Disclaimer: The author is an independent consultant who performs website moderation work for CEO.CA. The views expressed in this report are the personal views of the author and do not reflect those of CEO.CA. Ascot Resources has no business relationship with ceo.ca nor @Evenprime. Ascot Resources paid for @EvenPrime's travel expenses. Nothing in this report should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any securities mentioned anywhere in this report. This article is intended for informational purposes only! Please read the full disclaimer at the bottom of this article.
- An introduction to BC's Golden Triangle and the operating companies there
- A discussion of the issues affecting explorers and producers such as harsh weather and geography
- One small company mitigating these issues due to location and history, Ascot Resources http://www.ascotgold.com/ (TSXV:AOT OTCQX:AOTVF)
British Columbia's Golden Triangle (GT), as one of the richest mineralized areas in the world, still beckons with the glimmering potential for huge payoffs. Covering approximately 25,000 square kilometers of rugged mountainous terrain, its location is one of the toughest areas to explore, yet one of the most rewarding for those willing to brave its conditions. Crazy stories of vast riches continue to circulate, but currently only two companies have overcome its harsh geological setting and are producing there:
- Pretivm's (TSX:PVG) Brucejack mine (2017) - 8.7Moz Au at 16.1g/t
- Imperial Metal's (TSX:III) Red Chris mine (2014) - 7.9Blbs Cu + 11.6Moz Au + 37.9Moz Ag
But why are there only two companies currently in production when the old wives' tales of gold and silver being found all over the golden triangle are, in fact, true? For example, past riches include:
- Premier mine (1918-1953, 1989-1996) - 2.1Moz Au + 45Moz Ag now owned by Ascot's (TSX.V:AOT)
- Snip mine (1991-1999) - 1Moz at 27.5g/t now owned by Skeena's (TSX.V:SKE)
- Eskay Creek (1994-2008) - 3.3Moz Au at 45g/t + 160Moz Ag at 2,224 g/t (was once the worlds highest grade gold mine) now owned by Skeena's (TSX.V:SKE)
- Granduc Copper mine (1970-1982) - 420Mlbs Cu
Additionally, there are a few deposits owned by majors that have yet to be mined:
- Galore Creek - 9Blbs Cu + 8Moz Au + 136Moz Ag - Teck (TSX:TECK)/Newmont (NYSE:NEM)
- Schaft Creek - 5Blbs Cu + 5.8Moz Au + 51Moz Ag - Teck (TSX:TECK)/Copper Fox (TSX.V:CUU)
- KSM - 10.2Blbs Cu + 38.8Moz Ag - Seabridge (TSX:SEA)
Past producing mines such as the Snip, Eskay Creek and the Premier mine were some of the highest grade gold mines in the world. But with falling gold prices in the 1990s and due to the remoteness of the area, costs became too high to maintain them. People often do not realize the difficulty of operating a mine in the GT. I have always found it amazing that the cut-off grades at Eskay Creek 'had' to be over 12 grams per tonne to be financially feasible at the time due to its remoteness and the Graduc mine required an eleven mile tunnel built through two glaciers and in 1968/69 witnessed over 33m of snow fall. Very harsh working conditions indeed! A slightly outdated but still excellent article on the history of the Golden Triangle can be found here: Visual Capitalist: Golden Triangle
The GT is no doubt one of the best locations in the world to find a deposit and has attracted many juniors. My Golden Triangle watchlist at www.EPstatistics.com currently has 58 companies.
A few recent and notable discoveries in the Golden Triangle include:
- Ascot's (TSX.V:AOT) Premier-Dilworth project - recently announced 8.90m of 9.85g/t Au and 104.8g/t Ag at North Star & 6.50m of 15.14g/t Au and 14.23g/t Ag at the Big Missouri zone
- Aben's (TSX.V:ABN) Kerr Project - where over the summer they drilled 62.4g/t Au over 6m within 38.7g/t Au over 10m
- Garibaldi's (TSX.V:GGI) Nickel Mountain project - a Ni-Cu-Co-Ag-Pt-Pd-Au sulfide discovery that recently intersected 12.5 m @ 4.3% Ni and 2.7% Cu
- GT Gold's (TSX.V:GTT) Saddle South & North project - a 363m intercept of 1.02g/t Au, 0.51% Cu, 1.72g/t Ag confirming a significant porphyry discovery
- Golden Ridge's (TSX.V:GLDN) Hank property - a 327m intercept of 0.35g/t Au, 0.31% Cu, 1.94g/t Ag discovering a new porphyry deposit at the Williams zone.
- Skeena's (TSX.V:SKE) Eskay Creek - recently drilled 10.97 g/t AuEq Over 42.65m
- IDM's (TSX.V:IDM) Red Mountain - Lost Valley discovery where glacier retreat has uncovered an outcrop where surface samples average 9.81 g/t Au and 101.40 g/t Ag over 51 meters of strike, including 2.0 meters averaging 13.41 g/t Au and 1,531 g/t Ag
There are a plethora of companies who have all staked land trying to discover the next great deposit. The area has gained a lot of interest but the heavy costs of building year-round access roads and accessible power, establishing work camps, and dealing with the short drilling season due to extreme winter conditions have continued to hinder progress. I would like to draw attention to one company who has been quietly progressing their deposit, and with many people I speak with, believing that it could be the next company in the Golden Triangle to begin producing: Ascot Resources (TSX.V:AOT OTCQX:AOTVF) www.ascotgold.com a company that has many of the issues mentioned above already mitigated.
- Located 25 kilometers from Stewart, BC. Population approximately 400
- No need for a camp and the associated overhead costs
- Year-round road access
- Power line to Brucejack runs directly through the Ascot property (~11Mw of 31Mw capacity currently used) or option to use the local power fed from Stewart, BC
- 20 million dollar investment from Eric Sprott, August 2016. See original article: https://ceo.ca/@marketwired/ascot-announces-closing-of-20-million-offering
Existing infrastructure such as:
- Approximately 3,000 tpd (tonnes per day) mill
- Tailings Dam
- Dewatered and ventilated underground mine
- Water Treatment Plant
- Excellent road and port facilities near Stewart, BC
Ascot's property highlighted in the images above is overlayed blue in the image below. Ascot believe that these deposits are all part of the same massive system so they have recently purchased the Silvercoin property highlighted in orange. They ran an IP (Induced Polarization) survey from Premier North to the Big Missouri as marked below in the image with the red solid line.
They announced the IP survey results September 6th, 2018: IP Survey Identifies Priority Anomaly Southwest of Premier Pit
Share structure as of September 24th, 2018~14 million in cash and no debt.
Information taken from their October 2018 Factsheet
*September 7th, 2018: Ascot Announces $3 Million Flow-Through Private Placement Financing
In October of last year, the company decided to shift gears and hired Derek White and his notable crew from Quadra Mining. Mr White has a healthy track record of bringing mines into production and he joins Ascot as President and CEO. Mr White has a unique education having both an undergraduate degree in Geological Engineering and a Chartered Accountant designation.
The Quadra Mining crew's track record speaks for itself. Since 2004 they have been involved in the re-start of the Robinson copper gold mine in Nevada, the building and operating of the Carlota copper mine in Arizona, the Franke mine and the Sierra Gorda copper gold mine in Chile, and the optimization for the Morrison mine (copper, nickel, gold and PGMs) as well as the Craig mine in Sudbury. Additionally, the team was involved in the operations of several mines prior to 2004.
At the Premier-Dilworth property, there is an existing mill currently on care and maintenance that is large enough to handle 3,000 tpd. Ascot has the goal of bringing it up to 2,500 to 3,000 tpd. To do this, they hope to have multiple areas on their property ready to mine simultaneously. This should reduce risk as it is well known in the Golden Triangle that the continuity of grade is not the problem, but rather the shifting and dislocation of the rocks that could relocate a vein. This may reduce the tpd if they need to chase it. Although infill drilling reduces this risk, having multiple locations actively ready should lead to better consistency of head grade and maintain the 2,500+ tpd goal.
Ascot's multiple deposits include the past-producing Premier Mine which operated as an underground mine between 1918 through 1953 and as an open pit from 1989 through 1996, during which it produced 2.1 million ounces of gold and 45 million ounces of silver. Although the mine has had a long history, there is still plenty of high grade gold to be found in the area as evidenced by the continuous new releases over the last few years.
It is well known that Ascot has high grade gold at their project. Statistics include:
- 1 in 10 drill holes (694 of 6900) grade over 1 ounces per tonne ( > 28.3 g/t )
- Of these 694 drill holes, 291 have been drilled by Ascot since 2009
- 156 of these were over 3 ounces per tonne ( > 85 g/t )
- 55 of these were drilled at the Big Missouri and Martha Ellen
- DH 14-707 graded over 500 ounces/tonne ( 14,394 g/t )
I was fortunate enough to visit Ascot Resources property this summer on August 20th, 2018. We had a quick lunch in their core shed, which is located in the town of Stewart, BC. Mr White explained their current drill program and goals for reopening the existing mill.
Ascot outright own their drills (8 of them), which along with vehicular accessibility throughout the property, reduces the overall cost per meter to drill.
Ascot currently drill at approximately $140 per meter which to my knowledge, is the lowest cost drilling in the Golden Triangle. Compare this to other Golden Triangle projects, which are remote and restricted to using helicopters, and often see drill costs of over $480 per meter.
An example of the core from the Prew location. This is 1 of the 8 modeled zones located to the top right of the Premier Project
Walking past this sign, you can see the historic Premier Mine and the tailings pond below. Due to the natural free calcium carbonate and existing water treatment facility, the mine water discharge has a ph level of 8.3-8.4, which is excellent from an environmental stand point. The lower the ph level, the higher the acidity. Pure water has a ph level of 7.0 therefore the water currently flowing into the pond is less acidic than regular water.
We were fortunate enough to have a peek at the entrance of the 600 level of the Premier Mine.
*Ascot Resources released newsSeptember 18th
where they extendGold Mineralization 150 Metres West Towards This Underground Portal
The first 25 meters is a giant culvert. There is a strong breeze running through this shaft and it was quite cold.
Subject to an engineering study, Ascot’s preliminary estimate (as mentioned in the next video) is it will cost between 20-25 million to bring the mill back up to an operational status. This is substantially lower than building a new one. Preliminary thinking is around $50-60 million dollars in total capital. This is excellent considering a standalone project would typically cost $200-$300 million dollars. Pretivm's Brucejack mine for example, located only 40km north of the Premier-Dilworth property, built a 2,700tpd mill in 2017 and had a site construction cost of approximately $800 million dollars. The importance of key existing infrastructure and the proximity to Stewart, BC cannot be over-emphasized!
The size and condition of the mill makes it well suited for Ascot's desires. The mill will require:
- Replacement of all fittings, piping, and pumps etc
- Ball Mill
- Sag Mill
- Jaw Crusher
- Knelson Concentrator
- Replacement of all analog instrumentation as today's technology will allow better recoveries and better control.
Recent metallurgy testing (2015) showed that with proper gravity separation such as using a Knelson Concentrator, recoveries significantly improved. Ascot is currently undergoing metallurgy testing to confirm the 2015 findings. Previously, the mill used a ProPulse Jig that was never operated optimally. Having a report of nearly 10 years of ore processing history is excellent as it allows Ascot to perfect this operation moving forward.
A few pictures of the existing mill
Before Ascot Resources can begin to plan production, they need to complete their engineering studies so they can give a definitive response on timing. They plan to wrap up their drill program by mid to late October and are currently drilling 2-3 thousand meters at their recently purchased Silvercoin property, which they stated is both infilling and exploratory.
The next step is to complete the engineering study and release an updated resource estimate for Q4 2018. In Q1 2019, they will submit the Mines Act Amendment application, and hope to begin preparation of the mill and mine, and restart production in late 2019, early 2020.
Ascot Resources are well on their way to becoming the next operating mine in the Golden Triangle. With the existing infrastructure and proximity to the town of Stewart, BC they have a significant advantage over other players in the area. The 20 million dollar vote of confidence by Sprott in 2016 (their largest investment in a junior that is not currently producing), the addition of the Silvercoin property, and a change in management that has the pedigree to restart existing mines, makes this an exciting company in the Golden Triangle.
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