Aston Bay and American West Metals Announce Geophysical Program Set to Begin at the Storm Copper Project, Canada

March 26, 2024

Geophysical program designed to deliver a pipeline of priority drill targets for new copper discoveries

TORONTO, Ontario, March 26, 2024 – Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. (TSXV: BAY) (OTCQB: ATBHF) ("Aston Bay" or the "Company”) is pleased to provide details on the upcoming geophysical surveys and exploration program 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 has completed the required expenditures to earn an undivided 80% interest in the Project. American West will be solely responsible for funding the program.


  • Field crew have arrived at Storm with final preparations underway for the commencement of the spring program
  • 2024 field work is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks with commencement of detailed, high-powered surface electromagnetic (EM) surveys, with Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling also planned to begin shortly
  • Moving Loop EM (MLEM) will initially be deployed around the areas of the existing Storm copper mineralization to identify targets both along strike in the near-surface (<200 metres (“m”) depth) as well as deeper predicted targets (up to 500m depth) with over 50 line-kilometres (“km”)  initially planned
  • MLEM surveys will then focus on regional exploration with over 40 line-km planned to screen the regional Blizzard, Tornado and Tempest Prospects
  • Multiple strong indicators of potential copper mineralization have already been identified at the regional targets – including extensive gossans and chalcocite boulders with grades up to 32% copper and 30% zinc – making these areas compelling exploration targets
  • Excellent potential for geophysics to deliver game-changing results both in the near-surface and at depth given the excellent correlation of EM targets with high-grade copper sulfides in previous drilling

“It is exciting to begin another significant exploration program at Storm,” stated Thomas Ullrich, CEO of Aston Bay. “Our partner, American West, will be conducting a large-scale EM geophysical program using a higher-powered system than has ever been used at Storm. This will allow us to see the shallow targets with more detail, as well as investigate deeper with more confidence than ever before.”

“The drills have proven the effectiveness of EM in pointing to high-grade, near-surface mineralization. Using this method to look at a much larger area and to a much greater depth could unlock significant new copper discoveries. The drill crew is set to mobilize this week, with their task to expand on the known mineralization and test the new targets generated by these surveys. Things are lining up for an exciting spring and summer season at Storm.”

Figure 1: Electromagnetic survey field crew taking sensor readings.


Electromagnetic geophysical surveys (EM) have been confirmed by drilling as the most effective targeting tool in the exploration for high-grade copper sulfides at the Storm Project. Multiple historical surveys using both airborne and ground EM systems have resulted in the discovery of most of the known copper mineralization in the Storm area.

The near-surface (<100m depth) high-grade copper mineralization in the immediate Storm area remains open along strike and at depth, with recent drilling resulting in new discoveries both in the near-surface and at depth. Together with the largely untested 100km-long prospective copper target horizon, this highlights the outstanding potential for the discovery of additional copper mineralization in the near-surface, at depth, and over considerable lateral extents within the larger project area.

The planned EM surveys will utilize the most powerful energy source to date (more than twice as powerful as prior surveys). They will aim to fill gaps in the historical surveys, acquire higher-resolution data, and investigate deeper. The surveys will also expand the search into new areas including the Blizzard, Tornado, and Tempest Prospects.


Moving Loop Electromagnetics (MLEM) will begin in the Storm area where historical surveys have been instrumental in expanding areas of known mineralization and in the discovery of new zones, such as the 2023 discoveries at Thunder (48.6m @ 3.0% Cu in drill hole ST23-03) and Lightning Ridge (30.4m @ 2.2% Cu in drill hole SR23-52). The EM anomalies tested to date in the Storm area have been strongly correlated with higher-grade (>2%) copper mineralization.

The 2024 Storm MLEM surveys will include:

  • Ultra-high-resolution Moving Loop Electromagnetics (MLEM) to focus on the expansion of the known copper mineralization and making new discoveries. The targeted search space will be approximately 0-200m below surface.
  • Deep-penetrating, wider-spaced MLEM to explore the Storm central graben area and below the known mineralization. The targeted search space will be from 200-500m vertical depth.

The Storm surveys will initially screen over 50 line-km (Figure 2).

Regional Exploration

After completion of the Storm surveys, the MLEM will be used to screen the regional Blizzard, Tornado and Tempest areas. The discovery of further copper mineralization in these areas has significant implications for the regional copper endowment of the Project. The EM surveys will be the key targeting tool and over 40 line-km of surveys are planned within these areas.

The Blizzard and Tornado Prospects are located approximately 10km along strike to the east of Storm (Figure 3 & 6). The geological setting is interpreted to be identical to that of Storm and contains numerous outcropping copper occurrences with coincident copper in soil and geophysical anomalies.

Figure 2: Plan view of the Storm area showing the planned MLEM survey areas (configured for shallow and deep exploration) and location of the known copper mineralization and prospects, overlaying aerial photography.

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 Deposit at Storm. 

The Blizzard Prospect is defined by a broad, oval-shaped zone of elevated Vertical Time Domain Electromagnetics (VTEM – airborne survey) 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 Blizzard and Tornado areas also contain large gravity anomalies (Figure 3), and together with the existing EM and coincident copper geochemistry, rank these areas as highly prospective for the discovery of further copper mineralization.

Figure 3: Map of the Blizzard and Tornado areas showing the copper soil geochemistry, overlaying gravity imagery (terrain corrected Bouguer Anomaly). The Tornado copper anomaly is over 3.2km long. The Blizzard gravity data is also coincident with a 4km x 1.5km VTEM anomaly (not shown).

The Tempest Prospect is located approximately 40 kilometres south of the known copper discoveries at Storm (Figure 6). The area is defined by a 4km long zone of gossans, with assays from select grab samples returning base metal grades up to 38.2% Cu and 30.8% Zn.

The geology of the area is interpreted to contain the southern extension of the highly prospective Storm copper target horizons, overlapping much older Proterozoic rocks to the west. This geological setting and the interpreted unconformity between two main geological terranes suggest a permeable zone close to potential source rocks, highly prospective for base metal mineralization.

A ground Loupe Electromagnetic (TDEM) and magnetic survey was completed over the Tempest area during August 2023 to aid with mapping the stratigraphy and to define potential targets for further exploration work (Figure 5).

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 several areas (Figure 4).  The conductors are localized and modelling of the data estimates that they are potentially steeply dipping. The relatively short strike length of the conductive features is positive for the potential of base metal mineralization. It suggests that the anomalies are less likely to be related to conductive stratigraphic horizons such as black shales or graphite.

Moving Loop Electromagnetics and drilling are planned to follow up these highly prospective areas in 2024. 

Figure 4: Testing base metal gossans (brown/rust-coloured rocks) at Tempest with a portable XRF prior to sampling for laboratory assay. Select samples have yielded assays of up to 38.2% Cu and 30.8% Zn.

Figure 5: Map of the Tempest Prospect showing the mapped gossans and geochemical sampling points with select rock assays, overlaying TDEM image (late time conductivity – Gate 6) and aerial photography.


Figure 6: Map of the Project area showing the known copper and base metal mineralization and prospects overlaying magnetics (Airborne GeoTEM – hotter colours indicate higher magnetic intensity).


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* @ 2.5% Cu from surface and 56.3m* @ 3.1% Cu from 12.2m) as well as the Seal Zinc Deposit (intersections including 14.4m* @ 10.6% Zn, 28.7g/t Ag from 51.8m and 22.3m* @ 23.0% 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 retained a 0.875% Gross Overriding Royalty in the area of the original Storm claims which purchased by Taurus Mining Royalty Fund L.P. in January 2024.

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* @ 4.4% Cu and 20.5m* @ 0.6% 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