While mineral production has been hard hit in Canada’s Prairie Provinces in line with the extended downturns in potash and uranium prices, the junior and mid-tier sector remains active in the region, with uranium and gold among the most favoured exploration and development targets. Here are profiles of eight such companies.
Toronto-based junior Appia Energy (CSE: API; US-OTC: APAAF) is involved in uranium exploration in the prolific Athabasca basin district of northern Saskatchewan, and uranium and rare earth development and mining in northern Ontario’s historic Elliot Lake mining camp.
Appia is led by president and CEO Anastasios (Tom) Drivas, who is described as a business entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in various industries, including more than 20 years in the mineral resource industry. He is also president and CEO of Romios Gold Resources, a publicly traded company founded in 1995.
Geologist James Sykes is Appia’s vice-president of exploration and development, and has previous work in the Athabasca basin related to NexGen’s Arrow deposit and Hathor’s Roughrider deposits.
Appia holds four projects totalling 511 sq. km in the Athabasca basin region, including the Loranger property, where six out of seven drill holes intersected uranium mineralization in Appia’s first drill campaign; and the Eastside and North Wollaston properties, where historic ground prospecting found boulder and outcrop surface showings returning high uranium values.
Vancouver-based Comstock Metals (TSXV: CSL, US-OTC: CMMMF) describes itself as a “precious-metal-focused mineral exploration company advancing two resource-stage gold projects in premiere Canadian mining jurisdictions.”
Most recently Comstock has been evaluating opportunities in the battery metal space, having secured the Rawhide cobalt-silver project in Ontario, and adding to its two advanced gold projects: Preview in Saskatchewan and QV in the Yukon.
At last count, the Preview SW deposit hosted indicated resources of 2.6 million tonnes grading 1.89 grams gold per tonne for 158,300 contained oz. gold, plus 5.70 million inferred tonnes at 1.48 grams gold for 270,800 contained oz. gold.
A member of the Lundin Group of Companies and led by David Cates, Denison Mines (TSX: DML; NYSE-AM: DNN) is a Toronto-based senior developer focused on exploration and development of uranium assets in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca basin.
In addition to its 90%-owned Wheeler River project, which Denison says “ranks as the largest, undeveloped, high-grade uranium project in the infrastructure-rich eastern portion of the Athabasca basin,” the firm’s exploration portfolio in the basin consists of numerous projects covering 3,200 square kilometres.
Denison’s interests in the basin include: a 22.5% ownership interest in the McClean Lake joint venture, which includes several uranium deposits and the McClean Lake uranium mill, which processes ore from the Cigar Lake mine under a toll-milling agreement; a 25.17% interest in the Midwest and Midwest A deposits; and a 65.45% interest in the J Zone deposit and Huskie discovery on the Waterbury Lake property.
Denison is also engaged in mine decommissioning and environmental services through its Denison Environmental Services division and manages Uranium Participation Corp. — a publicly traded company that invests in uranium oxide and uranium hexafluoride.
EAGLE PLAINS RESOURCES
Eagle Plains Resources (TSXV: EPL; US-OTC: EGPLF) says the objective of its project-generator business model is to create partnerships with other companies to advance its exploration projects, particularly in Western Canada, where it is exploring for gold, base metals, uranium, rare earth elements and industrial minerals.
Most recently, Eagle Plains and Rockridge Resources entered into an agreement whereby Rockridge may earn a 100% interest in Eagle Plains’ wholly owned Knife Lake polymetallic project, located 50 km northwest of the community of Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan.
Eagle Plains says the Knife Lake area saw exploration from the late 1960s to the 1990s, with the last documented work program completed in 2001.
Meanwhile, Eagle Plains and option partner Roughrider Exploration have completed 2018 exploration work on the Olson gold-silver project, located 120 km east of La Ronge, Sask., where Roughrider may earn up to an 80% interest in the property.
Fission Uranium (TSX: FCU; US-OTC: FCUUF) is one of the leaders in the new wave of exploration in the under-explored southwestern portion of the Athabasca basin of northern Saskatchewan, where it is steadily advancing its Patterson Lake South uranium property, which hosts the high-grade Triple R deposit.
Fission notes that “major new high-grade zones have been discovered each year since discovery in 2012, and recent exploration drilling has encountered further mineralization west of the trend.”
Fission is headed up by CEO Dev Randhawa and president and chief operating officer Ross McElroy – co-recipients of The Northern Miner’s Mining Person of the Year Award for 2013.
The current resource estimate, filed in February 2018, stands at 2.19 million indicated tonnes grading 1.82% U3O8 for 87.8 million lb. U3O8 (including a high-grade zone of 119,000 tonnes at 18.39% U3O8) plus another 1.3 million inferred tonnes at 1.80% U3O8 for 53 million lb. U3O8.
Toronto-based Havilah Mining (TSXV: HMC; US-OTC: HAVXF) is the spinoff company that resulted from Hecla Mining’s early 2018 takeover of Klondex Mines, with public trading in Havilah stock beginning in July.
Hecla wanted Klondex’s gold mines and exploration assets in Nevada, and spun out Klondex’s Canadian gold assets as Havilah.
As part of the Klondex transaction, Hecla subscribed for 3.54 million Havilah shares in a private placement priced at $2.61 per share for a gross purchase price of $9.2 million, resulting in Hecla owning 13.46% of Havilah’s shares.
Led by chairman and interim president and CEO Blair Schultz, Havilah’s most advanced asset is the True North gold mine and mill complex in Bissett, Manitoba.
Klondex put True North on care and maintenance three years ago, after the mine produced 390,000 oz. gold between 2005 and 2015. Since first production in 1931, the mine has intermittently produced 1.5 million oz. gold in total.
Havilah continues to reprocess tailings at the site to generate some cash flow.
The name “Havilah” is a reference to a phrase from the second book of Genesis: “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden. And from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.”
Hudbay Minerals (TSX: HBM; NYSE: HBM) has a dominant presence in Manitoba’s base metals sub-sector, having operated in the Flin Flon greenstone belt for over 85 years, and mining over 145 million tonnes of ore during that time.
Its Canadian operations are in Flin Flon and Snow Lake: the 777 zinc-copper-gold-silver mine, which began commercial production in 2004 and will continue until 2020; the Lalor zinc-copper-gold-silver mine, which achieved commercial production in third-quarter 2014; the Reed high-grade copper mine, which hit commercial production in early 2014; processing facilities in Flin Flon, including a concentrator and state-of-the-art zinc plant; and in Snow Lake, a refurbished concentrator to process Lalor ore.
During the third quarter of 2018, the Manitoba operations produced 26,228 tonnes zinc, 7,506 tonnes copper and 26,118 oz. gold-equivalent precious metals. Zinc production fell 28% compared to the same period in 2017, as a result of lower grades at Lalor and 777, in line with the mine plan. The Reed mine closure in August affected contained copper production, with performance dropping, compared to the third quarter of 2017.
Hudbay says ore mined at its Manitoba operations during the third quarter of 2018 fell 15% compared to the same period in 2017, with higher production at 777 offset by lower output at Lalor and Reed.
Based in Vancouver, Roughrider Exploration (TSXV: REL) describes itself as an exploration-stage uranium company focused on the Genesis project in Saskatchewan that it has optioned from Kivalliq Energy, where it finished a first phase of fieldwork in preparation for follow-up efforts.
Roughrider’s leadership includes chairman Dale Wallster, who was “responsible for discovering the 2006 Roughrider Deposit in Saskatchewan on behalf of Hathor Exploration, who were eventually purchased by Rio Tinto Group for $650 Million.”
In September, Roughrider closed a $439,000 private placement, with funds earmarked for working capital purposes.