Tasman Metals, the Canadian mineral developers who have assembled an extensive portfolio of rare earth element (NYSEMKT:REE) projects throughout Scandinavia, with their Korsnäs REE-lead project in Finland being a good example of the company's keen exploitation of the Scandinavian region's abundant REE deposits, had President and CEO, Mark Saxon, break the major news today about Tasman having executed an agreement to acquire 100% interest in a portfolio of rich tungsten projects in south-central Sweden.
Located in the Bergslagen mining district, this incredible portfolio holds many of the biggest known occurrences of tungsten in all of Scandinavia and even includes the famous Yxsjoberg mine, from which over 90% of all the tungsten coming out of Sweden once derived. Roughly 150 miles north of TAS's flagship Norra Karr project, an abundant heavy REE deposit, this portfolio, consisting of the Yxsjoberg, as well as the Gensgruvan, Gussarvet, Gustavsberg, Wigstrom, and Sandudden projects, was purchased outrightly from Tumi Resources Ltd. (which shares two common directors with TAS), for just over $43k and 100k common shares of fully paid stock (50k on closing and another 50k upon eventual start of commercial production).
A steal really, considering this roughly 9.1k-acre (secured by 7 exploration claims) land package hosts some of the richest tungsten deposits in the entire region and also has extensive historic drilling, production, and metallurgical data readily available, in addition to having all the necessary logistics (road, rail, and power all easily doable), as well as local receptiveness required to rapidly advance the projects. Given the recent naming of tungsten as a critical industrial metal at extremely high risk of supply chain disruption by both British Geological Survey and European Commission publications, TAS is overjoyed to have seized upon so rare an opportunity as this.
With over 80% of global supply coming out of China, tungsten represents the same resource security challenges as are present in the REE market and TAS feels extremely confident in this expansion's ability to further throw a limelight on the company for investors. Ever since the Chinese markets passed the uptake point in 2008 and now consume more tungsten industrially than they produce, in applications ranging from hardmetal tools like drill bits and cutter heads, to specialty steels and aerospace components, tungsten has become more and more of a strategic concern. Price has doubled over the same interval and tungsten demand has remained solid, with demand growth consistently exceeding GDP growth year after year.
Resource and reserve estimates on these projects, while historical in nature and pre NI 43-101 standardization, are significant leads and the company's Qualified Person under the NI 43-101 standard is Mr. Saxon himself, who also happens to be a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, as well as a Member of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists. If this guy smells metal you can bet his nose does not lie and the ridiculously good logistical angle here on an increasingly strategic resource cannot be ignored.
The Yxsjoberg mine is the real jewel in the crown here and comes rigged with an extant mill and tailings dam. An extensive network of roads provides access to all project areas and the other five sites all essentially radiate out from the Yxsjoberg, giving TAS an easy, centralized production footprint with the Yxsjoberg as their operational base. Three ore bodies are being targeted here in a skarn altered limestone horizon. We have a significant tungsten-copper-beryllium-fluorite style deposit and a company that knows how to develop it. The tungsten mineral scheelite was identified as far back as 1862 and there is concentrator, gravity separation and roasting furnace hardware on site from as far back as 1930, with 1918 being the first year of recorded tungsten production.
AB Statsgruvor, the Swedish State-owned mining outfit grabbed Yxsjoberg after the mine having been mothballed in the early 1960′s and they subsequently put in a new concentrator and head frame, progressing to selective flotation from gravity separation techniques by 1977. The second closure of Yxsjoberg in 1989, again at a low point in tungsten market prices as in the 1960′s, occurred with the mine depth down to around just shy of 2k feet. Some 5M tonnes of ore grading 0.35% tungsten trioxide WO(3), with additional copper and fluorite hits, have been pulled out during the life of the mine. The place is basically untouched since the shutdown and two tailings dams onsite hold an estimated 4.6 metric tons of material total, very appealing considering the abundant in situ potential that remains.
The other projects in the portfolio can be summed up by their potential and proximity to Yxsjoberg quite rapidly:
Gensgruvan, 15.5 miles to the north, shows roughly the same grades as Yxsjoberg with production from back in 1944 showing 1.6k tonnes at 0.3% WO(3) and a second mine on the site which was pulling 0.34% WO(3) grade ore. Multiple scheelite outcrops and boulders that remain untested were identified in existing geologic mapping and recorded data on some outcrops indicated tungsten trioxide in the 0.34% range.
Gussarvet, roughly 43.5 miles northeast, saw a 15-hole diamond drilling program as recently as the 1980′s and gives us choice intercepts like 25.4 feet at 0.64% WO(3) and a broader potential return like 102.7 feet grading 0.37% WO(3). A 328-foot wide carbonate horizon in skarn and epidote-quartzite with such rich mineralization begs to be cut back into and this is a particularly nice little project to keep an eye on aside from the obvious flagship Yxsjoberg.
Gustavsberg, some 31 miles southeast, hosts a variety of old mines and offers documented data on the resident iron lodes showing adjacent skarn alteration with both copper and tungsten mineralization. This gives us another positive geologic regional analog and with accounts from geologists of scheelite patches the size of a football in the footwall here, as well as scheelite in the waste dumps according to local prospectors, this site is crying out for modern exploration efforts.
Wigstrom, just 9.3 miles to the southeast, previously fed some 0.13M tonnes of ore to the mill site at Yxsjoberg grading around 0.28% WO(3) and hosts abundant scheelite, as well as fluorite in garnet-diopside skarn. The target is open along strike and at depth from the time of the mine's closure and this site will become a readymade input target once Yxsjoberg gets rolling again.
Sandudden, the last of the projects to look at, lies just 4.3 miles away from Yxsjoberg and has seen more than 30 holes of test drilling in the late 1970′s by aforementioned Swedish State-owned mining outfit, AB Statsgruvor. They tested and ran some 17k tonnes grading 0.22% WO(3) at the time and again we have the same scheelite-fluorite profile here as at Yxsjoberg and Wigstrom.
The deal has yet to pass Swedish Mining Inspectorate muster but this is of little concern to management given the nature of the deal and the transfer of claims should go smoothly by all estimates. Similarly, TSX Venture Exchange and NYSE MKT approval for issuance of the shares seems in the bag (TAS common shares will be subject to a typical four month holding period after issuance).
The global market needs tungsten more than ever and TAS is the perfect company to really get in there and exploit these rich Scandinavian deposits.
More info on Tasman Metals Ltd. is available at TasmanMetals.com
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