This post is written by Richard (Rick) Mills, editor of Ahead of the Herd.
As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information
Today I’m talking with Rock Lefrancois, P.Geo., President and Chief Operating Officer for NioGold Mining Corp TSX.V – NOX
Rick: Rock can you start with NioGold’s history, how it came to be and the assembly of such a large land package.
Rock: NioGold was a restructured company. It went through a couple of name changes, first Penn-Gold, and then it became Moreno Ventures. Mike Iverson, NOX’s chairman and CEO, took over the company at an AGM. He had major shareholders behind him and he’d done it in the past with two other companies that became Fortuna Silver Mine and Northland Minerals.
By 2003 the company was restructured and renamed NioGold Mining Corp. Mike was in touch with a group of geologists and prospectors in Quebec. They had a portfolio of projects in Quebec, mostly gold, but also diamonds, niobium and rare earth projects. They struck a deal in 2003 and put those properties into NioGold.
The main project that they had on their list was the Montviel niobium/rare earth property, it had some good historical intersections of niobium and some holes drilled in 2002 had similar results. Montviel was sold 100% outright to GeoMega Resources (for a 9.8% position in their stock capital in and a 2% royalty on production), who then made a large discovery of rare earths. Right now they’re on their second phase of drilling.
But what NioGold is really all about happened in October 2004. There was a local junior company called McWatters Mines. McWatters had acquired two major assets in the Val-d’Or/Malartic area from Placer Dome – the Sigma Mine and the Kiena Mine Complex.
In 2004 McWatters went bankrupt; all their land became open for acquisition. Osisko Mining purchased the Canadian Malartic Project, Wesdome Gold Mines purchased the Kiena Mine Complex, and NioGold managed for $50,000, to purchase, right in the heart of the camp, three large claim blocks that were relatively underexplored compared to the rest of the area.
I came on board in April 2005. The other gold properties NOX had acquired were of limited interest because the potential for the discovery of a large gold deposit just wasn’t there. Mike and I got together and talked about increasing our land position, but just in the Malartic camp. We kept building our land position because the opportunity was there.
Things were just getting going on the exploration front in that camp, especially in the Malartic which hadn’t seen a lot of exploration since the 80s. We started making deals with local prospectors and other junior companies to start attaching ground to the claim blocks we already had. We were especially trying to tie up ground on gold mineralized belts, especially segments that had seen very limited drilling in the past.
We built the one big claim block we now call the Malartic Block. Then in early 2006, we signed a deal with Aur Resources.
Aur Resources had the other 50% of Marban that we didn’t own and 100% interest in the First Canadian and Norlartic properties. So we made a deal to acquire 100% interest in those three properties, which included three past producing mines, about 600,000 ounces of gold and a lot of upside according to our due diligence.
Rick: And this was a plan that you guys formulated, put together and executed over a period of several years, correct?
Rock: That’s right. We did a bit of drilling in 2006, but really got aggressive in 2007 around the old Marban, Norlartic, and Kierens (First Canadian) mines. We concentrated mainly on the Marban deposit that had seen no exploration or even evaluation since 1974, since the mine closed. We noticed there was a lot of lower-grade mineralization near surface that the old miners had never evaluated, and plus we were hitting some new zones below the old mine workings, which were really relatively shallow.
Rick: And gold was going up at the time making everything look all the better. How did the deal with Aurizon come about?
Rock: By 2010 we had came up with our second resource estimate on the Marban Block. It included the lower-grade mineralization near surface but only at Norlartic and Kierens. No surface resources at Marban were included because we didn’t have sufficient drilling near surface to put it into a NI 43-101 compliant in-pit-type of resource. So, we only could publish underground resources for Marban. Our resource estimate in 2010 came out to be around 960,000 ounces (Indicated plus Inferred)
The Indicated total was nearly 600,000 ounces of gold. A lot of that was near surface mineralization at Norlartic and First Canadian, the total Inferred was 361,000 ounces. Most of that work was done during 2009, the resource estimate, and the modeling of the deposits etc.
At this point, being a small company with this large land package in the middle of the camp and after putting out this resource estimate, we had all of our neighboring companies showing an interest in taking a look at our data. We signed a few CAs, had about five groups come in and we did technical presentations. Aurizon Mines were the first to offer to do a deal on the property.
The formal option and joint venture agreement was signed on July 5, 2010. We only auctioned off the Marban Block property where the resources were. We kept the rest of our land package out of the deal thinking that that would be our upside, our playing ground for the future. The most important thing for Aurizon was they were trying to establish projects close to infrastructure that had what they call “ounces of quality.” Marban fit the kind of project they were looking for.
Rick: Let’s be clear on something here Rock, they did not option this for 960,000 ounces of gold, they did the deal because they firmly believed that there is a lot more to be found.
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I strongly encourage you to continue reading the rest of the interview with Rock Lefrancois, P.Geo., President and Chief Operating Officer for NioGold Mining Corp TSX.V – NOX, and to find out much more regarding this interesting gold junior please click here.
NioGold Mining Corporation NOX.V 0.125 [0.00] is a well financed mineral exploration company with its flagship projects located in the Cadillac – Malartic – Vald’Or stretch of the prolific Abitibi gold mining district, Province of Quebec, Canada. These mining camps have produced over 45 million ounces of gold since the 1930’s and currently host 7 producing gold mines. NioGold’s land holdings within the district presently cover 125 km2 including the Marban Block property which holds NI 43-101 compliant Indicated+Inferred resources of 960,000 ounces gold.
There are currently three drill rigs operating in the northern part of Niogolds 100% owned Malartic property testing the north-west extent of the gold mineralized structures that host the Marban Block deposit. Niogold has a 100% owned seven kilometer section of the northwest extension of these faults. NioGold also has a new discovery on the southern portion of their Malartic Block – right next door to Osisko’s 11 million ounce resource.
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Disclaimer: I currently do not own shares in NOX. This article is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase or subscribe for any investment, please do your own due diligence before taking an investment decision. NioGold Mining is an advertiser on BeatingTheIndex.com.