Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. [NDM-TSX; NAK-NYSE] on Thursday August 20 announced the results of an updated mineral resource estimate for its flagship Pebble gold-copper project in southwest Alaska, a project that is now backed by the state’s Republican Party.
Already considered among the most significant accumulations of copper, gold and molybdenum and silver ever discovered in the United States, the current study confirms the Pebble deposit also contains substantial quantities of the strategic metal rhenium – a metal used in jet engines and other military applications, and to produce high-octane fuels.
Rhenium is typically mined as a by-product of porphyry copper deposits like Pebble through the treatment of molybdenum concentrates. It is used mainly in super alloys for turbine engines and for petroleum reforming catalysts.
“The US Geological Survey (USGS) considers rhenium a strategic metal and confirms the United States currently relies on foreign producers for its rhenium needs,” the company said in a press release, Thursday.
“Certainly the U.S. military has identified rhenium as a critical metal, and one the United States must develop additional domestic production of in order to enhance its military security,” said Northern Dynasty President and CEO Ron Thiessen.
“The development of Alaska’s Pebble Project would clearly go a long way toward filling that gap, while also addressing substantial US domestic supply deficits for other critical minerals – notably copper and silver,’’ he said.
The inclusion of rhenium into the Pebble resource estimate is based on more than 58,000 analyses from 699 core holes, totaling more than 840,000 feet of drilling.
At a 0.30% copper equivalent cut-off, the Pebble Deposit contains:
2.6 million kilograms of rhenium, 57 billion pounds of copper, 71 million ounces of gold, 3.4 billion pounds of molybdenum, and 345 million ounces of silver within 65 billion tonnes in the combined Measured and Indicated categories at a grade of 0.40% copper, 0.34 g/t gold, 240 ppm molybdenum, 1.7 g/t silver and 0.41 ppm rhenium, and:
1.6 million kilograms of rhenium, 25 billion pounds of copper, 36 million ounces of gold, 2.2 billion pounds of molybdenum and 170 million ounces of silver within 4.5 billion tonnes in the Inferred category at a grade of 0.25% copper, 0.25 g/t gold, 226 ppm molybdenum, 1.2 g/t silver and 0.30 ppm rhenium.
Currently total rhenium resources in the United States stand at 5.0 million kilograms. As a result, Pebble’s total rhenium endowment represents an 84% increase in the nation’s known Rhenium resource base. According to the USGS, some 8,400 kilograms of rhenium was produced at six US operations in 2019.
Details of Pebble’s rhenium endowment comes after Northern Dynasty released a statement saying the
Alaska Republican Party has passed a resolution “in support of the responsible development of the Pebble mine.”
On Thursday, Northern Dynasty shares rose 2.7% or $0.06 to $2.08 on volume of 607,596. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $3.28 and 49 cents.