The pace of exploration can test one’s patience. “Why can’t they just mobilize a damn rig to the property already?” is a question I get a lot.

Companies helmed by disciplined geo-types will often pull out all the stops to increase the odds of discovery success.

Prospective ground is scoured by map, by air… on foot. Samples are collected, prepared, and shipped off to the lab. Data is stacked to establish the deepest levels of geochemical and geophysical correlation before a costly drill rig is mobilized to the site.

This takes time.

A good number of (disciplined) companies on the Highballer shortlist released news in recent sessions. We’ll pick em off one by one in chronological order.

Forum Energy Metals (FMC.V)

On November 11th, Forum dropped the following headline:

Rio Tinto Sets 2021 Winter Drill Budget at the Janice Lake Copper-Silver Project, Saskatchewan

Janice Lake is Forum’s flagship asset. The property encompasses some 38,250 hectares in north-central Saskatchewan, within the Wollaston Domaina northeasterly-trending belt of metamorphosed lower Proterozoic supracrustal rocks deposited upon Archean granitoid basement.

The property boasts over 20 sediment-hosted copper showings that hold the potential for multiple layers of copper mineralization.

The property boasts district-scale potential, a prospect validated by Rio Tinto’s keen interest in the project…

Forum entered into an agreement granting Rio Tinto Canada a four-year option to acquire a 51% interest in the Janice Lake Project by spending $10 million in exploration, making $490,000 in cash payments, and servicing the remaining $200,000 in underlying cash payments to Transition Metals Corp. Rio can earn a further 29% interest (total 80%) by spending a further $20 million in exploration over three years (total $30 million) and making further cash payments of $150,000 to Forum (total $640,000).”

Rio Tinto (RIO) is a mining giant, one of the biggest. RIO doesn’t mess around with the small stuff. They’re only interested in projects that hold world-class potential.

The terms of Forum’s $30M JV with RIO are aggressive.

In this November 11th press release, RIO, the project operator, updated its 2021 plans for Janice Lake, signalling its intention to push the project aggressively along the (exploration) curve.

RIO will mobilize two diamond drill rigs to the project for a planned 7,500-meter campaign in roughly 30 holes. Scheduled to kick off in January 2021, Rio has two large targets in its crosshairs.


Historic showings at Rafuse demonstrate a northeast-trending magnetic high extending for some 2.8 kilometers. A series of mineralized grab samples collected during a summer field campaign returned copper values ranging from 0.31% to 1.7% Cu.

The highlight grab from this program returned 1.7% Cu and 37.6g/t Ag.

Target Areas on the Janice Lake Project. Background is the airborne magnetic survey, red stars = surface mineralization, green dots = RAB hole locations. The table shows geochemical results from this summer’s outcrop sampling program on the Rafuse target.

Back in the late 60s, nine holes were drilled into Rafuse to a maximum depth of 62 meters. Results included 17 meters of 0.68% copper.

Two holes drilled in 1993, testing a depth of up to 128 meters, returned 21.7 meters of 0.19% copper.

Central Rafuse Target. Yellow dots are historic drill hole locations. Stars are surface showings.

Earlier this summer, two one-kilometer lines of an Induced Polarization (IP) survey identified a strong chargeability anomaly at a depth of 130 meters at the Rafuse target.

“It is clear that previous drilling did not go deep enough nor far enough along strike to test the possibility of multiple layers of copper mineralization within gently dipping metasediments. A series of drill fences over this large target are proposed for the Rafuse target to test for continuity and grade of the mineralization.”


In 2019, drilling at the Jansem target tagged thick intervals of copper mineralization for 650 meters along strike and to a depth of 200 metersmineralization remains open along strike and at depth (see news releases dated October 1, 2019, October 9, 2019, October 31, 2019, November 14, 2019 and December 3, 2019).

A total of 26.9 line kms of IP surveys were conducted over the Jansem target this past summer. Chargeability highs coupled with lithological and magnetic filters correlate with known areas of copper mineralization (and potential drill targets).

“This technique will also be used as a targeting tool on other prospective areas identified by the mapping and prospecting program over the 52 kilometer extent of the Janice Basin. Drilling is also planned on the northeast trending, 1.5 kilometre-long Jansem East target parallel to Jansem. Historical drilling of eight holes intersected a number of copper intercepts at Jansem East with one intercept of 12 metres grading 0.47% copper.”

RIO plans to step out with a drill rig to the southwest, and to the northwest to establish continuity.

Additional results are still pending from this summers’ regional sampling program, including 25 holes from a rotary air blast (RAB) campaign that tested 7 regional targets (surface copper showings and structural/geophysical targets covered in glacial overburden).

These RAB assays could drop at any time.

This Nov. 11 press release went on to state:

Regional mapping has identified a second priority area 18 kilometres southwest of Jansem where similar lithologies were mapped and a boulder grading 3.84% copper was found by prospecting. Strontium appears to be a good lithogeochemical pathfinder for copper mineralization where thick sequences of evaporite in the form of strontium sulphate appear to have some correlation to copper mineralization. Results are still pending from orientation surveys of soil and biogeochemical samples collected over the Jansem target.”

Janice Lake is all about copper. Looking at the chart, copper is currently testing multi-year highs.

Skeena Resources (SKE.T)

On November 11th, Skeena tabled a substantial raise.

Skeena Resources Announces Pricing of Upsized C$40.0 Million Common Share Public Offering

There’s an appetite for this high-grade open pit exploration/development play.

The Company “entered into an underwriting agreement with a syndicate of underwriters co-led by Raymond James Ltd. and Canaccord Genuity Corp., and including Clarus Securities Inc., Sprott Capital Partners and RBC Capital Markets to sell 17,021,277 Common Shares at a price of $2.35 per share for upsized gross proceeds of C$40.0 million.”

The lion’s share of this raise will be used to fund exploration and development at its Eskay Creek project in the prolific Golden Triangle of British Columbia.

The last time we checked in, six helicopter-supported drill rigs were active on the property, with five more on the way.

Expect continued, strong newsflow out of this world-class asset.

Coral Gold (CLH.V)

For Coral Gold, one of our top three picks for 2020, November 13 marked its final day of trade.

On November 12th, the Company dropped the following headline:

Coral Shareholders Approve Arrangement with Nomad Royalty Company Ltd

As expected, shareholders voted in favour of a special resolution to approve its ‘arrangement’ with Nomad Royalty Co (NSR.T).

Coral will apply for a final order of the Supreme Court of British Columbia for approval of the Arrangement on November 16, 2020, and, assuming receipt of Court approval and that all other remaining conditions to the Arrangement are either satisfied or waived, the Company expects that the closing date of the Arrangement (the “Effective Date”) will occur on or about Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Under the terms of the Arrangement, Coral shareholders on the Effective Date will receive 0.80 of an unit of Nomad, and $0.05 for every Coral share held. Each whole Nomad Unit will consist of one common share and one-half share purchase warrant of Nomad. For complete details of the Plan of Arrangement, interested persons are directed to the Information Circular filed on SEDAR ( on October 14, 2020 by Coral under its profile.

Personally, I’m excited at the prospect of becoming a Nomad shareholder. I plan to hold Nomad for the long term.

And this just in…

Coral Receives Court Approval for Arrangement with Nomad Royalty Company Ltd

Done and done.

Cartier (ECR.V)

Cartier, another one of our top three picks for 2020, dropped the following headline on November 12th:

Cartier awards NI 43-101 resource estimate contract for the Benoist Project

For those new to Cartier, the Benoist Property is located in a region of high interest, along the Windfall belt of mining-friendly Quebec.

Though the Chimo Mine Project currently bears flagship status, Benoist holds significant resource expansion potential.

In 1993, the historical estimate calculated by Minnova for the Pusticamica Gold Deposit is 481,851 tm grading 5.52 g/t Au, 12.10 g/t Ag et 0.27 % Cu inside of 4.63 millions of metric tons of rock grading 1,89 g/t Au (Murgor Resources Inc. press release dated January 17th, 2012).

Project highlights:

  • The Benoist property hosts the Pusticamica gold deposit, a high-grade deposit with significant copper and silver credits;
  • Benoist’s mineralization boasts all the characteristics of a significant deposit, one with the potential to grow markedly;
  • Cartier holds a 100% interest in the property subject to a 2.5% NSR of which 2.0% is redeemable for C$2M at any time;
  • This road accessible property is located near the mills of Langlois and Bachelor, and the future mill of Osisko Mining’s (OSK.T) Windfall Project;
  • Work on the property to date includes 93 boreholes (32,356 meters) resulting in 14,243 samples collected over a sampled length of 14,647 meters.

The $9.3M FT funds recently raised are earmarked for Benoist.

$9.3M will buy a lot of drilling.

This campaign, scheduled to commence in mid to late December, will consist of three diamond drill rigs and roughly 30k meters of drilling.

The program will center on the deposit itself, and potential extensions.

The goal is to add value via the drill bit, to rapidly grow the existing (historic) resource and push it rapidly along the development curve.

Regarding the flagship Chimo Mine Project, the following is an overview of current activities…

Cartier has four engineering studies in the works as it methodically fine-tunes Chimo’s near-term production potential.

These studies are addressing:

  • The hoisting capacity of the shaft;
  • The mining capacity of the ore;
  • The production capacity of the orebody as a whole;
  • The pre-concentration potential by way of ore sorting.

The goal of these studies is to define multiple options for a production scenario. This is a menu a potential acquirer will want to see this.

An updated resource estimate, one that will augment the current 1,182,990 ounce count, should drop before the year is out.

Expectations for this 3rd resource estimate run as high as 2-plus million ounces (that’s my best guess).

This updated resource estimate will serve as a foundation for a PEA that will follow directly after.

All of this added engineering work should ultimately add value to the Chimo ounce count if (when) the project is monetized.

CEO Philippe Cloutier in a recent interview:

“I’m confident that once we put out the 3rd resource estimate, it will turn heads.”

Music to the ears, this.

Management’s strategy, expectations, and timing regarding the monetization of Chimo are brought to light during this recent interview with Cartier CEO, Philippe Cloutier (fast forward to 22:35, but listen to the entire interviewit’s a good one).

Chimo, when all is said and done, could fetch $100 to $150 per ounce. Higher if the metal goes on a tear.

Run the math…

With the start of Benoist drilling and a Chimo resource update on deck, the stage is set for an intensely active 2021.

Pure Gold (PGM.V)

On November 12th, Pure Gold reported quarterly results and an update on pre-production activity at its 100%-owned PureGold Mine Project where current resources stand at 2.1-million-ounces Indicated (7.2Mt at 8.9 g/t gold) and a 0.5-million-ounces Inferred (1.9Mt at 7.7g/t gold).

Pure Gold Reports Third Quarter Financial Results

Development of this high-grade near-term production scenario continues at a rapid pace.

Engineering is complete. All of the major components are on-site and installed. Final piping and electrical cabling have begun.

The Company remains on track to bring its first ore to the mill before year-end.

We’ll Be Pouring Gold by Christmas.”

On the Company’s home page, the phase one numbers are front and center…

Meanwhile, the Company continues to drive value via the drill bit.

“Our underground drilling continues to be extremely successful in delivering on its objective of discovering new gold mineralization, extending mineralization out from planned stopes and confirming stopes planned for near-term production. New grade control drilling has highlighted the potential for bonanza grades in stopes planned for near term production.”

Highlights from recent underground drilling include:

  • 296.1 g/t gold over 4.9 meters from test hole PGL-0003, including 1,147.1 g/t gold over 1.2 meters;
  • 40.0 g/t gold over 2.2 meters from drill hole PGB-0170, including 94.1 g/t over 0.9 meters;
  • 18.7 g/t gold over 2.8 meters from drill hole PGB-0165, including 65.4 g/t over 0.7 meters;
  • 11.1 g/t gold over 6.7 meters from drill hole PGB-0178.

At the Wedge target, new surface drilling results highlight the strong continuity of the high-grade gold mineralization both down plunge and along strike.

The Wedge target represents a high priority zone for resource growth:

  • 66.3 g/t gold over 1.0 metre from drill hole PG20-769;
  • 24.3 g/t gold over 1.0 metre from drill hole PG20-775;
  • 20.5 g/t gold over 1.0 metre from drill hole PG20-766;
  • 16.6 g/t gold over 1.5 metres from drill hole PG20-767;
  • 11.4 g/t gold over 2.0 metres from drill hole PG20-773.

The following video highlights the growth potential of this 47 square kilometer chunk of (Red Lake) terra firma…

In this press release, the Company also states that it raised approximately $7.1 million from the exercise of share purchase warrants and stock options.

The Company is fully funded through to production.

Kuya Silver (KUYA.V)

Kuya is our most recent addition to the Highballer shortlist.

On November 13th, our neighbors to the south received a welcome piece of news from the Company.

Kuya Silver Announces Commencement of Trading on the OTCQB Under Symbol KUYAF

David Stein, Kuya CEO:

We are very pleased to be trading on the OTCQB and to expand our outreach into the U.S. The listing will open up a new market and is part of Kuya’s ongoing effort to increase awareness of the value of our Bethania silver project and increase liquidity in the trading of Kuya shares.”

We were fortunate with the timing of this one. I released my maiden Kuya article when the shares were trading in the $1.60 range only one week back. The shares closed today’s session (Nov. 16th) at $2.22.

Banyan Gold (BYN.V)

Between its two Yukon based projects—AurMac and Hyland—the company holds over 1.4 million ounces in the Indicated and Inferred categories (Hyland’s 524,000 ounces are AuEq).

Today (Nov. 16), Banyan released an impressive headline number from the Powerline zone at its AurMac Property.

Banyan Drills 1.07 g/t Over 68.5m and Extends Powerline Mineralization by Over 500m, Aurmac Property, Yukon

The Company tabled a total of five holes from the Powerline zone.

Highlights include:

  • 0.72 g/t Au over 128.5 meters from 82.0 meters in AX-20-43
    including 1.07 g/t Au over 68.5 meters;
  • 0.80 g/t Au over 29.8 meters from 129.5 meters in AX-20-42;
  • 0.47 g/t Au over 30.5 meters from 43.0 meters in AX-20-41;
  • 0.76 g/t Au over 13.0 meters from 135.0 meters in AX-20-44;
  • 0.46 g/t Au over 27.0 meters from 12.0 meters in AX-20-45.

Within these broader intervals are the following higher-grade intercepts:

  • 3.74 g/t Au over 1.5 meters in AX-20-41;
  • 2.56 g/t Au over 1.5 meters in AX-20-42;
  • 11.5 g/t Au over 0.6 meters in AX-20-42;
  • 6.38 g/t Au over 1.5 meters in AX-20-43;
  • 3.54 g/t Au over 3.0 meters in AX-20-43;
  • 3.04 g/t Au over 3.0 meters in AX-20-43;
  • 5.50 g/t Au over 3.4 meters in AX-20-43;
  • 3.79 g/t Au over 1.5 meters in AX-20-43;
  • 5.15 g/t Au over 1.5 meters in AX-20-45.

Powerline, another near-surface bulk tonnage target at AurMac, is open to expansion in all directions, and at depth.

Powerline lies roughly one kilometer south of the Airstrip zone, which carries a pit-constrained resource of 129,019 ounces of gold (6.6 million tonnes @ 0.61 g/t Au Inferred).

Tara Christie, Banyan CEO:

These results demonstrate that the gold mineralization at the Powerline Zone is part of a much larger gold system than captured in the 2020 Powerline Deposit Resource model. AX-20-41 through to AX-20-45 are 100 metre step-outs south of the 2020 Resource, respectively, and together add over 500 metres of mineralized footprint south of the Powerline deposit. The near surface Powerline Deposit grades 0.61 g/t Au, comparable to the resource grade of 0.63 g/t of Victoria Gold’s producing Eagle Gold Mine, which is just 40 km away. Powerline was a 2019 discovery and reinforces the near-surface gold potential of the larger AurMac Property.”

After completing this first pass drilling, the rig was sent to the Aurex-Hill zone to test a coincident gold+arsenic-in-soils anomaly on strike with Powerline.

Aurex-Hill will see 1,800 meters of drilling in 10 holes.

Success at Aurex-Hill could bulk-up the global ounce count at Aur-Mac in a meaningful way.

And importantly, drilling will continue until mid-December.

There’s a lot more to come via the drill bitthe 2020 AurMac campaign is good for 8,900 meters of drilling in 45 holes thus far.


Greg Nolan

Full disclosure: Of the companies featured in this piece, Forum and Cartier are Highballer clients. The author owns shares of Forum, Cartier, Coral (soon to turn into Nomad paper), and Skeena.


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