By Peter Kennedy
Marathon Gold Corp. [MOZ-TSX, OTC-MGDPF] CEO Phillip Walford has told the company that he intends to retire as soon as a successor is found. Walford has agreed to assist the board with the recruitment process in order to ensure a seamless transition.
The decision comes as the company is advancing its Valentine Lake gold project in central Newfoundland towards the development stage.
Walford has been instrumental in defining a global resource of 4 million ounces of gold at Valentine Lake. The company recently added two years of mine life and 827,000 ounces of gold to the mix in an updated preliminary economic assessment of the project.
“This was made possible by the implementation of sound geological and managing a quality technical team,” said Haywood Securities in a research report.
The Valentine Gold Camp currently hosts four near-surface, mainly pit-shell constrained, deposits. The majority of the resources occur in the Marathon and Leprechaun deposits, which also have resources below the pit shell. Both deposits are open at depth and on strike.
Gold mineralization has been traced down over 350 metres vertically at Leprechaun and almost a kilometre at Marathon. The four deposits outlined to date occur in a 30-km gold trend on the property, with much of the 24,000-hectare property having had little detailed exploration activity to date.
The Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) study is based on an initial 12-year mine life and foresees average annual production of 225,1000 ounces of gold at a life-of-mine, all-in sustaining cost of US$665/oz. Pre-production capital is estimated at $355 million, the company said.
Walford will serve as a director of the company and will be involved in the recruitment process, an important point considering his intimate knowledge and experience on the project, Haywood said.
“This updated [PEA] study has benefitted from 20,000 metres of additional drilling since February 2018, 9,000 historical screen assays on historical drill core since the last PEA resource, and an internal review of the project,” the company said.
It went on to say that the measured and indicated resource tonnes increased by 35% to 45.1 million tonnes, the grade declined by 7% to 1.854 grams/tonne and the total contained ounces of gold increased by 26% to 2.7 million ounces. Meanwhile, the inferred resource tonnes increased by 55% to 26.8 million tonnes, the grade decreased by 11% to 1.774 grams and the contained ounces of gold increased by 30% to 1.53 million ounces of gold.
Additional drilling in 2019 will focus on extending the higher-grade zones in the pit shells as well as infilling open material to move inferred resources into indicated and measured resources.
The Valentine Gold Camp is accessible by road on a year-round basis and is in close proximity to the provincial electrical grid. Marathon is maintaining a 50-person all-season camp at the property.
“We believe that development of the Valentine Gold Camp will prove to be the pinnacle of Phil’s 50-year career in the Canadian mining industry,” said Marathon Chairman George Faught.