TSX-V-listed Canadian Mining Inc. entered into a mining
operations agreement and purchase option with Absorbent
Products Ltd (APL) in November.
Under the deal, APL will mine, transport, process and
package Canadian Mining’s zeolite, from its
Bromley Creek mine, near Princeton, British Columbia (BC),
Canada, before shipping it to customers.
Canadian Mining noted that APL – a privately-owned
miner and manufacturer based in Kamloops, BC – has
full mining and processing capacity.
"These people have been in business for 28 years," Ray
Paquette, Canadian Mining’s CEO, told
IM, referring to the company’s
The reason for bringing APL on board was two-fold, he
explained; it has significant experience and know-how in the
industrial minerals business and well-established processing
capabilities – "these guys were nominated for four
awards for excellence recently; they took three [and]
they’ve a processing facility worth over
Such expertise is key in the zeolite business, Paquette
said. "It’s not like shipping gravel from an open
pit. It involves more than going in and drilling and blasting
and shipping rock."
While APL organises production, Canadian Mining will be
provided with a stable cashflow as it focuses on testing,
certifying and qualifying its zeolite for expanding "green"
Under the agreement, APL gains the exclusive right to
acquire a 50% interest in both Bromley Creek and Canadian
Mining’s Sun Group zeolite project in return for a
payment of Canadian dollar (C$) 1.45m ($1.07m*). It will have
the option to pay in cash or via an earn-in of C$9/tonne mined
and removed ore.
Canadian mining has held the lease to the Bromley Creek site
since 1994 and will retain tenure until at least 2030. It has a
50,000 tpa mining permit to exploit the deposit, which has a
350,000 tonne proven NI 43-101 resource within the lease
Paquette told IM that Bromley Creek "has
enough to do what we need to do for the next four years", in
which period it will continue work towards starting operations
at the less advanced Sun Group project, 30km away.
The Sun Group prospect, which the company has held since
2006, is substantially larger than its neighbouring site, with
a yet-to-be confirmed resource of 46.6m tonnes.
Paquette said that such developments are starting to attract
external funding. "[Investors] are beginning to understand," he
said. "They are starting to move away from gold [and similar
metallic commodities] to greener technology."
The USGS estimates that between 2.7m and 3.2m tonnes natural
zeolites were produced in 2014, similar levels to 2013. Of
this, the majority – between 1.8m and 2.2m tonnes
– originated in China.
South Korea had the second largest output, at 230,000
tonnes, while the US took third place with 64,100 tonnes.
While a lack of construction activities as a result of
continued economic uncertainty, mean global production is
unlikely to increase rapidly in the short term, Paquette is
optimistic about zeolite’s prospects.
"We get calls every day from people starting to be aware of
zeolite and what zeolite does," he said.
The company will focus on four main markets with the zeolite
it produces: animal feed, compost, waste water treatment and
zeoponics (a zeolite-based synthetic substrate used in plant
"The size of the animal feed market alone is massive,"
Paquette said. "When you use it in feed supplement you increase
(…) weight gain, giving you a healthier animal and less
disease. And you have less methane."
Based on a permitted addition of a zeolite substitute
consisting of 2-4% to feeds, he predicts millions of tonnes
could be sold into this market in Canada alone on an annual
The popular move towards composting organics, meanwhile, he
describes as "one of the biggest going concerns there is".
Zeolite can be used to capture and reduce odour emissions
from composted material. "But it also adds benefit to the
compost," said Paquette. "It takes in good and bad nutrients,
returns the good ones and holds back heavy toxins."
Paquette is not the only one enthused about the zeolite
market. John Lawrence, CEO of Montana, US-based US Antimony
Corp., recently told IM that his company was
"rapidly increasing production of zeolite to take advantage of
the growing market".
He pointed to mine and oilfield remediation and synthetic
turf as zeolite end markets primed for "substantial growth"
over the coming years.
US Antimony produces zeolite at its Bear River property
outside Preston, Idaho, where it had an output of 11,079 tonnes
in 2014. Over half of its sales at present are into the animal
feed sector, with water filtration, soil amendment, air
filtration and snow and ice traction, in decreasing order of
importance, accounting for the remainder.
A to zeolite
Zeolites are hydrated aluminosilicates of the alkaline and
alkaline-earth metals. According to the US Geological
Survey (USGS), about 40 natural zeolites have been identified
over the past 200 years, the most common being analcime,
chabazite, clinoptilolite, erionite, ferrierite, heulandite,
laumontite, mordenite, and phillipsite.
A further 150 zeolites have been synthesised, of which
zeolites A, X, Y, and ZMS-5 are the most common.
The unique adsorption, ion-exchange, molecular sieve, and
catalytic properties of both natural and synthetic zeolite have
led to their commercial use.
Natural zeolites are used in pet litter, animal feed,
horticulture (as soil conditioners) and wastewater treatment.
Synthetic zeolites, meanwhile, are used as catalysts,
detergents and molecular sieves.
*Conversion made December 2016