Finnish Gold Producer Restarts Soon

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Finnish Gold Producer Restarts Soon

Production resumes in 4-6 months on Firesteel’s recently-acquired and strengthened Laiva Gold Mine

Firesteel Resources Inc. [FTR-TSXV] is focused on developing mineral projects in stable jurisdictions such as North America and Europe. Its business strategy is to transition from an explorer to a junior producing company. The company has two projects; its flagship project being the past-producing Laiva Gold Mine near Raahe and the Gulf of Bothnia in central Finland. Its other project is the Star copper-gold project 105 km west-southwest of Dease Lake in the Sheslay Valley of northern British Columbia, a joint venture as to Firesteel, 49%, and Prosper Gold Corp, 51%, where Prosper can earn an 80% interest.

In Finland, Firesteel recently concluded an agreement to acquire a 60% interest in Nordic Mines Marknad AB which has a 100% interest in the Laiva Mine, now on a care and maintenance basis. Firesteel has received US $20.6 million under a prepaid forward gold purchase agreement with PFL Raahe Holdings LP, an investment vehicle controlled by Pandion Mine Finance LP.

Under the joint venture agreement, Firesteel is operator of the Laiva Mine and intends to acquire the remaining 40% interest in Nordic Marknad in exchange for 45 million Firesteel shares. Funds received by Firesteel will be mainly used as working capital to restart production at Laiva and service some outstanding Nordic debts. US $4-6 million will be used to refurbish the Laiva plant.

During the due diligence process, aided by consulting firms JT Boyd and RPM Global, Firesteel President and CEO, Michael Hepworth, noted that under previous management the Laiva Mine encountered a number of problems including severe dilution of ore (poor grade control), poor gold recoveries, insufficient metallurgy, weak gold prices, hedging losses and debt. The Laiva Mine poured its first doré bar in 2011 and in the second quarter of 2013 gold production at Laiva topped out at 12,344 ounces. However, the mine closed soon after as the All-In Sustaining Costs were some US $1,760/oz. About €220 million was spent building the mine.

The Laiva resource estimates, under Nordic, were JORC compliant but not NI 43-101 compliant. Firesteel has upgraded the JORC figures to NI 43-101 standards. There are 600,000 ounces in the indicated and inferred categories and there is substantial opportunity to increase this within the current pits and in the satellite properties.  Firesteel plans to infill drill an additional 20,000 metres to convert the inferred resources to probable reserves.

Laiva production will be derived from two open pits (with mineralization open at depth) operating at 6,000 tonnes per day. The 17 km2 project is fully permitted. Nordic also owns three exploration properties with 2 km of Laiva encompassing 43 km2 and Firesteel geologists are of the view that additional resources remain to be discovered as there is a favourable geological environment in the intermediary to basaltic volcanic rock and quartz diorites. These additional properties – New Hope, Mussuneva and Kaukainen – are permitted for exploration.

Production from the Laiva Mine is expected to resume in four to six months. In addition to an improving gold price and a Forex in Canada’s favour, the new management has reworked the geological and resource model, improved grade control and implemented improved process and milling practices. There are also better financial controls and no hedge book.

There is excellent local infrastructure, including power, paved all-weather roads to within 5 km of the mine and within 20 km of a port as well as a skilled and educated workforce. Finland is the world’s sixth best jurisdiction for mineral property rights where there is a 20% corporate tax, a 0.15% landowner royalty and no government royalties.

The Laiva Mine is a largely de-risked asset with a value of well over $200 million that Firesteel is acquiring for approximately $25 million. With only 87,625,773 shares outstanding and a market capitalization of less than $10 million, the company is trading at less than cash. After raising a further $10 million for exploration, the company will still have fewer than 200 million shares and a producing mine.


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