Company Reports > Commerce Resources Corp.




Report Date :  

 Feb 20, 2009

Toll Free :  


Symbol :  

 CCE, Toronto Venture

Telephone :  


Symbol :  

 D7H, Frankfurt

eMail :

Contact :  

 Chris Grove


Every time a teenager listens to music streaming into their earphones or business managers use the latest version of their favorite communication device or IT (information technology) supervisors order the most recent upgrades to their technology, you can be virtually certain that the gadgets involved use some form of a metals that few outside of the mining world have ever heard of, tantalum.  These two metals have unique attributes that have made them ideal for advancing technology and one Canadian junior mining company, Vancouver-based Commerce Resources Corp., is aggressively advancing their tantalum and niobium project located in north-central British Columbia.

Commerce's most important properties lie in the Rocky Mountain Trench, just west of the highest peaks of the Canadian Rockies, between the towns of Blue River and Valemount. Infrastructure in the area is excellent with first-class highways adjacent to the project as well as major rail service and abundant power sources. Supplies and personnel are available in both towns as well as the larger community of McBride, about one hour distant.

While the company has several prospective project areas, their attention is focused primarily on advancing the Upper Fir Carbonatite toward production at the earliest possible time. Commerce began drilling at Upper Fir in 2005 and completed 20 HQ diameter holes in their 2005-2006 programs and drilled an additional 18 HQ diameter holes in 2007. These drill programs outlined a series of sill-like bodies with up to 100 meters total thickness, extending for more than 1,000 meters in a north-south direction and up to 600 meters east-west. The carbonatite remains open both to the east and south.

By August, 2008, Commerce was able to release an updated resource estimate prepared by John Gorham, P. Geol., for the Upper Fir Carbonatite which calculated an Indicated resource of 14.68 million tonnes with average grades of 190 grams per tonne (g/t) Ta205 (tantalum) and 1,300 g/t Nb205 (niobium) within a 38 meter confidence limit. In addition, Inferred resources were estimated at 19.8 million tonnes with average grades of 188 g/t Ta205 and 1,612 g/t Nb205.

During 2008, Commerce conducted its most extensive drill program to date with the objectives of infill drilling to build upon and upgrade known resources and expanding identified ore zones. A total of 118 drill holes were completed on the Upper Fir Carbonatite and, in addition, three holes were completed at the Switch Creek Carbonatite; four holes were drilled at the Hodgie "Rare Earth" Zone and six holes were drilled at the Lower Gum Creek Zone.

In addition to the drilling activities, a bulk sample of approximately 2,000 tonnes of material from the Upper Fir was collected and stockpiled on the property.

In releasing the details of the August 2008 estimate, company President Dave Hodge also noted that, "...The outlook for prices of tantalum and niobium are positive as inventories continue to deplete due to the increase in consumer spending on electronics as well as the steel industry." He also said that much of the world's present supply comes from politically and socially unstable areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and, therefore, "...A premium is put on material derived from conflict-free sources."

While there is no active and open commodity market for tantalum, such as there is for other metals like copper, gold and silver, industry sources estimate the present price for tantalum to be about US$60 per pound for tantalum concentrate and US$140 for tantalum oxide.

First discoveries of carbonatites in the Blue River Project area occurred in 1949 by geologist Orrin French, his daughter Betty and son John. Some periodic stripping and trenching occurred over the next three decades, but the first serious efforts at development took place during the 1980s by Anschutz Mining Ltd. when a diamond drilling program involving over 30,000 meters at Fir as well as Verity and other ore bodies was accomplished. However, adverse market conditions prevented further serious action until 2000, when a new prospecting and sampling program was initiated by Commerce's present VP Exploration, geologist Jody Dahrouge of Edmonton, Alberta.

Since that time the company has conducted exploration stage programs, identified drilling targets, built a geologic model, conducted its recent and present drilling programs with infill drilling and bulk sampling to follow, plus metallurgical testing and economic evaluation. The company plans to move ahead toward the completion of a scoping study, pre-feasibility study and then a full feasibility study, ultimately leading toward a production decision.

Part of that process is receiving the various approval permits required to proceed, such as environmental permits, along with others for road construction, mine construction and, ultimately, a full mining permit. In this regard, the company may be ahead of the curve significantly in that it engaged the services of Gartner Lee Ltd. who began the environmental baseline data collection - for eventual submission for the Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate - in July 2006. An important part of the permitting process is keeping area communities and First Nations people informed on a regular basis. An example of First Nations involvement has been the undertaking of archaeological field work in order to insure that mining activities do not infringe on important aboriginal sites. To date, no conflict has been discovered, no historic artifacts or Cu8lturally Modified Trees.

The company plans to release an updated resource estimate this year and continues working toward receiving a B.C. government mining permit with the objective of shipping a tantalum/niobium concentrate by rail for metallurgical processing off-site.
Tantalum has unique attributes that make it ideal for several purposes. These include an exceedingly high melting point, high corrosion resistance, ease of alloy with other metals, high electricity conductivity and, most particularly, a high capacity to store and release an electrical charge. It is this last attribute that makes it ideal for use in capacitors found in computers, mobile phones, video cameras and other modern technological devices.

Tantalum also has important applications where operation at high temperatures is required, such as in jet engines, and new technological uses include hybrid vehicles, hybrid batteries, corrosion resistance and within the growing field of medical device implantations.

Niobium has similarities to tantalum, but also has unique applications of its own, such as rocket assemblies, heart pacemakers, as an additive to glass making and for various optical lenses. However, the single most important application for niobium is as an alloy for the production of steel where an application of two percent niobium triples the strength of steel, making for a stronger and lighter steel product.

Tantalum is found in many locations worldwide, including Australia, Africa (DRC in particular), Brazil, Asia and North America. Australia and the DRC are of particular importance as this is written.

The former Sons of Gwalia mine in Wodgina, Australia had been the leading producer of Tantalum, but in November, 2008, the mine's operator, Talison Minerals, announced they were suspending production and gave two reasons for their decision. First, the deep economic trauma of 2008 had reduced consumer demand for tantalum used in electronic applications. Second, several end users, in an attempt to control expenses, had been buying cheaper tantalum from the DRC, despite the socially negative manner in which that tantalum was produced.

This cessation of production by Talison could work toward Commerce's future advantage as some end users, seeking to avoid the opprobrium associated with DRC-produced tantalum, would welcome a producer located in Canada where high ethical, safety and social standards are maintained.    

In addition to the focus on Blue River, Commerce is also active in northern Quebec at their "Eldor Carbonatite Project", located near Ungava Bay. The presence of tantalum and niobium was first discovered in the area in the early 1980's when Eldor Resources was exploring for uranium. With the collapse of that market, activity at Eldor ceased until 2007 when Geologist Dahrouge conducted airborne surveys that identified anomalies over a 10 km by 4 km oval-shaped body.

The company has conducted additional exploration work including 26 drill holes averaging 200 meters during 2008 and the company expects to report fully on those drill results in the near future. In addition, mechanical trenching and lines of soil sampling have also taken place.

Commerce Resources recently named Dr. Axel Hoppe Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dr. Hoppe is an internationally acknowledged leader in the tantalum/niobium field and during his tenure as a Director of H.C. Starck GmbH, the company grew into a leading producer of tantalum and niobium products. He has also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center.

Dave Hodge serves as company President and Director and has stewarded the Blue River project from its acquisition in 2000. He has an extensive background in both public and private businesses and has held senior leadership posts with regional business associations.

Jody Dahrouge, B. Sc., P. Geo. serves as both VP Exploration and Director while Shaun Ledding, B. Comm, also serves as a Director and leads the Commerce management team in critical areas of corporate finance, regulatory compliance and marketing.

Commerce was most fortunate to have raised C$32.7 million in July, 2007 during a period in which their share price had been bid up significantly. As a result, they have sufficient capital on hand to underwrite all their activities for the rest of the year at a minimum.

For further information, contact the company website at or direct your inquiries to Chris Grove, Corporate Communications at


Commerce Resources Corp.

Suite 1450 - 789 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC
V6C 1H2 Canada

Toll Free :

  1 866 484 2700

Telephone :

  604 484 2700

Facsimile :

  604 681 8240

The Melman Report

244 - 2465 Apollo Dr.
Nanoose Bay, BC
V9P 9K2
T. 250.947.5505
F. 250.468.7027

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