Jim Pettit has been through many market cycles, so the mining veteran isn’t particularly worried as Aben Resources (TSX-V:ABN, OTCQB:ABNAF), the exploration company he runs, is launching its 2022 exploration season amid heightened market volatility.
Aben, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is focusing on two projects this year – the 2,387 hectare (ha) Slocan graphite project, 34 kilometers (km) northwest of Castlegar in the West Kootenay region in British Columbia, and the Pringle North gold project, which consists of five contiguous mining claims covering approximately 1,881 ha 60 km north of Red Lake in Ontario.
Both require capital, but not much, and Pettit said Aben is able to look past the current market volatility, with a fundraising likely to take place later this summer.
“I have age on my side, so I’ve seen it before. That’s as bad as it’s going to get, I think, in terms of the general market correction,” Pettit said in an interview with Proactive. “After 2008, we’ve seen this mountain climbed over the past few years, and now it’s fallen off the cliff. And it’s only a matter of time to see how long the downward trend will last. It turns out that Aben is at a price where he is not so affected because he was at 5c anyway, and I redirect the company’s attention to the new gold project and the new graphics project.
Dull gold despite the turmoil
Pettit pointed out that gold did not react as many would have expected to the market turmoil, with the flight to safety instead targeting the US dollar. Graphite prices were also depressed, unlike other raw materials used to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs). Graphite, he noted, is the most important component of these batteries.
“The EV market is hugely successful and right now they probably can’t make cars fast enough because they just don’t have the supply chain in place,” Pettit said. “There are a lot of people starting to talk about graphite and how it’s going to have a run.”
Slocan Graphite Project
The mining veteran said Aben got a “really good deal” when he acquired the Slocan graphite project from Eagle Plains Resources Ltd in November 2021. It is easy to get to and benefits from a line high voltage transmission within 1.2 km of the property boundary, has an extensive network of logging roads on and around the property, and is close to a mill and processing facilities for existing graphite located 1.5 km west of the property, owned by Eagle Graphite Corporation.
Although more testing and drilling is needed, he said graphite mineralization was originally discovered in logging road exposures in the late 1990s. Ground and airborne geophysical surveys have been carried out in the area. of the Project in 2000 and 2010 respectively, with both surveys indicating strong conductive anomalies which are consistent with surface mineralization and are interpreted to extend along strike and down dip from known occurrences.
A limited number of documented samples have been taken across the Tedesco horizon and assayed for carbon graphite ranging from trace values to grades up to 3.36% and 4.43%.
“It has this potential for big, high-quality graphite flakes,” Pettit said. “There’s a really big anomaly that’s 2 kilometers long, and the original sampling was kind of on the edges of that anomaly and that’s where they found some of these big flakes. J ‘m just waiting for the right time to raise the funds to do it, we’ll get going and probably by early fall we’ll have a drill program ready to go.
He estimates it will cost about $100,000 for initial field work to identify drill targets at the Slocan Graphite Project.
“It won’t be expensive because you can drive there,” he said. “At our gold project in Red Lake, we budget $200,000 to go there and do the groundwork there too because you don’t just go drill in Red Lake. Your targets are quite deep, so you start with till sampling, rock sampling and mapping in a big way. All permissions are in place. We don’t know yet where we will train. That’s what this summer’s work is for.
Pringle North Gold Project
Like Slocan, Pettit said the company likely struck a good deal with Pringle North. He had been eyeing the prolific Red Lake Gold Camp for some time, having worked in the area since the 1990s, when he received a call from Perry English, a well-known prospector in the area. English also sold claims to Great Bear Resources Ltd in 2015, which are currently part of their gold discovery holdings at Dixie Lake.
“He called me and said I had land here that you might be interested in,” Pettit said. “I asked a lot of people to watch it because I know a lot of people in Red Lake, so we jumped on it. It’s not heavy, it’s typical Perry. It’s a lot.
The Pringle North property is located in the prolific Uchi Subprovince, one of the world’s most metal-rich greenstone belts per square kilometer, according to Aben. Like the Balmer-Confederation unconformity of the Red Lake gold camp and the LP fault of the Great Bear Resources Dixie project, the South Arm structure is a third recognized deep seismic capture structure.
Pettit noted that the area is included in the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRD) Exploration Recommendations 2020-2021 due to its deep structural similarities associated with the camp. Red Lake Gold and Great Bear Resources. Dixie Project. Age determination dates the volcano-sedimentary belt to 2.94 Ga and assigns it to the Balmer assemblage. This is important because the Balmer is home to the majority of the major gold mines in the Red Lake camp.
“We have a big block of that right in the middle. It’s completely staked,” Pettit said. “The government is very, very active in getting explorers out there to map this thing. There’s a lot of work from the past from Agnico Eagle that sampled it and it’s all available to us.
Pettit said a government geophysical survey was conducted late last summer while contractors were in the area and Aben will now likely spend a month sampling and mapping based on information available to the government. ‘business.
“Similar to the Graphite Project, it’s inexpensive to enter for the first year and you determine what you’re going to do that year,” Pettit said. “You’re either going to find another project or push it forward and drill.”
While market volatility isn’t helping, due to major stocks that have been overvalued for a while as quantitative easing has outpaced market fundamentals, Pettit is pragmatic, saying the damage has already been done now. that the US Federal Reserve applied the brakes.
“In our industry, we are at the bottom of the scale; we are the highest risk on the venture capital exchange,” Pettit said. “But we’re still doing what we’re doing so I’ll probably have to fundraise at some point this summer.”
However, the Government of Canada’s 2022 budget includes a new federal Critical Minerals Strategy, with a total of $3.8 billion in proposed funding to support its launch and implementation, and a new tax credit. for essential mineral exploration, which will help.
The proposed investments focus on the development of specified priority critical mineral deposits. They also aim to contribute to the development of the zero-emission vehicle value chain in Canada, including batteries, permanent magnets and other components.
This could help Aben develop the Slocan graphite project as North America tries to take a share of the market currently dominated by China.
Pettit said there was a growing demand for natural graphite, rather than synthetic graphite which “isn’t exactly green to produce”.
Also, there is only one graphite plant in western North America, and it is one kilometer from Slocan.
“We walk past it to enter our property. He has the power; it has everything you need,” Pettit said. “There has always been graphite in the Kootenays and the North. There has always been evidence. We just have to get in there and start working.
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