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Sokoman, Benton find cesium rich dykes

Looking east, towards the Burgeo Highway. A spodumene rich dyke can be seen in the left center of the photograph (they weather really white). – Courtesy of Sokoman Minerals

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

SOUTHWEST COAST — The mining industry in Newfoundland and Labrador has shown significant progress, and recent discoveries by Sokoman Minerals Corp. and Benton Resources Inc. during their partnership on the Golden Hope Project near Burgeo are proof that the province is rich in rare and important minerals. Timothy Froude, President, CEO and Director of Sokoman Minerals Corp. attended the Port aux Basques Lifestyle Expo on Saturday, May 6, to shared plans for Sokoman moving forward, especially since original plans have deviated to accommodate a new discovery. “The Golden Hope Project was staked initially to cover prospective gold bearing structures, faults, along trend from the former Hope Brook Gold Mine, as well, the Cape Ray Gold deposits,” explained Froude. “Prospecting soon after the claims were acquired resulted in the discovery of several lithium bearing pegmatite dykes, which were then followed by the discovery of cesium rich dykes approximately 12 kilometers further to the northeast. We still intend to look for gold, while the focus now is clearly these exciting new discoveries of important critical minerals.” Cesium is primarily used as a drilling fluid, but is also used to make special optical glass, as a catalyst promoter, in vacuum tubes and in radiation monitoring equipment. The Sokoman project in Newfoundland and Labrador is taking place over an extensive piece of property, and that’s something that will likely take considerable time to develop. “Golden Hope is a large property, consisting of almost 3,200 claims, which equals an area almost 800 square kilometers. Exploration on a property this size generally takes place in stages, with the first year generally consisting of reconnaissance scale prospecting and geochemical sampling,” said Froude. “We are completing the reconnaissance phase now out of the base camp we have set up near the discovery dykes. The subsequent exploration programs will focus where we have indications of mineralization, lithium or gold.” The Hydra Dyke discovery in late 2022, being the first discovery of its kind in the province, was an incredible find for Sokoman. “Hydra was a bit of a surprise, yet should not have been unexpected, as lithium dykes and cesium dykes often occur within a short distance from one another, as they are both from the same parent magma,” explained Froude. “Cesium mines are very rare. In fact there is only one known mine producing cesium. It is in Manitoba, and it’s called the Tanco Mine.” Cesium is mined as pollucite ore in a shallow underground mine from a zoned pegmatite. The Tanco pegmatite at Bernic Lake in Lily Pad Lake, Manitoba, contains two thirds of the world’s known reserves of cesium. The ones in Australia and Zimbabwe are currently not producing. The Tanco mine is an underground cesium and tantalum mine. It has been in operation since 2019, and it is owned and operated by Sinomine Resource Group. Currently Tanco has the largest known deposit of pollucite and is the world’s biggest cesium producer. “Tanco also produces lithium,” said Froude. “It should also be noted that the Kraken lithium pegmatites were also the first for the island portion of the province. These discoveries are extremely exciting, and we are getting full support from Minister (Andrew) Parson’s team in the Geological Survey, as well as the Geological Survey of Canada.” The lithium-bearing dykes, called the Kraken Prospect, as well as the Hydra dyke, are both moving forward with exploration. “Field work has begun at both discoveries. We are currently drilling at the extended Kraken pegmatite field, which has expanded to multiple dykes occurring over at least four kilometers in length,” said Froude. “At Hydra, we are continuing with soil sampling and will soon begin prospecting as there is still a bit of snow at Hydra due to its higher elevation. We will be carrying out detailed prospecting and trenching at Hydra as it was only found late last fall just before winter and we know much less about it than Kraken. We do expect to be drilling at Hydra later this summer.” Froude anticipates an extremely busy season for Sokoman Minerals this year and the current budget remains the same as it was projected in January, so no additional funds have had to be obtained since the season began. “We expect work to continue into the fall. We have a budget of between $3 and $4 million for this year, so we will be busy. Most of the funds will be directed towards drilling, but there will be several thousand soil and rock samples collected property wide. We do anticipate additional discoveries based on our early results from our reconnaissance program.” The lithium deposits in Newfoundland occur in a similar fashion to lithium deposits found across the world. “Lithium deposits worldwide occur in areas with large volumes of granite, specifically S-type granites that are formed from the melting of sedimentary rocks, hence S-type, that lie close to a major fault,” explained Froude. “Southwestern Newfoundland has all of the above noted ingredients. Pegmatite dykes generally form in clusters or swarms, which is the case at Kraken.” The name for the dyke was chosen for a specific reason. “The name Kraken comes from the tentacles of the giant squid, which look a lot like dykes in a strange way. The arms of the Kraken look like dykes in the rock,” shared Froude. Even though Sokoman primarily focuses on gold, they are ready to shift their focus. “Where we feel the conditions are right, we will focus efforts towards lithium and other critical metals,” said Froude. “Keep in mind that we are always on the lookout for new deposits, no matter what the commodity.” With steady progress being made, that doesn’t mean a fully functional mine is going to be on the horizon anytime soon. Whether or not there is actually enough potential on the Southwest coast of the province to justify that scale of development remains to be seen. “The opening of any mine takes a long time, including the exploration phases and the permitting and development phases. It is still early days at Kraken and only several years of intensive exploration will determine that,” said Froude. After 2022, both Sokoman and Benton are feeling optimistic about the potential of the Southwest coast. “We, as well as our JV partner Benton Resources, feel confident that we will find new occurrences of Lithium and other critical metals on the Golden Hope Property in 2023,” said Froude. “We hope that we find enough to warrant a development at some point down the road.”

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