Editorial: The 100,000-metre club
As gold started to rally from the US$1,300 per oz. level in 2019, climbing to over US$2,000 per oz. last August, something interesting has happened to the size of gold exploration programs in Canada.
Junior miners with promising projects and skilled technical teams have been able to raise a lot of money, even before they’ve compiled an initial resource. And they’ve used those funds to supersize their drill programs.
In this issue, we look at four gold juniors who are conducting massive 100,000-metre plus drill campaigns on their projects: Great Bear Resources, Amex Exploration, New Found Gold and Wallbridge Mining.
What do they have in common? In addition to the right location and a talented team, all of these juniors can point to deposits with good continuity of mineralization and a combination of impressive high-grade hits and the potential for bulk-tonnage mineralization.
Together, these four companies have raised more than $300 million over the past 18 months, and we’re expecting some impressive resource numbers when they release their first calculations – starting later this year with Wallbridge Mining’s Fenelon project in Quebec.
It’s not just the higher metals prices that are driving the activity. At the same time as prices have climbed, a scarcity of large, high-quality discoveries in the last decade-plus is weighing on the minds of the big miners.
Equal to that lack of inventory is growing risk on all fronts, including rising resource nationalism. A recent report by Verisk Maplecroft singles out Latin America as the region with the highest risk of expropriation and tax hikes. Notably, Kazakhstan – whose government recently expropriated the Kumtor gold mine from Centerra Resources – was No. 8 on the list of countries with the highest risk. The top three spots were taken by Venezuela, Tanzania and Mexico.
While no jurisdiction is without its risks, in times of uncertainty, Canada does offer a safe haven appeal.
Indeed, interest in Canada is increasing. According to a May 2021 report by Natural Resources Canada, overall spending on exploration and deposit assessment in Canada this year will rise by about 38% to $2.9 billion. (About 70% of total spending is earmarked for gold assets.)
In our August issue featuring Canada’s Top 40 Miners, we highlighted the growing contingent of Australian miners and juniors looking to Canadian pastures for new projects. And recently, Barrick Gold president and CEO Mark Bristow noted that he believes Canada will play “an increasing part in Barrick’s future.” Bristow revealed that the company, whose sole producing asset in the country is the Hemlo mine in Ontario, is looking across Canada for new opportunities “capable of passing our investment filters.”
That is to say we won’t be the only ones paying close attention to the results coming out of the 100,000-metre club.