Goliath vs David and Goliath battle brewing over world-first 'stainless steel' deposit

Vancouver's First Point Minerals is a TSX-V listed explorer worth $52 million with 15 employees and a handful of exploration properties in British Columbia.

Cliffs Natural Resources is a $8.3 billion iron ore and met coal giant based in Cleveland Ohio with operations around the world and 6,400 employees. Net income was $1.6 billion last year.

BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager – its Q1 2012 results showed assets under management grew 5% from the December quarter to $3.68 trillion.

First Point on Saturday "regretfully" served notice of arbitration on Cliffs Natural Resources because the company refuses to hand over crucial information about First Point's Decar project.

Decar in northern British Columbia is described by First Point as "the first property of its type anywhere in the world to be explored for possible commercial production of nickel entirely from awaruite (pictured), a naturally-occurring nickel-iron alloy, effectively naturally-occurring 'stainless steel'."

Cliffs has an earn-in option on the promising Decar project which shows a resource of 1.2 billion tonnes at grading 0.113% of recoverable nickel.

First Point made management changes in January and BlackRock entered the picture a little over two months ago when BlackRock's Canadian arm which on its own manages $20 billion picked up shares in First Point.

The explorer's tearsheet on Reuters shows BlackRock Asset Management Canada picked up 3,600 shares at the end of February to bring its holding to 14,190.

Why BlackRock would be interested in a minnow like First Point is not clear. Its $8,320 investment is scarcely a rounding error for Blackrock.

Then again, it did not amass assets counted in trillions by being careless with its money.

 

Image of Awaruite pebble from Josephine County, Oregon, USA by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com