Category Archives: CSE Quarterly

Cannabis-themed Special Edition of the CSE Quarterly now live!

There’s no denying that since 2014 the cannabis industry has increasingly grown a following with investors and, of late, mainstream media and conservative business service providers.

In this special edition of the CSE Quarterly, six CSE-listed companies operating in the rapidly evolving cannabis space are profiled.  These firms, and the entrepreneurs behind them, showcase the diversity of opportunities and challenges facing an industry that is still in its earliest stages.

Featured in this special edition of the CSE Quarterly are:

  • Alternate Health Corp. (CSE:AHG)
  • CannaRoyalty Corp. (CSE:CRZ)
  • iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc. (CSE:IAN)
  • Maricann Group Inc. (CSE:MARI)
  • Namaste Technologies Inc. (CSE:N)
  • The Canadian Bioceutical Corporation (CSE:BCC)

Read the latest issue of the CSE Quarterly below.


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Versus Systems prepares to play matchmaker between major brands, video gamers worldwide

The precise number depends on the source you choose, but multiple surveys indicate that people spend hundreds of millions of hours playing video games every week. And that’s just in North America.

Considered another way, the Super Bowl and its famously expensive commercials attract around 110 million viewers in the United States, yet that occurs just once a year.

Clearly, then, video games are media – and immersive media at that – with millions of people engaged at any given moment. And most players pack enough disposable income that brands want very much to reach them.

The billion-dollar question is how to introduce a level of commercial marketing into the gaming environment such that it makes a positive impression on behalf of a brand, as the last thing you’d want to do is turn gamers off by being intrusive or annoying.

Versus Systems (CSE:VS) is confident it has the answer, and it revolves around encouraging both avid and casual gamers to opt into an environment where products and brands are featured in a way such that players become eager to interact.

Gamers are naturally competitive, so the idea of offering the chance to play for more than just an ephemeral digital points total makes sense. Playing for valuable prizes introduces a new degree of meaning to the activity, and it is this dynamic that is enabling Versus Systems to draw interest from an increasing number of brands searching for new ways to market their products.

“We’ve created a platform that does two things,” explains Versus Systems CEO Matthew Pierce. “First, it allows publishers and developers to offer prizes within their games to drive engagement. It makes them more fun to play and the idea that you can compete for everything from downloadable content to physical goods to energy drinks and concert tickets is an enormously powerful opportunity.

“The second thing it does is allow brands to be part of a promotions engine for in-game advertising and connect those brands to players and spectators. Our belief is that if you make it fun to try to win prizes and make it aspirational, and you find products that players actually want to play for, that is a really rich opportunity.”

The origin of Versus Systems is a fascinating story and helps explain not only where the core idea came from, but why the company is positioned to succeed in a business with immense challenges, both technical and legal.

Pierce is a Stanford graduate who started his own companies and worked for large consulting groups. Versus Systems was founded in a technology incubator Pierce worked in, but it was an incubator with a twist. Not only was it full of programmers and engineers with incredible skills and entrepreneurial zeal, but its main backer was a law firm, and this is the team’s secret sauce, if you will.

“The thesis was to work in areas that took advantage of the partners’ strengths,” says Pierce. “We thus wanted ideas that were technically complex, and we also needed the regulatory landscape to be complicated because we had access to tremendous attorneys. We are versed in the entertainment space and thus wanted to keep things in that sector. The first company we incubated was Versus and it is the best project I have ever worked on.”

Players who want to compete on the Versus platform must first download an app to their phone or computer so they can log into the community. Once in, a player finds that the Versus experience is additive and does not interfere with their fun by adding the conventional overlay of monetization approaches common to many games these days. Rather, Versus enables players to determine the parameters of interaction themselves.

“You log into your game and a new set of menus appears when you go to play,” explains Pierce. “Players can choose to play for money, for physical goods, or for downloadable goods. You can also decide if you want to play one on one, or perhaps one on five where the top three players win a prize. And gamers often like to play people they have invited because it means something if they can beat them.”

The beauty of the business model from the Versus Systems perspective is that the company does not have to make large financial outlays in order to attract users to its platform. As it aligns with popular games, players will naturally find Versus and its competitive options on their own.

For game developers, the appeal is a platform that is a total solution, managing prize and competition details for players, while also addressing administrative challenges they surely would rather have someone else take care of.

“The concept of creating a platform that solves a lot of the legal and regulatory burdens faced by game developers and publishers was an important part of the genesis of the company,” says Pierce. “We call the approach dynamic regulatory compliance, as we make sure that prizes are only available in regions and countries where those prizes are legal. It is a new approach and we have been writing patents to protect the intellectual property since 2014.”

Versus generates a number of revenue streams from its involvement with each game, the most important being revenue-sharing agreements with developers and publishers when brands pay to offer products or gamers choose a pay-to-play option from the platform. Integration fees help the company cover up-front costs.

“It has to be bespoke integration,” says Pierce. “Nobody knows the players better than the developer and we don’t want to take them out of that world. I don’t want this to be something that in any way detracts from the gaming experience, but rather helps to make it more engaging.”

Pierce and his team are currently working to integrate the beta model of the platform into a handful of games, while at the same time adding prize providers and signing up brands, some of which he expects to be very big names. Rapid expansion of the company and its reach is expected to follow.

“The games we are working with early on are really great,” says Pierce. “When we get out into the market and people see how exciting this is as an engagement engine, I think we’ll soon have to scale up to put this in more and bigger titles. All brands want to be where their customers are, and their customers are playing games.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Mar 1, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Versus Systems at http://www.versussystems.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/versus-systems-inc.

Marapharm Ventures diversifies across products, jurisdictions to find medical cannabis sweet spot

Getting in on the ground floor of an exciting new opportunity is one well-acknowledged path to success. Marapharm Ventures (CSE:MDM) CEO Linda Sampson likens it to finding a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and believes that is exactly what her company is moving forward with as it draws closer to operations at multiple facilities focusing on the medical cannabis industry.

Marapharm is taking a different approach than many of the other companies in the space, diversifying its portfolio across geographic regions and business types, and doing so in a way that marries its corporate strengths with the needs of different markets. It is a plan that at once helps manage risk while increasing the degree of success Marapharm and its shareholders can potentially realize.

Marapharm is advancing cannabis production opportunities in British Columbia and Nevada, and will also serve as landlord of a large facility in Washington State. It plans to not only grow cannabis but also process harvested material into products such as oils and edibles in jurisdictions where this is permitted. Production, processing, landowner, future retailer – put a check mark in the vertical integration box.

Fortunately, when it comes time to ship product, Marapharm’s boss is an experienced marketer. Sampson, originally from South Africa, enjoyed a career before agreeing to head Marapharm that saw her re-brand struggling companies and help turn their operations successful in relatively short order. Sampson also worked with commercial property developers to conceptualize projects, consult with designers to ensure details were right, and market them afterward.

Sampson’s skillset is being put to good use at Marapharm, which leans on her for real estate, market research, and strategic planning insight to name just a few challenging aspects of the fast-moving, big money industry that is medical cannabis in North America.

Marapharm has an application before Health Canada for a production facility in the picturesque city of Kelowna – also home to Marapharm’s head office – that has passed the Security Clearance phase and is now in the in-depth Review phase.

But moving faster thanks to different local rules are facilities in the US state of Nevada. Here, Marapharm is looking to be a major player in the Las Vegas market for medical, and soon recreational, cannabis and processed cannabis products.

“Marapharm owns a company called EcoNevada which holds a 204,000 square foot cultivation license and a 16,000 square foot processing license,” explains Sampson. “And at another Nevada project we own the land with no debt, have an option to purchase 85% of the production license for $250,000, and then can acquire the remaining 15% for $1,000,000. When you consider the three licenses together it totals about 304,000 square feet, which is the equivalent of six and a quarter football fields.”

The holder of the latter license is businessman Kurt Keating, an award winning organic cannabis grower who will work with Marapharm on its Nevada projects as general manager.

But Keating’s role does not end there. Being a Washington resident, Keating obtained a license in that state and will use it to operate a facility that would be situated on 13 acres of land Marapharm has the option to purchase. It already accommodates a 28,000 square foot building used as a cultivation facility and the plan is to expand that footprint.

Companies from outside of Washington State are not permitted to hold local growing licenses, and with Marapharm hailing from Canada that means it can’t be the licensed grower at the Washington site. The strategy is thus to purchase the land, build and outfit the facility, then lease it to Keating and other growers for their own production use. A departure compared to being the actual grower, but still a use of capital that generates a good return and diversifies both the company’s asset holdings and revenue model.

“Part of Kurt’s Washington license allows for unlimited processing,” says Sampson. “There is a building next to the production facility that we can turn into a processing center. We can equip it so as to maximize processing potential to be operated as a turnkey facility. For people who hold cultivation licenses but not processing licenses, we can allow cultivation on our property and then they can use the processing facility after harvests.”

Sampson says Nevada will be the company’s biggest cultivation center, as well as the one that receives the majority of the marketing budget. “The Nevada medical market is unusual in that it is a reciprocal state – if you are a medical cannabis user from another jurisdiction you can bring your card to Nevada and they will honor it,” explains Sampson. “Las Vegas gets 50 million visitors a year, and on November 9 the state voted to move forward with legalization, so that adds another aspect to the value of what we have there. I think our involvement in Nevada represents a giant step forward for our company.”

Looking out over the next 12 months, Marapharm intends to forge ahead with its application in Canada while completing the build-out at its Washington site.

In Nevada, the company wants to get production up and running sooner and use its processing facility to create edibles and other products suited to the local market. “We anticipate that the Nevada market will be more focused on processed products as opposed to the actual cannabis, as they can be used more discreetly,” says Sampson.

Reflecting the different regulatory atmosphere, the Nevada sites actually face April deadlines to begin operating, so Marapharm is working to have initial 5,000 square foot facilities functional on each within the prescribed time frame. “They are OK with us having a smaller building but with the intent to move ahead with a bigger structure at a later date,” Sampson says.

So, big plans and tight timelines, but how is Marapharm set to manage financially? To begin with, the Nevada land is paid for and the company does not have any debt, plus warrant exercises brought in over $1.5 million as the stock price topped the $2.00 level in November. The stock trades good volume between $1.00 and $2.00, which suggests the company has financing options that would not require it to accept undue dilution if it needed to go to market.

Marapharm also has designs on California, not to mention automated vending machines, that, using proprietary biometrics for identification purposes, would be used where regulations allow. It is a strategy of diversification, integration, but focus on a young, growing cannabis industry – the pieces appear to fit.

“It is not often a chance like this comes along – it is kind of like the gold rush,” Sampson concludes. “We just feel so honored at the opportunity to be in on the ground floor and be working in good jurisdictions with great people. I think the future looks very bright.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Feb 23, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Marapharm Ventures at http://www.marapharm.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/life-sciences/marapharm-ventures-inc.

Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development sees Mongolia as cornerstone of Asian mining strategy

Covering an area larger than Peru yet with a population of just 3 million people, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country on earth.  It is also a beautiful and fascinating nation, with traditions established before Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire in 1206 influencing lifestyles to this day.

While mindful of its rich culture, Mongolia is easing into the modern economy with commercial-scale mining leading the way.  How could it not when minerals comprise some 80% of the country’s exports?

Mongolia’s most famous mine is undeniably Oyu Tolgoi, the copper-gold behemoth operated jointly with the Mongolian government by Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) subsidiary Turquoise Hill Mining since 2013.

But the country is home to other mines as well, such as Centerra Gold (TSX:CG)’s Boroo mine, a historic gold mine whose modern-day output began in March 2004 and continued until September 2012, though with a stoppage of just over a year beginning in November 2010.

Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development (CSE:URG) and its leadership team were attracted to the country for the same reasons as other companies – high-quality projects, proximity to Asia and a favourable permitting environment, to name a few.

The driving force behind the company’s strategy and operations, founder and director Youliang Wang, explains that the concept for Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development dates back some 20 years to when he was a banker at China Construction Bank, where his responsibilities included overseeing loans to Chinese mining companies.

Attracted by the scale and variety of opportunity in Mongolia, Wang first invested in a dairy business, eventually broadening into other agricultural businesses as complements.

Given his background in mining finance, though, it was only a matter of time until he created a plan to move into this sector.  In 2013, Wang and his team immersed themselves in the Mongolian mining community, working with consultants and local exploration teams to examine various properties.  The result was the company’s current land package, prospective for both industrial and precious metals.

Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development’s properties are located in the Bornuur district in the Tӧv Aimag, or Central Province, of Northern Mongolia.  Its package spans roughly 1,050 hectares, comprised mostly of the Kharganii am-1 Molybdenum Property.

“Our licensed area is situated in the North Khentii tectonic belt and we have encountered gold, copper, molybdenum, tungsten and silver on its grounds,” says Wang.  “The projects are located 24km northwest of Centerra Gold’s Boroo deposit and 15km east of their Gatsuurt gold deposit.”

Since acquiring the Mongolian projects, the company has completed extensive trenching and geophysical work, geological mapping, ground magnetic surveys and polarization gradient surveys.

“Our initial phase of exploration drill work has contributed to a database that contains approximately 3,501 drill core samples and 29 trench samples that were assayed for molybdenum,” says Wang. “This includes a current program which encompasses 29 holes for a total of over 11,630m.”

Wang explains that many of the holes have multiple intersections of molybdenum mineralization above 0.05%, with several intervals of between 1m and 2m exceeding 0.5% Mo. The best hole yielded a 3m length averaging 2.413% Mo.

Wang notes that the Mongolian permitting environment is very reasonable, with the various licenses Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development holds typically being extendable for up to 30 years.

P&E Mining Consultants of Toronto was recently chosen to complete a NI 43-101 report for the company’s Kharganii am-1 Project, which will reflect results from the current drill program and associated metallurgical test work.  A concurrent evaluation of the preliminary economics of the molybdenum deposit is also planned.

The properties being situated within a recognized gold belt, Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development is also gearing up to initiate a property-wide evaluation of potential gold targets.  The work will include mapping, prospecting and IP geophysics.  Expansion of the property is also under consideration.

“The North Khentii gold belt has an extensive history of mining both alluvial placer and bedrock gold deposits,” says Wang.  “After discussions with geologists from P&E, we are looking to evaluate high-potential targets within the property for gold mineralization.”

Wang says Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development is also evaluating both merger and acquisition opportunities and possible project procurements, the longer-term objective being to develop a portfolio of Asia-based projects diversified across various mineral types and regions.

Time will tell where these expansion efforts lead, but for the time being there is plenty to be excited about in Mongolia.  The country has only been an internationally accessible mining jurisdiction since the mid-1990s, and if one considers what the industry has been able to accomplish in the last decade between new discoveries and active operators, Mongolia holds its own vis-à-vis many more mature mining jurisdictions in other parts of the world.

“We have long believed in the viability of mining projects in Mongolia, and when the projects in our current portfolio came to our attention, we thought what better way to get involved in the space than to make investments in some of these great projects, and then look to take them public,” Wang concludes.  “Mongolia has a rich mining tradition, and we hope Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development will in time be able to play a lasting role.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Feb 28, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/oriental-non-ferrous-resources-development-incc.

West Red Lake Gold Mines going for gold in legendary Canadian district

Anyone who knows anything about Canadian gold mining will be familiar with the legendary Red Lake Gold District in Ontario.

It’s home to the Red Lake mine, one of the world’s most prolific mines owned by one of the biggest producers of the yellow metal: Goldcorp (TSX:G).

The district has produced over 30 million ounces of high-grade gold, and other major operations in the area include the Madsen and Starrett Olsen mines, owned by Pure Gold Mining (CVE:PGM), and Goldcorp’s Red Lake, Campbell, and Cochenour mines.

Well on the way to making its own mark in the district is junior explorer West Red Lake Gold Mines (CSE:RLG).

The company’s 3,100 hectare property hosts three former producing mines, lies just 20km from Goldcorp’s Red Lake mine and boasts a management team that is expert in bringing gold projects to the point where they are bought out by bigger producers.

“We explore and develop gold projects – outline a gold deposit or what could be an underground mine in the case of our present project,” explains president John Kontak.

“We would, say, take a company of $20 million market cap and develop the project for a transaction that could be worth a couple of hundred million dollars. That’s what we’ve done before and that’s what we’re working towards now,” he said, adding that it’s a two- to three-year strategy.

And this team certainly has form.

Entrepreneur Tom Meredith is Executive Chairman. He was formerly head of VG Gold, where he worked with West Red Lake’s exploration manager, Ken Guy, and took a $3 million market cap firm to the point where it was sold to Goldcorp founder Rob McEwen in a transaction valued at approximately $200 million.

Meanwhile, Kontak was formerly president of Victory Gold Mines, where Meredith and Guy were also involved. It owned a former open pit east of Timmins that was later sold and is now part of Osisko Mining (TSX:OSK).

The team (including Meredith, Guy and Kontak) took on West Red Lake in 2014 during the gold bear market, sorted out some legacy issues, and in February of 2016 filed a NI 43-101 inferred resource estimate for the Rowan mine target of 1.087 million ounces at 7.57 grams per tonne (g/t) gold.

West Red Lake has three former mines on the property – the Rowan, Red Summit and Mount Jamie mines. The latter two are owned 100% by the company, while Rowan is 40% owned by joint venture and funding partner Goldcorp.

Rowan is currently the focus of attention, where the company is operator and over 500 holes have been drilled to produce that NI 43-101 estimate.

The Rowan project consists of two main exploration targets. At the former mine, the goal is to significantly increase the resource to allow for a long mine life.

Then there’s blue-sky potential at another target, a structural intersection where two regional gold-bearing structures meet.

“That’s what happened to Goldcorp,” exclaims Kontak. “It found a zone and that took it from a junior to a multi-billion dollar company.”

It’s worth noting here that Goldcorp’s Red Lake mine produced a whopping 375,700 ounces of the precious metal in 2015 alone.

The geology of the Rowan mine is a fairly simple archean greenstone, Kontak explains, whereas the intersection target is more complicated, involving folding rocks.

However technological advancements in exploration nowadays means finding that “needle in the haystack” is increasingly plausible.

West Red Lake started drilling again at Rowan in January, having completed two programs last year, and plans to start a campaign every quarter while releasing assays from the preceding program.

The near-term aim is to expand the existing resource and in the future to upgrade into the higher-confidence “indicated” category.

The resource is open at depth and to the east and west, and there’s a 12km strike length so there is plenty of opportunity to work at increasing it, though there’s no specific time set for the release of the next estimate.

“This could be turned into an operating underground gold mine,” Kontak said of Rowan, pointing out there were many mills with spare capacity around in the area, along with good infrastructure and water.

The Red Lake region’s propensity to yield high-grade gold is also key to the story.

The 1.087 million ounces of inferred resource at 7.57 g/t was at a 3 g/t cut-off, and at a higher 5 g/t cut-off there were still 850,000 gold ounces inferred from just 2.5 million tonnes. The basic message is the higher the grade, the lower the costs.

Kontak explains: “You have to dig less rock out of the ground, you have to transport less rock to the mill and you have to crush less rock at the mill to get the gold.”

West Red Lake has a team in Toronto already trying to attract potential production companies who may be interested in buying the project in two to three years.

Financially, the company has around $1.5 million in the treasury, and is funded for its drill programs in the first and second quarters.

Management are significant shareholders, so they are obviously keen to see value enhanced.

With some attractive targets and apparent multi-million ounce potential, West Red Lake Gold Mines has it all to play for at a time of rising sentiment in the gold market.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Feb 14, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

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Learn more about West Red Lake Gold Mines at http://www.westredlakegold.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/west-red-lake-gold-mines-inc.

High grade, low cost and near production: Winston Gold is ready to shine

Throw in an experienced management team and you’ve got what many would see as the complete package.

With its two assets and strong mining team, Winston Gold Mining, which raised C$545,000 when it listed on the CSE last March, appears to tick all of these boxes.

While it is still in the early stages of developing its Gold Ridge property in Arizona and its namesake Winston project in Montana, the company holds historic data (particularly on the latter) which suggests both projects have more than a fighting chance of success.

Winston is located near Helena, Montana – an area with a rich mining history dating back to the 19th century.

The district is reported to have produced 100,000 ounces of gold from only 150,000 tonnes of ore back in its heyday at an impressive average grade of 22.8 grams per tonne (g/t). A quick look at the records will tell you that the Custer mine – which lies within the Winston property – was a major contributor to that figure.

Similarly, the Gold Ridge project near Willcox in Arizona yielded some good grades in the past, too.

“It was acquired from some people we know very well. It’s also a historic mine, but not quite as prolific as the Winston claims,” explains the company’s chief executive Murray Nye.

The Gold Prince deposit on the project was mined sporadically between 1932 and 1996 and produced 22,000 ounces of the precious metal from multiple veins, averaging almost 12 g/t.

The low price of gold back in the eighties forced the previous owners to move out of the property, but Nye’s interest was piqued by what was left behind.

“What we liked about that was that it had a lot of development done already. They had set up two drill stations underground and we went down and checked it out and they were both in good shape,” he explains.

“Both the drill stations were ready to go and drill below the level they were mining, so we thought there was a pretty good opportunity to start some bulk sampling or test-mining there on a near-term basis.”

This is exactly what Nye and his team look for when assessing potential projects.

“We’re after properties that we believe can get to a development or bulk sampling stage as quickly as possible because the investors who we’ve aligned ourselves with are looking for that kind of opportunity and we think we’ve found a couple of assets that fit those criteria.”

Given that it only acquired Gold Ridge at the back end of last year, not much additional work has been carried out at the property. The company’s primary focus has been on its flagship Winston property.

“We think it has more opportunities in terms of tonnage,” says Nye.

The project had around 630 holes drilled down to around 100 metres or so as the previous owners tried to assess the potential for an open pit operation. They estimated it could be host to around 500,000 ounces of gold, potentially more.

“That’s not 43-101 compliant but it certainly gives us an indication that there are some pretty good gold values in the property and many of them were very high grade,” says Nye.

The CEO and his partner Mike Gunsinger think the real potential of the Winston project lies in the untested geology further below ground.

“Our thinking is – and three geologists have also told me this – that this project is better suited to underground mining. What we’re doing now is drilling underneath where the old workings are.”

Recent results would seem to back up this theory. In January Winston appeared to locate a “high-grade gold vein which could be amenable to underground test-mining.”

Drilling along the Edna-West vein, as it has now been called, yielded grades of 8 g/t up to 44 g/t.

The bonus of these high grades is that it would make the project relatively low-cost.

But it’s not just the grades that make Winston such an exciting project; the fact that the infrastructure is already in place is also a plus-point.

“There’s a major highway within a half-mile of the property and there’s a major power line running right through the middle of it,” says Nye.

“The elevation is also low by Montana standards so Winston would lend itself to year-round operations.”

The plan is to carry on drilling here for another few months and then go underground, with a view to getting into production within two years.

“If we were to start something [underground] eight months from now, you’d be doing the development which would probably take another eight months,” explains Nye.

“Depending on how long the vein is and what you’re mining it would at least take you another eight months to develop that into a shrinkage stope operation.

“So within a couple of years – maybe a year and a half – you’d be in a production scenario if everything went to plan.”

“Our goal is to develop underground access and gradually ramp up to a 300 tonne per day test-mining stage. If all goes according to plan we believe we could achieve this for about CDN $10 million.  Of course the ultimate number of ounces produced will depend on the average grade recovered.”

That’s not a lot in mining terms, but it is a tough ask for a fledgling business. But that there is where the experience and connections come in.

Winston is the second mining company Nye has headed over the past decade, and before that he was involved in financing projects, while Gunsinger has over 50 years of mining experience to draw upon.

So they know mining money people and are also pretty well up on the laws and regulations, especially in Montana.

“Operationally we’ve got a very experienced mining team and management is key in this. We’re very familiar with the state, the regulations there and we have very good relations with regulatory bodies,” says Nye.

The one thing Nye can’t control is the price of gold, although things are starting to look up here too.

“The gold market, in my opinion, is a place to have a serious look right now – it bottomed out but now seems to be back on an uptick,” the Winston CEO says.

Is this another box ticked for Winston Gold Mining? Very possibly.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Feb 16, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Winston Gold Mining at http://winstongoldmining.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/winston-gold-mining-corp.

Irving Resources unearths exceptional gold, silver exploration opportunities in Japan

When one thinks of Japan, sushi, Shinkansen bullet trains and onsen hot spring resorts come to mind more readily for 99.9% of the population than precious metals exploration. But those famous hot springs are plentiful because of geothermal activity, and this special geological phenomenon in Japan has given rise to some rich gold mines in years past.

The most impressive example in modern times is the Hishikari mine located on the southern island of Kyushu. Operated by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. (Tokyo Stock Exchange:5713), Hishikari is very high-grade in nature, averaging some 40 grams per ton of gold in its ore.

Quinton Hennigh and Akiko Levinson knew about the potential for exploration in Japan as they were building up ounces at the Springpole deposit in Ontario while running Gold Canyon Resources. Springpole developed into a resource of over 5 million ounces of gold before the company was acquired by First Mining Finance in 2015.

As part of the deal, Gold Canyon spun out a new company with Levinson at the helm. She and Hennigh had for years agreed that if they ever started a new company, it would focus on Japan. The new vehicle was their chance and Irving Resources (CSE:IRV) had its direction laid out from the get go.

As 2017 kicks off, Irving has a project portfolio with all the hallmarks investors like to see – multiple projects with high-grade gold and silver showings, sound infrastructure, and a friendly jurisdiction to work in. Combine these attributes with good share structure and a healthy treasury and the Irving story has become an investor favourite, its stock price rising over 600% in the past 12 months to around $0.90.

In November 2016, Irving raised just short of $6 million, with famed precious metals investor Eric Sprott personally providing the lead order. That leaves the company with over $7 million in the treasury, or to put it another way, all the financial runway it needs for well over a year to begin showing the world how rewarding precious metals exploration in Japan can be.

“We are one of very few exploration companies operating in Japan,” explains Hennigh. “We are building relationships in the country and it is a very pleasant place to work.”

Irving, though a local subsidiary, has thus far acquired three projects, all located on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. Each of the projects holds great promise from an exploration standpoint, but Omui is the one that excites Hennigh most at this early stage, and with good reason.

Chip sampling off float boulders on the property returned assay numbers the company termed “exceptional”. The assays included samples of 480 grams per tonne (g/t) gold and 9,660 g/t silver, 143.5 g/t gold and 2,090 g/t silver, and others of similar quality. Even the newcomer to investing in precious metals will recognize those grades as being virtually off the charts.

“Omui is a very high-grade epithermal vein system exposed at surface and there was limited mining there in the 1920s,” explains Hennigh. “We expanded our land position by filing for applications for additional tenements, and have also started to prospect beyond the historic Omui mining area.”

Importantly, the exploration team has also found Omui’s rock to contain silica, a common element accompanying veined precious metal deposits, and critical to ore processing in Japan. The early results indicate rock at Omui being very low in toxic elements such as arsenic and antimony as well, suggesting any deposit outlined at the project could yield ideal smelter feed for domestic refineries.

While Hennigh and Levinson will be spending quite a bit of time in Japan going forward, when not there they have teammates to rely on in the country who are second to none.

Hidetoshi Takaoka enjoyed a long career at Sumitomo Metal Mining, helping to explore the Hishikari deposit and sharing credit for finding and developing Alaska’s world class Pogo gold deposit. “I’d say Mr. Takaoka is Japan’s best known geologist,” says Hennigh.

Irving also considers itself fortunate to be working with Haruo Harada and Mitsui Mineral Development Engineering Co., Ltd. (MINDECO) for assistance with permitting applications and other work with specific engineering requirements.

Dr. Kuang Ine Lu, an Irving Resources director who earned a Ph. D in Economic Geology from the University of Tokyo, brings yet another experienced hand to evaluate projects and strategy based on years of local experience.

Longer term, the plan at Irving is to prove up deposits from which to sell smelter feed to domestic smelters.

Hennigh is quick to point out, though, that the company intends to move ahead in a methodical manner, so as to make the most of its financial resources and ensure the highest possible likelihood of ultimate success.

“We are looking to shore up our land positions in the next few months and then starting in May begin field work on the various projects,” says Hennigh. “Omui will be first, as it is our most advanced project and is giving us the best numbers. But we will explore Utanobori, Rubeshibe and possibly other projects we are considering with chip sampling, mapping, soil sampling and maybe some geophysics. This year will focus on refining targets and it will probably be 2018 when we are ready to get drills turning.”

Interestingly, Hennigh says that experienced drill teams are available in Japan not only owing to mineral exploration but also because resorts and energy projects drill to tap hot springs throughout the country. They use core drills primarily, which is exactly what Irving wants so that it can preserve layers of rock and assess veining at various depths in detail.

Shareholders will be happy to learn that the depths Irving envisions its targets at are not that daunting, with Hishikari’s deepest levels of 350m serving us a good indicator for a Japanese precious metals deposit.

And because of Japan’s size and advanced development, project accessibility is not an issue. “Most areas in Japan are accessible by road and we don’t have to walk more than half a kilometer to any of the sites,” says Hennigh.

The stars seem aligned to make 2017 an exciting year for Hennigh, Levinson and the rest of the Irving Resources team. With field work starting in a few months and early project showings nothing short of outstanding, the company is set to draw attention to a country whose potential for precious metals exploration has largely been overlooked.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Feb 27, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Irving Resources Inc. at https://www.irvresources.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/irving-resources-inc.

The Special PDAC Edition of the CSE Quarterly – Now Live!


The Special PDAC Edition of the CSE Quarterly is Now Live!

As the world’s leading mining conference, the PDAC is a great example of how truly global the mining industry is.

This special issue of the CSE Quarterly profiles several CSE-listed mining and exploration companies on their global journey to seeking out interesting projects from Montana to Mongolia and many points in between.

In addition to the profiles and update on the CSE provided by CEO, Richard Carleton, this edition of the CSE Quarterly contains some new features.

First, a “Company Snapshot” has been embedded at the end of each article providing a more well-rounded view of the company as an investment opportunity. Second, the Quarterly now more clearly identifies companies who also trade in the US on one of the OTC Markets tiers.

Featured in this special PDAC edition of the Quarterly are:

  • Irving Resources Inc. (CSE:IRV)
  • Winston Gold Mining Corp. (CSE:WGC)
  • West Red Lake Gold Mines Inc. (CSE:RLG)
  • Oriental Non-Ferrous Resources Development Inc. (CSE:URG)
  • Marpharm Ventures Inc. (CSE:MDM)
  • Versus Systems Inc. (CSE:VS)

Read the latest issue of the CSE Quarterly below.

 


Missed a previous edition of the CSE Quarterly? Click here to access previous issues.

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MOBI724 at the vanguard of payments and coupon revolution

We all know that shopping isn’t what it used to be since the arrival of smartphones and e-commerce.

What you might not be aware of is that the payments, promotions and coupon landscape is also undergoing a seismic shift due to emerging technology.

At the vanguard of this revolution is rapidly growing fintech (financial technology) company MOBI724 Global Solutions Inc. (CSE:MOS), which provides consumer services that weren’t available as recently as two years ago and is participating in an expanding global market that this year has an estimated worth of $10 billion.

Specialising in card payments

The company specialises in card payments and its core business, explained Chief Executive Officer Marcel Vienneau, is its card-linked platform, which when combined with digital marketing represents a new ecosystem allowing banks, merchants and customers to transact more efficiently with each other.

Card-linked technology is transformative for credit card points programs, and in addition enables card users to receive a tailored stream of offers and promotions on their smart devices.

To give a sense of scale, the company’s website says there will be just over 1 billion mobile coupon users by 2019, up from just under 560 million this year.

MOBI724 also offers digital payments solutions.

“This type of technology simply didn’t exist two years ago,” said Vienneau. “We are selling our solutions primarily to card issuers or banks in different countries,” he adds, pointing out that the company has customers in Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America. In the Canadian market alone it has 400 customers.

“Most banks, anywhere in the world, have points programs where they issue points when you spend with their cards. Most of these cards enable customers to redeem points and get a reward,” he said.

Reinventing the technology

Perhaps the most significant aspect of MOBI724’s technology is that it has reinvented a clumsy, 20-year-old cost and payment structure, and thereby helps banks to make more money from card transactions.

Vienneau offers some examples of how the system worked in the past and how MOBI724’s better approach makes a difference.

A credit card customer has been awarded 25,000 points for using his or her card and can therefore buy a product with a $250 gift card. The card-issuing bank bears the cost of producing a rewards catalogue and the shipping costs of any product bought.

Now, say that a customer goes to an actual store and wants to buy a gift for $400 and include the $250 gift card value as partial payment. The current system is disjointed and the balance can be made up from cash, or another credit card, which might not be linked to the points system. Obviously, the customer doesn’t get the benefit of gaining more points.

MOBI724 simplifies the process by bringing all the strands together. It links the credit card, which issued the points, with the gift card. A customer can make a payment with an app and it both acknowledges that the gift card has been used and applies the balance owing to the credit card that earns points.

Similarly, when someone is in a store MOBI724 can send a coupon based on location or the customer’s profile, then the coupon can be used moments later at the cash register. The system can also send offers directly to a smartphone at any time, regardless of whether the shopper happens to be at a store or not.

In the preceding case of the $400 purchase, the bank charges a percentage of the transaction value when the points are redeemed, and so does MOBI724. The bank also wins by avoiding the necessity of having to pay for catalogues and product shipping.

“This is a new way to transfer a cost structure into a revenue-driven model, and it is seamless for the user and the bank,” said Vienneau.

It also taps into the way people engage with their banks and financial institutions nowadays – namely, instead of going into branches and using ATMs, people are putting “plastic into phones” and want more personalised interaction.

“Banks are losing their branding abilities but this gives them more channel opportunities,” Vienneau explained.

MOBI724 has invested considerably in its “business intelligence” capabilities, which allow it to map out people’s past purchases, social media interests and other distinguishing characteristics so that it can target them with specific coupons and offers.

“We are not just throwing everything at them,” said Vienneau.

The digital marketing aspect of MOBI724’s technology should also be of interest to advertisers, he points out, as it reveals consumer spending habits and other tendencies.

To that end, the company has struck strategic alliances with several agencies to help further grow the business.

Sales projected to reach $2.75mln for 2016

And growing it certainly is. Two years ago,annual revenue at MOBI724 was just over $100,000, and last year came in at $450,000. For 2016, sales are projected to reach $2.75 million.

Vienneau, a tech entrepreneur who became Chief Executive Officer when the group listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange in February 2015, expects to double revenue in 2017, along with crossing the line into positive EBITDA territory around mid-year.

In the next 36 months, the aim is to have $50 million in annual revenue and an expanding sales pipeline.

Vienneau designed the card-linked technology himself, planning the concept on a single sheet of paper four years ago.

The digital coupon market is projected to be worth $50 billion in the next three years and he reckons MOBI724 is well positioned to win a meaningful piece of this.

The group already has a respected backer in the form of institutional investor Fidelity, which has been involved in four rounds of funding, the latest for a $1.5 million convertible debenture.

MOBI724 announced plans to raise $5 million in July, around half of which has already been obtained. The money will be used to drive growth, as the research and development phase is over and the various technology solutions are fully functional.

Significantly, MOBI724 owns all the intellectual property supporting its platform and has a patent pending.

Vienneau reckons that at a market cap of approximately $5 million, or around twice projected 2016 revenue, the share price offers good value to new investors. “The challenge for us is to go out there and tell our story,” he said. “In time, this should lead to the market understanding our huge potential.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Nov 24, 2016 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Mobi724 Global Solutions Inc. at http://www.mobi724.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/mobi724-global-solutions-inc.

Mining for Movies: Virtual Reality booms for Imagination Park and its low-risk approach to Hollywood

In a world where corporations with big budgets toil night and day to eke out what often are mere single-digit profit margins, the idea of a company making modest, low-risk investments and generating swift returns of 1,000% or more seems fanciful. Such a company would have to operate in an innovative industry facing serious capacity constraints, and be one of the few groups holding the keys that unlock the potential to address them.

Well, meet Imagination Park (CSE:IP), a young company that actually is on such a path, working in a realm that over time is likely to touch each and every one of our lives…virtual reality (VR).

Imagination Park is home to a multi-talented team whose members have sold feature films, concepts, scripts and intellectual property to some of the largest entertainment studios in the world. It is a company that seems to have the business side of the industry figured out, pursuing a model that provides multiple chances to make exceptional returns while limiting financial risk to a minimum.

How do they do it? They follow the money.

“I am a film producer by trade and learned early on that the best money in film is not made in production or finance, but in intellectual property,” says Gabriel Napora, Imagination Park’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our mission is to create, option or purchase the most compelling intellectual property in the fields of film and VR.”

More on virtual reality in a moment, but to illustrate the power of ideas in the entertainment industry, consider a story Napora tells about one of his many successful projects. “Early in my career, I produced a project called Tetravaal with a young director on a budget of about $4,000. Tetravaal won the attention of the right people and ended up being the precursor to Chappie, which had a budget of around $70 million. But it all grew from an idea that originally cost only a few thousand dollars to produce.”

Imagination Park brings substantial heft to its projects thanks to a team whose members include two highly successful producers — Napora, plus Imagination Park President Tim Marlowe who was the Executive Producer for The Lady in Number 6, which won an Academy Award. Colin Wiebe, a creative entrepreneur, digital marketing expert and musician who toured with the likes of rock legend Randy Bachman chairs the board of directors, which also includes producer and ace talent scout Yas Taalat. The top execs oversee a technical group on the special effects and virtual reality fronts that is second to none. This is a company ready to leverage technical and cost advantages to compete in a large and rapidly growing market for the products and services in which it specializes with an emphasis on 360 degree, 3D virtual reality content.

“Netflix had a budget of around $6 billion last year, you can expect Amazon to match that or be higher, and HBO will have to do the same,” explains Wiebe. “With more and more people binge-watching on Netflix content gets consumed very quickly, so studios have to both be shooting around the clock plus looking outside their walls. But the fact is that there are only so many quality content producers around and only so many production facilities.”

Imagination Park takes advantage of this growing supply/demand imbalance not only by producing films and other content, but also with virtual reality services and more conventional production support.

It does this in a clever way from a financial perspective, structuring agreements so they pay on both the front and back ends. “In film, and to some degree virtual reality, the riskiest thing is financing. No matter how smart you are, nobody can guarantee that a film is going to make money,” says Napora.

“When we create, option or license intellectual property to present to major studios there is always an upfront fee paid by the studio before we go into production. In most cases, we also earn producer fees to move things forward. By the time the film goes into the world we have already made an exponential return, and if the film is successful we’ll make even more. So, our model is significantly less risky than one involved in actually financing films.”

In the next few months the world will get to see a series of Imagination Park projects, including a full-length feature film starring Danny Trejo, several virtual reality pieces, and a full-length documentary. “We are close to having around 18 projects either created, optioned or acquired on our basic slate for 2017,” says Wiebe.

A proof of concept is like a mini-trailer, but the intended audience is a studio or other entity who would purchase or financially support the idea. Imagination Park creates proof of concept packages for third-party filmmakers as well as for itself to market its own concepts developed internally. Napora’s Tetravaal production was a proof of concept.

“Looking back, I have been able to sell about 50% of the projects I have been involved in to major studios,” says Napora. “I am not saying we will sell half of everything we are involved in going forward, but even if we were to sell three or four we would be a very well-to-do company. If we are right on two or three projects and they turn into hits, we become a major Hollywood player.”

On the virtual reality side, Imagination Park has created content soon to be for sale in virtual reality stores. It will also work with advertising agencies, and with film studios that have a new title ready to go but need virtual reality content online to help excite potential moviegoers.

“Sales of virtual reality equipment have exceeded $1 billion and this is not even the beginning of the curve,” says Wiebe. “We are currently in discussions with some major corporations focused strictly on advertising. We have detailed proposals going out to major companies and see this as being the very start of something that will spark a huge wave of virtual reality service work for us.”

The modest investment philosophy extends to all corners of the company, with the chairman saying it is important to stay lean and mean. “Nobody is getting big salaries. Everything is performance-based and we have specific budgets for travel and projects.”

Virtual reality, proofs of concept, feature films and production work are enough to keep the Imagination Park team busy on its North American home turf, but China beckons as well. The Asian country is a huge and rapidly expanding market for feature films, and Napora happens to have both experience and connections there, plus an understanding of the types of concepts that sell to its unique audience.

“There are opportunities now that never existed in the past and they are there for the taking if you know the right people, have the right product, and have a team that can execute,” says Wiebe. “It is like mining for movies. But ours is a mining project where you know in advance that the value is there. All you have to do is go and get it. The skyrocketing virtual reality trend has been an added surprise discovery that luckily we’ve been way ahead of. ”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Nov 24, 2016 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Imagination Park Entertainment Inc. at http://imaginationpark.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/diversified-industries/imagination-park-entertainment-inc.