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Portofino Resources Offers an Exciting Lithium Bet With Multiple Canadian Gold Projects Up Its Sleeve

Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports   01/21/2021

Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a company that controls five options to acquire "promising gold properties" in Canada.It would be easy to point at the latest news on Portofino.

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This article was originally published by The Gold Report

Source: Peter Epstein for Streetwise Reports   01/21/2021

Peter Epstein of Epstein Research profiles a company that controls five options to acquire "promising gold properties" in Canada.

It would be easy to point at the latest news on Portofino Resources Inc. (POR:TSX.V; PFFOF:OTCQB) and say, "look, a gold junior moving into the red hot lithium space!" But, of course Portofino never left lithium, it expanded into precious metals just before the gold price soared from $1,500 to over $2,000/oz (more about that later).

Portofino knows lithium and management knows Argentina

While Portofino is not new to lithium, what I said about lithium being hot is perfectly clear. The top-10 performing lithium companies (all but one pre-production) are up an average of +1,320% from their 52-week lows. These players span hard rock, brine and sedimentary (including clay-hosted lithium projects).

Portofino controls a 2,932 hectare brine project in Catamarca province, Argentina, 15 km southeast of Neo Lithium's very high-grade/very low-impurities project. Admittedly, 2,932 ha is not a giant footprint, but it's not tiny either.

Portofino's property is about the same size, or larger, than land packages held by Argosy Minerals and Lithium South Development Corp., who have market caps of $180 million and $30 million, respectively.

Not only is the lithium sector extremely strong, shares of companies with projects in Argentina are among the leaders of the pack, {Neo Lithium, Lithium Americas, Millennial Lithium, Argosy Minerals and Lake Resources are among the top-12 performers}.

Make no mistake, Yergo is not that valuable today, but it could be after it's drilled later this year. Lithium Americas is up 870% (even after announcing and closing a $350 million private placement) from its March 2020 COVID-19 low. It has a $3.7 billion market cap, Neo Lithium is up 818%.

Most investors are familiar with mining juniors touting nearby mines as examples of possible outcomes of their exploration activities. Sometimes analog mines are past producers, sometimes they're 50-150 km away, and sometimes they're mediocre assets.

By contrast, Portofino's Yergo project is 15 km from Neo Lithium's PFS-stage 3Q project, possibly the single best lithium brine project in the world.

In the chart above I show most of the lithium players with all, or substantially all, of their lithium properties in Argentina, (POSCO, Lithium Americas and Galaxy Resources also have projects in other countries). By no means do I mean to suggest that any of the larger companies would care about the Yergo project.

However, there are a handful of names that might benefit from acquiring a new brine project, especially one with demonstrated low Mg levels and one that does not share its salar with others.

If drilling hits Li concentrations anywhere near that of Neo Lithium's project, Yergo could become something fairly significant. Could it be worth $100 million? Probably not! But, $5–$10 million? Perhaps, especially in the hands of a larger lithium player. Remember, the company's market cap is just $8 million.

Although Portofino's lithium assets (including a ~650k share position in lithium junior Galan Resources) hold significant promise, the company's primary objectives in 2021 remain in the gold sector.

Readers are reminded that management has boots on the ground in Argentina, valuable business relationships dating back nearly a decade, with people in Catamarca province. These relationships are being leveraged not just for lithium, but now for precious metal opportunities as well.

2 gold properties, Gold Creek and South of Otter, to be drilled this year

Near Red Lake, Portofino has the South of Otter ("SOT") and Bruce Lake properties. In Atikokan, Portofino has three more, Gold Creek, Sapawe West and Melema West. All five properties, totaling 12,843 hectares, are in northwestern Ontario and are controlled via very low-cost, multi-year options to acquire 100% interests. Gold Creek and SOT are the two flagship projects.

Gold Creek comprises 15 mining claims containing ~4,036 contiguous hectares in the Atikokan area, near Red Lake. Gold Creek is Portofino's most advanced gold project. Management is planning for a 1,000 m (5–6 hole) drill program in the spring.

Historical data, mostly from the eastern portion of the property, includes multi-ounce gold grab samples and drill intercepts of 4.3 g/t gold over 41 m and 4.36 g/t gold over 20.4 m completed in 1995, and a 1 tonne bulk sample in 2008 that returned an average grade of 9.9 g/t gold.

Although there's been limited drilling, substantial exploration over the decades at Gold Creek included prospecting, mechanical stripping and trenching, geological mapping, airborne magnetic and electromagnetic survey, ground magnetic and electromagnetic surveys, selective radiometric and gravity surveys, and geochemical sampling.

Management negotiated the Gold Creek property option at the height of the global pandemic in March–April 2020. I believe it got a very good deal. How many pre-maiden resource properties have had a 1 tonne bulk sample taken?

A tonne at 9.9 g/t gold—that's US$600/tonne rock! Significant gold mineralization has been traced along a 1.5 km strike length with grab samples as high as 759 g/t (~24.4 troy oz/ ton).

In the summer and fall, two prospecting programs were carried out which included 211 grab samples. Historical zones of mineralization were sampled, confirming anomalous and high-grade gold in multiple zones—samples returned up to 45.6 g/t gold.

A Mag Survey was flown over the entire property in late summer, followed by a property-wide compilation and structural interpretation. This critical work greatly enhanced the geological and structural understanding of the property.

Prospecting and mapping in the fall led to the discovery of the New Road Zone. Fourteen grab samples were collected, the two best showed 4.1 g/t gold and 720 ppm copper.

Management believes its understanding of the mineralization has significantly improved. For example, locations of historical work are much better known. Gold zones confirmed in 2020 will be drill-ready—following a detailed review of previous drilling and ongoing structural interpretations.

South of Otter is Portofino's premier Red Lake project

The 5,363 hectare South of Otter ("SOT") property is in the same greenstone belt hosting the world-class Red Lake District ("RLD"), including Great Bear Resources' high-grade Dixie project in northwestern Ontario. SOT is ~8 km east of Great Bear's prolific, ongoing gold discoveries.

The RLD is one of the highest-grade gold mining camps on the planet, and has produced >30 million ounces of gold. The regional geology has been compared to top-tier districts such as the Timmins and Kirkland Lake Camps in northeastern Ontario.

In August, 2020, management reported assays from grab samples that identified two gold-bearing quartz veins sampling 18.0 g/t and 8.19 g/t gold. Historical exploration at SOT includes prospecting, sampling, geophysical surveys and limited diamond drilling.

A few months ago, a ground VLF/EM survey was done to refine gold mineralization targets of merit and to identify areas for prospecting, trenching and drilling. Three substantial conductors were found over a 1.6 km strike length.

Three earlier-stage gold properties….

Portofino has an option on 100% of the 1,428 ha Bruce Lake property, also in the RLD, ~1.5 km northeast of Great Bear's Pakwash property, and ~11 km southeast of the above mentioned Dixie project. Bruce Lake hosts gold-in-soil anomalies discovered in 2010. Management believes regional magnetic highs coincident with the gold-in-soil anomalies are significant.

Melema West is a smaller (869 ha), early stage property ~28 km northeast of the town of Atikokan. There are some gold showings in the area and the property is on a structure that's parallel to Agnico Eagle's 32,070 ha, 4.5M oz., near-surface Hammond Reef deposit. Lately, Agnico has been staking ground around Melema West and Sapawe West.

CEO David Tafel recently commented,

"Gold-bearing northeast trending structures in this area are extensive, well documented and traceable for over 30 km. Recent claim staking by Agnico in the area, contiguous to Melema West, and around Sapawe West, supports our belief that these properties are strategically well located."

The Sapawe West property is quite close to Melema West, just north of the Quetico Fault and 2.5 km west and along strike of the past producing Sapawe Gold Mine. Sapawe West is ~13 km south of the Hammond Reef deposit.

Conclusion

Portofino Resources controls not two or three, but five options to acquire 100% interests in promising gold properties in and around the Red Lake district and the Atikokan area of northwestern Ontario. Two of the five, Gold Creek and South of Otter, are flagship projects near very prominent projects. Both will see drilling this year.

Ongoing, exciting drill results and exploration/development activities advanced by Great Bear Resources and Agnico Eagle will provide positive investment catalysts for Portofino.

In addition, management wisely held on to a 2,932 hectare lithium brine project in Catamarca province, Argentina that (could become, after drilling) fairly significant relative to Portofino Resources' (TSX-V: POR) / (OTCQB: PFFOF) tiny C$8M market cap. The Yergo lithium brine project is a long-dated call-option on continued strength in battery metals.

The company's projects are all early-stage, but in a bull market for gold, (and potentially for lithium), early-stage offers the most upside potential, albeit with commensurate risk. Having five gold properties spreads the risk and increases the odds that drilling will lead to one or more noteworthy discoveries. I continue to like the compelling risk/reward proposition here.

 

Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis. He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University's Stern School of Business.

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Disclosures: The content of this article is for information only. Readers fully understand and agree that nothing contained herein, written by Peter Epstein of Epstein Research[ER], (together, [ER]) about Portofino Resources, including but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts, calculations, etc. is not to be considered implicit or explicit investment advice. Nothing contained herein is a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security. [ER] is not responsible under any circumstances for investment actions taken by the reader. [ER] has never been, and is not currently, a registered or licensed financial advisor or broker/dealer, investment advisor, stockbroker, trader, money manager, compliance or legal officer, and does not perform market making activities. [ER] is not directly employed by any company, group, organization, party or person. The shares of Portofino Resources are highly speculative, not suitable for all investors. Readers understand and agree that investments in small cap stocks can result in a 100% loss of invested funds. It is assumed and agreed upon by readers that they will consult with their own licensed or registered financial advisors before making any investment decisions.

At the time this article was posted, Portofino Resources was an advertiser on [ER] and Peter Epstein owned shares and warrants in the Company.

Readers understand and agree that they must conduct their own due diligence above and beyond reading this article. While the author believes he's diligent in screening out companies that, for any reasons whatsoever, are unattractive investment opportunities, he cannot guarantee that his efforts will (or have been) successful. [ER] is not responsible for any perceived, or actual, errors including, but not limited to, commentary, opinions, views, assumptions, reported facts & financial calculations, or for the completeness of this article or future content. [ER] is not expected or required to subsequently follow or cover events & news, or write about any particular company or topic. [ER] is not an expert in any company, industry sector or investment topic.

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( Companies Mentioned: POR:TSX.V; PFFOF:OTCQB, )

Precious Metals

Bitcoin Soars to Highest in 5 Months as Correlation With Gold Turns Negative

The price of bitcoin hit the highest in over five months, as an increasing number of traders dived into the
The post Bitcoin Soars to Highest in 5 Months…

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The price of bitcoin hit the highest in over five months, as an increasing number of traders dived into the cryptocurrency in hopes that it would once again soar to the record highs witnessed earlier this year.

Bitcoin was up by more than 1% on Tuesday morning before settling to just above $56,000, marking a weekly gain of over 15% and the highest since May. The latest rally is the result of a number of factors, particularly the fading of concerns regarding regulatory efforts in the US and China, as well as the SEC potentially approving the first bitcoin ETF.

In the meantime, according to Ned Davis Research strategist Pat Tschosik, the one-year correlation between gold and bitcoin has been steadily declining, and is about to turn negative, suggesting that the prices are no longer moving in unison. “Bitcoin could be seen as the preferred inflation hedge if the dollar and real rates are rising,” Tschosik told CNBC.


Information for this briefing was found via CNBC. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

The post Bitcoin Soars to Highest in 5 Months as Correlation With Gold Turns Negative appeared first on the deep dive.

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Economics

Stocks Stink As Curve Pancakes On Stagflation Fears

Stocks Stink As Curve Pancakes On Stagflation Fears

It was another choppy day in the market which saw an overnight attempt to recover from…

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Stocks Stink As Curve Pancakes On Stagflation Fears

It was another choppy day in the market which saw an overnight attempt to recover from losses get sabotaged at the open when a sell program knocked spoos lower and the result was a rangebound, directionless grind for the rest of the day as the continued pressure of negative gamma prevented a move higher, and since they couldn't rise, stocks sold off closing near session lows. 

Granted, there was the usual chaos in the last 30 minutes of trading, when a huge sell program was followed by an almost identical buy program...

... but it was too little too late to save stocks from another down day.

While the Russell, energy stocks and banks managed to bounce and drifted in the green for much of the day - perhaps as investors looked forward to good news from JPMorgan tomorrow when the largest US bank kicks off earnings season - the rest of the market did poorly with most other sectors in the red.

Earlier today we noted that the SPY remains anchored by two massive gamma levels, 430 on the downside and 440 on the upside...

... however that may soon change. As SoFi strategist Liz Young pointed out, "It's been 27 trading days since we hit a new high on the S&P 500. The last time we went this long was...exactly this time last year. New highs happened on Sept 2nd, both years, before a pause."

In rates we saw a sharp flattening with another harrowing CPI print on deck tomorrow which many expect to roundly beat expectations...

... with the short end rising by 3bps, a move that was aided by a poor 3Y auction which saw a slump in the bid to cover and a plunge in Indirect takedown, while the long end tightened notably, and 10Y yields on pace to close 4bps lower.

The dollar went nowhere, and while oil tried an early break out and Brent briefly topped $84, the resistance proved too much for now and the black gold settled down 31 cents for the day at 83.34 although WTI did close up 4 cents, and above $80 again, at $80.54 to be precise. Still, with commodity prices on a tear, it's just a matter of day before Brent's $86 high from October 2018 is taken out.

With stocks failing to make a new high in over a month, investor sentiment has predictably soured with AAII Bulls down to the second lowest of 2021, while Bearish sentiment continues to rise.

There is another reason sentiment has been in the doldrums: traders are concerned that price pressures and supply-chain snarls will drain corporate profits and growth, and expect disappointment from the coming earnings season which according to Wall Street banks will be a far more subdued affair compared to the euphoria observed in Q1 and Q2.  Quarterly guidance, which improved in the runup to the past four reporting periods, is now deteriorating, with analysts projecting profits at S&P 500 firms will climb just 28% Y/Y to $49 a share. That’s down from an eye-popping clip of 94% in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, adding to the downbeat mood, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic finally admitted that inflation is not transitory, and the Fed should proceed with a November taper amid growing fears that inflation expectations could get unanchored. Earlier in the day was saw that 3Y consumer inflation expectations hit a record high 4.3% confirming that the Fed is on the verge of losing control.

Vice Chair Richard Clarida agreed and said that conditions required to begin tapering the bond-buying program have “all but been met.”

Finally, the IMF delivered more bad news today when it cut its global GDP forecast while warning that inflation could spike, and cautioned about a risk of sudden and steep declines in global equity prices and home values if global central banks rapidly withdraw the support they’ve provided during the pandemic. In short, the world remains trapped in a fake market of the Fed's own creation.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/12/2021 - 16:02
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Articles

Newfoundlands Gold Rush Exploration Heats Up – Who Are the Major Players?

By David Duval For an island that’s commonly referred to as “The Rock” it shouldn’t…

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By David Duval

For an island that’s commonly referred to as “The Rock” it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that mining has played an important if sporadic role in the economic, social, and cultural history of the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mining is one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest and oldest industries, and a major contributor to the economy of the province, especially in rural areas. More than 15 mineral commodities have been produced or mined in the province.

Five metal mines currently produce iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt and gold. Other operations mine pyrophyllite, limestone and dolomite, amongst other commodities. The province’s mining and mineral exploration companies directly provide high-paying jobs to more than 7,000 men and women.

Newfoundland’s mineral potential was acknowledged publicly way back in the 1830s and 1840s by Joseph Jukes who noted many of the island’s mineralogical and geological features in reports of his explorations. The first systematic attempt to map out the island’s mineral potential appeared in the Geography and Resources of Newfoundland that was published in 1877. Both Canada and the United States were conducting similar surveys at the time as part of a worldwide trend. The huge iron ore deposits of Labrador and neighboring areas of Québec were discovered by the Canadian survey in 1892.

Geological explorations started in 1866, when priests penetrated the Knob Lake-Burnt Oreek area of what is now known as the Labrador-Quebec Iron Ore Trough. The priests recognized that oxidation on the surface was an indication of the presence of iron ore.

During the 1880s, the major iron and steel interests by-passed this bleak and desolate area of western Labrador for mining investments because of the inaccessibility and resulting high costs of transporting the ore to steel mills as compared with iron ore mining and transportation costs in the Mesabi Range area of the Lake Superior district.

Today, iron ore production is a major industry in western Labrador and eastern Quebec.

Not surprisingly, all these exploration initiatives had one specific purpose: to open up the resources of the interior of the province in order to provide employment for the island’s growing permanent population, and to emulate the continental model of resource development.

The increased attention to mineral resources was part of a broader industrial trend that spurred construction of railway and similar land-based developments. Indeed, many of the key political figures of the period were involved in both the mining and railway enterprises.

In fact, the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, spent much of his early life working in the mining industry. Hoover graduated from Stanford University in California with a degree in geology in 1895 and later worked with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Perhaps the most notable of the Newfoundland mining entrepreneurs was Charles Fox Bennett, who led the anti-confederate forces in the Newfoundland election of 1869, and was for decades a key player in the island’s exploration and mining industries. Newfoundland actually didn’t become a Canadian province until 1949.

The first major mining development in Newfoundland began in Tilt Cove, on the northeast coast, in 1864. Large copper deposits and fairly high traces of gold had been discovered there in 1857, and from 1864 to 1917, Tilt Cove was at times one of the world’s largest producers of copper. In 1917, international market and military conditions, as well as problems of ore grade and accessibility, forced a shutdown of the mines. Operations were re-started there in 1957, after the Maritime Mining Company discovered further deposits, and continued until 1967.

The Tilt Cove discovery signaled the beginning of an intense period of mining activity on the northeast coast.

In Terra Nova, thousands of tons of copper ore were mined and shipped out during three separate periods between 1860 and 1915. At Bett’s Cove, just southwest of Tilt Cove, large quantities of copper and pyrite were extracted until the mine roof collapsed (miraculously without loss of life) in 1873, while in Little Bay tens of thousands of tons of copper ore and nearly 200,000 grams of gold were mined and shipped up until 1968.

The other major group of mines in the area was the Consolidated Rambler Group, which included Rambler, Ming, East, and Big Rambler Pond mines. Most of these ore bodies were discovered shortly after the turn of the century, but the mines were opened much later, in the 1960s and 70s, and were short-lived operations.

While the northeast coast copper, gold and pyrite mines were productive when in operation, most of them, with the exception of Tilt Cove, were relatively small enterprises. The iron ore mines of Bell Island were a different matter, however. Opened by the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company in 1895, by 1900 the Bell Island mines had become one of the leading sources of iron ore in the world that was later supplemented by the Dominion Steel Corporation. By 1910, hundreds of miners were extracting the iron ore that fed the huge steel mills of Sydney, Nova Scotia as well as other more distant plants.

Over the decades until shutdown in 1966, the Bell Island mines were plagued by a number of problems, such as legal and financial wrangling among distant owners, international wars, fluctuating ore prices, and competition from other producers. When the last shaft closed in 1966, however, Bell Island was the longest continually operating mine in Canada. Though large quantities of ore are reported to still to exist there, the Bell Island mines have not re-opened.

In 1905, another major island mineral discovery was confirmed when the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company (AND) tested ore samples from around the Buchans River area and found they contained commercial quantities of zinc, lead, copper, gold, and silver.

Not until 1925, however, was a process established to separate the minerals, after the AND joined forces with the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). The AND, which also controlled most of the vast timber resources in the area, along with the major transportation routes, began in 1927 to construct a genuine company town in the Newfoundland wilderness.

The Buchans mines operated for nearly half a century, with production ceasing in September 1984 after 17.5 million tons had been mined and processed over the mine’s 55-year history.

There has been intermittent renewed private interest in the recycling of mine tailings to remove barite for use in engineering services related to offshore drilling. A reorganized version of the barite recycling operation first attempted by ASARCO in the early 1980s, prepared and tested by another group in the late 1990s, did operate under Pennecon in 2009 and intermittently under another partnership in the 2010s. The tailings ponds near the Lucky Strike mine site contain millions of tons of material that is 30% barite.

The other two major twentieth century mines on the island of Newfoundland were the St. Lawrence fluorspar mines and the Baie Verte asbestos mines. In St. Lawrence, on the Burin Peninsula, the American-based St. Lawrence Corporation of Newfoundland began in 1933 to extract and export the area’s vast bodies of fluorspar for use in the United States chemical, manufacturing and military industries. The Corporation was joined in 1939 by the Newfoundland Fluorspar Company, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of Canada (ALCAN). By 1961, ALCAN had bought out the Corporation’s holdings to become the sole operator.

The St. Lawrence mines shut down in 1978, with the company citing labour unrest and the ready availability of cheaper fluorspar in Central and South America as the primary reasons.

In Baie Verte, Advocate Mines, a division of the giant Johns-Manville company, began production of an open-pit mine in 1963, to mine the area’s asbestos deposits. By the 1970s, it had become apparent that asbestos was creating health problems among the workforce. Asbestos production ceased in the area when market and accessibility problems, along with health and legal difficulties, made the mine no longer viable to operate by 1990.

In Labrador, though substantial iron ore deposits were discovered in 1892, isolation and other factors prohibited mining until the 1940s, when electrical and railway facilities open the area to industrialization. The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), a conglomerate of eight companies, began mining iron ore at Knob Lake, near Schefferville on the Québec side of Labrador/Quebec border in 1954. By the mid-1960s, Labrador was established as one of the world’s largest and most important iron ore producing regions, and continues to export large amounts of iron ore.

Other substantial mining operations have operated in Newfoundland and Labrador. At Daniel’s Harbour on the Great Northern Peninsula, large quantities of zinc-rich sphalerite ore were mined from 1975 to 1989. There were also at various times small gold mines in places such as Moreton’s Harbour, Sop’s Arm, and Ming’s Bight, precursors to gold-mining operations in such places as Hope Brook.

The Importance of the Mining Industry

Even a cursory account such as this, however, gives some indication of the important and varied role mining has played in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. It also allows us to draw a few general conclusions.

In the vast majority of cases, mining enterprises are owned and controlled by distant, usually anonymous powers. In a certain sense this is inevitable. Mining is a highly speculative enterprise, requiring large outlays of capital. Generally, only major international firms in far off financial centres are able and willing to undertake such enterprises. Unfortunately, the companies often have little interest in long-term, sustainable development of the areas in which they operate.

This is especially true of the mining industry in a place like Newfoundland and Labrador. Without a strong manufacturing or industrial sector, this area has been viewed and utilized (as are other peripheral places such as the Canadian North) primarily as a source of raw materials, which are extracted and exported for use by industries elsewhere.

A mine is, of course, by its very nature, a temporary enterprise. Every day a mine is worked, it is a day closer to shutdown. Add to this the fact that prices and markets are often shaped by forces beyond the control or even the knowledge of the local population and what emerges is a picture of a local industrial operation that is highly unreliable, much given to a boom-and-bust cycle, and doomed to termination when the resource is exhausted.

That is one of the lessons that we can take from the history of Bell Island, Buchans, St. Lawrence, Baie Verte, and the various other places where this process has taken place. Places scarred by industrial disease, such as St. Lawrence and Baie Verte, offer still harder lessons in the possible consequences of this brand of resource development.

Reproduced by permission of David Liverman, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. From Geological Survey of Newfoundland and Labrador – “Aspects of Mining in Newfoundland and Labrador: Production.” https://www.gov.nl.ca/mines&en/geosurvey/.

On the more positive side, mining has in some cases provided many people with relatively stable, paid employment and in many instances helped free them from dependence on an unpredictable fishery and on the local merchant.

In cases where a strong union movement emerged, the mining industry has provided people with the experience and the sense of solidarity required to assert their rights in a potentially exploitative situation. This is especially true in instances where local unions joined forces with larger international organizations, helping them to overcome the sense of isolation and dependence that is often characteristic of company towns remote from other industrial operations.

Because mining often involves a great deal of migration as workers move from one job site to another to seek better wages and conditions or when a mine shuts down, the mining industry also helps establish connections and cohesion between people who might otherwise remain isolated from one another – and again this can be especially helpful in the struggle for workers’ and citizens’ rights.

In places where a major mining industry was established and grew, many traditional practices and values were altered or eradicated: how people lived and worked on the land or the sea; how they organized their time throughout the day or across the seasons; how families related and operated in the context of home and work.

All these things and many others were deeply and permanently affected by the incursion of these new industries. The overall consequences were mixed; prosperity and rapid growth often had a dark side as well.

New prospects for landward development now loom on the horizon in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Voisey’s Bay nickel-copper project on the northeastern Labrador coast, for example, has established itself as a major mining and export operation owned by major Brazilian mining company Vale S.A.

Many of the same factors which influenced decision-making in the past, such as high unemployment and hard economic times, have once again come into play. This is especially true in the context of the collapse of the cod fishery.

The history of mining in Newfoundland and Labrador teaches us that giant industrial developments such as that at Voisey’s Bay, while they bring many benefits, also bring with them certain costs. Those costs might, in the Voisey’s Bay case, be borne primarily by native peoples in the area. In the broader historical picture, many of the issues facing them, such as the question of how the introduction of a major mining operation will change their traditional way of life, are the same issues which have confronted many rural Newfoundlanders over the last century or so.

On the island of Newfoundland, the success of the now-advanced Valentine Gold Project of Marathon Gold, followed by other high-grade gold discoveries in the Central Newfoundland Gold Belt, have led to a staking rush where numerous junior exploration companies are snapping up prospective ground with some companies reporting exceptionally good drill results, in particular, New Found Gold at their Queensway Project, Sokoman Minerals and Benton Resources.

Sokoman Minerals Corp. [SIC-TSXV, SICNF-OTCQB] and Benton Resources Inc. [BEX-TSXV] recently formed a strategic alliance to jointly acquire and explore gold opportunities in Newfoundland.

They aim to show there is a lot more gold to be found beyond recent discoveries in central Newfoundland by Sokoman, Marathon Gold Corp. [MOZ-TSX, OTC-MGDPF], New Found Gold Corp. [NFG-TSXV], and others.

The move paid off in an unexpected way on August 16, 2021, when the joint venture announced what is believed to be the first discovery of significant lithium mineralization on the island of Newfoundland.

Lithium was discovered on the Golden Hope project, one of three joint venture properties that have recently been acquired by the alliance. The other two are Grey River and Kepenkeck.

A team of executives, including Benton President and CEO Stephen Stares and director Michael Stares along with Sokoman President and CEO Timothy Froude and consultant Sean O’Brien identified a swarm of lithium-bearing pegmatite dykes while visiting the Golden Hope project.

They collected three grab samples over a 110-metre width across the dykes and two of the samples returned 1.95% Li20 and 0.49% Li20.

“This is a prime example of the enormous untapped resource potential that the Island has to offer,’’ said Froude.

In a press release, the companies said the focus of the alliance remains on the gold potential of the Golden Hope project. However, Benton and Sokoman shares rallied on news that the companies will pursue the lithium opportunity.

The companies said they plan to dispatch a crew to the discovery site for detailed sampling and documentation of the dykes.

While exploration is clearly at a very early stage, Newfoundland’s first lithium find caught the market’s attention amid forecasts by Canaccord Genuity Group and others that lithium price will continue to climb on growing demand from higher-than-expected global electric vehicle sales, paired with supply shortfalls.

Benton and Sokoman were already established players in Newfoundland and beyond  before the strategic alliance was announced in May 2021.

Sokoman’s key asset is its 100%-owned high-grade, low-sulfidation-style Moosehead Gold Project. It is located along the Trans-Canada Highway in north-central Newfoundland and on the same structural trend as Marathon Gold’s Valentine Gold Project and New Found Gold’s Queensway Project.

Sokoman emerged on investor radar screens in July 2018, when discovery hole MH-18-01 returned 11.90 metres of 44.96 g/t gold from 109 metres down hole.

Sokoman is now one of the largest land holders in Newfoundland with direct ownership or co-ownership of over 150,000 hectares. The company said it is sufficiently funded to advance its portfolio of properties, which includes the Fleur de Lys Project in north-western Newfoundland.

Fleur de Lys is considered to be highly prospective for Dalradian-style orogenic vein-hosted gold deposits and as such, represents a readily accessible, yet underexplored, district-scale gold target in the Newfoundland Appalachians.

Benton Resources is a multi-commodity project generator with a high-quality portfolio and partners. Its aggressive and experienced management team is focused on base and precious group metal exploration.

Benton’s portfolio includes the Far Lake copper-silver project in north-western Ontario, a new high-grade copper discovery that Benton has optioned from White Metal Resources [WHM-TSXV], with exploration and drilling continuing throughout 2021.

Trench samples have returned assays of 22% copper from Far Lake, which Benton said shows characteristics similar to that of other large world-class porphyry and IOCG deposits.

In June 2021, Benton completed a $2.25 million financing that was led by Bay Street financier Eric Sprott, who is the single largest shareholder of Benton’s partner Sokoman. Whenever possible, Benton retains net smelter return royalties for potential long-term cash flow.

The alliance is an opportunity for both companies to reduce exploration risk and employ both companies’ technical expertise, while allowing each to continue to focus on key properties.

In a joint update on July 20, 2021, the companies said exploration at Golden Hope has already kicked off with a 5,709-line Heliborne High-Resolution Aeromagnetic & Matrix Digital VLF-EM Survey.

They said the survey will help provide an overall structural picture of the property and identify extensions of known gold-bearing structures as well as any previously unrecognized structures.

Golden Hope is a large district-scale project consisting of 3,146 claims (78,650 hectares) and is accessible by the Burgeo Highway and transected by a major power transmission line.

The companies said the property covers extensions of two major structures linked to significant gold prospects and deposits in southern Newfoundland. The rock units and structures on the property are likewise related to those associated with new orogenic gold discoveries in central Newfoundland, including Sokoman’s Moosehead Project and New Found Gold’s Queensway Project.

Sokoman says Golden Hope is extremely underexplored, despite known occurrences of gold, the presence of unsourced till, soil and stream sediment geochemical anomalies.

Aside from Golden Hope, the alliance includes a 50-50 joint venture on Benton’s recently acquired Kepenkeck gold property, which like the Golden Hope joint venture, lies along trend from Canstar Resources Inc. [ROX-TSXV, CSRNF-OTCPK] Golden Baie property.

Kepenkeck covers 595 claims over 15,625 hectares located near the north-east extension of the Hermitage Flexure, the predominant geological feature of the south Newfoundland Appalachians.

Recent prospecting identified up to 2.45 g/t gold in grab samples. Visible gold has been panned from till in two locations on the property where the target is high grade and quartz veining, hosted in graphitic shales similar to that of the New Found gold property.

In a press release on May 27, 2021, the companies said they had added the Grey River gold project  to the alliance. Grey River covers 324 claims (8,100 hectares) and is centred on an ice-free harbour on the south coast of Newfoundland, 38 kilometres southeast of the Golden Hope joint venture.

Gold grades reported from historic grab samples and channel samples from the property range from less than 1.0 g/t to over 225 g/t gold, locally with 200-300 g/t silver, with or without anomalous Bi (Bismuth), Sb (antimony) and W (tungsten).

The style, grades, setting and geochemical signatures of some of the gold mineralization led previous exploration groups to draw comparisons with the high-grade Pogo gold mine within the Tintina Gold Belt of Alaska and Yukon.

Airborne surveys have either commenced or are set to commence on the Grey River and Kepenkeck properties.

Meanwhile, on August 31, 2021, Sokoman was trading at 45 cents, in a 52-week range of 78 cents and 11 cents, leaving the company with a market cap of $90 million, based on 200.1 million shares outstanding.

Benton was trading at 20 cents in a 52-week range of 25 cents and 13.5 cents, leaving the company with a market cap of $23 million based on 115.7 million shares outstanding.

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