During the fourteen years Rick Kusmirski worked at JNR Resources, the former Cameco Corp. (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ) geologist headed exploration teams that discovered two significant uranium deposits in Saskatchewan's eastern Athabasca Basin: the Maverick zone on the Moore Lake joint-venture project with partner Kennecott Canada, and the Fraser Lakes B Zone deposit at the Way Lake project.
After joining the junior explorer in 1999, Kusmirski was promoted to chief geologist in 2000 and to president and chief executive officer the following year. By December 2012 JNR Resources had completed an inferred resource for Fraser Lakes B Zone of 10.35 million tonnes grading 0.03% U308 for 6.96 million pounds of contained U308 and 0.023% thorium dioxide (ThO2) for 5.34 million pounds of contained thorium dioxide.
Kusmirksi's other discovery at JNR Resources-the Maverick zone on the Moore Lake project-was later optioned to Denison Mines Corp. (TSX: DML). Denison first optioned 75% of the project, then went on to acquire 100% of JNR Resources in a friendly all-share takeover deal in February 2013. After the sale, Kusmirski moved on to other things, among them joining Skyharbour Resources (TSXV: SYH) as chief geologist and technical advisor.
This week things came full circle for Kusmirski with Skyharbour's acquisition of 100% of the Way Lake project from Denison, along with a second exploration property called Yurchison Lake.
Under the terms of the agreement, Skyharbour will pay Denison $20,000 in cash and 2 million common shares for the two properties. Denison will also retain a 2% net smelter return royalty on the projects, of which 1% may be purchased by Skyharbour for $1 million.
Skyharbour's president and chief executive, Jordan Trimble, says the acquisitions make a lot of sense not only because Way Lake already has a shallow resource that he believes is expandable at a fairly low cost (he points out that Fraser Lakes B Zone was defined from just 25 holes and 4,600-4,700 metres of drilling) but because there are also another half a dozen target areas on the 90,892-hectare property that look exciting.
One target that is of particular interest to Skyharbour is called Hook Lake, on the northeast portion of the Way Lake property, about 40-50 km from Fraser Lakes B Zone, where historic grab samples returned up to 48% U308 from veins at surface. "We're going to try to find the source of that high-grade mineralization," Trimble says. "None of the previous operators were ever able to locate or explain where it came from."
And with Kusmirski leading Skyharbour's exploration team, the junior has a huge advantage, Trimble adds. "He knows the project better than anyone."
"It's a great deal for us and in Denison's case they have got some bigger projects they're focusing on," he continues. "And it complements our other projects."
Way Lake is about 50-60 km to the southeast of Skyharbour's 60%-owned Mann Lake uranium project, while the 12,660-hectare Yurchison Lake property lies about 70-80 km to the east. (Yurchison Lake is about 70 km southeast of Cameco's McArthur River uranium mine.)
Skyharbour also controls a large prospective land package (287,130 hectares) called its Preston uranium project in the southwest Athabasca Basin near the Alberta border. Skyharbour is working with three other companies in a syndicate at the Preston project (Lucky Strike Resources, Noka Resources and Athabasca Nuclear). The four companies are splitting exploration costs on the project and are looking for shallow high-grade mineralization similar to that at Fission Uranium's (TSX: FCU; US-OTC: FCUUF) Patterson Lake South discovery. The four companies have budgeted a $6 million exploration budget over the next two years at Preston, $5 million of which is funded by Skyharbour's three partners.
"One of the big benefits of having four companies is that you get to leverage the technical expertise of the group," Trimble says. "It's also much less dilutive ... and is quite unique."
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