Gaia Metals (TSX-V: GMC) President, Blair Way, on Forthcoming Drill Results from Flagship Freeman Creek Gold Project, Idaho, plus a look at the Corvette-FCI Gold-Copper-Lithium Project — Quebec, Canada
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the newly announced president of Gaia Metals — Mr. Blair Way. Blair, how are you?
Blair Way: I'm great, Gerardo. How are you doing today?
Gerardo Del Real: I am well. I'm excited to have you on because I think the company presents an exceptionally compelling opportunity. And I can't figure out – I've known you for a bit over a decade now – I can't figure out why you have such a tiny market cap.
Before we talk about Freeman Creek and the properties and what 2021 holds in store — can you share with the folks at home your market cap right now?
Blair Way: Yeah, so our market cap is hovering under C$3 million. And it was certainly a little baffling to me… and that was one of the attractions of the company. Also, I've known a number of other people involved with the company for, again, almost a decade… and that was what drew me in.
And then, of course, looking at what they had and I realized, really, it was probably summed up in one word — and it was “marketing.” And they were busy doing work but may not have been putting enough attention on marketing… getting eyes on the company.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, you're not short on catalysts. You actually just completed a drill program. And I know that we're anticipating assays, hopefully, in the early part of January. And I want to get to the flagship and talk about the portfolio of properties.
But before that, for those not familiar with you, can you give us a bit of your background and maybe where we know each other from and the many successes you've had in the past?
Blair Way: For sure. My original background comes from the implementation and execution of major projects working for the likes of BHP, Falconbridge, Korea Zinc… and I've worked in a number of different commodities: nickel, zinc, magnesium, and then moved into gold and copper with battery materials over the last few years.
So in the last 10 to 15 years, I've been focused more on mid and junior players in the copper-gold. And then, the last half decade has also had quite a focus on battery materials with graphite and lithium.
Given the nature of the world today, I'm back and back on to gold which has always been a sweet spot for me — and I do enjoy the space. It's great talking to investors that really do understand that space. Battery materials, as you're well aware, has its challenges for understanding what's a good asset and what's not.
But yeah, so I've come from the downstream side of being the operator, the commissioner, or the constructor working my way back up into the studies and exploration I have worked for some companies that many people have heard of. BHP being one, OceanaGold, Ventana Gold was a good success story on the TSX, and a number of other TSX-Venture companies as well.
Gerardo Del Real: I recall a time in the previous bullish cycle where someone of your calibre with your experience… you could buy a shell with next to zero cash, and your experience and your network alone would demand a market cap in the tens of millions [of dollars], right?
And here you are sitting with a C$3 million market cap!
You have assays pending. You're in a jurisdiction which I absolutely love for gold; Idaho, which has been very, very good to us with Midas, Integra, and Revival Gold, among others. And so can we talk about the flagship project?
Blair Way: For sure. That was a big attraction to me. And this past year has been pretty challenging. And looking back at the space as we entered into January, at the beginning of the year, I started or commenced looking for interesting projects and interesting companies to join.
I had taken a bit of time off and it was a great opportunity for me to look around. I was looking at properties in Australia because I am based in Australia and found some quite interesting properties and then continued to look at different companies.
And that's what brought me to Gaia Metals. And that's where I learned, "Holy crap, you guys are planning drill programs and no one knows!" I'm looking at the market cap… the structure of the company and 30-odd million shares outstanding and realizing there's an opportunity here to really do something.
And Idaho, as you mentioned, with so many peers, almost quite literally next door with amazing growth and assets that are being developed. We've got Integra, Excellon, Revival, BeMetals, Freeman Gold, Idaho, Ophir Gold. We are sitting at the bottom of that list right now, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
We've got this drill program. It really was a matter of… “We need to move this little program forward that helps better understand the property.” For the next drill program, we’ll be able to focus in on what we've learned from this initial sort of… we'll call it almost a recon drill program. It’s not massive but it gives us an opportunity to understand some of the historic information.
And as you well know, Idaho has had gold exploration and extraction for hundreds of years. And some of the data we're looking at… I was speaking with our VP Exploration, he said, "These are documents from the late-1800s!" So it's an amazing area to work in and super exciting for me.
North America is a great place. USA, Canada, and Australia are all great jurisdictions. And in these tough times, you need to be in a jurisdiction where you know that you can work with people that will do what they say they're going to do and get it done in a timely manner.
I've worked in all kinds of different countries, and I've spent a lot of time in those different countries because you need to be there on the ground to make sure it's happening. When we're in a time like we are now, well… that's not such a possibility without sitting in hotels for two weeks at a time every time you want to visit somewhere.
You need to be working in a jurisdiction that gives you that confidence that you can execute on the ground and make things happen in a timely manner.
Gerardo Del Real: This program that we are anticipating assays from in early-January was, I believe, a 4-hole program, correct, diamond drilling?
Blair Way: That's correct. We targeted around 1,000 meters. We haven't done as much as that but we've done what we believe is sufficient. And those assays are due, really, the first week in January is our expectation and then a bit of interpretation.
The challenge is – for us right now because the USA and Canada are very busy – the labs are all backed up and … there's no real issues with it. It just takes a little bit longer than normal. But as you mentioned, we are expecting them in the first week in January. And we're going to have results out pretty quick after that.
Gerardo Del Real: There has been historic drilling on this property. You're actually twinning a hole, if I'm not mistaken, to verify the mineralization which had returned 1.5 grams per tonne gold and 12.1 grams per tonne silver over 44.2 meters. So you're not drilling into a blind target that doesn't have a history of mineralization.
Walk me through the target and then walk me through you ending up discovering a significant amount of new outcrop as a result of you constructing a road, or constructing road access, to the drill pads. I understand that was… “Better lucky than good!” I guess, right?
Blair Way: Yeah, it was! We did a trenching sampling program without really planning to do it. And that was one of the challenges here. And I didn't truly appreciate it. Again, this is the challenge of not being able to get your own feet on the ground and walk the ground.
I just had in my mind the flatter part of Idaho or maybe a bit further east in the western states. In my mind I thought of it as a lot flatter. In actual fact, the terrain is pretty rugged, and, as a result, cutting some of the roads was a challenge. There wasn’t a lot of in-fill material so we actually had to jackhammer into the side of the hill and make trails to get to our first twinned hole.
Keeping in mind we're twinning a hole, and, off the top of my mind, I can't recall the age, but it was decades ago that this hole was drilled. So we're pretty confident that we found the collar for it. When there are things that have been untouched for that long — it's not always 100 percent. But our guys in the field are confident that we have got close to twinning it.
And so we're confident of being able to see what was previously seen and maybe something more — being optimistic. But yeah, the actual challenge of getting access and building a pad meant we had to do a bit of rock hammering to make the roads. So as a result, we opened up a whole bunch of trench material without intending to. But that's given us a great deal of sampling material as well.
Some of that we haven't put in for assay now… but some of the more interesting stuff we have.... because we're looking for a lower grade material, your eyes can only help you to identify possible host material. But at the end of the day, it's going to be the assays that really give you the information that you need. And then, we may – depending on what we found or what that reveals – we'll then send some more material as warranted.
But yeah, we ended up picking up a great deal more sample material simply from building roads. And then, we still have our drill hole assay data on top of that. So it's fantastic. As I said before, it's amazing to be working in a region with information that dates back to the 1800s. It's kind of cool!
Gerardo Del Real: Very neat! I know that Freeman Creek is the flagship. But as I mentioned, you do have several other properties in the portfolio. Can you just briefly touch on those and kind of what the plan is moving forward?
Blair Way: For sure. We actually have quite a number of properties. But certainly Freeman Creek is our flagship. And then, really, next after that is our Quebec property, Corvette-FCI. And again, that's a great prospect with some really good neighbours nearby: Quebec Precious Metals, Midland Exploration… so there are some, definitely, some indicators of interest. But also, there's been some work done on that ground which certainly warrants additional work.
And back in the day, they weren't really looking for gold. But what we found is some really interesting trends based on anomalies and some soil sampling and the like. I’ve had some good early-stage discussions with our VP Exploration, and he's very excited about it. That's brought me into the fold of what we have there and, believe it or not, we've got potential for gold, copper, and lithium.
And I probably wasn't fully aware… when you're looking for lithium, you’re sort of hunting down pegmatites, but I never really thought about their occurrence. But here we have pegmatites actually giving us a bit of a visual indicator of where we may find some of our gold and copper. So that's kind of interesting.
But it's great ground. It's in an area that is very well supported by both infrastructure and politically for doing this sort of work and exploration. So it's not like certain parts of Canada where there are some challenges that you have to work through issues whether political or indigenous or what have you. This area is definitely well supported, and we look forward to being able to do some work on that ground in the new year.
And then we have a number of other lithium properties and also some silica / mineral sands. So we actually have a big portfolio but we are focusing on our gold and copper. There is and has been some movement in lithium so there may be some potential value coming out of them in the future. But we are maintaining our focus on our copper-gold projects.
Gerardo Del Real: It's not going to take much to move the needle on the market cap, obviously. Can you walk me through 2021 and what new shareholders can expect?
Blair Way: For sure. 2021 is going to be an active time. Obviously, the winter and snow slows some of the work on the ground but we've got quite a bit of data to work with on our flagship Freeman Creek property.
We're looking at continuing on that work… taking the data that we have both from the trenching we talked about as well as the expected assays from the drill hole data. That will help us target possibly even some IP work that we might do. So some remote sensing that you can do over the snow which will then help us focus in for spring drilling.
And same with our Corvette-FCI. There's opportunities there to do some remote sensing which again gives us some opportunity to zero in on areas that previous explorers – because they were looking for other commodities and heading off in a different trend line – we believe the IP can help confirm what we believe is the case from looking at it on the ground.
So into the first half of 2021, ideally, we've got a couple of drill programs planned out and executed in the spring when the snow clears. And basically from there, we can run with those two prospects and certainly move them forward as aggressively as the market lets us.
Gerardo Del Real: I've been to Salmon, Idaho, before. I'm looking forward to 2021 when I can return and visit Freeman Creek. Blair, I want to thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
Blair Way: Well, you've touched on such an important thing that we're all dealing with. And this is a worldwide issue of not being able to get on a plane and put feet on the ground. And we're putting a lot more trust in the people that we're working with and the properties that we're working with and the people that can work for us on those properties, which, again, is a much more remote process than it is normally.
And I too look forward to when I can get on a plane and see the ground that we're so interested in. But what's interesting, this whole process – and I'll call it a process because we're not really sure what it's going to end up like – but COVID-19 and the changes that it's made to our world and the way that we communicate and the way that we travel has opened up a whole new world of getting things done without having to sit on planes.
I've spent years… or I've been 500-hours-a-year on a plane. It's not good for your health! But having said that, what we're seeing, and this is something I hope to do with my... I did my first President’s Letter, and we're looking at possibly demonstrating how this collaboration works where you're sitting on a Zoom call, you're sharing screens, you're working through as though you're side-by-side in an office. But in many cases, you're tens of thousands of miles away.
And it's amazing that… you know, we're survivors. We all find ways to make things happen. And that's really what we're doing here. And things do slip through the cracks, and that's why you will find companies maybe that have a low market cap but good assets. And things just need to be pulled together and we move it forward.
And I see this… as important with Gaia Metals… is that we have some great assets; we've got some great people and a great jurisdiction, and we just need to keep moving it forward and letting people see what and know what we're doing.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, I'm excited to bring the opportunity to readers and followers and subscribers because I think it's a compelling one especially given the current market cap.
And frankly, if it was trading three or four times today's market cap, I still could make a pretty good argument for value and catalyst in 2021 at these levels. It's an absolute no brainer! So thank you for allowing us the opportunity to bring it to everybody today.
Blair Way: Yeah. Thanks very much, Gerardo. I look forward to keeping you and your listeners informed in the coming weeks and months.
Gerardo Del Real: Thanks again, Blair.
Blair Way: Thanks.