Aston Bay and American West Metals Announce Thick New Copper Zones Discovered in Drilling at the Storm Copper Project, Canada

May 21, 2024

Immediate exploration success highlights potential for rapid and significant expansion

TORONTO, Ontario, May 21, 2024 – Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. (TSXV: BAY) (OTCQB: ATBHF) ("Aston Bay" or the "Company”) is pleased to present an update and initial visual results from drilling activities currently underway at the Storm Copper Project (“Storm” or the “Project”) on Somerset Island, Nunavut. The program is being 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.


  • The 2024 Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling has delivered immediate success in intersecting thick new zones of copper mineralization in the drilling of geophysical targets, including:
    • Drill hole SR24-02 (Cyclone North) has intersected:
      • 36.6m of visual copper sulfides from 79.3m downhole
    • Drill hole SR24-03 (The Gap) has intersected:
      • 47.2m of visual copper sulfide mineralization including a 10m interval of very strong visual copper sulfides from 36.6m downhole
    • Drill hole SR24-04 (The Gap) has intersected:
      • 30.5m of visual copper sulfide mineralization from 29m downhole
  • The visual copper sulfide mineralization intersected in SR24-03 and SR24-04 is similar in appearance to high-grade copper mineralization in the 2023 discovery hole at the nearby Thunder Prospect which returned 48.6m @ 3% Cu (ST23-03)
  • SR24-03 and SR24-04 are located midway along 4km of prospective structures between the Cirrus Prospect and the high-grade Thunder Prospect – the structures are largely untested by drilling and are a high-priority target area for additional potential copper mineralization
  • Drilling results continue to demonstrate the strong correlation between Moving Loop Electromagnetic (MLEM)  targets and copper mineralization, with an extensive suite of new geophysical targets prioritized for drilling in 2024
  • Samples for the first batch of drilling are at the laboratory with assay results expected in the coming weeks
  • Phase 1 of the MLEM surveys have been completed in the Storm area with the deep search phase (>250m depth) of the program now underway
  • Drilling by the track-mounted RC rig continues 24/7

It is very encouraging to report early success from the 2024 exploration program at Storm,” stated Thomas Ullrich, CEO of Aston Bay. “Drilling of Moving Loop EM geophysical anomalies is proving to be very effective at discovering copper mineralization. This provides a powerful exploration advantage. With several new anomalies still to be drilled and deep potential only now being tested by this method, we are excited for the potential for continued discovery this season at Storm.”


Figure 1: Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling with the track-mounted rig underway at Cyclone North, Storm Project, Nunavut.


Preliminary geological interpretation is now complete on the first batch of drill holes from the 2024 exploration and resource expansion drilling program. The drilling has intersected thick intervals of visual copper sulfides including outstanding new exploration success in The Gap area where 2023 drilling has intersected high-grade copper mineralization.

Drilling at The Gap confirms the exploration potential within the relatively untested area along the 4km of structures that hosts the Cirrus and Corona Prospects, as well as the high-grade Thunder (48.6m @ 3% Cu) and Lightning Ridge (30.4m @ 2.1% Cu) Prospects. Successful intersection of copper mineralization in these drill holes highlight the prospectivity and potential for growth in copper endowment that exists in the southern graben area.

Drilling immediately north of the Cyclone Prospect indicates the potential to extend the resource northwards and toward 2023 exploration drill hole SR23-55 which intersected 7.6m @ 1% Cu from 105.2m downhole.

RC drilling with the track-mounted rig continues on a broad range of exploration and resource expansion targets, including within the Thunder and Chinook Prospect areas. The second RC and the Diamond rigs will be phased into the program in the coming weeks with a total of over 20,000m of drilling planned for the 2024 program. 

Phase 1 of the high-powered Moving Loop EM (MLEM) survey has been completed in the Storm area, with over 10 new targets defined for high-priority drill testing. Phase 2 of the survey is now underway which involves searching deeper (up to 500m depth), below the near-surface copper prospects where drilling has previously intersected copper grades up to 2.7% Cu (ST23-02) within a prospective stratigraphic horizon (see September 26, 2023 Aston Bay press release). The exploration targets in this deeper part of the Storm sedimentary copper system are large-scale sedimentary copper similar to the large, high-grade copper deposits of Central Africa.


Table 1: 2024 resource and exploration drill hole details.

Visual estimates of mineral abundance should never be considered a proxy or substitute for laboratory analyses where concentrations or grades are the factor of principal economic interest. Laboratory assays are required to determine the presence and grade of any contained mineralization within the reported visual intersections of copper sulfides. Portable XRF is used as an aid in the determination of mineral type and abundance during the geological logging process.

Figure 2: 2024 drill hole locations, historic intercepts and copper mineralization outlines, overlaying aerial photography.


The first drill hole of the 2024 season, SR24-01, was drilled approximately 500m north of the Cyclone Prospect and was designed to test a Fixed Loop Electromagnetic (FLEM) target defined during exploration in 2022. The interpretation of the FLEM data suggested that the source of the anomaly could be located at depth but was weakly defined.

SR24-01 was drilled to a maximum achievable depth of 251.5m and did not encounter copper sulfides or other lithologies that could confirm or explain the source of EM anomalism. The drill hole did encounter weak pyrite (iron sulfides) mineralization at 125m and minor clay layers, but not in an abundance to explain the EM response.  

The 2024 Moving Loop EM (MLEM) survey was extended into the area to validate the FLEM anomaly but did not highlight any significant anomalies. The current MLEM survey is optimized to search for conductive bodies between 0-250m depth, suggesting that the FLEM anomaly may be located at a deeper level.

Deeper penetrating EM will be scheduled for this area to further investigate the source of the FLEM anomaly.


SR24-02 was drilled to the north of the Cyclone Prospect to a downhole depth of 140.2m. The drill hole was designed to define potential extensions to the existing copper mineralization within the Storm area.

The drill hole tested an MLEM anomaly suggesting continuation of the mineralization between the existing copper mineralization and 2023 step-out exploration drill hole SR23-55 which intersected 7.6m @ 1% Cu from 105.2m downhole. (Figure 2).

SR24-02 intersected a single, 36.6m thick zone of visual copper sulfides between 79.3m and 115.8m downhole. The chalcocite dominant mineralization is hosted in thin veinlets and patchy disseminations within fractured dolomite.

The visual sulfide abundance of the mineralized interval within SR24-02 is very similar to that of the drill holes in the north-eastern part of Cyclone. This suggests good lateral continuity of the mineralization and supports the growth potential of Cyclone.

Intersections below are expressed as downhole widths and are interpreted to be close to true widths. Visual estimates of sulfide type, quantity and habit should not be considered a substitute for laboratory assays. Portable XRF analysis has been used to confirm the nature of the sulfide intercepts. Laboratory assays are required to determine the widths and grade of mineralization as reported in preliminary geological logging.


Table 2: Summary geological log for drill hole SR24-02.

Mineralization key: cc = chalcocite, chpy = chalcopyrite, bn = bornite, py = pyrite, Cu = native copper, ct = cuprite, ml = malachite, sph = sphalerite, ga = galena. (5%) = visual estimation of sulfide content.


SR24-03 was drilled to a downhole depth of 149.4m and was designed to test a strongly conductive Moving Loop Electromagnetic (MLEM) anomaly in The Gap area (midway between the Cirrus Prospect and the Thunder Prospect) (Figure 2).

The entire 149.4m length of drill hole SR24-03 is variably mineralized with a combined total of 47.2m of breccia and vein-style copper mineralization. The drill hole contains a strongly sulfide-mineralized breccia interval approximately 10m thick from 39.6m downhole (Figure 3). The mineralization within the strongly mineralized zone (chalcocite, bornite, chalcopyrite) is  similar in appearance to that of nearby drill hole AB18-09 which intersected grades up to 4.4% Cu (Figure 4), and the Thunder Prospect to the east (48.6m @ 3% Cu in ST23-03).

Figure 3: RC Drill chips from drill hole SR24-03 from the Gap Prospect. The interval is from 130ft (39.6m) to 145ft (44.2m) downhole. Chalcocite (80% copper) veins and chips are visible as dark grey.


Table 3: Summary geological log for drill hole SR24-03.

Mineralization key: cc = chalcocite, chpy = chalcopyrite, bn = bornite, py = pyrite, Cu = native copper, ct = cuprite, ml = malachite, sph = sphalerite, ga = galena. (5%) = visual estimation of sulfide content.


SR24-04 was drilled to a downhole depth of 199.6m and was designed to help determine the geometry of the main zone of copper mineralization encountered in drill hole SR24-03 for future resource definition drilling. The drill hole was drilled across section and below SR24-03.

SR24-04 intersected a total of 30.5m of vein-style copper mineralization within a number of zones hosted within fractured dolomite.

The sulfide abundance and mineralization within SR24-04 are very similar to that of SR24-03. The intersection depths and zoning of copper sulfides in both drill holes indicates that the mineralization in in the Gap area may be relatively flat lying, and therefore have significant potential for lateral expansion (Figure 4).

The immediate success of the 2024 exploration drilling highlights the ongoing exploration potential of the Storm area and potential of the MLEM surveys to efficiently define high-priority drilling targets. 

The Gap exploration holes were planned to test a very strong MLEM anomaly that covers an area of approximately 300m x 200m. This feature is located within a much larger zone of moderately conductive EM, which suggest the footprint of copper mineralization in The Gap area could be significant.

Further RC drilling will be used to determine the extent of the copper mineralization at The Gap Prospect during the 2024 summer drilling season.

Table 4: Summary geological log for drill hole SR24-04.

Mineralization key: cc = chalcocite, chpy = chalcopyrite, bn = bornite, py = pyrite, Cu = native copper, ct = cuprite, ml = malachite, sph = sphalerite, ga = galena. (5%) = visual estimation of sulfide content.


Figure 4: N-S schematic geological interpretation on drill section 464,000E.


Phase 1: Shallow-looking MLEM

Phase 1 of the Moving Loop Electromagnetic (MLEM) survey has been completed. The survey covered the majority of central graben of the immediate Storm area with approximately 46.7 line km completed. The first phase of the survey was configured and optimized to screen for conductive bodies (such as copper sulfides) up to 250m depth. Areas to the east hosting compelling gravity anomalies between known mineralized faults will be investigated in future programs.

The initial shallow-looking MLEM surveys used 100-200m N-S line spacings, 100m sensor stations, and 200m x 200m loops.

The survey has identified over 10 EM anomalies that are high priority for immediate drill testing, and numerous other lower order anomalies which are considered to have the potential to represent copper sulfides (Figure 5).

Phase 2: Deep-looking EM

Phase 2 of the MLEM survey is now underway which will aim to screen between 250m and 500m depth. These surveys are using a 400m x 400m loop size to search below the near-surface copper mineralization.

All five of the deep diamond drill holes completed during the 2022 and 2023 programs intersected copper sulfide mineralization at approximately the same stratigraphic horizon (270-320m vertical depth) across a 5 km2 area. Notably, drill hole ST23-02 intersected high-grade mineralization up to 2.7% Cu (at 357m downhole), indicating the potential of the system to host economic mineralization similar to that defined in the near surface at that deeper stratigraphic level.

Additional MLEM surveys are planned to commence at the underexplored regional Tornado. Blizzard and Tempest areas during the summer exploration program starting in June.

Figure 5: Recently completed MLEM survey image (Ch18Z) of the Storm area, overlaying drilling, copper mineralization outlines and aerial photography. Hotter colours (red/green) indicate higher conductivity. Target modelling involves a detailed review of the EM profile and X.Y, and Z channel data (only Z channel data shown above), combined with geochemistry data-sets.


  • Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling is in progress in the Storm area testing geophysical targets to expand know mineralization and test potential new zones of mineralization.
  • MLEM geophysical surveys are continuing on deeper areas of interest within the immediate Storm area. The surveys will then move to the Tornado and Blizzard copper prospect areas.
  • The second RC drilling rig is now onsite with preparations underway for commencement of drilling in the coming weeks. The planned drill program for 2024 comprises more than 20,000m in both RC and diamond drilling.
  • Planning is complete and preparations are underway for a broad range of environmental monitoring and survey activities during 2024.
  • Studies on beneficiation processing methods are progressing on a variety of styles of mineralization from the Cyclone and Chinook Prospects.

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 and 56.3m* @ 3.1% Cu from 12.2m and 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.

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its regulation services provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.

For more information contact:

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