PDAC 2020 Precious Metals Insights: Laurion, Silver Viper, Rokmaster, White Gold and Triumph Gold

The Investing News Network caught up with executives in the precious metals space at PDAC to learn more about their companies and their predictions about the future of the industry moving forward.

The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference hosted thousands of attendees from all corners of the resource industry this year, including media members, industry insiders, executives and analysts.

During the conference, the Investing News Network caught up with executives in the precious metals space to learn more about their companies and their predictions regarding the future of the industry moving forward.

Below are our interviews from PDAC 2020.

Laurion Mineral Exploration (TSXV:LME,OTC Pink:LMEFF) President and CEO Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin: Ishkoday is the Perfect Project to Expand

Silver Viper (TSXV:VIPR,OTC Pink:VIPRF) CEO Steve Cope: We’re into World-class, High-grade Mineralization in Mexico

Rokmaster Resources (TSXV:RKR,OTC Pink:RKMSF,FWB:1RR) CEO: From Mine Design to Economics, Drilling Drives Everything

White Gold (TSXV:WGO,OTC:WHGOF,FWB:29W) Chief Technical Advisor Shawn Ryan: Good Science Improves Exploration Odds

Triumph Gold (TSXV:TIG,OTCQB:TIGCF) President and Director Tony Barresi: We Are Positioning Ourselves as a Takeout Target

Editorial Disclosure: Laurion Mineral Exploration, Silver Viper Minerals, Rokmaster Resources, White Gold and Triumph Gold are clients of the Investing News Network.

The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Western Copper and Gold CEO: We’re Western Copper and Gold for a Good Reason

“We’ve got 21 million ounces of gold and 11 billion pounds of copper in our overall resource at Casino. Very significant from both a copper and gold perspective. So we’re Western Copper and Gold for a good reason,” shared Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells.

Western Copper and Gold (TSX:WRN,NYSE:WRN) is currently sitting on a resource that’s composed of 21 million ounces of gold and 11 billion pounds of copper.

Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells views this as a significant endowment for the company and its shareholders, as well as for Canada and the Yukon.

“We’ve got 21 million ounces of gold and 11 billion pounds of copper in our overall resource at Casino. Very significant from both a copper and gold perspective. So we’re Western Copper and Gold for a good reason. And that’s where the value is in the ground,” said West-Sells.

In June 2021, the company announced a positive preliminary economic assessment at its wholly owned Casino copper-gold-molybdenum deposit in the Yukon. Western Copper and Gold will conduct a feasibility study on Casino, and it is targeted to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.

“The other big push for us is to get the permitting going. We now have money in the bank, and we just hired a vice president of permitting to move the project. More importantly, we now have Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) as a strategic investor, which was the last piece that was really missing. This is a big project. A lot of ounces, a lot of pounds, a lot of upfront capital to get those out of the ground.”

Western Copper and Gold completed a brokered private placement for aggregate gross proceeds of $8,010,000 that will be used to fund “Canadian exploration expenses” and “flow-through mining expenditures.”

Watch the full interview of Western Copper and Gold CEO Paul West-Sells above.

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Novo Resources Executive Co-Chairman Michael Spreadborough: Well Financed to Bring Exploration Projects into Production

Novo Resources Executive Co-Chairman Michael Spreadborough said the company has a strong balance sheet to keep advancing its projects toward production.

Novo Resources (TSXV:NVO) recently announced it has intersected high-grade gold at its Talga Talga gold project and has accelerated the near-mine exploration program at its Nullagine gold project in Western Australia. Novo Resources Executive Co-Chairman Michael Spreadborough said the company has a strong balance sheet to keep advancing its projects towards production.

“We are sitting at approximately $50 million cash at the moment, (and) have a strategic investment portfolio that’s worth roughly C$150 million. Our balance sheet is very, very strong with enough horsepower to do the exploration work. We are in a very strong position to keep us moving forward,” he shared.

Novo Resources’ exploration program has been accelerated with additional funding of up to AU$2.5 million to support near-mine exploration. The amount is on top of the previously approved AU$12 million. Novo Resources is aiming to accelerate the delineation of targets in the Mosquito Creek Basin that have the potential to provide additional oxide mill feed to the Golden Eagle processing facility

“We like to play with innovation, we like to be leaders in some of the things that we’re doing. So we’re very focused on ore sorting. Innovation is a big focus in our culture. We’re putting over $15 million a year into exploration as we develop more targets to bring into production,” said Spreadborough.

“We’ve already found good gold discoveries, we’ll probably find more as we do more work. We’ve got the horsepower financially and we’ve got that ability. We’ve demonstrated now that we can take exploration projects all the way through to development and into production. We have the complete skill set. We think we’re in a good position right now to move the company forward,” he added.

Watch the full interview of Novo Resources Executive Co Chair Michael Spreadborough above.

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Azincourt Energy CEO Alex Klenman: Applying Artificial Intelligence to Uranium Exploration in the Athabasca Basin

“Nobody’s really applying artificial intelligence into the uranium exploration in the Athabasca, and so we might be a first mover,” said Azincourt Energy CEO Alex Klenman.

Azincourt Energy (TSXV:AAZ,OTCQB:AZURF,FWB:A0U2) CEO Alex Klenman discussed the company’s pioneering initiatives to bring artificial intelligence (AI), data mining and rapid algorithm work into mining exploration.

Azincourt Energy recently entered into an agreement with FOBI AI (TSXV:FOBI) to apply its established AI and applications “to support Azincourt’s goal of making discovery and delineating a resource at its East Preston uranium project,” according to a press release.

“Nobody’s really applying AI into the uranium exploration in the Athabasca, and so we might be a first mover. We’d like to embrace new technology and see how it can make us more efficient,” said Azincourt Energy CEO Alex Klenman.

According to Klenman, the ultimate goal is to utilize technology to allow Azincourt Energy to make discoveries more quickly, with less impact on the environment and with fewer dollars spent on drill holes and exploration initiatives.

The company recently closed the final tranche of a private placement worth $8 million, which will be used to fund the development of the East Preston uranium project. The flagship East Preston project covers over 25,000 hectares in the Western Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan.

“We’re heading into our drill program in the winter, and we’re going to do 30 to 35 holes. We’re exceeding the entire pre-run here for four years. We have strong institutional support from funds, which allows us to get more aggressive. Our timing looks really good. We’re excited to be cashed up and doing our biggest drill program and the best market we’ve seen since 2011,” shared Azincourt Energy CEO Alex Klenman.

Watch the full interview of Azincourt Energy CEO Alex Klenman above.

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Cigar Lake was the largest producer of uranium in 2020. But what are the other top uranium mines? Find out here.

In 2020, world uranium mine production came to 56,287 tonnes of U3O8. Kazakhstan was the top-producing country by far at 19,477 tonnes, followed by Australia and Namibia.

Together, those three nations accounted for over two-thirds of uranium mining, with Kazakhstan taking a 41 percent share. Additionally, a wide variety of uranium-mining companies contribute to the world's production.

But where in the world are the top uranium mines? While many of them are located in Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, that's not the case for all of the largest uranium mines.


To give investors a better idea of where the top uranium mines are located and where the nuclear fuel comes from, the Investing News Network has put together a list of the 10 biggest uranium mines in the world, based on the latest statistics and information from the World Nuclear Association. Read on to learn more about uranium miners, plus uranium reserves and uranium exploration.

1. Cigar Lake

2020 production: 3,885 tonnes

Northern Saskatchewan-based Cigar Lake is number one on this list of the world's top uranium mines. It is known for being the highest-grade uranium mine, with an average grade of 14.69 percent U3O8.

Uranium miner Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ) owns 50 percent of Cigar Lake and is the mine's operator. Ore from the underground mining property is processed at Orano's McClean Lake mill, located 70 kilometers from the mine.

Throughout 2020, operations were halted and started only to be halted again by a series of coronavirus outbreaks. Cameco restarted uranium production in April 2021 only to have to again close up shop temporarily in July 2021 as fires in the region led to evacuations.

Cigar Lake was commissioned in 2014 and began commercial uranium production in May 2015. It accounted for 8 percent of global uranium output in 2020. Orano (37.1 percent), Idemitsu Uranium Exploration Canada (7.875 percent) and TEPCO Resources (5 percent) also hold stakes in the mine.

2. Husab

2020 production: 3,302 tonnes

The Husab open-pit uranium mine in Namibia is owned by Swakop Uranium, a partnership between China and Namibia. Epangelo Mining Company, a Namibian state-owned entity, owns 10 percent of Swakop, while Taurus Minerals holds the other 90 percent; Taurus itself is owned by China General Nuclear Power Group and the China Africa Development Fund.

According to the Namibia Uranium Association, Husab represents China's single largest investment in Africa. Husab was discovered in 2008, and produced its first drum of uranium oxide for export in December 2016. As of 2020, the operation accounted for 7 percent of global uranium production.

3. Olympic Dam

2020 production: 3,062 tonnes

Next up on this list of top uranium mines is the Olympic Dam mine, which is owned by BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP). The mine produces copper, along with uranium, gold and silver. Olympic Dam, which has underground and surface operations, plus a fully integrated processing facility, has been in action since 1988, and in 2020 its output accounted for 6 percent of the world's uranium production.

Australia has the largest uranium reserves in the world, and holds about 30 percent of potential global supply. As mentioned, in 2020 the country was the world's second largest producer behind Kazakhstan.

4. Inkai, sites 1 to 3

2020 production: 2,693 tonnes

The in situ recovery Inkai uranium mine is a joint venture between Cameco (40 percent) and uranium miner Kazatomprom (LSE:KAP) (60 percent). Inkai accounted for 6 percent of the world's uranium output in 2020.

Kazatomprom's operations have been impacted by COVID-19, with the company announcing in early April 2020 that it would be reducing operational activities at all of its mines in Kazakhstan for several months. In August, the company resumed operations, but said its planned production levels through 2022 would decrease by 20 percent.

5. Karatua (Budenovskoye 2)

2020 production: 2,460 tonnes

The in situ recovery Budenovskoye 2 operation, located in Kazakhstan at the Karatau mine, produced 5 percent of the world's uranium in 2020. The Karatau mine is owned by the Karatau joint venture, a Kazakh-registered limited liability partnership that is held by uranium producer Kazatomprom and Uranium One.

Uranium One is a subsidiary of ROSATOM, Russia's state-owned nuclear energy company. Uranium One takes care of ROSATOM's uranium output outside Russia.

Karatau started producing in 2009, and the joint venture has the right to carry on exploration, mining and sales operations at Budenovskoye 2 under a long-term subsoil use contract with Kazakhstan.

6. Rö​ssing

2020 production: 2,111 tonnes

The Namibia-based Rössing uranium mine was responsible for 4 percent of the world's production in 2020. The open pit has operated since 1976 and was the country's first commercial uranium mine.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) was the company that brought Rössing into production, but it is no longer involved in the mine. In November 2018, Rio Tinto announced that it would be selling its majority stake of 68.62 percent, and it completed the sale in July 2019. Rio Tinto sold its share of Rössing to China National Uranium.

Aside from China National Uranium, a number of companies have interests in Rössing. The Namibian government has 3 percent, the Iranian Foreign Investment Company has 15 percent, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa owns 10 percent and individual shareholders own the rest.

7. SOMAIR

2020 production: 1,879 tonnes

SOMAIR is a subsidiary of uranium producer Orano that operates in Niger; it is 63.4 percent owned by Orano and 36.66 percent owned by Sopamin, the state agency that manages mining in Niger. SOMAIR is responsible for a large uranium mine, as is Cominak, another nearby Orano subsidiary in Niger. SOMAIR began production in 1971.

Uranium mining will begin at a third site near SOMAIR and Cominak when market conditions are more favorable. SOMAIR produced 4 percent of the world's production for uranium in 2020.

8. Four Mile

2020 production: 1,806 tonnes

Quasar Resources' Four Mile in situ leach operation is the second top uranium mine in Australia. The high-grade, roll-front deposit was discovered in 2005 about 8 kilometers from the formerly producing Beverly uranium mine. Construction of the mine began in December 2013, followed by commercial production in June 2014.

Four Mile produced 4 percent of the world's production for uranium in 2020. The deposit is also prospective for iron-oxide copper-gold mineralization.

9. South Inkai (Block 4)

2020 production: 1,509 tonnes

The South Inkai in situ mine is another property held jointly by Uranium One (indirect 70 percent) and Kazatomprom (30 percent). Production began at South Inkai in 2009 and it accounted for 3 percent of the world's uranium production in 2020.

10. Kharasan 1

2020 production: 1,455 tonnes

Kharasan is an in situ leach operation in the Syr Darya basin of the Kyzylorda region in Kazakhstan. The uranium mine is owned by Kazatomprom (33.98 percent) and Uranium One (30 percent). A consortium of Japanese utilities and a trading company hold the remainder.

Commercial production at Kharasan began in 2013, and in 2020 the operation accounted for 3 percent of the world's uranium production.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

The investigation of psychedelic drugs for their medical benefits is attracting investors. How does the leading US drug agency feel?

The development of the psychedelics industry depends on myriad factors, but one of the most critical is its relationship with a principal medical authority.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the leading authority for drug approvals in the US. This federal body determines whether medical products will ultimately reach the hands of patients.

The FDA reviews the clinical data created by established medical studies evaluating the feasibility of drug compounds or products as treatments for specific ailments.


As a federal agency, the FDA has to adhere to federal policy for drugs in the US. The country's national drug-scheduling system provides data on all kinds of drugs and the regulations they must follow.

Several psychedelic compounds currently find themselves in the Schedule I category, which receives the heaviest scrutiny in the eyes of federal authorities. Cannabis is also listed in this segment.

If this is the case, then why are companies in the psychedelic drug development space pursuing clinical studies and looking for FDA approval? Interestingly, despite the legal status of these drugs, the FDA isn't so closed off that it won't examine their potential.

During the first Prohibition Partners LIVE online event, Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told the audience he sees the FDA as an engaged partner in conversations surrounding the construction of clinical trials with psychedelic agents.

Doblin added that he perceives the FDA as a regulatory agency willing to put science over politics when it comes to the medical benefits of psychedelics. MAPS is investigating the use of MDMA as a method of psychotherapy for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In 2017, this psychedelics-based method was granted "breakthrough therapy" designation by the FDA in a move that represented a change in the drug authority's perspective.

In October 2021, Doblin said MAPS expects to finish its second Phase 3 trial of MDMA in October 2022.

MAPS is a non-profit organization that is not looking to change its status anytime soon. While the group does take donations, investors looking to play the market are interested largely in public companies.

In late 2020, the psychedelics investment market saw excitement when Compass Pathways (NASDAQ:CMPS) listed directly onto a senior US stock exchange.

Similar to MAPS' method, the work done by Compass Pathways has also received support from the FDA. In 2018, the company confirmed the receipt of "breakthrough therapy" designation from the FDA for its study of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) using psilocybin. In November 2021, Compass Pathways reported positive topline data from a completed Phase IIb clinical trial of psilocybin therapy for TRD. The company also announced that it is beginning a Phase II psilocybin therapy trial for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Significance of changing mentality on psychedelics

A report by Psychedelic Support highlights the fact that the FDA and National Institutes of Health have commented on the medical benefits associated with psychedelics-based treatments.

"The message was clear. The FDA will evaluate risk-benefit profile of psychedelic substances in the same way as other investigational drugs," the report indicates.

According to the report, the agency's requirements for clinical trial designs highlight the following specifications:

  • How psychedelics work in a particular setting.
  • Timing of administration.
  • Structured approach or will multiple approaches work?
  • How fast does symptom reduction occur and how long are symptoms decreased?
  • Do people relapse, and if so can the drug retrieve them from relapse?

Investor takeaway

From the information currently available, it's clear that one of the biggest drug authorities in the world appears to be slowly but surely increasing its support of psychedelics.

What's more, the medical indications show a promising market that is already garnering support among investors. The psychedelics space looks set to continue developing as more companies come to market.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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