Philippe Cloutier was just back from conferences in Europe and looking forward to shovelling a foot of snow from his driveway in minus 20 degree weather in Val-d’Or Quebec. He’d been in Munich and Zurich and in both places found investors anxious but willing to listen to solid resource stories.
Just before Cloutier left for Europe Cartier Resources (V.ECR) released its first resource estimate numbers for its Chimo Mine project in Quebec. As Cloutier has said before, a first resource estimate has to be carefully thought out.
“Since the onset we provided an execution timeline for the Chimo Mine project,” said Cloutier. “We did what we said we were going to do and were rewarded with a positive resource estimate. It was all about execution.”
The first numbers themselves, 461,000 ounces indicated and 417,000 inferred, were very much in line with expectations for the “Central Corridor” of the Chimo Mine property. Essentially, these are the ounces surrounding the existing shaft which the Cartier team has always been confident would be there.
The mineral estimate does not include mineralization in the North and South Corridors which are a bit further away from the central shaft. “Our first mineral estimate is already 2.5 times larger than the total historic production of the Chimo Mine,” said Cloutier. “We’re working on an additional mineral resource estimate which will include the North and South Corridors in Q1 2020. And we have the funding in place and the drills turning for a third resource estimate down the road.”
“What we are seeing here is the continued success of a robust technical program,” said Cloutier. “With this first resource estimate we’ve initiated a growth process and with additional drilling we have set up 2020 for continuous news flow.”
In a down market, a junior exploration company really only has its drill results and resource estimates to report. It makes a lot of sense for Cartier to pace the release of those results and estimates. Cloutier, having given this pitch dozens of times in Europe has four takeaways for the Chimo Mine project in 2020. First, the next resource estimate, second, a fully funded two drill program to grow the resource at Chimo Mine, third, in house scoping and engineering studies and fourth, putting the Chimo Mine in play as they expect the market to be more receptive in 2020.
“As you add ounces and get to work on the scoping and engineering questions your overall numbers get more robust,” said Cloutier. “Our key is to stay focussed and use conservative thresholds, that’s the best approach as it always leaves upside for the project – which secures benefit to shareholders. We need to focus on work that can show Chimo Mine can be profitable.”
With the Chimo roadmap pretty much in place, Cartier has also had the opportunity to look at the other projects in its portfolio. “We have three additional projects ready for work,” said Cloutier. “We’re not a one trick pony.”
“At some point, Chimo will be off the table and we don’t want to be starting our next project from scratch,” said Cloutier. “First up is our Benoist project. It’s in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. We’ve used historic results to construct a wireframe of the deposit and will be looking at turning the historical resource estimate into a 43-101 compliant number.”
The historical estimate calculated by Minnova for the Pusticamica Gold Deposit is 481 851 tm grading 5.52 g/t Au, 12.10 g/t Ag et 0.27 % Cu. Over 77 drill holes for a total of 26,593 m were drilled on the Pusticamica Gold Deposit. The project has delivered drill hole intercepts the likes of 5.6 gpt Au, 14.4 gpt Ag, 0.28% Cu over 53.6 meters including 11.6 gpt Au, 25.1 gpt Ag and 0.57 Cu over 9.3 meters, the data gives Cartier a pretty solid in-house idea of what they will be looking for at Benoist.
Cloutier has always been focused on adding shareholder value. Bringing the Chimo project to the point where the resource is defined and rough cost estimates can be made sets the project up to be bought by a senior, or, more likely, mid-tier production company. There is roughly 100M dollars in a pre-existing shaft and drifts which, while flooded, could be dewatered and put into production quickly. There are plenty of mills nearby and with modern mining and metallurgical technology, the economics of contract milling can make a lot of sense.
As with any junior explorer, the price of gold and the overall strength of the junior market effect the share price of Cartier. However, Cloutier is quick to point out that Cartier has 8.1 million dollars in the bank and large patient shareholders, a new resource play and three additional gold deposits to explore. Money and patience mean that Cloutier is not under near term pressure to sell the Chimo Mine project. Cartier can afford to wait for the right offer to come along.