Sutter Gold Mining, working on the Lincoln Project in California's Mother Lode area, is scheduled to complete their first gold pour in December.
Metals News caught up with Dr. Leanne Baker, President and CEO of Sutter Gold Mining at the New Orleans Investment Conference. With the first gold pour at the Lincoln gold project scheduled before year-end, Dr. Baker provided an update on the company's progress on their California property.
Baker said, “Sutter Gold Mining, for me, is the culmination of all my prior experience and takes advantage of all facets of my background.” Baker holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mineral economics from Colorado School of Mines which helped her hone her skills in assessing properties and companies as an equity analyst and consultant. She said, “In equity research, I was following the metals and mining industry. It was a bear market for most of my analyst career.”
Baker left the financial sector at a time when she believed that a change in the market was coming. She said, “When I left Salomon Smith Barney in 2001, I was fairly convinced that we were at the beginning of a bull market. I started to do consulting with smaller companies and join boards.” Her experience working with existing companies led Sutter Gold to approach her to take the helm as CEO. She said, “In 2011, Sutter approached me. They had been without a CEO for a number of years. I had been following the company's progress, was already a shareholder, and the timing worked out well.”
Baker was intrigued by the position based on the Lincoln Mine Project that Sutter had under way in California. She said, “As a California resident, it is exciting to be part of the team that is building the first new gold mine in the Mother Lode in more than a half century." In addition, Baker was already familiar with many of the people associated with Sutter Gold Mining. She said, “I work with board members David Fennell and James Crombie on another company board, and I had known Rick Winters (President of RMB Resources, Sutter's largest shareholder and financier) for many years. There were a whole bunch of reasons it made sense from their standpoint and mine." Baker believes that the quality of the management team will help Sutter Gold to be successful. She said, “By the time I arrived on November 1, 2011, Sutter had done a good job attracting the core of the management team. It was an attraction to me to come to a smaller company that is interested in getting into production.”
Currently, Sutter Gold is working on completing construction of the mill and several ancillary buildings at the Lincoln project. Baker said, “We are just finishing our construction, and will begin commissioning the mill within weeks. We are looking to have our first gold pour in December.” With construction projected to be completed shortly, Baker and her team are focused on underground mine development, with plans to achieve full production by mid-2013. Said Baker, “We're starting out with Phase I of our Lincoln Project – about 22,000 ounces per year for five years. That will extract only 115,000 ounces of our 700,000 ounce deposit.” Cash flow from Phase 1 will be used to fund exploration growth, and development of the next phases of production. Said Baker, “Once we complete this project, we'll be focusing fairly quickly on the next phase which will be the Keystone resource.” At this time, Phase 1 of the Lincoln-Comet deposit has a five year mine life, which Baker believes they can extend. She said, “It will require some work, but we will do what we can to accelerate additional production within the five year time line. We are confident that when we get underground we can extend the life of our mine.”
Sutter Gold Mining's share price has performed well so far in 2012, as the market responded to construction progress and exploration success. Baker said, “Our market cap is in the high $40 million dollar range.” On the debt side, she added, “We have a prepaid gold facility – a $20 million dollar facility – that has provided the bulk of the capital required for construction. In addition, we just announced a bridge loan of $12 million dollars that should take us to cash flow positive. Our PEA projects cash costs, before royalties, of just over $700 per ounce. That includes all of the capital costs for the first five years.”
Investors may want to take a close look at the potential of Sutter Gold Mining's efforts in California. Baker said, “We are proving we can build a new mine in California. Getting our Phase 1 off the ground will bring other opportunities, on our current land position and perhaps elsewhere in the western United States as well.” Baker said, “We have a tremendous land position in the Mother Lode, with more than 3.5 miles of strike length in the prolific portion of the trend. In addition, we acquired an option on another property to the north that adds another mile to our strike length."
While Sutter Gold has multiple development options on adjacent lands in the Mother Lode, they are focused on the Lincoln-Comet project and how to keep it growing. Said Baker, “Our project is an underground mine, but near the surface. There has been no drilling at depth. We will be following up on a hypothesis by our geology team that our system could be substantial at depth.” How is this helpful to investors? Baker said, “We are creating a new paradigm with the junior part of the industry. We have a real management team and a real operations team. We will be generating value for our shareholders.”
With a new project in the Mother Lode region of California, excellent management support and a strong financial position, Sutter Gold is in an enviable position. Focused on creating real growth and value for shareholders, the Sutter Gold team is close to beginning production on the Lincoln-Comet project.
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