Exploring for more: Diamonds in Canada’s annual junior roundup

Dunnedin Ventures CEO Chris Taylor at the Kahuna project in Nunavut.Dunnedin Ventures CEO Chris Taylor at the Kahuna project in Nunavut. Credit: Dunnedin Ventures

Alto Ventures (TSXV: ATV)

In February, Alto Ventures began a reverse-circulation drilling program to test several kimberlite targets at the GEFA project, in east-central Saskatchewan. The targets were identified in 2015 through a high-resolution aeromagnetic survey.

Alto is earning a 60% interest in the claims by completing $750,000 in exploration and paying $60,000 in cash to the vendors by July 20, 2017. It’s already completed $515,000 in exploration and made a $25,000 payment.

GEFA is adjacent to North Arrow Minerals’ Pikoo project.


Arctic Star Exploration (TSXV: ADD)

In July, Arctic Star acquired the Diamond Dunes project in Saskatchewan’s western Athabasca Basin. The project consists of two separate claim blocks southwest and southeast of CanAlaska Uranium’s Athabasca diamond project.


CanAlaska Uranium (TSXV: CVV)

Although De Beers dropped its option to earn up to 90% of CanAlaska Uranium’s claims in northern Saskatchewan in December, the junior in March said it had begun lining up other potential exploration partners.

Drilling by De Beers of seven magnetic targets in September 2016 intercepted magnetic material in the organic overburden, followed by unconsolidated sand and boulders, and then sandstone. However, CanAlaska says that the magnetic material cannot explain all the targets.

CanAlaska initially announced it had staked claims containing 75 kimberlite targets in the western Athabasca basin in February 2016.

Primarily a uranium explorer, the company also reported it has flown 40% of its diamond property in Alberta with a low-level, closely spaced magnetic survey and was modelling 30 of the targets.


Canterra Minerals (TSXV: CTM)

Last summer, Canterra Minerals completed a 1,770 line-km airborne magnetic survey at the West Carswell property in Saskatchewan, where it is earning up to a 70% interest from CanAlaska Uranium. The project, 20 km southwest of CanAlaska’s Athabasca diamond project, contains six discrete magnetic anomalies, identified through a 2011 survey by the Saskatchewan Geological Survey.


Crystal Exploration (TSXV: CEI)

Crystal Exploration is planning a three-phase exploration program for its Muskox, Contwoyto and Hood projects in Nunavut, near the past-producing Jericho mine. The program, focused on finding new kimberlites, will consist of ground geophysics, till sampling and drilling. Crystal already has five magnetic high targets and one magnetic low target to investigate.

Crystal agreed to purchase the Contwoyto project from North Arrow Minerals in March.

The junior has processed existing drill core from Muskox totalling 22.4 tonnes of magmatic kimberlite and 14.3 tonnes of pyroclastic kimberlite, grading 0.45 carat per tonne and 0.19 carat per tonne, respectively. The company noted that the sample size was small and further work is needed to understand the pipe, which is almost 4 hectares at surface and extends to more than 300 metres depth.

Crystal closed a $312,000 financing in December.


Dunnedin Ventures (TSXV: DVI)

In March, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended the federal government approve Dunnedin Ventures’ proposed drilling and bulk-sampling program at its Kahuna project in Nunavut. The program will test high-priority targets and allow the junior to collect a 1,000-carat parcel of diamonds for valuation.

A recent 0.144-tonne sample taken by Dunnedin from Kahuna returned 13 commercial-sized stones weighing 0.334 carat for a grade of 2.32 carats per tonne.

Dunnedin has also sampled the Notch kimberlite, with 2.36 tonnes of kimberlite returning 2.38 carats of commercial-size diamonds for a grade of 1.01 carats per tonne.

Dunnedin commissioned a maiden resource on the project in 2015, based on previous drilling. The Kahuna and Notch kimberlites contain combined inferred resources of 4 million carats at an average grade of 1.01 carats per tonne. The company raised $1.1 million in January.


Five Star Diamonds (TSXV: STAR)

Newly listed Five Star Diamonds is aiming to be one of the first diamond producers in Brazil focused on kimberlite rather than alluvial mining. An initial mining and pilot processing program has already been completed at three diamond-bearing kimberlites at its Catalao project, in Goias state. A feasibility study is expected to be complete by the end of June.

Five Star also has 21 other projects totalling 1,200 sq. km that host 15 diamond-bearing kimberlites and 87 kimberlites that haven’t yet been tested.


GGL Resources (TSXV: GGL)

GGL Resources announced early this year that it was in talks regarding a corporate transaction with a private company in order to raise money and advance its portfolio of properties in the Northwest Territories. The private company also has exploration and development stage assets in the territory.


Margaret Lake Diamonds (TSXV: DIA)

As of November, Margaret Lake Diamonds had earned a 60% interest in a 187 sq.-km portion of Arctic Star Exploration’s T-Rex property, in the Northwest Territories. Margaret Lake is now the operator of the “Diagras” project, which lies along the north-northeast part of the Lac de Gras kimberlite field in a tight corridor of economic kimberlites. Inspired by the success of Kennady Diamonds, the JV will revisit 13 known kimberlites on the Diagras property. Ground geophysical work was expected to begin in the spring.

The company also holds 100% of the Margaret Lake property just north of the Gahcho Kué mine and the Kennady North project. Margaret Lake raised $785,000 in October.


North Arrow Minerals (TSXV: NAR)

North Arrow now holds 100% of the Naujaat (formerly Qilalugaq) and Pikoo projects, having acquired the remaining 18% and 15% stakes from Stornoway Diamond in February.

Work in 2017 at Naujaat will include a 4,000 to 6,000-metre drill program at the Q1-4 kimberlite to confirm grade and tonnage down to 300 metres depth. The kimberlite contains inferred resources to 205 metres depth totalling 48.8 million tonnes grading 53.6 carats per hundred tonnes for 26.1 million carats.

The company is also planning to collect a bulk sample of 300 dry tonnes this year from Q1-4, which should yield close to 180 carats. Q1-4 contains a population of fancy orangey-yellow diamonds.

At Pikoo in Saskatchewan, where it has so far discovered 10 kimberlites, North Arrow will conduct ground geophysics and till sampling this year.

In September, the junior decided not to complete an option to earn up to 55% of the Redemption project from Arctic Star Exploration by spending $5 million on exploration. Over the past three years, North Arrow spent about $4 million on the project, located in the Lac de Gras kimberlite field.

North Arrow was unable to find a kimberlite bedrock source for the Coppermine indicator mineral train, with most of the geophysical targets tested proving to be granitoid intrusive units or variable metasedimentary rocks.

However, the junior did retain a 55% interest in one of the Redemption claims, and identified new target areas south and east of Redemption on claims it has named “Loki.” The company recently received a drill permit for the project, where till sampling has identified several potential kimberlite targets at Loki South. Loki East contains the diamondiferous EG05 kimberlite.

Dominion Diamond has started a $2.8-million exploration program at the LDG joint venture just east of Loki. North Arrow’s interest in LDG will be diluted to 31% as it will not be funding its share of the program in order to focus on other projects.


Pangolin Diamonds (TSXV: PAN)

Soil sampling at Pangolin Diamonds’ Malatswae project in Botswana has turned up three new diamonds, bringing the total found to 16 stones measuring 0.5 mm or more. Pangolin reports that the diamonds, which include a clear, white stone measuring 2-mm by 2-mm by 2-mm, have been found in six geologically different zones at the project.

The company is also completing detailed ground magnetic surveys in select areas at Malatswae, and soil sampling programs at its Moenyenana, Jwaneng South, Machaneng South projects in Botswana.


Peregrine Diamonds (TSX: PGD)

Peregrine Diamonds will launch a drill program in June to define underground resources at its CH-6 kimberlite, at the Chidliak project in Nunavut.

An internal concept study of a potential open-pit and underground development of CH-6 has concluded the economics of the project could be enhanced by adding an underground development to mine CH-6 below 260 metres depth, the current bottom of the resource. CH-6 holds inferred open-pit resources of 11.39 million carats in 4.64 million tonnes grading 2.45 carats per tonne.

The drill program will focus on expanding resources at CH-6 up to 500 metres depth. Peregrine will also continue to refine the geotechnical design parameters of the open pit and on advancing permitting.

Last August, Peregrine released a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) outlining positive economics for an open-pit development scenario for the CH-6 and CH-7 kimberlites. The study estimated that with a preproduction capex of $434.9 million, including $56.7 million in contingencies, and a discount rate of 7.5%, the project has an after-tax net present value of $471.2 million and an internal rate of return of 29.8%. The development is envisioned as the first phase of a potentially larger operation at Chidliak.

The study pegged production at an average of 1.2 million carats per year over a 10-year mine life. The payback period was estimated at two years and the operating margin at 72%.


Rockwell Diamonds (TSX: RDI; JSE: RDI)

Trading in South Africa-focused alluvial miner Rockwell Diamonds was suspended in late March, after an interim liquidation order was placed against three of Rockwell’s subsidiaries by a mining contractor that claims it is owed money. A hearing is scheduled for June 22.

The company has completed commissioning at its Wouterspan plant, which recently recovered a 60-carat diamond that sold for US$8,000 per carat.


Shore Gold (TSX: SGF)

In March, Shore Gold reported progress towards an updated feasibility study at its Star-Orion South project in Saskatchewan. The work is focused on looking at new technology for efficient open-pit mining; improving the flow sheet of the processing plant; and reducing preproduction capital costs and time required to get to initial production.

It has completed work on X-ray Transmission (XRT) recovery of diamonds from pyroclastic kimberlite at Star, a review of ore processing data, characterization of diamond parcels, analysis of kimberlite particle size, and overburden removal investigations.

Shore received notice from the province’s Environment Ministry in January that it is entering additional consultations with First Nations and Métis communities that should be complete within six months. After that, the ministry will make a decision regarding approval of the project’s environmental impact statement.


Tango Mining (TSXV: TGV)

Tango Mining was unable to close a US$30-million loan last year to acquire the past-producing BK11 project in Botswana from Firestone Diamonds. But it still has a stake in the Oena alluvial diamond project in South Africa’s Northern Cape province.

In a one-month period ending March 20, 183 diamonds weighing a total of 307.94 carats were recovered from reprocessed tailings at Oena, and sold at an average price of US$1,330 per carat. During test commissioning, a 36.34-carat diamond was recovered and sold for US$6,054 per carat.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the company has sold 8% of African Star Minerals, which holds 100% of Oena, to Georges Zard of the GZA Group. The transaction is subject to the renewal of the mining licence for Oena, which is pending. Tango held a 51% interest in African Star before the transaction.

Separately, Zard has acquired a 23% interest in African Star from a director of the company for a total stake of 31%.


Tsodilo Resources (TSXV: TSD)

In preparation for a large-diameter drilling (LDD) program, Tsodilo Resources began a 3,000-metre pilot hole drilling program at its BK16 kimberlite in Botswana in February. The program will ensure that the diamond recoveries correlate directly to the geological model for BK16.

The LDD program will collect about 2,000 tons of kimberlite from the two main phases of BK16 by drilling fourteen 24-inch holes. The placement of the holes was designed to provide enough information for grade estimates for the two phases and to get an initial idea of grade distribution across the kimberlite.

Rare Type IIa diamonds have been recovered from BK16, which is about 6 hectares at surface.

This story originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Diamonds in Canada.


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