Rob McEwen sitting on approximately 100,000 ounces of gold worth $68,000,000 at today’s gold prices
Is there any truth to the belief that what Rob McEwen touches turns to gold? The high-grade checkmark next to Goldcorp’s ticker symbol more than suggests it, and as US Gold Corporation’s stock soars and drill holes continue to sink, Mr. McEwen may make history repeat itself.
US Gold’s website proclaims in bold letters: “right time, right place, right trend”, and the right investor! Rob McEwen is CEO and Chairman of US Gold Corporation (TSX: UXG, AMEX: UXG) and the largest stakeholder, holding over 20 per cent stock in the Denver based junior gold exploration company.
Mr. McEwen is a 30-year veteran in the resources sector and has garnered many accolades over his 18 years in the mining industry including the Northern Miner's Man of the Year Award, Ernst & Young's Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Energy Category, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's Developer of the Year award.
He is also credited as founder, former Chairman and CEO of international gold producing giant Goldcorp Inc., and responsible for growing the company’s market capitalization of $50 million to over $7 billion. While he was at the helm, Goldcorp was named one of Fast Company magazine's 50 Companies of Innovation, and as one of the 50 most innovative companies on the web by Business Week magazine.
Rob McEwen made his comeback to the gold market holding firm to a prediction he made several years prior, projecting gold prices to hit new highs. With his inclination in matters of metals, the guru of gold re-emerged with his next discovery on the agenda, new territories and a new junior to take to the top.
“When I looked at the landscape after leaving Goldcorp, I believed the gold market was going higher, and I wanted to continue having involvement in it from an investment standpoint. I didn’t want to go into the seniors, because I felt the best they could do would be a proxy for gold. You put a big discovery in a major, it’s just not going to have the impact that it would have in an intermediate or more so in a junior.” Mr. McEwen continues to tell the tale of US Gold. “I went and bought a third interest in US Gold, and then I looked around and saw these contiguous properties, and thought, ‘Well, if we could create a company with a land mass similar to what a major has, a treasury of an intermediate, but retain the upside of a junior where you get listed on reputable exchanges, you’d have an interesting story,’ so that was the creation of US Gold.”
Keeping in mind both high costs and risks associated with exploration, Rob McEwen believes North American prospects mitigate some risk involved. In search of his follow up to Red Lake, all signals pointed to a zone that is home to the who’s who of the industry, Nevada, a geopolitical and geologic haven for exploration.
“I wanted to be in areas that are dollar zones, so that if the dollar keeps falling against gold my costs are somewhat contained rather than escalating, like they’re doing in a lot of other countries where the currency is appreciating against the dollar. And I wanted to be in a geologically prolific area, so that landed me in Nevada, and when I looked at Nevada, you have Newmont and Barrick. If the seniors are being very aggressive, acquiring land, then this is their backyard, and it’s in probably one of the safest spots in the world to be exploring for gold geopolitically.”
Nevada is internationally acclaimed as the third leading hotspot for gold production, and home to many of the largest deposits on the planet, the majority occurring in the Carlin Trend. This zone alone boasts 40 significant discoveries, one of which put Newmont Resources on the map as the world’s second largest gold producer. Barrick also pulled 10 million ounces of ore out of the ground here. To date this area produced approximately 60 million ounces of gold with an additional 120 million waiting to be mined.
Since coming onboard at US Gold, Rob McEwen’s significant injection of capital and insight facilitated the ‘muscle and the means’ to drill further at depth and boost exploration. This allowed the junior to rival the big-budgeted industry giants for its launch pad to becoming a producer.
“We are in an area that has not had a lot of exploration, and the areas that we have had were in the hands of juniors for quite a while that have been under-funded as far as exploration. They also haven’t been looking at depth for the type of discovery that Placer discovered on the Cortez joint venture, and was the object of Barrick’s bid.”
Thirty miles from the Carlin metals hotbed lies the Cortez Trend, where US Gold’s Tonkin project is situated to the south of Barrick’s Cortez Hills deposit, an estimated 5.6 million ounce proven and probable reserve purchased from Placer Dome. The discovery blew the cover off the region as it defied conventional thought of Cortez to be a no-gold zone. Past exploration programs targeted near surface deposits, when in fact the ore lay at depth, similar to Carlin discoveries.
According to the US Gold website, Cortez Hills also demonstrates additional geological similarities to discoveries made in the Carlin Trend, including “intrusive proximity, deep-rooted fault, sediment host rocks, Carlin-type geochemistry, low silver to gold ratio, and micron-size gold in Arsenian Pyrite.” As a result, Cortez has attracted much attention from mining companies of all sizes, as their drilling activities commence scattered within the neighbourhood.
“The thought is that the Cortez trend is just starting to get that attention, and with more drill holes going in, as they kept finding more gold in Carlin, we think that will be the case with Cortez, or at least we hope that’s the case.”
The Tonkin project encompasses a 150 (with the recent takeovers) square mile block of land in the heart of the Cortez district below Newmont and Barrick land packages. The property is currently doing aggressive explorations valued at $30 million. Updates coming from this program are highly anticipated at the markets, evident at a recent press conference at which McEwen announced drill hole results, causing a flurry on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The announcement surged a 26 per cent rise in U.S. Gold’s stock, jumping to $7.20 a share, and it continued to climb throughout the week closing at $7.63 per share, toppling its all-time high of $7.50.
The encouraging exploration results included “0.73 ounces per ton (opt) over 5 feet within a larger intercept of 0.097 opt over 59.5 feet. This high-grade occurrence is located in a flat lying northeast oriented structure, which is a prominent feature of major gold discoveries on the Cortez and Carlin Trends. Drilling also encountered mineralization of 0.093 opt over 14 feet in a vertical structure, which was the first such occurrence encountered on the property.”
U.S. Gold’s future includes a commitment to aggressive exploration “for the next few years” by means of the company’s treasury, and further growth of the company.
“We’re in the Cortez trend, but we also have some properties in the Carlin trend, and elsewhere in Nevada, plus a property now down in Mexico. So it gives us a bigger picture, a more concentrated picture within Nevada, but also a couple of shots outside.”
In line with its growth strategy, U.S. Gold’s fully-owned subsidiary, US Gold Canadian Acquisition Corporation, recently acquired control of Nevada Pacific Gold (83.5%), White Knight Resources (93.7%), and Tone Resources (89.4%). The company amalgamated all four properties into “one of the larger land positions in a very prospective area” in the Cortez Trend in Nevada.
Common shares in the above companies were translated into exchangeable shares in US Gold Canadian Acquisition Corporation, which began trading on the TSX on April 16, 2007 under the symbol: UXE.
The share structure will possess economic and voting rights at par with U.S. Gold’s common stock, and will be exchangeable at any time on a one-for-one basis.
Rob McEwen continues to take on additional projects outside of U.S Gold through his wholly owned Evanchan Limited. His ever-growing roster includes several impressive up and coming juniors, which he will assist greatly in setting the foundations for success
“I’m a bull on the metals, on gold in particular, and I like exploration even though it’s a risky area of the marketplace. I think there’re areas there where you can get some home runs, so I take a large interest in Minera Andes, Rubicon and Everton, sticking pretty well to the Americas, a heavy focus on North America.”
Impressed with the foundation laid out on its advanced Argentinean properties, McEwen invested approximately $20 million CAD in Minera Andes (TSX-V: MAI, U.S. OTC: MNEAF), a gold, silver and copper junior explorations company. The company is ploughing ahead quickly with its official mine opening scheduled for May 2007.
“I liked it because they were in the development cycle where they’re building a mine, and when I invested, about seventy percent of the underground had been done, and a lot of the risk was gone. I was struck by the success they’d met with using geophysical tools to outline the veins, and all of the veins had been mineralized that it encountered.”
Minera Andes’s partner and operator on the project is Peru based Hochschild Mining PLC (LSE:HOC), “a one hundred year old mining company” that recently went public. The company is adamant on staying competitive with other mining companies within the public domain by delivering on industry demands of reserve life and production growth.
“They’ve also come out and said they are going to double production over the next eighteen months, so here you have a mine starting up with a doubling of production in the near term on a property that’s only been ten percent explored, that’s yielded high silver and gold values. That’s a great place to be, and in addition they had a number of other exploration properties throughout Argentina.”
Rubicon Minerals approached and enticed Mr. McEwen with a substantial land package in the prolific Red Lake district, a super rich grade gold area. In addition to his $10 million injection into the now $25 million treasury, he vended-in his privately accumulated Alaskan property located around the “world class” Pogo mine, and prime land in gold bustling Nevada owned by Mr. McEwen’s other company Lexam Explorations (TSX-V:LEX)
"Here we have Rubicon with a great group of geologists, a large land package in what is arguably the richest grade gold camp in the world. If you could combine that with Alaska, another key north American area, which would be low cost and large, and then if you could include some land in Nevada, you’ve covered all three of the most important places in North America for gold mining, and it puts more money into the treasury. That’s a winning combination.”
Mr. McEwen invested $3.6 million in Everton Resources (TSX-V: EVR, Frankfurt: ERV), a junior gold and metals exploration company based in Ottawa, to accelerate explorations. The company has set up shop in the Dominican Republic and Quebec, near Goldcorp holdings, where they have “had some very interesting early showings from their explorations”.
“Everton I like. They were around the Eleanor project that Goldcorp purchased after I left, and they also have ground around the Pueblo Viejo, which is a Goldcorp and Barrick property in the Dominican Republic, so in both cases, you’re going to have someone building infrastructure and reducing the cost of doing business in that area, and they’ve picked up in both situations. It’s like buying on the edge of town when town’s growing really quickly.”
As mentioned above, Rob McEwen is also Chair and CEO of Lexam Explorations, a North American based energy exploration company developing very promising oil & gas projects in Colorado, U.S.A. and recently acquired the Otish uranium project in Quebec, Canada.