American West is looking to meet North American demand for critical metals
Link copied to
As the world continues to decarbonise, demand for critical minerals such as zinc and copper have been increasing accordingly and American West is keen to play a key role in their supply.
The company is ready to list on the ASX today after raising $12m through the issue of 60 million shares priced at 20c each to drive exploration of its West Desert and Copper Warrior projects in Utah, US, and the Storm and Seal projects in Canada.
American West Metals, which will trade under the ticker AW1, also features a well-known cast of mining executives including St George Mining executive chairman John Prineas, as its non-executive chairman, Firefinch managing director Michael Anderson, as a non-executive director and highly experienced geologist Dave O’Neill, as its managing director.
It also counts international mining geologist Mark Pfau, as its principal geologist and Rocky Pray, as its vice president operations on the ground in North America.
North America has been getting a significant amount of attention due to the number of undervalued assets located within well-known mining districts that possess strong support infrastructure.
Unlike Australia, very little modern exploration has been completed in areas with significant cover, meaning there are opportunities to apply modern exploration techniques to uncover mineralisation.
Additionally, operating in the US is generally cheaper than in Australia, while Canada is almost on par.
The company is focused on finding and developing deposits of base metals, with the potential to power the push towards zero carbon energy in North America.
Central to its efforts is the West Desert zinc-copper-indium project in west-central Utah, about 160km from Salt Lake City, that will be wholly-owned by the company upon listing.
West Desert is located within the heart of the Sevier Orogenic Belt, which hosts the world class Tintic Mining District and Rio Tinto’s giant Bingham Canyon copper deposit, that has been one of the world’s top producing mines since 1903.
The project already hosts a non-JORC resource of 59 million tonnes grading 5.78% zinc equivalent including a higher-grade core of about 16.5Mt at 6.3% zinc, 0.3% copper and 33 grams per tonne (g/t) indium.
Both indium, which is used in electronics and semiconductors, and zinc are considered to be critical minerals in the US.
Potential to grow this resource – once defined to JORC standards – is high, as the deposit remains open in all directions with drilling carried out in 2018, intersecting thick intervals of high-grade zinc mineralisation outside of the resource shell.
Adding interest, exploration drilling near mine areas has also intersected further skarn and CRD mineralisation that indicates the potential to discover more base and precious metals in different deposits within the project area.
While West Desert is currently envisioned as an underground development, there is also potential to include the open-pittable oxide resource.
Next up on the list are the Storm and Seal projects within the Polaris mineral district on Somerset Island in Nunavut, northern Canada.
Historical drilling at Storm has intersected structurally controlled, high-grade copper including standout intercepts such as 110m grading 2.45% copper from surface and 56.3m at 3.07% copper from 12.2m
This mineralisation is chalcocite dominant, which the company believes will be amenable to traditional ore sorting and beneficiation techniques, and may have the ability to produce direct shipping ores that require minimal processing before being sold.
Seal is a high-grade zinc and silver deposit with a non-JORC resource of 1Mt grading 10.24% zinc and 46.35g/t silver that is open at depth and along strike.
Importantly, the mineralisation has been confirmed to be of the same age and event that formed the world class Polaris Zinc-Lead deposit, which closed in 2002 after producing more than 21 million tonnes of zinc-lead ore over more than 20 years.
There is great potential for more discoveries given the stratigraphic horizon is largely unexplored and contains numerous zinc soil anomalies along its 75km strike.
American West’s remaining project is the early Copper Warrior project that targets sediment-hosted copper just 15km northwest of Lisbon Valley, Utah’s second largest copper mine.
Notably, the two major mineralised units at Lisbon Valley are also present within the project
Seed capital raised prior to the IPO was used to start infrastructure upgrades, initiate key study work, and complete a geophysical survey at West Desert.
The geophysical data will be combined with historical work to define future exploration beyond the currently planned resource development, near-mine work that American West plans to kick off, following the listing.
Diamond drilling will start in January 2022 to support delivery of a JORC compliant resource with a focus on confirming the continuity of the high-grade zinc and copper zones, and testing the amenability of the oxide portion of the orebody to traditional processing methods.
The company also plans to carry out hydrological, environmental, metallurgical and detailed mining studies to de-risk the high-grade development scenario.
It also plans to carry out further drilling at Seal to deliver a JORC compliant resource, start initial resource definition work at a number of high-grade copper prospects at Storm and drill testing new high priority targets in the Storm area.
Meanwhile, initial work at Copper Warrior will be focused on confirming the lateral extent and thickness of the two mineralised host units.
This article was developed in collaboration with American West, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.