Advancing Yukon’s Macmillan Pass Zinc-Lead-Silver Project
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Fireweed Zinc Ltd. (TSXV:FWZ) is a Canadian mining, exploration and development company focused on advancing its Macmillan Pass zinc–lead–silver project in Yukon, Canada. Fireweed Zinc’s Macmillan Pass project is a district-scale play that has significant upside potential. Fireweed Zinc intends to expand upon historic work and utilize modern exploration methods to make new discoveries.
The property is strategically located in the zinc-rich Selwyn Basin, which is known to host large sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX) deposits. SEDEX deposits are responsible for more than half of the world’s zinc production and are an important source of lead. Global examples of this type of deposit include the Howard’s Pass district (eastern Yukon and Northwest Territories), Mt Isa-Century in the McArthur River district (Australia) and Red Dog (Alaska). Fireweed Zinc has two large SEDEX deposits—Tom and Jason – and the company is confident that it can make additional SEDEX discoveries.
In addition to its exploration potential, the Macmillan Pass project also has a 2018 resource estimate. The resource was developed using a historic resource from 2007 as well as results from a 2,000-meter drill program. The resource highlighted an indicated resource of 11.2 million tonnes grading 9.6 percent zinc equivalent and an inferred resource of 39.5 million tonnes grading 10 percent zinc equivalent.
Following the release of the resource, Fireweed Zinc released the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project in May 2018. The PEA outlined an 18-year mine life with 32.7 million tonnes of mineralization being mined at a processing rate of 4,900 tonnes-per-day. The report also highlighted an after-tax NVP (eight percent) of $448 million and an IRR of 24 percent.
Since releasing the PEA, Fireweed Zinc has continued its exploration efforts at Macmillan Pass with the aim of expanding the resource estimate and further improving the PEA. To this aim, Fireweed Zinc has completed a drill program on a number of prospective targets to test for new deposits, primarily on or near the Tom North, Tom East, Jason North and End Zone targets. The company also completed various geophysical, geochemical and geological mapping surveys as part of its field exploration program. Through this exploration work, Fireweed Zinc was able to identify ways to improve project economics and mine life.
Fireweed Zinc is managed by a seasoned team of mining industry professionals. Executive Chairman John Robins is a professional geologist whose career spans nearly four decades. Robins was the Founder and Executive Chairman of Kaminak Gold Corporation which was sold to Goldcorp., now Newmont Goldcorp (TSX:NGT,NYSE:NEM), for $520 million. He was the 2008 recipient of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia’s H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award. He sits on the boards of several successful exploration companies. In 2017, Robins’ companies raised over $100 million.
Fireweed Zinc Company Highlights
- Option agreements in place to earn 100 percent interest in the Tom and Jason and MAC claims.
- Located in the mining-friendly jurisdiction of Yukon, Canada.
- One of the largest and highest-grade zinc-lead-silver projects in the Americas with blue-sky potential.
- Good infrastructure and property access.
- Preliminary metallurgy in 2012 demonstrated good recoveries and concentrate grades.
- 2018 resource estimate highlighted an indicated resource of 11.2 million tonnes at 9.6 percent zinc equivalent and an inferred resource of 39.5 million tonnes at 10 percent zinc equivalent
- PEA included an after-tax NVP (eight percent) of $448 million, an IRR of 24 percent and an 18-year mine life.
- 2019 exploration program is currently underway at Macmillan Pass.
- Strong share structure with management holding large block of shares.
- Good relations with First Nations in a non-treaty area.
Key Project: Macmillan Pass Zinc-Lead-Silver Project, Yukon
The Macmillan Pass zinc-lead-silver project is located approximately 200 kilometers northeast of the community of Ross River in the Selwyn Basin of Yukon, Canada. Hosting 12 large SEDEX-type deposits, the Selwyn Basin is one of the world’s most recognized basins for this type of deposit. Fireweed Zinc’s Macmillan Pass is nearby to Selwyn Chihong Mining’s Selwyn (Howard’s Pass) project which contains one of the world’s largest undeveloped zinc deposit.
The 21,939-hectare underexplored land package is easily accessible via a three-kilometer road from the government-maintained North Canol Road off the Robert Campbell Highway or via government airstrip within the property boundary. The project also has a camp already in place (installed in 2011) along with permits and water licenses. A historic drill core is on site.
The Tom deposit was discovered in 1951 by Hudbay Minerals and the Jason deposit was discovered by the Ogilvie joint venture in 1974. Hudbay acquired the Jason deposit in 2007, combining the two deposits for the first time into one project. Fireweed Zinc signed an option agreement to acquire 100-percent of the Tom and Jason claims from Hudbay in December 2016.
In August 2017, Fireweed Zinc quadrupled the land area of its Macmillan Pass project with the acquisition of the adjoining MAC claims from Newmont Mining. The MAC claims cover the contiguous northwest extension of the same geology and mineralization trends that host the Tom and Jason deposits.
Fireweed Zinc again added to the size of the Macmillan Pass project with its acquisition of the Nidd property from a subsidiary of Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.A or TECK.B,NYSE:TECK). With this acquisition, Fireweed Zinc has consolidated the Macmillan Pass zinc district and now controls 544 square kilometers of highly-prospective zinc claims.
2018 Resource Estimate
In January 2018, Fireweed Zinc announced its mineral resource estimate for the Macmillan Pass project. The resource included the resource estimate already completed on the Tom and Jason zones on the property. An NSR cut-off grade of $65 was used to calculate the numbers in the table below.
“These new mineral resource estimates for Tom and Jason represent a substantial increase over the previous 2007 mineral resource estimates,” said Fireweed Zinc CEO Brandon Macdonald. “Building on this major milestone, we will now use these mineral resource estimates along with pending new metallurgical test results, toward completion of a preliminary economic assessment in the coming months to assess project economics. Next summer we plan to execute a larger drill program to expand on these mineral resources and test other targets for new discoveries within our large project area.”
In May 2018, Fireweed Zinc announced that they had completed a PEA for the Macmillan Pass project. The following numbers were calculated using a base case $1.21 per pound zinc, $0.98 per pound lead and $16.80 per ounce silver. Highlights include:
- An 18-year mine life with 32.7 million tons of mineralization mined at 4,900 tonne-per-day processing rate.
- 54 million tonnes of zinc, 0.88 million tonnes of lead and 37 million tonnes of silver concentrate shipped.
- Average yearly contained-metal production of 85 kilotons zinc, 48 kilotons lead and 2 million ounces silver.
- Pre-tax NPV at eight percent of $779 million and IRR of 32 percent.
- After-tax NPV at eight percent of $448 million and IRR of 24 percent.
- Payback period of four years.
- Pre-production CAPEX of $404 million.
The PEA also highlighted numerous opportunities for economic improvements and that there is room for expanding the resource.
“This first NI 43-101-compliant PEA on the Macmillan Pass project represents a significant step for the company as we progress the project towards production. Project economics in the PEA demonstrate that Macmillan Pass is not just viable at the zinc, lead and silver prices levels contemplated in the study, but highly robust,” said Macdonald. “With consideration of the exploration upside not just at the known zones, but also within the broader land package, the project is steadily shaping up to be a premiere district-scale zinc mining camp in the mining-friendly Yukon Territory.”
Blue Sky Potential on Large Land Package
The Macmillan Pass project represents an opportunity for upside potential. The footprints of the Tom and Jason deposits are quite small compared to the substantial size of the entire land package. Additionally, while approximately 70,000 meters of historical drilling was carried out on the Tom and Jason claim areas since their discovery, a vast majority of the current Macmillan Pass land package (including the MAC and Nidd claims) remain largely unexplored by modern exploration techniques.
Significant potential remains to expand the known mineralization at the Tom and Jason deposits at depth and along trend. Historic exploration activities on the MAC claims were limited to early-stage work in the search for gold, however, several areas of zinc and lead geochemical anomalies were discovered in stream sediments and soils.
Fireweed Zinc is testing that potential via an exploration campaign aimed at expanding the known mineralization on the Tom and Jason claims. The program also includes aerial and ground reconnaissance over the MAC claims to delineate targets for further exploration.
In July 2018, the company began its 10,000-meter drill program. Highlights from the program include 16.41 meters grading 21.1 percent zinc, 13.5 lead and 243 g/t silver and 10.16 meters grading 8.11 percent zinc, 6.31 percent lead and 82 g/t silver at the Tom East. The company also intersected 12.73 meters grading 12.61 percent zinc, 16.40 percent lead and 221 g/t silver and 12.41 meters grading 7.99 percent zinc, 13.26 percent lead and 166 g/t silver at Tom West. Finally, at End Zone on the MAC property, Fireweed Zinc intersected 8.6 meters grading 4.56 percent zinc, 17.34 percent lead and 145 g/t silver and 11.08 meters grading 4.78 percent zinc, 10.17 percent lead and 87 g/t silver.
In June 2019, Fireweed Zinc commenced its 2019 exploration program. The program is expected to consist of at least 2,000 meters of core drilling and 1,000 meters of RC drilling on a number of prospective targets to test for new deposits. Drilling is expected to primarily be focused on the Tom North, Tom East, Jason North and End Zone areas. The company also intends to continue its field exploration plans to complete geophysical, geochemical and geological mapping surveys.
The following month, Fireweed Zinc announced that it completed 12 holes on the property, seven of which were drilled at Tom North, in addition to one at Tom West, one at Target R and two at Jason North. The company expanded its drill program at Tom North due to the positive results, which offer Fireweed Zinc the potential to extend open-pit and underground mine life. Highlights from Tom North include nine meters grading 6.36 percent zinc and 0.65 percent lead and 7.30 meters grading 6.19 percent zinc and 0.51 percent lead. Fireweed Zinc believes that these results successfully prove that the Tom North target has near-surface mineralization that can be mined using an open-pit, improving the current PEA economics.
Fireweed Zinc also completed an initial preconcentration test that utilized a state-of-the-art x-ray fluorescence ore sorting technology on samples from the Boundary zone, which is an advanced exploration target located 15 kilometers northwest of the Jason deposit. Through the pre-concentration tests, Fireweed Zinc was able to demonstrate that the feed grade found at the Boundary zone could be upgraded from 2.5 percent zinc to five percent zinc. The company was also able to achieve recovery rates ranging from 80 percent to 85 percent. Importantly, this all can be done at a low cost to Fireweed Zinc, improving the economics for the project.
Following the impressive ore sorting results, Fireweed Zinc drilled at the Boundary zone. The first hole of 2019 intersected 250 meters (true width) grading 3.44 percent zinc, which included high-grade intersections of 23.31 meters grading 16.35 percent zinc, 11.85 meters grading 9.18 percent zinc, 4.45 percent lead and 71.6 g/t silver and 1.01 meters grading 47.70 percent zinc. Another hole drilled at the Boundary zone intersected 230 meters grading 4.14 percent that contained a near-surface higher-grade section of 100 meters grading 7.94 percent zinc. These results confirmed that the Boundary zone has the potential to be mined in a low-strip open-pit and can be upgraded through low-cost ore sorting technology.
Fireweed Zinc Management Team
John Robins—Executive Chairman and Director
John Robins is a professional geologist with over 35 years of experience mainly as an independent geologist and entrepreneur. Mr. Robins has been involved in many successful exploration ventures and sat on the boards of several successful exploration companies. Most recently he was Founder, Executive Chairman and Director of Kaminak Gold Corporation which discovered the Coffee gold deposits in Yukon and sold the company to Goldcorp for $520 million. In 2008, Mr. Robins was recognized for his achievements in mining exploration by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia with the H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award. This is recognized as the highest award given for mineral exploration and is awarded to those who have made “a significant contribution to enhance the mineral resources of British Columbia and/or the Yukon Territory, through the original application of prospecting techniques or other geoscience technology.” In 2017, Mr. Robins’ companies (Bluestone Resources, Northern Empire Resources, Fireweed Zinc) raised over $100 million.
Brandon Macdonald—CEO and Director
Brandon Macdonald is a professional geologist with a diverse experience base including exploration geology worldwide and investment banking. In recent years he has focused his efforts in exploration and development as a principal of and consultant to various junior mining companies. In the past, he was in the City of London where he worked in structuring financings and risk management at Macquarie Bank. In 2007 Mr. Macdonald graduated with an MBA (with Distinction) from Oxford. He completed his B.Sc. in Geology from UBC in 2000. Mr. Macdonald has a long history of mining exploration work in Yukon, including zinc projects, and originally hails from Ross River, near the Macmillan Pass Project site.
Adrian Rothwell — Director and Audit Committee Chair
Adrian Rothwell has worked in the mining industry for over 25 years with extensive experience in oversight and corporate governance roles. He is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Kore Mining Ltd., a private mining venture with gold projects in the western US. Most recently, he was the Director, Strategy at Goldcorp Inc., and previously acted as Chief Financial Officer for many companies listed on the TSXV. Mr. Rothwell is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) in British Columbia and a designated Chartered Accountant in Australia and New Zealand. He articled at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Australia and Canada and holds a BA in Economics from Macquarie University.
George Gorzynski—Executive Vice President and Director
George Gorzynski is co-founder of the company and a geological engineer with 35 years of experience in exploration and mining company management. He has strong technical, management and leadership skills, and was a key person in the building and managing of several successful international junior mining and exploration companies. His technical experience ranges from management of large exploration projects in challenging settings to geology field work in isolated locations to oversight of mining operations. Mr. Gorzynski has geological engineering degrees from the University of Toronto (Honours) and University of British Columbia and has worked on a number of zinc projects in British Columbia and Yukon.
Richard Hajdukiewicz is a co-founder of the company and has over 35 years of experience in commodity markets including extensive experience in financing, trading and risk management. He was responsible for the zinc concentrate feeds to Noranda’s zinc smelter at Valleyfield, Quebec as well as marketing of zinc and lead concentrates, in North America. He later headed up and grew Noranda’s global precious metals secondary business which was involved in precious metals concentrates, dore and scrap. During his 25 year plus tenor on Wall Street, Mr. Hajdukiewicz assisted in expanding Goldman Sachs’ metals activities into base metals including zinc and lead. He headed up metals sales and trading activities at several other banks including HSBC and others. He has advised senior managements at many mining and metals companies with the strategic direction of their marketing and risk management strategies for precious and base metals. Mr. Hajdukiewicz graduated from the University of Toronto in Metallurgical Engineering and is currently a consultant to the metals and mining industry.
Gilles Dessureau—V.P. Exploration
Mr. Dessureau is a Professional Geologist with over 15 years of exploration and development experience in the Western Cordillera including Yukon and British Columbia along with other locations throughout North America including Nevada, Ontario and Quebec. Mr. Dessureau is the Owner and Principle Geologist of Solidus Geological Services and has been providing geological and project management services to a number of clients including Golden Predator Mining Corp., Columbus Gold Corp., Colorado Resources Ltd., BMC Minerals, among others since 2007. Mr. Dessureau was instrumental in advancing the Wolverine polymetallic VMS deposit, located in the Yukon, through pre-feasibility and into commercial production beginning in 2010, and was involved with advancing Golden Predator’s Brewery Creek and 3 Aces deposits. Mr. Dessureau graduated with a Master’s degree from Laurentian University in Sudbury following a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from St. Mary’s University in Halifax. He is a Professional Geologist registered with Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC).
Dan Rogness — Director
Dan Rogness has worked in the mining industry for over 25 years and is experienced in treasury, finance, financial reporting, corporate development, forecasting, cash management, hedging and foreign exchange. He is currently consulting for various mining companies and was the Assistant Treasurer and officer at Teck Resources (formerly Teck Corporation and Teck Cominco Ltd.) from 1985 to 2012. Mr. Rogness is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) in British Columbia and holds a B. Com (Honours) in Accounting and Management Information Systems.
Neil MacRae—Investor Relation Manager
Mr. MacRae attended the University of Calgary and started his career in 1994, spending 10 years as a commodity trader and concentrate marketer for Mitsui & Co. (Canada) Ltd. Over the next 14 years, he then moved into investor relations roles with such companies as First Majestic, NovaGold Resources, and Santacruz Silver Mining as well as a role at Farallon Mining which operated the Campo Morado zinc mine in Mexico which was taken over by Nyrstar in 2011.
Eduardo Yu, CPA, CMA — Chief Financial Officer
Eduardo Yu is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CMA) with over 20 years of experience in business and financial management. Prior to joining Fireweed, he provided financial management and reporting services to many publicly-traded companies and to private companies intending to list on the TSXV. As a seasoned financial manager, he has had years of proven success in helping businesses improve their performance through sound strategic planning and effective management execution.
Jeffrey Dare—Corporate Secretary
Jeffrey Dare has over nine years of professional experience with respect to managing external reporting and corporate compliance for TSXV-listed issuers. He currently serves as the Corporate Secretary and advisor for a number of junior companies. Mr. Dare works closely with external partners and service providers in the areas of legal, compliance, transfer agency, audit, banking and insurance. Mr. Dare holds a BA from Simon Fraser University.
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