With the Federal Reserve pausing their rate hikes for now, awaiting developments for the economy although being somewhat surprised by the strength of it, expecting one more hike before year end but no quick pivot to rate cuts in 2024, general sentiment remains neutral, although a recession looms behind the scenes. But it does so for at least a year now, so maybe the desired soft landing by the Fed could actually materialize in the next 12 months or so.
Gold and lithium, two of the focus metals for Vior Inc. (TSXV:VIO)(FRA:VL51)(OTCQB:VIORF), remain trading at relatively high levels, and the anticipation in the markets is when recession fears are gone, rate cuts arrive and the China economy picks up again, we could see a commodity bull market that might last for many years. In the meantime, Vior is quietly but diligently working on several exploration projects targeting gold, lithium and nickel, and recently they sampled another project, Foothills in Quebec, for phosphate, a mineral which is in high demand by the LFP battery industry, being part of the renewable energy paradigm shift that is taking place at the moment.
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Please note: the views, opinions, estimates, forecasts or predictions regarding Vior’s resource potential are those of the author alone and do not represent views, opinions, estimates, forecasts or predictions of Vior or Vior's management. Vior has not in any way endorsed the views, opinions, estimates, forecasts or predictions provided by the author.
After closing the C$2.5M flow-through financing in March, Vior was hampered by the wildfires to a certain degree. As a solution, management realized they could work on another project in their portfolio, called Foothills project in Quebec. This project was explored before for rutile, a mineral containing titanium, with most recent exploration by Vior being completed in 2020. Since demand for battery metals and minerals has gone through the roof lately, management decided to explore for phosphate this time, as the company geologists knew about phosphate potential given some of the surface results obtained when looking for rutile, and the Saint-Urbain anorthosite contact continuing on the property. Anorthosite is a host rock for high purity phosphate.
After a sampling program that lasted 10 days and rendered 139 outcrop samples, it became clear that there might indeed be lots of phosphate present at Foothills. The geologists identified 2 large zones with lots of outcropping phosphate, in total 16.5km long, and 67 of the 139 samples resulted in values of 4-6.3% P2O5 (phosphate), which actually is already economic grade, and comparable to peer projects.
Usually sampling grades can be quite a bit lower compared to future resource grades, but phosphate is comparable to hard rock lithium in this regard, as the volume of the target metal/mineral is present in much higher percentages in outcrops compared to for example precious metals, and is often actually representative for the future resource grade because of this. When zooming in on the claims, with airborne magnetics added to the maps, it appears that the phosphate samples neatly follow the magnetic lows at the contact zone between the anorthosite and the country rocks:
The size of the sampled areas is very substantial, and when doing a wild, armwaving estimate assuming typical but potentially very conservative width and depth, a 12,000 x 100 x 50m x 2.75T/m3 would generate a hypothetical 165Mt. For comparison: First Phosphate (CSE:PHOS) has a 49Mt resource, and Arianne Phosphate (TSXV:DAN) 472Mt reserves (total resources including satellite deposits over 1Bt, making it the largest undeveloped deposit worldwide).
Notwithstanding this, it is still very early days of course. Because of the sheer size, I’m looking forward to a potential drill program. CEO Fedosiewich was quick to answer about a timeline for this: “In a timely and efficient manner, Vior has been able to demonstrate the great phosphate potential at Foothills. We are excited by size of the system which is already huge, and we know that it will require some additional field follow-up, including channel sampling. Vior’s technical team is already drawing up the next steps in the exploration process, and if all proceeds as planned, we should be drilling sometime in 1st half 2024.”
As C$1M was assigned to the Belleterre gold project, and C$1.5M to the lithium targets at the Belleterre lithium project, I wondered how much exploration work Vior was able to do as a result of the wildfire delays. Executive VP Laurent Eustache chimed in: “This summer’s wildfires in Quebec have been problematic for the majority of the exploration industry. In this regard, Vior has been able to pivot and avoid losing very few field days after re-adjusting its exploration programs.” As a reminder, Vior through its option partner SOQUEM, is looking to spend C$1.5M at the Skyfall Nickel project this year, and according to Eustache they will complete six weeks of a recon exploration program by the end of October after their high definition VTEM survey which was completed this past March.
Although known for its historic high-grade gold production, the Belleterre region is also recognized for its lithium endowment with economic grades drilled at the advanced Tansim Lithium Project, located 20km north of Vior’s property, like for example 12.35m @ 1.29% Li2O and 43.7m @ 0.82% Li2O. Owned by Sayona Mining (ASX:SYA, market cap of A$2.3B), shipping their first concentrate to clients last month, the Tansim project is part of Sayona’s Abitibi Hub strategy that includes the Authier resource (87.8Mt @ 1.05% Li2O M&I) and other advanced production assets (mine, concentrator, plant).
After completing the recent Foothills exploration program, Vior has approximately C$3.0M in the treasury, and still almost C$1M in marketable securities, so the company is in a good position to move forward its strategy. Apart from the field results at Foothills, the company is also advancing their plans for a significant drill program of approximately 30,000m at Belleterre Gold. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear back soon from the company on their detailed exploration strategy.
After finding lithium potential at and near their gold project (Belleterre) and nickel on their other gold project (Skyfall), Vior has now found phosphate on Foothills, the former rutile project that still holds excellent potential for rutile/ilmenite. I’m not sure how management does it, but their Quebec greenstone belt projects appear to be pretty fertile for lots of metals and minerals. The potential for this new phosphate target is tremendous as the total strike length is 16.5km, and lots of the sampled grades are already at economic levels. Drilling should prove up a potential mineralized resource, which will likely begin in early 2024, so I’m looking forward for this potential giant to awaken. Stay tuned!
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The author is not a registered investment advisor, and currently has a long position in this stock. Vior Inc. is a sponsoring company. All facts are to be checked by the reader. For more information go to www.vior.ca and read the company’s profile and official documents on www.sedar.com, also for important risk disclosures. This article is provided for information purposes only, and is not intended to be investment advice of any kind, and all readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence, and talk to their own licensed investment advisors prior to making any investment decisions.
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