Manning Ventures (CSE:MANN, Frankfurt:1H5) has taken a giant leap forward in its efforts to develop three iron ore projects located in the prolific Wabush-Fermont Iron Ore District of Quebec.
Having confirmed the presence of iron formation at its Lac Simone, Hope Lake and Broken Lake properties, the Vancouver-based company this week announced assay results taken from each of the property’s outcrops.
Manning’s sampling and mapping work will form the basis of an inaugural drill program at each target area, the primary objectives being to determine the thickness, grade and nature of the mineralization at each target.
At Lac Simone, eight samples taken from three locations returned assays >15% Fe including four that exceeded 25% Fe. 15% Fe is the minimum cutoff grade used for many of the advanced projects in the region. According to Manning,
The project consists of several, structurally complex iron-formation targets. While sampling has confirmed several targets, some of the targets remain un-sampled, due to low-lying topography and thus can only be tested by drilling.
The sampling has confirmed excellent iron grades at two new discovery areas that have not had any documented work.
At Hope Lake, 21 samples collected from iron formation outcrops along a 15-km trend, returned assays greater than 15% Fe, including 16 more than 25% Fe. The project, states Manning, consists of linear-style of iron formation with greater exposure than that of Lac Simone, and thus more samples were collected. Drill testing will be the next step to determine the true thickness of the iron formation on the project.
The sampling has confirmed excellent iron grades at three known prospect areas at the far west and east ends of the project. The current work program made a new discovery of iron-formation in the center of the project, where no historical work has been documented.
At Broken Lake, five samples collected in the middle of a 6-km-long magnetic trend returned assays >15% Fe, including five that were >25% Fe. According to Manning, More work is needed to confirm the extent of the iron formation along the trend, and other trends on the project that remain to be explored.
The iron-formation, where outcropping, was sampled to assess the grade and mineralogy at each target area. Additionally, other low-grade iron-formation and other rock types were sampled to understand the whole-rock geochemistry of the project. The Company plans to conduct preliminary metallurgical testing of composite samples to determine the quality of each target area.
Broken Lake is among three new properties acquired by Manning in May. Located west and southwest of Manning’s Hope Lake project, the three projects consist of 180 mineral claims totaling 9,501 hectares. To acquire 100% of the properties, Manning agreed to issue the vendors 4 million shares and 4 million warrants, exercisable at $0.35 for a period of two years.
“These assay results, which are consistent with known deposits in the area, demonstrate the potential of these high-quality iron-ore projects. We’re pleased with the result so far as we continue to build value for our shareholders,” said CEO Alex Klenman, in the July 29 news release. “With iron ore prices remaining at greater than $200 USD per tonne for the third consecutive month, we are well positioned to realize a commodity boom in the iron ore markets.”
The Lac Simone property just south of Fermont, Quebec, is accessible by road from Quebec City. The project consists of 63 mineral claims in two claim blocks totaling nearly 3,300 hectares.
Approximately 3 km to the west is Champion Iron Mines’ Moiré Lake deposit, which contains a resource estimate of 164 million tonnes grading 30.5% FeT in the indicated category and 417.1 million tonnes grading 29.4% FeT inferred.
Lac Simone was explored by Jubilee Iron Corp. between 1956 and 1964. During that time, Jubilee completed ground and airborne magnetic surveys at the northernmost magnetic anomaly, as well as mini-bulk sampling with basic metallurgical testing and three diamond drill holes. Bulk sampling in test pits produced an average head grade of 35.51% Fe, that was upgraded to a concentrate grade of 66.02% Fe.
Of the three drill holes completed, mineralized intervals up to 16.15 meters of 29.05% Fe were recovered.
Like Lac Simone, the Hope Lake property was primarily explored in the past by Jubilee Iron, which completed ground and airborne magnetic and geological surveys at the northernmost magnetic anomaly, and two diamond drill holes.
The project, consisting of 68 mineral claims totaling more than 3,500 hectares in one contiguous claim block, is located approximately 60 km south of Fermont.
In 1959, 12 samples were collected at the east end of the property, with results averaging 34.18% FeT. One of the two drill holes did not make it to bedrock, while the other hole was drilled vertically and struck lean silicate (grunerite) iron formation from 3.7m to 23.5m.
In 1962, Jubilee performed basic metallurgical testing of samples collected from three surface zones in 1959. Magnetic concentration tests performed on these samples returned results of 68.4% and 68.1% Fe.
The Hope Lake property has also been the focus of several exploration campaigns in recent years.
In 2011 and 2013 Champion Iron Mines visited 48 outcrops and collected 16 samples, which reported average grades of 28.7% FeT and 33.7% FeT from each program, respectively. The sampling programs indicated that the property hosts high-grade quartz-hematite +/- magnetite iron formation.
A consultant’s report delivered in 2014 on behalf of Champion found that “Careful perusal of all available data on the Hope Lake claims suggests that the iron formation that underlies the claim block contains a potential iron-ore resource. The true grade and amount of iron-ore deposits most amenable to mining have yet to be determined, but there exists a demonstrably strong potential for deposits of economic grade” (Langton 2014, Report GM68246).
Broken Lake features about an 18 km-long trend of iron formation from which a well-mineralized interval exceeding 84m was reported, although no assays were documented. A 6 km-long belt of highly magnetic rocks has not yet been drill-tested, but it has been mapped as a magnetite-rich iron formation, representing a prime exploration target.
Iron ore bull
Manning’s timing for an exploration program is excellent, given the bullish fundamentals for iron ore.
Iron ore prices in May broke a new record of $219.38 per tonne amid a sustained rally in commodities prices.
At the center of the rally is rising steel prices, from Asia to North America. Steel demand remains strong as economies — China in particular — continue their massive investments in steel-intensive infrastructure.
The World Steel Association forecasts global steel demand to grow 5.8% this year to exceed pre-pandemic levels, followed by another 2.7% increase the year after. China’s consumption, about half of the global total, will keep growing from record levels.
A potential headwind for the iron ore market is China’s attempt to cool its red-hot steel sector by discouraging exports and boosting imports of feedstock alternatives, both of which are short-term measures to cool prices.
In April authorities moved to restrict exports by removing export tax rebates for 146 steel products starting on May 1, Reuters reported. Removing the rebates makes Chinese steel products less competitive in regional markets, resulting in steel mills reducing output because they won’t want to oversupply the domestic market and drive down prices.
At the same time, authorities waived import tariffs for certain steel feedstock alternatives, such as pig iron, crude steel, recycled steel and ferrochrome. Pig iron and recycled and scrap steel aren’t direct substitutes for iron ore but they can be used to make steel using electric arc furnaces, notes Reuters columnist Clyde Russell.
China’s planned steel production cuts this year are partly to help the country to reduce its carbon emissions, and are also aimed at moderating buoyant iron ore import prices, by reducing demand for the steelmaking ingredient.
Longer term, the cuts tie into ongoing trade tensions between Beijing and Canberra; China relies on Australia for two-thirds of its iron ore imports and wants to reduce that dependence, by for example having Chinese companies develop the huge Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.
However Clyde Russell, the Reuters columnist, observes that so far, the iron ore sector has been left out of tariffs meant to punish Canberra, which have been levied on a number of commodities including barley, coal, wine and meat.
Russell also thinks that Trimming China’s overall steel output by crimping exports, while boosting the supply and price of alternative feedstocks will only have a marginal impact on the quantity of iron ore China needs to import.
Furthermore, in a recent podcast, BMO Capital Markets asserts that the Chinese narrative of planned steel production cuts in 2021 looks to be “an impractical suggestion” after such a strong first half.
Rather, the messaging has switched to ensuring exports don’t rise, instead of curbing production. H1 exported steel volumes of just under 75 million tonnes per annum would have to drop to 34Mtpa in the second half, to see no year on year growth.
“If that’s going to be the case, that should support global steel prices… we still expect a pretty high premium for high-grade iron ore products given where we expect steel prices to be, and given the pressure on the rest of the productive capacity in China to operate at high levels,” said podcast host Colin Hamilton, commodities analyst with BMO Capital Markets.
The investment bank this week raised its second-half price estimates for most base metals. The prices of nickel, aluminum, zinc and lead were adjusted upward by 7-8%, while for iron ore, BMO slowed the pace of its forecasted decline.
Manning Ventures is making good progress at three of its iron ore properties located in Wabush-Fermont, an established iron ore district in Quebec.
“Closeology” appears to be in the company’s favor.
Approximately 3 km to the west of its Lac Simone project, is Champion Iron Mines’ Moiré Lake deposit, which contains a resource estimate of 164 million tonnes grading 30.5% FeT in the indicated category and 417.1 million tonnes grading 29.4% FeT inferred.
At the Hope Lake property, in 2011 and 2013 Champion visited 48 outcrops and collected 16 samples, which reported average grades of 28.7% FeT and 33.7% FeT from each program, respectively. The sampling programs indicated that the property hosts high-grade quartz-hematite +/- magnetite iron formation.
Recent sampling results are extremely encouraging. Samples taken from outcrops at all three properties returned assays greater than 15% iron ore content (Fe), with several as high as 25% Fe.
The company tells us that sampling and mapping work will form the basis of an inaugural drill program at each target area, the primary objectives being to determine the thickness, grade and nature of the mineralization at each target.
Manning is just getting started and while there is plenty of work to be done, they have, imo, got off to a great start with this news. With a cash infusion of $1.5 million in February, from a $0.15 financing, I expect regular news flow as drill targets are identified and followed up.
Manning Ventures Inc.
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Market cap Cdn$4.7m
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