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Feature article October 28, 2020:

 

NioBay Advancing Toward Goal of Becoming 4th Niobium Producer in the World

 

NioBay Metals Inc.

(TSX-V: NBY) (OTC: MDNNF)

 

Share data, Capitalization, & Corporate info

 

 Shares Outstanding:  52.34 million (~63M fully diluted)

 Recently Traded: ~CDN$0.67/share (TSX-V: NBY)

 52 Week High/Low: $0.21/ 0.93

 Current Market Cap.: ~$35 million Canadian

 Corporate Website: www.niobaymetals.com

 

Breaking News October 13, 2020: James Bay Niobium PEA Delivers an After-Tax NPV(8%) of $1.0 Billion and IRR of 27.5%

 

Mineral Resource at NioBay's James Bay Nb deposit:

  • Indicated Resource = 29.7Mt of 0.53% Nb2O5, containing 158,000,000 kg Nb2O5.

  • Inferred Resource = 33.8Mt of 0.52% Nb2O5, containing 177,000,000 kg of Nb2O5.

  • Mineralization is open at depth (>330m).

  • Metallurgical tests affirm an expected near-80% rate of recovery, superior to existing producers.

"The new PEA demonstrates an operation capable of throwing off positive cash-flow of ~US$200M+ (EBITDA) per annum for AT LEAST a couple decades, plus the resource is also open for expansion down the road."

 

   

Valuation Commentary: NioBay Metals Inc. (TSX-V: NBY) (US Listing: MDNNF) is focused on advancing its flagship 100%-owned James Bay Niobium project in Northern Ontario Canada. Niobium (Nb; atomic number 41) is a critical element, primarily used as an important additive/strengthener in the high-value steel making process. There are only three niobium producers globally (2 in Brazil, 1 in Canada), all privately held and highly profitable. NioBay Metals Inc. has an impressive niobium resource deposit at James Bay with earmarks of it becoming the fourth producer in the world. This October 13, 2020 the Company released a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) demonstrating robust economics, see related news release "James Bay Niobium PEA Delivers an After-Tax NPV(8%) of $1.0 Billion and IRR of 27.5%". The PEA has 3 mining scenarios; 1) open pit (30 year LOM), 2) a hybrid operation involving a small open pit for the first ~5 years before heading underground (under the creek), 3) an underground operation (23 years LOM, leaving behind a high-grade crown pillar).

  

The Company is now looking to derisk the project quickly; upgrade its resource to Measured in order to be suitable to conduct a Feasibility Study. Astute investors would do well to familiarize themselves and take a position now in NBY.V as the further the Company is derisked, the greater a take-out target it will have on its back; it stands an excellent chance of being taken private, like the other 'cash-cow' producers in the niobium oligopoly space.

 

The numbers in the PEA suggest there is substantial upside for share price revaluation; NioBays is currently trading less than 0.04X its NAV (8%). When investors take the time to understand the dynamics of the Niobium market and the fact there are currently only 3 producers in the world, they will appreciate the fact that big money will line-up to lock-up the certainty of cash flow that will stem from this asset once in production.

 

Using a Model of Implied Capital (MOIC -- what an interested party would pay once derisked) discounted to where the company sits today, we see the share price of NBY.V poised for upside revaluation, trading significantly higher in the near-term, as more people appreciate the developing opportunity. In-fact, John Kaiser, of Kaiser Research, earlier this year (before the PEA) issued commentary on NBY.V to his paid readership; we can confirm from statements at venues such as the Metals Forum that "a 5x to 10x rise in share price" is in order, and look for NBY.V to trade at "C$1.25 to C$2.17 per share" as the reality of what NioBay possesses is better understood. On October 15, 2020, John Kaiser commented on the new PEA and stated, "In my view, with these numbers, this should be in $1 to $2 range right now".

 

If you run the numbers and factor in that the Capex on the James Bay Niobium Project represents very little compared to the tonnes of Nb the mine will be producing, and the fact Magris paid ~$2.90 for every kg in the resource of Niobec back in 2015 -- mathematically the question now is not 'if' but only 'when' shareholders will see at least $2+/share for NBY.V. The remaining capital outlay for NioBay to get the project to a marketable handoff is only ~$10M. Astute investors buying now will be rewarded.

 

 

 

Figure 1. (above) - Drill core from NioBay's Winter-2020 drill program at the James Bay Niobium Project. Note the size of the pyrochlore, which is the mineral that contains the Niobium -- that is one of the reasons NioBay's recovery is exceptionally high (near-80%, which is superior to existing producers). NioBay has a very unique deposit in terms of the prevalence of copious amounts of coarse pyrochlore crystals.

 

The math on the James Bay Niobium Project is quite impressive: In the PEA, NioBay demonstrates costs on par with the highly profitable Niobec Mine (which has been in operation for ~44 years now and currently produces ~7,000 Nb tpa, representing ~8% of global supply), mining costs for NioBay in the PEA are in the range of US$16.1 to $19.11/kg of Nb (depending on the mining scenario). With NioBay targeting an operation capable of producing ~6,000 Nb tpa (6,000,000 kg Nb/annum, which is expected to represent ~5% global market share, seeing NioBay processing ~2.2Mt per year of rock), and with the sale price of Nb stable near US$45/kg of Nb (stable even in rough times, since the price of niobium is not set by 'supply and demand', price is set by the largest producer of the oligopoly; CBMM which currently supplies ~80% of global supply), NioBay is hitting a serious home-run for shareholders, demonstrating an operation capable of throwing off positive cash-flow of ~US$200M+ per annum for 30 years. Note: The resource is also open for expansion down the road -- there is north dipping high-grade core that has not yet been delineated (proving up this section will show the mine has potential well beyond the 30 years already established in the current PEA).

 

NioBay will be targeting its production output based on market share, it does not want to be more than 5% of the market so as to not disturb the market. NioBay will get its foot in the door without creating an issue with CBMM (the largest producer).

 

Currently NBY.V has ~52.34 million shares outstanding, and has a market cap of ~C$35 million. The Company has a fairly large shareholder base (near 2000 shareholders in NBY.V). ~40% of the shares are owned by insiders, with Osisko Gold Royalties owning a 20% stake in the Company. In the last private placement Osisko chipped-in to maintain its 20% share. NioBay Metals Inc. shares head office space with Osisko Gold Royalties in Montreal.

 

EXCERPT COPY OF NIOBAY's PEA NEWS RELEASE:

 

James Bay Niobium PEA Delivers an After-Tax NPV(8%) of $1.0 Billion and IRR of 27.5%

 

MONTREAL, Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Niobay Metals Inc. (“NioBay” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: NBY) is pleased to announce results of an independent Preliminary Economic Assessment (the “PEA’’) for its wholly-owned James Bay Niobium project (the “Project”), located 40 km south of the island of Moose Factory, Northern Ontario. The PEA was prepared with independent engineering firm G Mining Services Inc. (“G Mining”).
 

A conference call will be held on Wednesday, October 14th at 16:00 EST. Dial-in information can be found below.

Because of the geometry and location of the deposit, three mining scenarios were evaluated i.e. open pit (scenario #1), underground (scenario #3) and a hybrid of both mining methods (scenario #2). Details of the financial and technical highlights of all three scenarios are available on the NioBay website at http://niobaymetals.com/wp/en/home-2/

Table 1: PEA Highlights (all figures in CAD$ unless otherwise noted)

  Open Pit Open Pit + UG Underground
Pre-Tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR) 33.6%  33.4%  26.0%
Pre-Tax Net Present Value (NPV) 8% $1,475 M $1,268 M $1,104 M
Pre-Tax Payback (years) 2.6 years 2.5 years 3.8 years
After-Tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR) 27.5%  27.0%  21.6%
After-Tax Net Present Value (NPV) 8% $1,008 M $856 M $733 M
After-Tax Payback (years) 3.2 years 3.1 years 4.3 years
Pre-Production CAPEX (incl 25% Contingency) $510.5 M $482.0 M $579 M
Average Annual LOM Niobium Production 5,470 t Nb 6,213 t Nb 6,283 t Nb
Mine Life 30 years 23 years 23 years
       
Total Mineral Resources Mined 70.8 Mt 53.7 Mt 53.6 Mt
Average Grade Mined 0.44 % Nb2O5 0.51 % Nb2O5 0.51 % Nb2O5
Gross Revenue After Royalties (LOM) $9,264 M $8,360  $8,454 
After-tax Operating Cash Flow (LOM) $3,581 M $2,696 M $2,536 M
C1 Costs over LOM*

 
US$16.10 / kg Nb US$18.45 / kg Nb US$19.11 / kg Nb
$48.48/t $63.85/t $66.94 
All-in Costs (sustaining CAPEX + Closure + OPEX)

 
US$17.58/kg Nb US$20.52 / kg Nb US$21.43 / kg Nb
$52.93 / t $70.98 / t $75.08 / t
LOM Niobium Price US$45/kg Nb US$45/kg Nb US$45/kg Nb
Exchange Rate (CAD/USD) 1.30   1.30   1.30 

*C1 Cost is mine site, transport, marketing and royalty


Claude Dufresne, President & CEO, commented: We are very pleased to finally be able to demonstrate the value of the James Bay Project as highlighted with the PEA. All three scenarios deliver robust returns but also provide strong and long-term economic opportunities to shareholders and to local stakeholders.”

Claude Dufresne continued: “We are excited to move to the next phase that will include a definition drilling program, baseline and technical studies, and strengthen our engagement and business relationship with Moose Cree First Nation and other stakeholders.”

Conference Call Details

Participant Toll Free Dial-in Number:    +1(833) 900-1546
Participant International Dial-in Number:   +1(236) 712-2464

An operator will direct participants to the call.

The conference call replay will be available from 1:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on October 14, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time) on October 21, 2020 with the following dial in numbers: 1-(800) 585-8367 (North American toll free) or 1-(416) 621-4642, access code 9182784. The replay will also be available on our website at www.niobaymetals.com.

Table 2: Capital Costs

Capital Costs by Area (in CAD$M) Open Pit OP + UG Underground
Infrastructure 133,575 133,575 112,615
Power & Electrical 31,485 31,485 31,485
Water & Tailings 31,413 13,575 20,482
Mining U/G - - 117,729
Mining Pre-production 31,312 31,338 -
Mining Equipment OP 29,405 29,405 -
Process Plant 69,985 69,985 99,985
Other Equipment 5,613 5,614 5,612
Total Direct 332,788 314,977 387,908
Construction Indirect 35,018 32,699 34,772
General Services 40,406 37,730 40,122
Pre-Prod, Startup, Commission 150 150 150
Contingency 102,090 96,389 115,738
Total Indirect 177,664 166,968 190,782
Total CAPEX 510,452 481,945 578,691
       
Sustaining Costs 283,163 359,123 416,080
Closure Costs 32,418 23,992 20,692

Table 3: Operating Costs

Operating Costs by Area ($/t) Open Pit OP + UG Underground
Mining Costs* 12.13 26.42 29.44
Processing Costs 14.60 14.62 14.62
Converter Costs 11.48 12.76 12.89
G&A 10.00 10.00 10.00
Total 48.48 63.85 66.94
US$/ kg Nb 16.10 18.45 19.11

*Unit mining cost of $4.43/t based on 1.8 strip ratio and including stockpile rehandle.

Opportunities to Enhance Value

Trade-off studies will be performed to determine the most suitable mining scenario among the three contemplated. Below are examples of items and programs to enhance the Project’s value to be included in an eventual Feasibility Study:

  • Initial metallurgical results indicate that there is a likelihood to improve the overall recovery rate above 80%.
     
  • The Federal & Provincial governments announced a billion-dollar program to support infrastructure development in northern Ontario. We believe capital costs associated with the road access and powerline may qualify for these types of programs.
     
  • Future drilling programs will test the high-grade zone raking north as described below.
     
  • Geotechnical studies and drilling will be required to establish design criteria for open pit slopes which could potentially steepen angles and reduce the strip ratio (scenarios #1 and #2). Similarly, for the underground, the crown pillar thickness will be evaluated, and could potential be reduced increasing ore recovery (scenario #3).
     
  • Incorporation of automation to reduce personnel requirements (scenarios #2 and #3).
     
  • Mine production is limited to a maximum of 5% of the ferro-niobium world market share. However, the deposit is suitable to provide additional material to market to maintain market share in a growing market.
     

Exploration Potential

  • The last winter’s drilling program clearly demonstrated a large high-grade zone raking 20 to 30 degrees to the north in the center of the deposit. The results of these seven (7) drill-holes produced an increase of 40% of the Indicated Resources and a 17% in the Inferred category.
     
  • Niobay management believes that this high-grade zone could continue to extend at depth under a series of shallow historical drill holes to the north. This sector will be a high priority target for the next drilling campaign.
     
  • If this geological hypothesis is confirmed, such a high-grade zone could be beneficial to the underground scenario and will be fully evaluated by Niobay.
     
  • This fall Niobay will perform a detailed aero-magnetic survey of the entire property including the mining license and the 306 surrounding new claims. This survey will help better understand the attitude of the different lithologies of the area and could reveal other exploration targets, knowing that carbonatites in the world have a strong tendency to be found in clusters.
     

Sensitivity

The James Bay Project is expected to be a long-term robust operation and profitable at a variety of prices and assumptions. The niobium price used in the PEA is based on the expected mid-term (five years) price and supported by other niobium projects’ price assumptions. Two lower price stress test scenarios were run to better ascertain the viability of the Project.

Table 4: Sensitivity to Metal Price

Scenarios

 
Niobium Price (US$/kg)
35  40  45* 50  55 
Open Pit Scenario          
After-Tax NPV 8% (C$ M) 490  749  1,008   1,268  1,527 
After-Tax IRR (%) 18.2% 22.9% 27.5% 31.8% 36.0%
After-Tax Payback (yrs) 4.9  3.8  3.2  2.7  2.3 
Open Pit & Underground        
After-Tax NPV 8% (C$ M) 341  599  856  1,114  1,372 
After-Tax IRR (%) 16.5% 21.9% 27.0% 31.8% 36.3%
After-Tax Payback (yrs) 5.7  4.3  3.1  2.6  2.3 
Underground        
After-Tax NPV 8% (C$ M) 210  473  733  992  1,251 
After-Tax IRR (%) 12.4% 17.2% 21.6% 25.7% 29.5%
After-Tax Payback (yrs) 6.6  5.12  4.3  3.7  3.2 

* Base case scenario price assumption

Mining

  • The PEA considers open pit mining under scenario 1 using and owner operated fleet. Open pit mining is possible given that the orebody sub-crops in the basement formation overlain by sediments and overburden ranging from 10 to 20m in thickness. A stream flows over the deposit which will require relocation to the north outside of the mining footprint by the third year of operation.
     
  • The open pit will be mined for 24years during which time low grade material will be stockpiled and processed at the end of the mine life. A cut-off grade of 0.12% Nb2O5 was applied for the open pit resulting in 70.8Mt of mill feed. A total of 198Mt of material will be mined for an average LOM strip ratio of 1.8.
     
  • During pre-production a total of 5Mt is mined to supply construction materials for the TSF and to strip overburden. The initial mining rate is then established at 7Mt/yr for the first 4 years and increases to a peak of 10Mt/yr by the 8th year of operation.
     
  • The mining fleet will consist of 64t rigid trucks matched with hydraulic excavators with 7m3 buckets supported by front-end loaders.
     

Metallurgy and Processing

  • The selected process has been developed using available technology and retaining some aspects of past work done. The process flowsheet and design criteria are based on the interpretation of preliminary metallurgical test work results and industry practice. The process scenario description is for a nominal throughput of 2.4 Mt/yr and a process plant availability of 93 %. The scenario retained includes an intermediary gravity circuit removing close to 42 % of the mass with limited niobium losses. This particularity of the process minimizes energy requirements and considerably reduces the volume of pulp thereby lowering reagent costs. The reagents consumption has been estimated on the preliminary metallurgical results.
     
  • The low grinding index of the ore and coarse grind required for good liberation of the niobium mineral minimizes the power requirement for grinding. A total of 1900 kw has been estimated for the entire grinding stage to prepare the ore for processing. The process will have two stages of grinding with the gravity interstage followed by pulp desliming, magnetic separation, three steps of specific minerals removal prior to the niobium flotation. The niobium concentrate will be leached, filtered and a gravity separation will be done to generate two different concentrate grades. The final concentrates will be dried and bagged to respond to the feed of a converter process.
     
  • A series of metallurgical tests were performed at SGS Lakefield during the year with results confirming a recovery rate of 78% and high niobium grade in the concentrate and low impurities, item as the pilot plant results performed in the 1960’s.
     

Proposed Infrastructure

  • Access to the mine site will be via a 38km all season road from Moose River East bank south of Moosonee. A 4.0km one lane tunnel is planned to cross Moose River and a final 2.6km road segment will connect to the existing road to Moosonee near the Hydro One Renison substation. From Moosonee, the Ontario Northland Railway connects to Cochrane and from there onto the Ontario Highway 11.
     
  • Power will be provided from the Hydro One grid with a connection from the Renison substation. This substation provided power onto the Five Nations Energy Inc. transmission line servicing the now closed DeBeers Victor Diamond Mine.
     
  • The mining activities and processing facility will be supported by ancillaries located at site including a maintenance shop, warehouse, mine dry, explosives storage, fuel storage, administration building, and an operations camp. Other infrastructure is planned to be in Moosonee such as a material transit terminal, laboratory, and administrative building for support functions such as accounting, human resources and other.
     

Environment and Closure Plan

  • It is anticipated that the Project will require a review under the Federal Impact Assessment Act coordinated along with provincial Class Environmental Assessment. The Company would be proposing the active participation of identified impacted First Nation communities in the design, baseline data collection and follow up environmental monitoring. Only under Scenario #1 is there anticipated to be a federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans permit for a creek re-alignment. Examples of other provincial permits that will be required would include: Permit(s) to Take Water; Lands and Rivers Improvement Act; Environmental Compliance Approval(s)(air and water).
     
  • In Ontario, a mine must file a Closure Plan prior to commencing construction. It is anticipated that with the active participation of identified impacted First Nation communities, the Closure Plan will be integrated into the mine design and initial environmental approvals. The Closure Plan must also include financial assurance that the operation will be closed out and remediated.
     

Stakeholder Engagement

  • As a catchall, Stakeholder Engagement will include individuals and communities interested in or impacted by the potential development. However, there will be a distinct negotiated engagement plan with potentially impacted First Nation communities. This is in recognition of their established Treaty and Aboriginal Rights.
     
  • NioBay will collaborate with the First Nation community(ies) to design a plan of engagement to ensure that the environmental approvals are fully aligned with their values. The Company has negotiated a Protection Agreement with Moose Cree First Nation.
     
  • As future exploration and/or baseline environmental work proceeds, the Moose Cree First Nation may want another longer-term agreement that speaks to both their environmental and business involvement with the Project.
     

Mineral Resource Estimation (MRE) Highlights

  • Indicated Mineral Resource: 29.7 Mt grading 0.53 %Nb2O5 representing approximately 47% of the declare tonnage in the RPA 2020 MRE.
     
  • Inferred Mineral Resource: 33.8 Mt grading 0.52 %Nb2O5 representing approximately 53% of the declare tonnage in the RPA 2020 MRE.
     
  • A 46 meters thick mineralized crown pillar representing 7.2Mt grading 0.5% Nb2O5 is excluded from the MRE of 2020.
     

The updated Mineral Resource estimate prepared by RPA is summarized in Table 4. The Mineral Resources conform to Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves dated May 10, 2014 (CIM (2014) definitions).

TABLE 4: MINERAL RESOURCE ESTIMATE AS OF JULY 9, 2020 AS REPORTED BY RPA

Category Tonnage
(Mt)
Grade
(% Nb2O5)
Contained Nb2O5
(M kg)
Indicated 29.7 0.53 158
Inferred 33.8 0.52 177

Notes:

  1. CIM (2014) definitions were followed for Mineral Resources.
  2. Mineral Resources are reported using a cut-off grade of 0.3% Nb2O5 based on an underground mining scenario, an operating cost of C$70/t, and a metallurgical recovery of 70%.
  3. Mineral Resources are estimated using a long-term niobium price of US$40 per kg and a US$/C$ exchange rate of 1:1.2.
  4. A minimum mining width of approximately 7.5 m was used.
  5. Bulk density is 2.93 t/m3.
  6. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
  7. Resources situated in a 46 m thick crown pillar have been excluded.
  8. Numbers may not add due to rounding.

The PEA is preliminary in nature, includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

Independent Qualified Persons

This PEA was prepared for NioBay by G Mining Services, and other industry consultants, all Qualitied Persons (“QP”) under National Instrument 43-101. The study was coordinated by the Company CEO Claude Dufresne P.Eng.. The QPs have reviewed and approved the content of this press release. The Company and independent QPs include:

Louis-Pierre Gignac P. Eng, M.Sc.A, CFA, Antoine Champagne P. Eng, Paul Murphy, P. Eng. and Carl Michaud P. Eng. (G Mining Services Inc)

Jacquelin Gauthier, P. Geo (Niobay Metals Inc), Pierre Pelletier P. Eng (Consultant Metallurgy)

About NioBay Metals Inc.

NioBay Metals Inc. is a mining exploration company holding a 100% interest in the James Bay Niobium Project located 45 km south of Moosonee, in the James Bay Lowlands in Ontario. NioBay also holds a 72.5% interest in the Crevier niobium and tantalum project located in Quebec and a 47% direct participation in mineral titles situated in the Chibougamau, Quebec, under a joint venture agreement with SOQUEM. 

Cautionary Statement

The reader is advised that the PEA summarized in this press release is preliminary in nature and is intended to provide an initial, high-level review of the project’s economic potential and design options. The PEA mine plan and economic model includes numerous assumptions and the use of Inferred Resources. Inferred Resources are considered to be too speculative geologically to have economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized.

Certain statements contained in this press release constitute forward-looking information under the provisions of Canadian securities laws. Such statements are necessarily based upon a number of beliefs, assumptions, and opinions of management on the date the statements are made and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and future events to differ materially from those anticipated or projected. The Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements in the event that management's beliefs, estimates or opinions, or other factors should change, except as required by law. 

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For more information, contact:

Claude Dufresne, P.Eng.
President & CEO
NioBay Metals Inc.
Tel.: (514) 866-6500, Ext. 2221
Email: 
cdufresne@niobaymetals.com 
Website: 
www.niobaymetals.com         

Paradox Public Relations
Tel: (514) 341-0408 or 1-866-460-0408
jfmeilleur@paradox-pr.ca

Renmark Financial Communications Inc.
Melanie Barbeau
Tel: (416) 644-2020 or (212) 812-7680
mbarbeau@renmarkfinancial.com www.renmarkfinancial.com

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Listen to related Conference Call regarding the PEA: NioBay Metals Inc. (TSX-V: NBY) (US Listing: MDNNF) October 14, 2020 4 PM Eastern conference call recorded by SectorNewswire; https://sectornewswire.com/ccNBY-Oct-14-2020.mp3 [running time 31 minutes] <== click to listen.
 

The conference call is regarding the new PEA and references the related corporate PDF; http://niobaymetals.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/NBY-PEA-October-V11.pdf online.

 

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The following are taken from the aforementioned October-2020 corporate presentation PDF sourced from NioBay's corporate website regarding the new James Bay Niobium Project PEA

 

Figure 2a. (above) PEA Summary

  • Very Robust Economics.
  • Supported by stakeholders.
  • Room in market (max 5%).
  • Capacity to increase output.
  • Simple Mining & Metallurgy.
  • Low Mining Costs.
  • Deposit only drilled to 330m.
  • Long Mine Life.

 

The PEA Looks at 3 mining scenarios

Because the deposit starts at only ~30m (~90 feet) below the surface, #1 is an open pit scenario, #2 is a small open pit, then going underground, and #3 is all an underground operation.

 

Figure 2b. (above) Three mining scenarios covered in PEA

 

Figure 2c. (above) PEA Financial Highlights

 

NPV/Capex1.98x
• Profitability index key comparison against base metals and Niobium company peers.

 
P/NAV0.04x
• Significant growth opportunity.

 
Production CostUS$16.10/ kg Nb
 

• Lowest amongst Niobium company peer group.

 
Payback3.2 years
• 3.2-year payback period over a 30-year mine life.

 
IRR27.5%
• Few projects with similar returns over a 30yr life.

 
Community Support
• Protection agreement in place and Moose Cree First Nation informed of mining operations

 

 

Figure 2d. (above) James Bay Niobium Project PEA LOM Production and Processing Summary

 

 

Figure 2e. (above) PEA - Processing plant design criteria and mining optimization criteria. Note: This will be the highest recovery rate of any producer!

 

 

Figure 2f. (above) PEA capital and operating cost breakdown

 

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Below we look closer at the compelling opportunity NioBay Metals Inc. presents for investors.

 

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Understanding the importance of Niobium

  • Stronger, lighter, tougher, more flexible, and more weldable steel: 90% of Nb produced is used to manufacture High-Strength Low-Alloy (HSLA) steels -- improving its properties; increases strength and toughness, increases corrosion resistance, and increases weldability. A small amount of niobium (~0.01%) in high-strength low-alloy steel dramatically increases strength by 35 to 40 megapascal. The increases in strength for steel lead to weight savings, reduced steel consumption, and a lower carbon footprint, which why niobium is often reference as a Green metal. Niobium plays an irreplaceable role in a host of industries; structural steel applications (e.g. high rise buildings, bridges), automotive industry applications (the integration of $10 worth of niobium in an automobile reduces its weight by 100 kilograms and increases its fuel efficiency by 5%), oil & gas industry infrastructure applications (e.g. pipelines and connections). See related 'Nb in HSLA' video here [running time 4 min. 25 sec.].

  • Other uses; ~10% of world Nb production, includes high performance alloys for aerospace industry and electricity generation (e.g. jet and land based turbines), and medical devices (eg. MRI and orthopedics).

  • Future applications: R&D is being performed on niobium usage in aluminum alloys and titanium alloys. There are potential use in creating more efficient particle accelerators, and of growing significance is how niobium oxides are playing an emerging role in the development of new functionalized materials and new solutions in energy storage (Note: Toshiba has developed a titanium niobium oxide (TNO) anode material that has double the lithium storage capacity by volume of the graphite-based anodes generally used in lithium-ion batteries -- see related synopsis from Toshiba regarding its Next-generation SCiB™ expected to come to market soon). Also see related 'Nb in advanced technologies' video here [running time 6 min. 45 sec.].

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Niobium - Global Markets

  • +90% Niobium is used in High Value Steel.

  • The annual growth in the last 3 years has been +17%.

  • China's intensity usage of niobium is roughly half of what it for the EU and North America, however in terms of quantity China uses more.

  • China has no niobium, they like to control commodities -- so China ended up purchasing one mine in Brazil from Anglo American, paying USD$1.7B for the mine. As it sits now, there are no other niobium operations available for sale. Indirectly Chinese influence also bought the Canadian, Niobec producer too in 2014 for ~US$500M; via Aaron Regent with financial backing of the Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings and CEF Holdings Ltd., a Hong-Kong investment firm owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

  • There are only 3 producers in the world (2 in Brazil, 1 in Canada)...

Supply - only 3 producers

 

Figure 3a. (above) - The 3 suppliers that supply the global demand for Niobium. The size of the market for steel grade is approaching ~100,000t of Nb/annum, its close to a $4B market, not large, however what is unique is there are only 3 suppliers.

 

Figure 3b. (above) - Sales by Suppliers in 2019

 

Commentary on CBMM's global dominance and how it benefits the other two producers (and NioBay when it becomes a producer): CBMM in Brazil is a giant in proportion to the other two producers. CBMM controls the market (+80% supply of the global market) by virtue of its size, capabilities, and gargantuan +500Mt of established resource (and more if they need it). The price of niobium is whatever they say. The cost of niobium is negligible to steel producers in terms of the amount used and benefits derived, CBMM has for decades maintained a cordial relationship with industry and set a fair price for niobium, one which affords CBMM a handsome return, and by default the two other smaller producers have reaped rich margins too. CBMM could squash the other two producers in the market, but due to the unique market dynamics and its sheer dominance, CBMM would be foolish; if CBMM were to drop the price by just say US$5/kg., at 100,000 Nb tpa (the level NioBay forecasts CBMM sales to be at in 2026 when James Bay could potentially come online), it would cost CBMM half a billion $, something they are simply not going to do -- CBMM's loss would dwarf the benefit derived. Even in hard economic times (e.g. after the 2008 financial crisis), CBMM had no problem adjusting to market conditions as the swing supplier. In fact, the current President & CEO of NioBay Metals Inc., Claude Dufresne, was the person in charge of niobium sales for the Niobec Mine in Canada during the 2008 financial crisis, he was able to sell 100% of its product in 2008, 2009, and 2010 at stable prices. Even though demand globally dropped 40% at one point, the Canadian producer sold all throughout. CBMM didn't chase the market for sales volume, they just sold less and waited for the market to come back. CBMM has the ability to supply 100% of the world demand, they have been in this position for decades while the other two players nibbled at the crumbs. CBMM is so huge and profitable they will expand as the world demand requires. In reality, how it works is the purchasing managers want to secure supply from Canada first and use CBMM as the swing supplier, the purchasing manager does not want to use just one supplier and wants to support the little guy -- and that is the way it works. Having a 4th producer is not going to impact the big producer -- NioBay Metals' strategy is to be the smallest producer and no more than 5% of global demand.

 

Niobium Demand in 2009 vs 2019

Figure 4. (above) - Demand in 2009 vs 2019

 

Niobium Demand and Price

 

Figure 5. (above) - World Consumption over the last 11 years and price. Note that the price remains stable, between US$34 and US$42/kg for over 11 years, even when there is weakness in demand. CBMM knows it can't force demand with lower prices, so it rides out the waves as the swing supplier.

 

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NioBay Metal's James Bay Niobium Project, Northern Ontario - 100% owned

 

The property comprises the Crown Mining Lease (# CLM11) and covers a total of 2,530 hectares.
 

Location

 

Figure 7. (above) - Location maps. The James Bay Niobium Project is located in Northern Ontario, ~40 km south of a small town called Moosonee, ~100 km north of Detour Gold, ~400 km east of the old Victor Mine (a DeBeers Diamond Mine that recently shut down). NioBay's James Bay Niobium Project is located outside of the watershed (significantly less challenging to develop from an environmental standpoint). The project is well situated near infrastructure (roads, power, two local town airports) and a stable workforce.
 

The Company has very favorable relationships with the local Moose Cree First Nations people; the recently elected Chief and counsel are all mining-friendly and development-friendly, a forced election last year was in-part to ensure stable business oriented leadership. The Moose Cree have previously signed IBA's with Detour Gold, and the old Victor Mine which had brought them compensation. The Moose Cree also own a 25% interest in a small power dam with Ontario Power Generation. NioBay has a community outreach and engagement program, NioBay has signed a Protection Agreement with the Moose Cree for drilling, and the Company has periodic update conferences to explain results and the next steps.

 

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History

 

In June 2016, NioBay Metals Inc. acquired 100% of the property from Barrick Gold Inc., James Bay Columbium Ltd., and Goldcorp Inc.

 

When NioBay approached the previous owner, NioBay was the one that had to educate them as to the significance of what had previously been discovered on the property in the past, and essentially forgotten with time;

 

Discovered in 1966

  • 14,000 meters of drilling at an average depth of 170 meters in 85 holes.

  • Historical estimate of 56M t @ 0.52% Nb2O5.

  • Exploration shaft (~40m ) & a 75m cross-cut.

  • 225 t extracted for metallurgical testing (pilot plant).

Metallurgical tests

Feasibility study was completed by Bechtel Canada in 1969.

 

NioBay Metals Inc. has access to all technical data and drill cores.

 

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Mineral Resource
 

With access to the old core shack and technical data, NioBay Metals technical team relogged/assayed the old core, was issued an exploration permit in 2019, and was able to issue its own maiden NI-43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE). The Company has since upgraded/updated the MRE as of July 9, 2020:

 

Excerpt of NioBay's July 9, 2020 upgraded Mineral Resource Estimate news announcement:

 

NioBay Reports a Significant Increase in Resources at James Bay Niobium

MONTREAL, July 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Niobay Metals Inc. (“NioBay” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: NBY) is pleased to report an updated Mineral Resource estimate (the “MRE”) for its James Bay Niobium Project, located in Northern Ontario. The MRE shows an increase in tonnage of 33.6% and 13.8%, respectively, for the Inferred and Indicated Resources categories. The MRE was prepared in accordance with CIM (2014) Definition Standards as referenced in Canadian National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) and was prepared by Roscoe Postle Associates Inc. (“RPA”) following the successful completion of a seven hole/3,090 metre drill program conducted earlier this year. The effective date of the MRE is July 9, 2020 and the supporting NI 43-101 technical report will be filed on SEDAR no later than 45 days after the date of this press release.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE UPDATED 2020 MINERAL RESOURCE ESTIMATE:

Classification

Tonnes

Grade

Contained Nb2O5

(Mt)

(%Nb2O5)

(Mkg)

Indicated

29.7

0.53

158

Inferred

33.8

0.52

177

...click here for full copy from source

 

  • Mineralization is open at depth (>330m).

  • Based on an underground operation.

  • A crown pillar is excluded from the resource (~6 Mt).

  • 30m of overburden.

Trend Analysis

Figure 8. (above) view of the niobium deposit. The deepest hole is to ~300m vertical depth and there is plenty of opportunity to increase the resource down the road as need be. As it sits in the PEA, the Company is just tapping the top of the deposit.

 

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3D Image of deposit

Figure 9. (above) -- 3D View James Bay Niobium Deposit

 

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2020 Winter Drill Program (completed)

  • 3090 m in 7 holes.

  • High-grade core extension, raking north.

  • Width is expanding toward north.

  • Open at depth (below 330m).

  • Only drilled 3 sections out of 14.

  • All holes intersected significant mineralization.

  • All intersections above 0.56% Nb2O5.

  • High potential to extend resource.

Surface View of Deposit

 

 

Figure 10. (above) -- Surface view of NioBay's James Bay Niobium deposit. The three black lines seen in the image (from left/south, to right/north) are sections 200, 400, and 600, which were subjects of the winter 2020 drill program. You can see the deposit starts to split, and the split seems to get wider as you move north, now if you compare the sections to their respective cross sections below, the gap between between mineralization and the surface is visible and progresses as the sections moves north -- the important thing is the deposit is richly mineralized further below and also much wider on sections 400 and 600. It is believed to be the case that if NioBay continues to drill on section 800 and 1,000 it could well be the case the mineralization continues -- this will increase the resource. Currently NioBay is just at ~330m depth. Also visible in the surface view image (above) is the outline of the creek that cuts through the deposit -- the October-2020 PEA has a hybrid mining scenario that sees an open pit on the shallower south and heading underground before reaching the creek.

 

Section 200 - Winter 2020 drill program

Figure 11. (above) - Section 200 winter drill program.

 

Section 400 - Winter 2020 drill program

Figure 12. (above) - Section 400 winter drill program 2020.

 

Section 600 - Winter drill program 2020

Figure 13. (above) - Section 600 winter drill program 2020. If allowed to put gold equivalent, that 246m intersect of 0.57% Nb2O5 would equate to ~3.5 g/t Gold.

 

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A look at how a NioBay's James Bay compares to the Niobec

 

 

Figure 14. (above) - Comparison of Niobec (in blue) to NioBay's James Bay (in red). What really makes the big difference is the superior recovery rate for NioBay of 78% to 80%, compare that to Niobec which is ~65%. In the 60s NioBay's James Bay deposit had a bulk sample run at Lakefield and achieved 78% to 80% recovery rate with extremely good quality concentrate. Although NioBay's grade is ~10% lower -- the formula is always GRADE X RECOVERY making NioBay's ratio ~10% higher than Niobec's mine. Plus consider NioBay will may pursue an open pit initially, and it will be near surface. NioBay is more remote than Niobec, and will have to bring its concentrate off to the nearby town of Moosonee then off to the train, thus additional cost there. Overall it appears NioBay has about the same costs as Niobec (see PEA for details)

 

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NioBay Metals' Strategy

 

NioBay Metals' strategy is to be the smallest producer and no more than 5% of global demand. This strategy allows Niobay to comfortably exist with the other two smaller producers and remain insignificant to CBMM.

 

Figure 15. (above) - Forecast chart of CBMM sales growth line (seen in blue) relative to NioBay coming online in 2026 (seen in green) -- NioBay registers as a minor non threatening blip on the radar.

 

Figure 16. (above) - CBMM (in blue) relative to NioBay's James Bay Niobium Project at 5% of market share (in green). By having a strategy of representing 5% of the global market, over time NioBay can step-up its production output as global sales volume rises, and still remain at 5%.

 

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No risk of new entrants to the niobium space

 

The James Bay Niobium Project is an exceptional project. This publication not aware of any other prospective entrants to the niobium space -- NioBay is truly in a unique position and in a mining-friendly jurisdiction. There are only two other possible niobium properties that exist in the world that we are aware of and both of them will 100%-definitely not advance; one in Tanzania called Panda Hill that has zero chance of ever making its way to market due to impassable jurisdictional issues that make it too risky and uneconomical (including, but not limited to, a 16% government interest in any development, and atrocious export duties), the other project we are aware of that exists is in Nebraska, however it is a Scandium and Titanium dominant and the numbers don't make sense yet -- especially because to get to the 30% Nb revenue stream you would have to leach 100% of the ore.

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Below is additional insight on NioBay Metals Inc.

 

     Content found herein is not investment advice see Terms of Use, Disclosure & Disclaimer

  

 

Recent news releases regarding Company accomplishments and operational developments:

 

October 13, 2020: James Bay Niobium PEA Delivers an After-Tax NPV(8%) of $1.0 Billion and IRR of 27.5%

 

September 29, 2020: NioBay Sells Property and Provides James Bay Project Update

 

August 26, 2020: NioBay Files Mineral Resource Estimate for James Bay Niobium

 

August 13, 2020: NioBay Reports a Significant Recovery Rate at James Bay Niobium

 

July 9, 2020: NioBay Reports a Significant Increase in Resources at James Bay Niobium

 

June 16, 2020: NioBay Metals Provides Corporate Update.

 

June 5, 2020: NioBay Announces the Nomination of Derek Teevan and the Results of AGM.

 

May 21, 2020: NioBay Extends High-Grade Mineralization at James Bay Niobium.

 

April 8, 2020: NIOBAY INTERSECTS 1.02% Nb²O? OVER 62 METRES AT JAMES BAY NIOBIUM.

 

March 25, 2020: Completion of the Winter Drill Program at Niobay's James Bay Niobium Project. 

 

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Crevier (Tantalum & Niobium) Project

Ownership: NioBay Metals Inc. 72.5 %, Niobec Inc. 27.5 %

 

The Crevier Project is a tantalum (Ta) and niobium project that NioBay moved on from, and put in abeyance until tantalum prices recover. You can read more about the Crevier project here (at NioBay Metals' website).

 

NioBay spent close to $10 million to develop that asset. They did a number of metallurgical tests, they did a PEA, and started to work on a feasibility, however the pilot tests in 2012 were not what they expected, compared to what had occurred in metallurgical lab tests. The decision was made to put the project on the back burner. In 2019 there was an increase in tantalum prices, same for niobium oxide prices, and NioBay decided to do an internal scoping study using market prices and using a different approach on how to mine Crevier as an open pit. The original design was a 1.2 km long pit with a high strip ratio, so it was redesigned with six smaller pits, and the operation optimized. This produced some interesting numbers. It now makes sense to nudge Crevier along -- it would make an ideal spin-off for shareholders (another reason to own NBY.V as you might get free shares in a new company -- there is zero value in NBY.V being assigned to Crevier now, even though Crevier is a very good asset with lots of latent inherent value). NioBay has a metallurgical program that is running now at Crevier; NioBay was lucky enough to get some grants from the Quebec government for this. The future for Crevier is actually quite bright with the development of new chemicals and processes that use tantalum.

 

 


NioBay Metals' Technical Leadership, Management, and Governance  Skip to top

The current management team and board of directors has a well rounded combination of people that each contribute expertise in disciplines necessary for a successful mining entity:

 

Claude Dufresne, – President, CEO, Director

Claude Dufresne, P. Eng., is recognized worldwide for his expertise in the niobium market. Mr. Dufresne was responsible for the sale and marketing of ferro-niobium produced by the Niobec mine in Quebec from 2001 to 2012. In 2007, Mr, Dufresne founded Camet Metallurgy Inc., a company specialized in the sale and marketing of various metals. He participated in economic studies on a number of rare earths, niobium, manganese and bauxite projects and acted as a supplier of various raw material for the steel industry. Prior to that, Mr. Dufresne served as Director of Marketing at IAMGOLD and he worked during 10 years as a metallurgist and mill superintendent for Cambior in Quebec and in Guyana. Mr. Dufresne graduated from Laval University in 1991 with a degree in mining engineering with a specialty in mineral processing and he is a member of the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec. He has been President, CEO and director of Niobay Metals Inc. since June 2014.

 

Anthony Glavac, – CFO

Mr. Anthony Glavac has over 15 years of experience in financial reporting, including over 10 years in the mining industry. He most recently held the positions of Director-Financial Reporting and Internal Controls at Dynacor Gold Mines and Interim Chief Financial Officer at Alderon Iron Ore Corp. Anthony was a Senior Manager at KPMG, working with both public and private companies, providing audit, taxation, strategic advisory and public offering services.

 

Jacquelin Gauthier P.Geo., – Vice President, Geology

Jacquelin Gauthier is a geologist with over 40 years of mining exploration and geology. He graduated from Université du Québec at Chicoutimi in applied science in 1975 (geological engineering). His experience includes senior positions with Kinross Gold Corp., Bema Gold Corp., Cambior Inc., Azimut Exploration Inc., Geomega Resources Inc., and Noranda Inc. He worked in Canada, Russia, Central Asia, Africa, and Mexico and has been directly responsible for three gold discoveries. He is a member of the Mining Advisory Committee of the Quebec Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the Ordre des Géologues du Québec.

 

Serge Savard, – Chairman, Director

Serge Savard has been a Partner with Thibault, Messier, Savard & Associates since 1993. Mr. Savard is also involved in numerous fundraisers and other activities aimed at promoting and helping the community. A former National Hockey League star, he played on eight winning Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Montreal Canadiens, two other Cup as General Manager of the team, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

 

Dawn Madahbee Leach, – Director

Dawn Madahbee Leach has been General Manager of Waubetek Business Development Corporation since 1988. She graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Economic Development Program and earned a degree in Political Science and Law from York and Laurentian Universities. She has experience in program development and management in the public sector and gained her business experience through operating a small retail outlet in her home community of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation for 12 years and through private consulting with First Nation communities. She currently serves on the boards of Peace Hills Trust, the Northern Policy Institute and is the Vice-Chair of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board. She also served on the boards of the North-East Local Health Integration Network, the Ontario Development Corporation and Innovations Ontario and was the former Chairperson of the Northern Ontario Development Corporation. Ms. Madahbee Leach also participates on several Federal and Provincial economic advisory committees.

   

Jean-Sébastien David, – Director

Jean-Sébastien David is Chief Operating Officer of Arianne Phosphate Inc., a company working on the development of the Lac au Paul mining project in the Saguenay region. Before joining Arianne Phosphate Inc., Mr. David was Vice President Sustainable Development of Osisko Mining Corporation (2007-2012) where he was instrumental in obtaining the authorizations for the construction and the development of the Canadian Malartic Project. His experience with Arianne Phosphate and Osisko includes project evaluation, consultation and negotiation with regulatory agencies and stakeholders , including First Nations groups as well as the development and implementation of sustainable development policies. He has held various positions in the mining, forestry and environmental operations. After beginining his career with Nutrinor in 1993, he has worked for IAMGOLD, Cambior and Louisiana-Pacific. Mr. David earned a BA in Geology and a Masters in Project Management from the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.

 

Jacques Bonneau, – Director

Jacques Bonneau graduated as a geological engineer from Laval University and holds an MSc degree from the same institution. He has more than thirty years’ experience in the mining industry and has been an officer of Soquem, Falconbridge Copper Corporation, Groupe Vior-Mazarin, Minéraux Sequoia Inc and Azimut Exploration Inc. He remains director of Midland Exploration Inc. and Crevier Minerals Inc., special advisor for Eastmain Resources Inc., as well as a consultant for CGE Resources, a Québec flow-through share fund.

 

Raymond Legault, – Director

Raymond Legault holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in economics from Université de Montréal. For eight years (1997 to 2005), he was an investment executive with ScotiaMcLeod, where he offered consulting services to individual investors and small business owners with respect to their investment portfolios. He was also president and general manager of his own publishing company for 14 years and, prior to that, held different senior management positions for 10 years for a major telecommunications company. Mr. Legault is currently a financial consultant.

 

Derek Teevan (MES Consulting), – VP Aboriginal & Governmental Affairs

Noteworthy local accomplishments include;

 

Detour Gold: Fast tracked 5 environmental assessments in less than two years while successfully negotiating 4 Indigenous Impact and Benefit Agreements. Positioned the mine to start construction prior to receiving Federal approvals.

  • Developed and implemented the corporate strategy to achieve development goals with specific emphasis on timely permitting, enterprise risk management, and corporate affairs.

  • Successfully implemented Indigenous Impact Agreements leading to over 25% employment and an average of $75 million in annual business.

  • Directed the $100 million transmission line development through design, Independent Electricity System Operator assessment, Ontario Energy Board approval and Ministry of the Environment Individual Environmental Assessment.

  • The transmission line construction was set up as a regional First Nation business opportunity.

De Beers

  • Led the provincial and federal environmental approvals (2 Environmental Assessments and 70 permits) and completed 3 Impact and Benefit negotiations.

  • Established a winter road agreement with 4 First Nations to build a 312km winter road. Led the negotiations (First Nation, Ontario Hydro) and all regulatory approvals to build the transmission line which became a First Nation owned asset.

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Note: This article is not intended to be a complete overview of NioBay Metals Inc. or a complete listing of Niobay Metals' projects. Mining MarketWatch urges the reader to contact the subject company and has identified the following sources for information:

 

For more information contact NioBay Metals' head office at: PH (514) 866.6500

 

Company's web site: www.niobaymetals.com   SEDAR Filings: URL

 

 

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*Content found herein is not investment advice see Terms of Use, Disclosure & Disclaimer. This is a journalistic article and the author is not a registered securities advisor, and opinions expressed should not be considered as investment advice to buy or sell securities, but rather journalistic opinion only. Technical mining terms used by the writer may be used/expressed in simplified layman terms and should not be relied upon as appropriate for making investment decisions unless the reader contacts the company directly for independent verification. *Estimates of potential made by the mining analyst and journal(s) are non 43-101 and not from the Company.

 

     

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