By Dr. Allen Alper, PhD Economic Geology and Petrology, Columbia University, NYC
Award Winning, Stephen G. Roman, Prospector, Geologist, Miner, Entrepreneur and Businessman
Stephen G. Roman CEO of Harte Gold Corporation (TSX: HRT) is being recognized during this year’s PDAC. Mr. Stephen Roman was awarded the honor of “Prospector of the Year” for 2016 and will receive the “Bill Dennis Award” from the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). He has had a very successful career founding, exploring, developing and selling companies.
Stephen G. Roman, Chairman, President and CEO of Harte Gold Corporation (TSX: HRT) updated Metals News readers on the progress at the Sugar Zone gold project in Ontario and gave an overview of his career prior to accepting his award at the PDAC.
Roman shared some of the history behind his entre into mining. Said Roman, “To give you a quick background and a bit of history, my grandfather, whose home was in Slovakia, came through Ellis Island three times to work in the coal mines in Pennsylvania. Mining is in the blood because when my father came to Canada he became a prospector. He found one of the world’s largest uranium deposits at the time, in 1953, and built a town called Elliot Lake, which was the Uranium capital of the world. I first went underground at the Denison Mine when I was five years old. I started working underground at nineteen and earned my Ontario miner’s certificate as a hard rock miner. Subsequently, I took geology at University and became the VP of Exploration at Denison Mines.”
Roman has always been interested in exploration. He said, “I always gravitated toward the exploration side of things. I liked being in the bush and I liked looking for mineral deposits. After my father died in 1988, the management and the Board at Denison Mines changed, and my division was shut down in 1990, so I started out on my own. I ended up acquiring a small company that Denison had controlled called Exall Resources Limited in 1992. Its origin was the Gold Eagle Mine in Red Lake, Ontario. It was a small mine that operated from 1934 to 1941 from McKenzie Island, in the heart of the Red Lake gold camp. They were mining a small gold vein and ran out of reserves after they had mined about 40,000 ounces.” Roman said, “I started to look for investors to do some work on the property.”
Roman continued, “It wasn’t until many years later that I managed to attract investment through Rob Cudney. We ended up finding a new deposit right in the middle of the Bruce Channel. Finding that deposit allowed me to win both, the Discovery of the Year from the Northwestern Prospectors Association, in 2005, and then, Prospector of the Year this year. So, it turned out to be a great discovery. We were bought out for $1.5 billion dollars in 2008, just before the crash, by Goldcorp. Goldcorp has been spending money and rehabilitated the old Cochenour infrastructure they have on the mainland. They have driven a new five kilometer drift from their Campbell Mine all the way to the Bruce Channel deposit”
Roman said, “Subsequent to the sale of Gold Eagle Mines Ltd., I created a mining house, formed half a dozen new companies that are involved in gold, oil and gas, zinc and uranium. In January of 2009, I was asked by shareholders of Harte Gold Corp, to take over the company. At the time, it owned a 49% interest in the Sugar Zone property and the other 51% was owned by Ned Goodman. His company, Corona Gold Corporation, had done exploration in the days after the Hemlo deposit was discovered. There was exploration by Noranda as well. They actually discovered the Sugar Zone outcrop. They did a limited amount of work on it. When we took it over in January of 2009, the company was on the verge of delisting and the hopes were low.”
Roman said, “That’s why I was approached by shareholders… to see if I could do something with it. So, I put a new team together. We’ve raised about $25 million for the company between then and now. We have done a lot of drilling and a lot of work on the property. Now, of course, the Sugar Zone deposit is well north of half a million ounces. I managed to make a deal with Corona Gold and acquired the other 51%, so we have consolidated the interest under Harte Gold. We have 100% now and an advanced exploration and bulk sample program permitted which took three years, if you can imagine that! We also built a twenty kilometer road into the mine site. We will be mining ore in the next two weeks. We have signed a deal with Barrick Gold and will be trucking our ore to their Hemlo mill, which is about an eighty kilometer drive from the mine site. They will be processing our seventy thousand metric tonne bulk sample. The plan during that period is to apply for our commercial permits. We would like to move seamlessly from a bulk sample phase into a commercial production phase.”
The next step is to get the bulk sample processed. Roman said, “The bulk sample is expected to produce approximately 25,000 ounces of gold. The plan is to reinvest the cash flow into permitting and further mine development. We expect the mine to operate in commercial production at six hundred tonnes per day and produce about seventy thousand ounces annually. It is expected to be a low cost, ramp access mine. The ore body outcrops on surface. We have ramped in and left the crown pillar. Now we are developing the ramp and the stopes underground to start mining. We’ve developed a five year mine plan. We have drilled to depth on the Sugar Zone down to one thousand meters, over three thousand feet, and have hit the ore body at depth with similar widths and grades. This is a high grade, ten gram per tonne ore body. We expect it will grow quite significantly because a couple of years ago we made a discovery about three kilometers away, we call the Wolf Zone. The Wolf Zone is lining up with the Sugar Zone. During the next phase of exploration, we plan to do deep IP between the Wolf Zone and the Sugar Zone, then do a drill program between those two areas. This is a two kilometer trend that has not been drilled. There is potential here to expand the Sugar Zone into a multi-million ounce deposit.”
Other mines in the area are also seeing good production, which makes Roman enthusiastic about the potential for the Sugar Zone. He said, “We are in the middle of a couple of our neighbors. One is Westdome Mines and the other is Richmont Mines and there is, of course, the Barrick Hemlo. Richmont and Westdome are both mining similar types of shears as we are. Their market caps are significantly higher than ours because they are producing. We expect that our Company will be re-rated once we start producing and we show the market that the ore body has continuity and that the grades are there. We are very excited as we are close to getting cash flow starting. We expect to be shipping ore to Hemlo in April, with cash flow beginning in May. Once the mine gets into steady state production, we can start acquiring shares back. We’d like to finance exploration further with cash flow rather than dilution”