James Sykes said he needed just a few seconds with a hammer and a pry bar to knock a 60-kilogram hunk of rock from an outcrop just south of Saskatchewan’s border with the Northwest Territories a couple of years ago.
The veteran prospector liked what he found. “We have surface showings. That (rock) was 40 per cent rare earth oxide,” said Sykes, who has spent his career exploring for uranium and, along the way, helped discover several major deposits in northern Saskatchewan.
Today, Sykes is the vice-president of exploration and development at Appia Energy Corp., a Toronto-based junior mining company aiming to capitalize on a growing interest in developing a new supply of rare earth elements in Saskatchewan.
While Appia Energy’s exploration of its Alces Lake property about 20 kilometres east of Uranium City, Sask. is in the very early stages — drilling on an area about the size of a city block began last year — Sykes said he is optimistic about the future.
“The room for growth is huge here. Being a geologist, I’ve come across areas where you hit these little sniffs and then they don’t lead to anything … What we’re seeing here, these aren’t little sniffs. These are signs we’re onto something much larger,” he said.
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