Thursday 19th January 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘uranium’

A 2016 retrospect

December 20th, 2016

Was it the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

by Greg Klein

Some say optimism was evident early in the year, as the trade shows and investor conferences began. Certainly as 2016 progressed, so did much of the market. Commodities, some of them anyway, picked up. In a lot of cases, so did valuations. The crystal ball of the industry’s predictionariat often seemed to shine a rosier tint. It must have been the first time in years that people actually stopped saying, “I think we’ve hit bottom.”

But it would have been a full-out bull market if every commodity emulated lithium.

By February Benchmark Mineral Intelligence reported the chemical’s greatest-ever price jump as both hydroxide and carbonate surpassed $10,000 a tonne, a 47% increase for the latter’s 2015 average. The Macquarie Group later cautioned that the Big Four of Albermarle NYSE:ALB, FMC Corp NYSE:FMC, SQM NYSE:SQM and Talison Lithium had been mining significantly below capacity and would ramp up production to protect market share.

Was this the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

That they did, as new supply was about to come online from sources like Galaxy Resources’ Mount Cattlin mine in Western Australia, which began commissioning in November. The following month Orocobre TSX:ORL announced plans to double output from its Salar de Olaroz project in Argentina. Even Bolivia sent a token 9.3 tonnes to China, suggesting the mining world’s outlaw finally intends to develop its lithium deposits, estimated to be the world’s largest at 22% of global potential.

Disagreeing with naysayers like Macquarie and tracking at least 12 Li-ion megafactories being planned, built or expanded to gigawatt-hour capacity by 2020, Benchmark in December predicted further price increases for 2017.

Obviously there was no keeping the juniors out of this. Whether or not it’s a bubble destined to burst, explorers snapped up prospects, issuing news releases at an almost frantic flow that peaked in mid-summer. Acquisitions and early-stage activity often focused on the western U.S., South America’s Lithium Triangle and several Canadian locations too.

In Quebec’s James Bay region, Whabouchi was subject of a feasibility update released in April. Calling the development project “one of the richest spodumene hard rock lithium deposits in the world, both in volume and grade,” Nemaska Lithium TSX:NMX plans to ship samples from its mine and plant in Q2 2017.

A much more despairing topic was cobalt, considered by some observers to be the energy metal to watch. At press time instability menaced the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces an estimated 60% of global output. Far overshadowing supply-side concerns, however, was the threat of a humanitarian crisis triggered by president Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate on December 20.

Was this the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

But the overall buoyant market mood had a practical basis in base metals, led by zinc. In June prices bounced back from the six-year lows of late last year to become “by far the best-performing LME metal,” according to Reuters. Two months later a UBS spokesperson told the news agency refiners were becoming “panicky.”

Mine closures in the face of increasing demand for galvanized steel and, later in the year, post-U.S. election expectations of massive infrastructure programs, pushed prices 80% above the previous year. They then fell closer to 70%, but remained well within levels unprecedented over the last five years. By mid-December one steelmaker told the Wall Street Journal to expect “a demand explosion.”

Lead lagged, but just for the first half of 2016. Spot prices had sunk to about 74 cents a pound in early June, when the H2 ascension began. Reaching an early December peak of about $1.08, the highest since 2013, the metal then slipped beneath the dollar mark.

Copper lay at or near five-year lows until November, when a Trump-credited surge sent the red metal over 60% higher, to about $2.54 a pound. Some industry observers doubted it would last. But columnist Andy Home dated the rally to October, when the Donald was expected to lose. Home attributed copper’s rise to automated trading: “Think the copper market equivalent of Skynet, the artificial intelligence network that takes over the world in the Terminator films.” While other markets have experienced the same phenomenon, he maintained, it’s probably the first, but not the last time for a base metal.

Was this the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

Nickel’s spot price started the year around a piddling $3.70 a pound. But by early December it rose to nearly $5.25. That still compared poorly with 2014 levels well above $9 and almost $10 in 2011. Nickel’s year was characterized by Indonesia’s ban on exports of unprocessed metals and widespread mine suspensions in the Philippines, up to then the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore.

More controversial for other reasons, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte began ordering suspensions shortly after his June election. His environmental secretary Regina Lopez then exhorted miners to surpass the world’s highest environmental standards, “better than Canada, better than Australia. We must be better and I know it can be done.”

Uranium continued to present humanity with a dual benefit—a carbon-free fuel for emerging middle classes and a cautionary example for those who would predict the future. Still oblivious to optimistic forecasts, the recalcitrant metal scraped a post-Fukushima low of $18 in December before creeping to $20.25 on the 19th. The stuff fetched around $72 a pound just before the 2011 tsunami and hit $136 in 2007.

With maiden resource complete, Kennady Diamonds sees PEA late next year

December 14th, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 14, 2016

It’s “quite possibly a record timeframe in the history of Canadian diamond exploration,” according to Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI president/CEO Rory Moore. One of several small dykes discovered by the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV JV in 2000, the Kelvin kimberlite wasn’t drilled until 2012. By that time Mountain Province, preoccupied with the adjacent Gahcho Kué, had created Kennady to investigate the neighbouring turf. On December 12 the spinout released Kelvin’s resource, the first such estimate for the 71,000-hectare Kennady North property.

With maiden resource complete, Kennady Diamonds sees PEA late next year

Kennady has a busy year ahead, with plans for resource
estimates on two additional kimberlites prior to PEA.

Using a one-millimetre bottom cutoff, the all-indicated resource shows 8.5 million tonnes averaging 1.6 carats per tonne for 13.62 million carats of diamonds. Average value comes to $63 per carat.

The deposit extends to a depth of 510 metres, with about 85% within a potential open pit to 330 metres’ depth and the rest a possible underground mine.

It’s been a productive four years and five months since Kennady first put rigs to work. The resource considered 175 holes totalling 40,041 metres, microdiamond samples totalling 20.23 tonnes. a mini-bulk sample of 44.8 tonnes and two more bulk samples totalling 1,067 tonnes. The bulk samples gave up 2,262 carats for valuation.

Announced last month, Antwerp’s verdict—actually two separate valuations that arrived at the same amount—came to an average $52 per carat. But Kennady emphasized the lopsided values of bigger diamonds, including a 2.84-carat stone valued at $2,640 per carat.

Moore pointed to a “similar trend” at Gahcho Kué, five kilometres away. “The five highest-value Kelvin diamonds represent 1% of the sample weight but 20% of the total value. This trend is a key determinant of overall value.”

A PEA’s now scheduled for late 2017 and would incorporate resource estimates to come from the Faraday 2 and 3 kimberlites, which will undergo bulk sampling this winter. Kennady also plans geophysics over 4,233 hectares acquired in August just south of Gahcho Kué. The company will consider exploration drilling following the bulk samples.

Earlier this month Kennady, along with Athabasca Basin uranium standout NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, shared the 2016 Exploration Company of the Year award at Mines and Money London.

ALX Uranium president/CEO Mark Lackey explains his decision to join the company

November 22nd, 2016

…Read more

Denison Mines VP of exploration Dale Verran discusses the Hook-Carter project, held 80%/20% with ALX Uranium

November 9th, 2016

…Read more

An expert view

October 27th, 2016

ALX Uranium’s new CEO Mark Lackey discusses the commodity and the company

by Greg Klein

Thirty-six years in key positions give Mark Lackey a well-rounded perspective on the uranium sector. Added to that is an investor’s outlook gained by experience in the brokerage industry. A prolific media commentator—with over 300 TV appearances—he’s frequently asked to discuss commodities, often focusing on uranium trends and uranium companies. Lackey spoke with ResourceClips.com on October 26, the day he joined ALX Uranium TSXV:AL as president/CEO/director.

Industry expert Mark Lackey takes the helm at ALX Uranium

Mark Lackey brings extensive
expertise to ALX Uranium.

Lackey has served as Bank of Canada economist responsible for U.S. economic forecasting and senior commodities manager at the Bank of Montreal. Stints with Gulf Canada, a uranium producer like many other oil companies of the time, and Ontario Hydro, a major uranium consumer, enhanced his supply/demand insight.

That uranium career includes his 16 years in the brokerage industry, serving with Brawley Cathers, Blackmont Capital, Hampton Securities and Pope & Company. More recently he’s been executive VP at CHF Investor Relations and technical adviser at Presmont Group.

To those who watch uranium, its underachieving price hasn’t just been an ongoing disappointment. It’s a source of frustration to those who’ve made bullish forecasts. Lackey has been less surprised than others, however.

“I spoke at a conference last year and might have been the only one who thought uranium was actually going to go down this year,” he recalls. “It did go down, but way more than I thought, which was about $29 or $28. I thought everybody else was too optimistic about Japan restarting all the units and we’ve seen excess supply coming out of places like Kazakhstan. So the weakness this year didn’t surprise me.”

History gives him a sense of perspective, not to mention optimism. “I’ve seen this from $8 in the late ’90s to $136 in 2007. It fell during the 2008 recession, then came back nicely to $72 in 2011, the day Fukushima was hit. So we’ve had some big moves both ways over the years but now we’re down to a price that’s not sustainable. How many new mines would you get at these prices? I can’t think of too many unless you find something huge in the Basin, because high-volume, low-grade projects in many other places have people looking for $50 to $60—not $21.”

ALX Uranium’s new CEO Mark Lackey discusses the commodity and the company

He sees a number of price catalysts over the next few years: increased buying from utilities, a possible reduction in Kazakhstan supply, Japanese restarts and nuclear expansion elsewhere.

Kazakhstan provided 39% of world supply last year (compared with Canada’s 22%). But Lackey wonders whether low prices will force the global leader to cut output. Kazakhstan has been disregarding a 2011 self-imposed production cap of 20,000 tonnes per year, the World Nuclear Association states. WNA data attributes last year’s output to 23,800 tonnes.

As for Japan, it “will have to do something ultimately,” Lackey maintains. “There are 51 of the 54 reactors idled, that’s six or seven billion dollars a plant, roughly three or four hundred billion dollars of infrastructure. Thirty of the units have been tested positively. There are political concerns and the closer you are to Fukushima the more difficult it would be to restart them, but southern Japan doesn’t seem to have the same anti-nuclear view. Japan’s burning a lot of coal, they’re burning LNG and I hear from my sources that there are brownouts and blackouts. You can’t have that in an industrial country.”

Japan’s restarts would have a symbolic effect. But it is, after all, just one country. “There are about 60 plants under construction around the world right now, and more and more of them are coming into play,” Lackey points out.

“It’s cleaner than most baseload sources and relatively cheap. The planet has 1.2 billion people with no power and another two billion with just intermittent power.”

As someone who’s been watching uranium companies for 36 years, I’ve seen it’s the team you have, the projects you have and the jurisdiction you’re in.—Mark Lackey,
president/CEO of ALX Uranium

Although near-term price scenarios can certainly influence investors, there are other priorities in assessing junior explorers. “As someone who’s been watching uranium companies for 36 years, I’ve seen it’s the team you have, the projects you have and the jurisdiction you’re in. My favourite jurisdiction’s been the Athabasca Basin. It’s got the highest grades and Saskatchewan’s a great province to work in.

“I follow the companies in this space and I can see that ALX has a very strong board, management and technical staff,” he adds. “I’m extremely bullish about uranium and extremely excited about working with such an impressive team. It’s a great opportunity and I’m glad to be part of it.”

Lackey replaces Jon Armes, who steps down to pursue other opportunities but stays on as a consultant. During his six years of leadership at ALX and its predecessor Lakeland Resources, Armes helped build one of the Athabasca Basin’s largest and most prospective uranium exploration portfolios. Most recently he negotiated the Hook-Carter transaction that benefits ALX with the budget and experience of Denison Mines TSX:DML.

Pistol Bay Mining plans November drilling on Dixie zinc projects in Ontario

October 26th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 26, 2016

It’s neither the land of cotton nor of traditional jazz, but of zinc with additional metals. And that’s why Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST has a November drill program planned for three of its western Ontario Dixie properties. Totalling about 1,900 hectares, Dixies 17, 18 and 19 host lenses of volcanogenic massive sulphides with zinc, copper, silver and minor gold in the Confederation Lake greenstone belt southeast of Red Lake.

Pistol Bay Mining plans November drilling on Dixie zinc projects in Ontario

All three have historic zinc-copper assays.

A review of previous geophysics will help determine drill targets for the three zones. Additionally, Pistol Bay proposes confirmation holes for Dixie 17 and 18.

Also on October 25, the company announced a private placement of up to $820,000. Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 placement in August.

Earlier this month the company announced a letter of intent to acquire regional properties from AurCrest Gold TSXV:AGO, which would make Pistol Bay the greenstone belt’s largest claimholder. The 5,136-hectare package includes a zinc-copper-silver resource and an historic, non-43-101 estimate.

In Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin, the company has a joint venture with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 uranium property. Having earned 75% of its option so far, Rio intends to acquire the full 100%.

See an infographic: Eleven things every metal investor should know about zinc.

Industry expert Mark Lackey takes the helm at ALX Uranium

October 26th, 2016

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Cigar Lake faces more challenges as wolves stalk and attack employees

October 21st, 2016

…Read more

Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

October 19th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 19, 2016

Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

Pistol Bay’s newest holdings will cover a 31-kilometre length
of the VMS-rich Confederation Lake greenstone belt.

 

A new acquisition would make Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST the biggest claimholder in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. The 5,136-hectare package comprises all the regional claims held by AurCrest Gold TSXV:AGO and includes a zinc-copper-silver resource compiled by AurCrest as well as an historic, non-43-101 estimate. Along with Pistol Bay’s optioned Dixie and Dixie 3 properties, the letter of intent announced October 19 would increase the company’s holdings to 7,050 hectares on the volcanogenic massive sulphide-rich belt.

With three cutoff grades, AurCrest’s resource for the Arrow zone showed:

3% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 2.07 million tonnes averaging 5.92% zinc, 0.75% copper, 21.1 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

  • inferred: 120,550 tonnes averaging 2.6% zinc, 0.56% copper, 18.6 g/t silver and 0.4 g/t gold

5% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 1.76 million tonnes averaging 6.75% zinc, 0.79% copper, 22.3 g/t silver and 0.61 g/t gold

  • inferred: 51,630 tonnes averaging 3.86% zinc, 0.79% copper, 23.9 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

10% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 633,000 tonnes averaging 14.3% zinc, 1.11% copper, 31.7 g/t silver and 0.85 g/t gold
Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

Pistol Bay’s Dixie properties have been
undergoing field work and a review of historic data.

Additionally, the Copperlode A or Fredart zone has an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 425,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper. Exploration in the 1970s produced samples up to 1.46% molybdenum.

The 100% option would cost $25,000 and one million shares on closing and $25,000 90 days later, as well as $50,000 and one million shares on each of the four anniversaries following closing. In addition to regulatory approvals, the transaction needs the consent of Glencore plc, whose rights to the Confederation Lake property include a 2% NSR.

The companies expect to close within a week.

“Pistol Bay proposes an ambitious exploration program that will not only pursue existing targets and known VMS deposits, but will use the latest airborne geophysical survey technologies to explore the whole area to a greater depth than was possible in the past,” said president Charles Desjardins.

Earlier this month the company announced MPH Consulting will review historic geophysical data on Pistol Bay’s Confederation Lake-region Dixie properties, where field work began in September. Historic drilling has found zinc, copper and silver, while the recently optioned Dixie 3 project comes with an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 82,500 tonnes averaging 1% copper and 10% zinc.

The company has a joint venture with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 uranium property in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Having already earned 75% of its option, Rio has stated its intention to acquire the full 100%.

Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 private placement last August.

ALX Uranium welcomes Denison Mines to southwestern Athabasca Basin’s “elephant country”

October 13th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 13, 2016

ALX Uranium TSXV:AL gets 7.5 million shares of Denison Mines TSX:DML, retains a 20% stake in the Hook-Carter project and has its portion of $12 million in spending covered as Denison moves into the southwestern Athabasca Basin. Under a deal announced October 13, Denison becomes project operator, bringing its expertise to the 16,805-hectare property in the Patterson Lake South region.

ALX Uranium welcomes Denison Mines to southwestern Athabasca Basin’s elephant country

“This is elephant country—a large property that has seen very little drilling on a geological trend with a precedent for large and high-grade uranium deposits,” commented Denison VP of exploration Dale Verran.

“The Hook-Carter property is uniquely situated on the Patterson Lake corridor, offering potential for both basement-hosted deposits, similar to Triple R and Arrow, and unconformity-hosted deposits which remain the largest and highest grade in the Athabasca Basin, namely McArthur River and Cigar Lake which are both operating mines. With Athabasca sandstone thicknesses similar to the Wheeler River project, the property plays to our team’s strengths and we are very excited to get started with exploration in 2017.”

So far Hook-Carter has undergone just eight historic holes, five of them on the property’s 15 kilometres of the Patterson Lake conductive corridor, which hosts Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Patterson Lake South, NexGen Energy’s (TSX:NXE) Rook 1 and Hook Lake, a joint venture of Purepoint Uranium TSXV:PTU, Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada. Hook-Carter also features additional potential along significant sections of the Derkson and Carter corridors.

Subject to approvals, Denison’s work requirement calls for $3 million over the first three years. Should the company fail to meet the commitment, ALX’s stake in the property increases from 20% to 25%. Additionally, Denison funds ALX’s portion of the first $12 million in spending. The companies plan a JV three years after closing the agreement.

“Denison has made a number of world class uranium discoveries within the Athabasca Basin and, given their experience, we believe that they will advance the project diligently and methodically,” said ALX president/CEO Jon Armes. “Knowing that Hook-Carter will see considerable exploration efforts over the next 36 months, the company will focus on exploration at its other high-quality exploration projects in and around the shallow margins of the Athabasca Basin, which include Gorilla Lake, Newnham Lake, Gibbon’s Creek and Lazy Edward Bay.”