Aurion’s gold discoveries in Finland
Canadian-based gold explorer, Aurion Resources, holds a dominant land position—about 950 sq km of claims—in the CLGB and has a world-class discovery at its Aamurusko project.
The company is currently drilling and plans at least 10,000 m at its 100 per cent owned Risti and Launi properties, which total 300 sq km. The drill is turning first at Aamurusko, where Aurion discovered a vast field of boulders containing high-grade gold in 2016. Up to 10 holes are planned in the first phase; the second phase will test targets at Launi East including the Hinge Zone prospect, discovered last year. Aurion is well-financed to expand the program as merited.
“The abundance of recent high-grade gold discoveries by Aurion and our neighbour shows the prospectivity for gold mineralization of significant scale,” says Aurion CEO, Matti Talikka.
“After a limited 2020 program, we’re excited to build on those discoveries with a full year of exploration. We’re positioned in the right place at the right time: at the core of an emerging gold camp.”
In junior mining, investors who enter a promising story early—ahead of the herd—greatly increase their odds of making money. In mineral exploration, the same is true for prospectors and companies that establish large land positions in prospective mineral belts. “Location, location, location”—it’s as important for exploration companies as for residential real estate.
The Klondike Gold Rush, for example, saw an estimated 100,000 adventurers surge north to seek fortune after the 1896 gold discovery in modern-day Yukon. The vast majority went home empty-handed.
The big winners were northern prospectors already in the region, who were sleuthing for gold nuggets while living in spartan cabins and hunting for food. These prospectors were positioned to move quickly and staked claims on the most productive creeks in the Klondike gold district. Some became fabulously wealthy.
Aurion’s experience securing much of the CLGB was no less opportunistic, if more civilized. The company began assembling its dominant land position in 2014 during the depths of a bear market.
The lack of interest from other exploration companies ensured Aurion got its pick of prime real estate in a virtually unexplored gold belt. Under the leadership of founder and former CEO, Mike Basha, Aurion secured a total of 950 sq km of ground, locking up 80 km of the 125 km long Sirkka Shear Zone.
The Sirkka Shear Zone is the crustal-scale fault structure that hosts high-grade gold in the CLGB. It closely resembles prolific fault zones in the Abitibi such as the Destor-Porcupine Fault (70 Moz Timmins gold camp) and the Cadillac-Larder Lake Break (40 Moz Kirkland Lake district). Yet the only multi-million-ounce gold deposit within the CLGB is Kittila. High-grade gold discoveries by Aurion and Rupert suggest other economic deposits lurk beneath the surface in these highly prospective rocks.
Boulders and gold. Aurion’s discovery of quartz boulders–1,200 of them averaging 25 g/t gold over a square kilometre—at Aamurusko on its Risti property in late 2016 captivated the market and sent the company’s stock soaring.
Aurion leveraged the discovery to raise exploration money with minimal dilution to the share structure and brought in core investors including Kinross Gold, the world’s fifth largest gold miner.
The discovery sparked a staking rush that put the CLGB on the gold exploration map. Like several northern Canadian gold projects, the belt is on the perimeter of the Arctic Circle. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the CLGB is warmer by approximately 20 degrees Celsius on average, resulting in no permafrost and, making year-round exploration possible.
Aurion has since made the most of its dominant land position through both exploration and joint ventures. Base of till sampling is a key grassroots exploration tool in the CLGB, since most mineralization is under cover (the gold boulders notwithstanding). As the drills turn at Aamurusko, Aurion is taking till samples on areas of its Risti and Launi properties that have never been explored.
On the drilling front, the company has already intersected multiple bonanzas and high-grade gold hits at the Aamurusko discovery and 600 m to the northwest in prior campaigns. Aurion has found gold in different settings including quartz veins and sediments.
Top intercepts include:
-789 g/t gold over 2.9 m (Aamurusko)
-23.41 g/t Au over 11.1 m (Aamurusko)
-13.3 g/t Au over 19.5 m (Aamurusko NW)
-42.3 g/t Au over 4.0 m (Aamurusko)
Other companies interested in exploring the CLGB moved quickly to partner with Aurion. Gold producer, B2Gold, entered the belt in 2015, optioning a 250 sq. km land package to the west of Aurion’s 100 per cent owned properties.
The Aurion-B2Gold joint venture (JV) has yielded several high-grade discoveries, including 11.4 g/t gold over 13.3 m. B2Gold has identified gold mineralization over more than a kilometre of strike length at the Kutuvuoma project, just 8 km west of Rupert’s Ikkari discovery.
Aurion has also optioned a project to Strategic Resources, which is backed by mining tycoon Ross Beaty. The Strategic option is on a vanadium project in the northern CLGB.
Back on track
The outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 prompted a pivot for Aurion. With the virus spreading rapidly, the company pulled its Canadian field crew and diamond drilling team home to Canada, where they remained for the year. That forced the suspension of a helicopter-supported drill program at the flagship Aamurusko project, which is now being drilled by Aurion’s Finnish-based drill crew. Assays are pending.
Aurion’s exploration team refocused on earlier-stage exploration in 2020 including a scout drill program at the Launi East property. That drilling yielded several sniffs of high-grade gold and will be followed up with diamond drilling this year. Aurion geologists also refined drill targets for this year’s program through geological mapping and data evaluation.
Many junior mining companies have an abundance of technical talent but lack capital markets savvy. Aurion stands out for marrying a skilled geological team with capital markets professionals who know their way around a balance sheet.
CEO, Matti Talikka, leads a strong technical team with deep roots and experience in Finland, which helped Aurion move its projects forward during the pandemic. Talikka is a geologist and Finnish national who is well-known in Finnish mining circles and has been exploring the CLGB for much of the past 20 years.
From 2007 to 2015, he was a senior officer with Dragon Mining, the Australian-listed company from whom Aurion purchased the Kutuvuoma and Ahvenjarvi projects (B2Gold JV). Talikka joined Aurion’s board in 2015 and became chief executive last year.
The level of financial expertise on Aurion’s capital markets team is unique for a junior explorer. Aurion chairman, Dave Lotan, is a seasoned Bay Street veteran with deep and broad connections from years in the finance and hedge fund worlds. He worked as a portfolio manager for one of Canada’s largest pension funds prior to joining Aurion’s board in 2017.
Chief financial officer, Mark Serdan, spent a combined 15 years as a resource-focused portfolio manager at BMO Global Asset Management and UBS Global Asset Management. In those roles, he won multiple Lipper Awards, presented annually to the top-performing fund manager among peers in the category.
Between them, Serdan and Lotan have evaluated more than 1,000 junior resource companies. That has helped them identify the ideal path for success and ensure that Aurion remains on it.
Lotan, an accountant, believes Aurion’s sum of parts adds up to much more than the current stock price. He has spent more than $1.85 million purchasing Aurion shares since December 2020 and now owns more than 9.8 per cent of the company.
“It’s really without precedent to find all this gold on surface, to be able to stake 80 kilometres of a major fault, to find high-grade gold in quartz lying all over the surface, and to have it in an area where exploration is extremely economical,” Lotan says.
The majority of Aurion’s land package is governed by the Finnish state forestry company and has been extensively logged. Those logging and road construction activities have greatly aided Aurion’s exploration efforts.
Value of discovery
The greatest value in mineral exploration is created by new discoveries. Aurion proved it in 2017 with the high-grade boulder discovery at Aamurusko, which sent the stock from dimes to dollars. Aurion’s neighbour, Rupert Resources, demonstrated it a year ago with their world-class gold discoveries on the doorstep of Aurion ground.
Importantly, Rupert’s Ikkari and Heina discoveries are in a different geological setting than Aurion’s high-grade finds to date. That gives Aurion’s geologists another valuable exploration tool as they hunt for Ikkari-style mineralization on 100 per cent owned ground. Aurion’s Risti property alone hosts 15 km of the same geological setting where Rupert hit pay dirt.
Rupert’s stock chart also hints at Aurion’s potential. The two companies were trading at a similar valuation in April 2020 before Rupert’s Ikkari discovery. Rupert is now trading at a valuation north of $900 million–more than 9x higher than Aurion’s $100-million market cap. The hits keep on coming—on April 20 Rupert announced its best hole yet at Ikkari—4.4 g/t gold over 188 m starting from 64 m, including 8.9 g/t over 23 m.
Rupert is drilling “ferociously” ahead of a maiden Ikkari resource estimate this summer, which will give the market “a first glance at the potential scale of the discovery,” according to Stefan Ioannou, a mining analyst with Cormark Securities.
He expects Rupert to prove up a multi-million-ounce resource over time that could be open-pittable. Given proximity to Aurion’s JV claims with B2Gold, the odds that gold mineralization continues across Rupert’s property boundaries are high.
“The beautiful thing for Aurion and B2Gold is that as you follow Rupert’s Ikkari discovery along strike to the southwest, it leads right onto Aurion’s JV ground,” says Ioannou, who covers Rupert and has written about Aurion. “Rupert is drilling within a couple hundred metres of the property boundary.”
Last year, Aurion’s JV partner, B2Gold, hit narrow, high-grade gold mineralization on the greater Kutuvuoma property, some 8 km west of Rupert’s Ikkari and Heina discoveries. This year, B2Gold is planning a first-phase 5,000 m drill program on the JV side of the property boundary with Rupert, along strike from Ikkari. “If they hit, watch out,” Ioannou says.
B2Gold currently holds a 51 per cent interest in the JV and can boost that to 70 per cent by spending a further $10 million on exploration over a two-year period. B2Gold can earn an additional 5 per cent interest (for 75 per cent total) by completing a bankable feasibility study.
Given the number of high-grade gold discoveries already on joint venture ground, a further earn-in by B2Gold seems quite likely. If the gold miner takes its ownership level to 75 per cent and the Rupert high-grade gold discovery continues onto JV ground, a 25 per cent stake in the project alone could be worth multiples of Aurion’s current valuation.
Potential path to a ten-bagger
With gold at about USDS$1,800 an ounce in a world awash in debt and money-printing, mergers and acquisitions are starting to pick up. In the latest deal, announced on April 26, Fortuna Silver Mines is paying about $1 billion to acquire Roxgold and its portfolio of West African projects.
Multiples paid in gold takeovers tend to rise along with grade and the number of ounces. Acquirers also pay a premium for deposits in stable jurisdictions. Finland fits the bill—the country is routinely ranked among the best mining jurisdictions in the world by the Fraser Institute, with excellent infrastructure and a skilled labour force.
It’s likely that the CLGB—like other greenstone belts it closely resembles—hosts several multi-million-ounce gold deposits. Aurion’s dominant land position and strong technical approach increases the company’s odds of discovering Ikkari-style gold mineralization on their wholly owned Risti and Launi properties. It has the makings of a brand-new gold camp taking shape in real time.
“Rupert has made a great discovery but it’s also ten times the market cap of Aurion,” says Cormark’s Ioannou. “If you can tolerate the exploration risk, Aurion is well-positioned to move significantly higher on drill bit success.”
He adds, “the company has the right address, it’s just a matter of methodical grassroots exploration over a compelling large-scale multi-target property package in an effort to tie together a meaningful envelope of gold mineralization.”
The junior mining sector is notorious for its volatility and pendulum swings between fear and greed. Aurion’s story was on every speculator’s radar in the fall of 2017 amid the excitement of the golden boulders and a brand-new high-grade discovery. The stock traded to $3 and above.
With the challenges of 2020 in the rearview mirror, Aurion is well-positioned to build on its high-grade gold discoveries and make new ones. The company is fully financed for this year’s drill programs.
Yet, Aurion is firmly under the radar and its stock just recently rose above the dollar level. The action could lay the foundation for further upside moves–especially if the company can make high-grade Ikkari-style gold discoveries in an emerging gold camp still very much in its infancy.
There are no time machines and no shortcuts to identifying major gold discoveries. But in the decades to come, the CLGB seems destined to join the ranks of the world’s most productive gold mining camps. Aurion is poised to play a leading role.
Finland vanadium recovery plant might open to European market
Vanadium is included in the EU Commission’s list of critical raw materials due to concerns around supply.
Billed as a “sustainable” recycling plant, it is proposed to turn steel-slag from Scandinavian steel giant SSAB into high-purity vanadium chemicals used in specialty steels and energy storage solutions.
The low-emission plant would have among “the highest-grade vanadium feedstock sources in the world”, according to the joint venture partners, who are hoping to muscle in on the European vanadium market currently dominated by Russia, China and South Africa.
The duo recently signed a 10-year agreement with SSAB to supply about 2Mt of stockpiled high-grade vanadium-bearing slag from mills in Sweden and Finland, which have vanadium grades of about 4% vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) and 3%, respectively. The recovery facility, set to be located at Pori’s Tahkoluoto port, aims to process 200,000 tonnes of slag per year with production scheduled to kick off by the end of 2024. It will use a “low energy-low emission, hydrometallurgical process to recover vanadium from steel slag”. The Finnish vanadium recovery plant will be powered by renewable energy and use CO2 gas sequestered from local industry.
A recently completed scoping study into the viability of the recovery plant indicated its operating costs would be in the lowest-quartile range. A feasibility study is due to be completed in mid-2022. It is not known how the project will be financed. The companies were not available for comment at the time of writing.
The price of ferro vanadium in Europe rose during 2020 – peaking at over US$30/kg in mid-February – thanks to China’s appetite for vanadium, used in steel production, but has since fallen back to US$24.45/kg. Neometals is Critical Metals’ largest shareholder with a 15.4% holding in the Scandinavia-focused mining company, which is also rolling out the region’s first commercial lithium ion battery recycling facility.
Palladium One Mining’s Finnish project got highly optimistic estimates after diamond drill exploration
“Multiple discoveries of magmatic sulphide mineralization have been outlined, and preliminary indications are that Kaukua South could be several times the size of the Kaukua open-pit resource. This resource currently includes 526,000 palladium-equivalent ounces at a grade of 1.8 g/t in the indicated category and 636,000 palladium-equivalent ounces at a grade of 1.5 g/t in the inferred category”, said Palladium One Mining in a press release. The miner announced that initial visual results from the diamond drill exploration program at the Lantinen Koillismaa (LK) property in Finland show that the project’s Kaukua South discovery is comprised of the same host rocks and indicates that it is the fault-displaced extension of the Kaukua deposit.
“Drilling has extended magmatic sulphide mineralization in Kaukua South more than 3 km east of hole LK20-006, which returned 63.4 metres at 1.88 g/t palladium-equivalent, within 166.7 metres of 1.16 g/t palladium-equivalent. Historic drilling returned 33 metres at 1.9 g/t palladium-equivalent (KAU-08-035), 600 metres west of LK20-006, thereby demonstrating a mineralized strike length of approximately 4 km,” the brief states.
In the view of Peter Lightfoot, one of Palladium One’s directors, the Kaukua South strike extension is exceptionally significant because it has shallow disseminated sulphide mineralization the same as Kaukua and points to the footprint of a large-scale mineral system.
“LK is shaping up to potentially be the largest palladium-dominant open pit project in a best-in-class mining jurisdiction, globally,” Lightfoot said.
Lantinen Koillismaa is located in north-central Finland, approximately 40 km north of the town of Taivalkoski. According to Palladium One, the project area is covered by exploration permit renewals, new applications, and exploration reservation applications.
Exploration permit applications cover 24.9 sq. km and are divided into two groups, namely, the Kaukua Group consisting of the Kaukua and Murtolampi targets and the Haukiaho Group covering the Lipeavaara and Haukiaho targets; as well as Salmivaara, which represents the eastern and western extension of Haukiaho.
Dark Horse’s explorations and acquisitions in Finland and Sweden
Australian resource company Dark Horse Resources Ltd is exploring for large gold deposits. Dark Horse announced in June to have entered a partially binding term sheet with Sotkamo Silver AB to acquire Tampere Gold Project in Finland and Bergslagen Tungsten Project in Sweden. The transaction is planned to be completed against an upfront payment of €150,000 and transaction documentation expenses in the European countries.
The company has released an update on the acquisition of Finland gold and Sweden tungsten exploration tenements and the ongoing share purchase plan for existing shareholders.
Dark Horse’s Finnish and Swedish Exploration Permits
The Tampere Gold Project includes 7 highly prospective gold exploration permits in the Tampere region of Finland, Hopeavuori (2 permits), Isovesi, Järvenpää, Kalliojärvi, Lavajärvi and Metsäkylä. These permits are in close proximity, covering a total area of 286Ha. Moreover, the project lies within 100km of Tampere that currently hosts 3 gold mines- Orivesi, Jokisivu and Kaapelinkulma, and a processing facility at Vammala- all operated by Dragon Mining Limited.
The Bergslagen Tungsten Project holds 7 exploration permits in the fecund Bergslagen mining district of Sweden, covering a total area of 11,012Ha. The project consists of Yxsjöberg, Gubbo, Hörken, Högfors, Sandudden and Gänsen Prospects. On 7 July 2020, Dark Horse Resources updated to have established two separate wholly owned subsidiaries to hold the Finnish gold permits and Swedish tungsten permits, respectively. The Company has already appointed a Company Administrator to manage its corporate affairs in Finland. Additionally, accountants, auditors and legal counsel have been appointed. The Permit Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Dark Horse and Sotkamo Silver AB has advanced and is expected to close within the very near future. The agreement also includes a 45-day exclusivity term between the two parties. Upon completion of the agreement, the permits will be transferred from Sotkamo to Dark Horse’s wholly owned subsidiaries. The process for such permit transfers in Sweden and Finland is anticipated to take 1 to 2 months.
Tampere Gears Up for Upcoming Drilling Program
An extensive re-evaluation of the geological and exploration data is underway by Dark Horse’s exploration team, which is also finalising the design of a drilling program at the Finland Tampere Gold project. Dark Horse plans to give special attention to the Hopeavuori prospect, which exhibited high-grade assay results from historic drilling programs. A total of 54 diamond drilling holes amounting to 3,341 metres at Hopeavuori have been drilled with maximum depth of 75 to 100 metres.
Here are the assay results from some of the drilling sections
R305: 11.5 metres Intercept with gold grades of 19.4 grams per tonne, 30.6 metres downhole
R313: 10.7 metres intercept with gold grades of 14.4 grams per tonne, 4 metres downhole
R330: 3 metres intercept with gold grades of 7 grams per tonne, 22 metres downhole
The assay results confirmed the presence of high-grade, shallow mineralisation in the mining friendly jurisdiction. Dark Horse believes that the historical results may not be entirely compliant to the JORC 2012 code due to which the historical information may or may not be included in the future exploration or evaluation results and the estimation of JORC 2012 code compliant mineral reserves and resources.
Share Purchase Plan Closing on 15 July 2020
Dark Horse reiterated that the explorer has successfully raised $675,000 through the recently concluded placement and is currently raising more funds through the Share Purchase Plan (SPP), which is scheduled to close on 15 July 2020.
Proceeds from the capital raising would be utilised for the Hopeavuori drilling program, which is anticipated to commence following the permit transfer and settlement of acquisition in September/October 2020. All eligible shareholders may buy shares up to a value of $30,000 to raise another $750,000 (before costs). Dark Horse may accept oversubscriptions of up to another $250,000, further increasing the fund raising to $1 million value.
DHR closed at $0.002 a share on 8 July 2020, with a market capitalisation of $5.89 million.
Karelian’s Finland diamond exploration permit becomes legally valid
Karelian Diamond Resources has announced that the exploration permit received for the Lahtojoki South ore exploration in Finland is now legally valid.
The permit is of specific interest to Karelian Diamond due to its close proximity to the Lahtojoki deposit, which is situated in the Kaavi region of Finland. Covering around 28.8ha, the granted exploration permit comprises the area where kimberlite boulders were revealed. These boulders were discovered to the south-west of the Lahtojoki diamond deposit. They extend more than 400m up-ice from the boulder discovery site, said Karelian Diamond. According to the company, the nature of the boulder material showed that they are from an undiscovered kimberlite.
In August 2017, the company conducted a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on the Lahtojoki diamond. The PEA demonstrated the economic existence of the deposit. Karelian Diamond Resources chairman Richard Conroy said: “I am very pleased that this exploration permit near to the Lahtojoki diamond deposit has become legally valid, enabling the company to proceed with its exploration plans for the area.
“The possibility of a new diamondiferous kimberlite discovery close by further increases the overall attractiveness of the Lahtojoki Diamond Deposit.”
The company hopes to develop the Lahtojoki diamond deposit as Europe’s first diamond mine, operating outside Russia.
In February 2019, the company secured a diamond exploration reservation situated in the Liperi region of eastern Finland from The Finnish Mining Authority (TUKES).
In the same year, TUKES granted a reservation situated in the Salla region of northeastern Finland to Karelian Diamond.
Otso Gold – Short runway to Finland gold production
Otso Gold Corp is a gold company nearing production at its wholly-owned Otso Gold Mine in the premiere mining jurisdiction of Finland. The past operating mine complex, which includes the 2 million tonne per annum processing plant, is fully built, licensed, and permitted. The company is advancing through a four-phase redevelopment plan that is expected to end with a full restart to low-cost mining operations by mid-2020.
The redevelopment plan is focused on confirmatory geological work aimed at gaining a well-informed understanding of the mine areas in order to finalize a comprehensive mine plan. Otso Gold Corp understands that avoiding the mistakes of the previous operators and gaining a better understanding of the deposit’s geology are the keys to a successful restart at the Otso Gold Mine.
The mine’s Finland address places Otso Gold Corp within one of the world’s leading mining jurisdictions. In 2018, Forbes ranked Finland as the world’s second-best country for property rights while the Fraser Institute ranked Finland third-best in the world for mining policies, owing to the government’s high support of mineral exploration and production. Finland has a 20 percent corporate tax rate and gold producers pay a low royalty of 0.15 percent.
Gold consumers are increasingly demanding that companies in the downstream gold supply chain procure their gold from responsibly-mined sources. Otso Gold Corp takes an environmentally-conscious approach to its mining practices, including an energy mix with a significant percentage of wind power. At the Otso Gold Mine, the company is investigating installing wind turbines to generate renewable energy on-site.
Otso Gold Corp is led by Lionsbridge Capital, a resource industry firm with an excellent track record in building and redeveloping successful companies. Lionsbridge is a part of the Wesson Group of Companies, founded by Otso Gold Corp CEO Brian Wesson. A qualified mining engineer, Wesson’s mining industry career spans over 30 years in the construction, operation and management of natural resource operations globally.
Otso Gold company highlights
-Short runway to production with redevelopment plan underway on a well-funded, fully-permitted and licensed past-producing mine.
-Low-cost mining operation with two open pits and a two million tonne per annum processing plant.
-Proven recoveries of 87.5 percent.
-Production planned for July 2020.
-Further exploration potential in the world-class mining jurisdiction of Finland.
-Pioneering the use of sustainable energy in mining with an energy mix including wind power.
-Managed by Lionsbridge which has an excellent track record in building and redeveloping successful companies.
-Shareholders include management (10 percent), project vendors (30 percent), Canaccord nominees (30 percent) and Pandion Mine Finance (20 percent).
Bringing Finland’s Otso Gold Mine back into production
The fully-built Otso Gold Mine is located near the town of Raahe, Finland. The access to skilled labor and infrastructure in this established mining jurisdiction directly benefits the Otso Gold Mine. Infrastructure includes low-cost power on-site, a network of paved all-weather roads leading to the mine site, a seaport within twenty minutes and an airport within an hour of the mine site. The €250 million Otso Gold Mine operation includes two developed pits and a completely-built two million-tonne throughput process plant designed by Metso and Outotec.
The well-defined mineralized zone on the Otso Gold Mine is one of the largest gold resources in the region. Coffey Geotechnics Ltd, a Tetra Tech Company, completed an updated NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimate for the property in September 2019 based on an improved understanding of the spatial continuity between samples collected from drill holes and a revised geological model. The drill results database includes 3,527 drill holes over 145,540 meters.
Mine and processing plant
The Otso Gold Mine operation consists of two open pits: the 50-meter-deep North Pit and the 25-meter deep South Pit. Otso Gold Corp’s mine plan emphasizes grade control and reconciliation. Conservative estimates for mining costs come in at €506 per gold ounce.
The plant has a proven operating recovery of 87.5 percent gold at a process cost of €305 per gold ounce. Having already operated in 2019, the processing plant is production-ready with minimal CAPEX required to return to production.
Phased redevelopment plan
Otso Gold Corp is working to bring the previously-operating mine back into production in 2020 through a four-phase redevelopment plan. The plan’s focus is on confirmatory geological work aimed at gaining an adequate understanding of the mine areas. The goal is to finalize a mine plan that will ensure ore is delivered to the process plant in sufficient quantities and grades. The company’s mandate includes increasing the confidence in the resource base and defining additional gold resources. In line with this mandate, infill drilling supported by Tetra Tech began in Q4 2019. The company expects to release a feasibility level restart technical report focused on mine planning in Q1 2020.
Phase One: Q4 2019, Q1 2020
-Infill drilling program to adequately define mining areas in the southern extension of the North Pit and the northern extension of the South Pit.
Phase Two: Q2 2020
-Mining of the southern extension of the North Pit and the northern extension of the South Pit.
-Infill drilling of the South Pit and the eastern extension of the North Pit.
-Preparation work for mining of the South Pit.
Phase Three: Q3 2020
-Mining of the South Pit and southern extension of the North Pit.
-Infill drilling of the North Pit.
-Preparation work for mining of the North Pit.
Phase Four: Q4 2020
-Mining of the North Pit and the South Pit, including extensions.
-Exploration drilling of the northern extension of the North Pit.
Planning for the future
Otso Gold Corp has identified two targets for future exploration on the property: New Hope and Petrol Pump. Otso Gold Corp is also working to permit a heap leach operation on site for processing lower-grade ore for higher recoveries, which could see an additional 20,000 ounces produced with minimal CAPEX or OPEX. In addition, Otso Gold company holds significant land in exploration leases regionally which have been previously drilled with promising results.
Finnish authorities lack resources to supervise mines sufficiently
Finnish authorities are unable to sufficiently supervise the operations of mines.
Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday revealed that permit authorities are currently struggling to verify the information presented in permit applications, whereas supervisory authorities only take the necessary samples in special circumstances.
“If we think about extremely large projects by industrial companies, I doubt any permit authority in Finland has the resources to check every detail in the application,” said Erkki Kantola, the head of the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Northern Finland.
Kai Kokko, a professor of environmental law at the University of Helsinki, stated to the newspaper that he is worried about the impartiality of information, as the responsibility for supervision is shifting from authorities to consultancies hired by mining companies to conduct the assessments and produce the information required for permit applications.
“We’re talking about key contents produced by consultancies, the purpose of which is to convince the public and authorities. The consultants have ethical obligations, but you have to keep in mind that they’ve been hired by mining companies,” he said.
Kokko reminded that it is the duty of the authorities to protect the interests of nature conservation. Yet, the Centres of Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) only take samples in special circumstances and do not have their own laboratories for analysing them.
Eira Luokkanen, the head of environmental protection at the ELY Centre for Lapland, viewed that a parallel system is required to better evaluate the reliability of the results.
“I have no problem saying out loud that we’re really stretching our resources. It’s generally impossible to take are of everything in supervision in a way that’s sufficient,” she commented to Helsingin Sanomat.
Finnish-Australian cobalt mining company applies to mine 5700 square km of land in Finland
A Finnish-Australian mining company, Latitude 66 Cobalt, has applied to conduct cobalt mining operations in a territory spanning 5700 square kilometres in northeastern Finland. The company aims to secure exclusive extraction rights to an area that covers Lapland, Kainnu, and Koillismaa.
Finland is known to have the largest cobalt reserves in Europe, an increasingly valuable resource due to its application in devices such as electronic car batteries. Lattitude 66 has lodged an application with the intent to spend two years photographing and surveying the area, after which they would apply for the right to begin drilling.
Under Finnish law, mining companies are able to lodge a claim over a territory which prevents other companies from prospecting the same land. Should the company find significant deposits of cobalt, they would likely apply to begin drilling immediately.
The application comes at a time when environmental concerns over the impact of mining are increasing significantly among the public, with Finland’s position as one of the top mining destinations in Europe drawing growing criticism.
The application was also made on the same day that the Finnish parliament began debating a new piece of legislation that would increase payouts to landowners affected by mining activity. If passed, it is likely that the mining companies would face significantly higher costs when conducting operations in Finland. The legislation is part of a wider push to reexamine Finland’s Mining Act in order to offset the impact of mining activities on citizens and the environment.
FireFox Gold acquires property in Finland
Vancouver-based FireFox Gold has acquired property covering 984 sq. km in the Kierinki Schist belt in northern Finland’s Lapland region. The company says the two blocks, collectively known as the Kierinki project, have the geologic potential to host orogenic gold deposits.
Kierinki is located 30 km from Firefox’s other gold projects, which cover more than 500 sq. km in the Central Lapland Greentstone Belt. The two new blocks cover the majority of the Kierinki Schist Belt, which consists primarily of quartzites and sandstones, along with minor mafic volcanic rocks.
According to a statement from the company on Aug. 19, the Kierinki area has not been explored in detail and has only seen reconnaissance studies by the Geological Survey of Finland. The area was first highlighted by the government-sponsored Nordkalott project, which studied the geology of the Nordkalott area in northern Fennoscandia, which is the geographical peninsula comprising the Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, Karelia and the Kola Peninsula.
Firefox CEO Carl Löfberg says the region hosts several prominent gold anomalies, and the Kierinki Schist Belt shares similarities to other schist belts hosting high-grade gold occurrences. Löfberg says prospecting will start later this field season.
Elsewhere in Lapland, the company will initiate the second-phase drill campaign consisting of five to seven holes probing 200 to 300 metres deep at its Mustajarvi gold project this September. Drilling will target the high-grade zone that was discovered during the first phase of the drill campaign in 2018, which intersected a two-metre-thick, massive pyrite zone from 126 metres down-hole that assayed 45.1 grams per tonne gold, including 0.5 metre grading 73.7 grams gold per tonne.
The second phase of the drill campaign will also focus on four new gold targets that a 2018 induced-polarization survey identified at Mustajarvi.
FireFox, which focuses solely on gold exploration in Finland, has four other projects: Jeesio; Seuru; Ylojarvi; and Riikonkoski. The portfolio covers more than 1500 square kilometres.
Finnish regulator positive on Terrafame’s uranium mining application
Finland’s radiation and nuclear safety authority (STUK) has issued a positive recommendation on miner Terrafame’s application to mine uranium commercially.
Its recommendation will influence the government’s decision on whether or not to grant Terrafame a permit, which would allow the company to become the first miner to extract uranium on a commercial scale in the country.
“There are no radiation safety-related obstacles for granting a permit for the uranium recovery plants of Terrafame,” STUK said in a statement.
Terrafame plans to recover uranium acquired as a by-product of other metals and to refine it into yellowcake, a semi-finished uranium oxide product used to manufacture fuel for nuclear power plants.
“Τhe ore processed by the company each year contains about 300 tonnes of uranium, half of which dissolves during bioleaching. A uranium extraction plant would be able to recover about 135 tonnes of said uranium,” said STUK.
If Terrafame gets the permit, it has said it estimated it can start mining towards the end of 2019 and would invest 10 million euros ($11.3 million) to expand one of its plants.
The recovery plant will be part of Terrafame’s metal plant and the raw uranium products will not be transported outside the mine area for processing before the completed uranium oxide product is transported off site.
The ore mined at the Terrafame plant contains varying quantities of uranium with the highest concentrations at around 15–20 milligrams per kg. By comparison, the average concentration of uranium in Finnish soil and rock is about 4 mg/kg.
Uranium mining in Finland has only previously been conducted at on a test basis.
Terrafame Ltd is a multi-metal company producing nickel, zinc, cobalt and copper at its Sotkamo mine. The company is 77% owned by Finnish Minerals Group, a company wholly-owned by the Finnish state.
Terrafame was set up by the Finnish government to take control of what was Europe’s largest nickel mine some years ago from Ahtium Oyj, previously named Talvivaara.
The former owner went bankrupt after facing serious production problems caused by a waste leak in 2012 that contaminated still-polluted nearby lakes in what was Finland’s worst environmental catastrophe in recent decades.