Still to come are assays from the season’s 14-hole, 2,000-metre, near-surface drill campaign.
A series of hydrogeological tests concluded the 2016 field season as Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram rare earths deposit moves towards pre-feasibility. Last month the company finished the year’s definition drilling and environmental data collection on the northeastern Quebec project.
“With the three main field objectives now completed, drill core processing and sample collection for analysis are the next steps,” the company stated.
The hydrogeological data will help evaluate sub-surface water flow and slope stability of different pit shell configurations. The environmental program included surface water and groundwater samples for baseline data collection and related studies. Last June the Quebec government granted Commerce $300,000 towards studies to optimize tailings management.
The season’s drill program sunk 14 holes totalling about 2,000 metres on the deposit’s northern, western and southern margins. While assays are pending, “initial geologic review and portable XRF data indicates significant mineralization is present over appreciable widths in several holes,” Commerce added. The goal is to expand and upgrade the project’s 2012 high-grade, near-surface resource.
The company keeps busy on a number of fronts as the project advances. Metallurgical studies have simplified Ashram’s flowsheet and shown a potential byproduct in fluorspar. Ashram’s rare earth elements mostly appear in monazite and to a lesser extent bastnasite and xenotime, minerals that dominate commercial extraction processes. Ashram’s REE distribution shows enrichment in the critical and magnet feed elements neodymium, praseodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium.
While rare earths remain the company’s focus, a sampling program on the same property but one kilometre from the deposit brought a “spectacular” result of 5.9% niobium pentoxide last month. Forty out of 64 samples graded above 0.5% Nb2O5, with 16 surpassing 1%. Significant tantalum, phosphate and rare earth oxide grades were also found.
In August the company closed a private placement of $551,040 and the second tranche of a short-form prospectus that totalled nearly $1.45 million.
Commerce also holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.