Rockridge Resources Ltd. (ROCK:TSX.V) is an exploration company focused on acquiring, exploring and developing mineral resource properties in Canada. Its focus is copper and base metals—more specifically base, green energy and battery metals—of which copper is all three. It is focused in not just in any place, only top-tier mining jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan. And only in mining districts that have had significant past exploration, development or production. And only on projects in close proximity to key infrastructure. Rockridge's management team, advisors and board expertly and methodically eliminate many of the risk factors, early on, that can kill projects. This is a tremendous team for a company with a market cap of just CA$5.6 million (CA$5.6M) / US$4.2M.
New CEO Bolsters Already Strong Team
Late last month, Rockridge appointed Grant Ewing, P.Geo, to be its new CEO. Jordan Trimble remains as president and a director. Grant has more than 25 years' experience in the metals and mining space. His expertise covers the mine development cycle, from early stage exploration through to production. I spoke with Grant last week and was impressed with his very extensive knowledge of base metals and his understanding of the district that hosts the company's Knife Lake project. Grant seems to be an ideal person to help advance the project and make new discoveries. Please see more about CEO Grant Ewing, P.Geo, here.
The company's flagship project, Knife Lake, is in Saskatchewan, Canada (ranked the third best mining jurisdiction in the world), in the Fraser Institute Mining Company Survey. The project hosts a near-surface, (high-grade copper) VMS (volcanogenic massive sulphide) copper-zinc-silver-gold-cobalt deposit, open along strike and at depth. Management believes that there's strong discovery potential in and around the deposit area, and at additional targets on roughly 85,200 hectares of contiguous claims. As a reminder, Rockridge has an option agreement with Eagle Plains Resources to acquire a 100% interest in the majority of the Knife Lake VMS deposit.
Flagship Project, Knife Lake, 12 Drill Hole Results Now In
The project is within the famous Flin Flon-Snow Lake mining district that contains a prolific VMS base metals belt. Management believes there's tremendous exploration upside. The goal? High-grade discoveries in a mineralized belt that could host multiple deposits, as VMS–style zones often contain clusters of mineralized zones. Of course, the trick is finding them.
However, no modern exploration, drilling method or technology has been deployed at Knife Lake. It was discovered 50 years ago and last explored in the late 1990s. Airborne geophysics, regional mapping and geochemistry was done, but technologies have improved. Management believes that modern geophysics; high resolution, deep penetrating EM and drone mag surveys to cover large areas in detail, could make a big difference.
Earlier this year, Rockridge drilled 12 holes for a total of 1,053 meters. Importantly, this represents the first significant work on the property since 2001. Readers may recall from reading past articles and interviews on Epstein Research, Equity.Guru and Aheadoftheherd, and viewing videos of then-CEO Trimble, that the company's primary goal is to explore districts that have been underexplored, never explored or not recently explored. Management's highly skilled and experienced technical team and advisors deploy the latest exploration technologies and methods. A lot has changed in 18 years; a simple example would be the use of lower-cost, high-resolution drones to fly various surveys.
These 12 assays, added to the historical database, will generate a new NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate in late July or early August. This will be a major milestone that will hopefully draw the attention of prospective strategic partners. Subsequent to that de-risking event, Rockridge is funded for a summer exploration program that will likely stretch into fall. The goal is to identify and refine targets at depth and regionally. Modern vectoring techniques will be deployed, using metal ratios and structural interpretation to identify "primary" VMS deposits.
Other modern methods include high-resolution geophysics, deep-penetrating EM to identify conductors, and drone mag surveys to cover large areas in detail. Finally, ground work and sampling will be conducted, analyzing rock geochemistry to identify prospective VMS-style hydrothermal systems. Importantly, very limited previous drilling was done below 100 meters (100m), but of the deeper holes, several intersected mineralization at around 300m. Could they be mineralized lenses?
Best Intercept from First 5 Holes: 37.6 m of 2.42% Cu Eq.
Last month Rockridge reported additional results from its winter diamond drill program. The first five holes are shown in the chart above. Readers may recall that a key takeaway was that holes KF19001 and KF19002 largely confirmed historical grades, intercept widths and geological conditions. Hole KF19003, reported on May 7, was a blockbuster—37.6m of 2.42% copper equivalent (Cu eq.), significantly better than the first two holes. KF19003 had a grade (Cu eq.) x thickness (in meters) value of 91, compared to 41 and 49. Importantly, it confirmed high-grade mineralization up-dip of KF19002 in an area where no historical drilling is known to have been done. Therefore, this assay, and perhaps nearby assays to follow, could potentially increase the size and grade of the upcoming mineral resource estimate.
Best Intercept in Last 7 Holes: 15.2 m of 2.45% Cu Eq.
In the company's June 10 press release, holes KF19006 through KF19012 did not contain any blockbusters, but six of seven were nicely mineralized, with Cu eq. values ranging from 0.46% to 2.45%. The interval widths averaged nearly eight meters. The best intercept was 15.15m at 2.45% Cu eq. in hole KF19006. This intercept is a good one, like those found in holes KF19001 and KF19002, reported in the April 30 press release. Importantly, KF19006 tested the up-dip extension of the Knife Lake deposit in an area that had not been previously tested. Likewise, hole KF19007 tested the down-dip extension of the deposit near KF19006. KF19007 intersected a solid 2.95 m of 0.82% Cu eq. grade. The latest property map provided from today's press release is too large to fit comfortably within this article, please click on link here.
Rockridge's CEO, Grant Ewing commented: "The Knife Lake property package is highly prospective for new discoveries using modern exploration techniques and methods given the lack of recent field work. The known deposit is thought to be a remobilized portion of a presumably larger primary VMS deposit, and there is excellent potential for deposit expansion at depth which we plan to test in future programs. Furthermore, there are several high quality targets to test on the expansive landholding, and there have yet to be satellite deposits discovered in the vicinity as VMS systems often host clusters or stacked deposits."
Something I found interesting were the two portions of the 15.2m intercept in KF19006 that assayed 7.25m of 0.72 g/t gold, (from 8.75 to 16.0m), and 5.0m of 0.93 g/t gold, (from 11.0 to 16.0m), both within 16.0m of surface. Those two grades (true widths undetermined) are the highest gold values reported to date. The 0.93 g/t showing is nearly 50% higher, and 1.0m longer, (5.0 versus 4.0m) than the next highest-grade gold showing, in blockbuster hole KF19003. While intriguing, these values in isolation may not amount to much. Still, they’re worth keeping an eye on.
Rockridge's president and director, Jordan Trimble, commented: "The results from this first-pass drill program have exceeded our expectations with almost all drill holes having intersected high-grade copper mineralization, and in doing so, we have successfully confirmed the tenor of mineralization reported by previous operators, while expanding known zones of mineralization. We are working towards issuing an NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate as well as planning a regional summer field program, both of which will provide steady news flow and catalysts over the near term. We will continue to execute on our value creation strategy of going into overlooked but prospective projects in prolific mining jurisdictions and using modern exploration methodologies to test new ideas and make new discoveries."
The deposit remains open at depth. Additional discoveries are very possible as the property is nearly 85,200 hectares in size and vastly under-explored. The winter drill program gives the company's technical team valuable information about geology, alteration and mineralization that will be applied to regional exploration targets. The company is now working toward completing an NI-43-101-compliant resource estimate for Knife Lake with the results from this drill program. A summer exploration program is also being planned, details to follow.
As mentioned, Rockridge Resources has a tremendous team—management, board and advisors—for a company with a market cap of CA$5.6M = US$4.2M. Readers should take just five to 10 minutes to review the company's new June Corporate Presentation. And, the latest press releases can be found here. The flagship Knife Lake project is large enough, at ~85,200 hectares, to keep the company busy for years to come. Even if management were to farm out (get free-carried) a portion of the property, there would still be tens of thousands of hectares remaining to explore in a top mining district in Canada.
Copper prices are down into the ~US$2.60/lb. from close to ~US$3/lb., but near-term fluctuations in the price are meaningless for anyone who believes that copper is needed for 1) clean-green energy storage, 2) the global electrification of passenger and commercial vehicles, and 3) the surge of infrastructure building needed to accommodate a growing global middle-class population migrating to ever-larger cities. Not to mention the rebuilding of old and destroyed infrastructure like buildings, roads and bridges. Everything uses copper; everything will continue to use copper. The price of copper has to rise, or there won't be enough copper: It's that simple. Several experts believe that the copper price is headed to US$4-$5/lb. by 2020 or 2021. If so, a company like Rockridge Resources has a lot of leverage to that outcome.
Peter Epstein is the founder of Epstein Research. His background is in company and financial analysis. He holds an MBA degree in financial analysis from New York University's Stern School of Business.[NLINSERT]
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