Friday 26th May 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘nwt’

‘Everyone’s hiring again’

May 24th, 2017

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting presages a wave of M&A

by Greg Klein

As an executive search firm, the Mining Recruitment Group might serve as a bellwether for the industry. Founder and self-described mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says, “I put together management teams for companies, I connect people with opportunities and opportunities with people.” In that role, he experienced the upturn well before many industry players did.

To most of them, the long-awaited resurgence arrived late last year. Pollard saw it several months earlier.

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting could presage a wave of M&A

“The market came back in a huge way, at least in the hiring side, early last year when my phone started ringing a hell of a lot more,” he explains. “There was a huge volume. And what I’ve found is that the available talent pool for executives shrank in a period of about six months. In January 2016, for example, I was working on a search and there was almost a lineup out the door of some really big-name people. What I’m finding now, a year and a half later, is that the available talent has almost evaporated. It’s much harder to recruit for senior positions.”

Lately his work suggests another industry development. “The major upturn I’m seeing in the market now is a huge demand for corporate development people who can do technical due diligence on projects. Over the last few years large mining companies and investment banks cut staff almost to the bone in that regard because no one was interested in doing deals or looking at acquisitions.”

Just completed, his most recent placement was for Sprott. “They had me looking for someone with a technical background who can do due diligence for their investments. In doing so I spoke with everyone on the street, from investment banks to some big name corporate development people and they all said the same thing: Everyone’s hiring again. These are people who couldn’t get job offers a year ago, now every single candidate on the short list for this last search has multiple offers from companies looking to get them. I haven’t seen that in five years.

“So that leads me to believe companies have been staffing up their corporate development teams. I see that as a major sign that you’re going to see M&A pick up in a huge, huge way, probably over the next three to six months.”

An early example would be last week’s Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD buyout of Integra Gold TSXV:ICG—“one of my best clients over the years”—in a deal valued at $590 million.

Mining headhunter Andrew Pollard says executive recruiting could presage a wave of M&A

Andrew Pollard: Executive recruiting “leads me to believe companies have been staffing up their corporate development teams.”

“I think there’s leverage for other companies to start pulling the trigger faster because they’re adding the expertise to get these things done.”

Having founded the Mining Recruitment Group over two decades ago at the age of 20, “a snotty kid” with only a single year of related experience, he’s placed people in companies with market caps ranging from $5 million to well over $200 million. Now in a position to pick and choose his assignments, Pollard’s business concentrates on “the roles that will have the most impact on a company’s future.” That tends to be CEO, president, COO and board appointments.

Last year he placed five CEOs, as well as other positions. Among those assignments, Pollard worked with Frank Giustra on a CEO search for Fiore Exploration TSXV:F and filled another vacancy for Treasury Metals TSX:TML as it advances Goliath toward production.

But the hiring surge coincides with an industry-wide recruitment challenge. Pollard attributes that to a demographic predicament complicated by mining’s notorious cyclicality.

During the 1990s, he points out, fewer people chose mining careers, resulting in a shortage of staffers who’d now be in their 40s and 50s. Greater numbers joined up during the more promising mid-2000s, only to “get spat out” when markets went south. Now Pollard gets a lot of calls to replace baby boomers who want to retire. Too many of those retirements are coming around the same time, he says, because stock losses during the downturn had forced executives to postpone their exit.

Now, with a wave of retirements coinciding with a demographic gap, Pollard sees a “perfect storm to identify the next batch of young leaders.”

But he also sees promise in a new generation. That inspired him to assemble Young Leaders, one of two panel discussions he’ll present at the International Metal Writers Conference in Vancouver on May 28 and 29.

“By talking with some very successful executives age 35 and under, I want to show that we need to look at people one generation younger, and foster and develop this talent.”

By talking with some very successful executives age 35 and under, I want to show that we need to look at people one generation younger, and foster and develop this talent.

Well, it’s either talent or a precocious Midas touch that distinguishes these panel members. Maverix Metals TSXV:MMX CEO Dan O’Flaherty co-founded the royalty/streaming company just last year, already accumulating assets in 10 countries and a $200-million market cap.

As president/CEO of Skyharbour Resources TSXV:SYH, Jordan Trimble proved adept at fundraising and deal-making while building a 250,000-hectare uranium-thorium exploration portfolio in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Integra president/CEO Steve de Jong raised the company from a $10-million market cap in 2012 to last week’s $590-million takeout.

And, demographic gap notwithstanding, Pollard’s second panel features three other success stories, just a bit older but with lots of potential left after guiding three of last year’s biggest M&A deals. They’ll take part in the Vision to Exit discussion, which closes the conference on May 29.

Eira Thomas burst into prominence at the Lac de Gras diamond fields where she discovered Diavik at age 24. Her most recent major coup took place last year on the Klondike gold fields with Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) $520-million buyout of Kaminak Gold.

Featherstone Capital president/CEO Doug Forster founded and led Newmarket Gold, producing over 225,000 ounces a year from three Australian mines and enticing Kirkland Lake Gold’s (TSX:KL) billion-dollar offer.

Now chairperson of Liberty Gold TSX:LGD and a director of NexGen Energy TSX:NXE, Mark O’Dea co-founded and chaired True Gold Mining, acquired in April 2016 by Endeavour Mining TSX:EDV. Three other companies that O’Dea co-founded, led and sold were Fronteer Gold, picked up by Newmont Mining NYSE:NEM in 2011; Aurora Energy, sold to Paladin Energy TSX:PDN in 2011; and True North Nickel, in which Royal Nickel TSX:RNX bought a majority interest in 2014.

“We’ll be looking at how they go into deals, what their philosophy is, what’s their current reading of the market and what they’re going to do next. They each have a big future ahead of them.”

Pollard’s two panel discussions take place at the International Metal Writers Conference on May 28 and 29 at the Vancouver Convention Centre East. Pre-register for free or pay $20 at the door.

In all, the conference brings generations of talent, expertise and insight to an audience of industry insiders and investors alike.

Read more about the International Metal Writers Conference.

Equitorial Exploration expands Utah lithium claims

May 24th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 24, 2017

Pleased with geophysical results from its Tule Valley lithium project in Utah, Equitorial Exploration TSXV:EXX has increased its holdings to take in the entire Tule Valley Basin. A ground gravity survey shows “the Tule Valley fill has a depth of over 500 metres in the western portion of the property” and “the valley fill deepens further than 500 metres heading east from the current claim blocks,” Equitorial stated.

Equitorial Exploration expands Utah lithium claims

As a closed basin, Tule Valley might
host an extremely mineralized brine.

As a result the company staked another 1,092 hectares, expanding the property to about 2,792 hectares. Equitorial plans to drill the property this season.

The company also has discussions underway with other parties to assess methods of extracting metals from water.

Equitorial characterizes the Tule Valley as a closed basin in which surface water and groundwater flowing into the basin have no escape route. Surface evaporation leaves minerals dissolved in brines and evaporation pools. In that respect Tule Valley might be similar to Nevada’s Clayton Valley, the company added.

The road-accessible property sits about 190 kilometres from Salt Lake City.

Equitorial’s two other lithium projects include the Gerlach property in Nevada, which the company describes as an under-explored closed basin “in an area structurally comparable to that of Clayton Valley.” In the Northwest Territories, the company holds the Little Nahanni Pegmatite Group property, for which Equitorial filed a 43-101 technical report last March.

Margaret Lake, Arctic Star begin geophysical search for NWT diamonds

May 9th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 9, 2017

Modern geophysics and a new approach come to a property with diamondiferous kimberlites in the Northwest Territories’ prolific Lac de Gras region, as Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA and Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD start work on their Diagras JV. Expected to finish in mid-May, the program consists of ground gravity, magnetics and Ohm Mapper EM.

Margaret Lake, Arctic Star begin geophysical search for NWT diamonds

Margaret Lake and Arctic Star hold a 60% and 40% stake respectively, with Margaret Lake acting as project operator.

The companies hope to find non-magnetic evidence that was missed in the 1990s when De Beers flew airborne surveys that identified the property’s magnetic kimberlites.

Diagras hosts 13 known kimberlites, most of them diamondiferous, according to historic data. The property’s Jack Pine kimberlite shows “multiple phases with different geophysical responses,” the JV stated. “It is hoped that our planned surveys will reveal similar geology around the other pipes. There is also a good chance to find new kimberlites using these new ground geophysical techniques.”

In November the JV attributed those techniques to Kennady Diamonds’ (TSXV:KDI) progress at Kennady North, Lac de Gras’ most advanced exploration project.

Results of the Diagras program will be considered for follow-up drilling.

In January Arctic Star applied for a drill permit for its 100%-held CAP niobium-tantalum-REE property in north-central British Columbia. The company raised over $1.47 million in private placements that closed late last year.

Equitorial Exploration closes acquisition of two western U.S. lithium properties

April 7th, 2017

by Greg Klein | April 7, 2017

With the deal now complete, Equitorial Exploration TSXV:EXX builds a portfolio of lithium properties. The company picked up the Tule Valley project in Utah and the Gerlach property in Nevada by paying Umbral Energy CSE:UMB $50,000 and two million shares, as well as assuming a payment of $100,000. A 2% NSR applies to both properties.

Equitorial Exploration closes acquisition of western U.S. lithium properties

The under-explored Gerlach property might
host structural similarities to Clayton Valley.

Umbral described Tule Valley as a closed valley several kilometres south of lithium source rocks, with active groundwater flow along its western margin. The property “has been affected by evaporate-style processes,” the company stated. “Tule Valley may therefore be conducive to the presence of lithium-bearing groundwater. In this respect, Tule Valley has similar characteristics to Clayton Valley, Nevada, a dry lake bed where lithium is derived from brines located within more porous sediment layers at depth under playa.”

As for Gerlach, also known as the San Emidio project, Umbral characterized it as an under-explored closed basin “in an area structurally comparable to that of Clayton Valley, being bounded by normal faults to the east and west of the property and surrounded by volcanics such as rhyolitic flows and tuffs.”

In March Equitorial filed a 43-101 technical report for its Little Nahanni Pegmatite Group property in the Northwest Territories, a hardrock project that underwent sampling last year. This year’s LNPG program could include resampling previous core, mapping, prospecting, channel sampling and drilling.

92 Resources begins metallurgical tests on NWT lithium

March 28th, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 28, 2017

A Northwest Territories lithium project gets its first-ever metallurgical studies as 92 Resources TSXV:NTY announced a two-phase program on March 28. The 1,659-hectare Hidden Lake property underwent channel sampling last year on four of six known lithium-bearing spodumene dykes, with the best intercept showing:

  • 1.58% Li2O and 31 ppm Ta2O5 over 8.78 metres

  • (including 1.78% Li2O and 31 ppm Ta2O5 over 6.93 metres)
92 Resources begins metallurgical tests on NWT lithium

Hidden Lake’s metallurgical tests follow
last year’s successful sampling program.

The met program’s first phase examines the property’s spodumene and waste materials, leading to a mineral processing phase intended to separate the two and produce a high-grade concentrate.

Material from four pegmatites will be evaluated separately and, if no significant differences are found, a single composite will undergo processing tests. Those tests would include grinding, heavy liquid separation, magnetic separation and flotation. Plans then call for a preliminary flowsheet and a small amount of potentially marketable spodumene concentrate.

The program will also evaluate potential tantalum recovery.

Hidden Lake has all-weather road access to Yellowknife, 45 kilometres southwest. Carrying out the tests will be SGS Canada, which has considerable experience in spodumene pegmatite processing, 92 Resources stated.

In northern Quebec, 92 Resources has initial lithium exploration planned for Pontax, a 5,536-hectare property in a district known for spodumene-bearing pegmatites as well as gold potential.

Earlier this month the company expanded its Golden frac sand project from 807 hectares to 3,211 hectares. The southeastern British Columbia property sits adjacent to the Moberly silica sand project, now being redeveloped into a frac sand operation and among the assets sought by Northern Silica in its takeover bid for Heemskirk Consolidated.

Late last month 92 Resources closed an oversubscribed private placement of $895,199.

Equitorial Exploration files 43-101 for NWT lithium project

March 17th, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 17, 2017

Citing highly encouraging results, a 43-101 technical report has been completed and filed for Equitorial Exploration’s (TSXV:EXX) Little Nahanni Pegmatite Group property in the Northwest Territories.

Equitorial Exploration files 43-101 for NWT lithium project

LNPG’s mountainous terrain could undergo drilling this year.

Also referred to as LNPG or the Li property, the project underwent sampling last year, with results reported in October and September.

Field work traced lithium-cesium-tantalum pegmatite dyke swarms over a combined length of 13 kilometres on the property’s mountainous terrain, the company stated. The dykes’ vertical extent has been traced for 300 metres through natural exposure and drilling in 2007. “Where sampled, each dyke swarm is up to 52.6 metres wide and contains multiple dykes that range from 0.2 to 10 metres in width.”

This year Equitorial anticipates resampling the 2007 core, drilling, channel sampling, mapping and prospecting.

Located in the southern NWT just east of the Yukon border, LNPG sits about 30 kilometres from the former Cantung tungsten mine. In addition to the NWT hardrock project, Equitorial has begun the acquisition of two lithium brine projects in Utah and Nevada, proximal to the Tesla Gigafactory #1.

92 Resources expands B.C. frac sand property adjacent to takeover target

March 13th, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 13, 2017

A 2,404-hectare addition to 92 Resources’ (TSXV:NTY) Golden frac sand property brings the total to 3,211 hectares next to a silica sand mine in southeastern British Columbia.

“A domestic or western Canadian frac sand deposit with suitable quality would benefit from more advantageous transportation and exchange rate costs over foreign competitors,” said 92 Resources president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux. “We believe these to be important factors in the recent takeover of the neighbouring Moberly silica sand mine.”

92 Resources expands B.C. frac sand property adjacent to takeover target

Next door to the Golden property, Heemskirk Canada’s Moberly project produced silica sand for high-quality glass manufacture for over 30 years. It’s now being redeveloped as a frac sand production and processing operation. Meanwhile Heemskirk’s parent company, Heemskirk Consolidated, is subject to a takeover bid by Northern Silica, a subsidiary of Taurus Resources No. 2 BC, that’s expected to close next month.

Golden’s expansion gives the property over 18 kilometres of strike along the Mount Wilson formation, which consists of high-purity, white quartzite, 92 Resources stated. With only initial prospecting, sampling and testing done so far, results from the most recent program in 2014 show silica content grading 98.3% to 99% SiO2. In two of four samples, over 65% of material fell in the 40- to 170-mesh range. “The two adequate size fraction samples passed 6,000 PSI compressibility testing, each producing 8.1% fines,” the company added.

92 Resources has mapping, sampling and drilling now in the planning stages for Golden.

Besides a product used in oil and gas exploration, 92 Resources pursues a clean energy commodity at two lithium properties. In January the company filed a 43-101 for its Hidden Lake project in the Northwest Territories, which hosts at least six lithium-bearing spodumene dykes. Channel samples on four of them averaged 1.03% Li2O, with one hitting a peak of 3.31%. Ground magnetics, along with liquid separation and flotation tests, have been recommended for the project.

The 1,659-hectare property has all-weather access to Yellowknife, 45 kilometres southwest.

92 Resources also anticipates initial exploration this year on its 5,536-hectare Pontax property in Quebec’s James Bay region.

Last month the company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $895,199.

As new budgets announced, Canadian mineral exploration gets some government support

March 10th, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 10, 2017

The exploration industry had a good week for government incentives from Ottawa, the Northwest Territories and, going back a bit farther, British Columbia. Federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr helped kick off PDAC by announcing a one-year renewal of the 15% mineral exploration tax credit, along with his government’s maintenance of the flow-through credit. The announcement incorporates key PDAC submissions for the federal budget, expected to be delivered later this month.

As new budgets announced, Canadian mineral exploration gets some government support

Citing estimates from Finance Canada, the Association for Mineral Exploration said the flow-through credit stimulates $3 in exploration for every $1 in tax saving.

On March 3 the NWT announced an increase in the territory’s mining incentive program from $400,000 to $1 million. Last year five companies received grants for six projects ranging from $34,575 to $85,000. Five prospectors got amounts ranging from $11,952 to $15,000.

The NWT also extended its work credit program for another two years and boosted the incentive by making it easier to keep claims active. Exploration spending will now be assessed at one and a half times its value.

NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian called the budget adjustments “the right action to help the NWT grow the lower-than-expected exploration investment recently projected by Natural Resources Canada.” The federal agency predicts a 3% spending reduction on the territory’s exploration and deposit appraisals, to $64.4 million this year.

“Furthermore, the GNWT’s actions are well aligned with the NWT Minerals Development Strategy, which is critical for the sustainability of the minerals industry in the north and the valuable socio-economic activity this industry brings to the governments and people of the NWT,” Vivian added.

A week earlier, B.C. tabled a budget confirming Premier Christy Clark’s announcement at AME’s Roundup conference in January. The province extended its flow-through credit to the end of the year and expanded eligibility for the mining exploration tax credit to include costs of environmental studies and community consultations. Further encouragement came from a two-year, $10-million grant to Geoscience BC.

Additionally, the province’s Ministry of Energy and Mines gets an extra $18 million over three years to help support permitting, compliance and enforcement.

The industry’s buoyant mood, noticed in the latter part of 2016 and evident at VRIC 2017, Roundup and PDAC, follows a particularly bad year for B.C. According to a report from the provincial ministry, AME and EY, exploration spending in the province declined through four consecutive years, dropping last year to $205 million from exploration companies and $1.8 million from prospectors. That represented a 25% decline over 2015 and the lowest level since 2009.

(Natural Resources Canada reports a 2016 B.C. low of $220.4 million.)

Released March 7, the British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey 2016 said the province had come to the end of a 10- to 15-year mine development cycle, returning to a cycle focusing on grassroots and early-stage exploration.

“Notwithstanding the current downturn, the industry remained an important source of jobs and was, and continues to be, an economic contributor to communities throughout the province,” the report stated.

Natural Resources Canada forecasts about $237.5 million being spent on B.C. exploration and deposit appraisals in 2017, more than 7.7% above the agency’s 2016 total. For the country overall, NRC predicts an 18% increase this year, to $1.844 billion.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba first and second globally as mining jurisdictions

March 1st, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2017

Saskatchewan edged one notch upwards to take first place worldwide while Manitoba soared from 19th to second in this year’s Fraser Institute survey of mining and exploration jurisdictions. Those two provinces pushed last year’s top performer, Western Australia, down to third place. Canada’s other top 10 spot went to Quebec, rising to sixth from eighth the year before. All continents but Antarctica came under scrutiny but Canadian, American, Australian and European locales monopolized the top 10.

Farther down the list, the strongest Canadian improvements were Newfoundland and Labrador, climbing to 16th from 25th, and the Northwest Territories, now 21st, previously 35th. Most disappointing were British Columbia (falling to 27th from 18th), Nunavut (31st from 23rd) and Alberta (47th from 34th).

Those findings come from the survey’s Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indices—Policy Perception, a “report card” on government attitudes, and Best Practices Mineral Potential, concerning geological appeal. Representatives of 104 companies responded with their 2016 experiences in mind, giving a numerical rating to questions in several categories regarding their likelihood of investing in a particular jurisdiction. The previous year 109 companies responded.

Here’s the top 10 globally for overall investment attractiveness, with last year’s standings in parentheses:

1 Saskatchewan (2)

2 Manitoba (19)

3 Western Australia (1)

4 Nevada (3)

5 Finland (5)

6 Quebec (8)

7 Arizona (17)

8 Sweden (13)

9 Ireland (4)

10 Queensland (16)

Here are the Canadian runners-up:

15 Yukon (12)

16 Newfoundland and Labrador (25)

18 Ontario (15)

21 Northwest Territories (35)

27 British Columbia (18)

31 Nunavut (23)

40 New Brunswick (45)

47 Alberta (34)

52 Nova Scotia (59)

At least those provinces and territories steered far clear of the bottom 10, where Argentina figures prominently:

95 Mozambique (84)

96 Zimbabwe (98)

97 India (73)

98 Mendoza province, Argentina (101)

99 La Rioja province, Argentina (109)

100 Afghanistan (not available)

101 Chubut province, Argentina (104)

102 Venezuela (108)

103 Neuquen province, Argentina (93)

104 Jujuy province, Argentina (86)

“We believe that the survey captures, at least in broad strokes, the perceptions of those involved in both mining and the regulation of mining in the jurisdictions included in the survey,” stated authors Taylor Jackson and Kenneth P. Green.

Download the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016.

92 Resources files 43-101 for NWT lithium project, outlines 2017 plans

January 24th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 24, 2017

Crediting itself with a successful 2016, 92 Resources TSXV:NTY greeted the new year with a 43-101 technical report for its Hidden Lake lithium project and outlined plans for two other “new energy” properties. Besides the Northwest Territories’ Hidden Lake, the company holds the Pontax lithium property in northern Quebec and the Golden frac sand property in southeastern British Columbia.

92 Resources files 43-101 for NWT lithium project, outlines 2017 plans

With sample bags ready for the lab, a
geologist documents the Hidden Lake project.

Last year’s channel sampling at the Hidden Lake flagship tested four of at least six known lithium-bearing spodumene dykes, with the 308 samples averaging 1.03% Li2O. Forty-nine channels averaged over 0.5%, with the average grade and length for the 49 coming to 1.16% over 5.29 metres. One sample hit a peak of 3.31% Li2O.

Encouraged by the results, the report’s author proposed a ground magnetics survey, along with liquid separation and flotation tests to confirm samples are suitable for producing a spodumene concentrate. Should work prove successful, the next phase would call for drilling and further metallurgy.

The 1,659-hectare property has both helicopter access and an all-weather road connection to Yellowknife, 45 kilometres southwest.

The 5,536-hectare Pontax property, in a district known for spodumene-bearing pegmatites and geology favourable to gold occurrences, has initial exploration expected this year. The company also intends to develop opportunities around its 808-hectare Golden frac sand property, adjacent to Heemskirk Canada’s Moberly silica mine.

92 Resources raised a total of $1.49 million last year.