevada, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA and MGX Minerals CSE:XMG focus on an area 2,300 metres northeast of hole KB-3, where previous results averaged 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres, reaching a high of 580 ppm.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals resume drilling Nevada lithium target

Previous drill results have Belmont and
MGX optimistic about the current program.

The team expects KB-4 to reach an initial depth of 300 metres into lakebed sediments, focusing on the centre of a gravity low interpreted as a potential fault. Geophysical and geological analysis suggests potential geothermal activity might have brought concentrations of dissolved minerals close to the surface, the companies stated.

Belmont also announced the appointment of two new directors. Karim Rayani has 14 years’ experience providing consulting and investment banking services to junior mining, bio-medical and technology sectors. Over the last four years he has helped raise more than $45 million for public and private companies.

As CEO/director of MGX, Jared Lazerson built a company with exploration properties in four countries and industrial technology subsidiaries including rapid lithium extraction and battery mass storage. MGX holds four million Belmont shares, four million two-year warrants and the right to acquire up to 10 million additional shares.

Under an option with Belmont signed in July, MGX has earned an initial 25% interest in Kibby Basin by spending $300,000. An additional $300,000 by year-end would make the company operator of a 50/50 joint venture.

The companies interpret the 2,056-hectare property’s geology to hold similarities with Nevada’s lithium-rich Clayton Valley, 65 kilometres south.

Belmont also holds a 50% stake in two Saskatchewan uranium properties, with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT holding the remainder.

Last July Belmont closed a private placement totalling $375,000.

Visual Capitalist: The bull case for energy metals going into 2019

January 10th, 2019

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 10, 2019

 

The rapid emergence of the world’s renewable energy sector is helping set the stage for a commodity boom.

While oil has traditionally been the most interesting commodity to investors in the past, the green energy sector is reliant on the unique electrical and physical properties of many different metals to work optimally.

To build more renewable capacity and to store that energy efficiently, we will need to increase the available supply for these specific raw materials, or face higher costs for each material.

Metal bull cases

Ahead of Cambridge House’s annual Vancouver Resource Investment Conference on January 20 and 21, 2019, we thought it would be prudent to highlight the “bull case” for relevant metals as we start the year.

It’s important to recognize that the commodity market is often cyclical and dependent on a multitude of factors, and that these cases are not meant to be predictive in any sense.

In other words, the facts and arguments illustrated sum up what we think investors may see as the most compelling stories for these metals—but what actually happens in the market, especially in the short term, may be different.

Overarching trends

While we highlight 12 minerals ranging from copper to lithium, most of the raw materials in the infographic fit into four overarching, big-picture stories that will drive the future of green energy:

Solar and wind
The world hit 1 TW of wind and solar generation capacity in 2018. The second TW will be up and running by 2023, and will cost 46% less than the first.

Electric vehicles
Ownership of electric vehicles will increase 40 times in the next 13 years, reaching 125 million vehicles in 2030.

Energy storage
The global market for energy storage is rapidly growing, and will leap from $194 billion to $296 billion between 2017 and 2024.

Nuclear
150 nuclear reactors with a total gross capacity of about 160,000 MW are on order or planned, and about 300 more are proposed—mostly in Asia.

Which of these stories has the most potential as a catalyst for driving the entire sector?

Based on these narratives, and the individual bull cases above, which metal has the most individual potential?

Visit Visual Capitalist at Booth #1228 at #VRIC19.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Click here for free VRIC registration up to January 11.

Read more about the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference.

DRC on the brink

January 3rd, 2019

The Congo’s increasing instability heightens critical minerals concern

by Greg Klein

Update: In what’s been called the DRC’s first peaceful transfer of power since 1960, Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in as president on January 24. That follows a controversial election in which two parts of the country had voting delayed until March and supporters of candidate Martin Fayulu accused the electoral commission of rigging the results in favour of Tshisekedi, who they say struck a pact with outgoing president Joseph Kabila. Catholic church observers had earlier disputed the outcome and 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.

Belmont Resources readies the rig for more Nevada lithium drilling

November 22nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | November 22, 2018

Belmont Resources readies the rig for more Nevada lithium drilling

With positive assays from previous drilling,
Belmont Resources returns for another
campaign at Kibby Basin.

Following lithium results released earlier this month, Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) drill contractors return to the Kibby Basin project imminently for another attack. The target this time will be 2,300 metres northeast of hole KB-3, where the most recent assays showed an average 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres. Previous results for the same hole averaged 415 ppm over 30.5 metres.

The crew expects rotary drilling to spend a week sinking the next hole, KB-4, to an initial depth of about 366 metres. Downhole geophysics will identify layers to be sampled and deeper drilling may follow.

Work takes place on a magnetotelluric conductor found last February, which followed a gravity survey conducted in 2016.

The company interprets the 2,056-hectare project’s geology to hold similarities with Nevada’s lithium-producing Clayton Valley, 65 kilometres south.

Belmont also shares 50/50 ownership in two Saskatchewan uranium properties with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Belmont closed a private placement totalling $375,000 in July.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with CFO/director Gary Musil.

Drill-ready money

November 19th, 2018

Canada’s hitting a six-year high in exploration spending

by Greg Klein

Canada’s hitting a six-year high in exploration spending

Osisko Mining’s (TSX:OSK) Windfall project offers one reason why
Quebec leads Canada and gold leads metals for exploration spending.
(Photo: Osisko Mining)

 

Blockchain might offer intrigue and cannabis promises a buzz, but mineral exploration still attracts growing interest. A healthy upswing this year will bring Canadian projects a nearly 8% spending increase to $2.36 billion, the industry’s highest amount since 2012. According to recently released data, that’s part of an international trend that puts Canada at the top of a worldwide resurgence.

The $2.36 billion allotted for Canadian exploration and deposit appraisal forms just a small part of the year’s total mineral resource development investments, which see $11.86 billion committed to this country, up from $10.61 billion in 2017.

Those numbers come from Natural Resources Canada, which surveyed companies between April and September on their spending intentions within the country for 2018. The $2.36-billion figure includes engineering, economic and feasibility studies, along with environmental work and general expenses.

Canada’s hitting a six-year high in exploration spending

Trial extraction for Pure Gold Mining’s (TSXV:PGM)
Madsen feasibility studies encourages interest in
Ontario’s Red Lake region. (Photo: Pure Gold Mining)

Of that number, Quebec edges out Ontario for first place with $623.1 million in spending this year, 26.4% of Canada’s total. Ontario’s share comes to $567.5 million or 24%. Last year’s totals came to $573.9 million for Quebec and $539.7 million for its western neighbour. Prior to that, however, Ontario held a comfortable lead year after year.

Third-place British Columbia gets $335.5 million or 14.2% of Canada’s total this year, an increase from $302.6 million in 2017.

On a per-capita basis, Yukon’s enjoying an exceptional year with an expected $249.4 million or 10.6% of Canada’s total. That’s the territory’s second substantial increase in a row, following $168.7 million the previous year.

Saskatchewan dips this year to $187.2 million (7.9%) from $191.2 million in 2017. But the Fraser Institute’s last survey of mining jurisdictions placed the province first in Canada and second worldwide.

Nunavut drops too, for the third consecutive time, to $143.9 million (6.1%), compared with $177 million in 2017. The Northwest Territories’ forecast declines to $86.2 million (3.7%) this year after $91.2 million last year.

Canada’s hitting a six-year high in exploration spending

Among companies leading Yukon’s exceptional performance
is White Gold TSXV:WGO, with substantial backing from
Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM and Kinross Gold TSX:K.
(Photo: White Gold)

Especially troubling when contrasted with Yukon’s performance, data for the other territories prompted NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian to call on federal, territorial and native governments and boards to help the industry “by creating certainty around land access, by reducing unnecessary complexity and by addressing the higher costs they face working in the North. Sustaining and growing future mining benefits depend on it.”

The pursuit of precious metals accounts for $1.5 billion in spending, nearly 64% of Canadian exploration. Ontario gets almost 31% of the precious metals attention, with 27% going to Quebec.

Base metals, mostly in Quebec, B.C. and Ontario, get 15.5% of the year’s total. Uranium gets 5%, almost entirely in Saskatchewan. Diamonds get nearly 4%, most of it going to the NWT and Saskatchewan. But nearly 11% of this year’s total goes to a category vaguely attributed to other metals, along with coal and additional non-metals.

Getting back to this year’s exploration total ($2.36 billion, remember?), senior companies commit themselves to nearly 55%, compared with nearly 51% last year. But the juniors’ share remains proportionately much larger than the pre-2017 years.

Additional encouragement—and on an international level—comes from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Using different methodology to produce different results, the Metals and Mining Research team found worldwide budgets for nonferrous exploration jumping 19% this year to $10.1 billion.

Juniors have been reaping the biggest budget gains at 35%. Over 1,651 functional exploration companies represent an 8% improvement over last year and the first such increase since 2012. But that’s “still about 900 companies less than in 2012, representing a one-third culling of active explorers over the past five years.”

The most dramatic spending increase hit cobalt and lithium, this year undergoing an 82% leap in exploration spending. That’s part of a 500% climb since 2015, SPGMI says.

Canada’s hitting a six-year high in exploration spending

Nemaska Lithium’s Whabouchi project in Quebec
contributes to the enthusiasm for energy metals.
(Photo: Nemaska Lithium)

Even so, precious and base metals retained their prominence as gold continues “to benefit the most from the industry recovery.” The global strive for yellow metal will claim $4.86 billion this year, up from $4.05 billion in 2017. Base metals spending will grow by $600 million to $3.04 billion. “Copper remained by far the most attractive of the base metals, although zinc allocations have increased the most, rising 37% in 2018, the report states. “Budgets are up for all targets except uranium.”

SPGMI finds Canada keeping its global top spot for nonferrous exploration with a 31% year-on-year budget increase. Second-place Australia achieved a 23% rise. The U.S. total places third, although with a 34% increase over the country’s 2017 performance.

In each of the top three countries, over 55% of the budgets focused on gold.

“Improved metals prices and margins since 2016 have encouraged producers to expand their organic efforts the past two years,” commented SPGMI’s Mark Ferguson. “Over the same period, equity market support for the junior explorers has improved, leading to an uptick in the number and size of completed financings. This allowed the group to increase exploration budgets by 35% in 2018.”

Active participants

November 7th, 2018

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

by Greg Klein

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

Representatives of Nemaska Lithium and Nemaska Cree negotiate the Chinuchi Agreement in 2014.
(Photo: Nemaska Lithium)

 

Trans Mountain—it’s likely been Canada’s biggest and most discouraging resource story this year. The subject of well-publicized protests, the proposed $9.3-billion pipeline extension met federal court rejection on the grounds of inadequate native consultation. But any impression of uniform aboriginal opposition to that project in particular or resource projects in general would be false, a new report emphasizes. In fact native involvement increasingly advances from reaping benefits to taking active part, with corresponding advantages to individuals and communities.

That’s the case for the oil and gas sector, forestry, hydro-electricity and fisheries, with mining one of the prominent examples provided by the Montreal Economic Institute in The First Entrepreneurs – Natural Resource Development and First Nations. “While some First Nations oppose mining and forestry or the building of energy infrastructure, others favour such development and wish to take advantage of the resulting wealth and jobs,” state authors Germain Belzile and Alexandre Moreau. “This cleavage is no different from what is found in non-indigenous cities and villages in Canada, where there is no vision for the future that everyone agrees upon.”

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

Visitors tour a cultural site at the Éléonore mine.
(Photo: Goldcorp)

Mining provides a case in point, and the reason’s not hard to understand. “In 2016, First Nations members working in the mining sector declared a median income twice as high as that of workers in their communities overall, and nearly twice as high as that of non-indigenous people as a whole.”

“Between 2000 and 2017, 455 agreements were signed in this sector, guaranteeing benefits in addition to those stemming from extraction royalties due to rights held by First Nations on their territories.” Those agreements often include native priority in hiring and subcontracting, which helps explain why “6% of indigenous people work in the mining sector, compared to only 4% in other industries.”

Of course the proportion rises dramatically in communities close to mines. MEI notes that Wemindji Cree make up about 25% of Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) Éléonore staff in Quebec’s James Bay region. The native total comes to 225 workers out of a community of 1,600 people. Their collaboration agreement also makes provisions for education, training and business opportunities.

At another Quebec James Bay project, Nemaska Lithium TSX:NMX expects to begin producing concentrate in H2 of next year. Collaboration with the Nemaska Cree began in 2009 and brought about the 2014 Chinuchi Agreement covering training, employment and revenue sharing, among other benefits. The community holds 3.6% of Nemaska stock.

Even stalled projects can benefit communities. Uranium’s price slump forced Cameco TSX:CCO to put its majority-held Millennium project in northern Saskatchewan on hold in 2014. But the 1,600-member English River First Nation still gained $50 million from the project in 2014 and $58 million in 2015.

Or, to take an example not mentioned in the report, natives can also profit from an operating mine that fails to make a profit. In Nunavut, a benefit agreement with Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River operation gave the Qikiqtani Inuit Association $11.65 million this year, as well as the better part of $3.7 million that the QIA reaped in leases and fees. In production since 2014, Mary River remains in the red.

Of course some natives still oppose some projects. Last month Star Diamond TSX:DIAM received provincial environmental approval for its Star-Orion South project in southern Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne district. That decision followed federal approval in 2014.

Star says the mine would cost $1.41 billion to build and would pay $802 million in royalties as well as $865 million in provincial income tax over a 20-year lifespan. The mine would employ an average 669 people annually for a five-year construction period and 730 people during operation. But continued opposition from the James Smith Cree Nation calls into question whether environmental approval will suffice to allow development.

Similar circumstances played out in reverse for Mary River. Last summer the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended Ottawa reject Baffinland’s proposed production increase. But support from the QIA and territorial Premier Joe Savikataaq convinced the feds to approve the company’s request. So the veto, if it exists, can work both ways.

James Smith opposition stems largely from Saskatchewan’s lack of revenue-sharing programs, a basic component of benefit agreements in other jurisdictions. “As a government it’s our position that we will not and do not consider resource revenue sharing as a part of any proposal going forward,” enviro minister Dustin Duncan told the Prince Albert newspaper paNOW. He said the province uses mining revenue “to fund programs for the benefit of all Saskatchewan residents and not just one particular group or region.”

The MEI report quotes an estimated $321 million in 2015-to-2016 revenues from natural resources overall for First Nations, a category that doesn’t include Inuit or Metis, and a dollar figure that doesn’t include employment or business income and other benefits.

While Trans Mountain stands out as an especially discouraging process, MEI points out that proponent Kinder Morgan signed benefit agreements with 43 First Nations totalling $400 million. After Ottawa bought the company, “several First Nations showed interest in a potential takeover. For some of them, the possibility of equity stakes was indeed the missing element in the Kinder Morgan offer.”

That might take negotiations well past the stage of benefits and further into active participation. As JP Gladu of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business told MEI, “The next big business trend that we are going to see, and that is happening already, is not only that aboriginal businesses are going to be stronger components of the corporate supply chain, but we are also going to see them as stronger proponents of equity positions and actual partners within resource projects.”

 

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

The category of First Nations excludes Inuit and Metis.
(Chart: Montreal Economic Institute. Sources: Statistics Canada,
2016 Census, 98-400-X2016359, March 28, 2018)