Yan Ducharme, Exploration Manager for NioGold at the Cambridge House Vancouver Resource Investment Conference
Good news from drill results helps to propel investor interest in a company and it helps to fund further exploration and deeper drilling.
NioGold Mining Corporation (TSX: NOX) is starting the next phase of drilling on the Marban project near Val d’Or Quebec, thanks to the positive results of its first phase, and in anticipation of drilling results to be released later this year.
NioGold is a gold exploration company focused in the Abitibi Greenstone belt in northern Quebec. Their 48 square mile land package in the Cadillac, Malartic, and Val-d'Or gold mining camps includes 3 past-producing mines and sits adjacent to an area that has 7 current-producing mines. More than 45 million ounces of gold has been extracted from those mining camps since 1930.
I would remove that picture unless you find it vital to show where we are in Quebec.
During the Cambridge House Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, held on January 22 and 23, we spoke to Yan Ducharme, Exploration Manager for NioGold. He told us about the success they've enjoyed so far, what investors can expect in the future, and what activities are currently underway.
Mr. Ducharme first explained how NioGold is moving forward thanks to an important partnership with Aurizon Mines Ltd (TSX: ARZ) that was struck in July 2010. "What attracted Aurizon to our project was our 2010 publication of the 43-101 compliant 960,000 ounces of indicated and inferred resources. The deal [we made with Aurizon] is that over 3 years, Aurizon will spend $20 million in exploration expenditure, then have an external resource calculation and a resource payment so they can earn 50% from the property," explained Mr. Ducharme.
NioGold remains the operator of the project during the earn-in period. Mr. Ducharme told us: "On the property there are 3 past-producing mines, which produced 600,000 ounces of gold [in the past]. Our resource ounces are divided into 3 deposits. In the first year [of the agreement with Aurizon] we concentrated mainly on the Marban deposit because it's a system with some high grade zones inside a low-grade envelope. We want to investigate the potential for an open pit operation. The other two deposits already have that potential."
Drilling so far has been successful. Mr. Ducharme reports that everyone is happy with the results they've seen in their first year of drilling since the partnership was formed. "Last year," said Mr. Ducharme, "for our first year commitment [with Aurizon], we did 50,000 meters of drilling… 40,000 on Marban and 10,000 on the rest of the property. We got some pretty decent results with that and we are expecting an update of a resource calculation to be published in April."
Mr. Ducharme described some of the results he saw during drilling: "We had some drilling results like 7 grams over 11 meters, 9 grams over 5 meters and one that was 1.2 grams over 81meters. We had good grades for the Malartic Camp – where mines typically produce about 5 grams per ton."
And with those positive results, the NioGold and Aurizon partnership is moving into Phase 2. Mr. Ducharme described what Phase 2 is: "We’ve received a budget for further drilling. We're going to drill 34,000 meters and our budget gives us until May or June to do so. There are some areas on the Marban deposit that need to be more defined such as what we call the ' High-grade Western Zone' which we are trying to understand and define better. More holes are testing the area we call the 'Eastern Down Dip Zone ' at depth because wehad some decent intercepts in the first phase of drilling and it was below depth of the original mine. We will also take a few thousand meters to test some targets outside of the resource areas. Currently, we are doing phase 2. It started on January 3rd so it's already underway and so far we have seen some very nice core."
NioGold's optimism is well-founded:
They have a large land package in an area that is well-known for producing historically significant quantities of gold. They have a strong partnership to help fund the project. And, they have a team who can contribute.
On the ground, Mr. Ducharme brings his experience to the operation: "I've been a geologist for about 15 years. I used to work in Africa and in South America and I've spent a lot of time in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. Now I'm the exploration manager for NioGold and I've been with them since August 2007." And at NioGold, Mr. Ducharme has a lot to do: "I'm watching NioGold's project portfolio and directing the team to find as much gold as possible on the Marban project and trying to find new ares of interest on our other properties. We are doing our homework to find good targets and we investigate them. One of the big tasks that I have is to make sure that all the work is done properly and that Aurizon and NioGold are both satisfied with what we're doing."
Giving leadership to NioGold is Chairman and CEO Michael Iverson, who brings decades of experience leading successful companies in a variety of industries; COO Rock Lefrançois, a Professional Geologist with over 25 years of industry experience in North and Central America and in the Abitibi belt where NioGold operates; and a team of directors who bring a wealth of management consulting experience, accounting experience, and legal experience to the company.
So, what does the next chapter look like for NioGold? As long as their drilling keeps bringing in good results, the company can continue to move forward. NioGold, teaming up with Aurizon, is trying to make the Marban project reach the feasibility study level. Meanwhile, NioGold is also trying to find on its own its next deposit in the rest of the land package. One target is the Ludovick zone discovered in 2011 in the southern part of the Malartic Block property (fully owned by NioGold). With drilling intercepts like 3 grams over 6.5 meters and 8 grams over 3 meters, this zone warrants a follow up which will occur in early 2012. Is more good news on the way from NioGold?
The Alper family owns NioGold’s Stock.
Cambridge House Vancouver Resource Investment Conference: http://cambridgehouse.com/conference-details/vancouver-resource-investment-conference-2012/54
NioGold Mining Corporation: http://www.niogold.com/
Aurizon Mines: http://www.aurizon.com/