De Beers has entered into a US$15.8 million (C$20.4 million) option with CanAlaska Uranium Ltd. for diamond exploration in the Western Athabasca. CanAlaska holds interests in approximately 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres), one of the largest land positions in Canada's Athabasca Basin region, known as the "Saudi Arabia of Uranium". The claims staked by CanAlaska and optioned to De Beers cover 75 kimberlite-style targets developed from a recent (2011) high resolution airborn geophysical survey carried out on behalf of the Saskatchewan Geological Survey. De Beers will undertake a multi-stage US$15.8 million option agreement over three years that allows them to carry out a series of work programs to earn-in to the Athabasca Kimberlite Project.
De Beers is required to progress through the options within the time periods or return the property to CanAlaska, however the sequential options are subject to CanAlaska's right to participate in the exploration as a joint venture partner. CanAlaska's participation rights (to prevent further dilution of its interest) start once De Beers has earned its 70 per cent interest. The work programs will be operated by De Beers, but with assistance from CanAlaska. The priority work will include a detailed airborne survey, diamond indicator sampling in the vicinity of the targets, followed by drill testing prioritized targets. Peter Dasler, President, CanAlaska, said: "These 75 circular targets fit all the geological and geophysical criteria of kimberlites. We are very pleased to have joined forces with the world's premier diamond explorer to evaluate this 17,400 hectare (43,000 acre) claim package, which hosts numerous targets. Our alliance with De Beers will allow rapid first pass evaluation, and we look forward to the ability to participate with De Beers as a partner as the project grows."