Millions of dollars have been spent in the search for gold in one of the most unforgiving, but rewarding regions in the world – the Arctic; where big, high-grade gold mines are being found. With the challenge of glacial till, a shorter surface exploration season, and moving people and equipment to such a remote part of the world, some explorers would compare it to finding a needle in a haystack on the moon.
However, it’s not an insurmountable endeavour. Agnico Eagle, for example, has become one of the only companies to stand-up to Mother Nature’s freezing temperatures by recently (2013) making a major Arctic discovery called Amaruq. The Canadian-based gold major’s CEO, Sean Boyd, says they are now spending approximately $1.2 billion in Nunavut building two mines.
Auryn: a junior company with a major thirst for gold
So how could junior exploration company have the capacity for such a costly and technical venture? Auryn’s executive chairman and director, Ivan Bebek, says the company is set on “finding the next globally significant discovery”, and that he believes they have the best team to do it.
“We’ve essentially reconstituted Newmont’s former exploration team, and brought in additional world experts, to cover all the disciplines needed in exploration,” says Bebek.
With Newmont’s former global structural geologist and global mapper leading the charge, Auryn’s technical team is one of the best in the industry. And the company’s management has an impressive resume as well.Collectively, Bebek says they have found a five-million-ounce mine, built a 10-million-ounce mine, and raised well over $600 million. Their last company, Cayden Resources, sold pre-resource to Agnico Eagle for $205 million in 2014. Bebek believes Auryn’s technical team and seven-project portfolio approach are why the company has one of the single highest investments from a major gold company into a junior, with Goldcorp investing approximately $40 million to date to maintain its 12.4 per cent ownership.
“The appeal is quite simple. It’s the size, grade and potential for multiple major deposits,” says Bebek.
Committee Bay and Gibson MacQuoid – Auryn’s projects in Nunavut, consist of over 400 kilometres of prospective greenstone belts with numerous high-grade gold occurrences. Bebek says they have a 1.3-million-ounce deposit of 7.7 grams per ton gold, known as Three Bluffs, which the company’s technical team expects could get bigger with further drilling.
Using innovational methods to combat the elements
Succeeding in such a difficult environment may require some thinking outside of the box, which is why Bebek says Auryn gives their geologists freedom to try unconventional and cutting-edge techniques. They’ve also identified a number of ways to cut costs.
“We reduced drilling costs by bringing in a rotary air blast drill rig, which drills twice the pace of a core rig,” says Bebek. “We also used drones to assist in mapping the entire belt and are open to the new applications being developed for uncovering hidden deposits.”
If it was easy it would have already been found
Having worked in the industry for over 19 years, Bebek believes the future of exploration will rely on either challenging geopolitical areas or areas burdened with rock cover. He thinks Nunavut, in particular, is one of the most under-explored areas in Canada for high-grade gold mines, but he and the Auryn team are determined to change that.
“After four years of extensive exploration in Nunavut we understand how to target these big, underlying systems, and we feel we are very close to finding one.”