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Ewan Downie, CEO of i-80 GOLD CORP. (TSX: IAU, OTCQX: IAUCF) Discusses Becoming One of the Largest Gold and Silver Operators in Nevada

on 10/1/2021
We spoke with Ewan Downie, CEO of i-80 GOLD CORP. (TSX: IAU, OTCQX: IAUCF), a Nevada-focused mining company, poised to become one of the largest gold and silver operators in Nevada, by acquiring the Lone Tree and Buffalo Mountain gold deposits, and the Ruby Hill Project. Lone Tree includes substantial infrastructure, and a processing facility. i-80 Gold is also getting an investment from Nevada Gold Mines. The Company's strategy, over the next several years, is to build-out multiple mines and restart the processing facility that's been under care and maintenance by Nevada Gold Mines. With a strong balance sheet and experienced Team, i-80 Gold has all the tools to execute on the plan to become a significant producer.

Dr. Allen Alper: This is Dr. Allen Alper, Editor-in-Chief of Metals News, interviewing Ewan Downie, CEO of i-80 Gold Corp. Ewan, since we talked in April, you have almost totally transformed your Company, located in Nevada, to be one of the largest silver and gold potential operators in Nevada. Could you give our readers/investors an overview of your Company and what you have done since our last conversation in April?

Ewan Downie: Yes. Thank you. We have recently announced that we have signed definitive agreements that will result in a remarkable transformation of the Company. Significant moves for i-80, a brand-new producer on the landscape of public companies. We've definitely made some moves, very aggressively, since we started trading, to become what we expect will be one of the largest gold producers in the state of Nevada.

We recently announced that we have entered into definitive agreements to acquire the Lone Tree facility, which includes two gold deposits and a processing facility, in addition to the Ruby Hill deposit, which is an active gold mine, with very significant upside. We are also getting an investment from Nevada Gold Mines, the largest producer in the state, that is expected to acquire a 9.9% ownership in us through a financing. Through these transactions, we expect that we are going to see the landscape in Nevada change, given that there will be a new producer and player in the district, with capabilities to process all types of Nevada ore.

Dr. Allen Alper: Oh, that's fantastic! Frankly, I'm amazed at what you and your Team have accomplished in such a short time. Could you tell us more about your strategy and where you go from here?

Ewan Downie: Our strategy, over the next several years, is to build out multiple mines and restart the processing facility that has been under care and maintenance by Nevada Gold Mines. North Central Nevada is in the largest gold producing district anywhere in the world. Nevada Gold Mines is the largest producer in the State and is owned by the world's two largest gold producers, Barrick Gold and Newmont.

To carry out our growth strategy, we have assembled a Team, with a tremendous history, operating and building mines in Nevada. With our own processing facilities, and multiple deposits, we expect to become one of the largest producers in the state. It's our Company's stated goal that we want to achieve the status of being Nevada’s second largest producer, next to Nevada Gold Mines.

To achieve this, we expect to execute development plans on multiple projects over the next several years and we begin with a very strong balance sheet to carry out this strategy. It will be a busy few years for the Company as we look to ramp up one operation at a time. But it's going to be a very exciting time for the Company with one of, I believe, the most significant organic growth profiles that you'll find in this industry.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds fantastic. Could you tell us a bit more about the Lone Tree complex?

Ewan Downie: Lone Tree is a mine that produced, up until 2006, for Newmont. It was placed under care and maintenance then, owing to the fact that the gold prices had dropped down to $600 an ounce, in that period. At those prices, the mine was marginal. They have maintained the facility, but not the open pit mine. The facility is in tremendously good shape and has been maintained as if, at some point, they were going to initiate a restart. It's just that they never did.

Over the past several years, i-80 has been Nevada Gold Mines' only operating partner with our South Arturo project. Recently, we started having discussions, with Nevada Gold Mines, about them consolidating the Carlin Trend, by acquiring our 40% interest in South Arturo. In addition to South Arturo, we had projects that require processing of refractory mineralization in order to be successful. We discussed with them that the only real option for us to sell Arturo was if we were to secure the ability to become a stand-alone producer. The Lone Tree facility checks all those boxes for us as a company.

We have agreed to transfer our 40% interest to them, but we get Lone Tree and Buffalo Mountain in exchange. Negotiations went on for several months and we were able to agree to terms. Now we're working towards closing, whereby we will officially take over these facilities and begin carrying out our multi-year growth plan, with the target of becoming a substantial mid-tier producer.

Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds excellent! Could you tell our readers/investors a little bit more about the Ruby Hill transaction?

Ewan Downie: Ruby Hill is, in my opinion, one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in the United States, never mind just in Nevada. It is currently an open pit mine, with significant deeper sulfide mineralization, and there's also a base metal discovery beneath the pit. It's our goal to drill out this deposit, into what we expect will become a very sizeable project for our Company. We also intend to complete permitting to commence underground mining, then ultimately build a second open pit on the property as both open-pit and underground mineralization has been delineated. We expect that Ruby Hill will become the biggest deposit, in our Company's portfolio, once the deal closes in October. We expect it's going to be a big part of our future growth plans to become a significant mid-tier producer.

Dr. Allen Alper: Sounds excellent! Could you tell our readers/investors a little bit about Nevada Gold Mines, which is the world's most productive gold district?

Ewan Downie: Barrick and Newmont have combined their assets in Nevada to create Nevada Gold Mines. Nevada Gold Mines itself produces more than 3 million ounces a year from the Battle Mountain and Carlin Trends of Nevada. With multiple processing facilities, they have in some ways, held somewhat of a monopoly in Nevada. With this transaction, whereby we acquired additional deposits and processing facilities, we will become one of the largest holders of gold-silver resources in the State. I believe we have a clear pathway to also become one of the largest producers in that region. Nevada was recently ranked number one, once again, by the Fraser Institute, as the most attractive place for mining investment. We definitely see it as one of, if not the safest mining jurisdiction anywhere in the world.

Dr. Allen Alper: That's fantastic. Could you tell our readers/investors a little bit about your experience and successful leadership team, starting with yourself, Ewan?

Ewan Downie: I have been involved in running public companies for more than 20 years. Most recently we grew Premier Gold Mines from an explorer to a developer and producer. Premier was recently taken over by Equinox Gold and as part of the acquisition, i-80 Gold was spun-out to shareholders. To increase our potential for success, we were actively trying to make sure we secured a Team that had the ability to operate in Nevada. Matt Gili, our President and Chief Operating Officer, was formerly the Executive General Manager of the Cortez District, one of the big three mines of Nevada Gold Mines.

Brent Kristof, our Executive Vice President – Projects & Evaluations, was formerly the General Manager of the Turquoise Ridge Mine, where he headed up the second, of the three major operations in Nevada, of Nevada Gold Mines. The most recent addition to our Team is Andy Cole, who until recently was the General Manager of the Gold Strike Project in Nevada, in the Carlin Trend, and the largest gold complex for Nevada Gold Mines.

We've assembled a Team with a history of operating in Nevada that compliments a Senior Management Team that has had a pretty strong history of building companies, including several takeovers. And I feel that we, as Premier and now i-80, have created a significant Nevada Company. Through M & A, we have acquired several strategic projects in Nevada, we have had several significant exploration successes that led to us now becoming one of the biggest holders of mineral resources in the State. We're quite proud of our track record, building up our presence in the State, and now we're aiming to become one of the largest producers in the state.

Dr. Allen Alper: Right. You and your Team have done an outstanding job, building your resources, your Company, and your Team. It's really admirable!

Ewan Downie: Yes, thank you.

Dr. Allen Alper: You're welcome. Could you tell our readers/investors about your share and capital structure?

Ewan Downie: Currently, prior to the spin-out and financing, we have approximately 180 million shares outstanding. However, as part of this transaction, we've announced that we have a comprehensive financing package, for up to over $300 million on a combined basis. This is a mezzanine-type financing, with Orion Mine Finance, that also includes an equity component, including from Nevada Gold Mines that is acquiring a 9.9% interest in the Company. We expect that our largest shareholder, Equinox Gold, will exercise its top-up rights. When the transaction closes, we expect to have over 200 million shares outstanding, close to US$200 million in the bank and multiple deposits that are permitted, accessible and ready to move into development.

We are moving quickly. In fact, just earlier this week we announced that we have completed initial rehabilitation of the underground workings at our Granite Creek Project, and we have commenced the test mining program that we hope will ultimately lead to a production decision, either later this year or early next year.

Dr. Allen Alper: Oh, that sounds excellent! Ewan, could you tell our readers/investors the primary reasons they should consider investing in i-80 Gold Corp?

Ewan Downie:i-80 Gold is a relatively new gold Company, with a major gold and silver resource endowment, one of the largest, for a smaller producer and developer that you'll find in the entire market. i-80 is a Company, with a strong balance sheet, to execute on its plan to become a significant producer. We have assembled a Team that is capable of operating mines in the State, in which we work, and I believe that we continue to trade at a discount to our peer group. So, I believe that, with the addition of the new deposits, our balance sheet and our peer-best growth profile, the Company offers investors an excellent opportunity to be rewarded.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, those sound like very compelling reasons for our readers/investors to consider investing in i-80 Gold Corp. Ewan, is there anything else you'd like to add?

Ewan Downie: No. I think we've covered most of the bases with this interview. And thank you for your insightful questions.

Dr. Allen Alper: I enjoyed talking with you again. I'm very impressed with what you and your Team have accomplished, and I'll be looking forward to keeping our readers/investors informed about what you're doing. It has been an exciting year and it looks like it's going to continue to be exciting times, as you move forward, for stakeholders and shareholders.

Ewan Downie: Yes! Thank you for continuing to stay in touch with our story. I look forward to talking with you again in the future.

Dr. Allen Alper: I do too. Thank you.

Ewan Downie – CEO
Matthew Gili – President & COO
Matthew Gollat – EVP Business & Corporate Development

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