Aben Resources (TSX-V: ABN) CEO Jim Pettit on the 2019 Exploration Program at Forrest Kerr Gold Project: “Really Pleased With What We're Seeing”
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the President and CEO of Aben Resources (TSX-V: ABN)(OTC: ABNAF), Mr. Jim Pettit. Jim, how are you this morning?
Jim Pettit: I'm really good. Thank you very much.
Gerardo Del Real: Thank you for coming on. I hate to use the words “technical and geologic success,” but I think if we're going to talk about the 2019 exploration program, I'm curious if you'd agree with that, Jim.
I know that the market has been expecting and hoping for some of those big, high-grade intercepts that you had in programs past. That didn't happen, but there was a lot of data that you were able to gather as a result of the 2019 exploration program.
Can you provide an overview of what was accomplished and what the next steps are here?
Jim Pettit: Sure, absolutely. Yes, you're right. The market wants high grade, no question about it. But this is all part of the initial exploration program we put together three years ago based on a data compilation from past history in terms of drilling done on the overall property or sampling on the whole property, that sort of thing. It gave us a direction to go and that was starting in the North Boundary Zone. That whole boundary zone area is the primary focus of our interest. It was our number one priority actually. So here we are three seasons later still there.
We came out of the shoot with some tremendously high grades. Our intention is still to do this broad-based exploration program throughout this boundary zone area. You can call it the Boundary Valley if you want. We got pretty much sidetracked the first year or so with these very high-grade results we came out with. The first season it was I think we drilled 9 holes and that was a very successful start. And then the next year we came in 2018 with just a blockbuster start. The first results we put out were spectacular, still in the North Boundary Zone. That's a very, very minute part of the overall boundary zone in general.
Our intention was to always continue on this exploratory model, based on current geophysics and geochem. What we accomplished the second half of last year and this year is predominantly an exploration program on a broad-based level, using all the necessary information we have at our hands and including the new geophysics, which is pretty telling in terms of when you overlay it with the geochem. There's structures there we want to test, which we've done.
The geochem is also giving us a lot more data. Once we put the holes in the ground we start seeing the alteration. We're looking specifically for gold so we're looking for the alteration that would be what you would find. We're also looking for the alteration as it changes. That would give us some guidance, pathfinder information in terms of finding a source. So you look for this potassic alteration with the sericite, etc. And then you get an indication that we're getting closer and closer to a source.
That was really our focus this year. Now that it's completed, we've got a lot of footage that's all going to get inputted and analyzed and we've got some really good things to focus on for next year.
So yeah, we don't have the super high grade that we had, but we've got a lot of information now. We've got a corridor that's starting to shape up that's about 700 meters long heading north-south, starting at the North Boundary Zone heading south. Every hole we hit, with the exception of very few is mineralized, albeit traced to 1 gram, anywhere from 0.5 gram to 1.5 gram, that sort of thing. But they're broader intersections. If you hit high grades, it's generally contained within a very confined area.
What we're seeing is a lot more mineralization in these holes and broader widths. That's pretty significant. It's about 700 meters long now and a couple hundred meters wide. That's before we even get to the South Boundary area. We did a fair amount of drilling down there and we've actually encountered in one of the holes pretty interesting – we've hit a horizon in one of the holes. The bottom part of it might be a couple hundred meters deep, 250ish I think.
It's what we would call the Eskay formation. It's the mudstone horizon that was like the Holy Grail to all the exploration going on 30 years ago. That's why we have, in this whole valley we're in, one hole by Noranda. They were looking for a VMS-style mineralization, which is indicative of Eskay Creek and what they had. They would just move on if they didn't find it.
What we've come in and done this time around is we're looking for not just Eskay style – that's great – but we're looking for a hydrothermal environment as opposed to the porphyry environment. I think what we're looking at right now is an environment where we do have the epithermal hydrothermal events happening. We've also got a pretty good idea that we're probably sitting on top of porphyries, there could be some big porphyry underneath from what we're seeing now, and now we're looking at a VMS horizon. We're actually really pleased with what we're seeing.
Gerardo Del Real: You actually answered a part of my next question, which was going to be about the multiple types of systems that you encountered. Was that surprising to you because you have multiple styles of mineralization that I don't know if you planned for going into the program. That's why it's called exploration, right? I use that line all the time, but it's true.
Jim Pettit: Yeah, that's definitely true. We went into this with the hope and understanding that we were in a hydrothermal system, and that's where we would find this high-grade gold. Then we started thinking, "Wow, the guys just to the south of us are hitting a lot of porphyry and the guys to the north of us are hitting a lot of porphyry." We hadn't actually nailed any porphyry potential yet, but we've got the indication that it's there, it could be underneath us.
I like the idea of porphyry with an epithermal system related to it. There's some pretty amazing gold deposits around the world that are like that. But then to find this VMS as well – if that's what it indeed is, we're doing some age dating in that right now – I think there'll be a bit of a focus next year.
This could be quite the find for us in terms of a first pass to actually hit this. It's a pretty distinct horizon. Very black, mudstone it's called. If we can vector in on something there, that's going to be very significant.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. What's next here for the remaining part of this year and early 2020, Jim?
Jim Pettit: The remaining part of this year is going to be a lot of data compilation and a lot of studies. We've got more people looking at the data now. I'd like to get Ron involved. He particularly likes metallurgy. But we've got a few other experts we're employing here now, too. That's going to carry on into next year for sure, all the modeling, etc. So they've got their work cut out for them right now.
We're looking for something else out there that peaks our interest that could give us a year-round project as well. There's a couple of things we are looking at, too, because I'd like to extend this year-round exploration rather than just what we've got up here. This is a really great environment to be working in, but it's a short season.
Gerardo Del Real: It is indeed. What does the cash position look like?
Jim Pettit: We're sitting on right now about $1.5 million. Everything's paid for. Last year was 10,000 meters at $250 bucks a meter. That's a pretty good cost structure for up there. So $2.5 million last year, $2.5 million this year, all paid for from the money we raised last year, plus I have another $1.5 million leftover.
Gerardo Del Real: There you go. Anything else that you'd like to add? I know that you are looking for quality asset to roll in to become a year-round explorer. Anything else you'd like to add to that?
Jim Pettit: No, that speaks for itself. There are some things that we're looking at. We're in North America, primarily United States, Canada. That's where I'm looking. I'm pleasantly surprised. There's lots to look at. But we have our favorites and I'll leave it at that for right now.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. Jim, I'm looking forward to having you back on as details become more publicly available.
Jim Pettit: Sure. Can't wait.
Gerardo Del Real: Thanks a lot, Jim. Appreciate the time.
Jim Pettit: You bet, thanks.