Norden Crown Metals (TSXV:NOCR, OTC:BORMF, Frankfurt:03E) is focused on discovering silver, zinc, copper, gold and nickel deposits in Sweden and Norway. The company aims to find and develop economic mineral deposits in known/ historical mining districts, in areas that have seen limited modern exploration.
Based in North Vancouver with an office in Sweden, Norden Crown currently has two projects on the go: Gumsberg in Sweden and Burfjord (pronounced “burf yord”) in Norway.
The company in February announced a significant exploration initiative at Burfjord, nearly two years after Norden Crown partnered with major Scandinavian mining company Boliden, to advance the Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) property.
This week Norden Crown followed that up with the results of 12 completed drill holes done at Burjord during a 2021 winter program. Highlights included 12 meters of 1.26% Cu (more on that below).
Under terms of the mid-2020 joint venture agreement, Boliden, a base and precious metals miner with six active mines in Europe and five smelters across Norway, Sweden and Finland, will have the opportunity to earn a 51% stake (Norden Crown would be the operator) in the project by spending US$6 million in exploration over four years.
If that happens, the companies will form a joint venture, and Boliden will get a crack at earning another 29% by funding and delivering an NI 43-101-compliant feasibility study, pushing its ownership to 80%; Norden Crown would retain a 20% stake.
Burfjord is located 32 km west of the Kåfjord copper mines, the first major industrial enterprise north of the Arctic Circle. The road-accessible project is 40 km from Alta, where there is a regional airport, and 7.5 km from tidewater.
The property is comprised of six exploration licenses totaling 5,500 hectares. Mineralization at Burfjord belongs to the Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) deposit clan; this portion of northern Fennoscandia is a key IOCG province globally. Copper was mined in the Burfjord area during the 19th century, with over 30 historical mines and prospects developed along the flanks of a prominent 4 x 6-kilometer anticline.
IOCG deposits are among the most valuable concentrations of copper, gold, and uranium ores. These orebodies, ranging from around 10 million tonnes of contained ore to 4 billion tonnes or more, have grades of 0.2 to 5% copper, and gold from 0.1 to >3 grams per tonne. Their tremendous size, relatively high grades and simple metallurgy give IOCG deposits the potential for making extremely profitable mines.
High-profile examples include BHP’s Olympic Dam complex in Australia, and the Candelaria undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Chile.
Burfjord is characterized by broad arrays of copper, gold and cobalt-bearing veins dominated by iron-oxide and iron-carbonate-rich mineral assemblages reminiscent of Iron Oxide Copper Gold mineral deposits (IOCGs). The large associated alteration system and widespread copper mineralization support the project’s potential to host a large copper deposit.
Norden Crown’s Executive Chairman, Patricio Varas, has found success with IOCG projects when he headed Far West Mining. That company formed a strategic alliance with BHP, the world’s largest miner, exploring and drilling properties in Australia, Sweden, Argentina, Chile and Canada. Varas’ team carries that experience with them as they aim to solve the mysteries underlying Burfjord.
“We know these deposits really well, we know what we’re looking for, the tools you need to find them, the kinds of alteration systems you need to have, the type of mineralization — of course this deposit has all of that in spades,” he told me in an earlier interview.
Many of the rocks in the anticline are intensely hydrothermally altered and contain sulfide mineralization. High-grade copper-gold veins that were historically mined at cut-off grades of 3-5% copper are surrounded by envelopes of stockwork veins or disseminations of copper mineralization extending tens to hundreds of meters laterally into the host rocks.
The company believes this mineralization has economic potential and represents an attractive bulk-tonnage drill target.
Copper-bearing veins are dominated by ferroan carbonate, sodium-rich minerals, and iron-oxide minerals (magnetite and hematite), but also contain the economically important minerals chalcopyrite, bornite and chalcocite, in addition to cobalt-rich pyrite as generally coarse-grained (often 0.5 centimeter to multi-cm scale) disseminations in the veins.
A key point: only limited exploration has taken place in the modern era. The best intercept from historical drilling was 7m of 3.6% Cu at the Cedarsgruvan prospect in the northern portion of the claim block.
Taking another look at the map above, the property hosts a number of copper occurrences (the red dots) near surface, spread over a large area. These areas are best described as surface pits, mined up to 300 years ago by artisanal miners. It is quite incredible that, until now, no company has tried to consolidate all of these historical workings into a mineable resource. This is the challenge presented to Norden Crown and its earn-in partner, Boliden.
Norden Crown has gone into these shallow pits for samples, and mapped them.
In 2019 the company announced compelling drill results from Burfjord, including an intercept of 32m averaging 0.56% copper and 0.26 g/t gold (including 3.46m of 4.31% Cu and 2.22 g/t Au) at shallow depths below a group of historical mine workings. This and other drill-defined zones of copper and gold mineralization are slated for follow-up.
“The fact that it was over 30 meters wide gives you a sense there is bulk- tonnage potential for a larger deposit,” Varas said. What really gets the CEO’s blood pumping, is the potential for what lies beneath. And remember, this is an experienced geologist who has worked these types of IOCG deposits before. He knows what to look for, and what to do when he finds it.
“The occurrences you see are expressions of a larger system. The deposit for all I know could be buried and so the idea here is to go and find perhaps one large deposit within all of these areas,” he explained.
“[The occurrences] give you a sense of the hydrothermal system, meaning the liquids that carried the mineralization were very pregnant with copper. What you want to do is find the right traps, the right environment, where you can concentrate a significant amount of it together and that’s what you’re going to mine.”
Of course, it’s early days to be talking about mining, but the prospect of a large mineralized system right at Boliden’s doorstep must have been a factor in persuading the Scandinavian miner and mineral processor to take a $6-million chance on Norden Crown.
“In fact the Norway smelter, they get material from as far as Ireland, so for them it’s very natural, it’s strategic to look for deposits that might eventually feed that smelter, so doing exploration in Norway makes a lot of sense for them,” said Varas, adding, “When you sample around, the amount of copper is quite impressive and I think that’s what impressed Boliden. Having had some success in finding what I think is a very significant deposit in Santo Domingo Sur in Chile certainly helps. I think they have some confidence we can look at these systems and have the right methodology to look for another big deposit.”
So far Boliden has spent $1.9 million at Burfjord, representing about a third of their exploration expenditure commitment to earn a 51% stake in the project, as the joint venture goes about planning the next phase of field work.
As mentioned at the top, assays from 12 holes drilled in 2021 were released this week. A total of 3,179 meters was completed through two reconnaissance drill programs. Among the highlights, hole 11 cut 12 meters of 1.27% Cu, hole 003 returned 30.1m of 0.28% Cu, and hole 004 delivered 17.2m of 0.34% Cu. (see table below)
“The combined Boliden and Norden teams are very pleased with the results from this follow up drill program, which continues to outline broad zones of copper mineralization surrounding high-grade copper veins at Burfjord,” said Norden Crown’s Executive Chairman, Patricio Varas, in the April 11 news release. “This drill program has identified copper zones situated within the copper endowed and broadly altered Burfjord Anticline and confirms our theory that these rocks have the potential to host a sizeable mineral discovery on the property. The large exploration program approved by Boliden for 2022 is an endorsement of our joint belief that Burfjord has real potential for finding a significant deposit.”
The budget includes 2,500 meters of diamond drilling, with the objective of expanding the copper mineralization footprint discovered by drill programs carried out in 2021. Drilling will also test high-priority geophysical targets that coincide with zones of copper mineralization on surface, accompanied by strong altered and brecciated rocks.
Drill targets have been assembled and ranked but will be further refined based on geological, geophysical and geochemical data from ongoing exploration programs.
In addition to drilling, the exploration program will involve ground electrical and airborne geophysics, rock and soil sampling, mapping and prospecting.
Norden Crown will use a drone to resume an airborne geophysical survey that was delayed in 2021 due to covid-related access restrictions. Data will be collected over 250 line-kilometers of the property’s northern half, helping NOCR to refine the structures and to select targets.
In 2019 a geophysical survey produced compelling drill targets. Five time domain electromagnetic (TEM) survey loops will complement the Phase 1 surveying done in 2019, with data from Phase 2 used to generate additional conductive, copper-prospective anomalies. TEM survey results will aid in target selection and ranking.
Borehole electromagnetic (EM) geophysics may be deployed as part of this year’s drill program, used at existing and new drill holes to identify conductive sulfide mineralization with the potential to host copper mineralization.
An extensive high-resolution soil survey is planned, including a 3,000-sample orientation survey which may be followed by a property-wide soil sampling initiative with the objective of producing high-resolution, multi-element geochemical anomalies for drill testing. This data is expected to enhance existing geological/ geophysical targets and areas of interest.
Mapping and prospecting
A 45-day mapping, sampling and prospecting program will be conducted with the goal of better defining geological controls, including structural and alteration distribution and density, advancing and ranking high-priority exploration targets.
Norden Crown is seeing a lot of “smoke” at surface, for what could be a very large mineralized copper-gold system at depth, “the fire”.
The fact that Boliden has committed to spending $6 million on exploring Burfjord over four years is a tremendous vote of confidence in the project and the company.
I also like the fact that Norden Crown has a buyer for its potential raw ore waiting in the wings. It makes sense for Boliden to invest in a property that might in the future feed its Norway smelter.
The property is in a great location, with the nearby community of Alta serviced by local roads and an airport, and only 7.5 km to tidewater.
Norden Crown already has a winner in its Gumsberg project in Sweden, now the company is gearing up for the next phase of exploration at Burfjord.
This project has tons of potential and I’m eager to see what the additional geophysics, sampling, and especially, drilling, come up with. Those old mined pits are spread out over a large area, and there is a lot of them. To my way of thinking there must have been an incredibly powerful driving force from below to fill so many fractures and veins over such an extensive area.
Shareholders can expect to see quite a bit of news flow and potential for stock catalysts over the next few months.
Norden Crown Metals
TSXV:NOCR, OTC:NOCRF, Frankfurt:03E
Shares Outstanding 53m
Market cap Cdn$4.5m
Richard (Rick) Mills
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