- 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
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
Stornoway Diamond Corp. released its updated preliminary assessment for its Renard project a few weeks ago. SWY owns 50% of the Foxtrot property with SOQUEM. Renard is one of three kimberlite occurrences on the property, with Lynx and Hibou being the other two. The bottom line of this report is an increase in the project’s NPV to CAN$885 million.
The assessment incorporates and effectively quantifies the earlier reported extension of the Renard-2 body. The carats contained by this kimberlite is approximately 4x the initial amount reported almost two years ago, and the body remains open at depth. This means that the full extent of the mineable portion of the body is less well known, leaving a significant upside that is yet to be determined. The other major Renard pipe remain open at depth as well (see image).
A release from the middle of April has shown that SWY and SOQUEM are looking at having similar success at the Renard 65, 3, and 4 bodies. Expansions of the resource at Foxtrot such as these one have led to the proposed mine life expanding from under a dozen years to twenty-five.
Investors jumped on this news, propelling the stock as high at CAN$0.80/share before settling in the mid-sixty cent range. I could be not long now before SWY stock begins to creep into the $1 range. Further reports such as these and burgeoning institutional investor interest will be crucial factors in this stock’s rise.
One concern with these studies concerning Renard is the value of the US dollar. Diamonds are valued and sold rough in $US/c. The rise in the Canadian dollar against the American is going to dig into SWY’s bottom line (and any diamond mine in Canada). As costs are in CAN$ and sales in $US, the modeled margins will be narrower if the diamond prices do not increase in adjustment. The aforementioned preliminary report assumes US$1 = CAN$1.11 and a diamond valuation of US$117/c.
Not being an arctic diamond mine, the relatively low production cost of <CAN$50/t will go great lengths to insulate SWY from most fluctuations in the exchange rate. Along with Shore Gold’s Star-Orion project in Saskatchewan, the recession has left Renard as one of two Canadian diamond projects with a reasonable chance of becoming a mine in the next fives years.
Disclaimer: The author holds shares of SWY. This article is based on the personal opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2010 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
The recent plea from the Dubai sovereign wealth fund, Dubai World, for a moratorium on payments to their $59 billion (USD) debt underscores that there are still plenty of skeletons in the closet to be found as the world economy races and stalls back to recovery. Sometimes this engine even goes backwards for a bit in the face of surprising news such as this.
Is this revelation really so surprising? Perhaps in the particular details and that it involves a supposedly wealthy country backed by decades of high oil production revenues. Or at least it was before it invested a good bit of that money to finance the hyper-development of a previously sleepy Arabian emirate. However, it is not surprising that large negative developments continue to come to light as the financial systems recover and consolidate. It took many years of unchecked greed and financial short-sightedness to create the crisis (crises?) that started in 2007. It is only logical that it will be a few years until we are free of this baggage.
What does this mean for commodities? The “good times” are gone and many investors/developers now have to deal with an annoying factor known as “reality” when they are interpreting the market, supply/demand trends, and so forth.
This whole topic is too big for one article and it would be redundant, not to mention exhausting, to focus on an all-encompassing review of things as they stand and look to do so in the future. Following the news of Dubai World’s troubles made me think of all the discretionary luxury goods (haute couture, man-made islands shaped-like things, and particularly jewellery) that are disproportionately consumed by such a rather small population, and how that allegory can be expanded to the world at large.
Are those we previously thought to be ultra-rich truly immune to economic fluctuations? It really is a relative matter, but it appears that the 2007-2009 meltdown(s) has (have) even touched those we thought to be dependable for the consumption of commodities of limited practicality. Diamonds (and other gems) are perhaps the best example of such an item. They can be synthesized easily now for aesthetic and industrial purposes, leaving natural diamonds of no particular commercial use aside from vanity and symbolism.
However, it is the rarity, history, and symbolism/mystique surrounding natural diamonds that makes them so sought after, even in troubled economic times such as now.
This recent reprieve in the markets over the past six months has been accompanied by bursts of positive news releases from a previously lacklustre Canadian diamond exploration sector. This recovery was second to only that seen by rare earth metals in the past few months.
Peregrine First Out of the Gate
The major catalyst for this renewed interest in diamond properties in 2009 was the Chidliak discovery on Baffin Island. Although the most recent news from Peregrine (and JV partner BHP Billiton) was less than stellar compared to previous developments, the Chidliak-Qilaq project is the first diamondiferous kimberlite discovery in Canada in years to hold significant economic potential. PGD stock has relaxed from its surprising highs in September-October stable levels at well over $1. The nature of the Chidliak find was covered in an earlier article back in March. What is interesting in recent months is the lag time for the market to acknowledge this find: about six months since its first real publicity at a sparsely attended PDAC session on diamond exploration.
Shore Pushes Onwards
Two other major players in the Canadian diamond junior sector have seen stock jumps more closely tied to news releases. Shore Gold released its most recent NI 43-101 complaint report concerning the Orion South kimberlite body in the Fort a la Corne (FalC) JV project with Newmont in Saskatchewan (not to be confused with the adjacent Star property wholly owned by SGF). This technical report and resource estimate is lengthy at 108 pages, as it should be considering the complex geology found in the FalC pipe compared to some other Canadian kimberlites (e.g. Snap Lake, Lynx). The bulk of the geological characteristics of the FalC kimberlites were covered in an earlier KIM Report article. The main issues indicated with that article over a year ago was for SGF to up their average diamond valuations due to grades well below 1 ct/t (100 cpht), and to give a reasonable estimate of the total mining cost per ton. The proximity of local communities and their infrastructure (power, roads, etc.) will bring costs down well below those of Arctic projects. But by how much? P&E Mining Consultants do a very thorough job of considering all technical aspects of the most promising body of the 70+ in the FalC project.
SGF and NEM commissioned WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. to evaluate the diamonds recovered from underground and LDDH samples. 2320.2 c was priced at $199495 (US), or $86/c (using the March 11 2008 pricing). The most promising units of the Orion South kimberlite: EJF and P-2 had price ranges of $100-166/c and $91-123/c, respectively. Diamonds from other lithologies of Orion South have lower valuations. P&E optimistically use the high end values for their modelling of the resource. This is significantly lower than the $225/c valuation at Star, located 2.5 km to the SE. Grades range from 0.128-0.147c/t depending on the case used. Tonnage (minimum case) is 76.8 Mt indicated and 86.3 Mt inferred.
The mining plan for Orion South suggests an open pit. Slope of the pit wall would be 30º for the ore/waste rock and 18º for the overburden due to its unconsolidated nature.
Mining costs are hard to put together from just reading the report. It assumes that the exchange rate will be US$0.85/CAD$. Stripping costs for the overburden (glacial till) will be $1/t overburden, with mining, processing, and general/administrative costs pegged at $6.54/t kimberlite. Thus using the absolute minimum values SGF and NEM look to clear about $4/t (rough estimate for overburden clearance) from Orion. Though should aspects such as US-CAD exchange rates, rough diamond prices, and/or fuel prices strongly fluctuate, this number could go much higher or lower. The key assumption being made here -as with all deposits, is that the modelled resource accurately reflects the real resource in the ground closely enough that it remains economic. The major difficulty with the FalC kimberlites is that their petrological/lithological heterogeneity (i.e. changes in diamond grade throughout zones in the kimberlite body) is difficult to pin down. The overall low grade of the pipe and mediocre diamond valuation (compared to other pipes with grades <0.5c/t) leaves little room for mistakes, mistakes that SGF and NEM have spent years and millions of dollars to avoid.
At its conclusion the Orion South/Star project requires a further $4.5 million to bring things to the feasibility stage, not all that much compared to the aggregate amount spent on developing the FalC kimberlites since their discovery in the late 1980s.
Last, But Not Least
The second major junior in the Canadian sector is Stornoway. This has followed the trend set by Peregrine and then Shore Gold in a resurgent Canadian diamond exploration sector. First reporting 4x the original tonnage for the Renard-2 kimberlite property in early October and then expanding on that find this month by reporting revised numbers for entire Foxtrot (Renard, Lynx, and Hibou bodies) property (aka the Renard Diamond Project) that effectively triple the contained carats compared to estimates published last year. 23.0 Mc are indicated and 13.3 Mc are inferred with further upside as some bodies remain not fully studied. Grades at Renard-2 for indicated (1.03 c/t) and inferred (1.2 c/t) resources are up 27% and 39% respectively.
There is a bit of cloud to this silver lining though in that diamond valuations from Renard-2 and -3 are down 3% to US$117/c and for Lynx down 14% to $57/c (“Base Case” estimates). The NI 43-101 compliant technical report covering this release will be out in less than 45 days.
Considering these developments it is curious if any other diamond juniors will be lucky enough to come across some positive news in order to be next in line to capitalize on this new, but fragile, enthusiasm. With the tax-loss selling season approaching, that enthusiasm is fragile indeed.
Disclaimer: The author owns 4000 shares of SWY. 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
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
Last Tuesday, Stornoway Diamond Corporation was halted late in the trading session due to release of the highlights from their long-anticipated pre-feasibility study regarding their Foxtrot diamond project in central Quebec (50% JV with SOQUEM Inc.). The Foxtrot project contains the Renard (R) kimberlite pipes as well as the Lynx and Hibou dykes. This is a NI 43-101 compliant report that outlines the Renard resource with 7 Mc indicated (11.6 Mt x 0.6 c/t) at R-2, -3, and -4, and 4.5 Mc inferred (7.2 Mt x 0.63 c/t) at R-2, -3, -4, -9, and the neighbouring Lynx dyke. R-3 appears to be the highest-grade body at 1.16 c/t, but has the lowest tonnage. An additional 9-21 Mc (14-32 Mt at 0.31-1.64 c/t) is classified as potential mineral deposit, but this requires further evaluation.
The projected cost to construct a mine on the site is C$308 million including contingency funds. Operating costs are assumed around C$50.39/t using the combined open pit + underground method, similar to that seen at Diavik’s A154 South kimberlite pipe. Plans for infrastructure to the mine (road, electricity) are in talks with local communities, government, and other mining companies with projects in the region. This has been covered in more detail by an earlier KIM Report article. The operating cost assumes that an all-season road will be built, but that the mine will be powered by diesel generators.
Diamond valuations for the R-2, -3, and -4 bodies were reported last fall as US$109/c (R-2 and R-3) and US$69/c (R-4). Doing some quick math, this means the value of the indicated resource is C$760.78 million (using the exchange rate given in the report of C$1.146/US$1). After subtracting the processing costs of the ore (C$585.53 million), this leaves the net value of the diamonds to be C$175.25 million. This is for the indicated resource alone, and does not take into account the inferred resource of 4.5 Mc or the additional 9-21 Mc of potential deposit that is still being evaluated. It would appear that the indicated resource pays for over 56% of the capital cost of the mine. However, given the expected processing capacity of the mine to be 1.3 Mt/y, this ore would take nine years to process. SWY would focus on the richer pipes on the mine (R-2 and R3) and leave the lower grade ones (R-4) for later processing in order to pay off the capital. The company will have to look at other bodies on the Foxtrot property for higher grade ore. R-65, Hibou, and Lynx are all possible candidates.
Should the Canadian dollar remain at current levels, the net profit for the indicated resource will be higher. As the Canadian dollar appears more likely to stay a dime below, rather than above, the American dollar, and world diamond prices continue to rise, SWY should be able to get a mine into the black relatively quickly after construction.
SWY has made an attempt to be as conservative as possible in calculating the costs of constructing and operating a mine as well as the amount of resource present. A prudent decision considering the fate of the last junior in Canada that went into diamond production. C$50 million of the C$308 million capital cost is budgeted for contingency. SWY investor relations has indicated that the report was calculated using spot prices from this summer when oil at well over US$100/bbl, giving a strong buffer in the budget against any rise in fuel costs.
There are two main goals for SWY in the immediate future: (1) expand the resource and put more viable carats under the “indicated” and even “measured” categories. Getting more solid diamond valuations is also a priority. (2) obtain the funds to build a mine. SWY is free of long-term debt thanks to some large backers. However, it has to come up with its C$154 million share of the capital costs, and there is only $6.9 million currently in the bank. Viable options for this have been discussed in the aforementioned earlier article. Permitting, environmental evaluations, and the like will also have to be conducted in order for construction to proceed.
The next day following this news, SWY closed up 40% to C$0.15/share on 1.1 million shares. By Friday that share price was back down around C$0.12/share, the level it was before the release of the report. This is a long way from the ~$0.80/share this time last year. However, should the mine get underway, a much higher share price is a very strong possibility.
Disclaimer: The author holds 4000 shares of SWY. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please do your own 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.
Posted by David
To use an overused comparison in these current market climes, the diamond sector is the Rodney Dangerfield of mining stocks as it “don’t get no respect”. In this way, the diamond juniours are much like the official opposition (for the non-Canadian readers, Stornoway is also the name for the official residence of the leader of the opposition, currently Stephane Dion). To give a more focused discussion of the issue than did a previous article, presented is the case of Stornoway Diamonds (TSX-SWY).
The stock has been on a fairly steady decline since this time last year going from ~$1.20/share to about $0.37/share at current. Even the news that acclaimed diamond consultants – WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd., had upped the estimated valuations for diamonds from the Renard kimberlites (Renard, together with the Lynx dykes, comprises the Foxtrot Property in Central Quebec, and is a 50/50 joint venture with SOQUEM Inc.) only caused a mere blip up from 0.35 to 0.43 that evaporated in the last two weeks.
In detail, the report displayed increased values for diamonds from Renard 2 and 3 (from U.S. $109/c to $121/c) and The North Complex Zone of Renard 4 ($69/c to $79/c), increases of 11% and 14% respectively. Since the pullback after the news, the stock has bounced around the mid thirty cent level. So what gives? The predominant idea here is that since last summer, most investors are still very wary of juniours, even ones with established and advance projects such as Foxtrot and, to a lesser extent, Churchill (joint venture with Shear Minerals). For Renard, the pre-feasibility study (NI 43-101 compliant) is due out sometime during this quarter and many investors may be waiting on that. The cost of a road to the potential mine site is one of the most speculated values.
Aside from Renard, the other properties in the Foxtrot property hold promise as well. The Lynx series of dykes produced a grade of 1.07 c/t from a 494 t bulk sample. Not enough sampling has been done to allow for a diamond valuation, but the sample did include a gem-quality octahedron weighing in at a whopping 21.53 c (pictured). A minibulk sample from the Hibou dyke, 1.3 km from the Renard bodies (see map), gave a grade of 1.26 c/t from 30.4 t of kimberlite. The largest stone from this sample was a 1.01 c octahedron.
After Renard, the next most advanced property is the Churchill project (JV with Shear Minerals), a series of kimberlite dykes located in the Churchill craton in Nunavut. This property was discussed the earlier Arctic Diamonds and Churchill articles.
SWY also holds a number of other advanced-level diamond prospects. The most promising of these is the group of eleven kimberlite bodies at Aviat on the Melville Peninsula, North of the aforementioned Churchill project. What really is really interesting about this project lately is the dense media separation results from January 2008 that reported a grade of 1.63 c/t from 20.6 t taken from the AV267 body, and included a 3.64 c stone. AV267 is a sheet-shaped body of macrocrystic hypabyssal kimberlite. Thus far, drilling has delineated AV267 to have an average thickness of 3 m and to extend at least 2000m along strike and 500 m down dip (dip angle is 8-20 degrees). This is similar to the body at Snap Lake. Kahuna at Churchill is also similar in deposit shape, but it is a vertical sheet instead of the subhorizontal one at Aviat. The project began as a JV with SWY, BHP Billiton, and Hunter Exploration Group (a private firm). Last month SWY acquired BHP’s share of the project, making the split now 90% SWY and 10% Hunter. SWY also have 100% of the marketing rights for any Aviat stones.
SWY made news a couple of years back due to its aggressive takeover of Ashton Mining Canada. The main gain in this for SWY was the acquisition of Ashton’s share in the Foxtrot Project. SWY also gets a lot of press coverage because of its CEO, Eira Thomas, a celebrity in the diamond exploration industry due to her part in the discovery of the Diavik mine working for the then-juniour exploration company Aber Diamonds (now Harry Winston Diamonds). Her background and media appeal have made her popular with the press in an industry where companies are usually run by stolid old white guys. The acquisition of Ashton did not only add just properties to the company, but talent as well. Tom McCandless, a renowned and well-published specialist on North American diamonds (read Barren Lands by Kevin Krajick), stayed on with SWY as a consultant after the takeover and is now their chief mineralogist. Matt Manson, formerly VP marketing/technical services & control for Aber (now Harry Winston), came into SWY through the acquisition of Contact Diamond Corporation and is now company president.
In spite of these promising results and experienced management, SWY, like most diamond juniours, has been beaten into the ground. With the price at a severe low, investors will either shy away or look at the situation as a buying opportunity. SWY previously has been the focus of a lot of vitriol on investor bulletin boards such as www.stockhouse.com due to its aggressive takeover of Ashton, but shareholder crankiness aside, this is not the cause of the perceived downside.
SWY’s number one project is Foxtrot, specifically Renard. As a mine becomes more of a distinct possibility, the need for financing becomes impossible to ignore. Road and electricity access must be established, buildings erected, and equipment purchased. This will likely cost into the hundreds of millions of dollars. As of January 31st, SWY had just under $18 million in cash and equivalents. Financing by dilution at current prices is unlikely, as management is a significant stockholder and do not want to see their equity devastated. That leaves turning to banks and the like for funds to construct the mine. The “subprime slime” that still sticks to financial institutions makes getting a loan far more difficult now than this time last year. However, considering the experience of the management and the premium nature of the properties, the choices made are likely to be in the best interests of the shareholders.
Disclaimer: The author holds 500 shares of SWY that he bought at $0.73/share and has only mildly freaked out about the price dropping to $0.37/share. This article is based on the personal opinions and experiences of the author. Please do your own due diligence when investing.