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IM May 2020 - Drilling metrics rebound from March lows

Drilling activity metrics increased substantially month over month in April due to global mine and project restarts. The total number of projects reporting drill results shot up in April, to 195 from March's 152. The number of companies reporting also increased, to 174 from 142. Gold projects increased almost by half to 133 after a three-year low of 93 in March, and significant gold results also increased, to 82 from 59. Total base metals projects also increased to 62 from 59, and significant results from base metals projects increased to 37 from 26 in March, recovering almost to the 12-month average of 39 projects. All stages of drilling rebounded month over month — early-stage to 78 from 55, late-stage to 92 from 74 and minesite, which is still lagging, to 25 from 23.

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Drill results data is available in the accompanying Excel spreadsheet.

Gold was hit the hardest in March, with at least 56 gold sites shut down — most in South Africa and Canada. As operations restart, there has been a healthy rebound in the number of gold projects drilling, to 133 from 93 month over month. Copper projects increased to 19 from 18, silver to 10 from eight, nickel to 13 from 11 and specialty metals to 13 from 11. Lead-zinc slipped to six from seven, platinum group metals to one from three and minor base metals to zero from one.

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April's highest-value interval was from IsoEnergy Ltd.'s Larocque uranium project in Saskatchewan, Canada. The highlight was a 7.5-meter intersection with an interval grading 22.70% U3O8 and 0.40% Ni. The drillhole, designed to evaluate the potential for additional high-grade mineralization, intersected a thick interval of strong uranium mineralization at the sub-Athabasca unconformity. The timing and amount of summer drilling may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second-highest-value interval was from VanadiumCorp Resource Inc.'s Lac Dore titanium mine, also in Canada. The highlight was a 113.9-meter intersection with an interval grading 10.67% TiO2 and 0.64% V2O5. The 2019 drill program targeted the area where historical drilling and surface channel sampling were conducted between 1958 and 2013. Further assays and test work are ongoing at the project.

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Emerald Resources NL reported the most drillholes in April at 673, all at its Okvau-Ochung gold operation in Cambodia. The highest-value intersection was 2.0 meters grading 42.78 g/t Au. The company is conducting grade control drilling to define the mineralized domain in the stage 1 pit design.

Deep Yellow Ltd. reported completion of a 246-hole infill drill program at its Omahola deposit April 2. The highest-value intersection was 14.0 meters grading 0.25% U3O8. Tumas 3 is one of several deposits at the Omahola uranium project in Namibia. The company expects to produce an updated Tumas 3 resource estimate by mid-May.

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The number of countries reporting drill results decreased by one over March. However, there were significant increases in projects reporting for most countries. The largest were in Australia, Canada and the U.S., with 24, eight and five more projects, respectively. Unsurprisingly, given currently high gold prices, the number of gold projects drilling increased the most among the commodities. Australia had an increase of 16 gold projects month over month, Canada's gold projects increased by 11 and U.S. gold projects increased by four.

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