This week, Renforth Resources (CSE:RFR, OTCQB:RFHRF, FSE:9RR)
updated shareholders on results from the August/September 2023 mapping and prospecting work undertaken on Renforth’s ~330 square km Surimeau property in Quebec. Surimeau is known to host several occurrences of nickel polymetallic “Outokumpu-style” mineralization over >29 km of strike, as well as numerous pegmatites prospective for lithium, with elevated lithium also occurring in the Pontiac sediment host rock.
Additionally, the company provided a progress report on the Victoria in-fill drill program.
Renforth’s exploration focus at Surimeau, a battery metals project, is on the more advanced Victoria horizon, and parts of the longer Lalonde horizon lying parallel to the north.
Victoria is a ~20-km-long magnetic structure bearing nickel, copper, zinc and cobalt mineralization at surface. It stretches between the Victoria West mineralization, the central area of which has been drilled over 2.2 km, and the Colonie mineralization, historically drilled and surface sampled by Renforth in the eastern part of the property.
The Lalonde mineralization, ~3 km north of Victoria West, was only recently drilled by Renforth. This surface mineralized system, similar to Victoria, currently stretches over ~9 km of ground-truthed strike.
Both zones are about 250-500 meters thick, running east-west across the central portion of the property. The two systems are interpreted by the company as two arms of a fold, with the fold nose located off the property and to the east.
While the defined area of mineralization spans a total length of ~29 km, which by industry standards is a long distance to cover, this is a small portion of a district-scale property that remains underexplored.
Earlier this year, the Renforth team started to move farther out, drilling in an area about 4 km west of the Victoria structure where work first began on the property.
In September, Renforth staked an additional 62 claims north of Lalonde — the balance of the mineralized magnetic anomaly discovered in the latest prospecting program — as well as historical government soil samples.
An airborne electromagnetic/magnetic survey interpreted the western end of Victoria as showing an interesting curvature, possibly representing folding which may have resulted in mineralized fluid entrapment.
As far as we know, the ~20 km Victoria trend consists of ultramafic flows intercalated with graphitic mudstones, albite shears and calc-silicate rocks. The ultramafics and calc-silicates are what host most of the higher-grade nickel and cobalt mineralization, while the graphitic mudstones and albite shears host most of the higher-grade zinc and copper mineralization as sphalerite and chalcopyrite, respectively.
Surface sampling identified mineralization within the ultramafic rocks, with bands of calc-silicates typical of the Victoria system. Except for Renforth’s prospecting, the western end of Victoria had not been previously explored or drilled.
Mineralization at Surimeau consists primarily of disseminated sulfides, hosted in carbonatized, albitized and silicified rocks at the sheared contacts between serpentinite and graphitic mudstones, and within the mudstones themselves, consisting of varying levels of nickel, copper, cobalt, zinc and anomalous platinum group elements (PGEs).
Surimeau’s geology is best described as a sulfide nickel magmatic sulfide deposit, juxtaposed with a copper-zinc massive sulfide deposit. The nickel-containing ultramafic orebody has been fused with the VMS deposit alongside it, giving it a unique geological flavor.
This style of mineralization is rare; however, it is known to occur in the Outokumpu District of Finland, which contains sulfide deposits with economic grades of copper, zinc, cobalt, nickel, silver and gold.
These deposits are formed by structural juxtaposition of two types of mineralization — magmatic nickel-copper-platinum group metals, and stratabound syngenetic zinc-copper VMS types. Additionally, in the Outokumpu mines, black graphitic schist hosts the deposits.
Mining from 1913 to 1988 exploited three major deposits — Outokumpu, Vuonos and Luikonlahti — with total production of around 50 million tonnes of ore containing 2.8% copper, 1% zinc, 0.2% cobalt, and minor amounts of nickel and gold.
Renforth interprets the Victoria mineralized horizon, which stretches ~20 km west to east across the central portion of the ~330 square km Surimeau property, to be an “Outokumpu-style” mineralized occurrence, commencing on surface to the deepest pierce point drilled to date, ~160m vertical depth.
The Outokumpu-type assemblage found at Surimeau generally consists of carbonate rock, calc-silicates and serpentinite in close contact with bands of graphitic mudstones that are generally less than 5 meters thick. Structural repetition is evident in drill core where in certain cases there are multiple repeated sequences.
Victoria drill program update
The current stage of field work at Victoria involves an in-fill drill program along the 2.2 km of strike, which hosts historical pits, Renforth’s stripping, and prior drill programs concerning the surface nickel, cobalt, copper, zinc, silver and gold mineralization. The program is focused on the central part of the structure.
According to Renforth, a series of drill holes approximating 4,000 meters are designed to undercut previous mineralization, to infill the spacing along strike to about 100m between drill holes. The drilling is being done to support a maiden NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate, and to collar additional holes in the north (drilled south as the mineralization dips north) to intersect the three mineralized repetitions identified to date.
The first two holes, SUR-23-47 and SUR-23-48, have been completed for a total of 561 meters, while a third hole, SUR-23-49, is underway.
Holes 47 and 48 are near the eastern end of the “Main Victoria” area and were drilled to fill a gap in previous drilling conducted by Renforth in 2021. According to Renforth, the deeper contact between the ultramafics and underlying sediments in these holes is a well-mineralized contact zone that contains zones of albite-silica and calc-silicate alteration. Mineralization is present in the form of fine to coarse sulfide stringers, nodules, clots, and disseminations of pyrite-pyrrhotite-sphalerite (Zn)-chalcopyrite (Cu) and pentlandite (Ni).
Additionally, there are occasional narrow beds of well-mineralized graphitic mudstone within the sediments approaching the ultramafics. The mineralized zones are approximately 2m wide in hole 47 and 19m wide in hole 48, indicating that the main mineralized zone intersected in these holes is widening to the west.
Mapping and prospecting work in August-September focused on four areas: Lac Beaupre, Victoria West, Lalonde Northeast and Fouillac.
The program identified two new locations of surface nickel-cobalt-zinc-copper mineralization north of the Lalonde system and south of the Victoria system. The polymetallic mineralization is similar to that seen at Victoria. Renforth notes that grab samples are preferential and not representative of a broader whole.
“Other than the obvious reason (new zones) making this a positive development it is also quite interesting — illustrative of the continued potential of our huge Surimeau property to surprise us, and perhaps evidence of something bigger happening. When you look at imagery Victoria, Lalonde and the new northern mineralization all echo each other,” CEO Nicole Brewster wrote in a note to shareholders.
Lac Beaupre — This was a follow-up on previously compiled and interpreted soil survey data with mapping and prospecting around the southwest shore of Lac Beaupre (north limb of the Lac Surimeau granitoid) where data indicated zinc signatures in till. However, no notable outcrop was found, except a few instances of granite, making this prospect inconclusive.
Victoria West — A continuation of mapping and prospecting the western end of the Victoria ultramafic complex yielded mineralization on surface, including 1,510 ppm nickel in a grab sample from pyrrhotite-bearing ultramafics, However, several mineralized showings are beyond the reach of prior drilling.
Lalonde Northeast — Unexplored coincident magnetic and conductive highs, along with copper and cobalt values in till data from the 1970s-80s, delivered exposure of an albitized shear zone and graphitic mudstones over 135m within a clearcut. This shear zone, occurring in the northern part of a ~2km long unexplored magnetic feature, is similar to the shear zones which are exposed at both Lalonde and Victoria. The subsequently staked claims at Surimeau cover the western end of this magnetic feature. In addition to elevated values in each lithology, grab samples from the graphitic mudstones gave highlights of 300 ppm copper and 1,100 ppm zinc.
Fouillac – South of the Victoria horizon, the Fouillac area gave a magnetic signature in government surveys of a “string of pearls” and has seen only poorly documented, cursory exploration more than 50 years ago, However, Renforth previously visited the area and observed sulfides on surface within a shear structure. Mapping and prospecting resulted in a highlight of 1,250 ppm nickel in a grab sample from a sulfidic serpentinite, among other results.
Lithium was found in lithium/cesium/tantalum fractionated pegmatites and in the Pontiac sediments, where elevated lithium/rubidium/cesium appears to indicate proximity to blind pegmatites and may represent the mobility of lithium, offering an exploration vector.
Numerous granitic pegmatites are exposed along the southwestern and southern parts of Surimeau, especially along the Decelles granite-Pontiac metasedimentary contact. These pegmatite dykes often intrude into amphibolized Pontiac sediments. The prospecting program identified four grab samples with >200 ppm Li including one high-value sample of 990 ppm Li. All four samples were taken from Pontiac sediments in direct contact with granite/pegmatite. These samples appear to also have elevated Rb and Cs values.
Granitic pegmatites in the southern part of the property have coarse-grained green muscovite and contain anomalous Ta-Nb-Sn and Rb. Some of the granitic pegmatites also contain lithium indicator minerals: tourmaline, garnets and white K-feldspar. These are characteristics of a fractionated granitic melt which could evolve to become a lithium pegmatite and will be used to vector into exploration targets.
“In plain English, as I understand it, what is being put forth by our geo and our consulting expert is that the lithium we are finding in the sediments themselves has come from somewhere… there are pegmatites around on surface, but realistically we may be exploring under cover as well. We have overburden and tree cover that we are trying to work around, which could be obscuring any number of things (this goes for the battery metals work too). So, we continue to build our lithium exploration story by getting as many data points in our areas of interest as we can… ultimately we are looking for justification to advance our techniques to small-scale stripping. Stay tuned on the lithium/pegmatites,” Renforth told shareholders in her note.
Renforth is undertaking a non-brokered financing to raise $500,000 through the sale of shares, on a flow-through basis, at $0.04 per unit. Each unit is comprised of one flow-through share and one half of a warrant. A full warrant is exercisable to purchase a common share at $0.08 per common share for a period of 18 months.
At the same time, RFR will offer up to $150,000 of common-share units at $0.035 per unit, with each unit consisting of one common share and one warrant. The warrant can be exercised to purchase a common share at $0.05 for 24 months. Proceeds from the sale of securities will be used for ongoing exploration at Surimeau, specifically working towards a maiden resource from the ~2km of strike in central Victoria currently being drilled.
The purpose of the fall drill program at Victora is to tighten the drill pattern within 2.2 kilometers of the mineralized horizon, which the company says is a requirement as it moves towards an initial resource statement.
Along with progress at the drill bit, Renforth is working to prove that its deposit model fits the Outokumpu model proposed by Dr. James Franklin, one of two technical advisors. The cluster of deposits in Finland is analogous to what Renforth has at Surimeau. The nickel-containing ultramafic orebody has been fused with the VMS deposit alongside it, giving it a unique geological flavor.
The Talvivaara mine just north of Outokumpu shares similar geology and is notable for its “green” bioleaching process.
In her “big picture” comments to shareholders, Brewster said assets that come into development based on a commodity price that does not last, face challenges.
“But that is where I really like Surimeau. It is at surface (simple structure/low cost to mine), large-scale, low-grade but polymetallic so insulated from commodity risk because there is more than one product available. With a precedent (Talvivaara) regarding processing technology that is low impact and low cost (compared to having to build or use a smelter), which with success in emulating the precedent will produce battery chemistry that can be trucked to Quebec’s emerging battery hub at Becancour, or elsewhere down the eastern seaboard. (absolutely a forward looking statement btw). Low grade, low impact, long life, low cost… a Canadian expert in our corner… it is a tall order and a big idea, a really big idea. But it might work.”
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