Thunder Bay, Ontario–(Newsfile Corp. – December 15, 2021) – Benton Resources Inc. (TSXV: BEX) (“Benton” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide a review of activities throughout 2021 along with an update on 2022 strategic objectives aimed at unlocking value for shareholders in the coming year. 2021 has been productive not only from an exploration perspective, but also through several key developments by companies in which Benton holds strategic investments. The Company feels that the value from these initiatives has yet to be fully realized. These achievements are more fully described below.
Clean Air Metals Inc.
During 2019, Benton was able to successfully secure agreements to acquire both the Escape Lake and Thunder Bay North PGE-Copper-Nickel properties located approximately 50km northeast of the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Company subsequently optioned all its rights under these agreements to Clean Air Metals Inc. (“Clean Air”) and the property is now known as the Thunder Bay North Project (“TBN”). In return, the Company received, and still retains, 24.6 million common shares of Clean Air (approximately 14.7%) and holds a 0.5% net smelter return royalty (“NSR”) from production on the Escape Lake portion of the project and a 0.5% NSR from production on any mineral claims comprising the original Thunder Bay North portion of the project on which an NSR has not previously been granted.
Since assuming Benton’s rights to acquire these properties, Clean Air has aggressively advanced the TBN project with extensive drilling completed and added to a drill database that now includes over 800 drill holes. Clean Air released an updated Mineral Resource Estimate (“MRE”) in November 2021 at TBN that includes an Indicated Mineral Resource of 14,553,324 tonnes at an average grade of 8.12 g/t PtEq containing 3,798,581 ounces PtEq and an Inferred Mineral Resource of 8,077,595 tonnes at an average grade of 4.07 g/t PtEq containing 1,057,646 ounces PtEq.
In addition, Clean Air completed a Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) in early December 2021. Highlights include:
- Pre-tax net present value (NPV) of $425.0 million, and after-tax NPV of $378.4 million, at a 5% discount rate.
- Pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) is 31.1%, and the after-tax IRR is 29.8%.
- Capital payback is 2.4 years from start of production.
- Revenues projected to average $239.8 million per year from sale of PGE and Copper mineral concentrates.
- 10-year operating life based on the present Mineral Resource.
Clean Air remains focussed on unlocking additional potential of the TBN project through further exploration to increase the Mineral Resource and optimization of their technical plan with an objective to deliver a Pre-Feasibility Study in 2023.
The Company will continue to update shareholders on Clean Air’s progress at TBN and is currently evaluating opportunities to bring value to shareholders from this exciting equity and NSR asset with significant upside.
Readers are encouraged to visit www.cleanairmetals.ca for full technical details on the MRE and PEA.
Benton Resources Inc. – Sokoman Minerals Corp. Strategic Exploration Alliance
During 2021, the Company formed a strategic exploration alliance with Newfoundland-based explorer, Sokoman Minerals Corp. (the “Alliance”). The Alliance hit the ground running and acquired three large-scale, early-stage exploration projects with excellent potential for new discoveries in Newfoundland: Golden Hope, Kepenkeck and Grey River. In addition, in May 2021 the Alliance attracted the investment of $2 million into Benton by well-known and respected resource investor Mr. Eric Sprott.
During the summer 2021 reconnaissance gold exploration program at Golden Hope, the Alliance discovered a swarm of lithium-bearing pegmatite dykes, now named the Kraken Pegmatite field with two of three initial samples returning grades of 1.95% Li2O and 0.49% Li2O. This is believed to be the first discovery of significant lithium mineralization on the island of Newfoundland. In the fall of 2021, the Alliance conducted a multi-phase prospecting, mapping, and sampling program over a 0.85km x 2.2km area and further confirmed this discovery with many assays yielding lithium values greater than 1% Li2O and the best sample grading 2.37% Li2O. Assay results from the final phase of prospecting are still pending. The Alliance has now completed detailed geological mapping and a high-resolution drone survey that includes imagery, Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) to assist in the mapping and targeting of the dyke system. The Alliance has also completed a 5,709 line-km Heliborne High-Resolution Aeromagnetic & Matrix Digital VLF-EM Survey flown by Terraquest Ltd., with the final data currently being processed. These surveys will enhance our understanding of the structural/lithological setting and help identify gold-bearing structure extensions, as well as any unrecognized structures including those potentially related to the lithium-bearing pegmatites.
Following receipt of all the data accumulated during the latter portion of 2021, including the outstanding sample assays, they will be compiled and interpreted with the objective of undertaking an initial drilling program on the Kraken dyke swarm as soon as possible in 2022.
The Alliance identified and discovered high-grade gold in a large 10km-long quartz/silica body. Historic grab samples as well as recent grab samples (see Company news release dated September 2, 2021), have yielded gold values ranging from 50 ppb Au to 225 g/t Au. In October 2021, the Alliance completed a 5-hole, 1,026m diamond drilling program with the holes spread over a 4km strike length of the silica body. A total of 643 core samples were cut and sent for assay. Of these, 13 were “super rushed” for Au analysis to confirm the presence of gold in the system; six of these returned from 1.34 g/t to 37.64 g/t Au. Assays are pending for the remaining 630 samples.
The Alliance is planning an aggressive spring-summer 2022 program to drill the silica body.
The Kepenkeck project, while early in the exploration cycle, has shown significant potential. The Alliance has done limited work thus far but has already identified anomalous gold in bedrock and boulders grading up to 5.8 g/t Au. In addition, the Alliance has recently discovered high-grade uranium in five samples that were collected from a radioactive area of black topsoil and sandy till that was sampled along the projected contact of a granite and sedimentary unit. All five samples contain significant uranium grading between 0.06% and 1.86% U308. The companies are planning follow-up work on the gold and a 1.0km square soil survey over the newly-discovered uranium is currently underway.
Far Lake Copper Project
Benton continues to advance the Far Lake Copper project located 80km west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Company has identified a large copper system in its first two phases of diamond drilling and is now planning to further explore the project with a Phase 3 drilling program to commence in early 2022. Benton is currently earning a 70% interest in the project from White Metal Resources Corp. (see Company news release dated May 20, 2020) and will update shareholders as to the timing of upcoming activities.
KM 67 Gold Project
In November 2021, the Company optioned the KM 67 Volcanic Massive Sulphide (VMS) base metal and gold project (the “Project”) located in central Newfoundland. The Company acquired the Project due to compelling data compiled by the Optionors that demonstrates prospective potential of for the discovery of significant VMS and gold deposits on the property. Historical work on the Project has identified large VMS boulders grading up to 37.8% lead+zinc as well as others that assayed 13.56% copper+lead+zinc (Cu-Pb-Zn) and 8.76% Cu+Pb+Zn. In addition, the property hosts quartz boulders grading up to 7.1 g/t gold and historical soil sampling showing geochemistry highs of 1,870 parts per billion (ppb) 1,421 ppb, 1,360 ppb, 300 ppb and 279 ppb gold. The Company believes this represents a great addition to its project portfolio and Benton is planning to complete an airborne survey to be followed by diamond drilling known targets and any new potential targets outlined during the Company’s upcoming exploration programs.
Starr Gold-Silver Project (Under Option to Metallica Metals Corp.)
Metallica Metals Corp. is currently earning a 70% interest in the Starr Gold-Silver project (formerly known as Benton’s Saganaga project) located in the Thunder Bay Mining District by making certain cash and share payments to Benton along with completing exploration work commitments and has an option to earn the remaining 30% interest by completing further cash and share payments along with further work commitments (see Benton news release dated August 11, 2020 for full details).
Earlier this month, Metallica reported assay results from several drill holes with highlights coming from hole STR21-004, which intersected 4.1 g/t Au over 14.2 m including 5.1 g/t Au over 11.0 m, 13.5 g/t Au over 3.6 m, and 25.2 g/t Au over 1.9 m. Additional assay results are expected soon with 18 diamond drill holes already completed across the property. To date, 14 holes have been drilled on the Starr and Powell zones found in the central portion of the property, with another four holes completed 7km northeast in a previously un-drilled area containing high-grade grab and soil samples at surface. Further drilling will be undertaken in early-2022.
Benton currently holds 2.507 million shares of Metallica and will keep shareholders apprised of Metallica’s progress.
Panama Gold Project (Under Option to St Anthony Gold Corp.)
In late 2019, Benton executed an option agreement with St. Anthony Gold Corp. (“St. Anthony”) (formerly Maxtech Ventures Inc.) in which St. Anthony has the option to earn up to a 100% interest in the Company’s Panama gold project located in the Red Lake Mining district, Ontario in the vicinity of the recent and significant Dixie gold discovery of Great Bear Resources Ltd St. Anthony may earn a 100% interest in the property in a three-stage process by fulfilling various cash (or shares) payment and work commitment obligations. St. Anthony is currently earning its initial 50% interest and has made the required $100,000 payment (cash or shares) by issuing to Benton 808,375 St. Anthony common shares to vest at the 50% interest level (review of work commitment obligation is underway).
Interest in the Panama and Dixie project areas is being reinforced by leading gold companies and joint ventures that are moving to secure nearby and adjacent properties. Recently, Kenorland Minerals Ltd. optioned its project, immediately adjacent to the Panama project, to Barrick Gold Corp. Even more importantly the Company believes that the December 8, 2021 offer by Kinross Gold Corporation to acquire 100% of Great Bear Resources Ltd. for $1.8 billion will no doubt bolster activity and interest in this important mining jurisdiction.
Benton currently holds approximately 1,725,000 shares of St. Anthony and will keep shareholders apprised of their progress.
Baril Lake West Project (Under Option to Rio Tinto Exploration Canada)
Benton as just received the third anniversary option payment of $25,000 from option holder Rio Tinto Exploration Canada (“RTEC”) for the Baril Lake West project (see Company news release dated January 2, 2019). The Baril Lake West is situated approximately 4km west of Benton’s 100%-owned Bark Lake project and immediately adjacent RTEC’s Baril Project where RTEC discovered significant mineralization grading 4.78% Ni and 0.43% Cu over 2.08m in 2018 (Ontario ENDM Assessment File: 200000017073). The projects are approximately 100km west along the major crustal-scale, east-west oriented Quetico fault, in which the Escape Lake and TBN projects held by Clean Air Metals Inc. are situated. While the Baril West and Bark Lake projects are early stage in nature, the Company believes they have the potential to contain a magmatic conduit system that could host Cu-Ni-PGEs.
Stephen Stares, President and CEO of Benton stated: “I truly believe this will be a transformational year for Benton and its shareholders. We are well funded for all of our current objectives, and we have several great opportunities and projects to advance in 2022. With the increasing demand for lithium and other critical metals such as uranium as well as the strong outlook for gold, copper and platinum group metals, Benton is very well positioned on multiple fronts for an exciting year ahead.”
John R. Sullivan, B.Sc, PGeo., consulting geologist and independent director of Benton has acted as the Qualified Person, as defined in NI 43-101, with respect to the disclosure of the scientific and technical information contained in this press release.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Benton Resources Inc.,
Stephen Stares, President
About Benton Resources Inc.
Benton Resources Inc. is a well-funded mineral exploration company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol BEX. Following a project generation business model, Benton has a diversified, highly-prospective property portfolio of Gold, Silver, Nickel, Copper, Platinum Group Elements and most-recently Lithium assets. In addition, it currently holds large equity positions in other mining companies that are advancing high-quality assets. Whenever possible, BEX retains Net Smelter Royalties (NSR) with potential long-term cash flow.
Benton also recently entered into a 50/50 strategic alliance with Sokoman Minerals through three large-scale joint venture properties including Grey River, Golden Hope and Kepenkeck in Newfoundland that are now being explored.
For further information, please contact:
Stephen Stares, President & CEO
CHF Capital Markets
Cathy Hume, CEO
Phone: 416-868-1079 x251
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The information contained herein contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable securities legislation. Forward-looking statements relate to information that is based on assumptions of management, forecasts of future results, and estimates of amounts not yet determinable. Any statements that express predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are not statements of historical fact and may be “forward-looking statements.”
Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual events or results to differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation: risks related to failure to obtain adequate financing on a timely basis and on acceptable terms; risks related to the outcome of legal proceedings; political and regulatory risks associated with mining and exploration; risks related to the maintenance of stock exchange listings; risks related to environmental regulation and liability; the potential for delays in exploration or development activities or the completion of feasibility studies; the uncertainty of profitability; risks and uncertainties relating to the interpretation of drill results, the geology, grade and continuity of mineral deposits; risks related to the inherent uncertainty of production and cost estimates and the potential for unexpected costs and expenses; results of prefeasibility and feasibility studies, and the possibility that future exploration, development or mining results will not be consistent with the Company’s expectations; risks related to gold price and other commodity price fluctuations; and other risks and uncertainties related to the Company’s prospects, properties and business detailed elsewhere in the Company’s disclosure record. Should one or more of these risks and uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned against attributing undue certainty to forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and the Company does not assume any obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances. Actual events or results could differ materially from the Company’s expectations or projections.