- Seven drill holes completed at Taron cesium prospect
- Cabot Corp raises cesium fine chemical prices by 18%
The Taron Cesium Deposit, Salta Province, Argentina
The Company is currently drilling TARON -2017- 8 of a planned 29 vertical core holes. The rig is using HQ3 triple tube coring to a planned depth of 75 metres for a total of 2,175 metres. The triple tube coring will assist in getting better core recovery of the broken rock. Drill collars are spaced at 100 metres north south and 50 metres east west (see attached Map).
The drilling grid and location of the drill collars will test an area of about 1.3 kms2 of the property. The geological model (wire frame model) is based on 5,600 metres of hand and excavator trenches and >6,000 assays including 900 assays from seven core holes drilled in 2009.
To date, the drilling is identifying a very shallow northwest dipping structure above a basal unconformity with an approximate thickness of 65 metres as predicted by the Company’s geologists. The attitude of the deposit also suggests a mining operation could utilize inexpensive open-cast mining with continuous backfilling in future years
There are also two parallel zones of mineralization to the east of the main body (see attached Map) that will also be drill tested and which are believed to be tectonic intercalations or fault segments of the main body. The mineralized system is otherwise open to the north and south, but dips under overburden cover to the east; a distance of greater than 3,000 metres. Its ongoing presence is supported by a positive geochemical survey program, one pit, and a 2006 trench that assayed up to 3,400 ppm cesium.
The drilling program is expected to be completed in early June. The first two drill holes are now in transit to the Bureau Veritas (BV) prep laboratory in Mendoza and subsequent assaying at BV’s lab in Vancouver. Assays will be reported on an ongoing basis, when available.
Cesium (chemical symbol Cs) is a rare metal best known for its extreme chemical reactivity. Cesium hydroxide forms the start point of myriad end uses, including cesium formate (CsCHO2). The oil and gas drilling and well completion businesses are all migrating to alkaline formate fluids but the industries’ premium drilling and completion fluid is still cesium formate for which there is no acceptable replacement. Cesium Formate is an environmentally benign solution with a high-density (density 2.2) and low-viscosity used to control formation pressures and temperatures in drilling of deep oil wells (HPHT). As a dense medium, cesium formate is also used to separate DNA, in metallurgical testing, and is also well known for artificially produced radioactive isotopes used to treat various types of cancer. Cesium compounds and chemicals are used in photo-emissive devices, experimental magneto-hydrodynamic electricity generation, atomic clocks for telecommunications and GPS navigation systems, catalysts in plastic manufacturing, specialty glasses, ion propulsion rocket motors, high-density alkaline batteries, coatings for solar cells, petroleum refining and in food preparation. Research continues to generate new applications for cesium compounds.
The Cesium Supply Chain
Cabot Corporation is one of two companies that are supplying cesium to the global market from their Tanco Mine in Manitoba, Canada. The other supplier, the Bikita Mine, is in Zimbabwe, and it ships cesium minerals to China for further processing by Rockwood International (Albermarle). Cascadero understand that both companies are mining their stock piles and both mines are having issues with finding new and mineable reserves. The Tanco Mine is presently on care and maintenance after repeated falls of loose rock, and anecdotal information from industry sources suggests that the Bikita Mine has 2 - 3 years of reserves left in stockpile and no further resources have been found.
In its annual report of 2016, Cabot issued the following statement regarding the situation at the Tanco Mine: “However, the structural stability may change at any time and there is a possibility of deterioration and flooding of this mine. While we have not mined at our mine in Manitoba since we completed a development project at that site in November 2015, we may resume those mining operations in the future. The failure to adequately manage these risks could result in significant personal injury, loss of life, damage to mineral properties, production facilities or mining equipment, damage to the environment, delays in or reduced production, and potential legal liabilities.”
Tanco also released information that it would service former preferred customers and in an April 12 of this year a Cabot Corp news release stated: “Effective April 12, 2017, or as contracts allow, Cabot Corporation will increase prices by up to 18 percent for its fine cesium chemicalsproduct portfolio. Demand for Cabot’s fine cesium chemicals products increased in late 2016 and has continued into 2017. This price adjustment is required to support ongoing investments in Cabot’s fine cesium chemicals manufacturing facility co-located with its mining operations in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba, Canada. The increase will also help to ensure Cabot remains a reliable, long-term supplier of high quality cesium products, and continues to deliver exceptional support to its customers.”
The global cesium fine chemical market represents about ~25% of global cesium consumption with HPHT drilling fluids accounting for the balance of~75%. It is unclear if the price increase was affected for reasons of supply reserve constraints or Cabot is increasing its gross margin to benefit the Company which is a historically low-margin performer. However, Cascadero considers that this price increase will endure, and further price increases may be coming. The fine chemical business is a high-margin business but has a different business model than that of cesium formate drilling fluid. In the former case, the fine chemical products are sold and appear to be consumed with no recyclable ability. In contrast, the specialty fluid products can be recycled, be reconstituted, and leased out repeatedly. The cost of downhole losses must be made up by the drilling companies.
Cascadero’s Taron Objectives
At Taron, the objective is to develop a mineable reserve and to produce cesium hydroxide, which is the core chemical substrate of all other cesium products. Making cesium formate is probably the single largest volume use of cesium hydroxide and the company has already demonstrated and patented these abilities (see News Release of November 30, 2015).
The Company has retained Ron Simpson of GeoSim Services Inc. who will act as the Qualified Person (QP) for the program of developing the resource at Taron.
This news release and its technical content has been read and approved by Dr. David Trueman, Ph.D, P.Geo, who is the Company’s Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101.
The Taron Cesium deposit remains as the main focus of the Company’s work.
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