The merger of Eclipse Gold and Northern Vertex Mining Corp. (TSX.V: NEE) (OTC Nasdaq Intl.: NHVCF) uniquely created a U.S-focused gold producer with district-scale exploration projects in the Walker Lane Trend. Northern Vertex’s Moss mine is currently producing 30-40,000 ounces per year. However, Northern Vertex President Michael G Allen says while the market sees Moss Mine as a producing asset, the new management team says its true value is underpinned by significant exploration. potential. In a wide-ranging interview, Michael talks about low-hanging fruit and the compelling value of exploration success on a mining footprint. Part 2 of 2.
Q: The merger closed in February. What have been your first steps in unlocking that growth potential at Moss Mine?
We have $8 million invested in exploration at Moss Mine this year. We currently have three drill rigs turning. More than 500 drill sites have been permitted for resource expansion and new discoveries. The low-hanging fruit is moving to the east and west on the Moss vein. Basically, exploration along strike from proven operations and targets focused on where mineralization crops out on surface – a clear path to discovery. There’re also very prospective greenfield targets like West Oatman, part of a system of parallel vein structures immediately to the south. We’ll be refining our exploration plan as we progress.
Q: Moss is one of two district-scale opportunities the merged company now provides to shareholders. What is the outlook for the Hercules gold project in Nevada under the new combined company?
The compelling opportunity we uniquely provide investors is the potential for significant discovery backstopped by production. So, we have both discovery upside through Moss and the early exploration stage Hercules, with any risk in terms of exploration success covered by an operating asset. This creates a unique platform for gold discovery in the junior space. At Hercules, we recently announced that we developed 45 new targets for follow-up exploration through, in part, airborne geophysical survey. From the first time we set foot on the property we knew there was significant potential and after a detailed review of this new geophysical data, along with other recently acquired data sets, we see confirmation of many previous assumptions underpinning our understanding of the structures bearing gold and silver mineralization. Now we just need to go out spend the boot to evaluate each of those targets and advance them from a geophysical target to a drill concept to a drill target. We’ll roll out with a drill program focused on the existing known mineralization because we have a new and stronger interpretation and hit some of the best new targets. However, the real near-term value creation is focused more on Moss Mine.
Q: What does team from Eclipse Gold, who also led Northern Empire among other quality companies, bring to the table at Northern Vertex.
We have a great board and management team. Certainly, we’ve bolstered the capital markets and technical bench-strength of the company. Looking at our upside thesis to Moss, it’s the technical side we are truly leveraging. Doug Hurst (Chair), Warwick Board (VP Exploration) and myself are all geologists. Together, we are trying to leverage maximum value out of exploration at Moss. Doug and I will for certain be focusing on clearly articulating results and the true scale of Moss. We want to both create and realize full shareholder value. That’s our track record. At Moss, we have a direct sight line from discovery, definition through to doré bar. Resource to reserve conversion. On the footprint of a producing mine, we provide a fast-track from exploration to real dollar-in-pockets value creation. We’ve been able to step in just as the exploration potential is becoming apparent. Our plan is to enhance the value of the company through the drill rig. It's our premise that we’re going to do a lot more drilling, find a lot more ounces, and justify a much bigger operation in the years ahead.