Van Nieuwenhuyse: "Welcome to Valhalla!"
North of 60 Mining News - September 20, 2022
Last updated 9/29/2022 at 2:35pm
Alaska-focused Valhalla Metals lists on TSX-V, raises C$10.2M
Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, a longtime Alaskan geologist renowned for founding and serving as the top executive of both Novagold Resources Inc. and Trilogy Metals Inc., has launched yet another publicly traded company focused on exploring Alaska's incredible mineral potential – Valhalla Metals Inc.
Originally formed as a private company in 2018, Valhalla picked up two high-grade volcanogenic massive sulfide projects at either end of Alaska's famed Ambler Mining District that are enriched with copper, zinc, silver, and gold.
Through the reverse takeover of SolidusGold Inc., Valhalla has listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and raised C$10.2 million to fund the exploration of these Alaska VMS properties.
"In a time when the United States is working to secure domestic sources of critical minerals, we are happy that we could successfully complete the transaction to acquire two high-grade copper-zinc and precious metal rich massive sulfide projects, in northwestern Alaska – Sun and Smucker," said Van Nieuwenhuyse, chairman of Valhalla Metals. "We successfully raised significant funds, which in today's markets is a testament to the experience and expertise of the Valhalla management and board."
This team includes former SolidusGold President and CEO Sorin Posescu, a geologist that worked on Novagold's Donlin Creek and Galore Creek projects over the course of a more than 25-year career, and who now serves as CEO of Valhalla; and Joe Piekenbrock, an award-winning Alaska geologist that served as vice president of exploration for both Novagold and Trilogy, who sits on the Valhalla board.
Valhalla's Sun rises
Sun, which lies alongside the proposed Ambler Road that will provide access to a future mine at the Arctic VMS deposit on Ambler Metals' Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects to the west, is the most advanced of the two initial projects in Valhalla's portfolio.
According to a 2018 calculation, the Sun deposit hosts 1.71 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 4.32% (163 million pounds) zinc, 1.48% (55.8 million lb) copper, 1.11% (42 million lb) lead, 60 grams per metric ton (3.3 million oz) silver, and 0.21 g/t (12,000 oz) gold; plus 9.02 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 4.18% (831.3 million lb) zinc, 1.21% (239.6 million lb) copper, 1.46% (290.3 million lb) lead, 81.7 g/t (22.7 million oz) silver, and 0.25 g/t (73,000 oz) gold.
With 10.7 million metric tons of resource averaging roughly 11% zinc-equivalent – calculating the value of all the metals in both resource categories – Sun is already considered a major deposit in terms and size and grade.
And there is geophysical evidence that the deposit detailed at the surface represents only a fraction of a larger VMS system.
"The historic work completed at Sun to date represents a good start with established resources, but we believe we can greatly expand and advance the Sun deposit by drilling down-dip and along strike," said Van Nieuwenhuyse. "A detailed VTEM conductor plate model of the area shows several other newly identified high-quality targets leaving plenty of work to be done."
Because they tend to get bent, broken, folded, and moved around by plate tectonics, the three- to 10-meter-thick lenses of VMS mineralization at deposits like Sun are not always easy to find.
Even large VMS deposits such as Sun are not readily noticeable on the surface.
The rich concentrations of metals, however, make these deposits highly conductive, and geophysics is a great way to trace them below the surface.
VTEM (versatile time domain electromagnetic) and ZTEM (z-axis tipper electromagnetic) geophysical surveys flown during 2019 lit up an area dipping southeast from the Sun deposit that could expand the resource by several times.
To provide some sense of the size potential of this target, drills have only traced the currently defined Sun deposit to a depth of 200 meters; the much wider and stronger geophysical target extends 900 meters further down-dip of the resource.
If this conductive target turns out to be a continuation of the zinc-rich VMS mineralization outlined so far, Sun has the potential to rival Ambler Metals' Arctic deposit in terms of size.
Valhalla's Smucker project, which lies about 15 miles northwest of the proposed Arctic Mine, is another promising VMS target with exploration upside.
First discovered by Anaconda in 1975, Smucker hosts more than eight million metric tons of historical resource averaging 0.8% copper, 6.8% zinc, 2.3% lead, and 200 g/t silver.
Valhalla, which staked state mining claims over the Smucker project in 2017, said the extensions of the mineralized horizon remain largely untested and open at depth and laterally.
Marubeni's strategic investment
To further explore these two Northwest Alaska VMS projects, Valhalla has listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and closed a financing that involved the issuance of 20.46 million shares at C50 cents each for gross proceeds of C$10.23 million.
This financing was backed by Marubeni Metals & Minerals (Canada) Inc., a Quebec-based subsidiary of Japan-based Marubeni Corp., which made an C$8.29 strategic investment to acquire 16.58 million of the shares of the newly listed Valhalla. This represents roughly 47.4% of the outstanding shares and 19.99% of the voting rights shares of Valhalla.
"We will bring the most up-to-date exploration techniques to bear on these exciting, but under-explored VMS deposits with focused exploration programs over the next several years with the support of our strategic investor – Marubeni – who brings a vast amount of knowledge in the downstream copper business," said Van Nieuwenhuyse. "We are confident that the exploration and development of our projects will greatly help the green-energy transition by providing a secure source for strategic and critical minerals that the US desperately needs to achieve the net-zero goals by 2050."
"We are excited to get exploration underway - Welcome to Valhalla!" he added.