Orford Mining Corp. is a Canadian mineral resource company, focused on the advancement of base and precious metal assets. The company is primarily a gold-focused exploration company with nickel optionality as can be seen through its West Raglan project, in which the company holds an earn-in agreement with Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd. The West Raglan project of the company holds a land position of 70,700 hectares and hosts nickel, copper and platinum group elements (PGE) mineralisation.
The asset portfolio of the company further consists of its Joutel Eagle gold project and Qiqavik project, both located in Quebec. The Joutel Eagle Gold project is an advanced exploration stage property which holds approximately 20,000 m of historic drilling data. Orford Mining Corp. holds an option agreement with Globex Mining Enterprises Inc. to acquire the project.
Orford Mining Corp. announced on the 1st of December 2022 that it had concluded a 718 line-km helicopter airborne electromagnetic survey at its Joutel Eagle Gold project. The results of the survey will serve to guide the company’s planned 2,000 m diamond drilling program at the project.
Orford Mining Corp. on the 9th of January 2023 released exploration results from the summer 2022 drilling program conducted as part of the second year of the earn-in agreement the company holds with Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd. at the West Raglan project. The exploration drilling consisted of 2,589 m of diamond drilling in 9 holes at three zones of the project. The highlights of the exploration results include the intercepting of mineralisation in four of the nine drill holes which showed up to 1.56% nickel, 0.27% copper, 0.71 g/t palladium and 0.32 g/t platinum.
1:14 - Recap of the metal prices and market in 2022
3:20 - Updates on the Qiqavik and West Raglan Properties
5:54 - Overview of the West Raglan Project
7:47 - Presenting the 2023 exploration plan to Wyloo Metals
9:18 - Plans in advancing Qiqavik
13:38 - Recap of the work done in the Joutel Properties in the last two years
18:24 - Overview of the drill plan at Joutel Properties
22:58 - Projections on metal prices and market in 2023
25:21 - Outro
Dave Christie: Good morning, it’s Dave Christie, I’m the CEO and President of Orford Mining. Orford Mining is a company exploring in the province of Quebec in Canada, mostly in the northern part of the province. So, we have 2 projects in the Nunavik region, 1 being the West Raglan nickel project, just put some results out today, and we also have the Qiqavik gold project that sits just to the north of the West Raglan project. Very large projects. West Raglan is 714km square of land, and the Qiqavik project is about 400km square of land, so very large projects and very under-explored. Then down in the Abitibi, we have 4 projects in the Joutel region of the Abitibi. This is the region where Agnico Eagle got its gold mining start, the Eagle Telbel was the original gold mine, and we’re sitting right next door to that, and next door to what is the Agnico Eagle Maple JV. We are about to launch a drill program on the Joutel Eagle project in the coming days, and we’re quite excited about that work.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Thank you very much for the introduction. It’s good to speak to you. You’ve been on the crux platform on a quarterly basis for the last 12-months. This is the last time I’ve spoken to you. Last year, let’s deal with the macro and the environment first. The capital markets - well, the capital flight and also the metal price movements during the course of last year. Obviously, we’re seeing a bit of a rebound now, but could you just cast your mind back and tell me about the pain of the last 12-months in terms of metal price and the markets?
Dave Christie: I’d say for junior explorers, the gyrating metal prices over the past year have not been great. For junior miners, you need to see a continuous uptrend in the metal price, not an up-and-down metal price, so it’s been very difficult from that point of view to have a share price that has any momentum no matter what kind of results you’re putting out. But when we look at what we’ve done in the past year, we raised money in 2021 at the end of the year, and then in August 2022 we raised some money. So, we’re sitting pretty well as far as our balance sheet right now. We’re at $2.5M or so probably. We have enough money to get through our Joutel project drilling and all our administration costs for the year, and some extra on top of that. Do we have enough money to do Qiqavik? No, but we haven’t proposed a Qiqavik budget yet. We’ll wait until the West Raglan and Qiqavik budgets come out together. As you might know, West Raglan is a project where Wyloo Metals is earning in - they can spend up to $25M to earn 80%. We operate the project and we’re just at our anniversary date for that agreement, so we’re waiting to see what they want to do next, and that’s a big touch point as far as what we do at Qiqavik, which sits just 30km to the north of West Raglan.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Okay, so you’ve got the 2 projects up in the north, Qiqavik and West Raglan, and West Raglan is funded by Wyloo but if they go for the budget and they want to continue with the work program, which I would expect is the case, then that gives you - am I right in thinking that gives you the logistical springboard from which you can then plan a more cost-effective program on Qiqavik?
Dave Christie: Exactly. It changes our costs. So, with most projects operating, we use 1 camp, so all the logistics are the same, 1 cook, 1 set of helicopters. It just makes everything a little easier as far as running the 2 projects, and a little cost-effective. We bring fuel for both projects at the same time. All those little things add up. 1 nurse for both projects, 1 drill manager. So, once we get the idea of what they want to do next, and we’re actually doing some reviews of our Qiqavik project, which we can walk through, but we’re trying to understand what we want to do with that project next as well and we have some really good ideas there. We’ve done some great work over the fall and this past summer season was quite successful. So, we’re looking to move forward on both of those projects, and I expect us to have some similar-sized budgets to what we had this year. This year, between the 2 projects, we spent probably $8M.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Okay, and was that 50-50 between the nickel and the gold, or was it more loaded towards the nickel?
Dave Christie: No, about 50-50.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: And the results you’ve seen in the nickel, is there any reason why you’d not expect Wyloo to continue funding? I look at some of those grades, I’m not sure if they’re historic or whether they were drilled this year, but when you’ve got 28m at 3% nickel and with copper and with PGEs, the results you put out this morning, there are still nickel sulphides in the holes. It seems to me that it feels good.
Dave Christie: Yeah, the West Raglan project you have to remember is a very large project, over 55km in length, and about 20km north-south. It’s got potential for both the Raglan-style of mineralisation - the Raglan nickel mine that Xstrata operates is about 90km to the east of us, and the Nunavik nickel mine that Canadian Royalties operates is also about 90km east of us. Canadian Royalties sits in the southern trend, Raglan sits in the northern trend - we have the potential for both of those types of deposits on our project, like some of our showings, like Big Potato in the south and the Frontier is in the north trend. Very underexplored across the property. This year, we drilled 9 holes. They were spaced up to 35km apart. So, we’re not exactly doing close-space drilling. This year’s drilling extended the size of the Frontier Zone, which is one of the showings that has been known for quite a while.
We extended about 30m to the west and down dip with some really good intercepts, 21m of 0.43 and 0.18 copper ore, including 4.5m of 0.57 and 0.29 copper. So, some pretty good numbers there. But we also had 13.5m in that same area of similar type mineralisation. But probably the most exciting thing this past summer at the West Raglan project was the Boomerang discovery. We had a showing at surface there of, it was a boulder actually - we drilled the EM anomalies we identified last year there, and we hit 4.2m of 0.6% nickel and 0.16% copper, and about 1g/t combined platinum-palladium. That’s the highest-grade number we’ve hit outside of the Frontier Zone. The Frontier is where that 28m you were talking about is, with the 3.21. It’s really exciting to hit mineralisation out of there and if you know anything about the Raglan-style mineralisation, it’s poddy. Raglan itself I think has 12 distinct lenses with 92 pods, so it’s very, like a pearls-on-a-string type deposit, Kambalda-style mineralisation. That’s what we’re looking for. We need to put together a series of pearls to make this thing work, so the more discoveries we make, the better chance we have of having an economic deposit there.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: And have you put together the idealised 2023 exploration plan in terms of drill metres and budget requirements? Are you presenting that to Wyloo any time soon?
Dave Christie: Yeah, we will. I’m not going to talk about that here, I’ll wait until we talk to them about it, but yeah, we will be presenting a budget to them that’s what we think we should do, and we’ll see what they say and where we go on it. They’re a very smart group, very technically bright and financially very full, so there’s a lot of back and forth on our budget proposals to them. This will be our third budget with them coming up, so there’s always some back and forth and some discussion and we decide what works best for the project on their needs and our needs and move forward from there.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: And presumably, it falls within that arc of spending $25M over a period, about $4M or $5M last year, and you’re progressing the project - one can provide some signposts by looking at the nature of the deal and the historic spend.
Dave Christie: Yeah, that’s exactly true. It’s in an area of the world that’s not cheap to explore but the reward is quite high, so if you can get a world-class deposit like Raglan, you know Raglan’s been operating since 1999, it’s got more reserves today than when they opened the mine, so these deposits are quite prolific and quite high-grade, and they work very well.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Good, thank you. And before we leave the north, I know you said it’s not in the plans at the moment, but if Wyloo does go ahead and you do want to advance on Qiqavik, what’s in the work plan? What kind of things are you thinking you’d like to be testing?
Dave Christie: Okay, so this past year, we drilled - like West Raglan, we drilled about 2,500m there. We drilled about the same at Qiqavik, a little more actually I think. We drilled 14 holes at Qiqavik, and we identified a large quartz-carbonate alteration system with variable amounts of gold in it. And if you go back to what we’ve been chasing at Qiqavik, it’s a project that has never seen any exploration before us. So, it’s a brand-new gold district in Canada. We’ve spent about 40-weeks on the ground to date since 2016. It’s not a lot of time on the ground because it’s a very short field season, but we’ve got a lot of work done and we’ve identified a number of very, very high-grade boulder trains, some huge glacial till anomalies with gold grains in them, and that’s what we’ve been chasing this past summer. And we identified a number of gold hits and new gold targets, grades up to 8.1g, and very thick intersections of almost 1g over 13m, so some really interesting intersections. They’re still not what we’re really looking for.
We’re looking for the source of the 648g boulders, the 288g boulders, which we see at surface. So, this past fall we engaged a gentleman called Stu Averill, he is probably one of the best glacial miners in Canada, he runs a company called Overburden Drilling Management, and he interpreted and went through all our results and came out with some very good and new theories for us as far as how we should target these glacial anomalies. He doesn’t think the boulders have travelled very far at all. We thought that was some transport distance. He thinks they probably have moved very minimally, so maybe 100m or 200m away from their source. So, we’re going to go back in this year and drill very close to some of those boulders, and likely use a different kind of drilling method so that we can get more drilling done over a much shorter period of time. That’s sort of the plan for this coming year. As opposed to doing diamond drilling, we’re going to use RC-type drilling or that type of thing and do more holes over a shorter period of time, so test more targets. Instead of 14 tests like we did this summer over 2-months, we’ll be able to get 20 tests done in a month, and that’s the plan.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Okay, good. It’s swinging for the fence and stuff isn’t it, when you’re a first-mover or you’re first in a field, you’ve got that raw data and it’s that very exciting time of potentially making that big discovery.
Dave Christie: Yeah, I think so.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: With it comes a bit of uncertainty.
Dave Christie: Yeah it does, but I think this project is, if you look at the maps on it, we’ve got gold in boulders and in sub crop and outcrop across the entire project. No one has ever explored it before us. There are a couple of old drill holes where people were looking for nickel and they didn’t find nickel, so they walked away. So, it’s a brand-new gold district in Canada. It just happens to be in an area where can only see the ground for a couple of months of the year. Once we have a centre of gravity there, we can drill all year long, but until that point in time, we are beholden to the season that allows us to explore. But we have very high-grade numbers across the entire property. We see visible gold in both drilling core and in dead rock. So, there’s a lot of work to be done here, and we firmly believe that we will make a big discovery there, and probably more than one. Across the 40km strike length of the property, we have a number of very, very high-grade showings across the trend, and glacial direction across the property is from south to north, and very little movement according to our expert. So, we’re quite excited to get back in there and test these anomalies.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Good, that’s good to hear, although it’s not your main thrust at the moment. The main thrust; let’s move to Joutel Eagle and the Abitibi properties. Can you just recap what you did, where you’ve got to, and the work that’s been done over the past year? In fact, it’s probably useful to go back a year or 2, and where you’ve got to in your thinking, you said that you were about to start a drill program. So, you’ve got to the point where you want to drill some more, but let’s hear what the thinking was and the work that got you to this point.
Dave Christie: Sure, so in 2020 when covid hit and Quebec actually shut down for a while, you couldn’t explore in Quebec, we started looking at other belts that we felt were under-explored and had potential, and where there was open land. So, Joutel was one of those and it was actually where I got my career started. I worked for Agnico Eagle for a long time early in my career in that area when Agnico Eagle was operating the Eagle Telbel mine. It’s a good volcanic belt with lots of strong mineralisation that is strike extensive and what I like about it is since 1993 when they closed the Eagle Telbel mine, there’s been no exploration in the area, and on the properties we’ve picked up, mostly there’s been no exploration since the mid-1980s. So, I think those 2 things combined allow for a lot of potential and a lot of under-explored land to see some modern exploration techniques. In 2021, we picked up the Joutel Eagle property from another company that had staked in the area and this property ties onto the Eagle Telbel property and what is now the Maple gold JV, where Agnico Eagle has to spend $18M to earn into all of Maple’s properties. So, we’re sitting right next door to that.
We have over 10km of strike length of the main mine horizon. And we looked at that property, the main reason we picked it up is there’s a zone called the South Gold Zone that was drilled historically, and there were some pretty decent intercepts there, you know 6.5g, 5g, that type of thing. But what we drilled, we went in there last winter to drill a few holes just to test our theory and we sampled the entire core length of the drill core unlike in the old days. So, in the 1980s and 1970s when Agnico was working in that area, they only basically sampled the mine horizon, and they didn’t sample much beyond or above or below it of course. So, we went in there and sampled a much thicker horizon, and we found that we were finding intersections of 28m of 1.24g, or 21m or 1.1g, so some very thick intersections and mineralisation close to surface. So, those are like 150m away from surface type of thing, so we thought there’s a potential here to have a low-grade open pittable mineralised body close to surface.
This winter, we’re going in, we’re going to drill 2,000m to 2,500m of drilling along strike at a shallow level to see if there’s continuity in that mineralisation over 500m to 600m strike length, and if we can prove that up then we can go towards a resource drilling campaign to see if we can prove up mineralisation there. In the mineralisation, there’s always the mine horizon, which has grades up to like 10g to 14g, but it’s fairly narrow. Then there’s a thicker intersection of 1g material, which is a volcaniclastic disseminated with volcanic sulphide clasts in it. Basically, no one ever sampled that before. Another thing to bring up actually is Agnico Eagle, when they recorded some of their holes in the assessment library, they redacted quite a few of the assays. So, we don’t know actually what they got in some of them. You would think if you’re redacting assays, there must be something decent in them, so we’ll see. We’re repeating some of those holes this winter, we’ll see what that area looks like when you take good sampling in there. That’s the plan this year, to work towards a resource.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: In one of your holes, hole 2, you’ve got 47m at just under 1g as well.
Dave Christie: Yeah, some pretty big thick intersections, yeah exactly.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Yeah, that’s a really decent exploration result.
Dave Christie: Well, especially when you’re next to a road, you’re next to hydro, you’re next to everything, right? This isn’t like Nunavik where we’re way up north there. This is an infrastructure, there’s an old mine that’s sitting right beside us, and there’s a road going right to the property, so it’s much easier logistically than the other properties.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Is your drill plan - 2,000m to 2,500m - on fences over a constrained or relatively coherent strike length, or is it a series of more target testing separate probes?
Dave Christie: No, it’s to test the continuity of this body because we figured, if we want to do more here, we didn’t know whether there’s something there. So, we’re doing 50m step-outs along that body at the 100m level just to see what continuity is there. If there’s continuity of over 1g with over 25m thicknesses then I think we have something exciting.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Have you got any sense of grade variation with depth? Is there a surface expression, or is there glacial tilt so you can’t really see what’s going on?
Dave Christie: It’s all covered, so we have magnetics, we have that type of thing. And there are other targets, and we may, if we have time, drill a couple more there this year. We might take 2 holes outside of that, but for the most part, it’s concentrated on the South Gold Zone, which is the zone that we think can bring value to the company by getting towards a resource. As you know, in exploration, until you get a resource, it’s really hard to put a value on an exploration company, so I’d really like to see us get towards something that might look like a resource.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Have you got a geophysical anomaly that gives you a sense of the scale of what you’ve clipped so far?
Dave Christie: We have a geophysical anomaly that helps us find the market horizon. There’s the massive sulphide unit, which is the mine horizon, which is 2m, and then after that, you go into a graphitic unit with marcasite nodules. So, we have that conductor mapped out and that’s all we have, and we have magnetics that have mapped out what we think is a magnetic low in there that is the target, but until we drill it off, we’re not sure if that’s actually the main target.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: It’s a little bit like when you’re in a power cut and you’ve forgotten your torch, you’ll just be going in and feeling your way, you’ll be testing along strike and testing a little bit below your last intersection, so you’ll do steps below and steps along strike and then just see what you get and if you can grow it, you’ll continue to grow it.
Dave Christie: Exactly. If this first line at 100m depth pans out and shows continuity then we’d go back in and drill some more holes below that and see where we can get to. But we’re quite excited about it, we think it’s going to hold together based on the historic drilling that’s there and the drilling we did last year, so we’re quite excited to see what happens there. And then there are other targets, like there’s the microgabbro unit that is on the Agnico Eagle Maple JV. It goes right through our property as well and they’re getting some very high grades in that, so we have to work on trying to test that. Then we have a number of other similar targets to the south across the property that have no testing. So, there are other things to work on, on those as well. Basically, the main story is the Casa Berardi break, basically, the south split of the Casa Berardi break, and it’s where there are major fault intersections that hit that zone, it’s where there seems to be more gold. So, there are a few other places along that where we’re going to be looking as well.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: And are you going to be able to get to drill those? Or when you talk about looking at those, are you talking about grab sampling and trenching?
Dave Christie: No, we’re going to try to drill those. I don’t know if we’ll get to them this time. It all depends on how fast the drillers drill and how our money continues to hold.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: So, just to recap, you’ve got enough to drill 2,500m and get the results and then do the study work for this year, but then beyond that, you are market and results dependant?
Dave Christie: Yeah, exactly, like typical exploration. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, we get some good numbers. Hopefully, the gold market continues to improve, and we’ll put a budget out for Qiqavik and Wyloo sometime in the next month or so and move forward on what we’re going to do on those 2 projects. 1 thing I didn’t remind people about is Alamos Gold is a 25% shareholder of ours and is very supportive. John McCluskey sits on our board. They are quite excited about the Qiqavik project, they think it’s a game-changing type of project, both their technical people and the C-suite group at that company. So, we’re very fortunate to have that kind of support. It’s useful.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: It is useful, and it’s a great endorsement although the risk profile for Alamos Gold is very different to the risk profile for a retail investor. A retail investor really needs to see the short-term gain. They’re looking for something to happen - the catalysts for that value step in 2023. All power to the exploration team in Qiqavik, but that’s going to come after you’ve got the budget signed by Wyloo, and once you’ve mobilised. Perhaps in the shorter term, the nearer-term catalysts I think are likely to be in the metals markets. I mean if you just look at - I see more and more headlines talking about how the nickel inventory is at a critical low and the gold price has got that lovely start of the year bump to it. It’s a much nicer-
Dave Christie: Put my analyst hat on again. Yeah, I think the metals markets are going to recover, especially as they slow down on the interest rate hikes and inflation hasn’t gone away but they can’t keep raising and raising it, they’re going to kill the economy, so I think we’ll see a continued rise in the gold price and the use for nickel in electric vehicle batteries is very important right now, so I think the continued need for that is going to drive nickel prices higher in the coming year, or years. I think you’ll continue to see that important momentum for the stock. On top of that, we’re about to start drilling our project, so hopefully, within the next 1.5 to 2-months, we’ll have some results from that, and then we’ll have our budget proposals that will come out for Qiqavik and West Raglan shortly thereafter. So, the catalysts for the next 3 or 4-months are 3-fold. There are the metal prices of course, there’s the start of drilling on January 20th at Joutel, and those results that will follow, and then our new budgets for 2023 at Qiqavik and West Raglan, and those will come out together at some point in early Spring.
Merlin Marr-Johnson: Great, well I look forward to seeing the results. It’s always good to see drill programs starting. It’s even nicer when the core comes back with shiny stuff in it of the right kind. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I look forward to getting the updates and speaking to you as the news comes through during the course of 2023.
Dave Christie: Thanks, Merlin. It’s good to talk to you too.