With the energy revolution ramping up at an unprecedented pace, the search is on to find and develop the next generation of critical metals deposits feeding into the approaching wall of demand.
One company making such progress is York Harbour Metals (TSXV: YORK; US-OTCPK: YORKF), which has completed more than 10,000 metres of diamond drilling at its namesake copper-zinc project in western Newfoundland. The work has underpinned a near-tripling in the value of its Toronto-quoted shares in 12 months.
Speaking with The Northern Miner in an interview, president and CEO Andrew Lee said the company had just completed 64 drill holes, with three additional holes in progress.
"We had a checklist on the type of projects we were looking for, and at the top of our list were copper and battery metals. As luck would have it, this project rolled our way," said Lee.
"York Harbour is not a greenfields play and has good infrastructure with access to power, water, a deep seaport - it had everything we were looking for," said Lee.
"We were able to put together a fair option agreement, $3 million in expenditures over three years, but it looks like we did that in the first year," he said. The optionor will retain a 2% net smelter return royalty, which the company can buy half of for a $1 million cash payment.York Harbour Metals' namesake copper-zinc project is well-paced amid infrastructure. Credit: York Harbour Metals.
York Harbour has received assay results for all 38 holes from the Phase 1 and 2 drill programs. Current drilling has traced the deposit about 450 metres of strike length to a depth of just 150 metres from the surface.
Executive chairman Bruce Durham said the drilling results indicate continuous mineralization in all directions. "Of the 38 drill holes completed in the first two phases of drilling 28, or 74%, of the drill holes intersected significant massive and/or semi-massive sulphide mineralization," said Durham.
Among the latest drill highlights were drill hole YH21-19 with an exceptional intercept of 15 metres of 3.378% copper, 5.207% zinc, 18.53 grams per tonne silver, and 230 grams per tonne cobalt, plus holes YH21-31, YH21-32, and YH21-33 also returned notable intercepts within the southern 'B' Zone (Main Mine Zone South). YH21-31 returned an interval of 10 metres from 141 to 151 metres in depth of 1.511% copper, 6.05% zinc, 32.3 grams per tonne silver and 170 grams per tonne cobalt, while hole YH21-32 returned 16 metres from 139 to 155 metres depth grading 1.131% copper, 5.006% zinc, 25.13 grams per tonne silver
In addition to the company's completed drill campaigns, another four drill holes within the Main Mine Zone area returned vital high-grade copper and zinc intersections.
Lee explains the York Harbour property is on the west coast of Newfoundland, only about 27 kilometres from the city of Corner Brook.
The property had seen exploration and production efforts since 1893 when underground mining extracted copper-rich mineralization and directly shipped the hand-cobbed material to England and the U.S. for smelting.
Durham explains the project's pervasive volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) mineralization occurs along and near the stratigraphic contact between Lower and Upper Basalt rock units, hosted by fragmental and tuffaceous basaltic volcanoclastic rocks.
According to the company, the mineralization is typical of mafic-type, flow-dominated or Cyprus-type VMS mineralization.
"This volcanic sequence has been interpreted as a synform, which is slightly overturned eastward," said Durham. "The synclinal fold closes within the southern property boundaries owned by the company and trends north-north easterly across the Bay of Islands."
According to Durham, sulphide mineralization is characterized by massive to semi-massive lenses of chalcopyrite, sphalerite, pyrite and minor pyrrhotite with occasional oxide and supergene copper mineralization.
"The higher cobalt values are commonly associated with the more copper-rich mineralization while the silver values are spatially associated with copper- and zinc-rich mineralization. Drilling intercepts of VMS mineralization within the Main Mine area range from less than 1 metre, where stringer mineralization occurs, to 29 metres of VMS mineralization," said Durham.Plan view of the location of Phase 2 diamond drill holes. Credit: York Harbour Metals.
Previously, the 29-metre drilling intercept in hole YH21-24 returned 5.25% copper, 0.8% zinc, 8.97 grams per tonne of silver and 436.5 grams per tonne of cobalt. The true widths of the mineralization have not yet been established due to the varying dimensions of the mineralization and the need for more up and downdip information.
"Several of the current Phase 3 drill holes may provide such information," said Durham.
Durham said past surface and underground exploration and development have resulted in identifying eleven zones of VMS mineralization along a 400-metre strike length.
"This moderately explored area represents a tiny portion of the estimated 18 kilometres of strike length along the eastern and western exposures of favourable stratigraphic contact between the Upper and Lower Basalt units," he said.
"Surface exploration work over the past 30 years by several operators has recognized the excellent property-wide exploration potential beyond the Main Mine area, but there has been little or no attention focused on drill testing the known geological, geochemical and geophysical anomalies along with the stratigraphic contact," said Durham.
The company plans to continue drilling the 11 known mineralized zones and test other new VMS targets, like the No 4 Brook showing, while focusing on gaining access to the historical 4 Level and Sea Level adits. Permits for these areas are in progress, while the Phase 3 program will entail about 4,000 metres of drilling in 22 holes.
In March, York Harbour had increased its strategic landholding in the region to capture the western and southern limits of the existing mineral claims via staking. The project area now totals 4,725 hectares.Example of high-grade sphalerite (zinc sulphide) intersection in drill hole YH21-22 that intersected 5.26 metres of 2.84% copper, 31.96% zinc, and 42.09 grams per tonne silver. The dark mineral is sphalerite. Credit: York Harbour Metals.
York Harbour is a tightly held concern with only about 48.84 million shares outstanding.
The company enjoys substantial investor support, with insiders and management accounting for about 45% of shares outstanding. Lee said industry personality Eric Sprott was also an early backer and continued to invest during capital raisings last year.
York Harbour's Toronto-quoted shares have traded between 25c and $1.37 per share, which gives the junior a market capitalization of $50.18 million (US$$39.71 million).