Inomin owns a 100% interest in the 7,528 hectare Beaver magnesium-nickel property located in British Columbia, Canada
The Beaver property is situated in south-central BC, 15 kilometres east of the Gibraltar mine, the second largest open-pit copper mine in Canada. The property has excellent infrastructure including roads and railway, and is near hydro-electric power.
Inomin's inaugural drilling program hit significant mineralization in all drill holes including 252.1 metres grading 20.6% magnesium and 0.16% nickel. All holes ended in mineralization leaving the discoveries open to expansion in all directions.
Multiple Large Targets
Airborne magnetic surveys and drilling of 34 holes have discovered six mineral zones prospective for large, near-surface deposits.
Metallurgical testing has achieved recoveries of 99% magnesium using hydrochloric acid (HCl) leaching. Up to 58% of nickel was extracted by flotation.
Historic exploration by a previous operator in the Beaver property area initially targeted gold. Although gold was found in select areas, nickel sulphide and cobalt were discovered in uniform amounts over all areas drill tested. The ultramafic rock hosting the nickel, delineated by magnetic surveys and drilling, covers a large 4 km by 8 km footprint indicating the property’s potential for large, bulk tonnage, near-surface nickel.
Given the discovery of significant nickel, a pre-scoping metallurgical study was completed by SGS Canada Inc. in 2015. Metallurgical tests demonstrated positive nickel recovery rates in line with nickel deposits of a similar nature. As nickel prices were relatively low at the time (around US$4.00/lb) and a new gold discovery was made by the past ownership group elsewhere in the region, no further work was done at the property.
Inomin acquired the Beaver property by staking in 2019. The company also acquired the 12,662 hectare Lynx nickel property, located just 11 kilometres south of Beaver, given the similar geological environment and extensive nickel occurrences found in outcroppings. As the Beaver and Lynx properties are near the Gibraltar and Mount Polley porphyry deposits – representative of major hydrothermal activity – the district is geological conducive for hosting substantial mineral deposits.
In 2021, following ground survey programs, Inomin completed its first drilling program at Beaver. The drill program, consisting of five holes (716 metres) over 5.7 kilometre long area, discovered significant magnesium, nickel, and chromium. Inomin's discovery confirmed Beaver’s potential for hosting large volumes of magnesium and nickel – high important critical metals.
The Beaver property is ideally located in south-central British Columbia, 50 kilometres north from the town of Williams Lake and just 15 kilometres east of the Gibraltar mine, the second largest open-pit copper mine in Canada. The property is easily accessible by paved roads with hydro-electric power nearby.
Inomin's inaugural 2021 drilling program at Beaver generated an exciting major discovery of magnesium-nickel-chromium, and other critical minerals. Drill-hole B21-02 intersected 252.1 metres (m) grading 20.6% magnesium, 0.16% nickel, and 0.33% chromium. B21-02 is the longest mineralized hole ever drilled at Beaver, and the first-ever drilling in the Spur zone, one of five large mineralized areas at the property.
Hole B21-01 at Spur also made another first, discovering near-surface silver and copper, intersecting 649 g/t silver and 0.29% copper over 3 metres, before the hole was terminated due to difficult ground drilling conditions.
The 2021 drilling program, consisting of 5 holes (716 metres), successfully tested mineralization over a strike length of 5.7 kilometres. All holes ended in mineralization leaving the discoveries open to extension at depth.
Carbon Capture Potential
Ultramafic rocks like those that host magnesium and nickel-rich mineralization at Beaver can be among the largest carbon capture and storage reservoirs on Earth.
Initial testing by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), demonstrate that samples from the Company’s Beaver discovery contain key minerals that sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
Brucite, a mineral form of magnesium, is an important mineral for carbon capture as it naturally sequesters CO2. In tailings it reacts with CO2 removing it from the atmosphere, converting it into a safe, solid form that is stable for thousands of years.
A substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions could enable mines to become carbon neutral and lower operating costs. Even greater emission reductions could create carbon negative mines and the opportunity to generate carbon credits, the “holy grail” for mining operations and green investment.
Magnesium is the Key to Carbon Capture
The Beaver and Lynx properties are situated in the Cache Creek Terrane bounded to the east and west by upper Triassic-aged rocks of the Quesnel (Quesnellia) Terrane. The Cache Creek Terrane, extending from lower British Columbia to southern Yukon, consists of Permian to Triassic-aged volcanic rocks, carbonate rocks, coarse clastic rocks and small amounts of ultramafic rock, chert and argillite.
Drilling has shown that ultramafic occurrences underlie the property. Areas drill tested in magnetically anomalous zones intersected shallow dipping variably serpentinized dunites with lesser peridotites and gabbros. The dunites are composed of fine to medium grained olivines whereas the peridotites contain up to 10% coarser grains pyroxenes. These occurrences represent a basal sequence (upper mantle, lower crust) of a tectonically emplace ophiolite/island arc event.
The fabric of the underlying sediments and volcanics trend north-northwest as evidenced by the consistent drainage alignments. At least five prominent, north-northwest trending drainage lineaments cross the property. All of these are interpreted as marking bedrock fracture zones. This gives rise to the possibility that they represent horsetail splays of strike-slip faults at the end of a major strike-slip fault, possibly the Pinchi Fault which is considered to end at latitudes in the vicinity of the property (Gabrielse and Yorath, 1992). As such, the Beaver property is a prime site for hydrothermal activity.
Mineralization and Metallurgy
Magnesium and nickel mineralization at Beaver is associated with shallow dipping ultramafic rocks. Preliminary metallurgical test work conducted by SGS Canada Inc., on 2021 drilling core samples, achieved magnesium recoveries of 99% using hydrochloric acid (HCl) leaching. HCl leaching also recovered 95% of the iron and between 52% – 58% of the nickel.
Optimization of extraction techniques is expected to increase recoveries. The metallurgical test results demonstrate the ability to extract a very high level of magnesium utilizing conventional processing and are an important milestone for the project.
Magnesium Classified Among Most Critical Materials
Magnesium has many important uses in technology, agriculture, and health industries. As a metal, magnesium has growing applications for green energy. The lightest structural metal – 33% lighter than aluminum and 75% lighter than steel – magnesium is ideal for lightweighting applications in the transportation (land, air, and sea) sectors. Vehicle lightweighting is gaining speed, utilizing magnesium alloys in various components to create lighter vehicles to improve fuel efficiency, performance, and reduce impact on the environment. Several leading automakers have reportedly already replaced steel and aluminum with magnesium in various parts.
Automakers are also looking at creating magnesium alloy parts with advanced manufacturing processes. Mega casting enables vehicle parts to be created from a single casting instead of numerous small parts castings. Compared to aluminum, magnesium alloys enable faster production and the ability to produce more parts from the same amount of material. Lower vehicle costs can accelerate sales and fuel adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
Due to magnesium’s light weight and high strength, it is also essential in the manufacture of commercial and military aircraft. This makes the silver-colored metal vital for commerce and national security.
The global shift to EVs and clean energy is forecast to significantly increase demand for several critical minerals, especially lithium, nickel, and cobalt, as well as magnesium. As China accounts for approximately 88% of worldwide magnesium production, Western nations are pursuing domestic magnesium sources, and from geopolitical allies, to reduce supply disruptions.
In July 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released its 2023 Critical Materials Assessment report, evaluating materials for their criticality to global clean energy technology supply chains. The DOE determined that magnesium is among the most critical metals from 2025 to 2035 based on its importance for energy applications and supply risks.
In addition to supply risks, the other major concern for end-users of magnesium, is that it can be produced in a more sustainable manner. Today, approximately 85% of the world’s magnesium is produced by the Pigeon process in China, a labour intensive and environmentally detrimental method. The DOE reports the Pigeon process is energy intensive, generating 37 kg of CO2 to produce 1 kg of magnesium. Furthermore, the process uses sulphur hexafluoride, a factor in global warming.
Reporting further on magnesium production, the DOE report states, “The other method of magnesium production utilizes electrolytic processes that require access to a renewable energy source, such as hydropower, to reduce environmental impact. The transition to clean energy will require that magnesium production be sited close enough to renewable power energy to power the electrolytic processes, such as hydropower. This siting practice may cause mild bottleneck concerns, as production is centered around certain geographic areas that have enough hydropower to supply magnesium production.”