Since it began operating as a project generator in 2005, Vancouver-based project generator Strategic Metals (TSXV: SMD) has maintained its focus on researching and exploring an ever-increasing portfolio of high-quality assets that span a wide range of commodities and deposit types.
After beginning in Canada’s Yukon, Strategic Metals slowly expanded its exploration work to now include assets in northern British Columbia’s famed Golden Triangle district as well as the western Northwest Territories (NWT), and currently has more than 130 properties available to prospective partners, nearly all of which are 100%-owned by the company.
Utilizing a proprietary database, the company has acquired a series of very large-scale assets, including more than 80 properties where precious metals are a major component, with several promising copper prospects, as well as a number of critical metal targets. These assets are available for option, joint venture or sale, and include drill-confirmed prospects and drill-ready targets that have high-grade surface showings, geochemical anomalies and geophysical features resembling nearby deposits.
One of the company’s assets is its wholly-owned GK property in B.C.’s Golden Triangle, located about 17 km west of the community of Telegraph Creek, within the traditional territory of the Tahltan First Nation. The GK copper-gold project is surrounded by a number of important copper and gold deposits, and encompasses an area of approximately 27,458 hectares lying within a belt of major copper-gold porphyry and gold-rich veins, with related skarn mineralization.
Strategic Metals preliminary drilling program at the GK site demonstrated high-grade vein potential, including a hole that intersected 13.1 grams gold per tonne and 6.05% copper over 0.74 metres, starting from 172.87 metres downhole. The property is primarily underlain by a sequence of Upper Triassic Stuhini formation of volcanic and sedimentary rocks, cut by two undifferentiated granodiorite to diorite plutons and at least four sets of dykes.
While the majority of GK’s sample sites have not yet been fully prospected, the company’s cursory follow-up work at the property has discovered several structurally-controlled showings, with assay values from rock samples returning up to 47.5 grams gold per tonne, 15.85% copper and 120 grams silver per tonne. Peak soil values from GK include 6.18 grams gold per tonne, 0.69% copper and 59.9 grams of silver per tonne.
According to Doug Eaton, president and CEO of Strategic Metals, assets like GK are at the core of what the company offers.
“We’ve been very methodical in accumulating these assets,” he says, adding that in some cases they have waited twenty years or more for a property to become available.
“We’ve been very patient in putting our land packages together, because we are intent on maximizing assessment credits, making every exploration expenditure count,” says Eaton. “What’s important to us is finding quality projects that have potential to further diversify and broaden our portfolio. Our company has its fingers in just about everything: critical metals, precious metals, base metals. and even industrial minerals. Having a number of gold and copper properties in our portfolio is important as those commodities have soared in value. We’re constantly looking for creative ways to return money back to our shareholders.”
Many of the projects that Strategic Metals currently has are located within what Eaton calls “one of the most prolific porphyry belts in the world.” This belt starts in Arizona and runs north all the way through to Alaska, and within it are found properties like Newcrest’s and Imperial Metal’s Red Chris copper-gold mine and Newmont/Teck’s Galore Creek copper-gold-silver project, in B.C.’s Golden Triangle.
Eaton feels that the Yukon portion of this porphyry belt is under-explored and emphasizes that one of the strengths of Strategic Metals is the depth and breadth of knowledge its team brings to this particular region of Canada.
“This is a belt that we know really well,” he points out. “With our access to historical data and the new exploration work we’ve done, we are in the perfect place at the right time to capitalize on the opportunity presented by strong copper and gold markets. Certainly, the belt is getting increasing interest from majors.”
Already this year, Strategic Metals has forged new partnerships for two of its assets. In early April the company announced it had granted Cavu Mining (CSE: CAVU) the right to earn up to a 70% interest in the Hopper copper-gold project. Located in southwestern Yukon within the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation, Hopper encompasses 7,400 hectares and hosts copper-gold skarn and porphyry mineralization. The company reports that results from stacked, laterally extensive skarn horizons at Hopper have produced drill intercepts that include 1.94% copper and 0.87 grams gold per tonne over 18.59 metres starting at 23.53 metres downhole. Gold-rich skarns deeper in the stratigraphic section of the site assayed 43.6 grams gold per tonne over 1 metre from 336.66 metres downhole and 12.15 grams gold over 2.65 metres, with intersections that are 360 metres apart.
Later in April, Strategic Metals optioned another key asset, its Mount Hinton gold project, to Upper Canada Mining. Like the Hopper deal, privately held Upper Canada Mining has the right to earn up to a 70% interest in Mount Hinton, which is located in the Keno Hill district of central Yukon. The property lies immediately southeast of Alexco Resources’ silver-lead Keno Hill property, which recently resumed production, and 35 km from Victoria Gold’s Eagle mine, which was commissioned in June of last year.
Strategic Metals drilled 32 holes at Mount Hinton in 2020, exploring the site’s mineralized, precious metal system. Highlights from last year’s drill program include hole MH-20-022 that returned 4.78 grams gold per tonne over 12.14 metres starting at 369.46 metres, including 42.7 grams gold per tonne over 0.96 metres. Another hole, MH-20-018, assayed 3.86 grams gold per tonne and 182 grams silver per tonne, over 9.75 metres starting at 365.69 metres; and a third hole, MH-20-019, returned 7.25 metres grading 6.74 grams gold per tonne and 182 grams silver per tonne from 80.22 metres downhole, including 1.77 metres that graded 22.7 grams gold and 514 grams silver per tonne.
Eaton says that assets like Mount Hinton, Hopper and GK are good examples of what their portfolio holds, and speaks volumes about the company’s approach to generating projects that allows partners to acquire drill-ready projects and develop them further.
“What differentiates us from other like-minded companies is that we’ve had pretty good success in finding quality properties and proving their potential. I don’t pretend we’re the most successful, but we have longevity that speaks to a solid business plan. We’re focussed on a part of Canada where our team has decades of exploration experience, more so than any other group.”
One of the advantages of working with Strategic Metals, he says, is the company does the necessary legwork to prepare its assets for future development. Besides preliminary fieldwork, the company prepares for the permitting process with a number of its properties having already received approval for major multi-year drill programs.
Eaton also emphasises that Strategic Metals has built strong relationships with local First Nations in B.C. the Yukon and the NWT, engaging with and involving the traditional land keepers throughout areas the company has explored over the last fifteen years.
“I think that the mining and exploration sector is ahead of government when it comes to First Nation relations,” he says. “The mining industry in Canada fully understands the importance of working with First Nations, and our company has been a leader in Yukon. We’ve signed some very revolutionary agreements covering early-stage exploration with some of the First Nations and I think we’ll sign more. Traditionally these types of agreements don’t get signed until deposits are identified and mine planning is underway. We want to start early and have First Nations as strong partners right from the get-go”
Eaton also says that Strategic Metals operates with a strong financial base, having $9 million in cash and about $29 million in shares in other companies, and a market cap of just under $45 million.
“We’ve been able to sustain our operations and build our company over the past 15 years without substantial dilution,” Eaton says. “Strategic has done this through careful risk management. Basically we’re experienced explorers who bring projects forward to the point where they’re drill ready, and then either sell them or option them to companies that want to aggressively move forward. By being broadly diversified we always have something of interest and by carefully managing our expenditures we’ve been able to build-up our portfolio of projects while retaining a healthy reserve of cash and securities. A simple model, but it takes patience and discipline.”
The preceding Joint Venture article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by Strategic Metals and produced in cooperation with The Northern Miner. Visit strategicmetalsltd.com for more information.