First Vanadium (TSXV: FVAN; US-OTC: FVANF) has calculated a new and improved resource estimate for its 4.6 sq. km Carlin vanadium project, 10 km south of Elko, Nevada. The project lies in the Carlin gold trend, a 20-minute drive from the town of Carlin.
The new resource estimate replaces and upgrades one from 2010.
The project now contains 24.16 million indicated tonnes grading 0.615% V2O5 for 303 million lb. V2O5, as well as 6.5 million inferred tonnes at 0.52% V2O5 for 75 million lb. V2O5.
In comparison, the 2010 resource tallied 28 million inferred tonnes grading 0.51% vanadium oxide (V2O5) for 289 million lb. V2O5.
First Vanadium bases its resource on 127 holes drilled by previous explorers, as well as 89 holes drilled across two of its own programs: first in early 2018, and then in mid-2018. Its most-recent drill program ended in September 2018.
“The fall and early winter were all about getting the results from the laboratory,” First Vanadium president and CEO Paul Cowley said in an interview with The Northern Miner from downtown Toronto in late February. “We added 89 holes, so basically 40% more drilling on top of what was previously done.
“There was an increase in the overall tonnage, grade and metal content. Every metric was exceeded.”
The company now has 80% of its resource in the indicated category, with the indicated grade 20% higher than the historic inferred grade.
The company mostly drilled infill holes at Carlin, aiming to validate its previous data and accumulate as much indicated resource as possible. It twinned six historic holes — either replicating or improving grades — and filled in areas that had received lighter drilling.
“We know the deposit is bigger,” Cowley said, noting that up to 35 of the company’s 89 holes were stepping out from the known resource area.
The company aims to start an economic study on the project this year — likely a preliminary economic assessment.
The company defined its resource within a pit shell that runs 1.8 km long and an average 600 metres wide. Mineralization starts at surface and is contained within the shell to 120 metres below surface. The main mineralized zone ranges from 15 to 50 metres thick.
“It’s basically lying within a broad valley where it’s exposed,” Cowley said. “As the hillside rises on the east and west, you’re starting to get a little more waste rock on top of the deposit. Right now the stripping ratio is 2.6 to 1, which is a low strip ratio.”
First Vanadium will spend the next few months working on its metallurgical flow sheet, and will likely move into an economic study. It is, however, contemplating more drilling at Carlin, to bring even more of its resource into the indicated category.
“It’s going to be a really good year for us,” Cowley said, noting vanadium costs are once again on the rise.
The spot price of vanadium has gone up US$2 per lb. V2O5 in a month, and sits around US$17.60 per lb. V2O5 flake. It spiked above US$33 lb. V2O5 in October 2018, before crashing in November and December 2018. Three years ago it traded below US$3 per lb. V2O5.
“We’ve had a month and a half of steady increase, and that’s a good sign, because nobody likes the high fluctuations. Nobody’s confident then,” Cowley said.
“But we’re starting to see a good tracking of metal prices because the strong demand is still there. Those fundamentals are taking over, as opposed to the fall, where we had a very high rise and a sharp decline. Those are all emotional reactions. The price improving gradually is better than spiking.”
Shares of First Vanadium are trading at 80¢ in a 52-week range of 48¢ to $1.96. The company has a $31-million market capitalization.
It also has a copper project in Arizona, but says it is focused on its Carlin project due to its potential magnitude.