VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – The final four drill holes of Fission Uranium's winter exploration campaign on the R1515W zone, at its Patterson Lake South (PLS) property, in Canada's Athabasca Basin region, have all returned mineralised intercepts, with three holes encountering high-grade radioactivity.
At shallow depth, R1515W is the westernmost zone of the Triple R deposit and these latest results have expanded mineralisation on lines 1560W, 1530W and 1500W. The holes include hole PLS18-574 (line 1560W), which intersected 42 m of total composite mineralisation, including 5.6 m of total composite radioactivity of more than 10 000 counts per second (cps), with a peak of more than 65 535 cps.
"All eight holes that we've drilled on the R1515W zone this winter have hit mineralisation and we've continued to see very encouraging results. This most recent batch of drill holes includes wide, high-grade mineralisation and an expansion of the zone, both laterally and at depth on lines 1560W, 1530W and 1500W. The R1515W remains open and prospective for future drill programmes," Fission president and CEO Ross McElroy said.
In a recent interview with Mining Weekly Online during the recent Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's 2018 convention, in Toronto, McElroy recalled that the first four holes on R1515W also saw some very strong results. Three hit 108 m of total composite mineralisation.
"Despite the assays not being back yet, we know from experience and understanding what the radioactivity is like and there should be high grades," he said.
Kelowna, British Columbia-based Fission continues to grow the R1515W and it recently incorporated this zone into a new resource update.
"Hopefully these latest drill holes will allow us to add more mineralisation to the resource model. We expect significant exploration upside from this zone - even more so than other zones - as it seems to have some vertical extent to it as well. We'll follow it down, but so far we're very happy with the holes."
McElroy characterised the resource update as being a snapshot of what the team had done in the past two-and-a-half years. The last major update was in September 2015 with the publication of a preliminary economic assessment of the Triple R deposit. At that time it was based mainly on the R00E - which was the discovery zone - and the R780 zone.
He noted that back then, the resource comprised about 108-million pounds, with the majority of mineralisation classified in the indicated category. "Since then, we've stepped out east and west on land, where we've hit three new high-grade zones in this period, and that's really where the bulk of the new mineralisation came from, including the R1620E, R840W and the new R1515W."
Most of those new zones contain an inferred resource with wider-spaced drill holes than the main R780. With the latest resource update, the inferred resource in fact grew by 95%, with the indicated resource growing about 8% because of further infill drilling on the R780 Zone.
The Triple R deposit is now estimated to contain 87.76-million pounds of uranium oxide (U3O8) in the indicated resource category, based on 2.19-million tonnes grading on average 1.82% U3O8, and includes the R780E high-grade zone that holds 48.25-million pounds U3O8 within 119 000 t, at a grade of 18.39% U3O8.
The inferred mineral resource category now holds about 52.85-million pounds of U3O8, based on 1.33-million tonnes grading on average 1.8% U3O8, including the R780E high-grade zone that contains 14.71-million pounds U3O8, held in 32 000 t at an average grade of 20.85% U3O8.
McElroy said that the geology team had found the R1515W zone as it marches out further west along the prospective PLS corridor, and in doing so, they have discovered "something of interest" every few 100 m or so as they work their way towards the high-grade boulder field.
This exact methodology had indeed led to the discovery of the R840W, and the R1515W zones, and McElroy confirmed that the company will continue to test targets further west, where the geology continues to look even more prospective, he advised.
However, the exploration budget will this year focus on further delineating the R1515W zone, before the team will possibly have capacity to undertake further step-out drilling during the summer.
"What's also of interest to me is what's happening south of the PLS corridor, where the next conductive series has returned encouraging results from the first holes drilled last summer. We like it. We're seeing some of the better alteration outside of the main deposit on the property. It's an area where I'd like to put some holes down as well, given a bigger exploration budget," he said.
There are, however, many more targets on the property - there is almost "a limitless supply of targets" as shown by the more than 100 conductors spread throughout the property, McElroy noted.
"What that translates to is probably more than 200 km of prospective trend, which will take an awful lot of time and money to verify. We are also finding subtleties within the electromagnetic conductors, which we are increasingly interested in, because at first glance it did not look like a target, but when we looked closer, we found that there are subtle bends and breaks, which will hopefully assist us to continue to make new discoveries on the property," McElroy said.
For 2018, Fission will be spending about $15-million to $18-million on drilling. The winter programme was weighted more towards geotechnical studies in support of the prefeasibility study (PFS), and about 30% of the budget will go the R1515W zone. Over the summer months, the budget will also be significantly skewed in support of the PFS, which the company hopes to complete by the end of 2018.
McElroy stressed that the southwest region of the Athabasca basin has delivered several significant uranium deposits in recent years, in an area not previously considered prospective for uranium deposits. Similar to the early days on the eastern side of the basin, the Triple R deposit starts in shallow bedrock and extends deeper. Whereas the nearby Arrow deposit is nearly twice the size, it is located much deeper and represents a more challenging operational scenario.
He likened PLS as representative of one of the last remaining "low-hanging fruit" in the global uranium industry, as it possesses a high-grade deposit, only 50 m from surface, similar to erstwhile major mines in the Athabasca basin like Key Lake, Cluff Lake, Rabbit Lake and McLean Lake.