It might be ironic that a company named after a racehorse took so long to inspire nearby acquisitions. Zenyatta Ventures' (ZENYF.PK) Albany property in north-central Ontario has been one of the more prominent graphite projects since the discovery was announced in January 2012. Very wide intercepts and a distinctive type of high-purity graphite have made the company a market darling. Now, finally, other companies are moving in for a piece of the action.
On July 9 Brookemont Capital announced the acquisition of the 416-hectare Albany East property, contiguous to Zenyatta's project. The next day Cavan Ventures said it nabbed another 768 hectares also contiguous to the east of Albany. TAD Mineral Exploration got in the act with the July 15 announcement of its 257-hectare Constance Lake acquisition. Two days later Bluenose Gold announced its acquisition named, without excessive subtlety, the Zenyatta West graphite project.
Terms differ. Brookemont pays $10,000 and issues four million shares. Cavan pays $15,000, issues three million shares and must raise $400,000 in a private placement. Bluenose pays $20,000, issues 1.5 million shares and grants a 1% royalty. TAD got its property through staking.
Although Albany's graphite has been known for over 18 months, the recent acquisitions might have been partly motivated by a flurry of Zenyatta news last spring. In April, the Northwest Ontario Prospectors Association named Albany its Discovery of the Year. The same month the TSXV named Zenyatta last year's top-performing mining sector company. Zenyatta also announced that graphite beneficiation tests achieved over 99.97% carbon through a relatively inexpensive caustic baking leach process.
But maybe most noteworthy, the company began describing its find differently. No longer likening it to Sri Lankan vein or lump-type graphite, Zenyatta now ponders the potential of something much wider-a hydrothermal breccia pipe originating deep in the earth's mantle, unlike the organic genesis of flake graphite.
TAD's July 15 statement quotes company director Gregory Thomson describing the area's geological setting as one in which "similar formations seem to occur in pod-like clusters."
Obviously the newcomers want to find something. But why all the acquisitions just now? Cavan president Peter Swistak simply says, "Something came available and I got it…. I like Zenyatta's project very much and I wish I was out there earlier. But better now than never." With his company "aggressively focused" on its flagship Lake Pythonga rare earths project and additional graphite projects in Quebec, "we definitely plan to be aggressive in this one also," he tells ResourceClips.com.
Already positioned in two area plays, last May TAD expanded its Iskut copper-gold prospect to more than 1,800 hectares in the vicinity of Colorado Resources' North ROK project, which stunned the market last April when its very first assay showed 0.51% copper and 0.67 grams per tonne gold over 333 metres, starting at 2 metres in downhole depth. Predictably, other companies swarmed in. In April TAD joined the Patterson Lake South staking stampede sparked by the Alpha Minerals (ESOFD.PK) / Fission Uranium high-grade, near-surface discovery.
Brookemont has a Yukon gold prospect and an aluminous clay and rare earths prospect in Quebec's Gaspe region, as well as nearly 3,400 hectares of REE prospects in the vicinity of Commerce Resources' (OTCQX:CMRZF) Ashram REE deposit, which is advancing towards pre-feasibility.
TAD and Brookemont share the same president, CFO and two of three directors.
As the vendor who turned Zenyatta West over to Bluenose, Tony Beruschi answers the "why now" question by saying, "I guess a better question might be, 'Why wasn't it done earlier?' In the old days, people would have been all over that thing," he tells ResourceClips.com. "It seems a sign of the times that such a great opportunity as Zenyatta hasn't been covered over with staking. There should have been a staking rush there."
He says he began looking at the area last June, when he was offered a number of deals in different regions. "I really liked what Zenyatta was doing and investigated whether there was any open ground in the area. I was kind of shocked when I saw that there was." Staking was stymied, however, by "brutal" terrain.
With Bluenose currently holding dot-H status on the TSXV's NEX board, Beruschi says its new acquisition can help "reactivate" the company. To what extent any of the companies share in Zenyatta's success remains to be seen. But Beruschi says Zenyatta "created a model for working there." With a geologist who's experienced in graphite, he says Bluenose "will do its exploration based in part on what Zenyatta's saying."
Albany's maiden resource will follow Zenyatta's current drill campaign, scheduled to end in late August.
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