By Allen Alper Jr.
Happy Creek Minerals Ltd (TSXV:HPY) Exploring for Copper and Tungsten in British Columbia
David Blann, with education in mining engineering and as a professional geological engineer of 25 years’ experience, set up Happy Creek Minerals Ltd (TSXV:HPY) in 2006 determined to follow the old adage that the “best place to find a mine is near a mine”. The company became a publically traded company in August 2006 and has never looked back.
Happy Creek Minerals has assembled a portfolio of exploration-type projects, each of which is near an old or an existing mine and also has ready access to roads and other infrastructure. This strategy makes for lower costs in exploration, extraction and transport, and also ensures that the geopolitical environment is established and stable.
One of the company’s main discoveries is copper in its Highland Valley project, comprised of the Rateria and West Valley properties. The claims comprising this project are located next to Teck Resources Highland Valley Copper mine property, Canada’s top producer of copper. Zone 1 is over one kilometre in length and is open in extent. A second zone also discovered by Happy Creek includes molybdenum with high grade rhenium for which the company recognized and was the first in Highland Valley to announce in drill results.
More recently, high-grade tungsten was found in Central British Columbia on what is known as the Fox property. The tungsten was first detected at the surface, and trenching then follow-up drilling on the Ridley Creek area last year revealed the existence of more tungsten still close to the surface and of the same grade or better.
In respect of the tungsten, the company has planned an aggressive drilling program which they hope to implement before the end of the year. “We should be a different company next year,” David says proudly.
He is confident in his team which has “very qualified people” and is ready to go. At the moment they are putting the finishing touches to their drilling program plan that will include Highland Valley and the Fox.
“We are one step away from resources and are starting to plan for initial scoping and feasibility work on several of our projects,” David promises. “In Highland Valley, our copper, moly and rhenium is of a nature and grade that we feel very confident is of interest to our neighbor Teck, and we have really only tested a couple of spots so the upside potential for a stand-alone project is excellent. And because the copper minerals have potential for a high grade, clean concentrate, we have started some initial metallurgical work, and we can use that input for our exploration and future resource estimates.”
On the tungsten side, the plan for 2012 is to drill enough to generate an initial resource, bulk sample for metallurgical studies, and initiate baseline environmental studies in order to prepare for initial scoping and feasibility. If all goes well and sufficient funds are in place, we are looking to about the first quarter of 2013 to accomplish this. The tungsten mineral is a very clean scheelite, good for recovery, and there are other metals such as zinc and indium, gold and silver in that may play a role as a by-product.
“We have also received a lot of interest in our tungsten,” affirms David. “We’ve had quite a few potential partners looking to join venture and we’re just not prepared to do that on terms discussed. The Fox is something we could take to production.”
The reason for this, he explains, is that they own their projects one hundred per cent and “we like to keep them that way so that we’re in the driver’s seat at all times.”
Their current budget is 2 million Canadian dollars, 1 million for the copper and 1 million for the tungsten. They have 3 million in the bank, and as a company have never had less than 1 million in the bank at the end of any quarter.
Their market capitalization is currently $8.5m. They have 55 m shares outstanding and 20m were traded last year.
Share prices have been fairly steady around the $0.20 – $0.25 mark over the last year with one dip to $0.15 and one peak at $0.34. The company’s price has slid in the past 6 months, most likely due to Flow Through tax investors cashing out for probably less than ½ of what they paid, and the Company is currently trading at $0.14. David reassures us, “I believe most of the Flow Through selling is done”.
The main challenge to the company is in getting the market to appreciate the value in the projects, something that is being experienced by all mining companies, from junior to senior. Happy Creek, emphasizes David, with confident knowledge as its founder, was “built with a view to minimizing the risk as much as possible,” and so it finds itself in a good position compared with many other enterprises. It has some unique advantages which make it an attractive proposal to investors even in these difficult times.
First of all Happy Creek is a young and dynamic company. It currently has exploration stage status but results clearly indicate upward mobility to new resource status, and with the tungsten in particular, potential for production. It has defined a large quality target adjacent to the Boss Mountain mine that is being advanced towards re-opening, and new copper discoveries located adjacent to Teck’s Highland Valley copper mine. These three 100% owned projects have a common thread in that they are close to existing or former mines, thereby allowing it to take advantage of infrastructure such as supply, roads/rail and power, as well as the acceptance and qualified labour source from the local population. Everything works in favor of giving the company the best chance not only of reducing risk, but they also have the opportunity to sell to the larger company next door, or with lower development and production costs, to advance projects themselves and maximize value for shareholders.
Happy Creek has been particularly fortunate in its strategic tungsten find, which is thought to be the most significant new tungsten discovery in Western Canada for the past 40 years. Large scale, high grade and close to the surface, it promises capability for very positive economics and potential for long life.
The existence of other minerals in association with the key discoveries of copper and tungsten are an additional reason for investors to have confidence. By-products are important contributors to value; the rhenium results from the Rateria copper property in particular, are acknowledged by scientists familiar with this rare metal, to be very significant on a global scale.
While the copper of Highland Valley and the tungsten are currently the most notable projects, Happy Creek has also made an important discovery of molybdenum, copper and gold that is directly adjacent to the former Boss Mountain molybdenum mine, which was the first major molybdenum producer in Canada.
Former Boss Mountain Molybdenum mine from Happy Creek’s Silverboss property
David summarizes Happy Creek when he says that its investors “can look for a very active company, lots of exploration work and drilling means lots of news”.
David Blann, founder of Happy Creek Minerals Ltd, outlines how he aims to maximize returns to his shareholders. The company has proven success in identifying the potential in several early-stage projects, and making new quality discoveries that are in proximity to mines and infrastructure. These are thought to be capable of being brought on-stream easier and with lower costs, by either selling them to a larger company with existing facilities nearby, or with minimized capital and operating costs, taking them into production outright.
Suite #460 789 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 1H2
Toll Free: 1.877.662.8310
Contact: David Blann