• News Release NR-22-08; July 21, 2022:

    Hole HK22-013: 243 m @ 1.01 % TREO, of which 19% are PMREO, within 290 m @ 0.91 % TREO,
    starting at surface, and including 39 m @ 2.01 % TREO with 65 m @ 1.56 TREO with 20% PMREO.

The Hecla-Kilmer property (“H-K”) is located in northern Ontario, and is a direct extension of the Company’s ongoing exploration strategy initiated in 2018 at its nearby Ranoke property towards a blue-sky discovery of a large footprint hydrothermal breccia system with critical metals, copper and gold using new exploration technologies and modern mineral deposit models on previously untested targets.

The Ranoke and H-K properties are remote and the targets are covered and previously untested, yet they are proximal to regional infrastructure including active rail, power and highway which enable cost-effective exploration, and are favourable attributes towards future project development potential.

Both properties are centered on large magnetic anomalies associated with regional gravity features along the western margin of the Kapuskasing Structural Zone (KSZ), a crustal-scale shear zone hundreds of kilometres long which bisects the Archean Superior province between James Bay and Lake Superior. The KSZ has a long-lived history of repeated ultrabasic and alkaline intrusions, carbonatite, kimberlite and lamprophyre spanning 1.6 billion years, and as such, it is a prospective setting for large IOCG-IOA hydrothermal breccia systems.

Hecla-Kilmer is a multiphase alkaline intrusive complex with carbonatite approximately 4 – 6 km across. There has been no modern, systematic exploration or drill-testing of the core of the complex for a large-scale, magnetite-fluorite-apatite hydrothermal breccia system with critical metals.

VR completed a high-resolution airborne EM survey over H-K in 2020 using the state-of-the-art VTEM+ system of Geotech Ltd. The Company had an independent party complete a 3-D inversion of the EM data in order to refine targets for conductivity within the large and complexly zoned magnetic anomaly at H-K. The Company also completed a 3-D MVI inversion of a pre-existing, high-resolution, fixed wing airborne magnetic survey completed in 1993 by High Sense Ltd. as part of a regional diamond exploration program.

The Company completed four drill holes in November, 2020, on the northern MVI magnetic inversion anomaly for a total of 1,971m. As announced on December 17th, 2020, VR intersected a fluorite-carbonate hydrothermal breccia body and high temperature, potassic alteration system with sulfide which comes to bedrock surface, and has more than 500 m of vertical extent in two drill holes, HK20-002 and 004. Data from discovery Hole 004 were announced in NR-21-20 on October 26, 2021:

  • 58 m @ 0.38% TREO, incl. 1.44 % TREO over 3.21 m, starting at 40m, the bedrock surface at the base of till.

The Company completed a follow-up drill program in November, 2021, targeting the 3.4 mGal gravity anomaly located on the western flank of the MVI magnetic anomaly targeted in 2020. Zones in the hydrothermal breccia with critical metals have high density profiles in XRF drill core scans, and thus provide a direct link between the gravity anomaly and prospective mineralization. Five holes were completed for a total of 2,604m. A 299 m intersection of rare earth elements and niobium (REE + Nb) in Hole 5 was reported on Novth in NR-21-22:

  • 299.5 m @ 0.47 % TREO, starting near surface at 52 m depth, and including up to 1.70 % TREO over 3 m from 156 m, within 28 m of 0.80 % TREO from 152 m;

A state-of-the-art, ultra- high-resolution drone magnetic survey completed over the northwestern part of the H-K complex in the fall of 2021, and was expanded in the winter season of 2022. A third drill program was completed at Hecla-Kilmer in April and May of 2022, to follow up on the broad, polymetallic intersections of critical metals in 2020 and 2021 by using the analytic signal (“AS”) magnetic anomalies derived from the new drone airborne survey as an indication of higher concentrations of hydrothermal magnetite. A total of 2,751 m were completed in 8 drill holes ranging from 249 – 378 m each. Assays were reported for the first two holes of the recently completed program, Holes 10 and 11, on June 28th in NR-22-07:

  • 80 metres at 0.67% TREO within 131 metres at 0.41% TREO in Hole HK22-010;
  • 13 metres at 0.94% TREO within 88 metres at 0.50% TREO in Hole HK22-011.

Individual one metre samples from the 13 metre intersection in Hole 11 contain up to 2.3% TREO, up to 39.1% Fe2O3, and up to 11.2% P2O5.

Assays were reported for Hole 13 on July 21st in NR-22-08:

  • 243 metres @ 1.01 % TREO, of which 19% are PMREO, within 290 metres @ 0.91 % TREO starting at surface and continuous from top to bottom in Hole HK22-013, and including:
    • 65 metres at 1.66 % TREO, starting at 155 metres, and including:
      • 39 metres @ 2.01 % TREO starting at 155 metres.

- The 65 metre interval of 1.66% TREO is made up of 24% Magnet REO (Nd, Pr, Dy, Tb);

- The 15 metre interval with 2.14 % TREO contains 15.71% P2O5.

A summary table with data for the key intersections from the 17 holes completed in the first three drill programs at Hecla-Kilmer is provided in the list of maps, figures and core photos which follows this summary text section.

VR has now intersected high grade Critical Metal mineralization with > 1% TREO with a proportion of PMREO from 18-21 % in 11 of 17 drill holes. Drilling is still at a very early stage at H-K, yet the 17 holes completed to date demonstrate the lateral and vertical breadth of the hydrothermal breccia and alteration system with critical metals. For example, in just the area of mineralization in the northwest part of the complex:

  • High grade TREO @ >= 1% in 11 of 17 holes;
  • Continuous mineralization of 1.01% TREO for 243m in Hole 13, starting at surface;
  • Mineralization in Holes 002 and 004 spans more than 500 vertical metres;
  • Mineralization in Hole 005 spans 299 m length;
  • Mineralization in Holes 008 and 009 spans 1,000 m along the long axis of the controlling north-south fault;
  • Mineralization in Holes 5 and 11 spans a width of more than 500 metres on either side of the controlling north-south fault;
  • There is mineral potential along more than 1,200 m of strike on the offsetting, east-west fault which focuses veins, dykes, breccia and mineralization in Holes 11, 14, and 17.

In addition to the afore-mentioned mineralization, VR discovered two new areas with Critical Metals located 1.5 and 2.5 km to the south, respectively, in the central core and south rim of the complex, as announced in NR22-10 on August 18, 2022. For example, on the south rim of the complex:

  • 25.5 metres @ 1.131% TREO with 18% as Magnet REO*, within 55.2 metres @ 0.70% TREO starting less than 30 metres from bedrock surface in Hole HK22-015.
  • * % Magnet REO: is PMREO divided by TREO (total rare earth oxide) and expressed as a percent. PMREO is the sum of the high-value rare earth oxides Pr2O3 + Nd203 + Tb2O3 + Dy2O3 used in permanent magnets for wind turbines and electric vehicles.

REE Composition is important at H-K. The ratio of up to 24% Magnet REO’s in Hole 13 is high. That is important. The light and heavy REE’s Neodymium, Dysprosium, Terbium and Praseodymium are the most valuable because they are essential in the manufacturing of permanent magnets which are necessary in electric vehicles wind energy turbine industries. That demand-based value is amplified by scarcity; that is, they are absent from most REE carbonatite deposits globally.

The polymetallic nature of mineralization at H-K is important. The intersection of 0.27% Nb over 80 metres in Hole 10 compliments the 237 metres @ 0.2% Nb in Hole 5 from last year, with TREO of 0.5 - 0.67 % on average across both of the broad intersections, and up to 2.3% locally. The value of the Niobec deposit in Quebec, the worlds’ largest, provides an analogue for the value-potential at Hecla-Kilmer for niobium alone, given the sheer volume of calc-potassic and potassic alteration facies along structures with Nb + REE mineralization.

Finally: grade comparison to global deposits. The 0.91 – 2.14 % range in TREO content in the various intervals in the 290 metre intersection in Hole 13 is comparable to the range of 0.4 – 1.73 % TREO reported for the average resource grades of eight of the top ten REE deposits globally. Just as important, the proportion of the four PMREO’s in the REE mineralization at Hecla-Kilmer matches, or exceeds best of breed global REE mines at Bayan Obo in China and Mtn. Pass in California.

To summarize, the upside potential of this discovery of critical metals at H-K lies in:

  1. The breadth of the intersections made to date, the sheer scale of the host hydrothermal breccia system both laterally and vertically, and the discovery of three different areas of mineralization now, all starting at surface, and located across 2.5 km of the complex, from the northwest quadrant to the south rim;
  2. The polymetallic nature of the critical metal mineralization, including both the light and heavy rare earths, niobium, phosphorous and iron;
  3. The composition of the REE mineralization; it contains a high proportion of the four, high value rare earth elements used in permanent magnets and essential for the manufacturing of EV’s and wind energy turbines – this REE distribution drives an unusually high in-situ basket value of the mineralization at H-K;
  4. Depth and location: the mineralization comes to bedrock surface at the base of till, and the project is located less than 25 km from Ontario grid power and active rail and highway infrastructure.

The relevance of H-K to the rapidly developing critical metal strategies of governments across North America underscores its potential value to VR, and we look forward to providing further updates as our exploration planning continues towards delineation drilling planned for the fall season of 2022, and into the winter season of 2023.

Location and Access

The Hecla-Kilmer property is located in the Moose River basin in northern Ontario, Canada. It is approximately 35 kilometres southwest of the Company’s Ranoke property, and only 23 km to the west of the Ontario hydro-electric facility at Otter Rapids, which also serves as the northern terminus of Highway 634 which links the region to the towns of Cochrane and Kapuskasing situated on the northern Trans-Canada Highway located some 100 km to the south.

The town of Moosonee located on tidewater at James Bay is located about 125 km to the northeast of the property. The Ontario Northern railway connects Moosonee with the mainline at Cochrane along the Trans Canada Highway, and runs through Otter Rapids 23 km east of the property.

Property Description and Ownership

Hecla-Kilmer is a large property. It comprises 224 mineral claims in one contiguous block covering 4,618 hectares in an area approximately 6 x 7 km in size.

The property is located on provincial crown land, with mineral rights administered by the provincial Ontario Ministry of Like the Ranoke property, H-K is located on provincial crown land, with mineral rights administered by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (“MNDM”). There are no annual lease payments, but the MNDM requires certain annual exploration expenditures and reporting (ie. mineral assessment reports) in order to maintain a mineral claim in good standing. The property falls within the traditional territories of the Moose Cree and Taykwa Tagamou First Nations.

The property is owned 100% by VR. There are no underlying annual lease payments to previous owners, nor are there any joint venture or back-in interests. There is an industry-standard royalty attached to the property, including a buy-back provision to VR.

Current Exploration, 2020 - 2022

Ranoke and H-K are amenable for the effective use of modern exploration technologies for base and precious metal deposits. Near-by towns with road access facilitate cost-effective exploration. Subdued topography is optimal for airborne geophysical surveys such as EM and magnetics. Historic drilling demonstrates that overburden thickness is in the range of 40 – 70 m, average for the region and easily penetrated by modern drilling technology. Historic and recent drilling also demonstrates that the hydrothermal breccia system comes to surface, that is, to the base of overburden and till, making the use of geophysics effective for basement targets.

VR completed the compilation, synthesis and interpretation of all available federal and provincial government regional data, and archived provincial mineral exploration assessment data in the Hecla-Kilmer area, and integrated it with the Ranoke project database.

The Company completed the first-ever airborne EM survey ever over the H-K complex in June, 2020, using the state-of-the-art VTEM+ system of Geotech Ltd. Flown at 100 m line spacing over a 6 x 7 km survey block for a total of 450 line-km, the data provide a high resolution of detail. The Company also had an independent, 3-D inversion of both magnetic and EM data completed for improved modeling for a potential magnetite-fluorite hydrothermal breccia body within the multiphase carbonatite complex. There are two prominent, high contrast and deeply rooted MVI anomalies (magnetic vectorization peaks) in the northern and central part of the complex. The northern MVI anomaly correlates with the largest and strongest basement conductor identified in the VTEM+ survey; the central MVI anomaly correlates with the strongest overall magnetic signature in the Analytic Signal product.

A detailed, ground-based gravity geophysical survey was completed in March, 2021. It covers an area of approximately 1.5 x 3.5 km, with 597 stations completed in total; 573 on an equant grid station spacing of 100 metres, and 24 done on a 50 m infill pattern covering the main anomaly after it had been outlined by completion of the main grid.

Overall, the survey was designed to: 1. cover the main RTP magnetic boundaries within the large and concentrically zoned multi-phase carbonatite complex at H-K, and; 2. cover the main MVI anomaly derived from the 3-D inversion completed by VR in 2020 using the 1993 airborne magnetic data. The goal is to identify high-density centers of mineralization based on the high density XRF profiles of mineralization obtained from the scanning of the 2020 drill holes HK20-002 and 004.

The survey produced a large and high contrast anomaly in the northwest part of the complex, as summarized in the news release dated May 5, 2021. Anomaly attributes include:

  • Large:
400 x 800m in size;
  • High amplitude:
3.5 mGal contrast to surrounding rock of the H-K complex;
  • Robust:
55 stations with high density, with no gaps within the anomaly;
  • Structural Control:
Sharp boundaries define a dilational Riedel structural complex.

The gravity anomaly is co-spatial with, but offset from, the northern MVI magnetic anomaly.

An ultra – high resolution, state-of-the-art drone magnetic survey was flown in the fall of 2021, and expanded in March of 2022. The objective of the survey is to: 1. clearly define the external boundaries of the overall complex, and; 2. identify internal magnetic contacts and gradients that are discordant to the magnetic zonation related to the primary igneous emplacement history of the multiphase complex, and are therefore potential targets for secondary hydrothermal veins and breccia with critical metals.

The final survey now covers an area of approximately 3.4 x 4.5 km and comprises 121 survey lines at both 25 and 50 m line-spacing for a total of 410 line-km. The survey produces a very high resolution of data because of the tight line spacing, the low “tree-top” flight altitude of just 30 metres above ground, and a computerized flight control paired with a new, very high sensitivity potassium-vapour magnetometer.

Summary of drilling to date by VR, 2020-2021

Fall, 2020. Target: Magnetic anomalies in 3-D MVI inversion model of regional data

  • 1,971 m completed in 4 drill holes ranging from 351 – 609 m each

Fall, 2021. Target: 3.4 mGal gravity anomaly, co-spatial with MVI magnetic anomaly

  • 2,604 m completed in 5 drill holes ranging from 468 – 561 m each

Spring, 2022. Target: new AS magnetic anomalies from high resolution drone survey

  • 2,751 m completed in 8 drill holes ranging from 249 – 378 m each

A summary table with data for the key intersections of critical metals from the first 17 holes from the first three drill programs now completed at H-K is provided in the list of maps, figures and core photos which follows this summary text section. The geochemical data were obtained from a sodium peroxide fusion analytical technique designed to optimize the analytical detection for all of the rare earth elements.

Geology and Mineralization in Drill Core

VR has discovered critical metals mineralization within a large fluorite-apatite-magnetite hydrothermal breccia and carbonatite vein and dyke system hosted within a ultra-high temperature, calc-potassic and potassic alteration system with sulfide which comes to surface, and has more than 500 m of vertical extent.

Drill core photographs with examples of the style of mineralization and alteration which hosts the REE’s are shown at the end of the list of maps and photographs which follow this text summary.

Key geological attributes in drill core to date include:

  • High temperature alteration assemblages completely overprint and/or replace original, alkaline and ultrabasic rocks ranging from essexite and ijolite to nepheline syenite, and including a myriad of more evolved dyke phases, including phoscorite and sovite carbonatite compositions, nepheline syenite porphyry and phonolite.
  • Critical metal mineralization is most commonly associated with sulfide-bearing carbonatite dykes, fluorite-carbonate-apatite veins and magnetite-rich hydrothermal breccia. The key minerals which host the REE’s include monazite, bastnaesite, fluorapatite and apatite, with the niobium contained in pyrochlore.
  • A north-south fault controls hydrothermal fluids and separates calc-potassic and potassic alteration mineral assemblages. Calc-potassic alteration is dominated by amphibole and pyroxene and includes pyrochlore and sufide, and potassic alteration is dominated by magnetite, biotite, apatite and carbonate. Both alteration facies come to surface.
  • Phonolite dykes are abundant and commonly have elevated in gold, with 15-184 ppb gold over several + 40 metre intervals in drill hole HK20-002 located on the north-south fault which controls hydrothermal fluids and separates different alteration facies.

More generally:

  • Pyrite, pyrrhotite, marcasite and lesser chalcopyrite occur as seams and clots in fluorite-calcite veins and poly-lithic hydrothermal breccia, and as disseminated grains in carbonatite dykes. There are assays in 1m samples of up to 0.12% Cu (1240 ppm) in zones of intense fenitization (potassic alteration);
  • Dark, commonly red-hued polylithic magmatic-hydrothermal breccia is throughout most of the drill holes. It overprints all rock types. The groundmass contains carbonate, fluorite, biotite, magnetite and chlorite. It both disaggregates and digests carbonatite dykes with sulfide, and is itself cut by carbonatite dykes and fluorite-carbonate veinlets with sulfide and pyrochlore;
  • Alkaline, nepheline syenite porphyry dykes and sovite/phoscorite carbonatite dykes with variable fluorapatite, apatite and carbonate veins occur throughout all of the drill holes, and are believed to be the overall driver of the intense hydrothermal alteration, brecciation and mineralization at H-K.

Drilling is still in the very early stages at Hecla-Kilmer, yet it is already clear that the REE + critical metals component of the hydrothermal vein and breccia system has significant value potential, based on:

  1. The breadth of the intersections made to date, and the sheer vertical and lateral scale of the hydrothermal breccia and high temperature alteration system;
  2. Discovery of three different areas of mineralization in the northwestern quadrant, central core and south rim of the complex respectively, spanning a distance of some 2.5 km;
  3. The polymetallic signature of mineralization, including both the light and heavy rare earth elements, niobium, phosphorous and iron, and anomalous copper and gold locally;
  4. The REE mineralization contains a high proportion of the four, high value rare earth elements used in permanent magnets and essential for the manufacturing of EV’s and wind energy turbines – this REE distribution drives an unusually high in-situ basket value of the mineralization at H-K;
  5. TREO’s and Nb maintain average grades over broad intersections which are comparable to the average grades reported for REE deposits globally, and the proportion of the high value PMREO’s in the TREO mineralization a H-K matches or exceeds that in global best of breed REE mines;
  6. Depth and location: mineralization comes to bedrock surface at the base of till, and the project is located less than 25 km from active rail, grid power and highway infrastructure.

Geologic Setting and Exploration History

Both the Ranoke and Hecla-Kilmer properties are centered on large magnetic anomalies associated with regional gravity features which occur along the western margin of the Kapuskasing Structural Zone (“KSZ”), a long-lived, crustal-scale fault zone with bisects the Archean Superior craton between James Bay and Lake Superior. It hosts numerous alkaline, ultrabasic and carbonatite intrusions, kimberlite and lamprophyre which span more than 1.7 billion years of activity, to as recently as 128 million years ago. This tectonic setting is prospective for the development of a large IOCG – IOA, and/or carbonatite-hosted hydrothermal breccia systems with critical metals, copper and gold.

Hecla-Kilmer is a large, roughly circular and concentrically zoned multiphase alkaline intrusive complex with carbonatite approximately 4 – 6 km across. Inferred age is Proterozoic, based on both early and late Proterozoic age dates for other alkaline intrusions on the KSZ. Importantly, H-K was emplaced along the KSZ where it intersects a regional-scale tectonic suture between two sub-provinces of the Archean Superior Craton; the volcanic-dominated Wabigoon province to the north, and the sediment-dominated Quetico province to the south.

In 1988 the Ontario Geological Survey published cursory petrographic and whole rock geochemical data for the complex based on pieces of core obtained from the historic drilling in 1970 described below. Overall, the H-K complex is cored by a large body of coarse-grained nepheline syenite which intrudes a myriad of ultrabasic marginal phases including olivine gabbro, essexite, ijolite and pyroxenite, with an abundance of more evolved carbonatite dykes of sovite and phoscorite composition, nepheline syenite porphyry dykes, and late phonolite and lamprophyre dykes.

Six diamond drill holes were completed at H-K by Ashland Oil and Elgin Petroleum in 1970 as part of a regional base metal exploration program of the Paleozoic shelf carbonate succession which covers Archean basement rocks in the region. One hole was abandoned, and a scant 854 m were completed in five other holes, all on magnetic highs in the outer zones of the H-K complex. Importantly, this historic drilling showed that the H-K carbonatite complex comes to bedrock surface at the base of till, typically around 40m depth, with no intervening Paleozoic or Cretaceous sedimentary strata. The till, or overburden, is most common an unusually well indurated lodgement pebble till, unsorted and even-textured throughout.

Ten years later, in 1981, Selco Exploration Company completed two drill holes on peripheral magnetic highs at H-K as part of a multi-year, regional diamond exploration program that included 45 drill holes altogether. The two holes at H-K intersected altered, variably magnetic, dark green and dark red breccia with pervasive secondary chlorite and biotite respectively, disseminated sulfide, and mottled pink granitoid clasts with alteration rims. The mafic breccia is pervaded by a chaotic network of carbonate veins and carbonate-lined fractures in both holes.

A high-resolution airborne magnetic survey was flown in the region in 1993 for diamond exploration. The survey shows clearly that Hecla-Kilmer is a concentrically zoned, high contrast magnetic anomaly 4 – 6 km across. Magnetic boundaries within the complex are sharply defined on RTP, 1VD and 2VD magnetic products; in general, magnetic highs rim a central magnetic low in the core of the complex that is coarse, unaltered nepheline syenite. Easterly and northwesterly trending structures disrupt magnetic and gravity patterns within the complex.

The historic drilling at H-K was done before the high-resolution magnetic survey was flown for diamond exploration, and before the development of IOCG-IOA mineral deposit models. This helps to explain why all five holes in 1970 were located in the outer concentric zones of the complex, why they were terminated at very shallow depth, and why there is no record of geochemical sampling or geochemical data in hydrothermal breccia with fluorite and sulfide which are documented in the drill logs.

Prior to VR, there has been no modern, systematic exploration or drilling of the multiphase alkaline igneous complex with carbonatite at Hecla-Kilmer for a fluorite-magnetite hydrothermal vein and breccia system. The opportunity for VR is to be the first to apply modern IOCG-IOA and carbonatite mineral deposit models to H-K, and the first to use modern exploration technologies to improve the explore for REE’s, critical metals, and copper and gold.

March, 2021: Winter ground-gravity survey

Fall Drill Program, 2020

Property Location in Northern Ontario

Drill holes on Magnetic and Gravity base maps

Table 1: REE and Critical Metal Intersections, Hecla-Kilmer

Hydrothermal breccia, fluorite and high temperature veins in drill core, Oct. 2020

Lithium mineralization in broad hydrothermal breccia zone

High Density REE mineralization at 582m in Hydrothermal Breccia in Hole 002

REE mineralization in Hydrothermal Breccia with Magnetite at surface in Hole 004

Open space vein of calcite and intercrystalline fluorapatite and apatite, Hole 005

Fluorite and carbonatite hydrothermal vein breccia in potassic alteration zone (fenite), Hole 011