- 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
Last week, Stornoway Diamond Corporation released the results of their latest drilling program at their Renard project (part of the Foxtrot property) in central Quebec. The dimensions of three diamond-bearing kimberlite bodies were expanded beyond those expected by the previous models.
Renard 1, 3, 4, and 65 Models Expanded
Although the density of drill-holes is too low to properly resolve the bodies at depth at a resolution that is suitable to be deemed an indicated or even inferred resource under NI 43-101 standards, the upside is promising. Three drill-holes each were put into Renard 3, 4, and 65. These data increase the previously modeled dimensions of the kimberlite pipes. The maximum lower cut-off for Renard 3 was extended from the depth of 395m established in the existing NI 43-101 report to 439m. The same was done for Renard 4, going from 380m to 759m. No previous 43-101-compliant resource values existed for Renard 65, but drilling encountered kimberlite a a maximum vertical depth of 513m. One drill hole was also put into Renard 1 and further confirmed multiple lithologies and a maximum depth of 370m. The increase in tonnage for the project is not as large or as certain as with the reported increase in Renard 2 earlier this year, but it is substantial and unexpected (see above image of a geological model of R-4 with 3 drill-holes showing kimberlite outside of the modeled dimensions (PMD: potential mineral deposit).
Renard 65 (geological model above) stands apart from the other two bodies (R3 and 4) as it is entirely classified as PMD and cannot be included in the 43-101 feasibility study recently contracted out to SNC-Lavalin. R65 is quite large in terms of ore tonnage, but lower grade than other bodies. The body would potentially add to the mine life or throughput of ore at the mine as extra reserves, but not significantly affect overall mine grade or diamond valuation as it is believed to be one of the least economic bodies in the cluster. Renard 1 would be classified in the same group as 65. Also adding to the potential reserves at the future Quebec mine would be the 4+ km long Lynx dyke, and smaller Hibou dyke. However, the diamonds from these kimberlite dykes are typically more brownish in colour than the ones from the Renard pipes and thus have a lower average valuation (US$/c).
Other Projects Put on Hold
Stornoway’s increasing focus on Renard has left its other lower-stage targets on the back-burner. Aviat on the Melville peninsula in Nunavut is the next most promising after Renard. Though less-studied and containing smaller white diamonds, its high grade (~2c/t) and unknown extent holds significant potential. Completion of a mine at Renard should provide an income stream to fund the next necessary step of bulk sampling.
The only remaining project of relative significance held by Stornoway is its minority share in the Churchill kimberlite project operated by Shear Minerals. Although a portion of the project has attracted the attention of Rio Tinto, it appears to be doomed to languish as Shear Minerals has become preoccupied by its purchase of the Jericho mine and Stornoway’s lack of funds for non-priorities.
Coins Remaining in the Piggy Bank
As of its last quarterly report, the company had $14 million in cash. From this, Stornoway must fund its 50% share of the upcoming Renard mine feasibility study (the other half belongs to SOQUEM). A secondary study is in the works to examine bringing hydroelectric power lines into the camp from the north. If possible, attaching the mine to the electric grid would occur a few years into the mine-life. The earlier pre-feasibility study from over a year ago assumed on-site electric generation. Access to Quebec’s cheap hydroelectricity would significantly lower operating costs and avoid vulnerability to high oil prices.
Given that the third generation of Canadian diamond mines (Renard, Fort à la Corne, and maybe even Gahcho Kue) are coming on-line in the next few years, diamond stocks are rising. A half-decade of disinterest and bad luck (see Tahera and Jericho) is hopefully over, and investors: individual and institutional, will begin to see the value in the long wait for a diamond mine to reach production.
Disclaimer: The author holds shares of SWY and SRM. Relevant comments are welcome and encouraged. Spam comments will be deleted. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2010 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
The one diamond discovery that commanded the most attention at this year’s PDAC convention was Peregrine Diamonds‘ kimberlite (and subsequent diamond) discovery on its Chidliak property in south Baffin Island, Nunavut. Chidliak is 9800 km2, and since the discovery of diamonds on the property, Peregrine has added a buffer claim around the property of ~3200 km2 in area called Qilaq this February. BHP-Billiton has earn-in rights of up to 51% in Chidliak if they spend $22.3 million on the property over the next five years. Although BHP is spending five times what Peregrine is, Peregrine remains the operator for 2009′s program.
Chidliak was the focus of two talks in two separate diamond sessions at this year’s PDAC. What is so interesting about Chidliak is the sequence of events that led to the discovery of three kimberlite bodies: CH-1, -2, and -3, on the property.
Till sampling of kimberlite indicator minerals from 2005 to 2007 confirmed that kimberlite was present in the area. These samples indicated that 10% of the garnets found were G10. Last year, an aeromagnetic survey that covered less than 15% of the property resulted in a number of magnetic anomalies. These are commonly associated with kimberlite, but not always. Field geologists sent out to investigate the three most promising anomalies encountered kimberlite rock at the surface. Approximately 1100 kg mini-bulk surface samples from the CH-1 and CH-2 kimberlites gave back 2.17 c/t and 0.9 c/t, respectively. This includes a 2.01 c gem-quality colourless resorbed octahedron from the CH-1 sample.
These are in no way statistical samples of the diamond potential of the kimberlites, but they are superb returns from a grassroots exploration program that has yet to put a drill hole into the ground. Considering these encouraging results, there is significant upside to this project. Over 170 magnetic anomalies remain from the aeromagnetic survey for investigation and the bulk of the claim remains yet to be surveyed. Consider that the size of the Chidliak and Qilaq claims are much larger than the Ekati (BHP-Billiton) or Diavik (Rio Tinto and Harry Winston) mine camps in the Northwest Territories.
Another long-term benefit for the project is its proximity to infrastructure. That is of course a relative term when in the arctic. The property is less than 100 km from the territorial capital of Iqaluit and even closer to the coast, unlike the land-locked and isolated Lac de Gras mines that are ~400 km from Yellowknife by ice road.
Considering that current mines in the pipeline are either modest in comparison to Ekati and Diavik: e.g. Snap Lake (De Beers), Renard (Stornoway and SOQUEM), DO-27 (Peregrine), or have slowed in their development: e.g. Fort a la Corne (Shore Gold and Newmont), Gahcho Kue (Mountain Province and DeBeers); Chidliak hopefully represents a large part of a new period of Canadian diamond exploration.
Disclaimer: The author holds 4000 shares of SWY and 20 of HW. This article is based on the personal opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
Earlier this month, Mountain Province Diamonds (TSX-MPV, AMEX-MDM) dropped a big rock in the otherwise stagnant waters of diamond exploration and investment. The company announced that they had recovered a 25.13 c colourless octahedral diamond of exceptional clarity from the Tuzo kimberlite in the Gahcho Kue cluster, Northwest Territories. This diamond was valued at approximately (USD) $17,500/c, or $439,775 total. This is the largest diamond recovered in Canada during an exploration project.
MPV discovered the Gahcho Kue cluster, which lies in the AK property in the Kennady Lake region. It owns 49% of the project, with De Beers Canada as the operator and majority stake holder. The geologic environment of the project is in the southeast Slave craton. The cluster was discovered in 1997 and DeBeers Canada (then Monopros) was quickly brought in as a JV partner where is could earn up to 51% of the project by shouldering a large portion of the costs. DeBeers has since exercised this option. Four main kimberlite bodies comprise the cluster (see map): Tuzo, 5034, Hearne, and Tesla. Tesla is not currently considered to be a resource as its small surface area, 0.4 hectares, is less than one third that of the next largest body: Tuzo at 1.4 hectares.
The geology of the three currently economic pipes is varied. 5034 is an irregular body of hypabyssal kimberlite, Hearne is a mix of hypabyssal and diatreme facies kimberlite, and Tuzo is believed to be the deeper part of a diatreme with no root zone found as of yet. These bodies together create a large reserve of ore that has been thoroughly drilled and modeled over the past decade. In a general way the geology could be seen as an intermediate between the Churchill (Stornoway Diamonds & Shear Minerals) and Snap Lake (De Beers Canada) projects that are entirely hypabyssal kimberlite and the Fort a la Corne (Shore Gold & Newmont) project where all of the kimberlite found is pyroclastic or resedimented pyroclastic.
The diamond was recovered from LDDH sampling in March of this year. After the sampling was completed the kimberlite was made into a concentrate at De Beers’ Grand Prairie, Alberta facility and then shipped to the GEMDL laboratory in South Africa (also run by De Beers) to recover the remaining diamonds. When this in completed, the diamonds will be sent to the DTC facility in London, U.K., for cleaning and valuation.
Of the three main kimberlites, Tuzo is the least developed in terms of sampling. The recent bulk sample was in part an effort to rectify this. 5034 has 8.7 Mt of indicated ore at 1.6 c/t and 4.9 Mt of inferred ore at 1.7 c/t. Hearne has 5.7 Mt of indicated ore at 1.7 c/t and 1.5 Mt of inferred ore at 1.53 c/t. Tuzo, meanwhile only has 10.6 Mt of inferred ore at 1.15 c/t. MPV and De Beers are trying to remove the uncertainty with this body. For comparative purposes Diavik a few hundred km to the north has about 29.8 Mt of reserves in total at 3.2 c/t (measured+indicated), or 95.36 Mc. Thus far, Gahcho Kue has about 46 Mc (indicated+inferred). Keep in mind that the Diavik mine has unusually high grade. MPV estimates a mine life of about 24 years.
In terms of diamond valuation, an independent 2006 report by WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. gave (in USD) $101/c for 5034, $54/c for Hearne, and $43/c for Tuzo. The average for all three pipes was $75/c and it was noted that proper cleaning (usually in a hot acid bath) would raise the value of many of the diamonds by up to 10%.
It has been over ten years since the discovery at Gahcho Kue. Mining is expected to begin in full by 2012, giving about a fourteen year lag between discovery and mine. Diavik took only ten years in total to begin full capacity mining and Ekati took even less. Following statements for interviews with MPV management, it would seem that they would prefer a faster to-mine plan, but De Beers has preferred a more methodical approach. In light of what happened at Jericho with Tahera, perhaps this might be a more prudent option. Though perhaps De Beers has been focusing the bulk of its attention on their 100% owned Snap Lake and Victor projects in the Northwest Territories and Ontario, respectively.
Regardless of the slow timetable set for developing the project, the discovery of this diamond, along with other ones >5 c found in the past few years, has established the potential for large, high quality stones. As diamond price goes up exponentially with carat size, the profit margins for the future mine are looking larger. Now that above average grades, decent diamond values, and large, high quality, high value diamonds have been established at Gahcho Kue the main hurdle is to finance the project to completion as it will be about four years until commercial production. MPV needs about $370 million to fund its 49% share. The current market cap of the company is $280 million. The company has about $1.5 million net in cash and medium-term deposits, and has invested about $65 million in the project overall. While the sale of the diamond announced last week should pay for a few drill holes, in order to keep the full 49% share of the project MPV will undoubtedly require financing. This strategy may run into some resistance as diamonds are not a hot item in the current market and lenders in general are skittish after their collective failure to recognize the risks of sub prime mortgages and ABCP. Also, the fate of the aforementioned last diamond mine to open in the Arctic may be scaring way any potential suitors. Raising more capital by dilution is only a partial solution at this moment considering the vast funds involved. Although the company is not poorly positioned to issuing private placements effectively as its stock price has not suffered anywhere near to the degree that many of its peers have (mainly $4 to $5 over the past year). Another option is to default on their share of the costs and let De Beers’ deep pockets take care of things in return for letting their share slide to 40%. A third option that is being signaled by a strategic review of the company as alluded to in a National Post article last week is that the company may be putting itself up for sale.
Regardless of what option the company pursues, the nature of the deposit is likely to reap large rewards for shareholders when interest in the diamond market returns. What remains to be seen is that whether MPV chooses the option that gives the best gain to the shareholders.
Disclaimer: The author holds no shares of MPV. This article is based on the author’s personal research and experience. Please perform your own due diligence when investing.