Canadian explorer continues to advance project’s copper-nickel-cobalt plus PGM, clean energy potential

20th June 2022 By: Simone Liedtke - Writer

Canadian explorer continues to advance project’s copper-nickel-cobalt plus PGM, clean energy potential

With significant demand and potential in Canada for high-grade palladium, platinum, rhodium, copper, nickel and cobalt, Canadian North Resources Inc. (CNRI) is at late-stage exploration and development of its mining property in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, in Canada, namely the Ferguson Lake project.

The company, which owns 100% of the project, has a mandate to create shareholder value from the advancement of its Ferguson Lake project, which holds substantial resources of copper (0.46-billion indicated and 0.95-billion inferred pounds), nickel (0.32-billion indicated and 0.55-billion inferred pounds) and cobalt (37-million indicated and 62-million inferred pounds) plus palladium (1.08-million indicated and 2.12-million ounces) and platinum (0.18-million indicated and 0.38-million inferred ounces).

These estimates are for the West and East Zone, and the West Extension Zone that are less than 6 km in length along a 15 km mineralised horizon. There are multiple target zones for massive sulphides and distinct low-sulphide zones for platinum group metal (PGM) mineralisation.

The project in the Western Churchill province has diverse geological environments spanning 1.5-billion years and is host to gold and base metal deposits, prospects and mining operations.

CNRI’s expertise spans resource exploration and project development from greenfield discoveries to advanced developments, including project finance and capital markets.

In comparison, Australian miner Wyloo Metals' Eagles Nest project, in James Bay, Ontario, in Canada, has reserves within vertical mineralised pipe of between 60 m across and 200 m in length, hosted by granodiorite.

While Eagles Nest’s proposed mining is underground, which has to-date been drilled to 1 400 m depth, CNRI’s Ferguson Lake project has open-pit potential, with additional separate sulphide zones that require follow-up exploration.

Both projects have great potential though noticeable differences in indicated and measured categories of mineral resources, though CNRI is confident that its Ferguson project “has greater potential owing to its significant open-pit resource”.

“The Nunavut regulatory authorities have approved the building of roads and the operation of open-pit mining at the Meadowbank gold mine north of Baker Lake, so this is a viable option,” the company tells Mining Weekly.

In comparison, CNRI explains that the economics in the Eagles Nest final feasibility report incorporates the Ontario government paying for the building of a road to its mine site.

Bearing this in mind, the company notes that “there is a probability of government financial assistance to the Ferguson project for the transportation of concentrates and supplies to either Baker Lake or Arviat”.

Further, Ferguson Lake holds recently announced indicated resources of 24.3-million tonnes and inferred resources of 47.2-million tonnes. while Eagles Nest has reserves of 11.1-million tonnes and inferred resources of more than 8.9-million tonnes.

The Ferguson Lake project has the potential for high-value PGM orebodies with vast exploration potential, which can be seen in the project’s grade estimates of 1.38 g/t indicated and 1.40 g/t inferred of palladium; compared with Eagles Nest’s grade estimates of 3.09 g/t reserves and 3.49 g/t inferred of palladium.

Ferguson Lake platinum grade estimates are 0.23 g/t indicated and 0.25 g/t inferred, while Eagles Nest’s are 0.89 g/t reserves and 1.16 g/t inferred.

Ferguson Lake copper, nickel and cobalt grade estimates are 0.85% indicated and 0.91% inferred,  0.60% indicated and 0.53% inferred, and 0.07% indicated and 0.06% inferred, respectively. Eagles Nest, in comparison holds nickel and copper grade estimates of 1.68% and 1.1% reserves, and 0.87% reserves and 1.14% inferred, respectively. Though Eagles Nest lacks cobalt resources, it boasts higher concentrations of gold (0.18 g/t reserves and 0.3 g/t inferred) than Ferguson Lake.

Considering metallurgical testing results, Ferguson Lake’s reported hydrometallurgical methods, plus final PGM-base metal element separation from the residue using the Platsol process, sees the project reporting overall extraction rates of 94% nickel, 99% copper, 91% cobalt as well as 50% platinum and 77% palladium plus minor gold and rhodium.

In comparison, Eagles Nest, reports extraction rates in a single concentrate of 83% nickel, 89% copper, 74% platinum, 82% palladium and 77% gold, and minor cobalt.

Overall, considering the various elements of both projects, CNRI’s Ferguson Lake project is better positioned to feed into demand for critical metals, which are increasingly being used in the clean-energy and high-tech industries worldwide.

Taking this into account, CNRI states that Ferguson Lake is positioned more favourably for growth and demand as the just energy transition gains momentum, though more so in combination with all the base metals, such as nickel and copper, and the environmental and industrial added value of palladium and platinum.

Previous mineral deposit modelling and re-examination of historic resources for the main West Pit and West Extension Zones has shown that enlarged pods of base metals (BM) and PGMs mineralisation are present within massive to semi-massive sulphide lenses and stringers within zones with thicknesses of between two and tens of metres.

As previously indicated, the company’s plan is to further test and expand the BM and PGMs resource by focused diamond drilling exploration for high-grade sulphide zones and low-sulfide PGMs-enriched targets along the mineralisation belt, to expand metallurgical testing, to update the technical report and to advance the project to prefeasibility stage.

These work plans are scheduled through 2022 and 2023 with expectations for dedicated definition drilling, environmental studies plus metallurgical testing and development activities into 2024 and beyond.

Overall, CNRI says the Ferguson project’s resources evaluation and exploration will target diamond drilling the upgrading and adding of resources down dip and down plunge to the west in the West Zone.

There will also be drilling along strike to the west and east at shallow depths in order to upgrade and expand the open-pit resource bodies, as well exploration targeting of prospective zones outside the main mineralized horizon.

CNRI’s directors and advisers bring to the project immense competence and knowledge in technical, operational, political and corporate social responsibility.

CNRI maintains strong ties of communication, consultation and community engagement with the Kivalliq Inuit Association, Federal and Territorial permitting agencies and residents of local hamlets in the region.

Click here to watch a video of CNRI's project overview.