As known resources are depleted and projected demand for key minerals increases, finding the next new deposits has become more urgent. Here are eight exploration companies that are focused on global discovery – with precious metals and uranium high on the list of sought-after commodities.
Angel Wing Metals
In mid-May, Huntington Exploration became Angel Wing Metals (TSXV: AWX; US-OTC: HEXPF). The name change comes on the heels of the company’s March acquisition of the El Grande gold project in Nayarit state, Mexico. The Angel Wing prospect is one of five priority targets at El Grande.
El Grande project in Mexico. Image from Angel Wing Metals.
El Grande covers 550 sq. km in the southern extension of the prolific Sierra Madre Occidental gold-silver belt in Nayarit, and has demonstrated significant gold and silver mineralization.
Located at the southern tip of the Sierra Madre Occidental belt, El Grande contains historically underexplored mineral occurrences hosted in a lower volcanic sequence. The property has no history of diamond drilling or modern exploration. Five high-priority mineral occurrences have been identified to date for immediate exploration follow-up and drilling.
Other highlights of the property include the Los Torres epithermal vein, which has returned grab samples of 100 grams silver, 51.4 grams silver and trace gold.
The company is also actively exploring two northern Ontario properties: the Winora gold project, where Angel Wing recently began an initial 1,800-metre drill program, and Quartz Lake. Following the completion of first phase drilling at Winora, the company plans to conduct ground geophysical magnetic and induced-polarization surveys before starting a second round of drilling.
Eloro Resources (TSXV: ELO; US-OTC: ELRRF) is a Quebec-based company with properties in Peru, Bolivia and Quebec. The Iska Iska property, a silver-tin polymetallic epithermal-porphyry complex, in Potosi Department, southern Bolivia, has been the focus of the company’s 2022 exploration activities.
Iska Iska is hosted in the same geological setting as the historic Cerro Rico de Potosí deposit, the world’s largest silver deposit that has been producing since the sixteenth century and is still active to date. Estimates of Cerro Rico de Potosí historical silver output were in the range of 2.1 billion oz. in 2018. Today, 500 years after mining began, 500 million tonnes grading 100 grams silver and 0.2% tin are still in reserve.
In May, Eloro announced the most recent assays from its ongoing drilling program at the Santa Barbara Target area within Iska Iska, with highlights including 251.9 metres of 160 grams silver equivalent per tonne (27.37 grams silver, 0.62% zinc, 0.52% lead and 0.11% tin); and 289.5 metres of 133.45 grams silver equivalent (19.1 grams silver, 0.2 gram gold, 0.42% zinc, 0.64% lead and 0.08% tin).
Commenting on the drilling, general manager of Eloro’s Bolivian subsidiary Minera Tupiza S.R.L., Osvaldo Arce, said that the results “continue to expand a large and robust tin-silver polymetallic likely feeder zone located to the southeast of the Santa Barbara breccia pipe that is wide open at depth.”
Eloro also holds the Lac Henri, Delta and Eastmain properties in Quebec.
Toronto-based explorer Eskay Mining (TSXV: ESK; US-OTC: ESKYF) is active in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle, in the province’s northwest, where Barrick Gold’s (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) Eskay Creek deposit was the world’s highest-grade gold mine during its operation, with average grades of 45 grams gold per tonne.
Eskay Mining currently holds 526 sq. km of ground in this area. An IP survey and drilling programs of the TV and Jeff zones within Eskay’s properties in 2020 and 2021 identified multiple shallow resistive bodies, with drill core suggesting the resistivity corresponds with hydrothermal silicification associated with the VMS system.
A recent 4,500-metre drill program intercepted gold and silver mineralization in 18 of 20 drill holes. At least three significant sulphide-mineralized horizons have been identified. Gold is hosted by electrum, and silver by electrum, pyrargyrite, freibergite, and acanthite. Recent highlights include 53.9 metres of 2.64 grams gold equivalent per tonne starting at 42 metres depth at TV; and 26.4 metres of 2.26 grams gold equivalent from 8.1 metres at Jeff.
In March, Eskay announced a new target area for 2022 exploration – named Excelsior – along strike of the TV and Jeff zones. Rock chip samples collected in 2021 returned results of 12.7 grams gold per tonne and 322 grams silver; and 14.9 grams gold and 21.2 grams silver. The company will focus on eight new drill targets in the Excelsior zone in 2022.
Labrador Uranium (CSE: LUR; US-OTC: LURAF), which began trading on the Canadian Stock Exchange in March, holds a portfolio of prospective uranium properties in Labrador. Exploration and development activity is focused on the 260-km-long by 75-km-wide Central Mineral Belt uranium-copper project in central Labrador, as well as the Notakwanon project in northern Labrador.
Labrador’s Central Mineral Belt hosts Paladin Energy’s (ASX: PDN) Michelin uranium deposit, among the largest uranium deposits in North America. Labrador Uranium holds 1,390 sq. km of ground in the area, including a sizeable portion of the Central Mineral Belt, where its Moran Lake and Mustang Lake projects are located.
At the Notakwanon project, three main zones — Rumble, Old School and Notak-1 — have yielded traces of high-grade uranium mineralization. Grab samples from the Rumble target returned up to 3.49% U3O8.. Exploration plans for this year include the construction of an exploration field camp and initial drilling of key targets.
Labrador Uranium CEO Stephen Keith has pointed to the EU’s pending declaration of nuclear power as “green energy” as a potential boom for uranium that is on the horizon, and notes the company has “put together an exceptional land package, controlling a significant known mineral belt in a mining friendly jurisdiction.”
In 2020, Pinecrest Resources rebranded as Newcore Gold (TSXV: NCAU; US-OTC: NCAUF). The new name came as the company decided to focus on its 100%-owned Enchi gold project in Ghana.
Enchi is within 50 km of the Chirano gold mine, which Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) recently sold to Asante Gold (CSE: ASE), and produced 165,000 ounces of gold in 2020.
Chirano and Enchi are both located along the Bibiani Shear zone and hosted in the same geological setting, displaying lower grade gold at surface with higher grades extending to depth. Enchi hosts inferred resources of 70.4 million tonnes grading 0.62 gram gold per tonne for 1.4 million ounces.
Within the 216-sq.-km property are several high-priority geochemical and geophysical anomalies that have yet to be drilled. Exploration activity to date this year has been focused on an ongoing 90,000-metre drill program. Newcore most recently released results from first-pass reverse-circulation drilling at the Tokosea grassroots target. Highlights included 27 metres of 1.8 grams gold per tonne from 30 metres depth, including 3 metres of 4.13 grams gold; and 17 metres of 1.67 gram gold from 131 metres, including 1 metre of 18.17 grams gold.
In an April update, Newcore Gold’s President and CEO Luke Alexander noted the potential for Enchi to grow further, noting the company has only tested a small portion of the 6-km long anomaly at the project, and defined mineralization across a strike length of 4 km.
Monterey Minerals changed its name to Puranium Energy (CSE: UX) in March, in tandem with the announcement that it had acquired an 85% interest in seven uranium exploration properties totalling 935 sq. km in Namibia’s Erongo province.
The newly acquired properties are within the Central Zone of the Damara Belt, a proven uranium-producing jurisdiction that currently accounts for 8% of the world’s supply. In its presentation to investors, Puranium cites a forecasted growth in demand for uranium in the European Union, the United States and China alongside a projected 50% drop in supply by 2030 due to the lack of investment in new mines.
Located within 50 km of several producing mines, Puranium’s properties feature the same geological structure as the calcrete-hosted uranium deposits located at the nearby Rössing, Husab and Langer Heinrich mines. With airborne geophysics having previously highlighted potential uranium anomalies, Puranium Energy has scheduled a drill program to start in the second quarter.
The Toronto-based junior also holds the Cobalt Mountain polymetallic project near the town of Smithers, British Columbia.
Sable Resources’ (TSXV: SAE; US-OTC: SBLRF) portfolio includes active exploration projects in Mexico and Argentina.
Its recent focus has been on exploration and drilling at its El Fierro project in San Juan, Argentina. In February, Sable announced results from its second phase of diamond drilling, with a highlight of 0.5 metre grading 592.8 grams gold equivalent per tonne within a 2-metre interval of 353.6 grams gold equivalent starting at 98 metres depth.
Image from Sable Resources.
The grassroots exploration company is planning 18,000 to 20,000 metres of drilling on seven targets at four of its projects in Argentina this year: El Fierro, Don Julio, La Poncha and Los Pumas.
Don Julio and Los Pumas are both located near Barrick Gold’s Alturas deposit and Veladero mine in San Juan province. The area features gold-silver-copper mineralization in a combination of high-grade and low-grade environments. In a January 2021 update, Sable indicated that rock samples collected over a 6- by 4-km area at Los Pumas had returned multiple high-grade results of up to 103 grams gold per tonne, 2,650 grams silver, and 2.9% copper.
Sable Resources also has gold exploration properties in Mexico, including Vinata, in Chihuahua state. The project hosts a low-sulphidation epithermal gold occurrence that saw its first drilling in 2019 with ten holes that identified anomalous gold, silver, arsenic, antimony, mercury, manganese, barium, and molybdenum in low-temperature silica textures and hydrothermal breccias.
Explorer ValOre Metals (TSXV: VO; US-OTC: KVLQF) is focused on precious metals and uranium projects in Canada and Brazil.
ValOre Metals Pedra Branca region in northeastern Brazil. Credit: ValOre Metals
Exploration highlights to date for 2022 include initial drill results from the Angilak uranium project in Nunavut. All seven holes recently drilled at the Dipole target on the property returned results showing near-surface radioactivity from multiple zones, expanding the prospective structure of the property.
ValOre also released exploration results from its prospective Archean mafic-ultramafic
Pedra Branca property in northeastern Brazil earlier this year. In March, ValOre updated its inferred mineral resource estimate for the project, doubling contained ounces from a 2019 resource. The project now hosts 2.2 million ounces of combined palladium, platinum, and gold in 63.6 million tonnes grading 1.08 gram combined palladium, platinum and gold (0.68 gram palladium, 0.36 gram platinum and 0.03 gram gold). Several zones that are part of the resource remain open for expansion.
Results from ongoing auger drilling in May highlighted a top result of 2 metres grading 8.58 grams combined palladium, platinum and gold from surface, with 1 metre grading 15.93 grams from surface. ValOre’s landholdings for Pedra Branca total 568.5 sq km.
Other ValOre projects include the 100%-held Baffin gold property on Baffin Island, in Nunavut, as well as exploration interests in the Genesis and Hatchet Lake properties in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.