Aston Bay and American West Metals Announce Exploration Program at the Storm Copper Project, Canada

February 26, 2024

Drilling to focus on immediate resource growth and testing of large-scale copper exploration targets

Toronto, Ontario, February 26, 2024 - Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. (TSXV: BAY) (OTCQB: ATBHF) ("Aston Bay" or the "Company”) is pleased to report the details of an aggressive exploration program set to commence at the Storm Copper Project (“Storm” or the “Project”) on Somerset Island, Nunavut. The program will be conducted by American West Metals Limited (“American West”), who is the operator of the Project.  American West will be solely responsible for funding the program.


  • Field program will commence in March 2024 focused on resource expansion/definition and exploration
  • Extensive 22,000 metres (m) reverse circulation (RC) and diamond drilling program planned with a focus on:
    • Testing the extensions of the mineralized zones at Storm (National Instrument 43-101 maiden resource anticipated to be released in March-April, 2024)
    • Resource definition of the known high-grade copper (Cu) discoveries at the Thunder (48.6m @ 3.0% copper (Cu)), Lightning Ridge (30.4m @ 2.2% Cu) and The Gap zones (1.5m @ 4.4% Cu and 2m @ 2.5% Cu) at Storm
    • Exploration for new high-grade copper zones along strike and below the existing prospects and copper discoveries
    • Exploration along the prospective >100 kilometre (km) long copper belt including the Blizzard, Tornado and Tempest prospects
  • High-resolution surface electromagnetic (EM) surveys are planned at the underexplored Blizzard, Tornado and Tempest Prospect areas
  • Permitting roadmap continuing with environmental, mining and metallurgical studies underway


“We are excited about this significant exploration program at Storm,” stated Thomas Ullrich, CEO of Aston Bay. “Our partner American West is fully financed and currently coordinating mobilization in order to conduct the 2024 resource expansion and exploration program. Geophysics and 22,000m of planned drilling will focus on expanding the known areas of near-surface high-grade copper mineralization at several prospects at Storm, as well as continuing to explore for new targets at depth and along strike over the almost 100-kilometre prospective trend for sediment-hosted copper mineralization.”

Figure 1: Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling at the Cyclone Deposit during 2023.


The open zones of the known copper mineralization, recent discoveries of copper mineralization in the Storm area, and the largely untested 100km prospective copper belt highlight the outstanding potential for the discovery and definition of further resources within the Project area.

Figure 2: Plan view of the Storm Project showing drilling, overlaying Fixed Loop Electromagnetic (FLEM) imagery (Late time conductivity – Channel 16. Hotter colours indicate higher conductivity).

In addition to the potential expansion of the Cyclone Zone suggested by the conductivity anomaly at Cyclone North, three immediate opportunities have been defined for the expansion and addition of new zones of mineralization at Storm, including the Thunder and Lightning Ridge, Cyclone North, and The Gap Prospects (Figure 2).

All of these prospects contain high-grade copper mineralization (including 48.6m @ 3.0% Cu within drill hole ST23-03 at Thunder) and are characterized by broad zones of late time EM conductivity and more localized, highly-conductive ‘bullseye’ style EM anomalies.

EM anomalies tested to date in the Storm area have a strong correlation with the higher-grade, >2.0% Cu mineralization.

A recent review and reinterpretation of the historical Induced Polarization (IP) data has also yielded exciting results and defined numerous targets for the potential discovery of further copper mineralization (Figure 3).

IP is an effective geophysical method for the detection of network textured and vein hosted sulfides. The IP data has been reassessed using a ‘metal factor’ algorithm which filters the raw resistivity and conductivity data to define areas likely containing metallic sulfides (including copper sulfide), as opposed to other potential sources of the IP (i.e. clay, iron-oxides).

The new imagery highlights a series of extensive IP anomalies that are coincident with the known copper deposits and main structures of the graben fault system (main copper fluid sources).

Of particular interest is a newly defined anomaly that is located immediately to the south of the Cyclone Zone, across the graben fault. The anomaly is interpreted to be at a deeper stratigraphic level (~100-200m depth) to Cyclone and covers an area roughly the same size as the known Cyclone mineralization. This anomaly is located in an area of no drilling and may represent a southern, offset extension of the Cyclone copper mineralization.

Multiple other anomalies have been highlighted in this data set, including strong coincident anomalies with the Corona and Cirrus Deposits, and the Thunder, Lightning Ridge, and The Gap Prospects.

Detailed Moving Loop Electromagnetics (MLEM) and approximately 12,000m of drilling have been planned for resource expansion activities in the Storm area. These activities will commence during March/April 2024.

Figure 3: Plan view of the Storm area showing the known copper deposits and drilling, overlaying IP metal factor imagery (Hotter colours indicate higher conductivity contrast) at -100 to 200m depth.


The recent exploration and resource definition activities suggest that Storm and new copper discoveries are only a small part of a larger sediment hosted copper mineralized system.

High-grade copper sulfide mineralization has been found at a stratigraphic level 200m below the known copper deposits, and at numerous other locations along the 100km strike of the prospective copper belt. Significantly, the same high-grade copper mineral assemblage of chalcocite-bornite-chalcopyrite is present in the new deeper discoveries as in the extensive near-surface mineralization.

Exploration activities during 2024 will be aimed at extending the coverage of drilling and detailed geophysics into these underexplored areas.

The exploration program will first focus below the Storm Prospects at depth, and at the Blizzard, Tornado and Tempest Prospects. Surface geophysics, including Moving Loop Electromagnetics (MLEM) and gravity, and RC and diamond drilling will be used to screen and test the highest-priority targets.

Approximately 10,000m of drilling has been allocated to the exploration work.


The Blizzard and Tornado Prospects are located approximately 5-10km along strike to the southeast of Storm. The area shares a geological setting that is interpreted to be identical to that of Storm, and contains numerous outcropping copper occurrences with coincident geophysical anomalies.

The Tornado Prospect is centered on an area with abundant chalcocite and malachite boulders in frost heaved sub-crop and float, within a 3.2km x 1.5km geochemical copper anomaly. The large copper anomaly shares the same linear trend as the main structural features of the Storm graben. Most of the anomalous copper samples are located around the interpreted northern graben fault, which is a similar setting to that of the large and laterally extensive Cyclone Prospect at Storm. 

The Blizzard Prospect is defined by a broad, oval shaped zone of elevated Vertical Time Domain Electromagnetics (VTEM) conductance with approximate dimensions of 4.0km x 1.5km. The target is enhanced locally by elevated levels of copper in rock and soil samples.

Both the Tornado and Blizzard Prospects also contain a number of strong gravity anomalies (defined using 2015 and 2016 gravity survey data), which share similar features to those defined at Storm during 2023. The gravity anomalies are located in favourable geological locations and are coincident with the soil and rock copper anomalies (Figure 4).

Moving Loop Electromagnetics (MLEM) and drilling will be used to follow up these prospective areas with the aim of defining another Storm-style copper camp along strike of the existing copper resources. 

Figure 4: Gravity anomalies at the Tornado and Blizzard Prospects – terrain corrected Bouger gravity anomalies from 2023 survey.


The Tempest Prospect is located approximately 40 kilometres south of the known copper discoveries at Storm (Figures 5 to 7). The area was discovered through historical rock and soil sampling which defined copper gossans over 250m, with assays returning copper grades up to 32% Cu.

The geology of the area is interpreted to contain the southern extension of the highly prospective Storm copper belt, overlapping much older Proterozoic rocks to the west. This geological setting and the interpreted unconformity between two main geological terranes are interpreted to be highly prospective for base metal mineralization.

A small reconnaissance sampling and field mapping program during the 2023 field season was aimed at expanding the understanding of the area. The mapping revealed a series of gossans that are significantly more extensive than originally defined. The gossans have now been traced over 4km of strike to the north and south of the original Tempest Prospect, significantly upgrading the exploration potential of the area.

Seven samples were collected of gossanous rock outcrop and float, and one was collected from exposed gneiss basement. A number of the gossanous samples yielded highly anomalous base metals with copper grades up to 38.2% Cu and zinc grades 30.8% Zn.

A ground Loupe Electromagnetic (TDEM) and magnetic survey were also completed over the Tempest area during August 2023 to aid with mapping the stratigraphy and to define potential targets for further exploration work (Figure 6).

The TDEM survey has defined a series of conductive anomalies that lie along the strike of the stratigraphy and are coincident with the copper/zinc gossans in a number of areas (Figure 6).  The conductors are localised and modelling of the data estimates that they are potentially steeply dipping. The relatively short strike length of the conductive features is positive and suggests that the anomalies may not be related to conductive stratigraphic horizons such as black shales, graphite, or iron sulfides.

Moving Loop Electromagnetics (MLEM) and drilling will be used to follow up on these highly prospective areas. 

Figure 5: Photo of the southern Tempest copper/zinc gossan (brown/reddish rocks), looking north.

Figure 6: Plan view map of the Tempest Prospect showing the mapped gossans and geochemical sampling points, overlaying TDEM image (late time conductivity – Gate 6) and aerial photography.


Figure 7: Map of the Project area showing the known copper and base metal deposits/prospects overlaying magnetics (Airborne GeoTEM – hotter colours indicate higher magnetic intensity). The Tempest Prospect is located approximately 40km south of Storm Copper.

About the Storm Copper and Seal Zinc-Silver Projects, Nunavut

The Nunavut property consists of 173 contiguous mining claims covering an area of approximately 219,257 hectares on Somerset Island, Nunavut, Canada. The Storm Project comprises both the Storm Copper Project, a high-grade sediment-hosted copper discovery (intersections including 110m* @ 2.45% Cu from surface and 56.3m* @ 3.07% Cu from 12.2m) as well as the Seal Zinc Deposit (intersections including 14.4m* @ 10.58% Zn, 28.7g/t Ag from 51.8m and 22.3m* @ 23% Zn, 5.1g/t Ag from 101.5m). Additionally, there are numerous underexplored and undrilled targets within the 120-kilometre strike length of the mineralized trend, including the Tornado copper prospect where 10 grab samples yielded >1% Cu up to 32% Cu in gossans.  The Nunavut property is now the subject of an 80/20 unincorporated joint venture with American West (see "Agreement with American West” below for more details).

Storm Discovery and Historical Work

High-grade copper mineralization was discovered at Storm in the mid-1990s by Cominco geologists conducting regional zinc exploration around their then-producing Polaris lead-zinc mine. A massive chalcocite boulder found in a tributary of the Aston River in 1996 was traced to impressive surface exposures of broken chalcocite mineralization for hundreds of metres of surface strike length at what became named the 2750N, 2200N, and 3500N zones. Subsequent seasons of prospecting, geophysics and over 9,000 m of drilling into the early 2000s confirmed a significant amount of copper mineralization below the surface exposures as well as making the blind discovery of the 4100N Zone, a large area of copper mineralization with no surface exposure.

Following the merger of Cominco with Teck in 2001 and the closure of the Polaris Mine, the Storm claims were allowed to lapse in 2007. Commander Resources staked the property in 2008 and flew a helicopter-borne VTEM survey in 2011 but conducted no additional drilling. Aston Bay subsequently entered into an earn-in agreement with Commander and consolidated 100% ownership in 2015. Commander retains a 0.875% Gross Overriding Royalty in the area of the original Storm claims.

In 2016 Aston Bay entered into an earn-in agreement with BHP, who conducted a 2,000-station soil sampling program and drilled 1,951m of core in 12 diamond drill holes, yielding up to 16m* @ 3.1% Cu.  BHP exited the agreement in 2017 and retains no residual interest in the project. Aston Bay conducted a property-wide airborne gravity gradiometry survey in 2017 and drilled 2,913m in nine core holes in the Storm area in 2018 yielding a best intercept of 1.5m* @ 4.39% Cu and 20.5m* @ 0.56% Cu.

Agreement with American West

As previously disclosed, Aston Bay entered into an Option Agreement dated March 9, 2021 (the “Option Agreement”) with American West Metals Limited and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tornado Metals Ltd. (collectively, “American West”) pursuant to which American West was granted an option (the “Option”) to earn an 80% undivided interest in the Project by spending a minimum of CAD$10 million on qualifying exploration expenditures (“Expenditures”). The parties amended and restated the Option Agreement as of February 27, 2023 to facilitate American West potentially financing the Expenditures through flow-through shares but did not change the commercial agreement between the parties.

The Expenditures were completed during the 2023 drilling program and American West exercised the Option in accordance with the terms of the Option Agreement, as amended. American West and Aston Bay will form an 80/20 unincorporated joint venture and enter into a joint venture agreement. Under such agreement, Aston Bay shall have a free carried interest until American West has made a decision to mine upon completion of a bankable feasibility study, meaning American West will be solely responsible for funding the joint venture until such decision is made. After such decision is made, Aston Bay will be diluted in the event it does not elect to contribute its proportionate share and its interest in the Project will be converted into a 2% net smelter returns royalty if its interest is diluted to below 10%.

Recent Work

American West completed a fixed loop electromagnetic (FLEM) ground geophysical survey in 2021 that yielded several new subsurface conductive anomalies. A total of 1,534m were drilled in 10 diamond drill holes in the 2022 season, yielding several impressive near-surface intercepts including 41m* @ 4.1% Cu as well as 68m of sulfide mineralization associated with a deeper conductive anomaly.

In April 2022, results of beneficiation studies demonstrated that a mineralized intercept grading 4% Cu from the 4100N area could be upgraded to a 54% Cu direct ship product using standard sorting technology. Further beneficiation studies are ongoing.

In April 2023, American West embarked on a spring delineation drilling program using a helicopter-portable RC drill rig as well as conducting gravity and moving loop electromagnetic (MLEM) ground geophysical programs.

The summer 2023 program conducted further delineation drilling of the near-surface high-grade copper zones to advance them toward maiden resource estimates by late 2023 or early 2024. Diamond drilling tested new high-priority gravity targets and environmental baseline studies will be initiated.

*Stated drill hole intersections are all core length, and true width is expected to be 60% to 100% of core length.

QA/QC Protocols

The analytical work reported on herein was performed by ALS Global (“ALS”), Vancouver Canada. ALS is an ISO-IEC 17025:2017 and ISO 9001:2015 accredited geoanalytical laboratory and is independent of Aston Bay Holdings Ltd., American West Metals Limited, and the QP. Drill core and hand samples were subject to crushing at a minimum of 70% passing 2 mm, followed by pulverizing of a 250-gram split to 85% passing 75 microns. Samples were subject to 33 element geochemistry by four-acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) to determine concentrations of copper, silver, lead, zinc, and other elements (ALS Method ME-ICP61a). Overlimit values for copper (>10%) and were analyzed via four-acid digestion and ICP-AES (ALS Method Cu-OG62).

Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. and American West Metals Limited followed industry standard procedures for the work carried out on the Storm Project, incorporating a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program. Blank, duplicate, and standard samples were inserted into the sample sequence and sent to the laboratory for analysis. No significant QA/QC issues were detected during review of the data. Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. and American West Metals Limited are not aware of any drilling, sampling, recovery, or other factors that could materially affect the accuracy or reliability of the data referred to herein.

Qualified Person

Michael Dufresne, M.Sc., P.Geol., P.Geo., is a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101 and has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release.

About Aston Bay Holdings

Aston Bay is a publicly traded mineral exploration company exploring for high-grade copper and gold deposits in Virginia, USA, and Nunavut, Canada. The Company is led by CEO Thomas Ullrich with exploration in Virginia directed by the Company’s advisor, Don Taylor, the 2018 Thayer Lindsley Award winner for his discovery of the Taylor Pb-Zn-Ag Deposit in Arizona. The Company is currently exploring the high-grade Buckingham Gold Vein in central Virginia and is in advanced stages of negotiation on other lands with high-grade copper potential in the area.

The Company and its joint venture partners, American West Metals Limited and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tornado Metals Ltd. (collectively, “American West”) have agreed to form a 20/80 unincorporated joint venture and enter into a joint venture agreement in respect of the Storm Project property, which hosts the Storm Copper Project and the Seal Zinc Deposit. Under such agreement, Aston Bay shall have a free carried interest until American West has made a decision to mine upon completion of a bankable feasibility study, meaning American West will be solely responsible for funding the joint venture until such decision is made. After such decision is made, Aston Bay will be diluted in the event it does not elect to contribute its proportionate share and its interest in the Storm Project property will be converted into a 2% net smelter returns royalty if its interest is diluted to below 10%.

About American West Metals Limited

AMERICAN WEST METALS LIMITED (ASX: AW1) is an Australian clean energy mining company focused on growth through the discovery and development of major base metal mineral deposits in Tier 1 jurisdictions of North America. Our strategy is focused on developing mines that have a low-footprint and support the global energy transformation. Our portfolio of copper and zinc projects in Utah and Canada include significant existing resource inventories and high-grade mineralization that can generate robust mining proposals. Core to our approach is our commitment to the ethical extraction and processing of minerals and making a meaningful contribution to the communities where our projects are located.

Led by a highly experienced leadership team, our strategic initiatives lay the foundation for a sustainable business which aims to deliver high-multiplier returns on shareholder investment and economic benefits to all stakeholders.


For further information on American West, visit:


Statements made in this news release, including those regarding entering into the joint venture and each party’s interest in the Project pursuant to the agreement in respect of the joint venture, management objectives, forecasts, estimates, expectations, or predictions of the future may constitute “forward-looking statement”, which can be identified by the use of conditional or future tenses or by the use of such verbs as “believe”, “expect”, “may”, “will”, “should”, “estimate”, “anticipate”, “project”, “plan”, and words of similar import, including variations thereof and negative forms. This press release contains forward-looking statements that reflect, as of the date of this press release, Aston Bay’s expectations, estimates and projections about its operations, the mining industry and the economic environment in which it operates. Statements in this press release that are not supported by historical fact are forward-looking statements, meaning they involve risk, uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although Aston Bay believes that the assumptions inherent in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on these statements, which apply only at the time of writing of this press release. Aston Bay disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by securities legislation.

For more information contact:

Thomas Ullrich, Chief Executive Officer
(416) 456-3516