December 03, 2012
- Completion of Phase 2 metallurgical test work to optimize the use of desliming and carbonate rejection flotation, as well as chemical reagent dosages to increase the efficiency of rougher/cleaner Ta/Nb flotation and to finalize the preliminary process flow sheet developed in Phase 1 which formed the basis of the PEA.
- Mineral Resource update underway at AMEC to include results of exploration in 2012, as well as 34 additional drill holes (totalling 8,715 m) of infill drilling completed in 2011.
The geological, engineering, metallurgical and environmental programs carried out to date in 2012 broadly support the advancement of exploration and development at the Company’s wholly owned Blue River Project, east-central British Columbia. These results continue to strengthen the foundation of broadly based technical knowledge developed in 2011, and following completion of the mineral resource update currently in progress by independent consultants AMEC Americas Ltd. (“AMEC”), will be sufficient to support the initiation of a pre-feasibility study (PFS).
The Blue River Property is host to the Upper Fir Tantalum and Niobium Deposit, which was discovered in 2002 and which has been the focus of the Company’s activities since 2005. In fiscal 2012 year to date Commerce has spent approximately $3.7M (to October 31, 2012).
Metallurgical Test Work in 2012
Metallurgical work in 2012 has continued to update and optimize the process flow sheet described in the NI 43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) study completed by AMEC on the Blue River Project (effective date of September 29, 2011; see Commerce news release dated November 3, 2011). The process flow sheet for the recovery of the tantalum and niobium described in the PEA was developed in 2011 based on Phase 1 studies and is available on the corporate website.
In April 2012, Commerce commissioned Acme Metallurgical Ltd (“Acme Met”) of Vancouver, BC to initiate a Phase 2 investigation. This was designed to follow-up the successful results of the earlier program which had tested flotation as the preferred method to remove the larger portion of fine slimes and carbonatite minerals early in the process. Subsequent process steps could then focus on material containing Ta and Nb.
The objectives of the Phase 2 testing were three fold: 1). to optimize the use of desliming and carbonate rejection flotation; 2). to optimize chemical reagent dosages to increase the efficiency of rougher/cleaner Ta/Nb flotation; and 3). to finalize the process flow sheet developed in Phase 1 which was based on composite samples BS-2F and BS 2G. All Phase 2 work was conducted on these same composites and all tests were conducted at a grind size of 80% passing 130 microns.
Key Areas of Investigation and Results:
Desliming and Mass Removal
Approximately 50 to 55% of the mass containing only 10-15% of the Ta and Nb can be rejected prior to Ta/Nb flotation using desliming and carbonate flotation. Reagent Na2SiO3 has been eliminated from the desliming process while the flotation conditions in the carbonate flotation process have been optimized to provide sufficient carbonate mineral removal.
Rougher flotation of Ta/Nb has also been optimized to yield total rougher Ta/Nb recoveries of 85% and 90% on composites BS-2G and BS-2F, respectively with a mass pull of 20-25% from the original mass being recovered into the Ta-Nb minerals rougher concentrate.
In addition, effective flotation of carbonate from the BS-2F and BS-2G samples was accomplished using 400 and 500 g/t of Oleic Acid respectively. Na2SiO3 is added during conditioning to target a pH of 10.5.
Lastly, H2SiF6 acid is used to condition the pulp to the pH 7 while 400 g/t and 500 g/t of Duomac T collector were used for composites BS- 2F and BS-2G respectively.
Initial cleaner flotation testing on the Ta/Nb rougher concentrate has generated promising results, showing a strong correlation between the dosage of reagent, H2SiF6, as a silicate minerals depressant/pH regulator, and the final Ta-Nb grade and recovery has been determined.
For example, if insufficient H2SiF6 is added to the cleaning process, the Ta/Nb minerals will not selectively separate from the gangue minerals, while an excessive amount of H2SiF6 can lead to a decrease in the Ta/Nb recovery.
Though additional study is required, magnetic separation of the final Ta/Nb flotation concentrate appears to show potential to further enhance the Ta/Nb grades, with approximately 50% of the final concentrate mass being removed with minimal Ta/Nb loss.
Acme Metallurgical recommends future investigation as follows:
- focused testwork on the optimization of the cleaner flotation circuit, in particular the addition of H2SiF6 addition in each of the cleaning stages;
- following optimization of the cleaner circuit, locked-cycle testing to determine the impact of recycling various process streams where improved recoveries are expected; and
- additional studies to verify the potential success achieved with magnetic separation including work on recoveries from magnetic tails.
2012 Field Exploration and Results
The 2012 field exploration program commenced in May and was completed in late August.
A structural geology review of outcrop, core and previous data refined concepts of “faults” versus “fractures” and confirmed the previously held view that most faults have low displacement, likely resulting from tectonic uplift and expansions. Successful completion of an updated structural map supports the overall development of the three dimensional structural model of the Upper Fir deposit.
The Company also re-logged selected diamond drill core from 2005-2009 with a particular focus on rock types, structures and carbonatite textures to ensure conformity of these aspects over time. The work provided only minor changes, but added considerable structural detail. This will increase the level of confidence in structural model interpretation and therefore better support for the resource block model.
An independent structural geology review of 2005-2010 data was conducted to support use of the carbonatite model in resource definition. The review verified the structural data previously collected and broadly supported the structural constraints in the 2011 block model, as well as the new model which will be used in the Mineral Resource Update.
Key results are as follows:
- isosurfaces show a south-east trend in grade continuity similar to the preferred orientation of fold hinges in the Upper Fir Deposit. These patterns were defined using the software program, Leapfrog, which analyzes grade continuity in three dimensions;
- all data collected have been subject to a successful review under AMEC-defined QA/QC (quality analysis/quality control) protocols;
- an updated solids model in Gemcom has been provided to AMEC to initiate the upcoming Mineral Resource Update.
A Mineral Resource Update and subsequent technical report which will incorporate all data from 2005 through 2012 is currently underway by AMEC with completion targeted for the first quarter of 2013. This work will build from the previous Mineral Resource Update technical report (effective date June 22, 2012) in which AMEC compared results from the 34 holes totalling 8,715m drilled in 2011, after the closure of the resource database to the updated resource model and found them to be reasonably consistent with the geology predicted by the model.
2011 PEA Outcomes and Subsequent Resource Update (July 6. 2012)
The Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA) was prepared to define an overall proof of concept for further development of the Blue River Project. The PEA (effective date September 29, 2011) indicated that the deposit can be developed economically as an underground mine and recommended future studies to support a pre-feasibility level assessment of the project. The assessment included geological and mineral resource modeling, preliminary mine planning, a description of metallurgical test work and process design, a summary of environmental baseline work to date, and estimates for capital and operating costs. As well, it determined the economics to develop the project as an underground mine with process facility, and included an estimate of the direct cash costs to produce tantalum contained in a technical grade oxide product.
The resource on which the PEA was based considered only assay results and drilling to the end of 2009. Commerce completed additional drilling in 2010 and 2011. AMEC updated the original resource model on which the PEA had been based with the data to the end of 2010 drilling using a total of 237 holes comprising 50,395m of HQ diameter core and 12,736 samples. Most holes were at a nominal spacing of 50m with dips typically between -60 degrees to sub-vertical.
The composite body extends more than 1,450m in a north-south direction and as much as 800m in an east-west direction. Tantalum and niobium are contained in the minerals ferrocolumbite and pyrochlore. The first of what will eventually be two subsequent Mineral Resource Update technical reports (effective date June 22, 2012) was released on July 6, 2012. Readers are encouraged to review both the entire PEA Technical Report and the Mineral Resource Update Report which are available for viewing at http://www.sedar.com. A link is also available on the corporate website at http://www.commerceresources.com.
“We are proud to have accomplished a significant amount of work in 2012 despite a very tough financing climate. We are again extremely pleased with the results of the metallurgical study which provides an update to testwork previously reported in the PEA, a major milestone in our progress to develop the Upper Fir. The improved results and 2012 exploration reported today reinforce Commerce’s belief that we are in the process of building a very important long-term source of conflict free and ethical tantalum which could potentially supply 10% of the current world’s market for the long term.” said Dave Hodge, Commerce’s President. “Results of the additional drilling completed in 2011 and our ongoing field work in 2012 have been compiled by our geologists and supplied to AMEC to support the next resource update which will be based on all work to the end of the 2012 field season. All indications are that we will be able to enhance even further the quality of the resource.”
“Of necessity, our previous resource update was completed based on an assumed long term pricing which may prove to be conservative. Recent developments in global tantalum and niobium markets provide indication of substantially higher prices than those used to define the resource. For example, information available through Asian Metals provides early June 2012 pricing (CAD=0.9825 US) for average grade Nb205 (99.5%) of $US59-61/kg, and for average grade Ta205 (99.95% min) of $US483/kg. Such prices may provide an opportunity for the ongoing resource update to the end of 2011 to be based on higher, though still conservative, pricing.”
The Blue River Project is located near the village of Blue River, which is approximately 250 km north of the city of Kamloops and approximately 90 km south of the town of Valemount. The Project comprises 105,373 hectares (1,000 km2) of mineral claims. Power transmission lines, rail, and paved and gravel roads are all adjacent to, or within the property boundaries. Transalta Corp.’s 18 MW Bone Creek run-of-river hydroelectricity project near the project was commissioned in June 2011.
NI 43-101 Disclosure
Ms. Jenna Hardy, M.Sc., P.Geo., Commerce Resources Corp., is a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, read and approved the disclosure of the technical information in this news release.
About Commerce Resources Corp.
Commerce Resources Corp. is an exploration and development company with a particular focus on tantalum, niobium and rare metal deposits with potential for economic grades and large tonnages. The Company is specifically focused on the development of its Upper Fir Tantalum and Niobium Deposit in British Columbia and its Ashram Rare Earth Element Project in northern Quebec.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors
COMMERCE RESOURCES CORP.
President and Director
Neither 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.
Forward-Looking Statements: This news release contains forward-looking information which is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements in this press release include that our results will be sufficient to support the initiation of a pre-feasibility study; that we are in the process of building a very important long-term source of tantalum which could potentially supply 10% of the current world’s market for the long term; that we will be able to enhance even further the quality of the resource; and that prices for our potential products are conservatively estimated and may trend upwards. These forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management and its consultants at the date the information is disseminated. They are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Risks that could change or prevent these statements from coming to fruition include changing costs for mining and processing and their impact on the cut off value established; increased capital costs; changing forecasts of mine production rates; the timing and content of upcoming work programs; geological interpretations based on drilling that may change with more detailed information; potential process methods and mineral recoveries assumption based on limited test work and by comparison to what are considered analogous deposits that with further test work may not be comparable; the availability of labour, equipment and markets for the products produced; market pricing for the products produced; and despite the current expected viability of the project, conditions changing such that the minerals on our property cannot be economically mined, or that the required permits to build and operate the envisaged mine can be obtained. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.