Earlier this week I spoke to Jim Pettit, CEO of Aben Resources, to get an update on their upcoming drilling program, the current sentiment for the mining sector, and why more majors are taking a closer look at the Yukon. 

On The Next Bull Market Move, I have Jim Pettit who is the CEO of Aben Resources. How are you today Jim?

I'm very good.

Last time we spoke we talked about the upcoming drill programs you have lined up, not only for your flagship Forrest Kerr project, but also the Justin Gold project. The anticipation is now building as we head into the summer, and I know it's just been announced that you have just commenced drilling at the Justin Gold project, so can we talk about that? How does it feel to have the drills turning again up there?

It feels great, and on that particular project too, it's been years. We haven't drilled it since 2012, so I've been quietly working up there while we've been working in the golden triangle. We were just doing sampling, more sampling, and trenching, so the next thing to do is drilling, and here we are.

The reason we're going up there is we've got a really good thesis that's going on. In 2012 we discovered an intrusion related gold system. There's a big intrusion that's come up, and we call it the POW zone. And we drilled 19 holes and hit gold in almost all of them.

But these systems are known as bulk tonnage lower grade, like Fort Knox, in Alaska, Virginia Gold, even Kaminak, they're all intrusion related. And what we've found over the last couple years while I've been quietly doing this fieldwork is that there is a high-grade orogenic system right beside it, and it's an extension, I guess you could say, of the Golden Predators three aces zone.

So we call ours the lost ace, and it's expressed at surface, it's very high-grade, our trenching result's over 250 meters, five trenches. We have everything from trace to 82 grams gold in the trenches, and it was really good results. It's very coarse gold, and sitting right beside the POW, like within a kilometer and a half, which is unusual.

And we think what we've got there is a orogenic system that is much older. We’ve got an intrusion that's come up through, and the intrusion's younger, and so you've got the possibility of mineralization, overprinting mineralization, from one system to the other.

So there's the potential, if we spend some time drilling smartly, there's the potential for higher grade around that POW zone. And it's got our people pretty excited, so we decided to extend our drill program for the year.

So we are starting a month ahead of the Forrest Kerr, which is the Golden Triangle, and it would allow us to extend our news-flow as well. What we're drilling now, we should have those results maybe towards the end of this month, probably the beginning to the middle of July.

We start drilling at the Forrest Kerr the beginning of July, so we won't get results back until the middle of August. So we're going to have more news this year, starting earlier, turnaround probably will be a little bit better here because we're not dealing with the same labs as we are in the Forrest Kerr area.

So that was my intention, to actually extend our drill program by one month and increase the news-flow through the summer, when everybody's watching.

So I imagine having a better handle on the structure of the Forrest Kerr project, not only on the north boundary, but on the south boundary too, is something that you're aiming for this year?

Yes. The winter's been spent modeling all the drilling we've done using Leapfrog. Cornell McDowell - our V.P. of exploration - has been able to turn it all around and he's got some ideas and theories that we didn't have before. It certainly helped using oriented-core drilling that we did last year.

Last week I announced that we had finished a airborne MAG survey, geophysical survey. That's going to give us an idea of some deeper seeded structures that he wants to see, and in relation to the 3D modeling that we've done, it'll give us a better sense of where all this gold we're seeing at shallow depths on the boundary zone - where’s it coming from? As we drill this shallow stuff, there's lots of things going on.

We've got lots of different alterations, we've got several different mineralizing events we can see, and some of those, you can see them in the same hole.

And what's causing it? Well you can think of it as a lot of noise associated to the Kerr fault that's right there, beside where we're drilling. As a matter of fact, the Kerr fault runs right up the whole property, just about. That's a major structural driver for the whole region.

So we're looking for some deeper seated structure that could be a major conduit, and we're going to be drilling a little deeper, but he's also come up with three targets to start the season with. 

Like we did last year, we had one, and it turned out really good. I mean that was a tremendous hole to start the season with. But we've got three now that we want to move into right away and get to as quick as possible, because they look like they could be further extensions of what we were doing last year.

Being limited by nine drill pads last year, and now we have the permits that we were waiting on and never got last year, we've got 55 locations we can work with to give us better angles.

We've got a target just at the north of the north boundary zone, where two of last years holes ended in mineralization heading north. We want to figure out what's in the gap and we can put a drill right up there.

To the south is the old Noranda hole, which we never got a chance to further explore because of drill pad limitations, though now we can go in and do what we did last year, get in a little closer and come in right underneath it.

And then the south boundary zone is begging for more holes. So that's going to be the start, and then we've got boots on the ground adding to the geochemical work that's been done, so surface sampling and going in and kicking rocks and taking samples and generating more targets as we head south.

Let's talk a little bit about your experience within the sector. Raising money when you had the opportunity - and the opportunity was available last year - was perhaps key to this year's success. Can you talk about that? That looked like a very smart move in today's market for raising money.

Oh absolutely. That's one thing I've learned over the years. When you've got the market's attention, and you've got good results, you raise money. Because you never know when the taps are going to get turned off, and believe me, this has not been a good year or two.

One of the reasons I'm in this particular sector of this type of business - I'm into high grade gold, and this is what we look for, and the guys that work with me, this is what they know.

You want to be in an area that offers up high grade gold opportunities, and you want to have the chance and maximize the chance to find high grade gold.

Because if you're in a bad market, high grade gold discoveries, I mean you saw it last summer, it was amazing how it galvanized whatever market there is out there. They pay attention. That's traditional of the gold sector, it's one of the first movers, and it's also influenced by other things. This last week we've had an uptick in gold and it looks really good. Well that was because of what was going on in the states primarily, and the idea that they're trying to lower the dollar, they're going to lower that dollar again. So that's, in the short-term maybe, in the long-term, probably, it'd be good for the price of gold.

And also the uncertainty. The Fed in the states is having a hard time keeping up with the president. And that creates uncertainty with the trade situations and all of that. I mean it's good for gold, I hate to say it but it's good for gold.

So if everything goes to plan this summer Jim, what would be the plan for the rest of the year? It appears as though more and more majors are investing in the Yukon itself, so could you see a major coming knocking on your door? Obviously we can't predict the future, but with great results in a world-class jurisdiction, there must be lots of eyes on you - even today?

Well, there are. We've had conversations with the various potential strategic partners. They're floating around out there. The majors are starting to pay more attention, and I think one of the best moves lately has been Newmont, with the takeover with Goldcorp, because that puts Newmont squarely in actually both areas where I'm drilling.

They're now Teck's partner Galore Creek, they've bought out NovaGold, and I know they've got drill plans and I've heard it's up to ten million dollars, we'll see. But that's our northern border, and they're now financing GT gold, that one's a big deal - I mean that was 17 million dollars I think they raised.

And Newmont's also north of us, from the Justin, they're on the NWT, Northwest Territory side, because our property there and the one that we have to the north of us is right on the border with the NWT. 

And they're doing fieldwork up there, something that the juniors would normally be doing, so it's kind of nice to see they're in the area. The Barracks of the world are paying attention, because their two old mines are now being reworked by Skeena, trying to see if there's further ore.

And you've got a lot of the base metal companies paying attention because there's some of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world sitting up there owned by KSM and then there is a very high grade copper/gold project being developed called Galore Creek on our northern border.

So yeah, there's lots. The base metal guys are all looking around too. BC's becoming a very popular place.

As we begin to wrap up Jim, is there anything else you'd like to tell us about Aben or anything else within the mining industry that investors should be aware of today?

Well, the market is always interested in a gold discovery, that's why I'm here, and it mitigates the downtimes to me.

As long as you can raise money, and we've right now got over six million in the till. I just raised a very quick extra million dollars plus, a little bit more than that, last week, and that'll pay for the Yukon project and we've still got lots of money to use in the Forrest Kerr, and if we have more success, I wouldn't be surprised if I raised more money at higher prices.

Thank you very much for your time today Jim, much appreciated.

You bet. Thank you very much.

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I am currently a shareholder of Aben Resources.