Nevada Zinc (TSXV: NZN) has entered an option agreement with Rockcliff Metals (TSXV: RCLF) to buy up to an 80% interest in Rockliff’s wholly owned MacBride zinc-copper property in central Manitoba.
Nevada Zinc can earn an initial 70% interest in MacBride by paying US$200,000 cash to Rockcliff over three years, issuing 200,000 shares and spending US$2.5 million on the property over the next five years, including at least US$250,000 annually.
“Rockcliff is focused on their properties in the Snow Lake area, and this one is in the greenstone belt that’s separate from that,” Nevada Zinc president and CEO and Rockcliff director Bruce Durham says in an interview. “It wasn’t core to Rockcliff and they didn’t have money to work on it, and so I liked the asset and thought it was a good way to get Nevada Zinc involved in another zinc project.”
Nevada Zinc can increase its ownership to 80% by paying US$2 million to Rockcliff within 60 days of earning the 70% interest. It would then form a joint venture with Rockcliff. If either party’s interest drops below 10%, its interest will convert to a 1% net smelter return royalty, or a 0.5% royalty on those claims subject to a pre-existing royalty.
Right now, Rockcliff hopes for a joint venture.
“If a joint venture occurs it would mean that we will have success through the drill bit,” Rockcliff president and CEO Ken Lapierre says via email. “The potential to identify a significant amount of high-grade zinc mineralization at MacBride is very real.”
The MacBride property is a near-surface zinc deposit. It was last outlined in a 1977 report by Knobby Lake Mines Limited. Rockcliff and Nevada Zinc treat it as a historical estimate rather than a current resource.
“Typically speaking, historical estimates are an order of magnitude correct,” Durham says. “In some cases, when these resources are done they end up being larger — sometimes higher grade. Sometimes they don’t hold together very well.”
As a historical resource, MacBride contains 1.8 million tonnes grading 8.8% zinc and 0.30% copper with 0.10 gram gold per tonne and 4.5 grams silver per tonne. It was discovered in the 1970s and has not been drilled extensively — only 275 metres along strike, with 1.5 km remaining.
“It’s had a bit of a checkered history,” Durham says. “It wasn’t drilled by one company. These drill holes were put together.”
He says the 1.8 million inferred tonnes come from three different drilling groups. Then, in 1991, Eastmain Resources and Bellex Resources did more drilling. Bellex released assay results from three holes, claiming it was the best mineralization intersected on the property to date.
“And then the story ends,” Durham says. “There’s no further information. Those holes were never released to the public.”
The property comprises 22 contiguous claims covering 50 sq. km, 45 km north of Leaf Rapids, Man., on 15 km of volcanogenic massive sulphide stratigraphy. The geology consists of Paleoproterozoic-aged metavolcanic rocks and interbedded metasediments. Mineralization features coarse pyrite in a matrix of pyrrhotite and sphalerite with blebs of chalcopyrite.
The MacBride zinc deposit coincides with a 1.8 km long, strongly conductive electromagnetic (EM) anomaly feature hosted within a 6 km long magnetic high corridor. Several other similar but untested airborne EM anomalies were found on the property in 2008. Durham points out that the anomalies were found by accident.
“They were really discovered in an airborne survey that was done looking for nickel deposits as part of the Lynn Lake belt,” Durham says. “And so when they found these airborne geophysical targets that didn’t look like nickel target — they just were never drilled.”
Nevada Zinc says that because volcanogenic zinc and copper-rich sulphide deposits are often found close to one another, the potential for more discoveries is high.
“There’s quite a bit of overburden in the area, so geological mapping isn’t going to solve a lot of problems,” Durham says. “This was a surface exposure. That’s how it was found. But there’s not a lot of outcrop exposure along strike, so it requires more sophisticated ground geophysics and diamond drilling.”
Nevada Zinc’s focus is on continuing to explore its 100% owned Lone Mountain zinc project near Eureka, Nevada. Its share price sits at 19¢ with a 52-week range of 19¢ to 60¢. It has a $14-million market capitalization.
Rockcliff Metals’ focus is on its Snow Lake project consisting of three polymetallic properties totalling 450 sq. km, including its 100% owned Rail property. Shares are valued at 10¢ apiece with a 52-week range of 5¢ to 14¢. It has a $16-million market capitalization.
The company changed its name to Rockcliff Metals from Rockcliff Copper on Nov. 1, and its ticker on the TSX Venture Exchange to RCLF from RCU.
“We’ve been in on the ground to start tying in some of the old drill holes before the snow flies,” Durham says. “So then we’re pretty much ready to do some follow-up ground geophysics, and drill it sometime next year.”