Saturday 24th March 2018

Resource Clips

Posts tagged ‘uranium’

Pistol Bay Mining begins drilling its expanded zinc-copper-polymetallic Ontario VMS project

March 22nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 22, 2018

With about 3,500 metres planned, Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST has drilling now underway at northwestern Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake greenstone belt. Three holes of about 500 metres each will supply material from the project’s Arrow zone for preliminary metallurgical tests. From there the rig shifts roughly eight kilometres west to the Fredart zone, aka the Copperlode A zone.

Pistol Bay Mining resumes drilling at its expanded zinc-polymetallic Ontario VMS project

Last year the company released a 43-101 resource for Arrow that used a base case 3% zinc-equivalent cutoff for an inferred category showing:

  • 2.1 million tonnes averaging 5.78% zinc, 0.72% copper,19.5 g/t silver and 0.6 g/t gold, for a zinc-equivalent grade of 8.42%

Contained amounts come to:

  • 274 million pounds zinc, 34.3 million pounds copper, 1.33 million ounces silver and 41,000 ounces gold

Obviously overdue for renewed attention is Fredart. The zone has conflicting historic, non-43-101 estimates of 386,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper and 33.6 g/t silver, or 219,500 tonnes averaging 1.95% copper and 41.8 g/t silver.

A January option agreement expands Pistol Bay’s Confederation Lake package by 3,700 hectares, for a total of about 20,700 hectares. The new turf comprises part of last year’s VTEM-Plus survey, the area’s first state-of-the-art regional geophysics. Some of the available, non-43-101 past intercepts from the acquisition’s Wasp Lake trend include 2.96% zinc and 0.04% copper over 2.79 metres, as well as 1.12% zinc and 0.04% copper over 7.19 metres. The same trend showed a strong conductive response on the VTEM-Plus results, Pistol Bay reported.

Another positive geophysical response came from the acquisition’s Fly Lake zone, where historic, non-43-101 assays reached as high as 1.36% zinc and 0.17% copper over 11.5 metres, along with 1.51% zinc and 0.08% copper over 8.9 metres. The zone appears to remain open along strike and at depth, the company stated. Nine other geophysical anomalies, meanwhile, appear to lack previous drilling.

The January option follows 5,860 hectares of staking last September that covers multiple conductors and IP anomalies identified in the airborne survey, as well as parallel conductors or extensions of known conductors.

Last month the company announced an amended agreement with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary which will increase its hold on the C4, C5 and C6 uranium properties in Saskatchewan from 75% to 100%. The deal will bring Pistol Bay $1 million.

In January the company also announced progress with its PB Blockchain subsidiary as it builds “a suite of blockchain products to address needs that are particular to the data management and security of mining/oil and gas companies.”

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining here and here.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6%; Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

March 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 14, 2018

It’s hardly a boom time scenario but mineral exploration within Canada should see a healthy 6% spending increase this year, according to recent federal government figures. Info supplied by companies shows an estimated total of $2.238 billion planned for exploration and deposit appraisal this year, compared with $2.111 billion in 2017. The second annual increase in a row, it’s far less dramatic than last year’s 29.6% leap.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6% Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

The Natural Resources Canada survey compares preliminary numbers for metals and non-metals from last year with projected budgets for 2018.

Together Quebec and Ontario account for more than half the spending, with la belle province getting 27.3% of last year’s total and 29.3% of this year’s, while Ontario got 24.9% and 26.5%.

Some runners-up were British Columbia (12.2% of Canada’s total in 2017 and 13% in 2018), Saskatchewan (9% and 7.4%) and Yukon (7.8% and 7.7%).

Proportionately Manitoba enjoyed the greatest increase, a 42% jump from $38.5 million to $54.7 million, in a performance at odds with the province’s most recent Fraser Institute ranking. Less spectacularly but still impressive, the figures show Quebec climbing 13.9% from $576.5 million to $656.7 million. British Columbia gets a 12.9% increase from $257.7 million to $290.9 million, and Ontario 12.7% from $526.2 million to $593 million.

Some disappointments include Saskatchewan, falling 13% from $189.9 million to $165.1 million. Nunavut plunged 34.6% from $169.3 million to $110.7 million.

Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.—Gary Vivian, president, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Addressing the territory’s performance along with its neighbour’s 10% drop, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian said, “Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.”

Combining figures for mine complex development with exploration and deposit appraisal, this year’s projected country-wide total rises 8.9% to $14.9 billion, the highest number in the four years of data released in this survey.

Commodities getting the most money are precious metals, although at a nearly 1.5% decrease to $1.35 billion this year from $1.37 billion last year. A more drastic drop was uranium, down 23.4% to $103.7 million. Base metals saw a 38.4% surge to $406.9 million. Coal’s projected for a 31.1% boost to $70.8 million.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenses considered for the survey include field work, engineering, economics, feasibility studies, the environment, land access and associated general expenses. Natural Resources Canada did not consider work for extensions of known reserves.

Recent studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed a marked improvement in junior mining company finances and a relatively stable, if cautious, ambience for more senior Canadian companies.

Covering a different period with different methodology than Natural Resources Canada, a study by EY, the B.C. government and the Association for Mineral Exploration calculated a 20% increase in B.C. exploration spending from 2016 to 2017.

See the Natural Resources Canada survey here.

Deep-sensing geophysics precedes Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium drilling

March 2nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 2, 2018

Recently received geophysical results will help Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA select drill targets for its Kibby Basin lithium property in Nevada. Described as a “full tensor magnetotelluric technology that acquires resistivity data in the 10 kHz to 0.001 Hz frequency band,” the survey covered about 36 square kilometres to depths of three kilometres over a playa basin and some adjoining turf.

Deep-sensing geophysics precedes Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium drilling

Located 65 kilometres from Clayton Valley, Belmont Resources’
Kibby Basin project advances towards Phase II drilling.

While a 2016 gravity survey suggested the presence of a basin about 4,000 metres deep, the new results “clearly map a more conductive zone beginning at approximately 500 metres’ depth,” Belmont stated. Targets for a 2018 drill program on the 2,760-hectare property are being considered where potential brine contacts are closest to the playa surface, the company added.

Core samples from last year’s two-hole, 624-metre campaign assayed between 70 ppm and 200 ppm Li2O, with 13 of 25 samples exceeding 100 ppm.

A November acquisition added the Mid Corner-Johnson Croft zinc-cobalt prospect in New Brunswick to Belmont’s portfolio. Belmont also holds a 50% interest in two Saskatchewan uranium properties.

This week the company offered an amended private placement of up to $100,000, following an oversubscribed financing that closed on $312,000 in December.

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

U.S. releases draft list of 35 critical minerals, seeks public comment

February 21st, 2018

by Greg Klein | February 21, 2018

The world’s largest economy and strongest military has taken another step to mitigate some surprising vulnerabilities. On February 16 the U.S. Department of the Interior released a draft list of 35 minerals deemed critical to American well-being. The move follows December’s presidential executive order calling for a “federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” In response the U.S. Geological Survey compiled the new list, which now awaits input from the public. Americans have until March 19 to respond.

U.S. releases draft list of 35 critical minerals, seeks public comment

“The work of the USGS is at the heart of our nation’s mission to reduce our vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals,” commented the DOI’s Tim Petty. “Any shortage of these resources constitutes a strategic vulnerability for the security and prosperity of the United States.”

The list defines “critical” as “a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States, the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption, and that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the economy or national security.”

Among them are “aluminum—used in almost all sectors of the economy; the platinum group metals—used for catalytic agents; rare earth elements—used in batteries and electronics; tin—used as protective coatings and alloys for steel; and titanium—overwhelmingly used as a white pigment or as a metal alloy.”

Just one day before Donald Trump issued the order, the USGS released a nearly 900-page report, the first thorough examination of the subject since 1973, detailing 23 critical minerals. All 23 made the new list, with 12 newcomers including scandium, uranium and tungsten. Rare earths come under a single category of 17 elements. The list can be seen here, with links to USGS reports on each mineral.

Speaking with days after the president’s order, Jeff Green called it the country’s “most substantive development in critical mineral policy in 20 years.” The U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel, former USAF commander and Washington defence lobbyist added that a new critical minerals policy would largely benefit American companies and supply chains. But he pointed out that Trump “also said that international co-operation and partnerships with our strongest allies will be really important.”

See the USGS draft list of 35 critical minerals.

Read more about the U.S. critical minerals initiative.

Deep-penetrating geophysics to probe Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium project

January 17th, 2018

by Greg Klein | January 17, 2018

Now being mobilized, an electromagnetic survey will help target brine aquifers on Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) Kibby Basin property. The company describes Quantec Geoscience’s Spartan AMT/MT method as “a full tensor magnetotelluric technology that acquires resistivity data in the 10 kHz to 0.001 Hz frequency band. The result is a measurement that is applicable from near-surface to potential depths of three kilometres or more.” Belmont credits Quantec with over 5,000 geophysical programs in over 50 countries.

Deep-penetrating geophysics to probe Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium project

Two holes sunk on Kibby Basin last year brought
core samples between 70 ppm and 200 ppm lithium.

The Kibby Basin survey should take nine days, with another two weeks for an initial report.

The program follows a satellite data review and two-hole 2017 drill campaign on the 2,760-hectare Nevada property 65 kilometres north of Clayton Valley. Thirteen of 25 core samples surpassed 100 ppm lithium, “indicating that the sediments could be a potential source of lithium for the underlying aquifers,” the company stated.

A gravity survey the previous year suggested the property hosts a closed basin which the company later estimated to cover four square kilometres, extending to at least 1.5 kilometres in depth.

Last week Belmont announced its lawyers would request the annulment of a decision by the International Centre For Settlement Of Investment Disputes reported in August. The tribunal stated it had no jurisdiction in a dispute involving Belmont, EuroGas Inc and the Slovak Republic regarding Rozmin SRO’s ownership of the Gemerska Poloma talc deposit. Belmont seeks to be restored as a claimant in the arbitration proceedings.

The company also holds the Mid Corner-Johnson Croft property in New Brunswick, a prospect with some historic, non-43-101 zinc-copper-cobalt sampling results that has yet to undergo modern geophysics.

In northern Saskatchewan, Belmont and International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT share a 50/50 stake in the Crackingstone and Orbit Lake uranium properties.

Belmont closed an oversubscribed private placement of $312,200 in December.

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

Visual Capitalist and VRIC 2018 look at the raw materials that fuel the green revolution

January 10th, 2018

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 10, 2018


Records for renewable energy consumption were smashed around the world in 2017.

Looking at national and state grids, progress has been extremely impressive. In Costa Rica, for example, renewable energy supplied five million people with all of their electricity needs for a stretch of 300 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the UK broke 13 green energy records in 2017 alone, and California’s largest grid operator announced it got 67.2% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydro) on May 13, 2017.

The corporate front also looks promising and Google has led the way by buying 536 MW of wind power to offset 100% of the company’s electricity usage. This makes the tech giant the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet.

But while these examples are plentiful, this progress is only the tip of the iceberg—and green energy still represents a small but rapidly growing segment. For a full green shift to occur, we’ll need 10 times what we’re currently sourcing from renewables.

To do this, we will need to procure massive amounts of natural resources—they just won’t be the fossil fuels that we’re used to.

Green metals required

Today’s infographic comes from Cambridge House as a part of the lead-up to its flagship conference, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018.

A major theme of the conference is sustainable energy—and the math indeed makes it clear that to fully transition to a green economy, we’ll need vast amounts of metals like copper, silicon, aluminum, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and silver.

These metals and minerals are needed to generate, store and distribute green energy. Without them, the reality is that technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, nuclear reactors and electric vehicles are simply not possible.

First principles

How do you get a Tesla to drive over 300 miles (480 kilometres) on just one charge?

Here’s what you need: a lightweight body, a powerful electric motor, a cutting-edge battery that can store energy efficiently and a lot of engineering prowess.

Putting the engineering aside, all of these things need special metals to work. For the lightweight body, aluminum is being substituted for steel. For the electric motor, Tesla is using AC induction motors (Models S and X) that require large amounts of copper and aluminum. Meanwhile, Chevy Bolts and soon Tesla will use permanent magnet motors (in the Model 3) that use rare earths like neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium.

The batteries, as we’ve shown in our five-part Battery Series, are a whole other supply chain challenge. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs need lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and many other metals or minerals to function. Each Tesla battery, by the way, weighs about 1,200 pounds (540 kilograms) and makes up 25% of the total mass of the car.

While EVs are a topic we’ve studied in depth, the same principles apply for solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear reactors, grid-scale energy storage solutions or anything else we need to secure a sustainable future. Solar panels need silicon and silver, while wind turbines need rare earths, steel and aluminum.

Even nuclear, which is the safest energy type by deaths per TWh and generates barely any emissions, needs uranium in order to generate power.

The pace of progress

The green revolution is happening at breakneck speed—and new records will continue to be set each year.

Over $200 billion was invested into renewables in 2016 and more net renewable capacity was added than coal and gas put together:

Power Type Net Global Capacity Added (2016)
Renewable (excl. large hydro) 138 GW
Coal 54 GW
Gas 37 GW
Large hydro 15 GW
Nuclear 10 GW
Other flexible capacity 5 GW

The numbers suggest that this is only the start of the green revolution.

However, to fully work our way off of fossil fuels, we will need to procure large amounts of the metals that make sustainable energy possible.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018 takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from January 21 to 22. Click here for more details and free registration.

Mark Mihalasky of the USGS discusses a unique discovery in the American West

December 18th, 2017

…Read more

Satellite imagery helps Belmont Resources home in on Nevada lithium targets

December 14th, 2017

by Greg Klein | December 14, 2017

Thanks to NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, archived satellite data sharpens the focus on Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) Kibby Basin lithium project in Nevada. The company now has geophysics and other work planned for a busy new year.

Satellite imagery helps Belmont Resources home in on Nevada lithium targets

The satellite info shows hydrothermal indicator minerals over about one square kilometre of the 2,760-hectare property, CEO/president Vojtech Agyagos stated. “This area hosted the highest lithium surface samples as well and is the site of our proposed third drill hole. Our 2017 drill program discovered both water (fresh) and up to 200 ppm lithium in the core in the eastern side of the property about two kilometres from these thermal alterations.”

Drill results released last June showed clay-rich core samples grading between 70 ppm and 200 ppm lithium, “with 13 of 25 core samples assaying over 100 ppm lithium, indicating that the sediments could be a potential source of lithium for the underlying aquifers,” Belmont announced at the time.

Agyagos added that the satellite-revealed geothermal alteration “sits above the deepest gravity-indicated area from Belmont’s 2016 Wright geophysical ground gravity survey.”

Results from that survey suggest a basin model about 4,000 metres deep with similarities to Clayton Valley, host to Albemarle Corp’s (NYSE:ALB) Silver Peak lithium mine.

Belmont’s next plans call for a number of surveys including magnetotelluric, vertical electrical sounding, geothermal probe, electromagnetic resistivity and possibly seismic to help identify lithium brine drill targets. The company expects to finish EM work in early January.

Along with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT, Belmont holds a 50/50 stake in two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties, Crackingstone and Orbit Lake, for which the companies seek JV partners.

In New Brunswick last month, Belmont acquired the Mid Corner-Johnson Croft zinc-copper property, which shows promising historic sampling results but has yet to undergo modern geophysics.

Last week the company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $312,200.

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

Double discovery

November 18th, 2017

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

by Greg Klein

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

The Southern High Plains of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma
might someday boost U.S. domestic uranium supply.
(Photo: Public domain)


The dream of discovery must motivate many a geologist. Through skill, effort and luck they hope to eventually find something precious, useful or otherwise valuable—something well known yet found in a previously unknown location. But a group of geo-boffins from the U.S. Geological Survey not only identified a type of uranium deposit previously unknown to their country, they discovered a new mineral.

It’s finchite, “a new uranium mineral species,” as a press release described it last week. The discovery actually dates to 2015, says Brad Van Gosen, the USGS scientist who did the discovering.

While surveying a Texas cotton ranch Van Gosen collected samples of what he and his colleagues thought was carnotite, “a pretty common yellow, near-surface uranium mineral.” Back in the lab, he put it under a scanning electron microscope, which kept showing strontium with the uranium and vanadium, he recalls. To a geologist, it was unusual—very unusual. A eureka moment was looming.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

First to recognize the new mineral finchite, USGS scientist
Brad Van Gosen examines rock layers in Texas.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

“We looked it up and there’d been no strontium-uranium mineral ever reported before. So [team leader Susan Hall] worked with a crystallography/mineralogy lab that specializes in micro-analysis up at Notre Dame and they concluded, ‘By gosh you’re right.’” Further study continued before sending the evidence to the International Mineralogical Association. “They’re the high council and they blessed it as a new mineral.” Finchite’s moniker honours the late Warren Finch, a USGS uranium expert.

Another major finding was that the uranium was hosted in calcrete rock formations, a style of deposit known elsewhere but reported for the first time in the U.S.

Some previously secret info led to the twin epiphanies. Hall, as leader of a project that’s reassessing national uranium resources, gained privy to some unpublished 1970s and ’80s data from the former Kerr-McGee company. Included were estimates for two deposits, Sulphur Springs Draw and Buffalo Draw, with marginal grades of 0.04% and 0.05% U3O8 respectively. Together they held an estimated 2.6 million pounds U3O8.

(Of course data from historic sources and the U.S. government agency falls outside the framework of NI 43-101 regulations.)

The newly transpired, near-surface deposits led Hall and her group to the Southern High Plains spanning parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. It was there that they recognized calcrete, its first known manifestation in the U.S.

The USGS reports new American uranium potential and a new uranium “species”

Surface showings of yellow finchite might have previously
been mistaken for sulphur, says Van Gosen.
(Photo: Susan Hall/USGS, public domain)

The stuff’s associated with uranium in other countries. Among major calcrete-style deposits listed by the World Nuclear Association are Yeelirrie in Western Australia, along with Trekkopje and Langer Heinrich in Namibia. Yeelirrie is a potential open pit held by a Cameco Corp TSX:CCO subsidiary and averaging 0.16% U3O8. Trekkopje, a potential open pit majority-held by AREVA Resources, averages 0.01%. Langer Heinrich, an open pit mine operated on behalf of Paladin Energy, the majority owner now under administrative control, averages 0.052%.

According to the USGS, grades for potential Southern High Plains deposits range from 0.012% to 0.067%, with a median 0.034% U3O8. Gross tonnage estimates range from 200,000 to 52 million tonnes, with a median 8.4 million tonnes. Together, the region’s calcrete-style potential comes to 39.9 million pounds U3O8.

But that’s a regional assessment, not a resource estimate, reflecting how USGS methodology contrasts with that of exploration companies. The agency uses a three-part approach, explains Mark Mihalasky, who co-ordinated the assessment. The procedure first delineates areas that would allow the occurrence of a particular kind of deposit. Using additional geoscientific evidence, the agency estimates how many deposits might be awaiting discovery. How much those potential deposits hold can be estimated through comparisons with similar known deposits around the world.

Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things…. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.—Mark Mihalasky

“Mineral assessment and mineral exploration are two different things,” Mihalasky emphasizes. “The purpose of our assessment is to help land planners, decision-makers and people in the region get an idea of what could be there, based upon probability. It’s not a ‘drill here’ assessment.

“This whole region is a relatively newly recognized area of potential and while we’re not saying this is a new uranium province we are saying there’s something here that hasn’t been found before in the United States and this might be worth looking into in greater detail if you’re an exploration company.”

Already one company from Australia has been asking “lots of questions,” says Van Gosen. Although most uranium mining in the American west uses in-situ recovery, the shallow depth and soft host rock of the Southern High Plains could present open pit opportunities “assuming uranium prices and other factors are favourable.”

Any positive price assumption will have to wait, however. One week earlier Cameco announced the impending suspension of its high-grade McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. The company said that long-term contracts had shielded it from uranium’s post-Fukushima plunge of over 70%, but those contracts are now expiring. Cameco had previously suspended its Rabbit Lake mine and reduced production at its American operations.

But while production faces cutbacks, controversy over American dependence on foreign uranium flared up again last month with renewed questions about the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. The formerly TSX-listed Uranium One holds American resources that could potentially produce up to 1,400 tonnes of uranium annually, according to the WNA. But last year the company’s sole U.S. operation, the Willow Creek ISR mine, produced just 23 tonnes of the country’s total output of 1,126 tonnes.

As the world’s largest consumer of uranium for energy, the U.S. relies on nukes for about 19% of the country’s electricity, according to USGS numbers. Only 11% of last year’s uranium purchases came from domestic sources.

Update: The full USGS report is now available here.

USGS reports new domestic uranium potential and new uranium “species”

November 14th, 2017

This story has been expanded and moved here.