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Will Peloton Mineral’s Montana Copper Bet Play a Critical Role in Rebuilding America’s Energy Grid?

Ted Ellwood had his eye on the Boulder copper porphyry project in southwestern Montana for more than ten years…

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Ted Ellwood had his eye on the Boulder copper porphyry project in southwestern Montana for more than ten years before his company Peloton Minerals (CSE: PMC; US-OTC: PMCCF) succeeded in acquiring it through its subsidiary Celerity Mineral Corporation in August 2021.

The Boulder project lies 16 miles (26 km) northeast of the historic Butte mine, the largest copper porphyry mine ever discovered in North America. Over the course of its mine life (1880-2005) Butte’s massive Berkeley open pit produced roughly 9.6 million tonnes of copper, along with millions of tonnes of zinc, manganese, lead and molybdenum.

“It used to be called the richest hill on earth,” Ellwood says of Butte in an interview with Nxt.financialmedia. “There used to be a pretty rich hill where the open pit is now. They mined that and kept going down into the pit to a depth of one kilometre, and below the pit there are another 10,000 miles of underground mine tunnels.”

“It was an important mine for the U.S.,” Ellwood continues, noting that Butte supplied much of the copper used in wiring the country in the late 1800s through the turn of the twentieth century, and played a critical role in America’s war effort during World War II.

Peloton’s Boulder copper-molybdenum porphyry project is also situated 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Montana Tunnels, another former base and precious metals producer, and most importantly, all three—Boulder, Butte and Montana Tunnels—are located along the axis of the northeast-trending Great Falls Tectonic Zone (GFTZ), a continental scale, deep-seated structural zone that makes up part of what is called the Boulder Batholith, a 1,900-sq.-mile intrusion.

Boulder, Butte and Montana Tunnels are all situated within a major magnetic low that occurs in the batholith and each property is also characterized by a more distinct magnetic low immediately to the southwest.

“Boulder is probably the best prospect that I’ve ever managed to get my hands on in my thirty years in the mining industry,” Ellwood says. “It has a very significant geophysical signature in the right place and it’s known to be mineralized.”

The Boulder property and the Butte and Montana Tunnels mines, Ellwood explains, are in the heart of this major tectonic zone that goes through Montana and is probably the conduit for a lot of the mineralization in the state.

“Right in the heart of that Great Falls Tectonic Zone is this significant magnetic low, and it goes for roughly 40 miles in distance, and within that major magnetic low there are three more distinct magnetic lows: One is where the Butte occurred, one is where Montana Tunnels occurred—both big base metal mines—and the third is where the Boulder property is. It’s a known copper porphyry but it hasn’t had the exploration that the other two have had.”

“That’s why there’s mineralization on all three of them,” he continues. “The Batholith comes to surface, so in some areas it’s not that deep, and then in the center it’s quite a bit deeper. Butte was exposed, you could find it at surface, and Montana Tunnels was covered up by younger volcanics but not all that deep. Boulder is under significantly more cover, younger volcanic rocks that were deposited after the Boulder Batholith was formed. It’s ashflow tufts, or basically volcanic ash, that settled on top of it, between 300 and 2,100 feet deep, which explains why Boulder hasn’t been as fully explored as Butte or Montana Tunnels.”

Peloton is planning to drill between 50,000 and 80,000 feet at Boulder next year and in the meantime will be undertaking geophysical surveys over the next few months based on a review of historical geophysical data from previous owners, which include Anaconda Mining.

Peloton is financed for the geophysical program this year and expects to raise additional funds for its 2023 drill program. The company is also planning to spin out the Boulder project and list Celerity Mineral Corporation on the Canadian Securities Exchange before the end of this year.

“There are different options we could consider—we could do an IPO, or a reverse takeover with another shell, but the easiest and cleanest way to do it is by spinning it out and dividend it to the 200 or so shareholders in Peloton,” says Ellwood, who has been president and CEO of the junior explorer since 2011.

“Peloton will keep a significant chunk of Celerity,” he says, estimating that depending on how much money the company raises beforehand, Peloton’s stake in Celerity by the time it’s listed will be about 35%.

Ellwood is excited about the upcoming work program that will build on the historic work completed in the 1960s and again in the early 2000s.

Between 1965 and 1977, Anaconda Mining and Union Oil (Molycorp) drilled eight deep core holes into the Boulder Batholith based on the USGS regional magnetics and one of its own IP surveys. Continuous mineralized intercepts of between 1,255 and 1,614 feet graded a weighted average of between 600 and 1,000 parts per million copper.

In 2004 and 2005, O.T. Mining, a Montreal-based junior, drilled three  deep core holes about one mile southwest of the Anaconda and Molycorp drilling, and intersected similar porphyry alteration with drill intercepts of between 1,242 and 2,630 feet grading a weighted average of between 313 and 785 ppm copper.

Ellwood notes that today, with more modern geophysical tools available, Peloton should be able to narrow down and hopefully pinpoint areas of higher grade mineralization.

“Anaconda Mining did a 1960s type IP survey, which didn’t have much depth penetration, and drilled six or seven deep holes and what’s significant is they got continuous mineralization,” he says. “It’s not ore grade, but it’s significant because it was continuous and if you look at the widths of the intersections, they’re not small at between 1,200 and 1,600 feet. Now we have to find the area within the porphyry that has the significant mineralization.”

“Geophysics back then could probably only see maybe 300 or 400 feet in vertical depth so there was no way they could pick out where the high priority targets are,” he says. “We have systems and technology now that can pick that out, so in the survey starting in late June or early July we will be doing the initial loops in areas we’re particularly interested in.”

Further geophysics were completed on Boulder by O.T. Mining after it tracked down and analyzed archived data from Anaconda’s tenure.  Their work included a Quantec Titan 24 survey, two Matrix IP surveys and an airborne magnetic survey.

“They did an extensive amount of geophysics and identified good targets but then the main promoter died and after that nothing ever happened as far as exploration goes.”

Ellwood and his geological team are convinced that the mineralization at Boulder and Butte came from the same source at the same time and calls the two “co-genetic”.

“You could say that they were baked in the same oven, it’s just that Butte was on the top rack of the oven and Boulder was on the bottom rack.”

BUtte – Miners Union Hall 1914

He also notes that 95% of the metal produced at Butte came from “main stage” veins. Butte’s Anaconda vein alone produced 40 million tonnes grading 4.5% copper and 5 oz. per tonne silver for roughly 1.8 million tonnes of copper and 200 million oz. silver.

The 14 sq. mile Boulder project also benefits from its location near infrastructure, including power, water, roads and railroads, and is in a mining friendly jurisdiction.

In addition to Peloton’s Boulder project, the company owns a small gold project about 50 miles southeast of Butte. The project contains two past-producing gold mines—Silver Bell and St. Lawrence—and is under option to AFR NuVenture Resources Inc.

Ellwood notes that Montana has come a long way as a mining jurisdiction. Although it was the first state in the country to ban the use of cyanide and open-pit mining roughly twenty years ago, the attitude toward the mining industry has changed significantly since then.

“Governor Greg Gianforte is very pro-industry and pro-mining, and you see a lot of major companies getting involved there,” he says. “They’re doing it low key but they’re active.”

Among them are Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD), Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO; ASX: RIO), Hecla Mining (NYSE: HCL), Sibanye-Stillwater (NYSE: SBSW; JSE: SSW) and mining mogul Robert Friedland’s privately held High Power Exploration Inc. (HPX), among others.

Last year HPX signed a US$44.5 million agreement with Brixton Metals Corporation (TSX: BBB; US-OTC: BBBXF) to earn into the Hog Heaven project, a high-sulphidation epithermal silver-gold-copper-lead-zinc deposit in northwestern Montana.

In October, Rio Tinto struck a partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey to assess the potential for critical mineral resources beneath the Continental Divide near Montana’s Boulder Batholith. According to Rio Tinto, studies by the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative have identified the Boulder Batholith region as having conditions that appear favorable for hosting rare earth elements, tellurium, tin, and tungsten, in addition to copper, molybdenum and gold.

The partnership follows a deal by Rio Tinto subsidiary Kennecott Exploration Company to earn up to a 70% stake in the Madison copper-gold project in Montana owned by American Pacific Mining (CSE: USGD) for an investment of about US$30 million. Madison is near Silver Star, about 38 km southeast of Butte.

And in 2015 Hecla Mining acquired Revett Mining in order to obtain the junior’s Rock Creek project in northwestern Montana. Rock Creek is believed to be one of the largest silver and copper deposits in North America.

Meanwhile, Sibanye-Stillwater continues to produce platinum group metals from two operations in Montana: Stillwater and East Boulder. The company is mining the J-M Reef, which it describes as the “only known significant source of PGMs in the U.S. and the highest grade PGM deposit in the world.”

Earlier this year, Barrick opened a tailings reprocessing facility at its Golden Sunlight mine, which shut down in 2019. The focus will be on removing and concentrating sulfur (iron pyrite) to be sold to and used in gold production by Barrick’s majority owned Nevada Gold Mines. The Golden Sunlight mine operated for nearly 40 years and produced more than 3 million ounces of gold.

Currently directors and insiders own about 15% of Peloton, and portfolio managers in Europe hold another 15%. Roughly 30% is held by family and friends.

Peloton has about 113 million common shares outstanding on the CSE and is trading at about 4.5 cents per share for a market cap of about $5.1 million.


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