Canada Nickel discovers multiple palladium-platinum zones at Crawford Project

Canada Nickel Company Inc. [CNC-TSXV] has released results from the latest drill holes at its 100%-owned Crawford nickel-cobalt project, including the first two discovery holes on the East Zone, and partial assays from a third hole, which is a 1.5-km extension to the PGM Zone on the Main Zone.

The new East Zone discovery has only been tested for 1.7 km of its overall 2.6-km interpreted strike length, and the original Main Zone remains open to the west and at depth.

Mark Selby, Chairman and CEO, said, “We are very pleased with both the new nickel and multizone palladium-platinum discoveries from our first step-out holes at Crawford. These new holes have also yielded both the most promising palladium plus platinum (2.6 g/t across 7.5 metres) intersection and highest-grade nickel zone intersections to date (0.42% nickel and 0.2 g/t palladium plus platinum across 55 m). With more-than-1.5-kilometre extensions to both the PGM Zone and nickel zones and assays pending from another nine holes, which have the potential to further extend the mineralization identified to date, we look forward to continued success as we unlock more targets at our original Crawford property.

“With the additional properties in the process of being acquired from Noble, we have added a number of nearby targets, which we will begin exploring later in the year, initially utilizing geophysics to determine the highest-priority (based on potential for higher-grade mineralization) targets.”

Selby continued: “We continue to be encouraged by the results of our drilling program and are committed to establishing Crawford as one of the leading next-generation nickel-cobalt sulphide and palladium projects.”

The Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide project is located in the heart of the prolific Timmins-Cochrane mining camp in Ontario, Canada, and is adjacent to well-established, major infrastructure associated with over 100 years of regional mining activity.

Highlights:

Hole CR20-32 extended the PGM zone by 1.5 km along strike and intersected three separate palladium-platinum zones including the most promising palladium-platinum intersection to date – 2.6 g/t palladium + platinum (1.3 g/t Pd, 1.3 g/t Pt) over 7.5 metres within 1.8 g/t (0.9 g/t Pd, 0.9 g/t Pt) over 12 metres at 123 metres downhole. Assays for target nickel zone for this hole are pending.

Second nickel discovery – East Zone. Assays from hole CR19-28 yielded the highest grade nickel interval to date – 55 metres of 0.42% nickel and 0.2 g/t palladium + platinum (0.13 g/t Pd, 0.07 g/t Pt) within 256 metres of 0.30% nickel and 0.05 g/t palladium + platinum (0.03 /t Pd, 0.02 g/t Pt).

The first two holes (CR19-28 and CR19-31) intersected nickel mineralization in excess of 300 metres wide, confirmed that the East Zone is a faulted continuation of the Main Zone, and doubled the strike length of total nickel mineralization by 1.7 km to 3.4 km. Both holes also confirmed the presence of the PGM Zone adjacent to the East Zone nickel mineralization – hole CR19-28 intersecting 1.7 g/t palladium + platinum (0.8 g/t Pd, 0.9 g/t Pt) over 4.5 metres from 180 metres and hole CR 19-31 intersecting 1.6 g/t (0.7 g/t Pd, 0.9 g/t Pt) over 3.0 metres from 525 metres.

Mineral Production to Soar as Demand for Clean Energy Increases

The more ambitious climate targets, the more minerals needed for a clean energy transition

A new World Bank Group report finds that the production of minerals, such as graphite, lithium and cobalt, could increase by nearly 500% by 2050, to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies. It estimates that over 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be needed to deploy wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as energy storage, required for achieving a below 2°C future.

The report, entitled Minerals for Climate Action: The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition also finds that even though clean energy technologies will require more minerals, the carbon footprint of their production – from extraction to end use – will account for only 6% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel technologies.

The report underscores the important role that recycling and reuse of minerals will play in meeting increasing mineral demand. It also notes that even if we scale up recycling rates for minerals like copper and aluminum by 100%, recycling and reuse would still not be enough to meet the demand for renewable energy technologies and energy storage.

In the current global context, COVID-19 is causing major disruptions to the mining industry across the world. In addition, developing countries that rely on minerals are missing out on essential fiscal revenues and, as their economies start to reopen, they will need to strengthen their commitment to climate-smart mining principles and mitigate any negative impacts.

“COVID-19 could represent an additional risk to sustainable mining, making the commitment of governments and companies to climate-smart practices more important than ever before,” said Riccardo Puliti, World Bank Global Director for Energy and Extractive Industries and Regional Director for Infrastructure in Africa. “This new report builds on the World Bank’s long-standing expertise in supporting the clean energy transition and provides a data-driven tool for understanding how this shift will impact future mineral demand.”  

The report reveals that some minerals, like copper and molybdenum, will be used in a range of technologies, while others, such as graphite and lithium, may be needed for just one technology: battery storage. This means that any changes in clean energy technology deployments could have significant consequences on demand for certain minerals.

The report is designed to help governments, especially resource-rich developing countries, the private sector and civil society organizations (CSOs), understand how the clean energy transition will impact future mineral demand. It is part of the joint World Bank-IFC Climate-Smart Mining initiative and builds upon the World Bank’s 2017 report The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. It is increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, it will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.

Brixton Metals drills 1,293 g/t silver over 5.00 metres in Cobalt Camp

Brixton Metals Corp. [BBB-TSXV; BBBXF-OTCQB] has released drill results from its wholly owned Langis mine project, located in the Cobalt camp, northeastern Ontario. Sixteen holes were drilled for a total of 992.5 metres.

Highlights of new drill results at the Langis Project:

Drill hole LM20-83 intersected 5 metres of 1,293.34 g/t silver, including 2 metres of 3,205 g/t silver and 0.15% cobalt.

Drill hole LM20-76 intersected 6.0 metres of 250.97 g/t silver, including 2 metres of 702 g/t silver.

Drill hole LM20-87 intersected 9 metres of 374.03 g/t silver, including 2 metres of 1,492.5 g/t silver.

Gary R. Thompson, Chairman and CEO, stated: “The Langis Project continues to deliver exceptional, high-grade and uniquely native silver results. Our objective was to identify minable widths of high-grade silver mineralization. The Cobalt Camp is known for narrow, high-grade silver veins; however, Brixton has demonstrated these remarkably high grades are attainable over considerable widths. After completing this small, low-cost drill program, it is evident that additional silver-rich zones at shallow depths remain at the Langis mine area. The goal here would be to drill enough near-surface material to make economics.”

During 2020, the company drilled 16 NQ-sized core holes for approximately 992.5 metres at the Langis Project. This year’s drilling campaign was designed to identify new silver zones near old workings and to follow up on some of the 2018 high-grade silver drilled intercepts. The drilling campaign has been successful in identifying new high-grade silver mineralization over significant widths.

Drill hole 78 intersected 11 metres of 110.37 g/t silver, including 4 metres of 211.75 g/t silver. The silver mineralization consists of silver arsenides associated with calcite-hematite veins and veinlets to fracture infill or as disseminated hosted in the Huronian conglomerate.Drill holes LM20-75 to LM20-80 were drilled around the western extent of the historic underground workings. Native silver mineralization intersected in hole 76 returned 6 metres of 250.97 g/t silver, including 3 metres of 487.47 g/t silver, including 2 metres of 702 g/t silver. Native silver occurs as fracture fillings, coatings and within veins associated with calcite-hematite, and is hosted in a dark-grey-green Huronian conglomerate.

Drill holes LM20-82 to LM20-90 were drilled at the shaft 3 area and were designed to follow up on 2018 drilling, where hole LM18-42 intersected 6 metres of 4,719.33 g/t silver and 0.33% cobalt. The best silver-mineralized interval intersected in 2020 drilling was intersected in hole 83, which returned 5 metres of 1,293.34 g/t silver, including 2 metres of 3,205 g/t silver and 0.15% cobalt. Mineralization is hosted in a dark-grey-green Huronian conglomerate unit and generally consists of native silver and cobaltite associated with calcite veins and veinlets, and is disseminated throughout the host rock.

Hole 84 assayed 5 metres of 464.06 g/t silver, including 2 metres of 1,116 g/t silver. Mineralization consists of silver arsenide hosted in calcite-hematite veins and disseminated native silver.

Brixton’s wholly owned, past-producing Langis and Hudson Bay mines are located 500 km north of Toronto with excellent infrastructure. Historically, starting in the early 1900s, the combined mines in the Cobalt Camp produced 550 million ounces of silver, with 30 million to 50 million pounds of cobalt as a by-product.

Battery metals demand slows but will recover post COVID-19

by Ron Hall

The mining and metals industries have been hit hard by the onset of a bear market inspired by COVID-19. How long this will continue is anyone’s guess; however, the longer term outlook for the battery metal sector remains robust and the metals that are used in the manufacture and development of rechargeable electric vehicle (EV) batteries primarily lithium, nickel and cobalt should eventually see a resurgence in demand.

Many industry pundits forecast that the combustion engine will disappear sooner or later and say that although the transition from fossil fuel to electric powered vehicles may have paused, it will likely rebound with a vengeance as the disruption from the pandemic falls away and industry gets back on its feet.

This will be supported in many countries that have witnessed the benefits of greatly reduced pollution in their cities as economic activity has stalled and local governments will be even keener to encourage the rollout of EVs over internal combustion engines.

Prior to the outbreak, China controlled about two-thirds of the world’s battery electric manufacturing capacity, a figure that was expected to rise to 73% by 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). But in life after COVID-19 the landscape may be different. Firms now likely to re-assess their over-reliance on China and domestic metal supply and refinement will be increasingly sought out.

Of the various battery types currently in the market place, the lithium-ion battery is emerging as a favourite. The name lithium-ion battery is only the generic term for a whole series of possible chemical structures, such as the lithium cobalt (dioxide) battery, the lithium manganese (dioxide) battery, the lithium iron phosphate battery and – less commonly – the lithium titanite battery and the tin-sulfur lithium ion battery.

According to research and consulting firm Roskill, the outlook for lithium demand has been impacted significantly by a number of issues that include a slowdown in all vehicle sales (including EVs) in the Chinese market that began prior to the pandemic, disruptions in supply chains globally caused by the pandemic and the potential for subsequent weak economic performance in key markets as the world adjusts to life after.

The slowdown in the Chinese EV market saw vehicle sales decrease 33% year-on-year during H2 2019, though the subsequent impact of the COVID-19 related lockdowns has seen monthly Chinese EV sales fall to their lowest volumes since February 2017. Vehicle sales in the Chinese market are forecast to fall 39% year-on-year in Q1 2020.

With economic recessions forecast in Europe and Japan during 2020, and significantly weaker economic performance expected in China and the USA, sales of ‘big-ticket’ items, including electric vehicles, are expected to experience a demand shock. To this end, European and U.S. automakers have delayed Asian Li-ion battery shipments originally scheduled for Q2 2020 amid the growing uncertainty for automotive demand.

Roskill has reassessed its lithium demand forecast for 2020 in the quarterly update to its lithium market outlook report. Total lithium demand for 2020 has been downgraded by more than 25%, as a result of the aforementioned factors. Demand from rechargeable battery applications is still expected to show growth in 2020, though at a significantly slower rate than forecast previously.

Prior to the pandemic, Roskill’s 2020 base case forecast was a 60% year-on-year increase in EV sales to 2019, from 2 million to around 3.2 million EVs in 2020. They now forecast EV sales to be between 30 to 45% lower with sales of approximately 1.8 million EVs under the worst case six month lockdown scenario.

Despite this, globally, vehicle manufacturers have already committed hundreds of billions of dollars to electrify their fleets in the coming decade – potentially too large a sum to walk away from. Once the coronavirus outbreak is under control, and countries begin to recover, it will be interesting to see how stimulus packages are directed and how much these further support the growth of the EV industry. China has already announced a two-year extension of its New Energy Vehicle, or NEV, subsidies and purchase tax exceptions until the end of 2022. These extensions will support NEV sales as China’s economy recovers post COVID-19.

Ontario refinery aims to disrupt existing cobalt supply chain

TSX-V-listed First Cobalt has announced positive feasibility study results for its cobalt refinery expansion project, in Canada, marking a key milestone in its efforts to disrupt the existing cobalt supply chain. The study shows strong asset-level economics that position the refinery to be “competitive globally and provide attractive investment returns”, president and CEO Trent Mell said on Monday. The study, based on a cobalt price of $25/lb, calculated that the refinery expansion will yield an aftertax net present value of $139-million and an aftertax internal rate of return of 53%, with a payback period of 1.8 years.

First Cobalt releases positive feasibility study for refinery expansion

First Cobalt Corp. [FCC-TSXV; FTSSF-OTCQX] has released positive results from an independent feasibility study conducted on its permitted cobalt refinery in Ontario, Canada. The study contemplates expanding the existing facility and adapting it to be North America’s first producer of cobalt sulphate, an essential component in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.

The feasibility study demonstrates that the First Cobalt refinery project can become a viable, globally competitive player in the North American and European electric vehicle (EV) supply chain. The study reinforces the strength of First Cobalt’s business strategy for a rapidly evolving EV (electric vehicle) market that is heavily dependent on supply from China.

Feasibility study highlights include annual production of 25,000 tonnes of battery-grade cobalt sulphate from third party feed, representing 5% of the total global refined cobalt market and 100% of North American cobalt sulphate supply. Initial capital estimate is $56-million and an operating cost estimate of $2.72/lb of cobalt produced, which is competitive with global markets. There would be a $37-million in undiscounted pre-tax free cash flow to the project forecasted during the first full year of production and a $139-million after-tax net present value (NPV) using an 8% discount and 53% after-tax internal rate of return (IRR), representing a payback period of only 1.8 years. (All figures in US$ with cobalt price at $25/lb)

Discussions under way with Glencore on commercial arrangements, financing and allocation of project economics; third party and government funding opportunities also under review;

Several EV manufacturers have expressed an interest in purchasing a North American cobalt sulphate;

Several opportunities will be evaluated over the coming months that could enhance project economics further, including alternative approaches to managing elevated sodium concentrations prior to returning process water to the environment.

Prefeasibility-level study also completed on an early ramp-up scenario using existing permits and equipment to conduct trial runs processing a different type of feedstock.

Trent Mell, First Cobalt President and CEO, commented: “This is an important milestone in our efforts to disrupt the existing cobalt supply chain. The study shows strong asset-level economics that position the refinery to be competitive globally and provide attractive investment returns. The outlook for electric vehicles and the push by automakers to develop shorter supply chains creates an excellent opportunity. With most of the world’s cobalt refining capacity located in China, there is strong demand for a North American alternative. Our focus will now turn to working with Glencore, our strategic partner, on implementing a new, ethical and transparent supply chain.”

Nico Paraskevas, Glencore’s head of copper and cobalt marketing, added: “I would like to congratulate the First Cobalt team on a positive feasibility study. As the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, cobalt will play an essential role in the growth of mobility electrification. We look forward to working with First Cobalt to bring a sustainable source of cobalt to the North American market.”

Project overview

The First Cobalt refinery was permitted in 1996 with a nominal throughput of 12 tonnes per day (tpd) and operated intermittently until 2015, producing a cobalt carbonate product along with nickel carbonate and silver precipitate. The facility is located on 120 acres, with two settling ponds and an autoclave pond. The current footprint also includes a large warehouse building that once housed a conventional mill.

Testing of third party cobalt hydroxide in 2019 using the refinery flow sheet confirmed suitability of cobalt hydroxide as a source of feed to produce a high-purity, battery-grade cobalt sulphate.

In July, 2019, First Cobalt and Glencore AG agreed to a partnership framework providing for a non-dilutive, fully financed, phased approach to recommission the refinery. Subject to certain conditions, including the completion of a positive feasibility study and agreement upon commercial terms, the framework agreement contemplates that First Cobalt will treat cobalt feed material supplied from Glencore’s DRC operations for an initial term of up to 4-1/2 years on a tolling basis, with Glencore providing up to 100% of the capital required to recommission and expand the facility. The objective is to produce approximately 25,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate per annum for the electric vehicle market.

Refer to First Cobalt press release for more details.

Talon Metals drills 8.67% NiEq over 11.36 metres at Tamarack

Talon Metals Corp. [TLO-TSX] has successfully completed its winter 2020 exploration program at the Tamarack nickel-copper-cobalt project, located in Minnesota, United States. The Tamarack Project comprises the Tamarack North Project and the Tamarack South Project which is locates adjacent to the town of Tamarack, 85 km west of Duluth, Minnesota, USA.

Highlights from Drill Program:

Six of 8 holes intersected massive sulphides or mixed massive sulphides and intersected a total of 38 metres (125 feet) of mixed and massive sulphides in 6 holes. Intersections included an additional total of 363 metres (1,190 feet) of disseminated sulphides in 3 holes.

First assays received: 11.36 metres (37.3 feet) of 7.1% nickel, 2.98% copper, 0.14% cobalt, 1.11 g/t platinum group elements (PGEs) and 0.16 g/t gold (8.67% NiEq or 23.11% CuEq) starting at 555.05 metres in drill hole 12TK0153A. Assays remain pending for the other 7 drill holes.

The exploration program was executed under budget, as historical parent drill holes were used to branch off to drill targets at depth. Drill targets (which were more than 500 metres below surface) were hit with precision using directional drilling, thereby reducing the environmental footprint. Deviation from drill targets ranged from 38 cm to 3 metres.

“One of the exciting results from the 2020 Winter Exploration Program is that we now have much higher confidence in the Massive Sulphide Unit, which is the highest grading mineralization found at the Tamarack Project,” said Etienne Dinel, VP Geology.

“Due to the fact that Talon came in approximately $350,000 under budget, Talon now finds itself in a solid cash position, with approximately $2.5 million currently in the bank,” said Vince Conte, CFO of Talon. “This cash position is especially important given market conditions amidst COVID-19.”

“The Winter 2020 Exploration Program was one of the most successful and cost-effective exploration programs at Tamarack,” said Henri van Rooyen, CEO of Talon. “Not only did we achieve our objective of increasing confidence in the resource, but we also successfully tested a suite of geophysical techniques, which together with geological interpretation and effective directional drilling, has the potential to unlock the mostly unexplored 18-kilometer Tamarack Intrusive Complex at a fraction of the cost and time previously envisioned.”

The company is awaiting the remaining assay results when received and plans to provide a further update on the suite of geophysical techniques utilized during the Winter 2020 Exploration Program, along with the positive potential implications for the Tamarack Project.

Talon is in a joint venture with Rio Tinto on the high-grade Tamarack Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project, comprised of the Tamarack North Project and the Tamarack South Project. Talon can earn up to 60% of the Tamarack Project. The Tamarack Project comprises a large land position (18 km of strike length) with numerous high-grade intercepts outside of the current resource area. The company is focussed on expanding its current high-grade nickel mineralization resource prepared in accordance with NI 43-101; identifying additional high-grade nickel mineralization; and developing a process to potentially produce nickel sulphates responsibly for batteries for the electric vehicles industry.

Congo artisanal cobalt programme expands with industry backing

A programme to monitor and improve artisanal cobalt mines in Democratic Republic of Congo will double the number of mining sites it covers this year through a partnership between RCS Global and the Responsible Minerals Initiative. RCS Global, a company in Berlin that audits supply chains, started the Better Mining programme in 2018, collecting data on cobalt mine sites in Congo and giving mine operators "corrective action" plans when mining practices were found to be unsafe.

Congo enacts plan to blunt virus impact as cobalt exports slump

The Democratic Republic of Congo will begin a massive public-health information campaign for hundreds of thousands of hand-miners as part of a plan to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its key cobalt and copper industry. The proposals are contained in a report drafted by the Mines Ministry that warns of a “catastrophic” situation if the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak lead to major mine closures. Congo, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt and Africa’s largest copper miner, has no known coronavirus cases in its copperbelt region in the southeast of the country. Most mines, including ones run by Glencore and China Molybdenum, continue to operate amid staffing restrictions.

Alexco raising $7.5 million for Keno Hill silver mine

Alexco Resources Corp. [AXR-TSX; AXU-NYSE] said Monday March 24 that it is raising $7.5 million from an offering of 4.05 million shares priced at $1.85 per share. The company said it has struck a deal with an underwriting syndicate co-led by Cormark Securities Inc., Cantor Fitzgerald Canada Corp. and including Canaccord Genuity Corp.

Alexco has granted the underwriters a green shoe option to purchase up to an additional 608,175 shares at the offering price, potentially increasing the proceeds to $8.6 million. The green shoe option will remain open for 30 days after the date of closing.

The company said it intends to use the net proceeds of the offering for preservation and measured advancement of mine development activity at its flagship Keno Hill silver project in the Canadian Yukon. Part of the proceeds is also earmarked for exploration and general working capital.

Alexco advanced on the news, rising 1.9% or $0.04 to $2.10. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $1.00 and $3.74.

The 100%-owned United Keno Hill Mine ranks as Canada’s second largest producer of silver, behind Cobalt, Ontario.

During an illustrious history, it produced 217 million ounces of the precious metal. On March 28, 2019, Alexco released the results of an independent pre-feasibility study (PFS), which puts the Keno Hill Project “on a clear path to production,” the company said.

The PFS contemplated production of approximately 1.2 million tonnes at an average grade of approximately 805 g/t silver, 2.98% lead, and 1.13% zinc from four deposits (Bellekeno, Flame & Moth, Bermingham and Lucky Queen).

The average processing rate during the proposed 8-year mine life was estimated at 430 tonnes per day and Keno Hill was expected to produce approximately 4.0 million ounces of silver annually, contained in lead and zinc concentrates.

In 2020, the company has said it plans to conduct a $3.5 million exploration campaign to complete 11,500 metres of surface drilling to target Bermingham Deep, the Inca Vein and other targets in the district. In addition, the company plans to conduct an airborne survey across the district and a 3,500-metre RAB generative drilling campaign at multiple targets in the district.

The pre-feasibility study was based on total Probable Reserves of 30.4 million ounces of silver, of which roughly half is hosted by Flame & Moth. Bermingham is estimated to host 11.3 million ounces. Of the balance, Lucky Queen has 2.8 million ounces and Bellekeno has approximately one million ounces.

The pre-feasibility study estimated initial capital costs at $23.2 million, consisting of $17.9 million on surface and underground development costs to reach mill commissioning, plus an additional $5.3million of net working capital for two months of mill operations ramp-up prior to positive cash flow.