Sean Roosen from Osisko Mining (now Osisko Gold Royalties) was the only one brave enough to buy the historic Canadian Malartic Mine in October 2004 from a liquidation trustee following McWatters Mining’s bankruptcy. A year earlier, Barrick sold it to McWatters, without having done any work on the proerty since taking it over from Lac Minerals in 1994.
Roosen gambled that no one would bid on what was perceived as a fully exploited brownfield play with potential liabilities. And he won the gamble of his lifetime, only paying $80,000 for the acquisition. At that time, Osisko was a junior exploration company with only 3 full-time employees and had a market capitalization of less than $5 million trading at 20 cents.
Only 7 years following the acquisition and after 750,000 m of drilling, the filing of a positive feasibility study in December 2008, governmental approval in August 2009 and successful financing of the $1 billion project, the construction and start-up of the Canadian Malartic open-pit gold mine has been completed.
The 2008 feasibility study calculated 6.3 million ounces (“oz”) of gold (183 million t @ 1.07 g/t; 0.36 g/t cut-off) along with $789 million in CAPEX ($146/oz) and $319/oz OPEX (29% IRR). The 2011 reserve estimate used a lower cut-off grade (0.30-0.32 g/t) delineating 10.7 million oz gold (344 million t @ 0.97 g/t).
Commercial production at 60% capacity was achieved in May 2011 and ramp-up to full production capacity (60,000 t/day) was achieved in 2012, allowing for an annual production of up to 750,000 oz gold. The mine poured its 2 millionth oz in September 2015 and is currently Canada’s largest operating gold mine. In 2015, the 55,000 t/day open-pit mine and plant produced a record 571,618 oz gold and is expected to produce 560,000 oz in 2016, with a mine life expected to last through 2026. The mine has 3.9 million oz gold in proven and probable reserves (111 million tonnes @ 1.08 g/t).
In 2014, Osisko and its +600 employees were taken over by Yamana (50%) and Agnico-Eagle (50%) at $8.15/share in a $4.3 billion transaction (after a takeover battle with Goldcorp). Overall, Osisko created a 3,975% return for its shareholder in just 10 years (or 16,200% since late 2003).
Let’s compare the Canadian Malartic Deposit with the Douay Deposit from Aurvista as both deposits share similar regional and local settings (same Abitibi Gold Belt with an estimated total production of 200 million oz gold). Structural patterns at Douay are comparable with Malartic at 100 km, 1 km and 1 cm scales. Certainly, Douay is an earlier exploration stage project than Malartic was in 2004, yet Douay has a major strategic advantage: The higher grade gold lenses are still present at Douay.
Production at the Malartic Mine began in 1935 and continued uninterrupted until 1965. Malartic was mined mostly by underground long-hole stoping methods, making it the only underground bulk tonnage gold mine in Quebec at that time. Mining was only focused on the higher grade (+3 g/t) gold zones occurring within a larger, lower grade mineralized envelope, along 9 levels extending to a depth of approximately 350 m.
A total of 9.9 million t ore at an average grade of 3.4 g/t gold were extracted, for an aggregate production of 1.1 million oz. In 1964, Falconbridge Nickel Ltd. acquired the Malartic Mine and, following cessation of gold production a year later, refurbished the mill to process nickel ore from its Marbridge Mine (these operations ceased in 1968, after which the Malartic Mill was decommissioned and removed).
By the time Sean Roosen acquired the (Canadian) Malartic Mine in 2004, all of the high-grade lenses had been mined out. So what we have with Douay now is a Malartic analog, but with significant sweeteners: The high-grade lenses. Imagine a chocolate chip muffin that someone managed to eat only the chocolate chips – that’s Malartic (in 2004). Aurvista owns an intact muffin with all of the chocolate chips still present.
While Malartic was developed into a mine during gold’s last bull market, and producing profitably during the last 5 years of a bear market, Douay is opined to have excellent chances of being developed into a mine in gold’s next bull phase, potentially becoming a more profitable mine than Malartic.
Bottom-line: Sean Roosen was at the right place at the right time, and had the nerve to act. When Osisko acquired the historic Malartic Mine in 2004 and developed it into an economic mine until 2011, a strong bull market in gold took place. Unfortunately once production started, the gold price began a 5 year bear market. Yet these circumstances allowed Osisko to prove the case that bulk tonnage, low-grade gold deposits can be developed into highly economic mines in bull markets, and that senior mining companies will fight tooth and nail even in times like 2014, when the bear market in gold was culminating, to get their hands on such a big and profitable mine.
Douay is opined to be among the very few remaining (known) gold deposit in Quebec amenable for a superpit, i.e. bulk tonnage, low-grade ore with high-grade lenses. Before, there were Dome, Kerr, Macassa, Teck-Hughes, McIntyre and Hollinger (together 100 million oz gold), Detour (20 million oz), Malartic (15 million oz) and Sigma-Lamaque (12 million oz).
For such reasons, Rockstone anticipates that the Douay Project will draw interest from investors and senior mining companies in gold’s next bull market, which may have started already in late 2015. As Sean Roosen has shown, the best time to make the bargain of one’s lifetime is when no one else is paying attention, giving the impression that it’s a dead project. With a current market capitalization of $10 million, Aurvista today reminds of Osisko in 2004. However and as always, only those brave enough to swim against the current to get their hands on probably one of the best and largest undeveloped gold deposits are destined to (eventually) get rewarded generously.
Douay’s current NI43-101-compliant resource estimate includes 3 million oz gold at a 0.3 g/t cut-off:
2.76 million oz gold from 115 million t @ 0.75 g/t
Measured & indicated:
0.24 million oz gold from 2.7 million t @ 2.76 g/t
The Douay property was originally claimed by Inco (now Vale) in 1976, discovering 2 deposits (Douay Main in 1976 and Douay West in 1990). 44 holes over 8,656 m were drilled on Douay West in 1990-1991, resulting in a (historic; non-NI43-101-compliant; i.e. should not be relied upon) “probable” resource totalling 442,465 t @ 9.6 g/t gold.
In 2007, Vior Inc. updated the resource estimate using a cut-off grade above 3 g/t to 236,000 t @ 6.08 g/t (measured), 735,000 t @ 5.46 g/t (indicated) and 1.6 million t @ 3.94 g/t (inferred). In 2010, a resource update along with a PEA for Douay West was spurred by increased gold prices: 313,000 t @ 7.75 g/t (measured & indicated) and 267,000 t @ 8.53 g/t (inferred; 4 g/t cut-off). A total resource was also calculated for the other deposits on the property using a 0.7 g/t cut-off: 905,000 t @ 1.7 g/t (measured & indicated) and 43 million t @ 1.29 g/t (inferred).
In short: Douay’s “jewel box”, as Jean Lafleur of Aurvista likes to call it, is still intact as no historic mining has cherry-picked the high-grade portions, making it a pristine grassroot gold project (in contrast to a brownfield project like Malartic in 2004) with large advanced exploration areas. It should also be stressed that over the last years only very little exploration has been done on the property and that Douay is a camp-scale property (287 claims covering 145 km2 or 20 km strike length of a fault, the prolific Casa Berardi Break south of and parallel to the Detour Trend). Within a 5 km window, 3 millon oz gold have been discovered to date. Thus, 15 of the 20 km prospective trend remains totally unexplored.
Groups like Thomas Kaplan’s Electrum are only pursuing opportunities in gold which have a minimum of 5 million oz in North America. However, there are not many +5 million oz deposits left. According to Aurvista, it may take $1.5 million to drill off another 1 million oz and with a proper budget, the company could have 5 million oz by this time next year. Hence, it appears that it’s only a matter of money to make Douay reach the “magic” 5 million oz level. During gold’s last bull phase (2000-2011), the market focussed on the few remaining high-grade deposits, such as Goldquest and its Dominican project, whereas Osisko’s Malartic Project was a somewhat standalone exception. Over the last 5 years, the tide has turned to safe mining jurisdictions and Malartic has demonstrated that bulk tonnage, low-grade gold deposits can make fortunes even in times of depressed gold prices (2015 total cash costs: $596 USD/oz plus $23 CAD/t mine-site costs incl. royalties).
The Douay Project is 25% an advanced exploration project and 75% grassroots. Virtually all the majors have toured the property in the past and none have said anything negative, according to a statement from Aurvista. They have all said that, despite the 3 million oz gold, more work on the grassroots portion is required. However, grassroots exploration has been tough to finance in the last 5 years as the “normal” junior model of drilling and issueing drill results to then raise money has been broken. Osisko used this model to great success and a new bull market in gold is likely to change this picture again, especially when considering that Douay is one of the few large gold deposits left in a safe and established mining jurisdiction.
A few days ago, Aurvista announced a $1.1 million private placement, with $600,000 to come from 10 million non-flowthrough units at $0.06/share and $500,000 from 6.25 million flowthrough units at $0.08/share (both units include a full warrant exercisable at $0.10 within 12 months). Upon closing of this financing, Rockstone anticipates the start of an exploration program focussed on core drilling. While it would only take 2-3 years to get Douay West into production, an upcoming drill program may delineate +5 million oz in the currently known target areas. Why? 1) Just like Dome, Malartic and the Abitibi generally: If you drill more, you get more; 2) Nugget effect of high-grade veins, pods and lenses in a porphyry deposit like Douay; 3) Current resource still mostly based at 200 m drill spacing and large spacing could add oz significantly; 4) Minimal drilling to date in some of the high potential zones like NW, Main and Adams. Therefore, +5 million oz from existing zones is considered a somewhat reasonable expectation. Another 5 million oz could be identified on other nearby targets that remain untested to date.
Douay West and Adams are available to go into production already now as having resources for 10+ years at 35,000 oz/year (PEA stated 45,000 oz/year). The December 2014 PEA has focussed on underground mining showing total CAPEX of $57 million ($1 million for infrastructure refurbishment, $50 million for underground development and initial stoping, $0.7 million sustaining capital, and $5 million for closure). Aurvista could go solo, like Osisko did (taken out in the 4th year of commercial production), however Aurvista currently thinks that it’s best to find a (financial) partner. Yet, if the gold bull returns, Aurvista may be lifted into a position to become the next Osisko and put Douay into production by itself.
Aurvista has stated that the assumption of growing known zones to 5 million oz is reasonable but currently irrelevant. If Aurvista drills the required volume, excessive dilution would result as its stock is trading at historically low levels.
For such reasons, Aurvista plans to find the start of an additional 5 million oz, as then they would have the potential for a 10 million oz gold deposit, which is a completely different ball park than the current 3 million oz. According to Aurvista, this targeting will cost $1 million. Upon closing of the ongoing financing, the upcoming drill program is anticipated to bring back investor’s and senior mining companies’ interest to look at Douay again. In conclusion, Rockstone believes that Douay is one of the most undervalued undeveloped large gold assets left in North America and primed to be put in production next, especially with higher gold prices.
Management & Directors
Jean Lafleur (President, CEO, Director)
Mr. Lafleur is a Professional Geologist with 30 years plus of experience in various capacities within the mineral exploration industry including company project and property evaluations and audits, project planning and execution, supervision and management, and resource estimations. He received his B. Sc. and M. Sc. degrees in Geology from the University of Ottawa, and has been active in mineral exploration, both in Canada and internationally (Africa, Mexico and Ecuador), with a wide range of industry-leading companies, such as Newmont, Falconbridge and Placer Dome. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Lafleur worked with McWatters Mining Inc., a Quebec-based junior exploration and mining company, and was instrumental in the discovery of new ore reserves for the company’s gold projects in the Val-d’Or and Malartic Mining camps, including developing the bulk gold exploration program at the Canadian Malartic Gold Property which eventually became Osisko’s 10 million ounce Canadian-Malartic Deposit, which exhibits many similarities to the “porphyry” zone at Aurvista’s Douay property.
Click on above image or here to view the video
Bryan Keeler (CFO, Director)
Bryan Keeler is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years of operations and corporate office experience with Canadian Cellulose, Noranda Forest and Denison Mines. Bryan has participated with creative financial engineering work in the building of three successful royalty finance companies and most recently hands on building of VERCOR Canada small to middle market Investment Bank with over a Billion dollars in transactions closed and 19 offices worldwide. Since he first teamed up with Gerry McCarvill in 1993, he has acted as CFO in support of Gerry’s various ventures, Repadre Capital Corporation, now IAMGOLD Corp., Reserve Royalty and McCarvill Corp.
Gerry McCarvill (Chairman)
Mr. McCarvill has extensive experience in the origination and execution of global mining and energy, private equity and finance transactions. His career includes more than 30 years in the financial sector holding senior positions with major investment firms including the executive committee of CIBC Wood Gundy. Most recently, Gerry was CEO of McCarvill Corporation, a diversified financial services company, which financed mining and energy companies. He helped establish Repadre Capital Corporation, a mining royalty company, now IAMGOLD (TSX), Desert Sun Mining, acquired by Yamana Gold (NYSE), Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines (TSX) and Metals Royalty Corporation. The combined market capitalizations of these companies is several billion dollars.
Robert Mitchell (Director)
Mr. Mitchell is an experienced corporate director and a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and has been a member of three Audit Committees, two of which he currently chairs. Mr. Mitchell is a retired partner of Ernst and Young LLP, and has over forty years of financial experience. Mr. Mitchell is well versed in International Financial Reporting Standards and CEO/CFO certification of the effectiveness of disclosure controls and procedures. Mr. Mitchell was until recently a Director, acting Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Orvana Minerals Corp., and is currently Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Home Capital Group Inc. Mr. Mitchell brings a tremendous amount of experience to both the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee.
Edmund King (Director)
Mr. King has been chairman and CEO of MTHRTY Communications, a social media company, since May 2004. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wood Gundy Ltd. and CIBC Wood Gundy Ltd. from 1988 to 1995. He is a past chairman of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada. He served as chairman of Western International Communications (WIC) from Jun 1994 to January 1998. Mr King also served as Deputy Chairman of Rockwater Capital Corporation from January 2996 to March 31, 2003.
About Aurvista Gold Corp.
Aurvista Gold Corp. is a junior gold exploration and development company. Aurvista’s only asset is the Douay Gold Project, consisting of 221 wholly owned claims totaling approximately 11,430 hectares.The Douay Project’s North West Zone has 32 designated claims for a total of 1,193 hectares and is in a Joint Venture agreement with SOQUEM. The Douay Project is located along the Casa Berardi Fault part of the Casa Berardi Deformation Zone in northern Quebec. As of 2012, the Douay Gold Project contains a NI 43-101 Mineral Resource of 114,652,000 tonnes at 0.75 g/t gold (2.8 million ounces of gold) in the Inferred category and 2,689,000 tonnes at 2.76 g/t gold (238,400 ounces of gold) in the Indicated category, at a cut-off of 0.3 g/t gold. The Douay West Zone Resources are included in this property wide estimate. The Douay West zone contains a NI 43-101 Mineral Resource of 1,413,000 tonnes at 1.65 g/t gold (74,913 ounces of gold) in the Inferred category and 2,558,000 tonnes at 2.77 g/t gold (227,982 ounces of gold) in the Indicated category, at a cut-off of 0.3 g/t gold. The company recently completed a Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) of the Douay West Zone. The PEA considers both open pit and underground production options for the advancement of the Project. The study economics show a pre-tax Net Present Value (“NPV”) of $25.0 million at a discount rate of 5% and post-tax NPV(5%) of $16.6 million using an approximate two-year average gold price of US$1,350 per ounce and an exchange rate of 1.00 $C=0.95 US$. The pre-tax and post-tax internal rates of return (“IRR”) for the project are 55% and 40% respectively. The PEA mine plan and economic model include the use of Inferred Mineral Resources which are considered speculative geologically to have any economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves and there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized.
“The Canadian Malartic story is an excellent example of how the application of modern empirical ore deposit models to new areas, even using old databases, can achieve success and lead to world class discoveries. Although not a new concept, finding new mines next to old mines requires a “paradigmshift”, not only at the level of preconceived notions of exploration potential, but at the level of what constitutes an economic ore deposit in a given geographic area.
The Canadian Malartic bulk-tonnage deposit was discovered by applying the porphyry gold model to the Malartic area, on the premise that bulk tonnage mining of 1.0 g/t Au ore could be economic in the Abitibi, and by using established data bases to generate the target. Hence, data mining tailored to a new model and simple drill testing of the geological target were the tools that led to the discovery. The deposit did not respond to ground magnetic, electromagnetic nor IP surveys, and is invisible to airborne geophysical surveys, with the possible exception of radiometrics that should in theory give a response on the potassium channel, although this could not be proven at Canadian Malartic due to masking by the tailings ponds.
Since the success of Osisko‟s Canadian Malartic project, which was well known by 2007 and went from discovery to production in a short 6 years, a “paradigm shift” has occurred within the junior exploration community in Canada. Large tonnage, low grade, bulk tonnage gold deposits were previously of little interest to companies exploring the Superior craton... We are therefore witnessing a new era in gold exploration in the Canadian Shield that will undoubtedly lead to new ore deposit models for Archean gold deposits and a renaissance, we hope, of the classic Canadian gold mining camps.” (Robert Wares, P. Geo., Executive Vice-President Exploration and Resource Development of Osisko Mining Corp. and John Burzynski, Vice-President Corporate Development of Osisko Mining Corp., in “The Canadian Malartic Mine, Southern Abitibi Belt, Quebec, Canada: Discovery and Development of an Archean Bulk-Tonnage Gold Deposit”)
“The geophysical interpretation has now shown that the 3 million ounces of gold in Douay’s mineral resources outlined in the 2012 NI 43-101 technical report sits within a 5 km2 segment of a 18 km2 geophysical target area that remains largely untested for gold. This excludes the remaining untested 10 km trend of the Casa Berardi Deformation Zone, as well as the massive sulphide targets. All of the superpit mineralization at the Dome, Canadian-Malartic and Detour Lake deposits, which are located in the Abitibi Gold Belt along with Douay, had extensive historic underground mining which extracted most of the higher grade gold veins and stockworks. Douay has never been mined and contains the higher grade gold lenses surrounded by lower grade gold mineralization in very similar geological environments to the superpit deposits. Douay lacks the extensive exploration at this time to substantiate a larger mineral resource. Aurvista’s 20 km strike length includes the Casa Berardi Deformation Zone, a structure similar to the Porcupine-Destor and Larder Lake-Cadillac Deformation Zones, which hosts numerous gold deposits, such as the Dome, McIntyre and Hollinger mines in the historic triangle or the 25 km long Val-d’Or and Malartic gold deposit trend.” (Jean Lafleur, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Aurvista Gold Corp.)
Success in junior miners – the Malartic and Eleonore deposits
By Henry Bonner from Sprott Group on April 25, 2014
Steve Todoruk joined Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd. as an Investment Executive in 2003. He focuses on investing in new discoveries– companies that have identified promising deposits that may prove to be economic. As long as the discovery grows, the company’s share price often grows with it.
When a deposit gets big enough, a major mining company may seek to acquire the company, paying a healthy takeover premium to shareholders. The takeover battle for Osisko, which we talked about yesterday, shows that big mining companies will fight tooth and nail to get their hands on a big new ore body. Goldcorp fought hard with Agnico Eagle and Yamana for control of Osisko’s Malartic gold deposit.
Goldcorp lost the battle, but is garnering lots of attention today for another acquisition – which it made successfully.
Steve says that there are the two key stages in a small mining company where acquisitions like these are most likely. See Steve’s recent note below.
In 2004, a small company called Virginia Gold Mines Inc. discovered the Eleonore gold deposit in Quebec. They successfully drilled and grew the discovery, and found a total of 4 million ounces of gold at high grades. In 2006, Goldcorp paid $420 million to Virginia to acquire this high-quality discovery. Since then, Goldcorp has been busy building this new mine, aiming for initial production in late 2014.
That deadline is coming close. Goldcorp has posted a great educational video walking us through the lengthy process of mine design and construction. I recommend you watch the video to see how a reputable major mining company goes about building a new mine the right way.
This is a happy ending to the gold discovery Virginia Gold Mines Inc. made ten years ago. Assuming all goes as planned, the Eleonore gold mine may provide many years of steady gold production and revenue generation.
The Eleonore deposit and the Osisko battle illustrate two models adopted by major miners to increase annual gold production. With the first method, which was employed at Eleonore, a major takes over a junior once the discovery appears to be large enough, but before any work to construct a mine has commenced. The big miner then designs and executes a mine plan itself to extract the ore.
In the second method, illustrated by the Osisko takeover, a major miner attempts to acquire a deposit after a smaller company has built the mine. By then, the small company has de-risked the project, eliminating any uncertainty of whether the deposit could become an actual mine.
At Osisko’s Malartic mine, Goldcorp waited several years for Osisko to successfully extract ore, and then made a takeover bid for a mine that was already in production. Goldcorp could have tried to take over Osisko several years earlier, for much less money. But for a variety of reasons, they let Osisko build and start production from the Malartic mine before making an offer. Ultimately, Goldcorp was happy to offer more for a less risky asset. This is quite common in almost any business – not just in the mining industry.
Most takeovers occur at one of two important stages in an exploration story, illustrated by the Eleonore and the Osisko development stories. In the first instance, major mining companies may take over a junior once it has delineated a large deposit with good grade. If no takeover occurs, the smaller company will most likely set out to build the mine itself. Expect the junior’s share price to soften up at this stage. At some point during this process, or, as with Osisko, after production has begun, a bigger company may take them over. In the end, if the junior has a high-quality asset, a takeover should occur that rewards shareholders with a healthy premium.
P.S.: Steve recently created an education video on investing in natural resource discoveries. Click here to watch.
Steve Todoruk worked as a field geologist for major and junior mining exploration companies after he graduated with a B. Sc. in Geology from the University of British Columbia, in 1985. Steve joined Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd. in 2003 as a Senior Investment Executive. To contact Steve, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 1.800.477.7853.
This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to be an offer or solicitation for the sale of any financial product or service or a recommendation or determination by Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd. that any investment strategy is suitable for a specific investor. Investors should seek financial advice regarding the suitability of any investment strategy based on the objectives of the investor, financial situation, investment horizon, and their particular needs. This information is not intended to provide financial, tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. The products discussed herein are not insured by the FDIC or any other governmental agency, are subject to risks, including a possible loss of the principal amount invested. Generally, natural resources investments are more volatile on a daily basis and have higher headline risk than other sectors as they tend to be more sensitive to economic data, political and regulatory events as well as underlying commodity prices. Natural resource investments are influenced by the price of underlying commodities like oil, gas, metals, coal, etc. Please read the disclaimer here.
Aurvista Gold Corp.
Suite 612 - 390 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2Y2 Canada
Phone: +1 416 682 2674
Shares Issued & Outstanding: 69,511,617
Canadian Symbol (TSX.V): AVA
Current Price: $0.14 CAD (May 17, 2016)
Market Capitalization: $10 million CAD
German Symbol / WKN (Frankfurt): AV2 / A1JL1Z
Current Price: €0.088 EUR (May 18, 2016)
Market Capitalization: €6 million EUR
Disclaimer: Please read the full disclaimer within the full research report as a PDF (here) as fundamental risks and conflicts of interest exist.