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Posts tagged ‘Zenyatta Ventures Ltd (ZEN)’

Low-hanging fruit

June 26th, 2015

GTA Resources considers mining near-surface, high-grade Ontario gold

by Greg Klein

For the majors, the really big new gold deposits seem more and more elusive. But GTA Resources and Mining TSXV:GTA thinks it might have found enough low-hanging fruit to make a substantial impact on a small-cap company. Recently optimized high-grade pit shells have GTA examining the possibility of low-cost production at the Northshore project, 125 kilometres west of Hemlo.

GTA Resources considers mining near-surface, high-grade Ontario gold

A program of shallow infill drilling would help determine
the viability of small-scale mining at GTA’s Northshore project.

“We knew we had a high-grade zone within the Afric deposit,” CEO Wayne Reid says of Northshore’s June 2014 resource estimate. “And we wanted to know what could be put in shallow pits as a high-grade resource because it might be very simple to mine this stuff in an open pit with very little stripping and truck it to an existing mill.”

In a joint venture with Balmoral Resources TSX:BAR, GTA has completed a 51% earn-in and acts as operator of the 337-hectare project on the Hemlo-Schreiber Greenstone Belt. Based on 52 holes totalling 11,390 metres, the Afric zone’s resource used a 0.5 gram-per-tonne cutoff to show:

  • indicated: 12.36 million tonnes averaging 0.99 g/t for 391,000 ounces gold

  • inferred: 29.58 million tonnes averaging 0.87 g/t for 824,000 ounces

Intrigued by the high-grade areas close to surface, GTA commissioned an engineering study that detailed two pit shells within the existing resource. In results released this month, two options were provided within each shell, with those for the West area showing:

Pit Pws 28

  • indicated: 56,825 tonnes averaging 2.92 g/t for 5,335 ounces

Pit Pws 31

  • indicated: 100,665 tonnes averaging 2.8 g/t for 9,062 ounces

For the East area, the two options showed:

Pit Pws 28

  • inferred: 62,809 tonnes averaging 2.86 g/t for 5,775 ounces

Pit Pws 31

  • indicated: 91,449 tonnes averaging 2.38 g/t for 6,998 ounces

  • inferred: 287,060 tonnes averaging 2.63 g/t for 24,273 ounces

For both East and West areas, pit 28 totals 5,335 ounces indicated and 5,775 ounces inferred. Pit 31’s total comes to 16,060 ounces indicated and 24,273 ounces inferred. The strip ratio for each pit came to 0.5 and 0.8 respectively.

If a low-cost mining scenario proves possible, such numbers could offer significant opportunity for a company like GTA, Reid says. An affable Newfoundlander who’s been a professional geologist for close to 40 years, he looks back on a career largely focused on Archean gold deposits, mainly in the Timmins camp but also in Red Lake, along with base metals and uranium experience.

Reid spent over 20 years in senior roles with the Noranda/Hemlo group. He’s also served as manager of Canadian exploration for Echo Bay Mines and exploration manager for St. Andrew Goldfields TSX:SAS, in addition to positions with other companies. Reid initially staked and began exploration at Brewery Creek and took part in the team that sunk the first holes in Newfoundland’s Boundary deposit, which became the Duck Pond mine.

Looking at Northshore’s optimized pits, he says, “I think that if our preliminary numbers can be verified you could have a good profit without needing a lot of capital. What we need to do now is put some economic numbers on that and also firm up those ounces.”

To accomplish that, Reid wants to do shallow infill drilling, baseline environmental studies and a mini-bulk sample ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 tonnes, depending on what permitting allows. A four-kilometre road linking to the Trans-Canada Highway would need upgrading. “We’ve already talked to some existing mills within a 150-kilometre radius of the deposit,” Reid says.

With $600,000 now in the till, GTA hopes to raise more money soon through a flow-through share offering which would allow further work to resume around mid-summer.

I think it would take one key person to co-ordinate it. After that, it’s all contracting—the mining, the trucking, the milling.—Wayne Reid, CEO of
GTA Resources and Mining

While the Hemlo-Schreiber Greenstone Belt discovery remains GTA’s flagship, the company’s also active farther east, between Timmins and the Borden Lake deposit acquired by Goldcorp TSX:G earlier this year. Now in the second year of a 100% option on the Ivanhoe project, GTA expanded its claims by 40% over the last year to compile a 13,258-hectare land package. An interpreted extension of the Destor Porcupine fault zone extends across the northern part of the property.

Last year’s prospecting identified four areas of gold mineralization on the Destor Porcupine break and a porphyry trend. Samples graded up to 4.1 g/t and 18.1 g/t. Magnetometer and induced polarization surveys followed, with IP finding several high resistivity and chargeability targets that appear to coincide with the mineralized areas. With additional fieldwork to come, drilling is tentatively planned for late summer or early fall.

In Reid’s home province and near the Duck Pond mine he helped explore, GTA optioned claims earlier this month that comprise part of the Burnt Pond zinc-copper property. “We’re going to do a geophysical program to better identify some VMS or base metals targets and get ready to drill them,” he says. The plan is to take advantage of Newfoundland’s 50% rebate on exploration costs. Surveys could begin in summer or fall.

Back in Ontario but currently on the backburner is GTA’s Auden property, immediately south of Zenyatta Ventures’ (TSXV:ZEN) Albany graphite project.

If all goes well at Northshore, the high-grade, near-surface areas could potentially “make serious money for our market cap,” Reid emphasizes. For the exploration company to go into production, “we would have to get the right people in the right places,” he explains. “I think it would take one key person to co-ordinate it. After that, it’s all contracting—the mining, the trucking, the milling.”

He adds, “Now if someone wanted to take it out and buy it from us, we’d be open to that also.”

Tesla talk electrifies stocks

March 13th, 2014

Huge plans for EV expansion would require several new graphite mines

by Greg Klein

Giga what?

It’s a “Gigafactory” and its dramatic announcement has frontrunners to graphite production basking in the news—a potential 37% increase in natural graphite demand by 2020, requiring six to nine new graphite mines. Those estimates come from the authoritative journal Industrial Minerals in the wake of Tesla Motors’ plans for a $5-billion plant to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. While several caveats have to be considered, graphite companies have once again come to market prominence.

The Gigafactory’s not yet a fact. Start-up is slated for 2017 but Tesla needs a location, not to mention partners. Tesla’s putting up only two-fifths of the $5-billion price tag. Writing in Morning Notes, Chris Berry states that Panasonic and Sanyo are “rumoured to be contributing as well.” IM writers Simon Moores and Andy Miller caution that “the plant is in the planning stage and capacities depend strongly on market demand.”

Huge plans for EV expansion would require several new graphite mines

Even without growth elsewhere, Tesla Motors
would dramatically increase demand for energy minerals.

Berry, who has previously called Tesla a “bellwether or benchmark for green technology and by extension energy metals,” emphasizes that the Gigafactory’s success depends “less on a secure supply of raw materials and more on the long-term price of a gallon of gas.” He also says EVs face competition from other technologies. And, although “a long shot,” current battery technology could become obsolete.

Nor has Tesla specified that its batteries will use natural graphite. Synthetic graphite might be an option but, as Berry points out, the natural stuff would help the company meet its goal of cutting manufacturing costs by half.

Moores and Miller note alternatives to graphite, such as the non-graphitic carbon anodes now in the R&D stage. But, the writers state, graphite anodes remain “the current material of choice for Li-ion battery producers.”

Should all go according to plan and assumptions, IM Data offers some intriguing estimates. Capacity operation at the Gigafactory would call for 93,000 tonnes of large flake graphite. Those grades, +80 mesh and larger, “made up just over 20% of total flake graphite output of 375,000 tonnes in 2013,” IM stated. By 2020, even with no growth in other areas, the Gigafactory could require six new mines.

That’s just the conservative estimate. “In a bullish case this could rise as high as 140,000 tonnes,” IM states, calling for nine new mines. A number of projects rank among the contenders.

Canada’s next new graphite operation would likely be Ontario Graphite’s Kearney mine, 250 kilometres north of Toronto. Having missed its 2013 target date, the privately owned company now says Kearney will re-open early this year. The large, low-grade resource would produce an annual “20,000 tonnes of natural, large flake, high carbon graphite concentrate,” the company states.

Next in line might be Flinders Resources TSXV:FDR, which plans to skip feasibility and even pre-feas to begin commercial production at Sweden’s Woxna mine by July. The company calls itself the only publicly traded company that’s completely funded for production. Its primary market would be European refractories and crucible manufacturers.

The only graphite company with full feasibility complete, not to mention an expansion case PEA and major permitting, Northern Graphite TSXV:NGC hopes to begin construction on the Bissett Creek mine in southeastern Ontario by Q4 this year, with commercial production following in Q4 2015. Negotiations are underway with potential strategic partners to take up part of the $101.6-million initial capex. One of the company’s claims to fame has even greater significance following the Tesla news. Northern is “the only junior that has successfully produced and tested spherical graphite for Li-ion batteries,” the company says.

This year has Focus Graphite TSXV:FMS focusing on feasibility and financing. In December the company signed what it terms the graphite industry’s first offtake deal, a 10-year contract with a Chinese conglomerate that will buy 20,000 to 40,000 tonnes a year. The 2013 preliminary economic assessment for the Lac Knife project in northeastern Quebec forecast total annual production at 44,000 tonnes. The PEA projected an initial capex of $126 million, which Focus hopes to raise through a combination of debt and equity.

Mason Graphite’s (TSXV:LLG) timeline has feasibility scheduled for completion in Q3 and construction beginning in Q1 2015. Last April’s PEA gave the company’s Lac Gueret project in northeastern Quebec direct costs, including contingency, totalling $107.92 million.

A company hoping to begin production in 2015, Energizer Resources TSX:EGZ has a February 2013 PEA projecting a $162.04-million capex for its Molo deposit in Madagascar. The current plan is to start small with 50,000 tonnes per year but build to a 150,000-tpa capacity as the market requires.

Not as advanced, but a prominent company nonetheless, Zenyatta Ventures TSXV:ZEN plans to finish a PEA in Q2 following last December’s maiden resource for its Albany project. The “very rare hydrothermal deposit” rejuvenated early-stage graphite activity by sparking an area play around the north-central Ontario property.

One junior that’s already selling product is Big North Graphite TSXV:NRT. The company has so far sold 760 tons produced by test-mining its 11-hectare, 50/50 Nuevo San Pedro joint venture in Mexico and by purchasing output from other small, nearby operations. The less-expensive amorphous product doesn’t serve the battery market but the company’s also pursuing flake graphite at its other properties in Mexico and Canada.

IM writers Moores and Miller compare Tesla’s plans to Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line to car manufacture, saying the Gigafactory “could prove just as pivotal in the emergence of the EV market, unlocking a lucrative new layer of demand for natural graphite producers.”

In his Morning Notes article, Berry points out that graphite is the largest component of the numerous materials used to make Li-ion batteries, but not the most expensive. Though Tesla’s announcement boosted graphite and lithium companies, he observes, cobalt and nickel stocks somehow missed out.

“There are a multitude of factors which will ultimately determine the success or failure of the Gigafactory,” Berry concludes. “But it is clear that reliable supply of various energy metals remains at the heart of this strategy.”

Athabasca Basin and beyond

February 22nd, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 15 to 21, 2014

by Greg Klein

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New “zone” at Rook 1 rocks NexGen stock

Judging by share performance, radiometric readings from NexGen Energy’s TSXV:NXE Rook 1 project far outshone next-door neighbour Fission Uranium’s TSXV:FCU Patterson Lake South last week—even though PLS assays showed its best hole yet. Possibly a bit premature, NexGen claimed the first hole in Rook 1’s Arrow area constitutes “a totally new zone of uranium mineralization.” Then again, the company also refers to intercepts as “zones.”

NexGen’s February 19 announcement said scintillometer readings showed a number of significant radioactive intervals in a hole that’s still being drilled. By “significant,” the company means at least five centimetres above 500 counts per second from a hand-held device that measures gamma ray particles in cps.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 15 to 21, 2014

NexGen’s first hole in the Arrow area of Rook 1 stole attention
from Patterson Lake South and catapulted the company’s stock.

Results so far show well over a dozen “significant” intervals ranging from 0.05 metres to 1.65 metres in width. They occurred between downhole depths of 207.8 metres and 319.1 metres.

Radiometric readings are no substitute for assays, which are pending.

The company’s now revising its original 6,000-metre program “to substantially expand the program at Arrow and the other 11 western-located Rook 1 target areas,” according to CEO Leigh Curyer.

Last summer’s drilling found three mineralized holes roughly four kilometres southwest of Arrow, closer to the PLS boundary.

NexGen’s stock soared. Having previously closed on a 52-week low of $0.225, it shot up to a 52-week high of $0.65 in two days, before closing February 21 on $0.53.

Another best hole to date from Fission Uranium’s Patterson Lake South

Although upstaged by NexGen’s same-day announcement, Fission Uranium once again outperformed previous results by reporting its “strongest mineralized hole to date” from PLS on February 19.

The celeb du jour is hole PLS14-129 on zone R585E, the fourth of seven zones along a southwest-northeast potential strike of 1.78 kilometres. The zone itself has a defined strike of 30 metres and a lateral width of about 10 metres.

Of eight intervals reported, the best results show:

  • 13.66% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 38 metres, starting at 56 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 38.49% over 10.5 metres)

  • 11.19% over 31.5 metres, starting at 108.5 metres
  • (including 27.57% over 12 metres)

  • 6.82% over 11.5 metres, starting at 145.5 metres
  • (including 20.28% over 2.5 metres)

  • 3.37% over 12.5 metres, starting at 160 metres
  • (including 9.57% over 4 metres)

True widths weren’t available. Drilling was vertical.

“Nothing less than phenomenal,” was president/COO and chief geologist Ross McElroy’s immodest appraisal. The grade-times-thickness value nearly doubled that of the previous best hole, which dates back to September on the neighbouring R390E zone.

Last week Fission Uranium released a batch of radiometric readings for seven holes from four zones. The $12-million campaign, which includes ground geophysics as well as 90 holes totalling 30,000 metres, continues.

Anthem reports initial drill results from Hatchet Lake JV with Denison

Anthem Resources TSXV:AYN released preliminary drill results from Hatchet Lake, a joint venture with Denison Mines TSX:DML, on February 20. The 10-hole, 2,025-metre program on the Athabasca Basin’s eastern edge found no significant mineralization but a downhole radiometric probe intersected anomalous radioactivity in four holes.

The campaign also found prospective features “including strong fracturing, de-silicification (sanding) and clay and hematite alteration in the sandstone, and weak to strong chlorite and clay alteration, graphitic fault zones and sulphide mineralization in the basement,” Anthem stated. Assays are still to come.

Anthem’s cash position prevented a contribution to Hatchet’s $750,000 budget and the $300,000 IP survey on the Murphy Lake property, also part of the JV. As a result, Anthem’s interest dropped from 50% to about 41%. Denison acts as project operator.

Forum to acquire northeastern Basin property from Anthem

The same day as the Hatchet Lake news, Anthem and Forum Uranium TSXV:FDC announced an agreement to move a Basin property from the former to the latter. Forum will get the 14,205-hectare Fir Island claims on the Basin’s northeastern margin for 300,000 shares and a 1.5% NSR, of which Anthem may buy two-thirds for $1 million.

With little or no sandstone cover and road access within two kilometres, the property lies directly on a major structure, the Black Lake Shear Zone, and adjacent to the former Nisto mine, Forum stated. Previous geophysical and geochemical surveys identified several shallow drill targets which Forum plans to refine through ground gravity work.

Two weeks earlier the company announced it would buy two sets of claims from Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM to consolidate Forum’s North Thelon project in Nunavut.

This month Forum plans to begin drilling 12 to 15 holes totalling 3,000 metres at its 9,910-hectare PLS-adjacent Clearwater project. The company’s eastside Basin 40%/60% Henday JV has $150,000 worth of summer magnetic and electromagnetic surveys planned by project operator Rio Tinto NYE:RIO.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

February 1st, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 25 to 31, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission envisions possibility of “one very large zone” at Patterson Lake South

Ever in search of new superlatives for Patterson Lake South, Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU claims its best hole yet for total composite (not continuous) off-scale scintillometer readings. The company released results on January 27 for the first five holes of winter drilling, which it said narrowed the gaps between high-grade zones R390E and R945E, the third to sixth of seven zones along a 1.78-kilometre strike. All five holes produced off-scale readings, prompting company president/COO and chief geologist Ross McElroy to say the news provides “further evidence that the system consists of one very large zone.”

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 25 to 31, 2014

Week one of winter work has given Fission a superlative start.

The hand-held scintillometer measures gamma ray particles in drill core up to a maximum off-scale reading above 9,999 counts per second. Scintillometer results are no substitute for assays, which will likely follow in weeks or months.

Among the best holes, PLS14-129 showed a continuous 9.5 metres above 9,999 cps, among a total of 36.72 metres of off-scale results. Total mineralization came to 111.5 metres between downhole depths of 56 metres and 268 metres.

PLS14-126 showed 3.09 metres of composite off-scale radioactivity within 64.5 metres of composite mineralization between depths of 131 metres and 374 metres.

PLS14-125 showed 1.96 metres of composite off-scale radioactivity within 88 metres of composite mineralization between depths of 70 metres and 240.5 metres.

One week earlier the company announced the start of its winter campaign, in which five rigs will drill 30,000 metres in 90 holes, most of them in effort to connect five high-grade zones. Along with geophysics, the current program will use up about $12 million of this year’s $20-million budget.

Cameco’s $450-million cash infusion excites acquisition anticipation

Cameco Corp’s TSX:CCO $450-million asset sale could have implications for Athabasca Basin juniors. On January 31 the uranium giant announced an agreement to sell its 31.6% interest in Bruce Power to Borealis Infrastructure, a branch of the Ontario Municipal Employees pension fund. Bruce Power operates Candu reactors at a 930-hectare site on Lake Huron capable of generating 6,300 megawatts. The sale will allow Cameco to “continue to reinvest in our core uranium business where we see strong potential for growth,” according to president/CEO Tim Gitzel.

Fission Uranium chairman/CEO Dev Randhawa told Bloomberg the sale “certainly gives Cameco a war chest to go after some names and we’re very happy to hear that.” Randhawa’s recently restructured company comprises the Basin’s most likely takeover target. A maiden resource from its closely watched project is expected this year.

Reuters, on the other hand, said Gitzel is “in no rush” to spend the loot. “We’ve got significant uranium pounds under our control and we’re just waiting for the market to improve,” the news agency quoted him. “As the uranium market improves as we believe it will over the next period of time—years, I would say—we want to be ready.”

According to the Financial Post, BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Sterck “noted that Cameco had more than enough liquidity to cover its uranium growth plans before this deal. But this gives it greater flexibility to grow as uranium demand rises in the future.”

On the other hand a tax dispute could cost Cameco up to $850 million, plus interest and penalties.

Although the sale’s effective date was December 31, 2013, the deal remains subject to waiver of the right of first offer held by three other Bruce Power partners.

Purepoint announces drilling at Hook Lake JV; issues new and reprices old options

A $2.5-million, two-rig, 5,000-metre campaign has begun at Purepoint Uranium’s TSXV:PTU Hook Lake project. Of three prospective corridors on the 28,683-hectare property, drilling will focus on the same electromagnetic trend that hosts the PLS discovery five kilometres southwest, the company stated on January 30.

With a 21% interest in Hook Lake, Purepoint acts as project operator in joint venture with Cameco and AREVA Resources Canada, which hold 39.5% each.

On January 30 Purepoint also announced 2.51 million options to insiders at $0.075 for five years. The following day the company stated 1.94 million options granted last April would be repriced from $0.10 to $0.07.

In November Purepoint announced winter drilling plans for Red Willow, a 25,612-hectare project on the Basin’s eastern rim. Rio Tinto NYE:RIO acts as operator under an option to earn 51% by spending $5 million before the end of 2015.

International Enexco announces drilling at Mann Lake JV

Another Cameco/AREVA JV partner, International Enexco TSXV:IEC announced January 27 that a $2.9-million program has begun on the eastern Basin’s Mann Lake property. Up to 18 holes and 13,000 metres will test three types of targets—a footwall to the western axis of the property’s main C trend, conductive features near the western margin of the Wollaston sedimentary corridor and the remaining undrilled C trend targets, Enexco reported on January 27.

Cameco, with a 52.5% interest in the 3,407-hectare property, acts as operator. Enexco and AREVA hold 30% and 17.5% respectively. Enexco’s share of the $2.9 million amounts to $870,000, most of which comes from a $750,000 private placement that closed in December. The company also has a 20%/80% JV with Denison Mines TSX:DML on the southeastern Basin’s Bachman Lake project. Denison owns 7.4% of Enexco, which is also pursuing pre-feasibility at its wholly owned Contact copper project in Nevada.

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

January 25th, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 18 to 24, 2014

by Greg Klein

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Fission Uranium resumes Patterson Lake South drilling, focuses on delineation

Nature takes its annual repose as winter settles on Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Feathered flocks have flown to finer climes, leaving their four-footed furry friends to wander the white wilderness or succumb to seasonal slumber. Days are short but, as darkness descends, aurora borealis performs its passionate pantomime, twisting and twirling, shining and shimmering, in heavenly hues of silvery green and blue.

Purple runs the prose. And drilling resumes on Patterson Lake South.

With a few additions, that’s the gist of a January 20 announcement from Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU. The company expects to spend $12 million on PLS this season, part of the year’s $20-million budget. Five rigs will sink 90 holes totalling 30,000 metres. With seven zones open in all directions and situated along a 1.78-kilometre strike, Fission Uranium plans to direct about 80% to 85% of its drilling to the gaps between five high-grade zones. Additionally, exploration drilling will test electromagnetic conductors following interpretation of ground geophysics and radon results.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for January 18 to 24, 2014

Last year’s Patterson Lake South activity, pictured here,
will be dwarfed by this year’s $12-million winter campaign.

All that infill drilling can only heighten anticipation of a maiden resource, although the company has yet to set a target date. But to tease the market even more, Fission Uranium couldn’t resist stating its property “remains highly prospective for several kilometres, both in the immediate area of known mineralization and along strike in both the WSW and ENE directions.”

The company also granted insiders five-year options on 8.4 million shares at $1.20. The previous week Fission Uranium released assays from six holes drilled last summer.

NexGen Energy begins 6,000-metre Rook 1 program

With a geophysical interpretation that might validate closeology, NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE has begun winter drilling at Rook 1, adjacently northeast of PLS. Two rigs will sink about 6,000 metres on the property, which the company says includes an interpreted extension of the 3B conductor that hosts Fission Uranium’s near-surface, high-grade discovery. Targets will follow up on three widely spaced holes from last summer that found mineralization in an area spanning 1.6 by 1.2 kilometres, according to the January 20 announcement. Further drilling will test areas already identified by VTEM, magnetics, ground gravity and DC resistivity surveys. One large structural zone will undergo additional ground gravity.

Recent financings have contributed to the company’s $7.8-million bank account, which has about $3 million slated for the flagship’s winter campaign. The previous week NexGen announced an extension to its 70% option on the Radio project in the northeastern Basin. Results have yet to be released from Radio’s nine-hole, 3,473-metre summer program.

Azincourt and Fission 3.0 start 3,000 metres at Patterson Lake North

Also adjacent to PLS, a drill’s turning at the Patterson Lake North joint venture of Azincourt Uranium TSXV:AAZ and Fission 3.0 TSXV:FUU, the companies announced in separate statements on January 20 and 21. The latter company, which holds the non-PLS assets spun out of Fission Uranium, acts as operator on the million-dollar program. The agenda includes a radon-in-water survey, ground geophysics and eight to 10 holes totalling about 3,000 metres over previously identified conductors.

The campaign’s focal points are Hodge Lake in PLN’s south-central area, the west-central Harrison Lake and Broach Lake in the southeast. Azincourt is earning a 50% interest in the 27,408-hectare project. The previous week Azincourt closed a $2-million cash-and-share deal with Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and Vena Resources TSX:VEM to acquire two uranium properties in Peru.

TAD to begin Athabasca exploration with airborne geophysics

Having been diverted by other area plays, TAD Mineral Exploration TSXV:TJ “finally” starts work on the 4,000 hectares it staked in the PLS area last April. On January 20 the company announced an impending VTEM max program. TAD also holds claims near Colorado Resource’s TSXV:CXO North ROK copper-gold project in British Columbia and Zenyatta Ventures’ TSXV:ZEN graphite project in central Ontario.

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Zenyatta releases initial resource for “very rare hydrothermal” graphite deposit

December 2nd, 2013

by Greg Klein | December 2, 2013

Highly anticipated but hardly welcomed by the market, Zenyatta Ventures TSXV:ZEN released a low-grade, high-tonnage maiden resource on December 2 for the Albany graphite project in north-central Ontario. The company says its cutoff grade—only 0.6% graphitic carbon (Cg)—is justified by a “very rare hydrothermal” graphite that can be treated to compete with high-purity synthetic stuff, fetching far higher prices than the flake product.

Part of the project’s distinction is its two pipe deposits. The resource envisions an open pit comprising both pipes, which are about 250 metres apart. The east pipe measures about 300 metres laterally, 50 metres wide and 600 metres deep. Its western counterpart runs about 300 metres long, 175 metres wide and 500 metres deep. Both remain open at depth, the company stated.

The indicated category shows:

  • East pipe: 10 million tonnes averaging 5.6% for 560,000 tonnes Cg

  • West pipe: 15.1 million tonnes averaging 2.76% for 417,000 tonnes

  • Total indicated: 25.1 million tonnes averaging 3.89% for 977,000 tonnes

Inferred resources show:

  • East pipe: 7.6 million tonnes averaging 2.04% for 155,000 tonnes

  • West pipe: 12.5 million tonnes averaging 2.29% for 286,000 tonnes

  • Total inferred: 20.1 million tonnes averaging 2.2% for 441,000 tonnes

The numbers are based on 60 holes totalling 24,626 metres. Zenyatta’s next step is a preliminary economic assessment scheduled for Q2 2014 release.

Zenyatta releases first resource for “very rare hydrothermal” graphite deposit

Zenyatta used core from 60 holes
for Albany’s first resource, only to see shares sag.

The company maintains that the Albany deposit is unique, pointing to beneficiation tests that produced “99.99% carbon purity with very good crystallinity” using a caustic bake method, a relatively inexpensive process compared to the production of high-purity synthetic graphite. Results announced in April showed final purity values “above 99.97% C and up to 99.99% C in many cases, regardless of initial carbon grades.”

The high-purity product, Zenyatta says, could allow the company to break into a $13-billion synthetic graphite market which pays “in the range of $7,000 to $20,000 per tonne” for synthetic product over 99.9% Cg. By contrast, high-quality flake graphite hit a high in 2011 at $2,500 a tonne before dropping 20%, according to Industrial Minerals. Albany’s resource uses a long-term price estimate of $8,500 per tonne Cg.

Zenyatta’s characterization of its deposit has sparked some controversy but also widespread interest, including an area play that brought a resurgence to early-stage graphite activity.

Nevertheless investors spurned the debutante resource. Zenyatta’s stock initially rose from its December 2 open of $3.10 to $3.35 but then fell all the way to $1.93 before closing on $2.10. With 55.41 million shares outstanding, the market cap came to $116.36 million.

The project lies four or five kilometres from an all-weather road, 70 kilometres from rail and 30 klicks from the Trans-Canada Highway, a power line and a natural gas pipeline.

Read about advanced stage graphite activity.

First place, second thoughts

November 8th, 2013

Some potential near-term graphite miners find time to revise their plans

by Greg Klein

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If the graphite game can be called a race to production, some companies seem to prefer the sure and steady progress of the tortoise. The hare’s dazzling example might have been discouraged by this year’s graphite price slump, down 20% according to Industrial Minerals. Even so, the authoritative journal anticipates a recovery next year, although not as strong as 2011. Those conditions might have inspired some front-running companies to revise their previous plans.

One of them is Focus Graphite TSXV:FMS. On November 7 the company released an updated preliminary economic assessment, replacing the previous PEA released in October 2012 for its Lac Knife project in northeastern Quebec. Thanks to streamlined metallurgy, the new study reports improved economics—the pre-tax internal rate of return increases to 36.4%, compared to 32% in 2012, and the pre-tax net present value to $317 million, compared to $246 million last time around.

Some potential near-term graphite miners find time to revise their plans

Flinders hopes to re-open Sweden’s Woxna graphite mine
and plant without undergoing feasibility studies.

Interestingly, the 2012 report omitted after-tax numbers. But the current figures show a post-tax IRR of 28.6% and NPV of $185 million, using an 8% discount rate. Using a 10% discount rate, as was done in 2012, the NPV shows $250.1 million pre-tax and $143.3 million post-tax.

Both studies relied on the January 2012 resource estimate to calculate a 20-year mine life for an open pit unearthing 300,000 tonnes per annum for a lifetime total of six million tonnes averaging 15.66% graphitic carbon (Cgr). But higher-grade concentrates shown by more recent pilot plant tests now cut operating costs.

No longer relying on a third party “and the associated $27.6 million in working capital requirements” to purify some of the concentrate, Focus says an optimized flotation and polishing circuit can produce concentrate of 98% total carbon for all flake sizes above 200 mesh. As a result, the company maintains, even the smaller flake product will see improved economics.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Focus CEO Gary Economo said the company has started a feasibility study which “moves us closer to financing, securing off-take agreements, permitting and construction.”

Another potential near-term producer reconsidering its plans is Northern Graphite TSXV:NGC. The company first filed a feasibility study for its southeastern Ontario Bissett Creek project in August 2012. An update followed in September 2013. Then, on October 23, Northern announced a PEA that considers doubling mill throughput after three years of operation.

The plan would knock six years off the previous 28-year mine life but increase average annual production to 33,183 tonnes of concentrate, from 20,800 calculated in September. That would result in a 22% after-tax IRR (compared to 17.3% in September) and a $150-million after-tax NPV (compared to $89.3 million), using an 8% discount rate.

The new scenario would help meet expected growth in demand, the company stated. CEO Gregory Bowes sees an advantage for Bissett Creek in a graphite supply chain that he describes as “heavily dependent on China and … characterized by many inefficient producers with poor environmental and labour practices and inconsistent product quality, delivery and reliability.”

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Athabasca Basin and beyond

October 6th, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for September 28 to October 4, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Lakeland Resources begins Riou Lake ground campaign

Field work has begun at Lakeland Resources’ TSXV:LK Riou Lake project along the Athabasca Basin’s north-central rim. In an October 2 announcement the company outlined the agenda for its Gibbon’s Creek target, just three kilometres from the town of Stony Rapids. Initial work will consist of surface prospecting and boulder sampling, soil gas radon surveying, line-cutting and ground DC resistivity geophysics, with the goal of identifying winter drill targets.

The campaign follows eight months of preparation in which Lakeland studied a volume of previous data, director Ryan Fletcher tells ResourceClips.com. “There was over $3 million of geophysics from UEX and a considerable amount of work by Eldorado Nuclear before they merged into Cameco,” he says. “We’ve been going over their information.”

There was over $3 million of geophysics from UEX and a considerable amount of work by Eldorado Nuclear before they merged into Cameco. We’ve been going over their information.—Lakeland Resources
director Ryan Fletcher

Eldorado found numerous boulders grading up to 4.9% uranium oxide (U3O8) and soil samples between five and 10 parts per million uranium, compared to background levels up to 1 ppm. Geophysics showed a gravity low measuring about three kilometres by one kilometre at the end of a conductive zone over 15 kilometres long.

Fourteen historic holes found anomalous radioactivity, geochemistry or both. With the benefit of recent modelling, assays reveal a structural co-corridor up to one kilometre long and 100 metres wide. UEX Corp TSX:UEX flew its $3-million airborne geophysics in 2005, but Lakeland is the first to bring modern ground exploration techniques to the project.

Among Gibbon’s attractions are shallow depths to the unconformity, Fletcher points out. “They’re about 50 metres to 200 metres, which means more holes for our shareholders’ money. If we get a discovery it’s more likely to be open pittable, which would mean better economics and a more strategic project for M&A. That’s what Patterson Lake South had. They went from boulder results to radon results, then they found a high-grade, near-surface discovery.”

Apart from historic data and shallow targets, Fletcher cites other cost-saving potential. “Our crews are based out of the community of Stony Rapids, just a few kilometres from Gibbon’s. A year-round highway, power and all the infrastructure for exploration are basically right adjacent to the target.”

With the program managed by Athabasca veterans Dahrouge Geological Consulting, Fletcher looks forward to a steady stream of news. “For a brand new, smaller market cap company, investors are going to start getting a lot of information from the field.”

Read more about Lakeland Resources.

Fission closes $11.25-million private placement

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for September 28 to October 4, 2013

An $11.25-million private placement will fund Fission’s
Patterson Lake South exploration once the Alpha acquisition closes.

Assuming all approvals fall into place, a bought-deal private placement will bring $11.25 million to Patterson Lake South’s future sole owner. On October 3 Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU reported a syndicate of underwriters led by Dundee Securities agreed to buy 7.5 million subscription receipts, exchangeable into flow-through shares, at $1.50. The deal includes an option to buy an additional 15%.

Proceeds will be held in escrow until Fission closes its acquisition of Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW, currently a 50/50 joint venture partner in PLS, and spins out its other properties. The subscribers won’t receive shares in the spinco. The entire amount’s designated for PLS exploration.

Read more about Fission’s acquisition of Alpha.

Rockgate considers alternatives to takeover by Denison

Still studying their options following an unsolicited takeover bid from Denison Mines TSX:DML, Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT directors on October 1 urged their shareholders to take no action until further notice.

Denison offered 0.192 of its share for each Rockgate share, a proposal strong enough to defeat a previously proposed Rockgate merger with Mega Uranium TSX:MGA. Nevertheless Rockgate’s board emphasized that Denison proposed a change of control, as opposed to a “merger of equals with Mega.”

Rockgate added that “in the absence of a preliminary economic assessment or other study, mining companies are commonly valued on an enterprise value/pound U3O8 multiple.” Denison’s offer works out to “a $0.09/lb multiple which is significantly below the average multiple of $4.37/lb paid on other relevant, development uranium transactions completed post the Fukushima accident,” Rockgate stated. Since September 27 “the implied Denison offer has declined a further 11%.”

Rockgate further stated that Denison sought conditions that weren’t “subject to a materiality threshold or other objective criteria, but provide Denison with sole discretion” whether to proceed. “In addition, the minimum tender condition of 90% is very high….”

Meanwhile, Rockgate added, it’s in discussion with other potential buyers, having been unable to respond to one approach when the non-solicitation agreement with Mega was in effect.

Rockgate promised to update shareholders no later than one week before the Denison offer’s October 25 expiry date.

Read more about Mega’s and Denison’s competing offers for Rockgate.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

Karoo signs LOI for three Zambian projects

Karoo Exploration TSXV:KE announced a letter of intent September 30 to acquire a portfolio of Zambian uranium properties from ASX-listed African Energy Resources. Under the deal Karoo would pay US$2 million and issue shares and warrants worth $500,000 at a share price “based on any offering completed by Karoo concurrent with this acquisition.”

The package includes the Chirundu, Kariba Valley and North Luangwa Valley projects. African Energy, which focuses on its Botswana coal assets, has a JORC-compliant resource for two Chirundu deposits with open pit potential. The Njame deposit shows:

  • a measured category of 2.7 million tonnes averaging 0.035% for 2.1 million pounds U3O8

  • an indicated category of 3.7 million tonnes averaging 0.025% for 2.1 million pounds

  • an inferred category of 6.6 million tonnes averaging 0.024% for 3.5 million pounds

The Gwabe deposit shows:

  • a measured category of 1.3 million tonnes averaging 0.024% for 700,000 pounds

  • an indicated category of 3.6 million tonnes averaging 0.031% for 2.5 million pounds

  • an inferred category of 800,000 tonnes averaging 0.018% for 300,000 pounds

Karoo holds five uranium exploration licences in southern Tanzania. The company began trading on September 4 following a reverse takeover involving United Uranium.

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Michael England, CEO of Ashburton Ventures and Cariboo King Resources, discusses the area play around Zenyatta Ventures’ Albany graphite project

August 27th, 2013

…Read More

Albany’s area play continues

August 16th, 2013

More companies move in on Zenyatta’s Ontario graphite project

by Greg Klein

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In just over five weeks at least a dozen companies have picked up properties around Zenyatta Ventures’ TSXV:ZEN Albany graphite project in north-central Ontario. A steady source of encouraging news since its January 2012 discovery, Albany was bound to attract admirers—but why so late and suddenly so many? Little is being said, other than the properties became available and the timing couldn’t be better.

“It’s been great for the markets,” says Michael England, CEO/director of Cariboo King Resources TSXV:CKR. “All the juniors that have gone in have seen an increase in volume and even some financings. It’s been fantastic. It’s kind of what the doctor ordered for our markets. All of us were so dead but with the [Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW/Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU] uranium play in the Athabasca Basin and this one—wow! What a change it’s made.”

More companies move in on Zenyatta’s Ontario graphite project

Among the earlier entrants reported by ResourceClips.com on July 17 were Brookemont Capital TSXV:BKT with its 416-hectare Albany East property, Cavan Ventures’ TSXV:CVN 768-hectare Cage claims, TAD Mineral Exploration’s TSXV:TJ 257-hectare Constance Lake property and Bluenose Gold’s TSXV:BN.H Zenyatta West project.

Other acquisitions include Weststar Resources’ TSXV:WER 304-hectare Albany South East property announced July 16, TAD’s second foray with the 386-hectare Constance Lake West property announced July 25 and Ashburton Ventures’ TSXV:ABR 16-claim, 256-hectare Page property announced the following day.

Cariboo King heralded its 256-hectare Nezen property July 29. The next day Alchemist Mining TSXV:AMS did the same for its 256-hectare Mondatta property and the day after that MPH Ventures TSXV:MPS got in on the act with its same-sized North Albany. On August 13 GTA Resources and Mining TSXV:GTA said it increased its Auden project to over 26,000 hectares, making it the area’s largest landholder.

Then the play moved farther afield with two August 15 announcements, Cariboo King’s 1,536-hectare Pito property 20 kilometres west of Albany’s drill holes and, about 25 kilometres east of Zenyatta, the 256-hectare Hearst project for Benton Resources TSXV:BEX—which passed it on to Alabama Graphite CNSX:ALP the very next day. Alabama IR officer Danny Gravelle tells ResourceClips.com, “The property became prospective to Benton not only because of the location but an historic report by Noranda which gave some really strong indicators that there’s potential for graphite.”

But what prompted so many companies to pour into the Albany area at this time? Gravelle responds that Zenyatta’s story obviously has investors compelled. After trading for less than $2 in May the stock hit a 52-week high of $5 on July 26. “For a stock to perform as it has in the worst market I’ve seen in my lifetime shows a significant amount of strength. I think investors are convinced that Zenyatta has great potential because they’ve shown they like this story even in the worst of markets. That’s what really generated the interest.”

Cariboo King, with projects close to a number of former graphite mines in Quebec and also to Timcal Graphite & Carbon’s operating Lac-des-Iles mine, evidently lets others lead the way. “I do play closeology a lot with my companies,” England tells ResourceClips.com. He saw the policy pay off when New Gold TSX:NGD took out Geo Minerals in December 2011. “That was something that we never even drilled but it was close to their Blackwater deposit.”

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