25/03/2021 - 14:24

TNT Mines set to drill US uranium targets

25/03/2021 - 14:24

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TNT Mines is preparing to drill test its key, high-grade uranium targets at the East Canyon project in Utah. The company is paying the requisite bonds to the US government and entering the final phase of the permitting process, with initial drilling to focus on the historical mine workings in the north of TNT’s tenure, including the targets at None Such and Bonanza.

The entry gate to the uranium prospecting area in the Uravan mineral belt in Utah, in the western USA. Credit: File

TNT Mines is preparing to drill test its key, high-grade uranium targets at the East Canyon project in Utah. The company is in the process of paying the requisite bonds to the US government and entering the final phase of the drill permitting process. Exploration is currently being designed to test various targets across the company’s holdings, with initial drilling likely to focus on a nest of historical workings in the north of TNT’s tenure, including the None Such and Bonanza targets.

The company says despite the outstanding results from sampling and the broad zones of uranium mineralisation outlined across its East Canyon holdings, the move to drilling has taken longer than expected due to the approvals process. TNT is now in the final stages of receiving its permits for drilling, with surety bonds to the US Bureau of Land Management being paid this week and the final environmental approvals nearing completion.

Drilling at East Canyon is expected to commence soon after the prerequisite approvals are received in the coming weeks.

The results from previous exploration at East Canyon bodes well for TNT, with underground sampling and mapping demonstrating that the sediment-hosted uranium mineralisation across the project area is of a higher-grade and far more widespread than previous thought.

Sampling from the None Such and Bonanza deposits returned a series of piping hot uranium assays, some of which required special handling by the labs in Canada. Best results were up to a stunning 12,700 parts per million or 1.27 per cent uranium oxide with a healthy credit of 4.53 per cent vanadium pentoxide riding shotgun in the sample.

By way of comparison, uranium operations in Namibia, the fourth largest producer of uranium in the world, mine their uraniferous ore systems at grades averaging between 150 ppm and 500 ppm uranium oxide, indicating that TNT might be onto something quite exceptional in the USA.

TNT’s East Canyon project lies between the towns of Moab and Monticello in Utah, in the western USA. The company’s mineral claims extend over more than 18 square kilometres of the Uravan Mineral Belt, which has a history of mining dating back to the late 19th century.

The Company’s tenure hosts several historic mining areas including the Bonanza-None Such mining centre in the north and the Blackhawk-Loya Ray workings in the south. TNT’s exploration has been focused around the northern mining area and included sampling and mapping centred on the expansive Bonanza and None Such underground mines.

The uranium-vanadium mineralisation at East Canyon is sediment-hosted with the target stratigraphy, the Salt Wash Member, outcropping over more than 8 square kilometres within the company’s extensive tenure.

The Uravan Mineral Belt is home to a number of significant uranium and vanadium deposits. Mineralisation is hosted by near surface, flat lying sediments with ore bodies occurring as both individual deposits and in clusters.  The size of the uraniferous deposits throughout the field varies but can range from a few hundred thousand tonnes to several million tonnes of ore.

Historical production in the Uravan Belt is estimated at an impressive 86 million pounds of uranium, which was extracted at an average grade of 2,400 ppm or 0.24 per cent uranium oxide, whilst vanadium production tips the scales at 441 mlbs at an average grade of 1.25 per cent vanadium pentoxide. Production across the Uravan field has been facilitated in modern times by the nearby and conveniently located, White Mesa Mill.

Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill is located a mere 50km south of TNT’s project area and is the only permitted and operating conventional uranium mill in the US. The company has already pointed out that the mill is currently operating at just a fraction of its design capacity and may represent a rapid path to production should the drilling begin to stack up and unearth a sizeable resource at East Canyon.

The recent uptick in the uranium price has also put the energy metal back on the menu for many explorers. The uranium price started 2020 at just US$24 a pound before heading north of US$32 a pound of uranium oxide in July last year. The uranium price has settled back to around US$30 per pound today but may rapidly move north if reports by various industry groups are to be believed.

A study tabled by the World Nuclear Association in September 2019 has flagged a looming supply crunch in the energy metal as the world rapidly moves to “decarbonise” its economy. Price drivers for uranium include a lack of new discoveries and supply bottlenecks from existing mines which may bolster the uranium price in the years ahead.

Modelling by the global nuclear authority shows demand outstripping supply from 2023 onwards with a gap wide enough to drive a truck through by 2040.

With TNT getting ready to drill its high-grade project in a recognized uranium jurisdiction that has a ready-made processing solution just down the road, the Perth-based ASX-listed company looks to be well placed to potentially play a role in helping to close the predicted uranium supply and demand curves in the future as it works towards outlining a maiden resource at East Canyon.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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