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Marmota set to ride uranium wave

With uranium prices at 16-year highs, many ASX-listed juniors that have been lovingly warehousing their uranium projects through the difficult pricing periods are set to take centre stage.

And Marmota’s Junction Dam project in South Australia looks like it will be in the vanguard of the resurgence given its exquisite location in one of the few uranium-producing regions in the nation.

ASX-listed Marmota is poised to restart exploration at its Junction Dam uranium project in South Australia.CREDIT:

Sitting alongside Boss Energy’s Honeymoon mine – one of only four permitted uranium mines in Australia – Junction Dam is perfectly located to benefit from the sudden rise of uranium and the new energy global push.

Timing its return to the project almost perfectly, Marmota engaged uranium expert Mark Couzens to conduct a full technical analysis of the stratigraphy and mineralisation at Junction Dam back in November, with a view to designing the upcoming drill program that will likely be highly-anticipated by the market.

The review has already shown the enormous potential for Junction Dam to develop and grow. Marmota chairman Colin Rose

Couzens, who consults to various ASX-listed companies and claims to have worked on a dozen different uranium plays, says Junction Dam is one of the most exciting uranium projects he has worked on in Australia.

“There are nearly 200 holes drilled by Marmota to date, which enables a very detailed stratigraphic review to be carried out on the project,” Couzens said.

In the past few years, the price per pound for uranium has jumped from US$20 (AU$30.65) to touch about US$100 (AU$153.25). And it wasn’t all that long ago that recognised uranium experts were picking US$50 (AU$76.60) as the price at which it would be “game on” again for the uranium players.

Marmota’s Junction Dam project has a uranium resource of 5.4 million pounds grading 557 parts per million uranium oxide, with a exploration target of between 22 and 33 million pounds at 400ppm to 700ppm.

The company says it has highlighted significant potential to increase the size of the project’s uranium resource, particularly since its two adjoining uranium prospects, Bridget and Yolanda, already have proven uranium hits from previous drilling, but which are not included in the current Junction Dam resource.

The known Saffron deposit has also delivered impressive drilling results including peak assays as high as 12,310ppm and 8465ppm uranium oxide.

The company has already identified four new, high-priority drill targets to the north, east and south of the Saffron resource where the geology is favourable for uranium mineralisation and is supported by stratigraphic modelling, electromagnetic surveys and gravity images.

Three of the four new targets lie outside of the current Saffron uranium resource area, providing significant scope for growth, while six main uranium-bearing palaeochannels have been identified in the deposit from the stratigraphic modelling, which are all open for further mineralisation.

The review has already shown the enormous potential for Junction Dam to develop and grow as one of South Australia’s premium uranium deposits, in the premier uranium jurisdiction of Australia. It has already completely changed our understanding of the nature of uranium mineralisation at Junction Dam, its scope and dramatically increased our perception of the potential of Junction Dam. Marmota chairman Colin Rose

The company originally stopped work at Junction Dam in 2014 following the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Now, almost 10 years on, it is confident the time is right to re-evaluate and reignite the operation.

Importantly, Junction Dam sits in the same paleochannel as Boss Energy’s massive uranium mine that resulted in Boss hitting a crazy market cap of nearly $2.5 billion. In fact, Boss’ share price piled on about 60 per cent in the past month or two alone.

Clearly, that paleochannel is enriched with uranium and now it remains to be seen just how much of it is on Marmota’s side.

According to Geoscience Australia, SA is considered to be the most uranium-friendly State in the nation as it actively supports exploration for the resource. In fact, the project approvals process in that State has even been streamlined.

BHP’s Olympic Dam deposit in SA is considered one of the biggest uranium deposits in the world – if not the biggest, containing more than 2 million tonnes of uranium oxide.

Uranium mining has had a chequered history in Australia since the 1930s when it was first mined at Radium Hill and Mount Painter in SA, to the present day where production is from the giant underground orebody of Olympic Dam as a copper by-product and the Beverley Four Mile contiguous deposits, both in SA.

Australia holds a strategic position in the market with almost a third of the global uranium resources, yet only eight per cent of the world’s total is produced Down Under.

SA uranium mines lead the nation’s production with 5497 tonnes of uranium oxide produced in 2020. It is also home to one of only two Australian ports approved for uranium exports.

Marmota’s presence in the State with an already-tabled mineral resource, combined with a rising uranium price and a favourable jurisdiction for mining the heavy metal, makes it one of the most exciting deposits in Australia.

However, the company is not placing all its eggs in the one basket and also holds the Aurora Tank gold discovery.

Aurora Tank sits in SA’s highly-prospective Gawler Craton and is near the Challenger gold mine that has historically produced more than 1 million ounces of gold. Marmota’s drilling at the project has returned bonanza gold grades of 100 grams per tonne or more from 1m hits in five different zones, including a peak 1m assay at 217g/t.

Additional results delivered 1m grading 197g/t gold from 57m, while drilling in 2019 also produced impressive figures of 120g/t from just 18m.

Encouragingly, the outstanding high grades at Aurora Tank occur not just conveniently close to surface, but also extend deeper into fresh rock. The project is known for having near-surface, high-grade gold, which lends itself to low-cost, open-pit mining and ore that is amendable to processing using conventional heap leach methods.

The project previously captured headlines because of an innovative exploration technique that led to its plethora of high-grade drill results.

Marmota used “biogeochemical sampling”, which is the sampling and analysis of tree matter, to home in on mineralisation below the surface. Remarkably, it has successfully applied the method to identify drilling targets and detect near-surface gold mineralisation.

The sampling technique involves taking samples of plant matter and or leaves and analysing them for traces of gold that have been sucked up from the ground nutrients below.

Marmota appears to be in the right commodities at the right time with uranium hitting its straps and gold miners selling the precious yellow metal at record prices.

The real blue sky, however, is in uranium amid the global push for clean energy.

While the ever-green types have furiously pushed for a reduction in fossil fuels, they have been slow to embrace uranium and nuclear energy. However, all that appears to be changing as the world comes to the realisation that only nuclear energy will achieve the calibre of greenhouse reductions everyone is so focused on.

The market also seems to agree, with Marmota’s stock recently showing significant increases in trading volumes and upward price trajectory.

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