Recent discoveries, M&A in the Chibougamau mining district
By James Kwantes
Genesis Metals is one of three Resource Opportunities sponsor companies.
The history of major metals discoveries is rife with stories of deposits that were only uncovered when geologists looked beyond existing mineralization systems, or considered new models. Sometimes the best discoveries occur when exploration takes place off the beaten path — even when there are gold ounces underneath that path. An open mind sometimes opens doors, to both new discoveries and greater shareholder value.
For example, Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula copper deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo was already one of the world’s richest and largest copper discoveries when company geologists decided to look further afield. In March 2017 they drilled a new discovery — Kakula West — 4 kilometres west of existing mineralization, making an already world-class deposit even richer.
More recently, Discovery Group company Great Bear Resources (GBR-V) drilled the Bear-Rimini discovery at its Dixie project in Red Lake, Ontario. Great Bear had been intercepting plenty of high-grade gold mineralization at its Hinge and Dixie Limb Zones, with a very pleasing 1-year stock chart to match. But the company’s push beyond areas of known mineralization led Great Bear to hit pay dirt with Bear-Rimini, drilling multiple shallow high-grade intercepts a full 2.5 kilometres away from existing gold zones.
Genesis Metals (GIS-V) has a long way to go before being mentioned in the same breath as Ivanhoe or Great Bear. But the company is utilizing a similar exploration ethos at its Chevrier gold project in Quebec’s Abitibi Greenstone Belt, 35 km southwest of Chibougamau. Genesis, also part of the Discovery Group, is in the middle of a property-wide till geochemical survey at the claims package. It’s an exploration method that has paid off for IAMGOLD, which is drilling the nearby Monster Lake and Nelligan high-grade gold discoveries with its JV partners.
Genesis recently expanded its Chevrier holdings to 275 square kilometres. The goal of the program is to identify high-grade drill targets in new areas, with a secondary focus on increasing grade and tonnage at existing deposits. Genesis’s market capitalization of $7.45 million is underpinned by a resource estimate of 395,000 ounces Indicated grading 1.45 g/t gold and 297,000 ounces Inferred grading 1.33 g/t (0.5 g/t cutoff for open pit, 0.95 g/t for underground). Genesis geologists believe there is yet-uncovered high-grade gold mineralization at Chevrier.
“The idea is to bring in fresh eyes to do systematic property-wide exploration, for the very first time,” said Genesis President Jeff Sundar, who was recently appointed CEO in a management shuffle that saw Adrian Fleming appointed chairman of the board (replacing Brian Groves). Fleming has been involved in discoveries around the world and was CEO and cofounder of Underworld Resources, which discovered and defined the White Gold deposit in Yukon. Underworld sold to Kinross for $138 million in 2010.
North Vancouver-based Vector Geological Solutions is running the property-wide soil sampling program. Vector and partner IOS are using a track-mounted sampling machine to take soil samples at 200-metre lines across the entire Chevrier property. The Fancamp Deformation Zone, the belt that hosts Chevrier, used to be covered by glaciers. Knowing the direction of the ice sheets and interpreting the shape and nature of the gold grains in the till will be key to evaluating the survey results. Geological mapping, prospecting and geophysics will follow, along with a potential drill program later this year.
For years, Quebec has been recognized as one of the best mining jurisdictions, globally. The province is keen to maintain that reputation and has invested billions of dollars into Plan Nord, the extensive infrastructure plan designed to open up the province’s vast north to mining and industry. As for Chevrier, the project is located in a mining-friendly area near major highways and a rail line, with an airport nearby. That’s a tick in the infrastructure box.
Quebec’s support extends to financial assistance for companies doing mining exploration work in the province. The Genesis exploration program is being funded by a $520,000 private placement that closed on May 30. Three Quebec government-sponsored investment funds participated for $350,000 of that total.
The Chibougamau district is heating up along with the gold price, which is trading at about US$1,400 an ounce but has shown strength of late. Encouragingly, Vector’s exploration methodology mirrors tools used by other companies that have successfully identified high-grade gold discoveries nearby. Those include the Monster Lake gold deposit southwest of Chevrier, which already hosts 433,000 ounces of gold (Inferred) at 12.14 g/t Au. Operator IAMGOLD and JV partners TomaGold (45%) and Quinto (5%) continue to hit intercepts above 20 g/t at Monster.
Vanstar’s Nelligan project, about 25 kilometres southwest of Chevrier, is also generating excitement. The latest assays at Nelligan, where IAMGOLD can earn up to an 80% interest, included 6 metres grading 56.5 g/t gold and 7.7 metres grading 7.02 g/t.
And there is an ongoing takeover battle between Osisko and Agnico Eagle that will result in a new neighbour for Chevrier. Osisko looks to have the upper hand: Chantrell Ventures, an Osisko vehicle that will be renamed O3 Mining, recently sweetened its bid for Alexandria Minerals. The move was in response to a hostile offer from Agnico, with both companies eyeing Alexandria’s Val d’Or land package. Alexandria also has the Fancamp property bordering Chevrier to the south and the Embry claims to the north.
Genesis has systematically built its land position and its latest acquisition was the Trenholme claims formerly held by Agnico Eagle. The gold mining company had hit mineralization there — including an intercept of 1.5 metres of 4.5 g/t gold — but shifted focus and let the claims lapse. Genesis picked up the block from a prospector who staked the claims after Agnico left.
Dan MacNeil, Vector’s founder and principal consultant, believes there is “probably some low-hanging fruit outside the resource.” MacNeil’s resume includes stints at Barrick Gold and Anglo American and his partner at Vector, Alan Wainwright, was a co-winner of the H.H. “Spud” Huestis prospecting award in 2013 for the exploration and development of Kaminak Gold’s Coffee gold deposit.
One of the other co-winners of the award was geologist Rob Carpenter, who is now a Genesis advisor. Carpenter co-founded and served as the first CEO of Kaminak Gold, which built the multi-million-ounce Coffee deposit and sold for $520 million to Goldcorp in 2016. Carpenter will be assisting Vector and Genesis in the hunt for high-grade at Chevrier.
People are key to any successful junior mining company and Genesis has a rock-solid roster. The Discovery Group has racked up several wins in a bear market, including Kaminak Gold (sold to Goldcorp), Northern Empire Resources (sold to Coeur Mining) and ongoing drilling success at Great Bear. Principals John Robins and Jim Paterson have come on as Genesis advisors and their impressive track records bode well for success. In addition to Carpenter, Genesis also added exploration geologist Garrett Ainsworth and engineer/financier Andrew Ramcharan as advisors late last year.
The company’s market cap of about $7.45 million is underpinned by the Chevrier resource, a majority of which is open-pittable. But it’s the prospect of high-grade gold intercepts on the expanded claims package — in a rich district with proven high-grade mineralization — that probably offers the most upside for Genesis shares.
Genesis Metals (GIS-V, GGISF-OTC)
Shares outstanding: 109.3 million (132.2M fully diluted)
Market cap: $7.45 million
Disclosure: Genesis Metals is a Resource Opportunities sponsor company and James Kwantes owns Genesis shares, which makes me biased. Genesis Metals is a high-risk junior exploration stock. All investors need to do their own due diligence and/or consult a qualified investment advisor.