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Life has taken a funny turn and I must hang up my quill.

I have worked in mineral exploration for decades and know more than a few promoters, CEO’s, geologists, brokers and others who make this industry go round at the executive level.    The best of them have been a solace and inspiration for me.  Others – not so much.

Whether saints or sinners, builders or thieves, they are in the crucible of life, taking the heat.  I offer them in parting salutation Teddy Roosevelt’s Sorbonne address,

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

Debt, space and data expropriation

Debt extinction watch…

We’ll take the cash: Anglo bondholders tender $1.2B. [Bloomberg]  Looks like the buyback is one of the gotta-do-it things that come up when your bonds get downgraded to junk.  A portion was purchased for less than face value.

Vale looking to sell core assets to reduce debt. [Republic of Mining]  The wolf must be getting closer to the door:

Vale is “actively exploring more aggressive actions for this deleveraging, including the sale of core assets,” Mr. Ferreira [CEO] said.

End times: Moody’s threatens to downgrade Exxon. [Bloomberg]

Step back

Meanwhile…  on a planet far far away from reality,  Space mining race heats up. [Reuters]

Space mining, extracting resources from near-earth asteroids, is “not science fiction any more”.  With these words, spoken by Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former director general of the European Space Agency, Luxembourg announced its entry into the space-mining race.

The biggest component of operating in space is that of launching rockets from Earth, around $100,000 per kg of material, according to NASA.  NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission to the Bennu asteroid, scheduled for launch later this year, will cost $800 million and bring back a maximum two kilogrammes of sample.

Private operators such as Planetary Resources Inc. (PRI) and Deep Space Industries are getting in on the action, chasing the promise by U.S. astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson that, “the first trillionaire, in the world, is going to be the person who first mines  asteroids”.

You wouldn’t take investment advice from a geophysicist; why would you trust an astrophysicist?

Zinc flips, now leads lead. [Reuters]  Bottom line: winter’s over and it wasn’t a bad one.  Back off on the battery production.  The zinc bulls of course see it differently…

Diamond miners getting ahead of themselves? [Rappaport]  Only De Beers seems to be holding back production and stockpiling.  Alrosa and Rio need cash and are selling.

diamond produciton

New mindset needed for exploration. [Northern Ontario Business]   Here’s a bright idea from Douglas Morrison, president and CEO, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation; network director, Ultra-Deep Mining Network in Sudbury:

There is a huge amount of data tied up in large claim holdings around long-closed mines and old mine workings near to operating mines, much of it ignored for many years.  In many cases, the corporation has no interest in the data, or does not even know what it has.  It should be shared with, or transferred to, provincial agencies to manage access for future study and perhaps new ideas and techniques will initiate a new phase of investigation and discovery.

Got it.  Expropriate proprietary data so a government-&-big-boy-funded “centre for excellence” can generate a value-added product for … who?  Actually this sounds like an old idea:

eminent domain


Yukon Chamber of Mines choked about YESAB.  []  A sclerotic bureaucracy obsessed by process and completely unconcerned about outcomes.  Rather than dealing with big contentious projects, they hide under their desks and pass on making decisions.  On small stuff they are slowly strangling small operators with BS concerns about climate change, biodiversity, cumulative impacts, etc. etc.

 Stockwatch’s Will Purcell on the latest at KDI. [Stockwatch]

Patrick Evans’s Kennady Diamonds Inc. (KDI) lost 13 cents to $2.85 on 32,000 shares. The company has been chasing a tonnage target that has grown to between 13 million and 16 million tonnes, most of it in the Kelvin kimberlite. Kennady Diamonds had expected to reveal its maiden resource estimate for the project this week, but the release has apparently been delayed by a month or two. The company has received a draft of the Kelvin report, but Mr. Evans, chief executive officer, says it is apparent that more time is required to complete work needed to capture the northern end of the North lobe of the pipe. Drilling last year produced a series of long drill hits farther north than had been expected, and the company estimates that the area could contain 20 per cent of the overall tonnage. Perhaps the draft document was not as optimistic; in any case Mr. Evans now says the estimate will now be revealed “during the second quarter.”

As well, Kennady Diamonds needs the extra time to better assess the Bx kimberlite zone at Kelvin “to fully understand the volume and grade variances between three distinct subunits that have been identified.” The company completed a 442-tonne mini-bulk test of the South lobe of Kelvin last year, recovering 893 carats, or 2.02 carats per tonne. The grade would have been higher, but the 143 tonnes of Bx kimberlite averaged just 0.82 carat per tonne and the size distribution profile at Bx was arguably weaker as well. The other three phases of kimberlite, A, B and C, averaged 2.6 carats per tonne.

Kennady Diamonds has now begun work on a new mini-bulk sample of Kelvin, this time at the higher-grade North lobe. The company has wrapped up its second of a planned 26 large-diameter holes of what it expects will be a 500-tonne test yielding more than 1,000 carats. So far, grades at the North lobe have regularly topped 2.5 carats per tonne, so the test could produce 1,250 carats or more. (The grades of those smaller tests are in line with those produced at the South lobe other than the Bx material.) If the work goes at the same pace as last year, Kennady will have the diamond results by midsummer and the valuations by mid-fall.

Meanwhile, the 2016 drilling at the Faraday 1 kimberlite has been an enigma. Mr. Evans was “very encouraged” recently with the drill hits produced in the first step-out holes drilled this year, so the company moved its rig another 40 metres to the northwest. That round of holes is now complete and the intersections were unimpressive. Mr. Evans says it appears if those tests hit just the side of the pipe. As a result, the company has stepped back its drills 20 metres in the hope of getting a better handle on the direction of the pipe.

BC Gold cancels some debt and settles some with paper. [Stockwatch]  Capitalism in action.

Group Ten discusses its plans for exploration in the Yukon. [Investing News]  [FD-dealings with]

Want to know what’s going in Alaska?  Curt Freeman’s excellent summary of things afoot in the Great Land. [Petroleum News of Alaska]

TMAC provides an update on Hope Bay. [Marketwired]  Spent $165M, stockpiled some ore, everything on schedule for this year.

Lithium and Eastside

Eureka and Nevada Sunrise results from Lida Valley. [Stockwatch]  Here’s a bright idea: use TDEM to locate / map brines before drilling.  At least you’ll know how much casing to bring.

Ashburton buys more claims adjoining Elon.  [Junior Mining Network]   Six claims for 3.5M shares.  [FD-dealings with (but not this)]

Columbus Gold starts drilling at Eastside. [Marketwired]  Near Tonopah in the Monte Cristo Hills.

The planned program with two rigs, a rotary rig and a core rig, includes 16,000 feet (4,850 m) of core drilling in 16 to 18 core holes, and 32,000 feet (9,700 meters) of reverse circulation, rotary drilling. Core holes will be pre-drilled by rotary drilling to 600 feet and then entered with the core rig to complete the holes. Some exploration holes and several infill holes will be completed by rotary drilling alone.

Mostly about cash

DDC releases financial results. [Junior Mining Network]  Sales down 25% for the quarter YoY and down 21% for the year.

Nighthawk Gold to buy Superior Copper. [Marketwired]  Stock for cash.  Superior had $4M in the kitty as of November 30 and obviously doesn’t see much near term future in a copper project near Sault St. Marie.

Dim economic outlook ahead for the Territories. [Mining Weekly]   Predicts flat economic growth in the NWT and slight improvements in Nunavut and Yukon, the latter due to mining.  And the outlook isn’t the only thing that’s dim:  their forecast didn’t bother to factor in Capstone’s announced shutdown so…

If this occurred, there would be no producing mines in the territory and it would significantly hamper economic growth, the board warned.  

no kidding

No kidding.

Kennady Diamonds bulk sampling in progress. [Junior Mining Network]  After a slow start because of a warm winter, they’re hoping for 500 t and 1,000 carats.

Interesting to see all the northern explorers now in the Zimtu fold. [Resource Clips]


Garibaldi touts Grizzly South. [Junior Mining Network]  No plans announced yet; just preliminary pumping.

WPC says their private placement should close soon. [Junior Mining Network]  Trying to raise $1.5M to get started at Elgin and Ulu, they hope to have cash in hand by March 22.

Commander closes Storm sale with Aston Bay. [Accesswired]

Goldstrike applies for a permit. [Stockwatch]  When things are slow, this is the best you can do for news.  Hopefully YESAB won’t put them in a spin cycle.

Yukon Conservation Society mobilizes the troops for the Casino battle. [CBC]  The held a meeting to get their spin on Casino out there.  About 50 people who “wanted more information about the project” showed up.  As one of the trolls pointed out, if you  haven’t gotten enough information about this project already, you must be living in Bali. The next news will be “We have concerns”, followed by “This will be an environmental catastrophe.”   It might all hinge on what the public thinks of a 940 foot high tailings dam after Mt. Polley.

A miscellany

CNN field trip to Battle Mountain. [CNN / Republic of Mining]  Every four years they visit somewhere in Nevada aside from Las Vegas and tell us how the hicks manage to survive without all the amenities of New York or Atlanta.  Sounds like Trump is popular in the heart of gold country even with his stand on public lands in Nevada.


Nevada Sunrise closes $200K raise. [Junior Mining Network]

Arizona Mining begins a $2.8M program at Taylor. [Junior Mining Network]  It will be interesting to see if there’s more there; available data suggests otherwise.

Eurasian Minerals buys royalties from Till Capital. [Stockwatch]  Selling the NSR from these low grade Carlin prospects near Gold Quarry for stock.

Diamond market news

Molycorp creditors strike a deal. []  Vultures being trained to share….

According to court documents, the deal allows for the sale of the company or a reorganization and ends litigation between the company’s unsecured creditors and Molycorp’s lender, Oaktree Capital Management.  The unsecured creditors had accused Oaktree of using its position as lender to place an “exorbitantly expensive noose around Molycorp Group’s neck” and seize control once the miner had been pushed into bankruptcy.

Trouble ahead in the rough diamond market.

Indian polished exports plunge -42% while rough imports are up 16%. [Rough & Polished]

More American jewelers are closing up shop. [Rappaport]  +10% in 2015 Y0Y.

And if that weren’t enough…   Fake natural diamonds showing up on Alibaba. [Rough & Polished]

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) warns that a vendor on the world’s leading online global wholesale trading platform Alibaba has offered CVD lab grown diamonds inscribed with the numbers of genuine GIA graded natural diamond reports.  According to WFDB, a New Delhi based company called International Trading Corporation (ITC) claims to have an ability to supply 10,000 carats of CVD diamonds per week and to have a stock of more than 25,000 certified diamonds. 

Synthetics are cheaper (by ~30%), flawless and you can’t tell them from natural diamonds. [JewelryNotes]   … unlike another popular natural diamond competitor…

Cubic zirconium

On PDAC’s perennial annual flow through campaign. [LinkedIn]  One Jean Pierre Colin tells it like it is….

Does PDAC or anyone else possibly think that by making junior mining shares more attractive in price, even though they are now trading at all time historic bottom lows, does anyone really think that will restore exploration expenditures in Canada. Is that what anyone thinks? A few more tax deductions will restore a dead market?

The only people who do think that a Mineral Exploration Tax Credit is a solution that the Government of Canada should implement as a solution are the ones who already benefit from such a credit. Those people are the mining Flow-Through Share Funds, the mining exploration limited partnerships and the ones who make a living doing clever tax charity donation flow through deals. It appears that the PDAC has been hijacked by non-mining people! Is history being re-written by some conqueror?

Drill news

TerraX reports hits at Mispickel. [Marketwired]  Two of four holes hit:

  • 7.30 m @ 23.60 g/t Au, including 4.55 m @ 37. 29 g/t Au in the main zone of hole TWL16-002
  • 8.60 m @ 12.87 g/t Au, including 5.45 m @ 18.24 g/t Au in the main zone of hole TWL16-001, and
  • 11.32 m @ 2.14 g/t Au, including 2.10 m @ 5.92 g/t Au in a footwall zone of hole TWL16-001.

The holes drilled from the same setup at -45 and -65; two holes to come from a second line 50 m away, one of which reported VG.  The top hole (001)looks like a solid hit in two zones; the undercut looks like 2m @ 80 g/t with another 5.3 m @ 2.17 in the upper zone and anomalous gold in the lower.    It will be interesting to see which of the two holes on the next line hits and whether this shows rake and depth.

Hard Creek trying to raise $250K. [Junior Mining News]  To keep the lights on and their Turnagain Nickel project near Dease Lake in good standing.

Wellgreen announces their drilling is done. [Junior Mining News]   Drilled 5,169 m in Q4 which has to be counted an achievement for winter drilling in the Kluane Ranges.


Corvus plans 5,000 m of drilling at North Bullfrog. [Yahoo]  Starting at Sierra Blanca near their proposed pit and testing a couple of other targets as well.

Gold Standard plans $13.4M program at Railroad – Pinion. [Stockwatch]

The program is expected to cost $13.4 million USD and will include approximately 43,000 m of reverse-circulation (RC) and core drilling in a total of 100 holes with the majority of the drilling focused at the Dark Star and Pinion oxide gold deposits.  The program is designed to aggressively follow-up on 2015 drill results at the North Dark Star oxide gold discovery, expand known resources at Dark Star and Pinion, and test new high-value targets at North Bullion and Bald Mountain.

Arizona Mining raising $2.8M for Taylor. [Stockwatch]