Few companies embody the modern Yukon gold rush more than Golden Predator (GPD-T).
The company, which was a Nevada-focused base metal producer as recently as 2008, has burst onto the Yukon scene with all the fury of its sabre-toothed logo and now boasts of having the largest controlled land package in the Yukon.
Golden Predator has snapped up projects all over the territory, shunning the common strategy of focusing on single districts, in a clear effort to profit from this second Yukon rush. Following the 1,500-sq.km Livingston land package added in September, Golden Predator boasts over 5,700-sq.-km of exploration claims. The company's property package, which includes such colourfully named holdings as the Hell and Scurvy projects, cover an area bigger than P.E.I. or Delaware.
But along with sheer scale, the company has assembled a number of prospective targets in its portfolio, with the Brewery Creek past producer the most advanced.
Viceroy Resources produced 278,000 oz. gold from several open pits at Brewery Creek between 1996 and 2002 at a 65% recovery rate before shutting down and completing an impressive reclamation job. Approaching the project by helicopter, the pits and surrounding areas stand out like a bright green fairway, with the fresh vegetation coming in nicely.
The claims for Brewery Creek eventually ended up with Alexco Resource (AXR-T), but with that company concentrating on its Bellekeno mine and Keno Hill project Brewery Creek saw little work. It was not until Golden Predator came along in mid-2009, hungry for the Yukon, that the project kick-started. Golden Predator agreed to spend $6 million by 2015 to earn 75%, and has already spent more than that.
Thanks to the past production and Alexco partnership, Golden Predator has gained a wealth of data to identify new targets and follow up on old ones.
"We're reaping the fruits of their labour," Mike Burke, chief geologist at Golden Predator, said during an August site visit. "They left a lot of data."
Along with information, being a past producer means extensive infrastructure. The project has a road network on site, as well as gravel and paved roads that lead 55 km west to Dawson City. Parts of the project are also still covered by water and production permits, including the old heap-leach pad, but not including where the company is making its big discoveries.
Sitting east and southeast of the historic pits, the Schooner, Bohemian and Sleemans zones have transformed Brewery Creek from an interesting project to an exciting one - especially this year. Because of year-round road access, the company was able to start drilling on Feb. 15, and had results out before most other Yukon explorers even started drilling.
Results from the winter program, concentrating on the Bohemian-Schooner area, included hole 198 that hit 74 metres grading 7.08 grams gold per tonne from 6 metres depth, and hole 183 that returned 28 metres grading 5.06 grams gold from 46 metres downhole.
"What really fired up the program was drill hole 198," Burke says, noting that the success of the early drilling led Golden Predator to increase its exploration budget at the project from $2 million to $6 million, and later to $7.5 million. Mid-year results from the zone included 73 metres grading 3.09 grams gold in hole 200 and 29 metres averaging 4.6 grams gold in hole 203, establishing the Schooner-Bohemian zone as a 1-km zone open at depth and to the east.
The company describes the Bohemian-Schooner zone as a strongly mineralized, steeply dipping structural corridor that strikes east-northeast. The corridor intersects a lower angle, tabular mineralized zone in altered quartz monzonite sills. The zone lies 500 metres east of the Lucky deposit, the nearest past-producing area.
At the Sleemans zone, a couple kilometres southeast, results include 192 metres grading 1.46 grams gold starting at 5 metres depth, 40 metres averaging 1.21 grams gold from 13 metres downhole and 28 metres carrying 1.86 grams gold, while the company has recorded several high-grade silver hits as well. The company has outlined the Sleemans zone over more than 200 metres along strike and 190 metres downdip, with mineralization at the zone hosted in altered intrusive rocks occurring as a tabular zone dipping moderately to the south-southwest.
Along with pushing mineralization eastward, the company has been testing the North Slope, Classic and Ice Fog zones at Brewery Creek. Golden Predator has drilled 38,000 metres in over 240 holes at the project this year, with results still pending for 130 holes.
And while Brewery Creek, with its relatively near-term production potential, has been the company's flagship project, Golden Predator has been busy exploring its other Yukon prospects too.
The company has drilled six holes for more than 2,000 metres at its previously undrilled Harlan project, six holes for almost 1,400 metres at its Antimony project, eight holes for 1,200 metres at its Eureka project, 18 holes for 3,600 metres at its Clear Creek project and 20 core and 50 reverse-circulation holes at Grew Creek. This year the company has drilled over 350 holes totalling 65,000 metres.
The company plans to have initial resource estimates at Clear Creek and Grew Creek out by the end of the year, as well as a resource update at Brewery Creek. The project hosts 4 million indicated tonnes grading 1.14 grams gold for 145,000 oz., plus 2.2 million inferred tonnes grading 2.01 grams gold for 142,000 oz. gold.
It's all part of William Sheriff's ambitious efforts, as CEO and chairman of the company, to transform Golden Predator into "Yukon's best gold company."
Along with the ever-expanding property package, Sheriff has put a skilled team together to make his vision happen. He poached the gregarious and knowledgeable Mike Burke from the Yukon Geological Survey, who has been researching and extolling the virtues of Yukon geology for twenty years, and added Michael Maslowski as vice-president of exploration, who brings both extensive exploration and mine development experience. Sheriff has a proven track record as well, having co-founded Energy Metals and helped lead it into a $1.6-billion takeover by Uranium One (UUU-T) in 2007.
Sheriff, thanks to his and the company's history in Nevada, has also set up Golden Predator with an aim to be financially stable. While divesting its American projects, forming Wolfpack Mining and turning its silver prospects into Silver Predator (SPD-T), the company still controls numerous royalty interests in Nevada. Actual royalties amount to a pittance at $27,000 in the six months ending in August, but the company believes gross in-kind revenues could add more than $10 million a year as projects expand onto the company's properties, or go into production.
But for now the company is in no desperate need for money. After a $23-million financing in March, $5.9 million from the sale of its Tonkin Springs interest this past quarter and $13.9 million from the recent exercise of warrants, the company had a cash balance of $25 million in mid-September with no debt.
Of course the company, like many Yukon explorers, has been hit with the recent market uncertainty. Golden Predator's share price hit a high of $1.46 in late July but plummeted in September and now stands at less than 80¢, with 128 million shares outstanding. Less than two weeks after announcing its impressive haul from warrants at between 80¢ and 90¢, the company had to extended the expiry date of almost a million more warrants at 90¢ until next year.
But with three resource estimates and hundreds of drill results pending, not to mention four drill rigs still operating at Brewery Creek, the frenetic company has lots of news coming that could well move its stock price.
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