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Vol. 15, No. 35 Week of August 29, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry

Mining News: Explorers seek new uranium discoveries

Government, industry and Inuit leaders join forces to achieve better understanding of territory’s potential for lucrative mineral

By Rose Ragsdale

For Mining News

While intrepid juniors are busy pursuing another season of uranium exploration in Nunavut, the Government of Nunavut, in partnership with the federal government through the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office are participating in a major collaboration between government, industry and academia in hopes of achieving similar objectives – gaining a better understanding of the region’s prospectivity for the radioactive mineral.

“In Nunavut much of this geology is poorly understood,” says Peter Taptuna, Nunavut’s Minister of Economic Development & Transportation.

Nunavut has partnered with the federal government in its Geomapping for Energy and Minerals initiative that is investing C$75 million into new geoscience mapping north of 60. The GEM-uranium initiative has a number of major mapping projects across northern Canada, including GEM’s Thelon Project, in which a partnership of government geologists, mining companies and university researchers and students are studying the geology of the underexplored Thelon Basin. This area is considered as a highly prospective analogue of the Athabasca Basin directly south in Saskatchewan. Both basins are geologically comparable in terms of age, size, lithologies and presence of unconformity-related uranium mineralization.

Partners in GEM’s Thelon initiative include AREVA, Bayswater Uranium, Cameco, Forum Uranium, Titan Uranium, Mega-Uranium, Uranium North, Western Uranium, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., major Canadian university, Canada’s Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Government of Nunavut.

“The Thelon Basin, western frontier Athabasca and other northern basins and basement have untapped uranium potential that can be revealed and promoted by test fitting the eastern Athabasca Basin unconformity uranium model,” said C.W. Jefferson, a Geological Survey of Canada geologist.

Jefferson told participants in the Nunavut Mining Symposium in April that GEM intends to extrapolate the uranium source and key basement units beneath basins with improved mapping, geophysics and satellite data; track and date basin development as well as uranium-related alteration, sources and pathways.

Among the project’s planned outcomes is development of a better framework and ideas for exploration success and improvement of the regions’ resource potential to attract new industry investment.

He said GEM-U’s future plans include working in the Thelon Basin and associated basement and magmatic suites this year and in 2011 with field mapping, satellite and geophysical synthesis.

In 2011-2013, GEM-U plans to complete the Thelon basin studies with an assessment of its uranium resource as well as support other GEM and CNGO projects in Nunavut, including investigations of pegmatite uranium on the Cumberland Peninsula, uranium aspects in Penrhyn, Fury-Hecla on the Melville Peninsula, the uranium facets of metallogenic studies of North Baffin Island, vein uranium in Archean graphitic conductor at the Lac Cinquante property and the granitic context for range of uranium occurrence types at Nueltin Lake. The work also is expected to result in publication of a number of academic papers and the training of 10 new scientists, Jefferson said.

Explorers continue hunt for uranium

The largest known uranium deposit in the Thelon Basin is Areva’s Kiggavik deposit with an estimated resource of 134 million pounds U3O8 grading 0.27 percent. Areva has submitted a project description to the Nunavut Impact Review Board for the development of a uranium mine with a plan to produce 8 million pounds of uranium per year over a 17-year mine life.

Kiggavik attests to the potential for discoveries of large uranium deposits similar to those of the Athabasca Basin, according to government and industry officials.

Taptuna said the project demonstrates that even at this early stage, the Thelon basin holds the potential to match the Athabasca basin.

The mining industry invested nearly C$70 million in uranium exploration in Nunavut in 2008 and 2009, and is projected to pump another C$30 million into investigating some 36 uranium properties in Nunavut during the 2010 season.

Junior chases uranium, REEs at North Thelon

In July Forum Uranium Corp. reported the start of summer exploration activities at its North Thelon project in Nunavut. The North Thelon project is a large property comprising 69,316 hectares, or 171,210 acres, that surround Areva’s Kiggavik Project on the north, east and south sides.

Forum said the only other company actively exploring in the Kiggavik area is Cameco Corp. to the west of the Kiggavik deposits.

During the 12 months that ended May 31, Forum spent nearly C$2.8 million on the North Thelon Project. It reported nearly C$1.9 million in working capital as of May 31 and July 12 said it would spend proceeds from a nearly C$500,000 private placement with Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. on advancing the North Thelon project.

A number of historical and new showings with grades of up to 8.75 percent U3O8 have been discovered by Forum on the North Thelon project in past exploration programs. Forum’s geological crew and a ground gravity crew began work on several high priority targets. Goals of the 2010 program include identifying additional gravity targets (zones of alteration); to refine the geology and structural knowledge and to collect soil samples for geochemistry from high priority areas on the property. Forum said this information will position the property for a major drilling campaign in 2011.

Forum intends to make discoveries and develop new deposits on the property to add to AREVA’s existing uranium resource at Kiggavik and evaluate the potential for a rare earth deposit it discovered in the Nutaaq area in 2009. The REE showing in a 10-kilometer by 8-kilometer, or 7-mile by 5-mile, intrusive syenite complex, returned assays with up to 3.8 percent total REE. Forum plans to conduct a detailed mapping, soil sampling and rock sampling campaign in the area to determine the size, grade and geological controls of the new REE discovery.

Other mining companies are also busy pursuing their visions of a big uranium payday in Nunavut.

In late June, Kivalliq Energy Corp. posted final assays for its 2010 phase 1 drill program, totaling 2,375 meters in 13 holes, at the Lac Cinquante uranium deposit on the 91,093-hectare, or 225,000-acre, Angilak Property located 220 kilometers, or about 136 miles, southwest of Baker Lake in central Nunavut. Ten of the 13 holes intersected significant uranium mineralization. Hole 10-LC-003 had the widest and highest grade drill intercept to date, assaying 0.70 percent U3O8 over 13.98 meters (estimated true width of 7.69 meters), including 1.22 meters at 4.68 percent U3O8. In addition, step out hole 10-LC-013 identified a new zone 500 meters west of the deposit, assaying 0.21 percent U3O8 over 1.96 meters. Lac Cinquante has a 20.8 million-pound historic uranium deposit that is open along strike and to depth.

“Since Kivalliq’s first drill program in 2009, we have an impressive drilling success rate of over 85 percent,” John Robins, Kivalliq’s president and CEO. “Our team has dramatically increased the potential at Lac Cinquante by intersecting uranium mineralization at a new zone 500 meters west along trend from the historic deposit, and by drilling the highest grades and widest intercepts to date within the historic resource area.”

The junior Aug. 10 reported the mobilization of a second drill rig as part of a 10,000-meter phase 2 of its 2010 diamond drill program at Lac Cinquante. Phase 2 will consist of drilling, prospecting, sampling and field baseline studies, with the fourth quarter of 2010 dedicated to technical and resource modeling analysis and the goal of establishing a NI 43-101-compliant mineral resource by early 2011.

Junior chases uranium in western Nunavut

Hornby Bay Minerals Exploration Ltd. reported July 29 that its 2010/11 diamond drilling and seismic exploration program was underway on the Coppermine River Property in the Hornby basin.

Exploration for uranium in the Great Bear Lake – Hornby Bay Basin region about 500 kilometers, or 336 miles, north of Yellowknife, Northwestern Territories, dates back to the 1940s. A score of companies have explored the area, including Esso Resources, which discovered a small uranium deposit hosted by sandstones of the Dismal Lakes Group in 1976.

Hornby Bay also said it raised nearly C$1.8 million in a rights offering to existing shareholders that will help fund exploration on its 40 mineral leases and 16 mining claims at Coppermine River.

Hornby Bay is also participating in a 50/50 joint venture with MIE Metals Corp. on 29 mineral claims and 1 mining lease covering 24,648 hectares, or 60,906 acres. Hornby Bay is the operator of 10 mineral claims of the property, covering 10,451 hectares, or 25,825 acres, and owns 13 mineral claims and one mining lease of the joint venture, covering 14,627 hectares, or 36,144 acres.

For the area covered by its uranium properties, Hornby Bay has built a multilayered GIS database using ESRI’s ArcMap software. The multilayered database integrates all geological, geochemical, geophysical, and drill hole information acquired by HBME, as well as relevant data from BP Minerals Ltd.’s uranium exploration data for western Nunavut acquired in the 1970s and 1980s, which the junior purchased in 1996.

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