- The Quiet Summer of 2011, and Honest Work
- Respectable Showing For the Diamond Sector at PDAC 2011
- PDAC 2011 – this March
- Promising Diamond Find by Metalex in Northern Ontario, Plus Grades from Chidliak and Movement at Renard
- Peregrine Finds 1.15 Carat Diamond at Chidliak
- Stornoway Diamond Corp. Works to Expand Resources at Renard Project
- 2010 Toronto Resource Investment Conference
- Newsworthy Week For Canadian Diamond Companies
- Different Types of Diamonds at Fort à la Corne
- Kimberlites and Diamonds of Western Canada
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Posted by David
At the 2009 PDAC convention this month, CEO and President Matt Manson of Stornoway Diamond Corp. commented that this current economic environment and resultant government plans to increase spending is good for companies trying to develop mines in the sense of available infrastructure. Mr. Manson was in particular referring to Stornoway’s Renard diamond project in the Otish Mountains of central Quebec. The pre-feasibility study released last fall made the assumption that the current winter road access available to the potential mine site would be upgraded to an all-season paved road by the time construction would commence. This was discussed to in the earlier KIM Report article covering the findings of this study.
Good news came last Monday, when announced in Quebec’s 2009-2010 budget was $698 million for the development of roads in northern Quebec. Included in this allotment is money for the Route des Monts Otish (Route 167 Extension) that will extend from Chibougamau to the Renard site intersecting several other (metals) projects along the way (Eastmain, Strateco, and Western Troy). Details of the road project (in French) can be found on the government of Quebec website.
This boon comes at a time when investors are showing little of the patience necessary to see out a diamond project develop into a mine. Although not as large as Ekati or Diavik, Renard is still of significant size, especially when the nearby Lynx and Hibou dykes (bulk sampling near completion) are considered. The main advantage Renard has is that it is not an Arctic diamond mine, but that it is located in central Quebec, within close proximity to infrastructure (closer now with this announcement). It will have much lower mining costs as compared to isolated projects.
Further Infrastructure Spending?
There still remains the potential for electric power to be brought in to the region, as power lines run only tens of kilometres away from the site, but no announcement has been made regarding this as of yet. However, the pre-feasibility study assumed that the mine would operate using electricity generated on site and with oil above US$100. At this point, considering the assumptions made by AMEC in conducting the study, any other additional infrastructure forthcoming is just gravy.
Disclaimer: The author holds 4000 shares of SWY. This article is based on the personal opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing.
Posted by David
Recent market activity, to be conservative, has been devastating to resource stocks. Over the past six months, junior mining/exploration companies have been hit hard with up to 80% depreciation in their share prices. Many of these have slid strongly in spite of what would be considered by many to be positive news releases: financing obtained, higher than expected grade, large extensions of mineralized zones, etc.
Diamond stocks in particular continue to be a source of scorn for retail investors. Gone are the days seen in the 90′s and early 00′s where diamond companies were the darlings of the Canadian mining sector. However, recent financial market woes and investor panic do not change the fact that many of these companies hold properties with strong upside for the presence of a economic diamond deposit.
Two companies that appear to hold such projects, despite seeing their share prices drop over 70% in the past year or so, are Shear Minerals and Stornoway Diamonds. Both of these companies jointly operate the Churchill Project near Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
This project has been described in earlier articles posted on the KIM Report, but the discovery of a new kimberlite body, named “Killiq”, on the property this season has expanded the potential for a significant diamond mine in the area. This kimberlite was found during RC drilling of a target established by following the G10 garnet-dominated indicator mineral train in the Sedna corridor and geophysics. Churchill has already been established as a leader in diamond developments with the evaluation of the large Kahuna kimberlite dyke. Killiq is of note as it is very similar petrologically to the PST kimberlite also on the property that has an established grade of 2.18 c/t. Petrologically, characteristics that PST and Killiq both share include large olivine macrocrysts, purple-red pyropes, and blue-green phlogopite mica.
Shear Minerals, the project operator and majority interest holder, has sent heavy mineral concentrate from Killiq for chemical analysis. If any of the garnets in the concentrate have high Cr and low Ca contents like the G10 garnets in the till samples that led to the drilling, then there is significant potential for diamond.
This is one of nine kimberlites discovered this field season at Churchill, and is one of two, alongside the Kahuna breccia discovery, that was found to have significant petrological similarity to other pipes on the property with high diamond grades. The Kahuna breccia is interesting as it appears to be an extension of the Kahuna hypabyssal dyke, but it is of explosive, rather than magmatic nature.
Other activity that has occurred with Churchill include a mini-bulk sample of 26.1 t (wet) from the Notch kimberlite for an initial assessment of diamond content and quality for stones >0.86 mm in diameter. Further till sampling programs and geophysical (gravity, magnetic, etc.) surveys are ongoing.
In total there are 88 known kimberlite occurrences on the property with many at or beyond the mini-bulk sampling stage.
Stornoway has another property (90% owned) at the advanced exploration stage with Aviat on the Melville Peninsula in eastern Nunavut. Earlier this year, a 20.6 t mini-bulk sample from AV267 sheet, the largest body on the property, returned a grade of 1.62 c/t including a 3.64 c white gem. A larger bulk sample of 202 t is currently being processed with results expected by the end of the year. There are ten other kimberlite occurrences at Aviat discovered so far. Although some of these bodies may be separate outcrops of the same. All of the Aviat bodies are similar in petrology and diamond content (so far) and are of 535 Ma (Cambrian) age.
An obscure property on the sidelines a relatively short time ago, the high diamond grades coming out of Aviat have made it approach (and potentially exceed) the Churchill project in terms of importance.
Of course, all of these developments are being overshadowed to some degree by the impending pre-feasibility report on the Renard kimberlites. Part of the Foxtrot property that includes the Lynx and Hibou dykes as well, Renard already has had detailed diamond tonnage and valuation work done. Investor relations at Stornoway has acknowledged that there have been numerous delays in releasing the report, and not all of them related to the project. Peregrine Diamonds and Shore Gold have also employed AMEC, the same firm used by Stornoway to get their studies done, and this has resulted in a backlog. The revised date is now sometime is the later half of October. It will include the resource calculation and the economic study with an aim to be understandable to the non-expert investor. Unsurprisingly, the company remains optimistic that the report will allow them to move to the feasibility stage.
All of this has been accompanied by a drop in stock price from almost $0.90 to the $0.25 level. Brief reversals in the downward trend have been provided by the encouraging diamond valuations for Renard last fall (over $100/c) and an arrangement with the company’s creditors to eliminate its outstanding debt. However, current market pressures have kept this stock, along with all others in the sector, down.
Diamond companies and investors are desperate for a catalyst that will stop the haemorrhaging in the sector. Much of this will occur when (if?) the financial sector is done cutting out the dead wood, the rest will have to come from the companies themselves in the form of breakthrough news. Perhaps the impending pre-feasibility study for Renard will do that for Stornoway.
Posted by David
Stornoway Diamond Corp. (TSX-SWY) saw a 24.14% jump in stock price today, up seven cents to $0.36/share. The rise followed the resumption of trading following a halt this morning due to a financing-related news release. SWY reported that they have received $22 million from a private placement of 24,444,444 common shares at ninety cents a share. This is a premium of 195% on top of the opening price of $0.305 today. The participants in the private placement are Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (TSX-AEM) and Lorito Holdings Ltd. This $22 million will go to pay off debt in the form of debentures held by AEM and Lorito. AEM is already a significant shareholder of SWY, and with this transaction they will hold 17.6% of the outstanding shares. After the completion of this transaction, SWY will be debt-free.
This transaction is something of a coup in the current market. Juniors have been struggling to obtain funds to develop their projects and pay off debts. The credit market has been mostly deaf and blind to the woes of these companies as many lenders are themselves finding it a struggle to remain solvent. For a mining and exploration junior to pull off a private placement at a pre-subprime crisis share price is something of a shock (albeit a pleasant one) to investors and analysts who have become used to seeing the market cap of companies such as SWY slide by fifty to eighty percent. By offering equity to pay off its debts, SWY has managed to find a creative alternative to solving its cash problems in a bear market. The main upside here is that the dilution of the stock is one third of that if SWY were to issue stock at market price.
Now with balanced books, SWY faces only one major and immediate hurdle – to finance the construction of a diamond mine on their Foxtrot property in Quebec. This project, focusing mainly on the Renard kimberlite pipes, but also the Lynx and Hibou kimberlite dykes nearby, is joint owned 50/50 with SOQUEM and is fully described in an earlier article. SWY’s share of the mine construction costs will likely be over $100 million. The actual numbers are due out in September with the pre-feasibility study. The report was initially due this summer, but similar projects submitted earlier by Peregrine and Shore Gold tied up AMEC, the company contracted to conduct the study, until recently. Should the report be positive, as the geology and current diamond prices suggest, a significant amount of capital investment must be made to bring in the needed infrastructure for a mine. SWY will have to carry at least 50% of these costs.
Immediate of these costs is road access. Renard will not be an arctic diamond mine, dependent on airlifts and unpredictable ice roads for supply, but rather a site accessible by land year round. SWY is in talks with Western Troy Capital Resources Inc. (TSX.V-WRY), Strateco Resources Inc. (TSX-RSC), and Eastmain Resources Inc. (TSX-ER) – other mineral/metal exploration companies with projects in the Otish Mountains, local communities, and the Quebec government to build the “Route Monts Otish”. This partnership would provide strong benefits for all parties involved by sharing the cost of construction. SWY will need to bring September’s report to the table when the parties decide who pays what share of the road costs. It is also possible that the construction will bring in electricity service as well, further reducing the large bill SWY faces.
After September, SWY will have to come to a decision on how to fund the mine. Even if the Quebec government pays its full 50% share and the aforementioned road plan comes through, the cost to SWY will be well into the tens of millions of dollars. The company has a number of options to consider in obtaining the cash necessary to build the mine:
(1) They can go the traditional route and get financing from credit institutions. If the credit market simmers down by the winter this may be a possibility. Factors that would attract a lender are that the company has settled its accounts, the Foxtrot property has high and fairly well established diamond potential, and the company has many other promising secondary properties such as Aviat and Churchill (the latter a JV with Shear Minerals).
(2) Future private placements can be made. This will dilute the stock, but by how much is dependent on how the share price is doing at the time of issue. If today’s rise in share price is any indication, a positive report in September may be the catalyst investors need to return the company to the ~$1.00 level. In addition, management has established that they possess some expertise in brokering strong deals with large investment players (Rio Tinto is another major shareholder, with ~11% of the company).
(3) The company may bring in a third party to purchase a portion of their share in exchange for funding most of SWY’s costs a la the Franco-Nevada strategy.
(4) Interested parties could be sold secondary assets in exchange for cash to fund the mine. In addition to the aforementioned Aviat and Churchill projects, SWY holds promising advanced and reconnaissance stage projects in Nunavut, Ontario, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
It is likely the company will use a mix involving one, some, or even all of the above options to in order to proceed with construction.
Given that Quebec is regularly acclaimed as one of the top mining-friendly provinces in Canada, and that the province has a direct stake in the project, there seems to be fewer speedbumps on the road to Renard. Management with have to use every means at their disposal in order to navigate markets wracked with investor apathy towards diamond players.
Disclaimer: The author holds 2000 shares of SWY. This article is based on the personal opinion and experience of the author. Please do your own due diligence when investing.