Aussie explorer jostles with Bitcoin and marijuana to find rich new pickings

When Perth-based gold exploration company, Tempus Resources (ASX: TMR) was looking at gold plays in Canada, a market hungry for marijuana and bitcoin stocks in a beaten up junior exploration sector, a significant opportunity arose.

That market dynamic allowed Tempus to cheaply acquire the Blackdome-Elizabeth Gold Project late last year when gold stocks were still flying under the radar in Canada.

As Tempus Managing Director, Brendan Borg explains: 

“We made a decision to exit copper and focus only on gold. We scoured the world for gold projects. At the time, the price of gold assets in Australia was quite high but in Canada, there were good opportunities to get in for a reasonable price.

“There was little love for junior mining stocks at the time because everyone was chasing crypto currencies and marijuana, however, subsequently, with a dramatically improving gold price, we’ve managed to make a two tranche placement which raised AU$3 million in Canada and a further AU$1 million in Australia.”

The importance of newsflow

Brendan says the Tempus management team comprising himself, non-executive chairman, Alexander Molyneux, Non-Executive Director Gary Artmont, exploration manager Kevin Piepgrass and non-executive director and company secretary Melanie Ross, has taken a very proactive view to marketing and communications acknowledging the importance of both in raising capital.

“Like all junior companies, it’s important that we spread the message far and wide so we attract major investors. They want to see a stock with high liquidity and good newsflow. We know that we’ve got something that investors want to hear."

Drilling begins

Tempus recently announced the start of approximately 8,500 metres of drilling at its Blackdome-Elizabeth Gold project in British Columbia, 200km north of Vancouver. These are two separate mineralisation styles which share a rich history in gold production - generating more than 230,000 ounces of high grade gold between 1986 and 1991.

Although mining at Blackdome ceased in 1999, the project is significantly de-risked by its strong production history, excellent metallurgical recoveries, key approvals and existing infrastructure which provides potential for a low cost, fast-track restart.

Like a lot of discoveries that have been abandoned, then resumed by different tenants, Tempus says there is significant exploration potential at the project.

“For instance, there was discovery of a new mineralised vein in 2011, and significant gold found in soil anomalies to indicate a clear extension to the known veins. Additionally, none of the veins at Elizabeth have been drilled below a vertical depth of 200 metres so we know we need to delve deeper.”

Engagement with First Nations

The one important issue that Brendan has been quick to focus on is the support of indigenous partners.

“As a geologist who has worked across several jurisdictions including Australia and Africa, I’ve partnered with numerous indigenous communities so I know how vital it is that they are included and their views considered and respected in any resource development.

“The First Nations groups in British Columbia understand their rights and are reasonably vocal in ensuring their views heard.

“My opinion is that any mineral exploration project or mining operation should leave the land and local communities better off than they were before. This encompasses economic, social, environmental and cultural heritage aspects, all elements important to both us and the First Nations groups.”

Brendan says that one of the most important decisions made was to employ an experienced community engagement manager with significant experience working with the local groups.

“That was one of the best investments we made. There is significant diversity within the different First Nations groups in our project area and understanding their perspectives has been critical.

“We have made it a priority to understand how we can work with the First Nations groups for our mutual benefit.”

The Ecuadorian play

This patience and dedication to consult has also been a central feature as Tempus commences development of a high quality early stage gold prospect, the Zamora Projects, three exploration concessions in Southern Ecuador.

These sit adjacent to a world class mine that has recently commenced production for Lundin Gold called the Fruta del Norte gold project, which was discovered 13 years ago and hosts resources of about 9.48 million ounces.

Tempus’ Zamora Projects bear strikingly similar geological characteristics to Fruta del Norte so the company is very bullish about the outlook.

While permitted for drilling to commence, the COVID-19 crisis and the current focus on Canada has led the Company to postpone drilling until Q4 this year.

Brendan continues: 

“The permitting process has been completed, and as a greenfield’s project it offers high risk but even higher reward.

“The area, bordering Peru, is one of the most sought-after gold jurisdictions in the world and with neighbours such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group, Newcrest, and Solgold, we’re in good company, and in a good place”.

Brendan says the Company is well represented in-country, with a highly experienced Ecuadorian COO Rodrigo Izurieta, to ensure smooth operations on the ground.

Once work patterns return to normal, Brendan says the Company Is looking forward to commencing drilling on the highly prospective licences.

“We have worked hard navigating the permitting and technical planning and work programs, and with drilling commencing now in Canada and shortly in Ecuador, we’re getting to the exciting phases of our evaluation.”