- 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
5034 AAD Aappaluttoq Aber Diamonds ABX ACS AEM Ag Agnico-Eagle Mines Agrium Alberta Alto Ventures Amarillo Amaruk AMEC Amerigo Archangel Diamond Archon Minerals Ltd. Arctic Arctic Star Diamond ARG Argentina Argyle Ashton Mining Canada Attawapiskat ATV ATW ATW Venture Corp. Au Australia AUY Avalon Rare Metals Avanti Mining Corp. Aviat AVL Baffin Island Barrick Bathurst Beluga BHP BHP Billiton Birch Mountains Bling Blue Note Mining Blue Pearl Cluster BN BRIC Buenaventura Buffalo Head Hills Bunder Burnstone Ventures Inc. BVE BVN Canada Candente Candle Lake Canterra carbonatite Caribou Castillian CCE Chariot Resources CHD Chidliak Chile Chris Jennings Chuck Fipke Churchill Churchill craton CL CLF Cliffs Co Codelco Coloured Gemstones Commerce Resources Contact Diamond Corporation copper CTM Cu Cullinan DDN DeBeers Diamond Diamondex Diamonds Diamonds North Dianor Diavik Diopside dividend DNT DO-27 DOR DSP Eastmain Resources Ekati El Teniente emerald EnCana Corp. ER EuroZinc Exotic Metals FALC FGE FGT First Nickel Inc. Fiskenaesset FNI FNV Forest Gate Fort a la Corne Foxtrot Franco-Nevada G Gahcho Gahcho Kue Gem Diamonds geologic terms glossary gold Goldcorp GPR Great Panther Resources Great Panther Silver Greenland Grib Grizzly Discoveries Inc. Gualcamayo Guanajuato Guaniamo GZD Harry Winston Hawthorne Gold Hearne HGC Hibou HUD Hudson Resources Hunter Exploration HW HWD IME In Indicator Minerals indium interview iron Jericho Jericho Diamond Mine Jigsaw K K-2 Kahuna Kennady Lake Killiq kimberlite Kinross KWG Kyle Lake Lac De Gras Las Aguilas lead Leadbetter Lesotho Letseng Li limestone lithium Lockerby LUC Lucara Lukoil LUN Lundin Mining Lynas Lynx Mapimi Marifil Mines Ltd. market hype MAT Matamec Exploration Inc. Metalex Ventures Mexico Mexivada MFM Mina El Carmen Mo molybdenum Monument Diamond Project Motapa Mothae Mountain Province Diamonds MPV MTC MTP MTX Muskox Kimberlite natural gas Nb NEM Neuqen Basin New Gold Newmont New Nadina Diamonds Ltd. NGD Ni NI 43-101 nickel niobium NMC NNA Noront NOT Notch Nunaminerals Nunavut oil Orion Otish Pascua Llama Pb PC Gold Pd PDAC Pedernal Peregrine Peregrine Diamonds Petra Diamonds PGD PGE PGM PKL placer platinum Pogo Mine potash Potash Corp. pre-feasibility PST003 Pt Punta Colorado Qavvik Qilaq QUA Quadra Mining QUC Quebec Quebect Quest Rare Metals Quest Uranium rare earth elements Rare Element Resources Raytech Metals Corp. Re REE Renard RES Restigouche rhenium Rio Colorado Rio Narcea Rio Tinto RSC RTP ruby San Antonio San Juan San Roque sapphire Saskatchewan SGF Shear Diamonds Shear Minerals Shore Gold silver SL Snap Lake Sola Resource Corp Soltoro SOQUEM Inc. SRM Star Stewart Blusson stockhouse.com Stornoway Stornoway Diamonds Strange Lake Strateco Resources SWY Ta TAH Tahera tantalum TCK.A TCK.B TCM Teck Cominco Terrane Metals Tesla TGX Thompson Creek Metals Thor Lake TIF Tiffany & Co. Topia Topia Mine Toronto Resource Investment Conference Triex True North Gems TRX Tsa Da Glisza Tuktu Tuktu-1 Tunerq tungsten Tuzo Type IIa U uranium VAA Vaaldiam Mining Inc. VALE-INCO Veladero Venezuela Victor WDO Wesdome Western Troy Capital Resources WRY WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. Yamana Gold Inc. YRI zinc Zn
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Posted by David
This weekend I stopped by the 2009 Toronto Resource Investment Conference held by Cambridge House International Inc. I sort of treat these conferences as a useful mini-PDAC: 100-200 juniors and some talks by analysts, but less free booze and conference swag.
Before getting onto the discussions I had at the booths, a short note on the talks given at the workshops. I attended two very different types of talks at the conference. The first was by Thom Calandra of Ticker Trax fame titled Guanajuato Silver (e.g. Great Panther Resources), Canadian Moly (e.g. Avanti Mining Corporation, TSX.V-AVT), Ghana Gold, and Global H1N1. The talk covered his past experiences, the millions he made selling companies he helped found, his run-ins with the S.E.C., his recent fishing trip with other colleagues, how accurate his past stock predictions have been, past anecdotes, and basically very little to do with the topics covered by the title. No information on how to pick a good stock was given, nor were his strategies discussed in any useful detail. Although in his defense, his presentation was accompanied by many pictures of his visits to sites in those regions.
In contrast to this drivel I was forced to sit through until the main booths opened, Mr. John Kaiser (The Bottom Fishing Report) gave a later talk that Sunday titled Understanding the Rare Earth Metals. This talk was much more useful (even though I found it a little distracting that he looks a little like the PC guy from the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” commercials). Although he and his colleagues take a much looser stance on what constitutes a Rare Earth Metal than do us scientists –he includes metals like Y, In, Sc, Ga, Ge, etc. along with the lanthanides, he presented a compelling argument for the future’s demand for these metals. He discussed the increasing need for most rare/exotic metals in new consumer products such as LCD screens, hybrid and electric cars, cellphones, etc. He made an interesting point that the world market for lanthanides was ~$1 billion (USD) in 2005. This has obviously changed to a much higher number. Actual recent pricing for all exotic metals is very hard to find as there is no centralized commodities exchange for these metal oxides (pricing is done in oxides of these metals). A “journalistic approach” is required to obtain much of the current pricing market data, to quote Mr. Kaiser.
One gripe I have is mostly due to my own fault not closely following Mr. Kaiser’s advice earlier. Many of the juniors exploring for exotic metals that have earned a recommendation by him back as recently as the beginning of the summer have shot up significantly. Some include Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (TSX-AVL) (up 386% since May 1, 2009) and Quest Uranium (TSX.V-QUC) (up 2325% since May 1, 2009). I was not able to get around the crowd at the Avalon booth during my time at the conference, but they seem to be making good headway with their Thor Lake peralkaline pegmatite in the Northwest Territories. I did get a chance to speak to some QUC employees though, including one of their field geologists. Their Strange Lake project straddles the Quebec-Labrador border and is an altered (secondary hematite, specularite, fluorite, etc.) alkali granite. Recent drilling confirmed zones of REEs+Y of 1.11-3.47% over 1-14 m. There is also a weighting towards the more valuable heavy REEs. Although this is not unusual for pegmatite REE deposits when compared to their carbonatite counterparts. Though it has pegmatitic zones similar to Thor Lake, the mineralogy, particularly the ore minerals, are very different. Strange Lake has zircon, gittinsite, pyrochlore, gadolinite, and allanite, whereas Thor Lake possesses bastnaesite, monazite, synchesite, allanite, zircon, columbite-tantalite, and fergusonite. In some cases, these ore minerals are quite coarse grained (>1 cm), leading to easy liberation from the rock during processing.
This means that should both projects make it to production, very different metal processing methods with have to be employed for each to obtain marketable metal oxides. One thing that did concern me is that QUC has basically no idea how to process this amazing deposit. (Nor does the literature given out by AVL give a clear image of how to process theirs either). These metals, especially the REEs, are very similar chemically and difficult to separate. Then again, this may not be a problem as most companies this size will, at a certain point, bring in a senior partner with better technical know-how to worry about this.
Other exotic metals companies at the conference that were worth notice were Matamec Exploration Inc. (TSX.V-MAT, light-heavy REEs, Y, Zr), Hudson Resources (light REEs, Ta, Zr, Nb), Rare Element Resources (Au, U, REEs) and Commerce Resources (Ta, Nb).
Needless to say, there is a lot of investor appetite for these types of companies with promising properties. Though I am not a fan of buzzwords such as the “Green Economy” and so on, there is definitely some substance to the developing markets for these metals that new technologies cannot do without.
As a final, but somewhat unrelated note, fans of Stornoway Diamond Corp. will be happy to know that drilling results will be out soon and an update of the 43-101 report on Renard will be due in this upcoming quarter. The preliminary assessment will be out no more than 6 months after that. As for their Avait play on the Melville Peninsula, progress was mostly relegated to desktop work this year as the unexpected extension of the Renard-2 pipe has kept their resources tied up. The company did make it to $0.30/share (down to ~$0.20 now), but that has mostly been due to the success of Peregrine Diamonds’ progress at their Chidliak property, proving to the “sheeple” in the investment sectors that yes, you can still make money holding diamond stocks post-2007.
More news on the diamond sector to come in the next article. Thanks for reading and it looks like a bit of good luck is returning.
Disclaimer: The author owns 4000 shares of SWY and 1000 shares of GPR. Although he wishes he had bought some PGD back in March when he recommended it. 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
As the commodity markets shyly improve, one sector (aside from gold of course) is giving a strong showing. It is not one metal, but rather a collection of metals (and metalloids) that has experienced a strong increase in investor and consumer demand. Exotic metals: lithium (Li), tantalum (Ta), beryllium (Be), gallium (Ga), germanium (Ge), niobium (Nb), indium (In), and of course the rare earth elements (REEs), are all experiencing their increased demand. Many of these exotic metals are found in relatively rare geologic occurrences such as carbonatites or pegmatites. This is particularly due to their use in electronics. As more of these devices -typically hand-held or personal, make their way into our lives, the demand for these elements increases.
In the recent commodity rebound, many exploration and mining companies focusing on these exotic metals have been riding the crest of the wave. Companies such as Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (TSX-AVL) and Rare Element Resources (TSX.V-RES) have been stand-outs in this group with a 3-5x increase in share prices since April of this year. AVL has been focused on developing the Thor Lake pegmatite deposit (NWT) and has been refining the process by which to extract the REEs from the rock to an experimental yield of 80%. RES is lot only looking to produce REEs from its Bear Lodge deposit in Wyoming, but gold and uranium as well partially with the help of Newmont Mining Corp. Marifil Mines Ltd. in Argentina is still sitting on its indium (plus gold and silver) property at San Roque, waiting for a JV partner to come through.
Other juniors with more subdued share behaviour are Hudson Resources and Commerce Resources Corp. (TSX.V-CCE). Hudson is gearing up on their Sarfartoq carbonatite REE deposit in Greenland as their other main play: diamonds at Garnet Lake, has lost market attention. Surface sample results from Sarfartoq deposit have given promising numbers in the range of ~1-9% TREO (total rare earth oxides) with a strong weighting to neodymium, one of the more valuable REEs.
Commerce Resources has been busy with their Ta-Nb-REE carbonatite project near Blue River, British Columbia. They have recently announced a $5 million private placement to fund the further evaluation of the Blue River project, particularly the Upper Fir portion. Though not a REE-focused company as most of those mentioned above, CCE is looking at tapping into the increasing demand for exotic metals though its Ta-Nb properties
The carbonatite bodies at Blue River are rather coarse-grained (see picture). This makes liberation of the ore mineral grains (such as Nb-bearing pyrochlore) more efficient and points to a high recovery for these exotic metals.
Tantalum in particular is poised for an increase in demand as personal electronics use increases. It is often a crucial component in microelectronic circuitry. Niobium’s main use is as an alloy with iron to produce high-strength steel. As demand increases, the supply side has to potential to contract significantly. A major source of Nb and Ta, African coltan ore, is being slowly cut off. This is because much of the coltan mined in Africa is done under inhumane conditions to finance local conflict, much in the same way as “blood diamonds”.
As with any commodity market, China is another factor. It is the largest producer of REEs though its vast clay or carbonatite mines, over 95% of world production. There are major worries by the rest of the developed world that China’s control of these strategic metals may have major geopolitical consequences, meaning that alternative deposits in the free world may become attractive not only to investors, but to governments as well.
Disclaimer: The author holds 1000 shares of MFM. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
New Government in Greenland
The Greenlandic people recently applied the results of a 2008 referendum where they voted to gain further autonomy from Denmark that has held sovereignty over the world’s largest island for about 300 years. Greenland now has an increased share of future oil revenues, decreased Danish subsidies, made Greenlandic the sole official language, and has control over areas concerning police, coastguard, and the courts.
Greenland has recently elected a new government as well. The new government is dominated by the Inuit Ataqatugiit (Community of the People) party that has a decidedly socialist and pro-independence platform. However, it has yet to show to the world how it will deal with outside companies in the exploitation of the island’s natural resources: gems, gold, base metals, and petroleum to name a few. Will it take the approach of Alberta (at least until a year ago) with low royalties and taxes to attract foreign investment? Will they go to the other extreme such as the case with Mongolia (see Ivanhoe Mines) where government protectionism and incompetence has paralysed mining in the country? Or will they seek a middle ground as given by the case of Norway, which has exacted generous royalties, but at the same time sustaining corporate interest in exploiting the offshore oil fields there.
Only ~15% of the land area is not covered by glacier, but that number is increasing due to a current global warming cycle. With the lowest population density in the world of 0.03 persons/km2 (Canada is 3); the world’s largest island has to balance its need for funds to better the life of its residents with the desires of some conservative residents to limit exploitation of the land and foreign influence.
Natural Resources are the only realistic draw for investment in Greenland. Population and infrastructure levels are too low for things to be otherwise. Although mines have operated on the island in the past (including the famous cryolite mine that allowed for relative fiscal autonomy after Denmark was occupied during World War 2), no mineral production is presently occurring.
The resources Greenland has to offer the mining industry is varied and a number of companies have exploration programs in the region. Hudson Resources Inc. (TSX.V-HUD) is looking at diamonds in its Garnet Lake property and rare earth metals, uranium, tantalum, and niobium in the Sarfartoq carbonatite nearby. Quadra Mining Ltd. (TSX-QUA) hopes to produce molybdenum concentrate from the Malmbjerg project (although with the collapse of Mo prices, we will have to see how that goes). Even the Greenlandic government is looking to directly profit from mineral exploration through its 37.1% share in Nunaminerals A/S (OMX Copehagen-NUNA) a company with nickel, tungsten, platinum, copper, gold, and iron exploration projects scattered throughout the island.
The Natives are Restless
The mineral exploration project that has attracted the most media attention as of recent is True North Gems’ (TSX.V-TGX) Fiskenaesset Ruby play in southwest Greenland. The company is arranging a private placement to pay for some of the final costs in obtaining a long-awaited mining permit by spring 2010 in order to start selling the large amount of rough gem corundum (ruby and pink sapphire) they have accumulated. In terms of the economic geology, deposit is exceptional in both grade and value of the gems present, rivalling the famed Burmese deposits while existing in a country that does not have the habit of imprisoning duly elected politicians or murdering peaceful protestors. The main focus TGX has now is on whether it can get one of the final permits it needs in order to begin selling the rubies and sapphires it has mined during its evaluation of its property and hopes to mine in the future. TGX has encountered a problem familiar to many companies operating in Canada with resistance from some local aboriginals to the project. This group claims right to traditional mining rights over all of Greenland including TGX’s staked claims. A fairly recent confrontation two summers ago between TGX employees and a group of locals who were collecting gems on a TGX claim resulted in police intervention and catalyzed the formation of the group of locals who accuse the Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) of unfairly siding with TGX and denying their right to conduct traditional activities. A number of articles supporting the local group of aboriginals, calling themselves the August 16th Union can be found HERE.
Playing Hot Potato
For TGX’s part, they appear to (wisely) want to distance themselves from any conflict with locals. They state that the August 16th Union’s complaint lies with the BMP and that the incident just happened to occur on a TGX clam. Andrew Lee Smith, CEO of TGX, when directly questioned on the matter by the KIM Report replied:
“As a foreign company investing in Greenland, we feel this is an issue for the people of Greenland and their government to deal with. We have respected the laws of Greenland in acquiring our mineral rights and conducting exploration and will continue to do so. The company would be happy to support any process that would improve the Greenland mining act if requested to do so.”
A transcript of an interview with Mr. Smith can be found HERE and gives a similar, but more detailed message.
A Great Canadian Pastime, Now a Greenlandic One
Given that one bias of opinion on this issue was given by the blog articles linked above, I will play devil’s advocate. Though I am a geologist by training and admittedly know little about Greenlandic law, I think this issue is a major concern for any company looking to do exploration in Greenland. The election of a socialist, pro-Inuit government does not bode well for companies involved in land-use disputes with aboriginal groups. However, the desire for more financial independence from Denmark and thus the need for more foreign investment may temper the government’s approach to this matter.
As a TGX shareholder, I am of course concerned by any possible interruption of development at Fiskanaesset, but as a Canadian, I am all too aware of the ability for corporations and government to push aside aboriginal groups in the name of “progress”. However, I also know that often the best way to find “traditional aboriginal lands” is to stake a development claim (e.g. Caledonia, Ontario). This unfortunate stereotype is can be encountered when utilizing land in Canada and sometimes is all too accurate in the most cynical sense.
This dispute raises a number of questions by outsiders unfamiliar with Greenlandic law and custom. It can be argued that what has to be established here is: (1) Is gem corundum collecting a traditional Inuit activity and does solid historic evidence exist for it? (2) If the former holds true, what degree of mining is considered traditional? (3) If aboriginal mining is legitimate, is there evidence for past mining in the region claimed by TGX? (4) Is it reasonable to allow traditional miners to benefit from the exploration activity conducted by TGX (ore discovery, exposure at surface, etc.)? (5) Is selling gemstones collected by aboriginal collectors to the world market also a traditional pastime? (6) If the former is all or partly true, did TGX know of this and did the government inform them when they applied for their exploration permit?
Final Cynical Thoughts
While I understand the desire first nations have to preserve their traditional, pre-colonial practices, to demand special status can in certain cases be construed as hypocrisy. Much like the Inuit hunter using rifle and snowmobile to achieve their specially-sanctioned hunting quota in the Canadian Arctic, or the Atlantic Mik’mak Indian lobster fisherman using powered boats, radio, and sonar to bring in their catch, sometimes these “traditional methods” are none too traditional. Likewise, is mining – even on a small scale, of deposits found and exposed at surface using modern technology and knowledge really “traditional”? Going further, is selling those gemstones to offshore consumers “traditional” as well?
Disclaimer: The author holds 1000 shares of TGX. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com