Friday 10th July 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘utah’

Ares Strategic Mining hires P&E Mining Consultants to design Utah fluorspar operation

July 2nd, 2020

by Greg Klein | July 2, 2020

A company with near-term plans to re-open America’s only source of this critical mineral has taken another step towards production. Ares Strategic Mining TSXV:ARS has contracted P&E Mining Consultants to complete the mine plan for the former Lost Sheep fluorspar operation in Utah. P&E has extensive experience in geological interpretation and modeling, technical report writing, mine design, production scheduling, operating and capital cost estimates, and metallurgical engineering, Ares stated.

Ares Strategic Mining hires P&E Mining Consultants to design Utah fluorspar operation

Reduced to quarry operations in recent years,
Lost Sheep could see new life as an underground mine.

The intention is “not to fulfil PEA requirements, but to provide mining personnel the systems and information to efficiently and directly operate and manage the mining operation,” the company added. Ares hopes to re-open Lost Sheep without the de-risking stages of advanced 43-101 reports.

Should all go to plan, Lost Sheep would be the country’s only producer of this mineral considered critical for its applications in refrigerants, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and lithium-ion batteries, as well as aluminum, steel and cement production.

“After having completed our delineation drilling, Lidar and metallurgical work, the company is now moving to the next stages of development which precede mining and production,” said CEO James Walker. “Once this stage is complete, we will have the methodology, models, mining techniques and plans to best exploit the mine and fluorspar deposits. We are very happy to be making continuous progress towards our goals, and we look forward to returning an industry to the U.S. and being the only fluorspar producer in the country.”

Earlier this month the company closed a private placement of approximately $1.18 million. An earlier private placement that closed in February raised $1.97 million.

Read more about Ares Strategic Mining.

A critical first for the U.S.

June 26th, 2020

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

by Greg Klein | June 26, 2020

The way James Walker tells it, Utah’s Lost Sheep fluorspar mine was down to a part-time operation for just two men. Having seen better days between 1948 and 2007, operations dwindled to the point that “a couple of old guys were just driving a loader straight into the face of the fluorspar and putting that into bags. The grade was so rich that was all they had to do. So they just did that a couple of days a week and then they’d go off and fish most of the time.”

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

VP of exploration Raul Sanabria at
one of the project’s fluorspar showings.

Sounds idyllic, but the president/CEO of Ares Strategic Mining TSXV:ARS saw far greater potential. Walker was looking for a project “that was close to cash-flow and didn’t need a huge investment like $20 million to boost production,” he relates. “We looked over a couple of hundred projects and this one came up. It had been overlooked because the mineral itself wasn’t very well known. It was the only mine in all of America that was permitted and producing fluorspar.”

A year of effort consummated in February with Ares’ 100% acquisition which, along with additionally staked claims, delivered a 586-hectare potentially near-term producer that would comprise an American mining monopoly.

That’s based on a bold plan to move forward without the usual 43-101 de-risking stages. Walker attributes his confidence partly to the project and partly to the market.

As he said, fluorspar isn’t well known. But it’s highly coveted nonetheless. Also known as fluorite and more technically referred to as calcium fluoride (CaF2), it’s considered a critical mineral by the U.S. and EU.

Acidspar, the higher-priced fluorspar grading over 97% CaF2, is used to create hydrofluoric acid for refrigerants, pharmaceuticals and electronics, among other applications, and is also used in lithium-ion batteries and aluminum production. Lower-priced metspar, grading under 97%, goes into steel and cement production.

China produced over 57% of world fluorspar supply last year, according to U.S. Geological Survey data, followed by Mexico at 17%. With no significant production of its own, the U.S. has been importing about 66% of supply from Mexico, 13% from Vietnam, 8% from South Africa and 6% from China. Several of the world’s mines have been operating at or near full capacity, the USGS added. Roskill considers China likely to become a net fluorspar importer.

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

Assays are pending from last spring’s
delineation and exploration drill campaigns.

Ares’ work so far has Walker enthusiastic.

Although assays are still to come, last spring the company sunk 12 holes totalling 900 metres to delineate the old guys’ target area. Another five-hole, 300-metre exploration program revealed visible fluorspar in three holes. Metallurgical tests, meanwhile, upgraded Lost Sheep material beyond 97% CaF2, into the higher-priced acidspar level. That highlights the potential for bulk mining instead of selective extraction, Walker says.

He foresees possible production by October or even September with an initial 15- to 20-person operation. The mine plan calls for an adit to intersect a fluorspar-bearing pipe which would be drilled and blasted from the bottom. An underground loader or conveyor belt would move material to a truck which would carry it to the company’s own crushing, grinding, flotation and bagging facility.

“We also have a stockpile of discarded low-grade just sitting there. The other guys couldn’t sell it, they didn’t have a refining process.”

An impressive vote of confidence quickly came from the Mujim Group, a multinational fluorspar mining and distribution company. Soon after Ares announced the Lost Sheep acquisition, Mujim engineers visited the property. A strategic partnership resulted, with the group buying a 9% stake in Ares. Mujim managing director Bob Li joined Ares’ board earlier this month, bringing with him experience running fluorspar mines in Thailand and Laos, along with fluorspar trading companies in India, China and the Emirates. He’ll advise Ares on topics ranging from equipment selection and mining methods to processing techniques.

Walker himself is an engineer, not a common background for a junior mining CEO but especially suitable for a near-term producer. He’s worked on design projects for nuclear reactors, submarines, chemical plants, factories, infrastructure and automotive machinery, as well as mine processing facilities.

In charge of the Lost Sheep mine plan is Keith Minty, a mining engineer with 26 years of project development and operation experience over three continents. “He’s helped put nine mines into production that are way bigger than ours,” enthuses Walker.

Ares Strategic Mining has near-term plans for the country’s only fluorspar operation

CEO James Walker foresees operations
by September or October.

VP of exploration Raul Sanabria’s 20-year background includes five years with the Minersa Group, an industrial minerals company that’s Europe’s largest fluorspar producer. Denise Nunes brings over 20 years of experience as a process engineer and metallurgist to manage Ares’ bench testing and design a processing facility.

“We’re quite well-connected in the mining world so we have access to the best personnel for this project,” Walker emphasizes.

He points to financial backing too. Sprott Capital Partners helped broker a private placement that closed on $1.97 million in February. Haywood Securities acted as financial adviser on an over-subscribed private placement that closed on $1.13 million earlier this month. Walker anticipates a debt financing with Sprott on completing the mine plan.

In northern British Columbia, meanwhile, the company acquired the Liard fluorspar project last April. The highway-accessible 476-hectare property comes with historic, non-43-101 resources for seven areas. A joint venture, possibly with Mujim, might be the vehicle to drive the project, Walker says.

Other acquisitions are possible too, especially in the U.S., he adds. Should all go to plan with Lost Sheep, Ares would hold an American mining monopoly on fluorspar. That’s a distinction Walker would like to maintain.

Watch a January interview with Roskill analyst Adam Coggins on fluorspar demand and prices.

Voltaic Minerals looks to waste water for lithium, continues selective extraction collaboration

September 21st, 2017

by Greg Klein | September 21, 2017

As the world searches for new supplies of energy minerals, waste water could provide another source for lithium. With that in mind, Voltaic Minerals TSXV:VLT has engaged Whittier Filtration, a division of Veolia Water Technologies, to conduct bench scale tests on samples that Voltaic has collected from industrial sites.

Voltaic Minerals looks to waste water for lithium, continues selective extraction collaboration

Calling it “a natural step in the progression of the company,” Voltaic president/CEO Darryl Jones said the program’s goal is to provide “additional solutions in the lithium brine production space for use at multiple locations worldwide. Veolia has the resources to develop the solutions for Voltaic, as well as to implement, operate and manage world class water treatment facilities.”

Veolia credits itself with over 350 types of technology used internationally, including online diagnostics, evaporation and crystallization, energy-producing sludge treatment, state-of-the-art desalination, laboratory-grade water and mobile water services.

Meanwhile Voltaic continues its collaboration with Lithium Selective Technologies, whose California lab works towards a selective extraction process that could be used for non-conventional lithium brines from Voltaic’s Green Energy project in Utah, as well as projects held by other companies.

In July the company closed the sale of its Stonewall lithium project in Nevada through an all-share deal with Macarthur Minerals TSXV:MMS.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Voltaic Minerals president/CEO Darryl Jones.

Darryl Jones of Voltaic Minerals discusses the Green Energy lithium brine project in Utah

September 15th, 2017

…Read more

Green energy in Utah

August 18th, 2017

Darryl Jones sees distinctive advantages to Voltaic Minerals’ lithium brine project

by Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel: I would like to introduce the president and CEO of Voltaic Minerals [TSXV:VLT], Darryl Jones. Hello Darryl, it is a pleasure to talk to you again. How are you?

Darryl: I am good, thanks for asking and having me.

Isabel: To get started, could you tell us a bit about your background?

Darryl: I started in investor relations, working for a multitude of junior mining companies. From there I worked my way in with my father, who was a stockbroker. He was in the business for about 28 years. I worked with him for five or six years at Raymond James and moved from there to PI. I was a broker for 12 years. I then moved on to work with an ex-client where I joined the board of Strikepoint Gold [TSXV:SKP] and from there I made my way to Zimtu Capital [TSXV:ZC]. And here we are, almost two years later.

Isabel: Your company is lithium-focused, but not hard rock deposits and not like the classic salars in South America. Where is your project? And what makes it special?

Darryl: We are in Utah roughly 20 kilometres west of a town called Moab. It is a brine project but it is a non-conventional brine. The Green Energy brine project is hosted in what are called clastic units of the Paradox Basin. It is about 6,000 feet [1,830 metres] deep in an old layered bed-type formation. Effectively it is a buried salar, like the South American salars, except much deeper and under immense pressure and very saturated from what we understand. I guess the three things that make it very interesting are that it is super-saturated with a full spectrum of minerals, it is under immense pressure which is phenomenal because we believe it should just flow out of the ground, and being subjected to tremendous pressure leads to a higher temperature as well. Temperature, pressure and saturation are all key factors for a brine project of this nature.

Isabel: What are your highlights on the project so far?

Darryl Jones sees distinctive advantages to Voltaic Minerals’ lithium brine project

Darryl: It is a historic project, where most of the work was done through oil and gas exploration in the ’60s, ’70s, all the way up to current date. We have been compiling existing well logs, existing data and working with some private well owners and oil and gas groups to get a better understanding of the zone we are working in. We have seen multiple wells out of this formation show significant brine flow. We understand that this horizon has the capability to be a very large resource. From that we expect to test it through an existing well. We are working towards our 5,000-gallon sample which will give us a very strong indication of size, I guess you could say, of the potential resource.

Isabel: When will you know that?

Darryl: We are working with a well owner right now to try to get access as soon as possible. We have got two paths going. We have got the project that we really want to get into, then we are also working on developing a process that will help us unlock the super-saturated brine. The closer we get to strong data that gives us the ability to say unlock the brine will push us to that decision to execute to get into the system. We are hoping this year.

Isabel: What are the plans for the rest of the year?

Darryl: In the next couple of weeks, we will have an agreement in place to re-enter that well and alongside that in the next couple of weeks we are hoping to have some really strong process results to show that we can economically extract what we need from it.

Isabel: Do you have already an idea when you could be producing lithium?

We have always had an aggressive timeline. We believe if we have access to this brine, we could then be six to nine months away from producing some small-scale samples, [provided] that we would have the process that can extract lithium from it.—Darryl Jones

Darryl: We have always had an aggressive timeline. We believe if we have access to this brine, we could then be six to nine months away from producing some small-scale samples, [provided] that we would have the process that can extract lithium from it. First, we want to get this initial set of results back in order to really direct the way we want to go with the sampling. In my opinion, we now have all the pieces in place to support our development timeline, once we get some initial feedback on the process and have access to the brine. That nine-months horizon is real.

Isabel: What makes it so difficult to access those wells?

Darryl: Most of the wellheads are either plugged and abandoned or they are owned and operating for oil and gas operations.

Isabel: Oh, so they are still producing oil and gas there?

Darryl: Yes, there is still a lot of oil production in Utah. Accessing a plugged and abandoned well is difficult on the environmental side. It is basically like drilling your own new well, which can be costly and you don’t know what you are going to get when you are re-entering an existing abandoned well. The other avenue would be re-entering a producing well, which is difficult because you might have to tell the oil and gas company to shut their production so that you can test for lithium. It is a matter of building relationships and being able to go down there to show what the potential value could be. I think we have done that. We have the right team and the right people in place so that we could have that within the next week.

Isabel: Talking about cost effectiveness—the price of lithium has been increasing over the past few years, right now about $9,000 per metric tonne. Do you have any idea presently for what price you will be able to produce lithium?

Darryl: From the start our goal was to work always towards a lowest production cost as possible. Most of the major lithium producers in South America are between $3,000 and $4,000 a ton, which is a great number. We are hoping to match those production costs. We enjoy some great efficiencies operating in Utah, which has very good infrastructure.

So that is where we would like to be, anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 a ton. I think that will make us a very competitive player in the lithium space.

Isabel: What do you think is and will be the key to this new, ongoing demand for lithium for a junior exploration company like Voltaic Minerals?

Grade is usually one of the first things that people will look at. Something that is also important is the speed to market. The faster you can get to market, the more attention you are going to have. —Darryl Jones

Darryl: You want to have a project that has first and foremost the right grade. Grade is usually one of the first things that people will look at. Something that is also important is the speed to market. The faster you can get to market, the more attention you are going to have. In our opinion no one has broken anything open in North America. We believe the window is still open there for somebody to come up with a profitable solution. I think that is going to be the biggest thing. Anyone that comes to market quickly will have a lot of eyes on them and garner lots of attention.

Isabel: You are right and there is almost no lithium being produced in the U.S. right now.

Darryl: No there isn’t!

Isabel: You may have heard about the big Volkswagen diesel scandal. There is a huge discussion going on about the future of diesel technology, and that switching to electric cars is the solution for all our climate problems. But we tend to forget that many lithium projects would have an adverse impact to our planet as well.

In that respect, isn’t your project, with brine situated at a considerable depth and which comes to the surface under its own pressure, the best-case scenario?

Darryl: Yes, environmentally speaking it is great. We are searching for a straight brine zone, which would give us the opportunity to just effectively strip the lithium out, not change anything else associated with the water, not having any hydrocarbons and effectively put the water back into the ground. That would be the ultimate scenario. We feel we could be a very green company or have a green process which doesn’t hurt anything and greatly benefits this revolutionary battery market.

Isabel: How much of Voltaic Minerals does the management hold?

Darryl: About 15%.

Isabel: How much cash do you have right now?

Darryl: About $500,000.

Isabel: It was a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for the insights.

Darryl: The same. Good talking to you Isabel. Thank you.

 

Darryl Jones sees distinctive advantages to Voltaic Minerals’ lithium brine project

Darryl Jones, president/CEO
of Voltaic Minerals

Bio

Mr. Jones was an investment adviser with PI Financial Corp Canada and Raymond James Ltd Canada and has 15-plus years of capital market experience and an established financial network. He was responsible for raising significant risk capital for growth companies in all sectors, with a particular focus on natural resources. He also serves as director of Strikepoint Gold Corp.

Fun facts

My hobbies: Snowboarding, playing hockey, golf, spending time with my two-year-old daughter
My favourite tradeshow: Mines and Money shows, PDAC
My favourite commodity: Lithium and gold
With this person I would like to have dinner: Timothy Ferriss
If I could have a superpower, it would be: Reading people’s minds
My role model: My father

Read more about Voltaic Minerals.

Equitorial Exploration to drill for NWT lithium

June 28th, 2017

by Greg Klein | June 28, 2017

The rig returns to a Northwest Territories hardrock lithium project for the first time in a decade as Equitorial Exploration TSXV:EXX heads to the field in July. About 30 kilometres from the former Cantung tungsten mine in the territory’s southwest, the Little Nahanni Pegmatite Group project will also undergo mapping, channel sampling and resampling of drill core from 2007 when two holes struck intervals of 1.2% Li2O over 10.94 metres and 0.92% over 18.27 metres.

Equitorial Exploration to drill for NWT lithium

Red paint marks a channel sample
interval from last year’s field work at LNPG.

Summer drilling will test the vertical extent of lithium-cesium-tantalum-type pegmatite dyke swarms now identified at about 300 metres in depth and 13 kilometres in strike. The dykes are well exposed on cirque walls of the mountainous terrain, the company stated.

Channel sampling last year brought assays up to 1.13% Li2O, 71.1 g/t Ta2O5 and 0.03% SnO2 over 10.35 metres. That included a sub-interval of 1.86% Li2O, 116.7 g/t Ta2O5 and 0.05% SnO2 over 6.3 metres.

Three specimen samples released in October brought results up to 2.85% Li2O, 28.1 g/t Ta2O5 and 0.05% SnO2.

Equitorial filed a 43-101 technical report on the LNPG project in March.

In Utah last May, the company staked another 1,092 hectares, expanding its Tule Valley lithium project to about 2,792 hectares. That gives Equitorial the entire Tule Valley Basin, which the company describes as a closed basin which could be similar to Nevada’s Clayton Valley. Equitorial also sees Clayton Valley similarities in the company’s Gerlach property in Nevada.

Voltaic Minerals encouraged by lithium brine extraction tests

June 15th, 2017

by Greg Klein | June 15, 2017

The goal of quicker, cheaper lithium extraction came closer as Voltaic Minerals TSXV:VLT announced progress on a new technique to separate the battery mineral from brines. Conducted by Lithium Selective Technologies at its northern California facility, initial tests produced significant enhancement of lithium concentration and lithium-calcium ratios, LiST stated. The company’s staff have over 85 combined years of related experience.

Voltaic Minerals encouraged by lithium brine extraction tests

Lithium occurs with other minerals in an over-
saturated brine at Voltaic’s Green Energy project in Utah.

Their tests apply techniques already used commercially in mineral extraction and water treatment but new to lithium production. The techniques were adapted to an artificial brine based on historic fluid analysis from Voltaic’s Green Energy project in Utah.

Historic data from oil and gas exploration shows lithium-bearing brine originating from clastic units on the 1,683-hectare property, where the company hopes to begin sampling this summer.

“We are extremely optimistic that increased selectivity performance and concentration enhancement can be expected as optimization testing proceeds,” said William Bourcier of LiST.

As research continues, the two companies have extended their exclusivity agreement while a definitive agreement could follow further tests. Meanwhile the initial results will undergo third-party verification. The final outcome could be marketed to other lithium brine projects.

“If successful, this process could create value from known resources in the U.S. and globally,” added Voltaic project manager and 35-year chemical engineer Tom Currin.

Read more about Voltaic Minerals and the selective extraction project.

Equitorial Exploration expands Utah lithium claims

May 24th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 24, 2017

Pleased with geophysical results from its Tule Valley lithium project in Utah, Equitorial Exploration TSXV:EXX has increased its holdings to take in the entire Tule Valley Basin. A ground gravity survey shows “the Tule Valley fill has a depth of over 500 metres in the western portion of the property” and “the valley fill deepens further than 500 metres heading east from the current claim blocks,” Equitorial stated.

Equitorial Exploration expands Utah lithium claims

As a closed basin, Tule Valley might
host an extremely mineralized brine.

As a result the company staked another 1,092 hectares, expanding the property to about 2,792 hectares. Equitorial plans to drill the property this season.

The company also has discussions underway with other parties to assess methods of extracting metals from water.

Equitorial characterizes the Tule Valley as a closed basin in which surface water and groundwater flowing into the basin have no escape route. Surface evaporation leaves minerals dissolved in brines and evaporation pools. In that respect Tule Valley might be similar to Nevada’s Clayton Valley, the company added.

The road-accessible property sits about 190 kilometres from Salt Lake City.

Equitorial’s two other lithium projects include the Gerlach property in Nevada, which the company describes as an under-explored closed basin “in an area structurally comparable to that of Clayton Valley.” In the Northwest Territories, the company holds the Little Nahanni Pegmatite Group property, for which Equitorial filed a 43-101 technical report last March.

Voltaic Minerals project manager Tom Currin comments on selective extraction tests for the company’s Green Energy lithium brine project in Utah

May 19th, 2017

…Read more

Lab work evaluates Voltaic Minerals’ potential for domestic U.S. lithium

April 11th, 2017

by Greg Klein | April 11, 2017

A California lab now has lithium extraction tests underway that could prove productive for Voltaic Minerals’ (TSXV:VLT) Green Energy property in Utah, as well as other lithium brine projects. Lithium Selective Technologies has begun work on an artificial brine similar to that determined by historic fluid analysis at Green Energy. With a team comprising 85 years of related experience, LiST endeavours to find a selection process for non-conventional brines.

Lab work evaluates Voltaic Minerals’ potential for domestic U.S. lithium

Selective extraction could open Utah’s potential
for unconventional sources of lithium brine.

The result could open lithium brine potential closer to Tesla’s Gigafactories, without relying on the huge evaporation ponds and exceedingly dry climate that characterize South American deposits.

“If successful, this process could create value from known resources in the U.S. and globally,” said Tom Currin. A 35-year chemical engineer, the Voltaic project manager and LiST principal has extensive experience in lithium projects and selective extraction. “The company is incorporating selective techniques used commercially in mineral extraction and water treatment in a novel fashion to achieve a result not yet seen in the lithium process sector.”

Phase I would take about 90 days and should provide enough data for the two companies to sign a definitive agreement to further develop and market the process.

Last week Voltaic announced an agreement with Stormcrow Capital to provide strategic, technical and business support. Led by Jon Hykawy, a physicist with an MBA in marketing who’s a recognized expert in critical and energy minerals, Stormcrow will introduce Voltaic to potential investors and partners, as well as offer technical analysis regarding selective extraction.

Historic oil and gas exploration data shows lithium-bearing brine originating from clastic units on the 1,683-hectare Green Energy property. Voltaic’s next steps include re-opening the wellheads to conduct sampling, expected to begin in spring or summer.