Exploring Across Canada

Ontario as an inter-provincial base

Many companies exploring across the country have chosen Ontario as their headquarters given the access to resources, capital markets, innovation and industry collaborations. Here we highlight some of the exciting developments taking place inter-provincially.

Québec

With C$393 million in mining revenue in 2020, Québec continues to shine and evolve in the mining spotlight. The province has a diversified portfolio including metals and minerals for the green transition economy, such as lithium, graphite, vanadium and niobium. Québec has attracted major investment into the sector, such as The Pallinghhurst Group’s billion dollars put into Nemaska Lithium and Nouveau Monde Graphite, and accounts for 43% of the country’s iron ore shipments and slightly under 25% of nickel shipments. However, nothing shines brighter than gold in this province - the core pillar of its mining economy.

Sitting in the company of Wesdome and Canadian Malartic, O3 Mining has reported several encouraging drill results from its Alpha and Marban projects, with the latest assay highlights as of late January 2022 including 12.4 g/t Au at the Kappa zone over an intercept of 1.9 m from a depth of 53 m. The company holds a portfolio of assets across over 137,000 hectares and intends to continue its winter drilling program with 73,000 metres planned for 2022. O3 aims to have a PFS completed by the end of the year and Marban in production by Q4 2026.

O3 Mining is also exploring the Omega area for quartz and tourmaline veins. “The importance of talking about these styles of mineralization is that you really see the endowment of the area. The more styles of mineralization, the more it means that the gold was able to be deposited in different areas— independently of the type of rock formations,” said Jose Vizquerra, president and CEO of O3 Mining.

Capitalizing on Canadian Malartic’s low-grade open pit running out of ore by 2027, O3 mining is planting the seeds for the possibility of making use of Malartic’s single-circuit plant. While Canadian Malartic is currently passing up to 60,000 mt/d, this will diminish in future and a collaboration could emerge.

Saskatchewan

Accounting for 30% of global potash production, Saskatchewan reached record high potash sales of C$5.5 billion in 2020. Minister Bronwyn Eyre believes 2022 will be a year of continued growth for the province’s farming and mining industries. A hope that the seven-year slump in prices could be nearing the end provides encouragement to the sector.

With projects in northern Saskatchewan, ALX Resources signed an option agreement with Rio Tinto in 2020 for the Firebird nickel project, formerly known as the Falcon nickel project. ALX has completed one drill program that successfully located its target of magmatic sulphides.

Warren Stanyer, CEO and chairman of ALX, elaborated on the deal with Rio Tinto: “It is an earn-in deal where they can get up to 51% interest in the Firebird property by funding C$3 million in exploration expenditures within three years of the date of the agreement. They can also elect to execute their right to acquire up to 80% in the project through spending a total of C$12 million in exploration expenditures over six years and making a total of C$125,000 in cash payments to ALX.”

Regina-based technology development company Prairie Lithium Corporation has also brought exciting news to the province by proving strong results in the extraction of lithium from oilfield brines. As the transition to cleaner energy sources evolves, the importance of nuclear power will also increase. “Ten years ago, anything related to nuclear was seen as a global danger. Today, however, carbon has become the dominant danger, with nuclear power and uranium fuel being heralded as major components of a green strategy,” said Chris Frostad, president and CEO of Saskatchewan-based Purepoint Uranium Group.

Uranium miners have required resilience for longer than most given the 2007 peak in prices, followed by a steady decline—but this has started to change. The role that nuclear is expected to play, coupled with a steep rise in energy prices making it more competitive, has shifted the landscape. China has increased its commitment to nuclear, and innovative technologies such as SMRs are on the rise. Recent violent protests in Kazakhstan —the largest uranium producer in the world representing about 40% of global output— have also triggered uncertainty around the country’s supply.

Partnered with Cameco and Orano, two of the largest uranium producers world-wide, Purepoint Uranium is aggressively developing the Hook Lake JV, alongside a range of wholly owned projects in the Athabasca Basin. With the largest high-grade uranium mines in the world, such as McArthur River and Cigar Lake, and uranium rising by over 30% last year, Saskatchewan is ready to reap some rewards.

British Columbia

Vancouver remains a vital mining destination, with over 800 mining and junior companies headquartered in the city, employing over 30,000 people across B.C. Metallurgical coal represented 34% of the province’s mining net revenue in 2020, with copper following at 28% and gold at 18%.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Bruce Ralston, has expressed the goal to grow the province’s mining sector riding the current commodity prices wave. With some of the lowest GGH emission-intensive mines and smelters world-wide, and as leaders in environmental, safety and community relations, B.C. is positioning itself to spearhead within the realm of ESG in years to come. The BC Mining Innovation Hub will continue to foster a culture of support and collaboration, while the CleanBC Facilities electrification Fund and Clear BC program for Industry are helping mines electrify their projects. British Columbia is the homeland of nearly 200 First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, with a long history of partnerships with the mining sector. This is the first Canadian province to share mineral tax revenue with Indigenous communities, and mining remains one of their significant employers.

Ontario-based New Gold has signed a cooperative agreement with the SSN Community around the copper-gold New Afton mine based west of Kamloops. This is one of the only block-caving projects in North America and has a mine life beyond 2030. The company has over 10 years of experience in block caving in the area, and an asset that generated over US$800 million in free cash flow since 2012. “If commodity prices remain strong over the coming years, then mining in Canada will truly channel its growth and play a leading role on the global stage,” said Renaud Adams, president and CEO, New Gold.

Images courtesy of ALX Resources and O3 Mining