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Northern Empire (TSXV:NM) is a Vancouver-based gold explorer with interests in Alaska, Nunavut, British Columbia and Nevada. The company’s flagship project is its Sterling property in mining friendly-Nevada—acquired from an Imperial Metals subsidiary in mid-2017.
Including an open pit mine with proven high-grade gold deposits and extensive engineering, Sterling puts Northern Empire in a unique position. The company now plans to transition from grassroots exploration to development with the backing of its experienced strategic partner Coeur Mining Inc. (NYSE:CDE).
“The acquisition of the Sterling property is a transformational event for Northern Empire,” stated Michael G. Allen, Northern Empire CEO and director. “We’ve taken discovery and permitting risk out of the picture. The resources are proven to be in the ground, and there’s room to extend them considerably. Plus, the balance of resources on our books are in areas that have been permitted and mined before.”
Sterling is located just 185 kilometers northwest of Las Vegas in the prolific Walker Lane trend, home to several producing mines. In addition to access by highway and gravel roads, Sterling features a pit and underground heap leachable gold mine, with underground workings in operation up until 2015. Above-ground mine infrastructure remains in use to produce residual gold.
A recent spring 2017 resource estimate puts total inferred resources on the Sterling property at 709,000 ounces gold at an average grade of 2.23 g/t. The company plans a major summer drilling program, with results due in September 2017. Further exploration and development is paid for by a $25 million financing. Coeur Mining contributed $4 million for an 11.7 percent stake in Northern Empire.
In addition to Sterling, Northern Empire holds the wholly owned Richardson project in the Alaskan region of the Tintina Gold Province, a 1,200-km-long and 200-km-wide arcuate metallogenic belt, extending into southwest Alaska.
Northern Empire is led by a successful management team with proven capital-raising capabilities and a world-class technical team with decades of experience in exploration including significant discoveries.
The Company is supported by a strong Board of Directors, led by Chairman Douglas J. Hurst. The Board of Directors has founded and sold such notable companies as Newmarket Gold, Kaminak, Underworld and International Royalties, with total takeout value greater than $2 Billion.
- Flagship property with proven high grade gold and inferred resources of 709,000 ounces gold at an average grade of 2.23 g/t.
- Fully-permitted open pit gold project with excellent above-ground infrastructure and underground workings in use up until 2015.
- Significant exploration upside with district scale potential.
- Mining-friendly jurisdiction in Nevada.
- Recently completed $25 million financing to finance exploration and development activities.
- Strategic partnership with Coeur Mining Inc.
- Exploration A-team.
Flagship Property: Sterling Project
In May 2017, Northern Empire announced completing its acquisition of the Sterling property through a purchase and sales agreement with Sterling Gold Mining Corporation—a subsidiary of Imperial Metals. Sterling comprises property with an open pit gold mine located in Nevada’s highly prolific Walker Lane trend, home to several other producing mines. These include the Bullfrog mine, operated by Barrick, adjacent to Sterling and source of 2.3 million ounces gold.
“We’ve raised C$25 million since we announced plans to acquire Sterling in February 2017,” said Mr. Allen. “Going forward, it will be our flagship asset—with good reason: Sterling is a premiere asset within Nevada, permitted for open pit mining and has significant exploration upside.”
Sterling hosts both an open pit and past-producing underground heap leach operation. Records from past mining between 1980 and 2000 show Sterling producing 194,996 ounces gold at an average grade of 7.44 g/t, with recoveries averaging 88 percent without milling.
In May 2016, the Bureau of Land Management issued an indefinite Finding of No Significant Impact (“FONSI”) greenlighting the next phase of development at Sterling. Northern Empire inherits approved designs created by Imperial Metals for new pits and heap leach facilities, which will be used in future development.
A spring 2017 resource estimate put total inferred resources at 709,000 ounces gold with an average grade of 2.23 g/t gold. That estimate includes the Sterling deposit, a pit constrained resource of 231,000 gold at an average grade of 3.67 g/t gold.
The company continues to build exploration plans and budgets, and expects to begin a major drilling plan and exploration of new claims slated for summer 2017. The company has identified several expansion zones for existing deposits and high priority targets, including a high priority Carlin-type gold deposit in the productive Roberts Mountain Formation.
In June 2017, the company announced staking an additional 489 claims in the Bare Mountain District. With the new claims, Sterling controls approximately 95 square kilometers of contiguous prospective terrain, an increase of over 50 percent on its original land position.
Strategic Partnership with Coeur Mining Inc.
Exploration and development at Sterling will be paid for by a major $25 million financing, completed as of May 2017, $4 million of which was contributed by Coeur Mining Inc., now owner of an 11.7 percent stake in Northern Empire. As part of this financing, Northern Empire entered into a formal strategic partnership with Coeur, bringing the company’s wealth of experience developing heap leach mines in Nevada—including the Rochester gold and silver pit mine.
“After we disclosed Sterling’s potential, Coeur immediately began drafting recommendations to its board to invest in Northern Empire,” said Mr. Allen. “Coeur also offered operational guidance and volunteered to send production staff from their Rochester mine down to Sterling to help us develop our mine plan. We’re going to be visiting their operations as well. Going forward, I expect this will be a highly collaborative relationship.”
The Richardson Project
The Richardson Project is an exploration-stage gold project located 115 kilometers southeast of Fairbanks Alaska and 40 kilometers northwest of Delta Junction in the Yukon Tanana terrain of east-central Alaska. The property area is approximately 75 kilometers west of the Pogo mine (4.973 Moz at 12.5 g/t gold) and 75 kilometers southeast of the Fort Knox mine (3.8 Moz at 0.45 g/t gold).
The property comprises 28,763 acres and is bordered on the south by the all-weather Richardson Highway and a highway power line transit. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline and another high power transmission line are found on the northern border of the property. Most of the project area is accessible by gravel roads.
Doug Hurst, B.Sc.—Chairman
Doug Hurst has 25 years of experience in the mining/resource industries having acted as geologist, consultant, mining analyst, and senior executive. Hurst holds a Bachelor of Science in geology from McMaster University (1986). He was a founding executive of International Royalty Corporation from 2003 to 2006 and a director of the company until 2010 when the company was purchased by Royal Gold for $700 million.
Michael G. Allen, P.Geo. — President, CEO and Director
Mike Allen has a wealth of experience in the mining industry with a strong background in project evaluation, recently evaluating in excess of 400 gold projects worldwide. He identified and negotiated the purchase agreement of a significant gold project in Nevada and was part of the team that raised in excess of $30 million to complete the transaction. Post-acquisition, he met with stakeholders to receive permits for the project and was a member of the team that completed a positive Pre-Feasibility Study.
A geologist by training, Mike graduated from the University of Alberta in 1997 and 1998, and started his career exploring for diamonds. While exploring for gold in the Arctic at the Hope Bay project, he worked with Adrian Fleming; after which he joined DeBeers to assist in developing the Snap Lake Mine. Mike has a strong technical background having explored for gold in the Arctic, British Columbia, Ontario and Nevada as well as base metals, both in Canada and internationally. He has worked in both open pit and underground mines, as well as managing construction of new mines and exploration crews.
James Paterson is the current CEO and director of Kivalliq Energy. He is the former President, CEO and director of Corsa Capital and director of Kaminak Gold.
John Robins, P.Geo. — Director
John Robins is the founder of Kaminak Gold Corporation and a professional geologist with over 30 years’ experience in the mining industry. His career has focused on northern project exploration and development. In 2008 he received the Spud Huestis award for having made “a significant contribution to enhance the mineral resources of British Columbia and the Yukon, through the original application of prospecting techniques and geoscience technology”. Robins is also the cofounder of Hunter Exploration, Stornaway Diamond Corporation, Kivalliq Energy Corporation, and North Country Gold. In addition, Robins has served on the board of directors of several companies including, Grayd Resources, Brilliant Resources, and Creston Moly Corporation.
Raymond Threlkeld—Senior Advisor to the Board
Raymond Threlkeld is the former Chairman of Newmarket Gold as well as the former CEO of Rainy River Resources and senior executive with Barrick Gold.
Daryl Cardey is a Director, a Chartered Accountant and a partner with CDM Capital, a private company focused on merger, acquisitions and corporate finance. He was a co-founder and director of Underworld Resources which was acquired by Kinross Gold for $138 million in June 2010.
Adrian Fleming is an Australian geologist with over 30 years of global diversified experience in the mining industry, including exploration, project development, and operations. Fleming was most recently the President and Director of Underworld Resources which made a significant gold discovery on the White Gold Property in the Yukon. He has held a number of senior positions, including Exploration Manager for Placer Dome in Sydney, President of Giant Yellowknife Mines in Toronto, and Vice President of Exploration for Golden Star in Denver.
His successes include involvement with teams that discovered, advanced, and developed gold mines, including Porgerain Papua New Guinea, Big Bell in Australia, Gross Rosebelin Suriname, and the new discoveries at Naartokand Sulukin Nunavut.
Jeff Sundar— Director
Jeff Sundar has 16 years of experience in the capital markets and mineral exploration sector. Sundar was a Director of Underworld Resources which was acquired by Kinross Gold for $138 million in June 2010.
Robert Scott, CFA, CA—Chief Financial Officer
Robert Scott has more than 20 years of accounting and corporate finance experience. He is the Founder of Corex Management, and the CFO of Riverside Resources and Great Bear Resources.