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Diamond & Specialty Minerals Summary for January 25, 2023

by Will Purcell

The diamond and specialty minerals stocks box score for Wednesday was a positive 110-84-116 as the TSX Venture Exchange fell fractionally to 622. It has been silent for over a month, but Alphamin Resources Corp., a prolific miner of tin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lost one cent to $1.04 on 3.16 million shares.

Glenn Kasner's RJK Explorations Ltd. (RJX) closed unchanged at five cents on 39,000 shares. The company's sputtering diamond promotion creaked forward an inch last week, with word that after nearly a year of discussions with the Ontario government and local first nations, the company has received drilling permits for its diamond project south of Cobalt in Northeastern Ontario. And so, Mr. Kasner, president and chief executive officer, says RJK will be sending a drill to the property shortly to "start testing priority targets."

Mr. Kasner and his go-to adviser on most things diamond related, project manager Peter Hubacheck, do not say where the priority drill targets lie, but it is certain they are not on the Kon claims, home to the company's only proven kimberlites: RJK "has decided not to continue with the Al Kon option" -- so named after local prospector Alan Kon, who staked the ground and found the first kimberlite on the claims years ago.

RJK had acquired the option late in 2019, as it ramped up its search for a source of the legendary 800-carat Nipissing yellow diamond, which turned up in a farmer's field a few years into the 20th Century. In the summer of 2021, RJK applauded its drill discovery of the KON-1 kimberlite, just south of the original find, and a 277-kilogram batch of the rock yielded seven microdiamonds.

The company quietly drilled three holes at KON last summer, testing other magnetic low targets southwest and northeast of the KON pipe and dike structure. Unfortunately, the three holes failed to intersect kimberlite and the option had exhausted Mr. Kasner's patience, probably because final option payments were coming due. And so, RJK deemed that KON "did not meet [its] project economic evaluation benchmarks at this time" and it therefore thanked Mr. Kon for his assistance, and is moving on.

The moving on therefore leads to RJK's main property in the Cobalt area, which includes another diamondiferous discovery, this one at Paradis Pond, well northeast of KON. In fact, RJK has recently added ground to its hunt, buying two new claim groups from a local prospector for $10,000 cash. As well, Mr. Kasner says that his crew have staked additional ground in the area to "expand the coverage of all potential targets."

Those targets one presumes -- or at least hopes -- include the new features that Mr. Kasner says were "ground truthed" with kimberlite indicator mineral train and geophysical data last year, although for now all he says is that "additional priority targets remain untested." Hopefully these new anomalies are kimberlite targets, not those leading to more of the strange rock that after two years of exuberant promotion and plenty of geological humming and hawing the company declared to be "glacial material containing kimberlite indicator minerals" -- a secondary deposit of eroded kimberlite at best.

And so, while RJK's enthusiastic cheerleading got RJK's stock as high as 36 cents late in 2020, it has been on a downhill run since then, bottoming at four sad cents last September. Worse, it is back to its thin-trading ways of the days before Mr. Kasner launched his diamond promotion. Still, the new drilling could generate new interest -- kimberlites do abound in Northeastern Ontario and one, the 95-2 or Timiskaming pipe, held its own in a 2004 mini-bulk sample, grading about 20 carats per hundred tonnes in the upper part of a core kimberlite phase.

There has been no further word in over a year about RJK signing the television rights to the story -- yes, television -- to an unnamed "very successful, award-winning, United States TV producer" apparently interested in creating a "docuseries TV show" around the company's search for the source of the Nipissing yellow. (For you skeptics, remember that "The Curse of Oak Island" began its 10th season late last year and unlike Mr. Kasner's hunt, the Oak Island adventurers and their predecessors have not found so much as a tide-worn doubloon in over a century of trying.)

Blake Hylands's Lithium Ionic Corp. (LTH) rose nine cents to $1.44 on 337,000 shares. The company has drilled a 9.6-metre interval averaging 1.69 per cent lithium oxide at its Bandeira project in Minas Gerais, Brazil. This was but one of several new higher-grade lithium hits over significant intervals from the project, just 500 metres south of the Cachoeira mine that a rival has had in production for the past 30 years.

Mr. Hylands, CEO, cheered that the results from Bandeira "continue to impress us," noting that the latest intercepts returned some of the strongest grades and thicknesses encountered to date from the project. (Some, but not all, as the company previously applauded a 1.99-per-cent hit over a 6.75-metre interval.)

Mr. Hylands says that Lithium Ionic has now identified a plus-one-kilometre-long mineralized trend with at least six different spodumene-bearing pegmatites that remain open in all directions. And so, he and his crew continue to drill away with four rigs at Bandeira in the hope of delivering a maiden resource estimate in the coming months.

Luisa Moreno and Craig Taylor's Defense Metals Corp. (DEFN) closed unchanged at 30.5 cents on 392,000 shares. The company cheered its best hit of 2022 at its Wicheeda rare earth project in central British Columbia -- a 138-metre interval that averaged 3.66 per cent total rare earth oxides (TREO) in one of two new holes. (The other managed 2.03 per cent TREO over 167.7 metres.)

One drill hole does not a mine make, the saying goes, but Ms. Moreno, president, put a lot of stock in the new hit, applauding that the economics of the Wicheeda project is "underscored by the fact that the final drill hole yielded the best drill intercept of the 2022 campaign." Note that she did not say it was the best yet, as Defense produced several intersections topping 4 per cent TREO in 2019 and at least a few holes earlier this year came close to matching the latest hit.

Recall that Wicheeda received a preliminary economic assessment late in 2021 based on 5.03 million tonnes indicated at 2.95 per cent TREO and another 29.5 million tonnes inferred at 1.83 per cent. The dream sheet proposed a $600-million, 16-year mine that would run at 4,800 tonnes per day, enough to support an internal rate of return of 17 per cent. Next up is prefeasibility, but one should be patient, based on the weasels accompanying Ms. Moreno's enthusiasm: Two additional years of exploration and geotechnical drilling, she says, has placed us solidly on the path towards initiation of the study.

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