Friday, March 5, 2010

Ancient Meteor Impact May Hold Key to Uranium Exploration Success at Cluff

"I look at about 100 different projects a year, most of which go into the round filing cabinet on my floor," said Tony Harvey, the senior technical advisor to ESO Uranium (TSX: ESO), and formerly a senior manager of Wright Engineers-Fluor Daniels, which was involved with the design and construction of 14 mines worldwide. Harvey quickly ticked off what is necessary to attract his eye, "I need to see history. I need to see signposts before I give it any credence." So why is he advising little-known ESO Uranium, after a long, prolific career?

"I believe this one has a huge amount of history," Harvey argued. "Not only have you got the Cluff Lake mine, which already confirms the presence of uranium, but you have got the Shea Creek drilling intercepts which validate it. We have the conductors streaming onto our property. We have the boulders, which is also another sign post." The boulders, of which Tony Harvey refers, are the six uranium-mineralized boulders near the ESO Uranium project on the company's Cluff property. Near those boulders, a promising drill hole from the 1970s indicated 0.85% U3O8 over 2.3 meters. It was all but forgotten until the recent explosion of exploration activity in Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin, an area which has helped Cameco (NYSE: CCJ) grow into a company with a market capitalization of nearly $12 billion.

What ESO Uranium's geological team will be looking for at the company's Cluff property are Cluff Lake style uranium deposits in basement rocks with the Carswell structure close to the unconformity with sandstones of the Athabasca group. That was allegedly created by the meteor's impact.

Drilling in the Meteor's Wake

"The value of the ore extracted at the Cluff mine, in today's terms, would be equivalent to $2.6 billion," explained Harvey. "That's how much was extracted at the Cluff mine." The company's vice president of exploration, Benjamin Ainsworth, who is both a senior geologist and a mining engineer, helped explain the Cluff structure. "A meteorite probably impacted at this location and with sufficient force to break right through the layers of Athabasca sandstone on the surface. On rebound, basement rocks got lifted back up. In bouncing back out, it also lifted up the surrounding Athabasca rocks and tipped them up, if you can imagine, like an opening flower." As a result, the basement got lifted up to the surface and made it easier to find and mine the uranium at Cluff. Ainsworth added, "The significance of that for me and our group is that shows very high grade uranium deposits in the western side of Athabasca."

Drilling a property helps the geological team better understand the area. Since the Cluff property was mined out, two decades ago, additional scientific study has opened up new doors. At the 67th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting, University of Quebec Earth Science professors presented a paper entitled, "A Re-Evaluation of the Size of the Carswell Astrobleme." The Montreal scientists concluded in the 2004 annual conference held in Brazil, "The Carswell impact structure is therefore older and larger than previously estimated... the central uplift considered to be under the annular dolomitic unit would suggest a crater size in the basement of 118 to 125 kilometers wide." While some believe the meteor hit about 478 million years ago, recent evidence suggests it may have been closer to 1.8 billion years ago.

Ainsworth warned there is a lot of risk in drilling for uranium deposits. "The geometry of these things is damn small." ESO president Jonathan George pointed out that the world's richest uranium deposit, McArthur River, hosting about 400 million pounds of uranium, had half of its deposit in an area about half the size of a football field. "I think that's mind boggling," he said, "that a $7 billion project would be on an area that small."

COPYRIGHT © 2007 by StockInterview, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.