Father and son Ben and Garrett Ainsworth may have lead Alpha Minerals and JV partner Fission Energy to the radioactive mother lode on a new frontier in the Athabasca Region of Northern Saskatchewan.
Not long ago, Alpha Minerals, formerly ESO Uranium, was a dog of a stock. Trading at just $.02 last October, chances of being able to finance for the Southwest-Athabasca-Region focused uranium explorer looked slim. Backed against a wall, management had no choice but to roll back shares 10:1 and change its name in hopes of triggering a fresh start.
Then something spectacular happened. Just days after the rollback, Alpha announced Discovery Hole 22 hit anomalous radioactivity over 21 meters. Further exploration holes intersected more mineralization. Today, shares in Alpha are trading over $3.80 — providing an almost 20-fold return to investors in under five months. Good dog.
How exactly the discovery happened is one of those crazy stories that’ll take its place in mining legend.
Five years ago, current Alpha Minerals CEO Ben Ainsworth was working as VP of Exploration for Hathor Exploration — the last Athabasca-Basin-focused uranium junior to be taken out by a major. Meanwhile, his son Garrett, then 28, was toiling away for ESO.
Without money for field work, Garrett turned to searching through the Saskatchewan Mineral Assessment Database for potential finds. And in May 2008, when he was leafing through a 1977 CanOxy (now Nexen) report, something jumped off the page. A CanOxy geologist had identified radioactive anomalies near Patterson Lake, but wrote them off as likely caused by “exotic soils in the till.”
It was just a notation, but it was enough for the younger Ainsworth to head to the Southwestern Athabasca Region to stake the claims that would eventually yield a discovery.
At the PDAC conference in Toronto last week, I had the opportunity to have dinner with the elder Ainsworth, Ben, who told me I had to meet his son Garrett to hear how his discovery came to be.
I connected with Garrett in Vancouver this past Monday. He told me the amazing tale behind the find.