Other than some exploration from 1983 to 1989, the Pistol Bay property in Nunavut, Canada, is largely untouched. But when President and CEO of Northquest Ltd. Jon North looked at the project, he knew it was worth the investment. The task now is getting third-party investors to realize the same.
“We have been unable to develop as fast as we’d like due to the availability of capital in the market, which has been bad the last two years,” North says. “But we’ve published some great results in the market which has attracted capital but not enough to do everything we want to do. We recently published results on one target and since then we’ve talked to a lot of people, and investors are doing due diligence and making investment decisions.”
By the end of the year, Northquest will have invested $7 to $8 million on the 861 square kilometer project that covers a 90-kilometer strike length of a gold bearing trend encompassing a west-trending series of gold occurrences and gold zones. Northquest began field exploration drilling in April 2011 and since then the company has completed diamond drilling at 49 holes for a total of 9,113 meters. Northquest has discovered a number of targets but has focused on four major ones: Vickers, Sako, Bazooka and Mauser. Ten drill holes have been completed at the Vickers target this year; the results of the first three drill holes were released in early September.
“The objective of the 10 holes that have been drilled so far this year has been to test the continuity of the zone at relatively shallow depths with fill-in holes that compliment the fourteen drill holes drilled in 2012,” North continues. “Upon completion of the ongoing geophysical survey at Vickers, the next phase of drilling will include deeper drilling and step out holes to determine the limits of the zone, as well as more fill-in drilling.”
Four samples from one of the drill holes contain relatively high gold concentrations. The four samples measured at 42.80, 81.50, 94.30 and 109 grams of gold per ton.
North says the next stage simply includes more drilling to prove up the resource. Northquest recently completed geophysical surveys at three target areas. The company will merge these electromagnetic and IP resistivity surveys with geochemical data to make plans for additional drilling at target areas.
“We’ll bring the drills back to camp and start drilling again and we expect to drill until Christmas,” North explains. “Then we’ll take a break for January and February, which are the coldest, most difficult months and resume in March. We will be a year-round operation.”
As Northquest tends to its flagship project, the company has a number of other properties within its portfolio. When North began the company, his original focus was on Mali, which is an area where he has worked before.
“An important part of this business, which anybody who runs a small exploration company can tell you, is that you always have to have other projects that you are developing,” North says. “You never know if the main project you are trying to capitalize will work out. Sometimes the exploration just doesn’t work out or the project runs out of gas and you don’t get the results you need.”
Northquest has submitted an application for a gold exploration permit in Myanmar and is awaiting government approval. It’s also waiting for the government to publish a mining act so “we know what the rules are if we get permit approval,” North says. Northquest has 10 targets within the country that it is considering for exploration.
As far as Mali, the company has acquired three projects: Bananko, Silimana and Mikaya, totaling 675 square kilometers of mineral rights. The properties are in the prolific gold producing Birmian stratigraphy of West Africa, which contains the Ashanti-Obuasi deposits in Ghana, and the Sadiola, Syama, Morila and Lolou deposits in Mali. Northquest acquired an exploration permit for the Bananko property in September 2009, while an application for an exploration permit was submitted for the Mikaya project. The company says its Silimana project is an early-stage, conceptual exploration project.“We’re always interested in collecting data and researching other properties to acquire,” North says. “But right now Pistol Bay is our main focus.”