Homegrown and future-focused: a battery and critical metals discovery in the USA

Stillwater Critical Minerals leverages Bushveld parallels and a consolidated approach at its new Montana resource

 2021 Resource Expansion Drilling

2021 Resource Expansion Drilling

Stillwater Critical Minerals (TSX. V: PGE | OTCQB: PGEZF) formerly Group Ten Metals, has just undergone a complete rebranding, adopting a fresh image that showcases its enviable position in the market.

The company's flagship project is the district-scale, 100%-owned Stillwater West PGE-Ni-Cu-Co-Au property in Montana, where Stillwater Critical Minerals (SWCM) is the second-largest landholder in the iconic, yet under-explored, Stillwater Complex.  The Complex is a layered igneous intrusion with remarkable similarities to South Africa's prolific Bushveld Complex, and Sibanye-Stillwater currently operates three mines on one deposit on the neighbouring property, where it extracts palladium, platinum and other metals. Its deposit is the highest-grade PGE deposit in the world, and the largest outside southern Africa and Russia.     


SWCM CEO Michael Rowley

Mining in this historic district dates back much further than the current operations, which started in 1986. High-grade nickel and copper have been extracted since the 1880s, and the complex also provided vital chromium during WWII. In October 2021, its next chapter began when SWCM announced its maiden NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate, reporting 1.1 billion pounds of battery metals (Ni, Cu, Co) and 2.4 million ounces of PGEs+Au.

Subsequent expansion drilling has demonstrated that there is plenty of room to grow those numbers, with the company's most recent results including an impressive 13.2m of 3.33% NiEq within 401m of continuous near-surface mineralisation.  "That interval has got people buzzing," SWCM CEO Michael Rowley said. Mineralisation remains open along trend and at depth in all five of the deposits included in the resource estimate, which are set in very large-scale geophysical targets across the 12km-long area modelled to date. Significant expansion potential is confirmed by correlating signatures in soil geochemistry across a wider 25km area.

Stillwater West is superbly positioned to help address two modern challenges: climate change and resource security.  No fewer than eight metals from the project appear on the 2022 US critical minerals list: five PGEs, nickel, cobalt and chromium.

 "It means a great deal to the company that these metals are included on the critical minerals list," Rowley said. "This is a famously productive, metal-rich district, and our work is focused on securing large-scale domestic US supply chains."

SWCM knows that a low-carbon future will rely on battery technologies, and this project is one of very few in the USA with the potential to produce a secure supply of nickel and cobalt for the industry.  Stillwater West could also add significantly to the global inventory of platinum and palladium, both designated critical metals that are crucial for reducing emissions from internal combustion engines and producing green hydrogen.

Additionally, with electric vehicles demanding five times more copper than traditional automobiles, the estimated resource of 347Mlb of copper could help drive the development of green transport.  Finally, in addition to this plethora of green and critical metals, the property also hosts gold at both high-grade and co-product levels.

To top off the project's climate credentials, its ultramafic lithology may make it suitable for carbon sequestration, reducing its net emissions and making its products even more marketable.  "That's meaningful to SWCM," said Rowley.  "Mining can do more than provide essential commodities, it can play a direct role in reducing atmospheric carbon."

Rowley has attracted an impressive team of seasoned mining industry to advance the vision of domestic production of low-carbon metals, including executive chairman and director Greg Johnson, one of the founders of NovaGold, as well as technical know-how from SWCM's new vice president exploration, Dr Danie Grobler, a 25-year veteran of the Bushveld who was heavily involved in the advancement of Ivanhoe's Platreef mine.

SWCM's rebranding also draws welcome attention to its flagship project's location.  As part of the Metallic Group, a resource-sharing collaboration between three publicly listed resource-stage companies, it aims to replicate the NovaGold strategy of consolidating district-scale brownfields projects during bear markets and then systematically progressing them to produce de-risked assets in better times.  This approach requires a mining-friendly jurisdiction in a region with proven production capacity, and the Stillwater Complex in Montana fits the bill.

SWCM's new image also spotlights the immense value of the Stillwater Complex itself.  The similarities between Stillwater and the northern Bushveld are profound; Bushveld geology has closely guided exploration at Stillwater West and led directly to the company's most significant discoveries. 

The operating mines at Stillwater exploit the Johns-Manville (J-M) Reef: a narrow, ultra-high-grade deposit analogous to the Bushveld's famous Merensky and UG2 Reefs.  Stillwater West also hosts this style of mineralisation, however this system of mineralization has not been SWCM's focus to date.

Reef horizons can be more challenging to mine as they are narrow, requiring high-cost manual mining methods at smaller scale. The lower Bushveld stratigraphy suggested an alternative: Platreef-style mineralisation, which consists of large-scale nickel and copper sulphide deposits with PGEs and gold, is amenable to low-cost bulk-tonnage mining methods, while also bringing brings battery metals to the table. 

Their economic potential is clear from highly profitable South African mines including AngloAmerican's operating Mogalakwena Mine, and projections from Ivanhoe's upcoming Platreef Mine.

Despite the known parallels between the Stillwater and Bushveld Complexes and abundant historical exploration at Stillwater West, SWCM was the first operator to systematically target Platreef-style deposits.  The company consolidated previously disjointed licenses and compiled an immense database of historical results.  This, alongside a high-quality induced polarisation (IP) survey in 2020, enabled SWCM to create a reliable 3D model. 

"The IP survey lit the project up," Rowley said. "We saw kilometre-scale targets and could identify high-grade areas. Those results guided two very successful drill campaigns, with significant geophysical anomalies co-incident with high-grade core assays." 

In 2021, the company extended the IP survey by 30%, producing some of the highest chargeability readings to date.

Working with machine-learning experts at GoldSpot, SWCM developed its in-house predictive exploration model for the "Platreef-in-Montana" by drawing on both local data and the expertise of Bushveld specialists.  "The investment we made in creating that predictive geologic model is already paying substantial dividends in terms of our high success rate, and our low discovery costs" Rowley said."


Diamond Drilling at Stillwater West Critical Minerals Project

To date, a total of 230 holes have been drilled on the property.  The project's promise really became clear during the 2020 drill campaign, which provided data for the resource estimate and produced results including 1.74% NiEq over over 8.5m, within 455 of continuous mineralisation above cut-off grade.  Expansion drilling in 2021 returned 13.2m of 3.33% NiEq in a possible continuation 125m to the west.  Results from 2021 and the upcoming 2022 season will contribute to an updated resource estimate planned for later this year.

In addition to Stillwater West, SWCM also holds the Kluane PGE-Ni-Cu property in the Yukon and the Duke Island Cu-Ni-PGE property in Alaska.  In November, SWCM optioned its long-held Black Lake - Drayton gold property in Ontario, and it is keen to find similar partners to develop Kluane and Duke Island so that it can maintain shareholder exposure to these highly prospective properties while focussing on Stillwater West.

The market prospects for Stillwater West's resources are certainly bright.  Equally important, however, is SWCM's technical proficiency, demonstrated by the advancement Platreef-style mineralisation at Stillwater West.  This systematic approach is guided by an experienced and substantially invested management team and board, and the company has methodically executed its well-conceived business and exploration strategies to create an important opportunity for US critical metals supply.

Still Waters Critical Minerals

Stillwater Critical Minerals (TSX.V: PGE | OTCQB: PGEZF) is a Canadian mineral exploration company focused on its flagship Stillwater West PGE-Ni-Cu-Co + Au project in the iconic and famously productive Stillwater mining district of Montana, USA.



Vancouver, BC

Tel: 604-357-4790 | 1-888-432-0075





Michael Rowley, Greg Johnson, Gregor Hamilton, Gordon Toll


MARKET CAPITALISATION (at 28th June, 2022)

C$57 million 



170 million



Institutional: 33%

High Net Worth: 29%

Management/Insiders: 22%

Retail: 16%

(Institutional holders include Sprott Asset Management, Goldspot Discoveries, Palisades Goldcorp, Regal Funds)

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