The Northern Miner has pulled together the top-10 precious metal juniors (with no production and excluding royalty companies) that are headquartered in Canada, arranged by market capitalization as of the end of the second quarter.
1. NOVAGOLD RESOURCES
Market cap: $1.9 billion
Vancouver-based NovaGold Resources (TSX: NG; NYSE-AM: NG) has long been one of the more enigmatic gold juniors, with its flagship being its half interest in the large but remote Donlin Gold project in southwestern Alaska, which is a 50-50 joint venture with Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: ABX).
Donlin Gold ranks as one of the world’s largest, undeveloped gold deposits, boasting measured and indicated resources of 541 million tonnes grading 2.2 grams gold per tonne for 39 million contained oz. gold, plus 92 million inferred tonnes grading 2 grams gold.
A second updated feasibility study of Donlin Gold envisions an open-pit mine that would produce 1.5 million oz. gold annually in the first five years of operation, and 1.1 million oz. gold per year over a 27-year life.
In its most recent quarterly results, NovaGold said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had filed the notice of availability for the final environmental impact statement for Donlin Gold in the U.S. Federal Register; key permits have been granted by Alaska state agencies for Donlin Gold; and its US$70 million in cash and term deposits provides it with enough funding to complete permitting and planned optimization at Donlin Gold, as well as meet its other financial obligations.
NovaGold also has a 50-50 joint venture with Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.B; NYSE: TECK) at the Galore Creek copper-gold-silver project in northern British Columbia.
2. MAG SILVER
Market cap: $1.2 billion
Vancouver-based Mag Silver (TSX: MAG; NYSE-AM: MAG) describes itself as being focused on becoming a top-tier primary silver mining company by exploring and advancing high-grade, district scale, silver-dominant projects in the Americas.
Its flagship asset is its 44% stake in the Juanicipio silver property, which is being developed in partnership with Mexican miner Fresnillo (56%) in Mexico’s bounteous Fresnillo trend.
The partners are developing underground infrastructure at Juanicipio to support a 4,000-tonne-per-day mine to exploit indicated resources of 145 million oz. silver, and are due to release a new feasibility study and make a production decision.
Mag Silver is exploring other targets across the property, and says it is still working on “regaining surface access” to its wholly owned Cinco de Mayo property in Mexico.
3. LUNDIN GOLD
Market cap: $1 billion
Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG; US-OTC: FMNF) is making progress turning one the world’s most prominent gold deposits, Fruta del Norte (FDN) in southeast Ecuador’s Cordillera del Condor region, into an underground mine
A member of the Lundin Group, Vancouver-based Lundin Gold acquired FDN in December 2014 for US$240 million, after its previous owner Kinross Gold got stuck in a stalemate with the national government over taxation rates.
FDN has probable reserves of 15.5 million tonnes grading 9.67 grams gold per tonne and 12.7 grams silver per tonne for a contained 4.82 million oz. gold and 6.34 million oz. silver.
According to a feasibility study, a US$669-million mine built at FDN could yield 340,000 oz. gold annually over an initial 13-year mine life, at an average life-of-mine, all-in sustaining cash cost of US$623 per oz. gold.
Financing for mine construction is substantially complete, thanks to a US$300-million finance package, US$350-million senior debt facility, an offtake agreement with Boliden and a US$400-million private placement.
4. SEABRIDGE GOLD
Market cap: $882 million
Rudi Fronk-led Seabridge Gold (TSX: SEA; NYSE: SA) has 100% ownership of two core assets: the KSM project in B.C. and the Courageous Lake project in Nunavut.
KSM has reserves of 2.2 billion tonnes at 0.55 gram gold per tonne, 0.21% copper and 2.6 grams silver per tonne, for a contained 38.8 million oz. gold, 10.2 billion lb. copper and 183 million oz. silver.
Courageous Lake has reserves of 91 million tonnes of 2.2 grams gold for a contained 6.5 million oz. gold.
For KSM in 2018, Seabridge has budgeted $19.7 million for 28,000 metres of drilling and surface work.
“This is an aggressive program at KSM,” Fronk says. “Our main goal is to bring the Iron Cap resource up to a level where we can assess the significance of its potential contribution to the overall project. We believe that Iron Cap has considerable room to grow and its superior grade and proximity to planned infrastructure could have a major impact on KSM economic projections.”
Seabridge also has its Iskut gold project — 30 km from KSM in B.C. — acquired by buying SnipGold in June 2016.
5. NOVO RESOURCES
Market cap: $696 million
Shares of Quinton Hennigh-led Novo Resources (TSXV: NVO; US-OTC: NSRPF) have had a wild ride since the announcement in July 2017 that it had found gold nuggets up to 4 cm long during trenching at its Purdy’s Reward paleoplacer gold prospect in Western Australia.
The Vancouver-based junior has set a A$5.4 million exploration budget for the year beginning July 1, 2018 with its fifty-fifty joint venture partner, ASX-listed Artemis Resources, at their joint-venture tenure in the Karratha region of Western Australia.
Over the next few months, the partners will carry out bulk sampling, diamond drilling and costeaning activities, primarily at the Purdy’s Reward target.
Novo is also moving its nearby Comet Well joint venture towards bulk sampling.
Novo plans $15.4 million in exploration its Pilbara conglomerate-gold assets over the next 12 months.
6. DALRADIAN RESOURCES
Market cap: $512 million
Score another win for Dalradian Resources (TSX: DNA; US-OTC: DRLDF; LON; DALR) president and CEO Patrick F.N. Anderson, who first gained industry prominence as cofounder, president and CEO of Aurelian Resources, which discovered the 13.7 million oz. Fruta del Norte gold deposit in Ecuador in 2006.
Toronto-based Dalradian, which is developing a high-grade gold deposit in Northern Ireland named Curraghinalt, is the target of a friendly, all-cash takeover by private equity firm Orion Finance that valued Dalradian at $537 million, or $1.47 per share.
One wrinkle in the deal is that Orion will not be acquiring Dalradian shares held by certain members of the Dalradian senior management team, Sean Roosen and Osisko Gold Royalties.
A feasibility study from January 2017 examined a US$192-million mine that would process 1,400 tonnes per day to produce 130,000 oz. gold annually over the first 10 years of mine life. Reserves were pegged at 5.2 million tonnes grading 8.54 grams gold per tonne for 1.44 million oz. gold, plus resources in all categories of 12.7 million tonnes at higher gold grades.
A resource update in May 2018 boosted measured and indicated resources to 6.35 million tonnes grading 15.02 grams gold per tonne (or 3.1 million oz. gold) and 7.72 inferred tonnes at 12.24 grams gold (3 million oz. gold).
Before the takeover bid, Dalradian had been planning to revise its feasibility later in 2018.
7. GOLD STANDARD VENTURES
Market cap: $490 million
Vancouver-based Gold Standard Ventures’ (TSX: GSV; NYSE-AM: GSV) flagship is its Railroad gold project on Nevada’s Carlin trend.
Gold Standard has been consolidating ground in the area since 2009, and now has the second-largest contiguous land package (208 sq. km) on the gold-rich trend. It has made significant discoveries at North Bullion, Bald Mountain and North Dark Star.
In July, Goldcorp boosted its stake in the junior to 12.73% by acquiring on the open market another 7.3 million shares. OceanaGold already owns 15.5% of Gold Standard.
The junior has $38 million in its treasury. It is planning to carry out 74,800 metres of drilling in 2018, at a total exploration and development budget of $25.8 million for the year.
8. SABINA GOLD & SILVER
Market cap: $410 million
Vancouver-based Sabina Gold & Silver (TSXV: SBB; US-OTC: SGSVF) has its wholly owned Back River gold project in Nunavut, where a feasibility study released in September 2015 envisioned a mine producing 200,000 oz. gold per year for 11 years, with a 2.9-year payback. The study showed a 24.2% after-tax internal rate of return with an initial $415-million capex for the project, which is now in the final permitting and licensing phase.
Sabina has just deployed crews to carry out a 10,000-metre, mid-year drilling program at its Goose property on the Back River gold project, following a 6,000-metre program earlier in the year. The drilling will follow up on previous success at the Umwelt “Vault” and the Llama Extension targets, as well as further test the Goose Main extension target, called Nuvuyak. The drilling will be complemented by regional and detailed geological mapping, as well as geochemical and geophysical surveying.
Sabina also owns a silver royalty on Glencore’s Hackett River project in Nunavut, comprised of 22.5% of the first 190 million oz. silver produced and 12.5% of all silver produced thereafter.
At last count, Sabina had cash and equivalents of $90 million.
9. OSISKO MINING
Market cap: $403 million
Osisko Mining (TSX: OSK; US-OTC: OBNNF) continues to advance at breakneck speed its Windfall gold project in Quebec’s Urban Barry region.
The Windfall deposit hosts 2.38 million indicated tonnes grading 7.85 grams gold per tonne for 601,000 contained oz. gold, plus 10.6 million tonnes at 6.70 grams gold for 2.3 million contained oz. gold.
A newly released preliminary economic assessment of Windfall shows a 33% after-tax internal rate of return and a $413-million after-tax net present value based on an initial resource estimate that Osisko says has a “conservative grade estimate.”
“This is a very strong start to a project that is growing as inferred resources are being converted to higher-grade indicated resources by the ongoing drill program, with optimized mining methods and with the ongoing exploration success at Windfall,” Osisko president John Burzynski said in a statement.
The study envisions an initial mining rate of 3,200 tonnes per day using long-hole methods, producing 218,000 oz. gold per year over an 8.1-year mine life.
10. GARIBALDI RESOURCES
Market cap: $248 million
Vancouver-based Garibaldi Resources (TSXV: GGI; US-OTC: GGIFF) is exploring for high-grade gold, silver and copper deposits in Mexico and British Columbia.
The junior said it has recently decided to “dramatically increase its land position in a key part of northwest B.C.’s Golden Triangle by expanding its King Property and acquiring the very prospective E&L and Palm Springs projects.”
Garibaldi now controls 170 sq. km in this area, including the E&L nickel-copper-gold deposit that it says “holds great potential for expansion into a very large massive sulphide system.”
In June Garibaldi initiated a drill program at its nearby Nickel Mountain property in the Eskay Camp.
The junior has $25 million in its treasury after raising $23 million in two financings in April and June.