Aston Bay Holdings (TSX.V: BAY, FSE: 6AY, WKN: A2AUFP) has made the search for high-grade copper and gold deposits in North America its priority. Together with Australian partner American West, it is developing the Storm copper project in the Canadian province of Nunavut. On its own, the company is searching for copper, zinc and gold in the US state of Virginia. All three metals are highly sought after as precious metals or critical raw materials.
On the subject of gold and crisis protection, most investors need no introduction. They know that gold protects, is still in demand and represents a high value even when other “values” have long since disappeared from view. Most investors also believe they know their way around copper. They know about the elementary importance of the red metal for the energy transition. What is often overlooked, however, is that the available stocks are declining dramatically and many of the large producing mines will be exhausted between 2030 and 2035.
Therefore, the question already arises as to where the required copper will come from even without the energy transition. Aston Bay -is in the process of providing part of the answer to this existential question with its projects in Canada and the USA. The situation is similar for zinc. It is almost like the forgotten metal of mankind. The whole world needs it, but hardly anyone is interested in zinc. The result is a looming future shortage that surpasses that of copper, because copper is actively sought, while zinc is considered merely a byproduct.
In view of the expected demand, Aston Bay – could hardly be better positioned. This also applies to the regions in which the company operates, as it only explores projects in Canada and the USA. Both are safe and mining-friendly countries where it is possible continue to work in peace even when it has long since become too dangerous elsewhere.
Joint development of the power copper project with American West
High in Canada’s Arctic north, Aston Bay – is developing the Storm copper project with Australian partner American West. Located 112 kilometers south of the community of Resolute Bay in the province of Nunavut, the Storm project consists of 118 mineralized claims primarily encountering the metals copper and zinc. The 268,744 hectare property contains four high-grade mineralized copper zones (2200N, 2750N, 3500N and the 4100N zone) discovered by both historical and recent drilling.
In the two historic deposits, starting from surface, 110 meters of 2.45 percent copper, 56.3 meters of 3.07 percent copper and 41 meters of 4.18 percent copper were identified, among others. Common to all drill holes are the very shallow depths of mineralization. It either begins directly at surface or at shallow depths of just a few metres.
In addition to the near-surface deposits, the chalcocite-bornite-chalcopyrite-pyrite-sphalerite mineralization encountered on the project is typical of sedimentary copper mineralization and can be seen as evidence of an extensive copper system at greater depths. This discovery has made investors sit up and take notice, as it means no more and no less than that Congo-style copper deposits hidden at depth could possibly now be encountered in this part of Canada.
New gravity surveys have defined several large gravity anomalies along the existing graben faults which serve as the plumbing system for the known mineralization. The higher-density anomalies are associated with strong electromagnetic and IP anomalies already known to contain copper mineralization. Historical drill core is sparse at depth, but drilling in 2023 intersected copper mineralization spatially associated with these anomalies for the first time at approximately 300m depth. Importantly, density measurements taken with the drill cores have indicated that sulphide mineralized intersections are assumed to be the only plausible source of the modeled gravity anomalies; several kilometre-scale anomalies remain untested by drilling, providing significant potential discovery upside.
Shipping of high-grade copper concentrate as a start-up option
With the extremely effective tool of gravity surveys, further drill targets can be determined very effectively. In addition, it was possible to provide evidence that deeper mineralization is present beneath the near-surface mineralization. And the spring and summer drill program of 2023 succeeded in significantly expanding the near-surface mineralization in the four known zones, as well as discovering two new zones (e.g., 76m of 2% copper at the Thunder Zone). At greater depth, sediment-bound copper offers another exploration target that will be addressed more aggressively in the future.
An initial resource estimate is expected by the end of 2023. And an initial scoping study is also eagerly awaited by the end of December. This is expected to provide more reliable information on the plan to commence mining operations with the production and shipment of a copper concentrate grading up to 53.9 percent copper. The conditions for this plan are in place, because although the Storm project is located far to the north of Canada, the infrastructure is very well developed and access to a deep-sea port is available.
Copper, zinc and gold in Virginia
In the US state of Virginia, Ashton Bay is represented with two projects. Southwest of Charlottesville is the Buckingham Gold Project. South of this near Lynchburg is the copper-zinc SEDEX Belt. At the Buckingham Gold Project, soil samples show gold grades up to 701 g/t. The partially visible gold is contained in white quartz.
Drilling conducted in 2019 and 2020 confirms the presence of high-grade gold mineralization with grades of 35.61 g/t over 3.03 metres, 20.44 g/t over 2.30 metres and 24.73 g/t over 3.57 metres. On strike, the deposit remains open and Ashton Bay Holdings continues to have the opportunity to significantly expand the deposit both on strike and to depth, as only 200 of 1,600 meters have been drilled to date. In addition, drilling has so far only tested depths of up to 90 meters, so there is still further potential at depth.
South central Virginia is crossed by the SEDEX Belt, which is over 100 kilometers long. Its mineralization is rich in zinc and copper. It is therefore an important source of copper and zinc from the United States. The project is still largely unexplored, but has been prepared to the point where drilling can begin shortly. The few historical drill holes that have been completed on the Belt show more than two percent copper over 8.4 meters, more than five percent zinc over 2.2 meters and up to 0.24 percent cobalt.
A typical made-in-America story
There seem to be many good reasons to invest in Aston Bay and its projects. While for European investors the quality and size of the projects and their enormous, as yet largely untapped potential are likely to be of primary importance, US investors are also attracted by the Made-in-America idea.
More than in resource-poor Germany, people in the United States and Canada worry about dependencies on foreign countries, especially when it comes to critical metals and raw materials. North American investors are very comfortable with the idea of mining in North America, which offers domestic industry a significant cost advantage due to geographical proximity and also reduces dependencies on uncertain suppliers such as China. In Canada and the U.S., Aston Bay can therefore also score with the undeniable advantages of self-sufficiency and security of supply. The stock already had a good run in the middle of the year – now the question is whether this can be repeated in the same or a similar way. We are eagerly awaiting the upcoming news and will of course keep our readers up to date on how this extremely exciting, but also highly risky, company will progress.
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