Min­ing com­pany hopes to val­i­date a sec­ond rare earth el­e­ments re­source to move project for­ward

The Labradorian - - Classified - BY THOM BARKER SPE­CIAL TO THE NORTH­ERN PEN

Search Min­er­als, a Van­cou­ver-based min­ing com­pany as­sess­ing a de­posit it calls “Deep Fox” of crit­i­cal rare earth el­e­ments (CREES) two kilo­me­tres from St. Lewis, has wrapped up its sum­mer drilling pro­gram and is en­cour­aged by what ge­ol­o­gists saw.

In 2016, Search re­leased its pre­lim­i­nary eco­nomic as­sess­ment of a de­posit it calls “Fox­trot,” which is 12 kilo­me­tres from St. Lewis. The com­pany be­lieves is a mine­able re­source. A mine plan has been drawn up and an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment is un­der­way.

With this sum­mer’s drilling pro­gram, Search hopes it can out­line a sec­ond eco­nom­i­cally-vi­able re­source that will en­hance its abil­ity to get to a bank­able fea­si­bil­ity study, the next step in mine devel­op­ment.

“What we’re try­ing to do is val­i­date an­other re­source,” Search CEO Greg An­drews told the North­ern Pen on Aug. 27. “We have the eco­nomics on what one re­source looks like with Fox­trot, and it would be quite com­pelling to have two re­sources. Re­ally, our goal is to change our project from Fox­trot, which is a 14-year-life mine, eight open pit and six un­der­ground, to ex­tend­ing the life of the project with Deep Fox, pro­vid­ing the as­say re­sults and drill re­sults con­firm all this, we would have a project that would be gen­er­a­tional in terms of plus-30 years.”

There are still a lot of hoops to jump through, how­ever, not the least of which is en­gage­ment with the south­ern Inuit.

Ge­orge Rus­sell, Nu­natuKavut nat­u­ral re­sources and en­vi­ron­ment man­ager, says they have had very open com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the com­pany and are work­ing dili­gently to keep the com­mu­ni­ties in­formed and in­volved.

Although there are con­cerns re­gard­ing the safety of land, water, flora and fauna, he says peo­ple are “cau­tiously op­ti­mistic” about the eco­nomic prospects from the project.

He says they are work­ing with the com­pany and provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to en­sure that en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns are ad­dressed . . . .

Sci­en­tific re­sults from this sum­mer’s drill sam­ples will not be avail­able un­til Septem­ber, but re­sults from pre­lim­i­nary drilling re­leased in March showed con­cen­tra­tions of Yt­trium, Neodymium, Praseodymium, Ter­bium and Dypro­sium at Deep Fox even higher than those at Fox­trot.

A com­pany press re­lease states that vis­ual signs of the min­er­als they are look­ing for are pre­sent in all of the drill holes. That en­cour­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion, com­bined with good weather and ef­fi­cient drilling, al­lowed the team to com­plete an ad­di­tional 427 me­tres of drilling on top of the 1,500 me­tres it had orig­i­nally planned to do this year.

CREEs are el­e­ments that are used by the elec­tron­ics, elec­tric-hy­brid car and sus­tain­able en­ergy in­dus­tries.

Neodymium, for example, is use to make pow­er­ful mag­nets es­sen­tial to minia­tur­iz­ing loud­speak­ers and hard drives for use in smart phones and the man­u­fac­ture of green tech­nol­ogy such as wind tur­bines and elec­tric cars.

The up­surge in de­mand from these in­dus­tries is driv­ing the mar­ket price for rare earth el­e­ments up and that has An­drews ex­cited about de­vel­op­ing both de­posits.

“We have con­tin­ued to ad­vance our district dur­ing low rare earth el­e­ment prices and are now poised to ben­e­fit with the re­newed in­ter­est in the sec­tor led by gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives for re­new­able en­ergy, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of ve­hi­cles and in­creas­ing prices of our key rare earth el­e­ments,” says the com­pany’s CEO.

An­drews added it goes be­yond the two St. Lewis re­sources. The en­tire district is 70 kilo­me­tres long and Search cur­rently has an­other sam­pling pro­gram go­ing on near Port Hope Simp­son and has iden­ti­fied up to 20 other promis­ing ar­eas.

An­drews is also ex­cited about work­ing in New­found­land and Labrador gen­er­ally and in the St. Lewis area specif­i­cally, cit­ing the “great in­fra­struc­ture” of Hwy 513 and the year-round deep water port.

“That re­ally helps to sup­port some of the ini­tial costs to build a fa­cil­ity, hav­ing these in­fra­struc­tures some­what in place,” he says. “Yes, we’d have to up­grade the power, po­ten­tially roads and move things, but hav­ing the ba­sics there and es­pe­cially a work­force around in St. Lewis to Port Hope Simp­son to Mary’s Har­bour, Cartwright, all those ar­eas.”

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