The historic mine is located on the coast of an island located 15 km north of Nanortalik town and heliport. Access is by helicopter or boat. The Nalunaq gold mine, operated until recently by Angel Mining PLC, is located 18 km to the north-east of the former mine. Licence 2013/06, which encompasses the former Amitsoq graphite mine, covers a land area of 146 km² and encompasses the whole of Amitsoq island and the mainland to the east of Nanortalik.
Historic Exploration and Production
Greenland has a long history of graphite mining. The Amitsoq graphite mine was an open-cut operation between 1914 and 1924 and produced ca. 5,500 tonnes at an average grade of 20 per cent graphite. The graphite was sent to Copenhagen for final processing. Other than a local government funded mineral inventory and potential study in 1986, conducted by Danish company A/S Nielson, no other graphite exploration or development has taken place in the licence area since production ceased. Metallurgical testwork on behalf of A/S Nielson reported some flakes reaching a maximum of 15 mm (“super jumbo" flake size), with the average flake size being 0.2-0.3 mm (+60 mesh, or “jumbo" flake size).
Work Undertaken and Future Work Plans
Initial Site Visit
A field visit was completed at the Amitsoq graphite project (the “Project”). Samples taken from historic workings at the Amitsoq mine were then subjected to analysis by the British Geological Survey (“BGS”) at their laboratory in Keyworth, near Nottingham. The test results demonstrate that graphitic carbon contents vary from 20.5% to 35.4%, with an overall mean graphitic carbon content of 28.7%, significantly higher than the previously reported historic average grade of 20% and higher than most reported advanced graphite projects globally. The graphite exists in various morphologies, ranging from fine-grained specular forms to large discrete crystals, to agglomerations which span areas of up to 15 mm in size.
Remote Sensing Study
A remote sensing study was then commissioned to complete the first phase of work. PhotoSat (Vancouver, Canada) was commissioned to complete an iron oxide (FeO) remote sensing study using 50-cm pixel resolution WorldView-2 satellite images. The study covered an area of 292.5 km2 and identified areas of iron oxide alteration in all parts of the licence. Interpretation of the processed FeO alteration images was then performed to place the alteration in a geological context, and used as a proxy to locate potentially exploitable graphite resources. The results of the study were highly encouraging, highlighting several anomalies for a variety of commodities. Numerous and continuous graphitic horizons are suggested along strike and proximal to the Amitsoq graphite mine. FeO anomalies are coincident with known graphite occurrences at the former Amitsoq graphite mine. Two zones containing multiple lenses of interpreted bedded graphite occur along strike 2.5 km and 5.8 km to the northeast of the Amitsoq mine. Additional FeO anomalies are interpreted to be favourable targets for platinum group metals, orogenic lode gold and intrusion related copper-zinc mineralization. Further, anomalies have been identified with geology similar to economic gold mineralization at the nearby Nalunaq gold mine (circa 340,000 ounces of gold produced to date).
The Company commissioned SRK Exploration Services Ltd to sample one of the graphite-bearing veins at the site of the former Amitsoq graphite mine. The vein was sampled where it has been exposed in outcrop and in what appears to be an old surface box cut that was created during previous mining operations. The 179 kilograms of samples will now be sent to a laboratory for metallurgical test work to be carried out on the graphite ore. We will report on the results of the test work in due course.
The particular vein selected for sampling appears to have been exploited with a number of adits when the Amitsoq mine was operational. At the location selected for sampling, the vein has a true thickness of 16.58 metres, which is greater than had been anticipated. A total of 13 channel samples were taken. Photographs of the sampling exercise can be seen on the Alba website (see the “Image Gallery” section). The channel samples were offset from each other where necessary in order to cover the outcrop morphology. They are however geologically contiguous across dip, thus providing continuity of sampling through the whole thickness of the vein, and cover a strike distance of 48.5 metres.
The total mass of the samples is 179 kilograms. The vein material showed only minor mineralogical variation in terms of quartz content. Further work is required to establish continuity of the measured thickness along strike. However, the adits that were visited appeared to be on the same structure as that sampled.
Mineralogically, the vein is composed of graphite with pyrite, chalcopyrite and pyrrhotite together with quartz blebs or stringers. The depth of surficial hematite/limonite staining, derived from weathered sulphides, is minimal and was immediately covered by the silver appearance of the graphite carried in the blade’s cooling water, this being an indicator of the presence of graphite in the ore rock (see the relevant photo in the Media>Image Gallery section of this website).
The amount of shearing varied across the vein and in places small quartz-filled tension gashes were seen to be perpendicular to the vein. The only textural variation found was in terms of the degree of shearing. One major internal shear was observed but appeared to be conformable with the hanging and footwall contacts.
Airborne Geophysical Survey
In September 2016 the Company commissioned a specialist airborne geophysical survey company to carry out an airborne EM and magnetic survey at Alba’s Amitsoq Graphite project in southern Greenland.
The principal target of the survey was the southern portion of Amitsoq island, which hosts the former graphite mine, as well as a target to the north of the mine which hosts the Nickel-Platinum Group Element anomalies known as Amitsoq Dyke and Craig’s Dyke.
The objective was to identify electromagnetic and magnetic horizons within the survey area. Several known graphite horizons (up to 16.58 metres in thickness) are present. The interpretation of these horizons will help Alba to assess the continuity along strike of the graphite horizon and/or horizons. It will also assist us to identify additional structural geological elements which will assist in the interpretation of the regional geology. The precise location of the survey areas is shown on a map which is available on the Alba website (under “Projects”).
In relation to the Amitsoq Dyke and Craig’s Dyke targets, Amitsoq Dyke was first discovered by the Geological Survey of Greenland (“GGU”) in the early 1960s when boulder tracing discovered a hornblende peridotite intrusion on Amitsoq Island, about 10 km northeast of the old graphite mine. The GGU published a summary of the economic geology of Greenland in 1973, which mentions the nickel and platinum occurrence on Amitsoq Island. It is described as an ultramafic, structurally related hornblende-peridotite dyke-like body, 1.5 km long and up to 100 m wide with sulphides thought to be early magmatic segregations. The richest mineralisation contains up to 5% sulphides. A further programme of exploration in the late 1980s discovered another ultramafic intrusion called “Craig’s Dyke‟, approximately 1.5 km to the south on the western side of the island. Nine grab samples were taken from the Craig’s Dyke occurrence and these averaged 442 ppb Pt, 418 ppb Pd, 85 ppb Au, 0.28% Ni and 0.48% Cu. The highest grade grab samples returned values up to 3.8 g/t Pt+Pd+Au. In 1988, magnetics and VLF-EM surveys were undertaken at Craig’s Dyke and it was interpreted that that the mineralisation may be hosted in a steeply plunging “rod-like‟ pipe. The EM survey will assess not only the known dykes but will also look at parallel structures, looking for deep sulphide accumulations.
In addition to these survey areas on Amitsoq Island, which targeted graphite and Ni-PGE mineralisation, Alba also targeted two possible gold anomalies on the mainland to the south of Amitsoq Island (but within the licence area) which have been identified in the remote sensing studies Alba carried out in 2015 and which have previously been reported. These are located respectively approximately three miles east and six miles north-east of Nanortalik town. The two targets are approximately 20 kms along strike from a known former gold mine at Nalunaq (circa 340,000 ounces of gold produced to date).
The flight line spacing and direction was 200 m for most of the survey area, but 100 m for areas of known graphite and Ni-PGE mineralisation. The benefit of the system selected is that it can deliver 400 m penetration, subject to any difficult areas of terrain which may be encountered in parts of the survey area.
The survey involved three to four days of flying time and was completed at the end of September. Preliminary results from the survey were announced on 30 January 2017. The most important features identified were as follows:
- Several new faults and numerous EM anomalies associated with potential graphite horizons were identified with a total strike length of 12.05 kilometres.
- Of that total, there are 11 anomalies in particular of between 350 metres and 1300 metres each in length, for a total strike length of 5.55 km. These will be priority targets for Alba in the 2017 ground campaign.
- Two shallow, moderate intensity EM anomalies associated with a large ultramafic dyke (Craig’s Dyke) known to contain magmatic sulphides (pyrrhotite, pentlandite, chalcopyrite, and cubanite) of up to 0.4 g/t platinum, 0.6 g/t palladium, 0.2 g/t gold and 7 g/t silver (GEUS, 1971).
Alba has grouped the EM anomalies into four distinct graphite target areas, and within those four graphite areas Alba intends to focus its efforts in the forthcoming ground campaign on what we are calling Target Area 1, seeking to establish graphite extensions in and around the known mine area. Alba also intends to explore the non-graphite target referred to above at Craig’s Dyke (Target Area 5). Refer to the map in the Media>Image Gallery section of this website showing the location of these five Target Areas.
Alba intends to bring modern exploration concepts and an updated geological model to the Project in an effort to fast track towards the initiation of a bankable feasibility study, as demonstrated by the completion of this high-resolution modern airborne electromagnetic (EM) and magnetic survey.
The current industrial uses of graphite include steel, refractories, brake lining and other automotive products. The expected largest growth area is associated with lithium ion batteries, currently the preferred battery source for electric vehicles. According to Industrial Minerals, graphite is the second-largest input material required in lithium ion batteries by volume. Other growth areas for graphite include fuel cells, aluminium anodes, pebble-bed nuclear reactors and graphene.
The European Union and the USA have named graphite as a mineral in critical supply.