Cascadero Copper Ltd. (CCD) has transformed its business model from exploration geology to mineral development. This involved a reorganization of the Argentine property portfolio, an exercise that selected certain properties that are within the financial capability of the Company. This enables management to focus on the most advanced non-porphyry property in the portfolio.
The Company intends to invest its energy and knowledge on the Taron rare metal property. Previous exploration by Cascadero on the 4,900 hectare Taron property included 6,600 metres of hand and excavator trenching, outcrop sampling, geological mapping over a 60 km2 area, bulk sampling (10,000 kgs) for mineralogy and metallurgical studies, and seven HQ drill core holes tested the subsurface to 140 metres depth over a 1,100 metre strike length. The data indicate the presence of a large epithermal, sediment hosted, rare metal mineralized system. The mineralized area includes valuable elements including cesium, rubidium silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and thallium and lesser levels of other elements.
The Taron mineralization is right at surface and variably outcrops over a large area. The mineralization is amenable to open pit bulk mining methods and the mineralized area could represent one of the largest, if not the largest accumulation of cesium in the world.
Initial metallurgical work indicates that the mineralization leaches with sulphuric acid or sodium hydroxide, and the metallurgical tests provided a leach product with high-recoveries of cesium.
What are the reasons that Cascadero's management have to advocate and develop a cesium resource and the manufacture of cesium formate?
One reason is that there is a limited supply of cesium in the world and there is increasing demand for cesium compounds, especially cesium formate. The Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Limited (TANCO), located in Bernic Lake, Manitoba, Canada, is wholly owned by Cabot Corp (CBT:NYSE). TANCO is the dominant producer of cesium and cesium formate and it accounts for 80% to 90% of world production and supply. However, in June of 2013, Cabot reported that:
...in March 2013, a fall of ground occurred in an area of the mine that was not being actively mined after a first fall of ground occurred in 2010. Following the March 2013 fall of ground, we implemented additional safety measures in the mine and several types of monitoring devices based on the advice of mining consultants, given the potential structural instability in that portion of the mine, including the potential for further deterioration and of flooding.
...we currently do not expect a disruption in our current mining activities during the mitigation project, and we maintain significant levels of raw material inventory. However, if we are unable to continue mining or unable to implement the dike and dewatering project, we may have difficulty obtaining additional raw material for our Specialty Fluids business or obtaining them at an acceptable cost.
and about one year later, on August 8th 2014 Cabot Corp reported (SEC 10Q-Q3 2014) that:
Accordingly, there is a chance of supply disruption that will affect Cabot and it could possibly be its oil and gas industry clients who are the primary users of cesium formate. The dominant volume market for cesium formate is for drilling and completion of oil and gas wells and it is the most effective drilling fluid for high-temperature and high-pressure (HTHP) reservoirs. Most of the world's drilling and oil and gas companies use the product and they may be interested in securing another supply of cesium.
Cabot is basically a monopoly producer. This infers monopoly pricing power and the August 8th 2014 report suggests cesium formate volumes may be restricted and prices may even increase. Companies like ExxonMobil, Statoil, Shell, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Total, Elf, BP, Marathon, Devon, ConocoPhillips, Murphy, and Petronas use cesium formate and more than one of them may want to own a large cesium resource.
We use the word "own" in this context because Cabot does not sell cesium formate but "rents" it. Cabot derives revenue by renting the fluid and when a client is finished with the cesium formate it is returned to Cabot who calculates the amount of fluid loss and charges for replacing the lost fluid, and for recycling and cleaning the used fluid. Cabot's 10Q-Q3 2014, reported "net sales" of cesium formate of US$77 million. If this number is equivalent to a 10% net loss of fluid plus recycling and cleaning costs of what was rented then Cabot would have "inventory turnover" of an estimated US$500 million. This number is speculative because Cabot does not publish quantities rented or lost, nor does it disclose how much a tonne of cesium formate costs to make, or what it rents it for.
Cabot is the dominant producer of cesium and cesium formate and has pricing power as inferred by the August 8th disclosure. The supply of cesium may go down and the "rental" price may increase and importantly, the message may be that Cabot may have a preferred client list, and cesium formate may not be available to all current users.
This is why we wish to start the development program for the Taron cesium project now, and accept the economic conditions in Argentina, which is still a very mining friendly country and appreciative of all the US$ currency and jobs that foreign companies bring or create.
Company management believes that success at developing the cesium resource and the cesium formate fluid could attract large volume users of cesium formate. Cascadero has also identified other possible uses for this high-density, environmentally benign "superfluid" and we believe that these applications, in addition to oil and gas markets, could create significant value for our shareholders and we are soliciting your support to accomplish this goal. The Company needs to complete more drilling to establish a 43-101 compliant resource, and complete further metallurgical testing and the process chemistry to produce cesium formate.
The TANCO crown pillar issue is unfortunate but it has introduced a speculative valuation aspect to Cascadero's shares. We now need to develop a cesium resource and focus on the chemistry to produce cesium formate.
We are excited by this newly defined opportunity.
Cascadero Copper Corporation
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