Vancouver – UEX (UEX-T) wanted to define 40 million pounds of uranium oxide at Hidden Bay in 2009 and, in a new resource estimate for the Athabasca Basin property, it has done even better.
Hidden Bay now hosts 16.9 million indicated tonnes grading 0.112% U3O8 and 2 million inferred tonnes grading 0.079% U3O8. As such the project contained 41.6 million indicated lbs. U3O8 and 3.5 million inferred lbs. uranium oxide.
Hidden Bay is home to three deposits. Horseshoe and Raven, which sit just 500 metres apart, are in the main claim block; West Bear is 30 km to the southwest, in a separate claim block. The claim blocks are in northeast Saskatchewan, which means UEX’s deposits are in close proximity to uranium processing infrastructure. Areva‘s McClean Lake mill is 12 km to the northwest and Cameco‘s (CCO-T, CCJ-N) Rabbit Lake mill is 5 km north.
Horseshoe and Raven are the larger deposits. Mineralization at Horseshoe has been traced over 800 metres strike and 300 metres width; the deposit sits between 100 and 450 metres depth. Raven is similar: it strikes for 920 metres and sits between 100 and 300 metres depth. Both deposits are hosted by competent basement rocks that UEX says could be amenable to open pit or underground, ramp-access mining.
The deposits are also similar in terms of tonnage, grade, and mineralization. Horseshoe contains 7 million indicated tonnes grading 0.157% U3O8 and 444,900 inferred tonnes grading 0.122% U3O8 for a total of 25.6 million lbs. uranium oxide. Raven carries 9.6 million indicated tonnes grading 0.073% U3O8 and 1.5 million inferred tonnes grading 0.067% U3O8 for 17.8 million lbs. U3O8. Uranium is carried in disseminated and veinlet pitchblende and other uranium oxides and silicates, such as boltwoodite and uranophane, that are hosted by folded arkosic quartzite gneiss.
West Bear is significantly smaller but carries a slightly better grade. It contributes 188,100 indicated tonnes grading 0.397% U3O8 to the project’s total resource.
Between 2005 and 2009 UEX has pummelled the Hidden Bay project – specifically the Horseshoe and Raven deposits – with 619 diamond core drill holes totalling 185,000 metres. This summer the company started drilling with two rigs in early July and plans to add another 15,000 metres to the drill hole database.
UEX has four exploration goals for the summer program. First, now that the areas of historical drilling around Horseshoe and Raven have been tested the company wants to probe further expansion to untested areas that remain open. Second, UEX will drill several areas of clay alteration in the vicinity that also returned resistivity anomalies.
Third, in an area to the northwest known as Vixen Lake pitchblende mineralization occurs in glacial tills and a resistivity survey indicates a low, so UEX wants to test the potential for another deposit. And fourth, UEX plans to drill 5,000 metres in an area even further to the northwest called Telephone Lake. Telephone Lake lies just south of and along strike from the Sue deposits in Areva’s adjacent McClean Lake mine property. Drilling will target mineralization down-dip from earlier intercepts near the unconformity, such as 0.2% U3O8 over 6.8 metres and 4.5% U3O8 over 0.5 metre.
The new estimate placed 90% of Hidden Bay’s resource in the indicated category, which will assist UEX in its feasibility study for the project. The company says it is certainly considering using one of the two nearby mills in a production scenario. In addition, the impermeable nature of the host basement rocks means any open pits created through mining will be evaluated as tailings disposal facilities.
In April UEX closed an $8.7-million private placement, selling 8.7 million shares at $1 a piece. The funds raised its cash position to $24 million, which is sufficient to cover its exploration commitments for the year. For 2009 the incurred and planned exploration and development budgets for all of UEX’s projects total $22.5 million, of which UEX is responsible for just under $17 million. The company has one project under option, eleven that are joint-ventured, and seven wholly-owned.
News of the increased resource at Hidden Bay lifted UEX’s share price 5¢ to $1.30. The company has a 52-week trading range of 45¢ to $3.99 and has 192 million shares outstanding.