First Mining Gold Corp. [FF-TSX; FFMGF-OTCQX; FMG-FSE] started out as a mineral bank holding a large portfolio of mineral properties for option or sale; however, the company has now transitioned into a gold developer, advancing and de-risking its gold asset portfolio.
In assembling its portfolio of projects, First Mining not only acquired properties, they also acquired companies that owned good projects. Of note the company acquired eight companies within a 12-month time frame in 2015 and 2016. The company’s primary focus is currently on 6 projects located in geopolitically mine-friendly areas of Eastern Canada. Projects range from grassroots to the Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) stage, but many are past producers which are significantly de-risked in terms of geology, resource and metallurgy. The company has additional early stage assets in Mexico and the U.S.A.
Daniel Wilton, CEO, told Resource World that the business strategy is to advance and de-risk its key projects, while exploring opportunities to monetize some of its broader asset portfolio through a partnership, option or sale depending on what is best for the company.
In northwest Ontario, First Mining holds four gold prospects: Goldlund, Cameron, Pickle Crow and its flagship project Springpole. Located about 110 km northeast of the Town of Red Lake, Springpole is an advanced project with open-pittable resources. Indicated Resources stand at 139.1 Mt grading 1.04 g/t gold and 5.4 g/t silver containing 4,670,000 ounces of gold and 24,190,000 ounces of silver. Inferred Resources are 11.4 Mt of 0.63 g/t gold and 3.1 g/t silver containing 230,000 ounces of gold and 1,120,000 ounces of silver.
The project features infrastructure in-place or nearby, including a 72-person camp onsite, winter road access, logging roads and power lines within 40 km. A positive PEA was completed in 2017 with the following metrics:
• Post-tax NPV: US $792M (5% discount)
• Pre-tax IRR: 32.3%; Post-tax IRR: 26.2%
• Estimated Cash Cost: US $619/oz. AuEq.:All-in Cash Cost: US $806/oz. AuEq.
• 36,000 tpd processing facility
• At full capacity, Est. Avg. Annual Production: 357,100 oz gold & 2,038,800 oz silver
• Mine Life: 12 years
• Initial capital cost: US$586 million
• Strip ratio: 2.1:1
• Post-tax Payback Period: 3.5 years (non-discounted)
For 2019, at Springpole, the goal is to update the current PEA and continue to advance permitting. The updated PEA will reflect updated metal recoveries, capital cost and operating cost estimates from the revised process flow sheet.
Meanwhile, at Goldlund, the company is following up on the successful 2018 regional drill program with step-out drilling at the Miller prospect and defining the broader regional potential of the project. Drilling at Miller in 2018 returned 108 metres of 2.43 g/t gold. An initial 3,000 metre step-out drill program is underway at Miller. Further drilling in 2019 along the 50-kilometre strike length of the geological structures will be determined after this initial step-out phase. Wilton said that regional exploration is planned for later this year.
Like Springpole, Goldlund is an advanced stage exploration project with Indicated Resources of 12.86 Mt grading 1.96 g/t gold containing 809,200 ounces of gold. Inferred Resources are pegged at 18.36 Mt grading 1.49 g/t gold containing 876,954 ounces of gold.
Located 60 km northeast of Dryden, Goldlund has excellent infrastructure, including access to roads and power.
Desktop geological studies are in the works for Pickle Crow, Cameron and Hope Brook in Newfoundland.
First Mining recently signed a four-year option agreement whereby Momentum Minerals Ltd., a private company, can earn a 100% interest in First Mining’s Turquoise Canyon property in Nevada.
The 1,562-hectare Turquoise Canyon property is in an area of producing and past-producing mines along the Battle Mountain-Eureka Trend 16 km south of Barrick Gold’s Cortez Mine Complex, nine km west of its Gold Rush deposit and 1.5 km east of the Toiyabe Mine, a Carlin-type gold deposit that was a past gold producer in the 1990s.
“Optioning this non-core property allows First Mining to continue to focus its core business on its Canadian assets, while eliminating our holding costs relating to this property, realizing value and retaining exposure to this prospective Nevada gold asset,” said Wilton.
In Quebec, First Mining has the Duquesne, Duparquet and Pitt projects – all proximal to each other and located within the prolific Abitibi Region. The company also holds number of prospects in northern and southern Mexico.