Preston Uranium Project Highlights:
- Large 49,635 hectare (122,651 acre) land position strategically located to the south of and adjacent to NexGen Energy's (TSX: NXE) Rook 1 project host to the high grade Arrow deposit, as well as proximal to Fission Uranium’s (TSX: FCU) Patterson Lake South (“PLS”) project host to the high grade Triple R deposit
- The Preston Uranium Property is bisected by the all-weather Highway 955, which runs north through the PLS Project being advanced by Fission through to the former Cluff Lake uranium mine
- Skyharbour’s advancing the project using “Prospect Generator” model with a strategic partner funding exploration and making cash payments to Skyharbour; cost-efficient and operationally-effective structure to conduct large exploration programs without substantial equity dilution
- March 2017, Skyharbour signs option agreement with industry-leader and strategic partner Orano (formerly AREVA) Resources Canada to option a majority stake in the Preston Project
- Orano has fulfilled their first earn-in option interest for 51% in the project by completing CAD $2.8 million in staged exploration expenditures and making a total of CAD $200,000 in cash payments divided evenly between Skyharbour and Dixie Gold
- A total of $4.8 million has been spent on the project to date by Orano
- Following the acquisition of the interest, Orano has formed a joint venture with Skyharbour and Dixie Gold for the future advancement and development of the Project. Orano now holds a 51% (fifty-one percent) interest in the joint venture, with the remaining interest split evenly between Skyharbour and Dixie Gold with each company retaining a 24.5% interest in the joint venture
- Historical exploration at the project has consisted of ground gravity, airborne and ground electromagnetics, radon, soil, silt, biogeochem, lake sediment, and geological mapping surveys, as well as several exploratory drill programs
- Numerous high-priority drill target areas associated with multiple prospective exploration corridors have been successfully delineated through this methodical, multiphased exploration initiative, which has culminated in an extensive, proprietary geological database for the project area
- Given the size of the property, exploration to date has only focused on approx. 50% the land package leaving significant exploration upside potential in untested areas
Preston Uranium Project Summary:
The Preston Uranium Property is bisected by the all-weather Highway 955, which runs north through the PLS Project being advanced by Fission through to the former Cluff Lake uranium mine. This part of the Preston Lake Property is on strike with the W-SW to E-NE mineralized trend being delineated by Fission Uranium at the nearby PLS project. The claims are underlain by Phanerozoic rocks (limestone and sandstone) similar to the PLS discovery area where it is interpreted that the uranium has been mobilized along the fault zones and has been concentrated in the sandstone under the limestone. Beneath the Phanerozoic cover rocks, some parts of the property are transected by the margin of the Clearwater and Lloyd Domains. Although the significance of this contact is poorly understood it may be important given the similar tectonic/structural settings present at the nearby Cluff Lake, Shea Creek and PLS high-grade uranium discoveries.
In excess of $7.5 million in expenditures on the Preston Uranium Project have been incurred to date. This exploration has consisted of ground gravity, airborne and ground electromagnetics, radon, soil, silt, biogeochem, lake sediment, and geological mapping surveys, as well as several exploratory drill programs. Numerous high-priority drill target areas associated with multiple prospective exploration corridors have been successfully delineated through this methodical, multiphased exploration initiative, which has culminated in an extensive, proprietary geological database for the project area.
Joint-Venture with Strategic Partner Orano (formerly AREVA):
Orano has fulfilled their first earn-in option interest in the project by completing CAD $2.8 million in staged exploration expenditures and making a total of CAD $200,000 in cash payments over the previous three years, divided evenly between Skyharbour and Dixie Gold. A total of CAD $4.8 million has been spent on the Project to date.
Following the acquisition of the interest, Orano has formed a joint venture with Skyharbour and Dixie Gold for the future advancement and development of the Project. Orano now holds a 51% (fifty-one percent) interest in the joint venture, with the remaining interest split evenly between Skyharbour and Dixie Gold with each company retaining a 24.5% (twenty-four and a half percent) interest in the joint venture.
Headquartered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Orano Canada Inc. is a leading supplier of uranium, accounting for the processing of 18 million pounds produced in Canada in 2019. Orano Canada has been exploring for uranium, mining and producing uranium concentrate in Canada for more than 55 years. The company operates the McClean Lake uranium mill and holds a significant interest in the Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Key Lake operations. The company employs over 450 people in Saskatchewan, including about 320 at the McClean Lake operation where over 46% of employees are self-declared Indigenous. As a sustainable uranium producer, Orano Canada is committed to safety, environmental protection and contributing to the prosperity and well-being of neighbouring communities.
Orano Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of the multinational Orano Group offering products and services with high added value throughout the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from raw materials to waste treatment. Its activities, from mining to dismantling, as well as in conversion, enrichment, recycling, logistics and engineering, contribute to the production of low carbon electricity. Orano Group and its 16,000 employees bring to bear their expertise and their mastery of cutting-edge technology, as well as their permanent search for innovation and unwavering dedication to safety, to serve their customers worldwide.
Patterson Lake Area Discoveries (Southwest Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan):
- The Arrow discovery made by NexGen Energy (TSX-V: NXE); now the high grade Arrow deposit
- Patterson Lake South discovery made by Fission Uranium (TSX: FCU); now the high grade Triple R deposit
- Cameco / Orano (formerly AREVA) / Purepoint Uranium's Hook Lake Spitfire Zone high grade discovery
- Three separate major discoveries in a short period of time in this emerging uranium district illustrate high grade nature of mineralization and potential for additional discoveries
The significant potential of the western Athabasca Basin has been highlighted by recent discoveries in the area by NexGen Energy Ltd. (Arrow), Fission Uranium Corp. (Triple R) and a joint-venture consisting of Cameco Corporation, Orano (formerly AREVA) Resources Canada Inc. and Purepoint Uranium Group Inc. (Spitfire).
Exploration Programs Conducted by Orano in 2017-2020:
In the spring of 2017, a Quaternary evaluation of the Preston property was performed by Orano Resources followed by a two week summer field program which included the review of historical drill holes, outcrop visits, sampling and general prospecting and surveying. Orano then completed ground EM surveys within the Dixon Lake target area and a more exhaustive review of the project historical information.
In the fall of 2017, Moving Loop Transient Electromagnetic (ML-TEM) surveys were completed on two grids located east of highway 955. The Johnson Lake Corridor (JLC) hosts two main north-northeast and northeast trending VTEM conductive trends. Numerous areas of interest have been identified along the VTEM conductive zones and of particular interest at this time is the area northeast of Canoe Lake which hosts radon-in-water anomalies
The Dixon Lake Corridor (DLC) comprises two VTEM conductive trends dominantly oriented northeast-southwest. The FS target area located on the northeast edge of these VTEM trends is considered an area of interest and ground geophysical surveys, including the Max-Min method, were performed to define drill targets. The Max-Min survey identified three discrete conductors within a wide, approximately 800m, VTEM conductive area. Three historical holes drilled within the FS area tested one of the conductors and two holes, PN15004 and PN15005, encountered locally sheared graphitic and pyritic semi-pelite, whereas hole PN14009 was lost at 150m within a clay gouge. The intersected graphite confirmed the east-west trending conductor.
Line-cutting work in preparation for two ML-TEM surveys is currently underway with one survey to be carried out on the JL grid and a second one on the FS grid. The JL grid comprises seven profiles for survey coverage of 28.5 line-kilometers while the FS grid consists of three profiles for survey coverage of 3.6 km. AREVA Resources’ ML-TEM survey on the FS area will investigate the extent of the conductor located near anomalous radioactivity found on a large granitic gneiss outcrop. Moderate to strong silicification and north-south trending narrow dark shear bands were noted on the outcrop.
In the winter of 2018, Orano conducted a diamond drilling program consisting of approximately 4,500 metres. Drilling focused on areas of interest defined by ground EM surveys within the west part of the project, east of highway 955 and the FS areas. Orano followed this program up with a 2019 winter diamond drilling program consisting of approximately 3,600 metres on the Preston Project. Drilling tested targets defined by the 2018 EM surveys on the JL and FSA target grids. These diamond drilling programs on the property intersected numerous and extensive, well developed and commonly graphitic ductile shear zones, that were clearly reactivated over time. These structures correlate with elongated NNE-trending magnetic lineaments. A later brittle event is common in both drill core and the magnetic data and could provide a locus for mineralizing fluids. The shear zones are also commonly altered and locally metal enriched (pyrite-pyrrhotite-chalcopyrite). The basement rocks intersected are complexly deformed supracrustal rocks; largely graphitic orthogneiss with minor paragneiss, intruded by Archean granitoids. These lithologies are common to the proven uranium mineralization in the Western Athabasca region (Shea Creek and Patterson Lake corridor deposits). Of note, is that unlike the deposit areas the Preston Lake property has seen little historical drill testing.
In the winter of 2020, Orano’s exploration program on the Preston Project consisted of DC resistivity ground geophysics on the JL and Canoe grids and the B conductive area. To date exploration on the Preston project has consisted of a traditional approach of defining conductors via ground EM surveys and diamond drilling. The objective of the exploration program was to use the DC resistivity method to further characterize the EM conductors by providing information about possible clay, silicification or associated alteration in the vicinity of conductors adding another layer of information to prioritize areas to be drill tested.
Skyharbour and Western Athabasca Syndicate's Exploration Programs 2014-2015:
Summer Drill Program (August 2015)
The 2015 summer diamond drill program consisted of five drill holes (PN15001 - PN15005) totaling 1,318 metres with the first three in the Canoe Lake target area and the last two in the FSA target area. These holes targeted assorted ground geochemical anomalies associated with recently completed ground EM and gravity surveys conducted in furtherance of a 2013 airborne EM and magnetometer survey. All five of the holes intersected between one to three well-defined conductors consisting of significant amounts of structurally disrupted and altered graphite hosted by sedimentary and high-grade plutonic assemblages. The graphitic units are up to 25 metres wide. Pegmatites (sills and dykes) are common, particularly at or near lithological contacts. Holes PN15001, PN15003 and PN15005 are the most strongly deformed and exhibit a wide variety of structural patterns ranging from brittle fracturing to well-developed mylonitic fabrics. Hydrothermal alteration (chlorite-sericite-hematite-clay) is strongest in drill holes PN15003 and PN15005. Localized silicification was also noted, and quartz veining was common and contained variable amounts of pyrite and chalcopyrite. Pyrite (3 to 10%) was the most common sulphide present and occurred in most of the graphitic units as smeared disseminations and semi-massive fracture fill.
Spring Program Survey Results (April 2015)
Based on the combined results of the 2014-2015 gravity and RadonEx surveys, six high priority targets were identified on which ground-based HLEM surveys were performed. Grids totaling 12.5 line-km were surveyed at the Syndicate’s high-priority FSA, FIN, Dixon, and Canoe targets. The HLEM surveys confirmed the presence of moderate to strong steep southeast-dipping conductors underlying the FSA, Dixon and Canoe targets. The conductors are indicative of significant faulting, graphitic-bearing rocks or geological contacts all of which may lead to the potential concentration of uranium mineralization. Anomalous RadonEx results from the 2014 and 2015 surveys within these conductor zones significantly enhance their uranium-hosting potential. The Canoe target is a particularly noteworthy target based on radon results of up to 55 pCi/l returned above the LCE-grid conductor trace array and is a high priority drill target at the property.
Phase 4: Winter Program (December 2013 - February 2014)
Of the high-priority areas associated with the exploration corridors, the most prospective areas were further assessed by grid based radon surveys as well as gravity and EM surveys. This program commenced in December and extended through February. Data from the winter program was used for final targeting in advance of drilling that commenced in March 2014.
Skyharbour and Syndicate's Exploration Program 2013:
Phases 2-3: Follow-Up Ground Program (August 2013 - November 2013)
This first-pass phase of ground exploration, Phase 2, included boulder prospecting using handheld scintillometers, radon and silt sampling using both helicopter and boat support, geochemical and radon soil sampling, geological mapping and prospecting, and biogeochemical sampling. The Syndicate is employing a systematic, proven and cost-efficient exploration methodology that has led to numerous uranium discoveries in the region and throughout the Athabasca Basin.
During the Phase 2 fieldwork, water samples from lakes, local swamps and ponds were collected using a float equipped helicopter and boats. Sample targets included both regional reconnaissance areas and fourteen high-priority targets identified by the Syndicate’s Technical Committee from the Phase 1 Geophysical Surveys. The samples were analyzed for radon in the field by the geologists using a Pylon AB5 Series Portable Radiation Monitor which provides real time analysis of radon levels in both water and soil.
The survey successfully identified a number of radon in water anomalies occurring both as clusters and as discrete point anomalies. The larger clusters are typically kilometre-scale or greater and are in places that appear to follow basement conductor trends identified by the 2013 VTEM survey. Nine water samples collected returned radon values in excess of 23 pCi/l (picocuries per litre) with a peak value of 98 pCi/l. Further, two of the radon anomaly clusters are associated with areas identified as being underlain by metasediments. Anomalous radon in water readings are values above the survey background reading of 3 pCi/l.
Radon geochemistry of lake-bottom water, sediment, and ground is a well-known exploration tool in the Athabasca Basin of Northern Saskatchewan. Radon distribution around a body of uranium mineralization occurs primarily due to groundwater circulation and associated structural conduits and develops subsequent to the formation of a uranium deposit making it a strong indicator for the presence of uranium mineralization. Radon anomalies coincident with basement conductors and associated structure are primary drill targets. Radon in water survey results were instrumental in identifying first pass drill targets at the nearby PLS discovery and helped vector in on most of the high-grade discovery zones (see Fission’s May 6, 2013 News Release – New Radon Survey Identifies Strongest Anomaly to Date).
In addition, a total of 217 km of scintillometer surveying was completed over areas of interest identified by the 2013 radiometric survey. A total of twenty-five discrete geographic areas on the Preston Uranium Property have been identified with counts per second (cps) of greater than 1,000 using an RS-125/RS-120 Spectrometer / Scintillometer, with a maximum count of 5,200 counts per second. Two of the anomalies are associated with meta-sedimentary units.
A Phase 3 exploration program has also been completed at the Preston Uranium Property. The program included groundwork focused on high-priority areas identified from the findings to date, including the radon in water anomalies.
The 2013 summer exploration program (Phases 1 - 3) was completed in mid-October in which a total of 42 rock, 653 soil, 404 radon in water, 181 radon in soil, 766 biogeochemical, and 253 lake sediment samples were collected and analyzed, in addition to 1,046 square kilometres of airborne VTEM and 876 square kilometres of airborne radiometric surveys. This was one of the largest regional exploration programs carried out in the Athabasca Basin during the year and totaled over $1.5 million in expenditures on the Preston Uranium Property.
Phase 1: Airborne Geophysical Surveys
An aggressive work program is underway to systematically explore the Western Athabasca Syndicate Property Package using proven regional exploration methodologies. A VTEM plus time domain survey on the Preston Uranium Property has been completed and this type of survey has been used to locate basement conductors similar to the structures that host the high-grade uranium discoveries at Fission's PLS project. A tightly spaced airborne radiometric survey was flown to locate uranium boulder trains and in-situ uranium mineralization. Phil Robertshaw (P.Geo., Saskatchewan) is reviewing the geophysical data and will be providing detailed interpretation of the VTEM plus and radiometric data. A sophisticated targeting matrix is being used to identify and prioritize areas for ground-based follow-up. Targets are being prioritized based on a detailed criteria set consisting of similar geological features and exploratory indicators present at the nearby PLS discovery.
The VTEM plus survey completed in August 2013 mapped over 300 kilometres of graphitic-type conductor segments, some approaching 10 kilometres in length, in the eastern blocks of the Preston Uranium Property. Basement geological trends in the furthest western block are oriented NW-SE, while those in the eastern blocks are W-SW to E-NE which is similar to Fission's PLS high-grade uranium discovery area. Cross-cutting structural features and flexures affecting the conductor traces, which are often associated with the high-grade uranium deposits of the Athabasca Basin, including the PLS discovery, are of particular interest. Initial interpretation of the radiometric data has identified areas with elevated uranium counts that can be correlated along and between multiple lines which may indicate the presence of radioactive boulder trains or in situ uranium mineralization. These radiometric features, particularly where possible source areas coincide with prospective EM conductors, are high-priority targets for follow-up groundwork as this is the signature that led to the PLS discovery.
Terralogic Exploration Inc. field crews have also completed a preliminary assessment of a small part of the Preston Lake South claims block within the Preston Uranium Property that was identified in an initial review of historic exploration data. The larger area contains clusters of anomalous uranium-in-lake sediment samples, anomalous uranium values in rock samples (up to 5.6 ppm), and the presence of kilometre-scale northeast-southwest trending graphitic faults associated with sulphides and anomalous radioactivity as identified with scintillometers. Field crews also completed preliminary water radon sampling, prospecting and scintillometer surveying.
Historical Exploration in the Preston Region:
An initial review of historic exploration data on the Preston Uranium Property has identified a number of potential areas for follow up. One high-priority area has clusters of anomalous uranium in lake sediment samples, anomalous uranium values in rock samples (up to 5.6 ppm U), and the presence of kilometre-scale northeast-southwest trending graphitic faults associated with sulphides and anomalous radioactivity as identified with scintillometers. A review of historic data has also identified a significant uranium in lake sediment anomaly in the western part of the Preston Uranium Property. A sample collected by the Geological Survey of Canada returned a value of 4.8 ppm U, considered to be significant in an area with a background uranium value of 1 ppm U. This high uranium value may indicate either the down-ice glacial transport of uranium boulders from source or an in-situ source of uranium. For comparison, the highest value down-ice from the Patterson Lake South discovery is 3.8 ppm U. Management cautions that past results or discoveries on proximate land are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be achieved on these properties.
Uranium mineralization in the Patterson Lake area bears a number of similarities to the high-grade uranium deposits in the Eastern part of the Athabasca Basin like those at the Cigar Lake and McArthur River mines. The mineralization occurs in structurally disrupted and strongly clay altered, commonly graphitic pelites and metapelites with narrow felsic segregations / pegmatites. Intervals of quartz-feldspar gneiss and semipelite are also present. Sulphides are commonly associated with the mineralization along with anomalous levels of cobalt, nickel, molybdenum and boron. Uranium mineralization in the Patterson Lake area is also associated with felsic intrusives, primarily pegmatites. Skyharbour has both target types on its pre-existing properties and its recently acquired land in the Patterson Lake region.