Vaughn DiMarco & Daniel Drouet on Investing in AI | The CSE Podcast Ep27-S2

The CSE’s Barrington Miller and Scott Pritchard are joined by X Machina Co-Founder & VP of Growth and Value Creation Vaughn DiMarco and Co-Founder, CTO, & CPO Daniel Drouet to discuss the funding gap in the market for early-stage tech companies and how X Machina aims to bridge that gap. The conversation also addresses the potential uses of AI for industrial applications and why Montreal is a growing hub for the technology sector.

Here’s an overview of the discussion in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction
04:02 – What does X Machina do?
07:25 – How does X Machina choose AI companies?
09:55 – What is the difference between artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning?
14:48 – What is Startupfest and how does X Machina choose companies? Where do you see the best opportunities?
18:43 – How does X Machina provide value to potential companies?
21:59 – Why is Montreal an AI and tech hub?
29:21 – What are SR&ED credits?
36:05 – How many companies has X Machina looked at in 2022?
38:20 – What types of companies/industries are emerging?
39:38 – Are there any companies coming from outside of North America into Montreal?

About Vaughn DiMarco

Vaughn is an investor, entrepreneur, and engineer applying AI best practices across industries. As Investment Director at IVADO LABS, he was part of a small team managing INVEST-AI, a $35M Quebec fund. He led due diligence on hundreds of companies, managed a large portfolio, and funding dozens of successful initiatives including but not limited to manufacturing, construction, finance, media, entertainment, medical devices, and tech. 

About Daniel Drouet

Daniel has been deeply involved in tech for over twenty years as an engineer, entrepreneur, investor, and mentor. He has expertise in product management, engineering, and venture financing.  He has conceived and overseen the delivery of numerous software products and IT services and founded several tech companies. He was a founding partner of Real Ventures, Canada’s most active early-stage venture capital fund, and helped grow Anges Quebec into one of the largest angel investor networks in the country.

Learn more about X Machina at https://machina-ai.com/.

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Element79 Gold

Mineral exploration companies rarely talk about the potential for generating cash flow because it simply is not part of the vision. For Element79 Gold (CSE:ELEM), however, it is a key aspect of the path to success, and the company is currently putting the finishing touches on a portfolio designed to achieve it in the near term.

Element79’s flagship is the Maverick Springs Project in Nevada and it has a number of other properties along the state’s Battle Mountain trend as well. It also has projects in British Columbia and Ontario, and recently moved to acquire two high-grade Peruvian gold projects. 

Upon completing the Peruvian acquisitions, Element79 Gold will have a diversified portfolio of assets including greenfield, advanced 43-101 inferred resource stage, and historic high-grade past-producing mines that have the potential to become producers again.

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine sat down with Element79 Gold Chief Executive Officer James Tworek in late March to find out more.

Element79 recently completed a 43-101-compliant, pit-constrained mineral resource estimate for the Maverick Springs project in Nevada. What did it tell you?

It gave us an opportunity to gather all the data that had been amassed from previous owners of this property and to take the historical resource and bring it up to modern standards. In doing that, we were able to incorporate an additional 59 drill holes of data, which had been completed after the historical reports.

It also gave us the opportunity to refresh our perspective on the project. As it was previously conceived only as a prospective underground mine, arguably there was a lot that was being missed. By looking at it from the perspective of a pit-constrained model, we can now look at the strip ratio of all of the strata above the hard rock and begin to incorporate those economics.     

Right now, the strip ratio is about 5:1, and going forward our plans include doing some infill drilling to prove up value and to enhance our understanding of the project’s metallurgy, with the intent of getting better yields from higher strata and enhancing overall project economics.

Aside from Maverick Springs, Element79 has a portfolio of 15 properties in Nevada which you are assessing for further exploration, potential sale or spin-out. Which is most likely? 

Because it is such a diverse portfolio, we have stratified them into what we’ll call the “best hits” in terms of what we will likely keep ourselves and focus on to unlock value. I would argue that Element79’s market capitalization is very much weighted on the value provided by our 3.71 million ounces of gold equivalent and the potential of developing Maverick Springs. Little of the rest of the portfolio is being accounted for today.

Some of these are well-explored properties, with 160-plus drill holes on them, but they don’t have any form of modern report. So, this is a great opportunity for us to revisit data, put in some work on the properties and generate modern reports on them with the intent of unlocking the value of the resources onto our balance sheet.

In addition to raising capital for the projects, we have been speaking with potential partners that might want minority joint ventures on specific properties. We are looking at all these aspects, and now that we’ve reached our current strategic M&A plateau we’re confident in where we’re going with developing our portfolio.

Beyond Nevada, you are in the process of acquiring the Snowbird project in British Columbia and have an option on another project in the famous Timmins mining camp in Ontario. What can you tell us about these? 

The Timmins project, called the Dale Property, has proximity to IAMGold’s Cote gold mine, where production is expected by mid-2023. Being on the same greenstone belt, about 60 kilometres away, there is a great opportunity to show there’s something worth pursuing.

That said, Dale is at a very early stage, so we have to balance that exploration requirement with developing our other more advanced projects at the same time.  

With the Snowbird project, where we have already funded about 3,000 metres of drilling, we intend to close the purchase shortly. The catch to the transaction was that the exploration permit ended on December 31, 2021, and the vendors, Plutus Gold, had a contractual commitment to invest $1 million in exploration by June 30, 2022.

Exploration permits are currently taking six months or more to obtain, so having to wait for it could have jeopardized the acquisition in the immediate term. We’ve been told that Plutus is just getting assays trickling in, and a 43-101 report on the project is underway. We should have that information in the first part of the second quarter.

Element79 recently signed a Letter of Intent to acquire some past-producing gold mines in Peru. What do these offer? 

We have an LOI signed and we’re going through a 90-day due diligence process prior to closing. These assets were previously producing but were shuttered due to low prices in the early 2000s. But there was prolific production out of them. The Lucero asset was producing in the range of 19 grams per ton gold equivalent.

The beauty of working in Peru is that mining is deeply rooted in the culture and it’s a cornerstone of the economy. Also, the permitting process is streamlined compared to many jurisdictions.

There are existing permits in place to extract 350 tons per day of ore. And with the Lucero asset, where the two permits are in place, there is regional infrastructure. The closest mill is only running at about 60% capacity and around 20 days a month, so there’s potential for us to start generating cash flow in the near term.

The company has said its portfolio offers a pathway to revenue. What do you think is the timeline?

Post-acquisition of the Peruvian portfolio, which should be closing at the latest by mid-June of this year, we plan to take the time to make sure that we have adequate basic exploration, including an initial 43-101 resource for both former mines to get them operating again. We feel quite confident that within 18 months we should be in production at Lucero.

That can help offset our day-to-day operating costs, and even fund some exploratory work. If we want to move by leaps and bounds, we are speaking to different financing parties, with debt financing a topic. With cash flow, we can justify borrowing to develop both the Peruvian assets as well as our flagship and Nevada portfolio that much faster.  

What should investors in Element79 expect in the medium term? 

We’re ratcheting up very quickly from a lean start-up to a fully functioning operational mining company on a global basis. We’ve just brought on another world-class teammate, Mr. Kim Kirkland as our VP of Global Exploration and are engaging further consultancies and country managers for specific assets.

The pending newsreel includes updates as we close on Snowbird and eventually on the Peruvian assets. We’re also actively raising capital, as well as progressing long-term sustainability initiatives while developing our portfolio. 

Bringing on cash flow is a key driver of our corporate strategy. There are a lot of junior miners that aren’t able to achieve this goal based on their assets or strategy. We intend to be doing that within 18 months of acquiring the Peruvian portfolio.  

My personal goal was to ensure that this company would have access to cash flow within 24 months of our IPO. We seem to be on that trajectory right now, with an amazing team of people and key assets to get us there.

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Element79 Gold at https://www.element79.gold/.

MariMed Inc. (CSE:MRMD) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed MariMed Inc. (CSE:MRMD) for a virtual Market Open on July 12, 2022. 

MariMed, a multi-state cannabis operator, is dedicated to improving lives every day through its high-quality products, actions, and values. They develop, own, and manage seed to sale state-licensed cannabis facilities which focus on leading horticultural principles, cannabis cultivation techniques, cannabis-infused products, and dispensary operations. 

“Many people have been calling MariMed the best kept secret in cannabis over the years,” noted CAO Jon Levine, stating, “We believe that listing on the CSE will help us get the word out about our company, increase our liquidity and secure more analyst coverage as well.” 

James Black, VP of Listings Development at the CSE, added, “We are thrilled to welcome MariMed to the Canadian public markets! The company has a deep history in the sector and is a welcome addition amongst its industry peers on the Exchange.”

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Spotlight on Theresa Nyabeze

Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee Co-Chair Theresa Nyabeze talks about advocating for diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the mining industry and beyond.

What initially drew you to STEM?

A curiosity about how things worked. I grew up with very curious siblings who were always experimenting with multiple endeavours growing up, like raising silkworms, beekeeping and so on.

How did your career in mining begin?

By accident! In school, I learned that while I enjoyed math and sciences, I hated biology. I needed a program free from human anatomy, and as a younger-than-usual first-year student, I was hesitant to leave my home of Sudbury, Ontario where I lived since I was 12 – so, the mining program at Laurentian University it was! 

Speaking personally, why do you believe diversity and inclusion are important?

I just think it’s the absolute most common-sense lever in everything I do. When I have volunteered in groups or worked in teams, the more people felt understood and included, the more creative they became and the more they seemed to thrive within and outside my engagement with them. From that point of view, I think it’s critical.

As Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committe Co-Chair at CIM, what are some of the challenges you’ve seen or encountered when it comes to D&I in the mining industry?

I think connecting our stories and learning, growing and collaborating continues to be a challenge. I see so many well-intentioned initiatives and driven individuals. We need to break out of tackling challenges in silos.

In your opinion, what is the current state of diversity and inclusion in mining? How does it differ from when you began your career?

The mining industry is on an impressive growth curve, and we are making large strides in embracing D&I. Why I say that is because we are leaders in safety; taking care of the whole ecosystem is something that comes naturally. As we harness this similarity, we are making progress. Look around at mining companies: You will see a major effort to really embrace the learnings from society. There are signs and symbols that progress is underway to diversify workforces, as well as increased training and awareness-raising of key topics.

What efforts can people make to better foster inclusivity?

Investy time in the concept of “unlearning,” and become curious about your teammates and what belonging means to them. This is at a personal, team, and company level.

What do you feel is most important for people to know about diversity and inclusion?

We all need it – regardless of our appearance. Think about your experiences when you were in school until this day; we all thrive when we have a friendship group or people who “get” us. The same sense of belonging you need is what everyone else seeks. There is room for everyone to participate in this movement. Consider this your invitation if you need one! 

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Living out my values and being recognized for my radical authenticity.

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Ameriwest Lithium: Unlocking value in a world shifting toward lithium-based energy solutions

Nevada is a hot spot for lithium exploration: Clayton Valley in particular is a mature, well-known, lithium-rich area that includes the only production in the United States, at Albemarle’s Silver Peak lithium mine.

Throughout the state, major players are scouting for the sought-after metal as demand soars due to the shift to green energy solutions powered by lithium-based batteries. The US government has also announced measures to increase domestic production of the metals and minerals that are used in advanced technologies, in order to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.   

Ameriwest Lithium (CSE:AWLI) is a new, up-and-coming player in the lithium space in Nevada.  It has put together three highly promising early-stage lithium properties in that state and a fourth one in Arizona.  And they are in handy locations as well.  Railroad Valley is the most advanced property and is located about 260 kilometres east-northeast of Clayton Valley.  Edwards Creek Valley is located 225 kilometres west of Reno.  Deer Musk East is in Clayton Valley.  Thompson Valley is 190 kilometres north of Phoenix.

“We made the decision to move into the lithium space in March of 2021, so it’s been just more than a year since we made the transition,” says Watkinson. “Certainly, we see lithium as being one of the hottest metals to look for from an exploration point of view and to generate investor interest. Demand is increasing as we move to electric vehicles, and then there is the need for battery storage as we move to solar and wind energy. So, lithium is going to be something that increases in value over time. It’s a great opportunity for us as a company and for investors to get involved in the lithium area.”

With a number of other explorers also looking for the next big lithium find in Nevada, Watkinson says the technical team that Ameriwest has put together is an important factor, allowing it to grow and acquire what it believes are very good quality assets. The combined technical team has over 170 years of experience in the mining industry.

“There is certainly risk in an exploration company because, especially with a brine target, you can do surface sampling, but that doesn’t really help you to identify a brine target that might be 2,000 feet below surface,” he adds. “Our exploration strategy, using geophysics the way we have, helps set us apart. I don’t see other junior mining companies necessarily taking the same technical approach to define targets. The geologists we have put together and the management team has the ability to go out and find high-quality projects and also to understand and develop the resources on those projects.” 

Once the company has a clearly defined resource, Watkinson says it will augment the technical team with other specialists like metallurgists. However, he adds that it is probably up to two years before it gets to that point.

Ameriwest chose Nevada as its starting point of the focus on lithium, acquiring a series of properties, all of which contain lithium brine targets.  Railroad Valley, Ameriwest’s most advanced project, has brine targets identified by geophysics in preparation for drilling.  

In neighbouring Arizona, Ameriwest’s latest acquisition, Thompson Valley, is a prospective lithium sedimentary deposit with surface or near-surface exposure of lithium-bearing clays that were sampled in the early 1960s.  Geologic mapping is complete, which will be followed by permitting to allow surface sampling and drilling.

“We are trying to get a mix of brine, sedimentary, and, if we can find a hard rock deposit, we would look at that too,” Watkinson says. “While there are technical and environmental challenges when it comes to processing and recovering lithium from various deposit types, the lithium industry is really developing. The technology for processing is being developed almost on a month-by-month basis to handle different types of deposits.”

While the Ameriwest portfolio is shaping up nicely, Watkinson hastens to point out that the projects are all early in nature.  While Albemarle and its predecessor companies have been operating Silver Peak in Clayton Valley since the 1960s, exploration for new lithium properties in the US is essentially a recent phenomenon. With the movement to electric vehicles and alternative energy sources, there is a race to develop new operating mines. 

“Exploration success at any one of these properties could change the fate of the company if we’re successful in discovering significant lithium targets,” says Watkinson. 

Ameriwest’s approach to exploration for lithium brine has been to use geophysics. It typically undertakes a gravity geophysics survey that identifies targets in arid valleys where brine may have accumulated and become concentrated over millions of years. Magnetotelluric geophysics looks at the resistivity (or conversely the conductivity) of the subsurface, which helps indicate the potential for a concentrated brine.

Further seismic analysis helps identify structures such as faults, horsts and grabens that might be subsurface.  This data is then modelled and used to locate drill holes to target conductive brine targets that might host a lithium-bearing reservoir.  The modelling is also used to help target drilling to avoid structures like faults below the surface that might be encountered.

Geophysics also helps in perfecting the claim package staked or acquired by the company. Following acquisition, a gravity survey at Railroad Valley was completed and the claim boundaries have been expanded based on the results. Additional claims were also acquired from American Battery Technology Company to the north, resulting in 780 contiguous claims over 15,300 acres.  A similar targeting approach was used at Edwards Creek Valley where the company has 829 claims totalling about 22,200 acres.

Potential brine targets have already been identified at Railroad Valley and after analysing the geophysical data it has collected, the company plans to drill its first hole later this year targeting a reservoir that potentially hosts lithium brine.  The timing for drilling will be subject to permitting and availability of drilling equipment.

“The geophysics shows us the target, but the drill hole will be proof of concept that it’s there,” Watkinson says. “There’s permitting that will be done for the initial drilling; that’s relatively simple but when we get to developing resources, the permitting becomes more complicated. In the United States, there’s certainly a movement by the government to push the development of critical metals like lithium, but the challenge is moving through the permitting process, and it takes time. So, it’ll take several years to develop our deposit.”

It also takes capital, and Watkinson says Ameriwest has sufficient funds for the initial steps it is taking to identify potential brine targets. Once it reaches the development stages, it will have to raise additional funds or find joint venture partners with deeper pockets, such as one or more of the mining majors.

“We’ll evaluate all those different opportunities,” he says. “Certainly, we have the ability to push the project through and develop it into production if we decide to go that route. But we also would like to take advantage of relationships with senior partners on advanced projects and have them come in and develop. They typically have a lot more expertise in processing and can fund larger capital projects.”

While Albemarle has extracted lithium at its Silver Peak mine by pumping brine and using evaporation ponds to concentrate the lithium before processing, Watkinson says that method is falling out of favour from an environmental perspective due to the amount of water it uses.  New technologies being developed are aimed at pumping fluid back into the aquifer after the lithium has been removed.

Ameriwest is not getting ahead of itself, says Watkinson. For now, the goal is to develop resources. Once those are established, the company will make a decision on the direction it takes as either a lithium producer, a project generator, or to seek out major companies to form joint ventures with.  

“As we develop resources there will be a transition the company goes through,” he says. “Our goal right now is to delineate resources on our properties and try to add value by doing that in the short term.  We have put together a high-quality technical team, acquired what we believe are high quality properties, and are minimizing exploration risk by developing multiple assets.  We have laid the foundation for long-term success with the goal of becoming a major lithium exploration and development company.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Ameriwest Lithium at https://ameriwestlithium.com/.

American Pacific Mining: High-grade projects in premier US jurisdictions position this explorer to make the most of gold’s newfound momentum

For American Pacific Mining (CSE:USGD) Chief Executive Officer Warwick Smith, forming a close partnership with the world’s second-largest mining company speaks volumes about the junior explorer’s growth and investment potential.

Smith’s team completed a transaction in 2020 that can in every way be described as a company-maker, when it acquired the past-producing Madison Copper Gold project in Montana. Madison is being explored under a joint venture with Kennecott Exploration, which is part of the Rio Tinto Group. 

“It’s huge validation for the project,” Smith says. “The majors these days are using the juniors as their exploration arms. They’re not funding their own exploration. They’re looking to the American Pacifics of the world, going, ‘Hey, these guys are onto something. Let’s fund them.’”

Through an earn-in agreement already in place at the time of acquisition, Rio Tinto can spend up to US$30 million for 70% of Madison. That’s something that Smith and President Eric Saderholm, a boots-on-the-ground geologist and veteran mining executive, never imagined would happen on their first attempt to purchase the project.

“We went to look at Madison in 2016. We really liked it and wanted to buy it,” Smith says, noting that between 2008 and 2012 the project produced 2.7 million pounds of copper and 7,570 ounces of gold at high grades.

“But before we got a chance to negotiate on it, another group bought the asset. They did a great job. They came in and drilled into the porphyry, which was a big deal and that got Rio Tinto excited,” he explains.

In 2021, Kennecott completed US$2.7 million in exploration, which included 10 diamond drill holes totaling 3,598 metres, targeting extensions to the project’s skarns and jasperoids. The drilling identified new zones of skarn-hosted massive sulphides, underscoring the potential for bonanza-style gold mineralization.

Highlights from the drill program include one hole which returned 14.44 grams per ton gold and 0.11% copper over 6.53 metres, including 39.57 grams per ton gold and 0.28% copper over 2.35 metres. The next step for Kennecott is to create a comprehensive 3D model of Madison’s skarn environment to direct the next drilling phase.

But what makes the deal, which cost American Pacific C$2.4 million, even sweeter is that it has been highlighted by S&P Global Platts, the leading independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets.

American Pacific was selected for 2021 as one of four finalists in the S&P Global Platts Global Metals Awards program in the Deal of the Year category. Even though his company lost out to winner Cleveland-Cliffs, Smith said American Pacific could not have asked for better recognition than being put in the spotlight with some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world.

“It was a significant nod of approval on what we think can be a world-class asset with world-class service in a smaller company,” he says.

Smith notes that the value of the company has grown significantly, making it one of the top percentage gainers among gold mining stocks on the Canadian Securities Exchange in 2021.

The CSE has helped us get to that point and it is the right exchange for us to list on and it’s been the right exchange to grow on,” Smith explains. “It’s been great for the company and has been great for shareholders as well.”

American Pacific’s profile is further bolstered by the presence of former hedge fund manager Michael Gentile. He is the company’s largest shareholder, with a 19.9% stake.

Also in the company’s project portfolio are two highly prospective high-grade assets: the Tuscarora gold project and the Gooseberry gold and silver project, both located in Nevada, a famously mining-friendly state.

American Pacific has two other assets in Nevada as well: South Florida and Red Hill. Smith says the company plans to partner up via joint ventures to further the projects.

At Tuscarora, near the town of Elko, Smith says the company is spending C$5 million on a 70-hole drill program. The 4,272 acre project consists of numerous high-grade gold vein targets, including the Grand Prize Target, from which the company reported high-grade samples of 21,032 grams per ton gold and 38,820 grams per ton silver in 2021.

“We’re the first company to ever own it all, which is a big deal. We’re focused there,” Smith says. “We think it’s got the opportunity to be big.”

As for Gooseberry, the company is planning sampling programs and eventual drilling of parallel vein targets within a low sulphidation, epithermal vein system. The mine sits close to the historic Comstock Mining District outside Reno, where discovered lodes and veins led to the production of 8.6 million ounces of gold and 192 million ounces of silver.

“The mine hasn’t been touched since 1991 when it was last in production. We staked it. It was available and cost us C$20,000 to pick it up,” Smith says. “We spent about a million and a half dollars there. We’re up there working again doing the sampling.”

However, Smith explains that it may be time for American Pacific to move beyond acquiring exploration targets as he, Saderholm and the rest of the management team mull growing the company by taking advantage of merger and acquisition opportunities.

“It gives us a chance to think big. I’m not interested in purchasing another exploration project,” he says. “If I were to do something on the M&A side, I’d want to double the size of the company overnight. That’s the type of M&A that we’re looking to do.”

Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, Smith says the company is focusing its energy, and decidedly healthy treasury, on developing Madison, Tuscarora and Gooseberry.

“All three of those have the opportunity to be large multi-million-ounce deposits that we feel that we can grow to meet the desire of majors,” says Smith.

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about American Pacific Mining at https://americanpacific.ca/.

Alixe Cormick and Darcy Krohman on Proposed “Changes” to 43-101 | PDAC | The CSE Podcast Ep26-S2

In a special episode recorded during the PDAC conference, the CSE’s Anna Serin is joined by CSE Listings Manager & In-House Geologist Darcy Krohman and Alixe Cormick, a lawyer at Venture Law Corporation, to discuss the request for feedback on the 43-101 mining legislation, including its background, the potential for modernization, and ESG accountability. The conversation also addresses what is being asked of mining companies to submit and suggestions to involve investors.

About Alixe Cormick
Alixe Cormick is Founder of Venture Law Corporation and a practicing public company lawyer. Alixe’s law practice is transaction oriented and weighted towards industrial, technology and biotechnology companies located in North America and Asia.

About Darcy Krohman
Darcy Krohman is CSE’s Listings Manager and In-House Geologist. He works at the unique intersection of finance, mining, and public markets. His career in mining first started with the UBC, and he has also worked for mines in the Coastal Mountains of BC and on Vancouver Island.

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Fathom Nickel: Past-producing property containing several of today’s highly sought-after metals is attracting attention for good reason

Fathom Nickel (CSE:FNI) is, first and foremost, a high-grade story.  There is a reason that the company managed to raise $11.5 million last year before going public on the Canadian Securities Exchange in May 2021. That reason is the historic Rottenstone nickel deposit. 

Nestled in northern Saskatchewan, Fathom’s Albert Lake project is home to the formerly producing Rottenstone mine, which yielded eye-popping nickel grades of over 3% during the 1960s. 

Fathom acquired the property in 2015 during the bottom of the nickel cycle and has since expanded its holdings in the area. Today, Albert Lake consists of over 90,100 hectares, of which more than 80,000 remain virtually unexplored. The company plans to apply modern exploration methods on the property in a bid to prove that those historic grades were no fluke.

Chief Executive Officer Brad Van Den Bussche and Vice President Exploration Ian Fraser founded the company in 2015 with the goal of acquiring highly prospective battery metals projects in favourable jurisdictions. They spent time in the US early on, going from conference to conference in the battery technology space to get a feel for which metals were going to be needed as technology advanced. It was nickel that won the day.

“Ian and I both had some experience with Albert Lake and Rottenstone from years ago, so we knew the asset had had very high-grade nickel, copper, PGE’s (platinum group elements)  and cobalt,” Van Den Bussche explains. “And we were able to get it at the bottom of the nickel market for a very good price. Basically, we picked up the core property for some shares and a royalty that we recently bought back.”

According to Van Den Bussche, it was indeed the grades that first attracted them to the project.

“It was a combination of the grades and the mineralogy – the type of minerals that were in the mix. There’s a built-in hedge having nickel, copper, platinum/palladium and cobalt in there,” the CEO says. “It’s one of the highest grade nickel deposits mined in Canada.” 

Globally, there is a handful of very high-grade nickel deposits, such as Norilsk in Russia. Closer to home, the Raglan mine in Quebec and Voisey’s Bay in Newfoundland both stand out. The Rottenstone grade was essentially as good – or even higher – than some of the biggest economic deposits currently in operation. Fathom’s team believes that Albert Lake’s geological setting  supports the thesis that the Rottenstone is one of several variable size, high-grade nickel deposits similar to the multiple deposits that make up the Raglan nickel camp.

Not all nickel deposits are created equally, of course. There are essentially three types of nickel sources: limonite ore, saprolite ore and nickel sulphide ore. Currently, nickel sulphide is the preferred source to develop high purity Class 1 nickel which goes into creating nickel sulphate required for battery production. The pathway to creating Class 1 nickel from limonite and saprolite ores is more costly and typically creates a much larger environmental footprint.

It should come as no surprise that Albert Lake is a sulphide deposit. From the outset, sulphide opportunities were the focus for Fathom’s team.

“From Day One, we were focused on sulphide deposits,” Van Den Bussche says. “Our mandate is to look for electric vehicle battery minerals that are high in grade, particularly nickel. Nickel sulphide deposits are basically the main pathway to Class 1 nickel, which is necessary in the production of stainless steel and the EV/battery components.”

The mineralization of the historic Rottenstone deposit is unique and contains several notable associated metals. Initial sample metallurgy indicates metal recoveries of greater than 90% nickel, copper and cobalt are possible – all essential ingredients for the green economy. Furthermore, initial studies indicate recovery in excess of 80% can be expected from palladium and platinum.

Things look encouraging at the historic Rottenstone deposit, but with 80,000 hectares left to explore, the challenge for Fathom is to find out whether those grades extend throughout the property. The original deposit itself was small, which doesn’t faze Van Den Bussche, but he knows that the team must prove there is more there than just Rottenstone.

“We need to focus on understanding the system,” Van Den Bussche says. “Those kinds of high grades have to come from a very large system. There’s just no way in the geological model concept that you can have those kinds of grades without a large melting pot. The Rottenstone mine has to be one deposit within a much larger system.”

To that end, Fathom is planning an airborne electro magnetic survey and follow-up ground geophysics to zero in on prospective drill targets this year. A key part of its exploration activity is utilizing a portable Vanta XRF Analyzer (pXRF) to provide real-time litho-geochemical, multi-element data on core from current drill holes, and on historical drill core left by previous operators.

The pXRF results confirm the presence of nickel and copper in present and historic drill cores, and assay results will also test for the presence of platinum group elements, a significant component of the historic Rottenstone deposit that is not detectable via the pXRF. 

Saskatchewan may not seem like the first place a company would visit to explore for nickel, but the province is quickly emerging as a leading global mineral jurisdiction. The Fraser Institute’s annual investment attractiveness survey ranked Saskatchewan in third place in 2020, with a particular spotlight on the province’s mineral potential. The prolific Trans-Hudson Corridor runs directly through the province then veers east to cover northern Manitoba, northern Quebec, northern Labrador and across to Greenland. 

What has held Saskatchewan back from developing its own world-class base metal deposits has historically been, in part, the political situation. But that has changed completely in the last 20-plus years, according to Van Den Bussche. 

“During much of the 1970s and 1980s, a Saskatchewan Crown Corporation (SMDC) had the rights to become up to a 50% partner in exploration projects in the province. While a lot of exploration and development was occurring next door in Manitoba, many exploration companies chose not to take on a government partner and explore in Saskatchewan during this period,” Van Den Bussche explains.

“But that has completely changed and now Saskatchewan is a great jurisdiction to work in. There is a lot of opportunity, and it’s getting a lot of interest from many companies, including the majors. Rio Tinto is a major explorer in the province, and BHP is starting to look as well – they already know Saskatchewan because they’re a big player in the potash industry. Saskatchewan is in the right place in the system, and it’s got the potential to have continuations of some of the Manitoba base metal opportunities, including nickel.”

Fathom is operating during a wild time in the nickel industry. The silvery-gray metal is an essential component in electric vehicle batteries, and manufacturers are scrambling to secure safe supplies. As the green energy economy ramps up, so too does nickel demand – so much so that in early 2022, trading was suspended on the London Metals Exchange after nickel prices breached the $100,000 per tonne mark.

For Van Den Bussche, the dynamics of the current nickel market point to the necessity of developing a safe, stable supply of the metal within North America.

“There is definite urgency to try to lock up some supply of nickel from mines that are currently producing, but also to feed the supply chain two, three, four or five years out. Good projects in good jurisdictions that have a pathway to growing a resource and getting into production are essential. I think there’s going to be a huge move to gain control of the raw materials needed for these strategic businesses.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Fathom Nickel at https://fathomnickel.com/.

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Mining Issue – Now Live!

Welcome to the latest issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, your source for in-depth stories of entrepreneurs from a wealth of different industries.

The more the world changes, the more entrepreneurs seek out new opportunities to adapt. No industry has shown a capacity for resilience quite like the mining industry has, and the CSE has witnessed firsthand the resurgence in interest in mining and exploration companies going public.

In this issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, we highlight individuals and companies who are helping to provide opportunities in the mining space closer to home. We shine a spotlight on a mining-focused diversity and inclusion expert and six publicly-listed mining companies on the CSE that are putting the pedal to the metal to meet demand. 

The CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

Check out Mining Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine here:

Sean Kingsley on the Current State of the Mining Industry | The CSE Podcast Ep25-S2 (Asian Heritage Month 2022)

In a special episode for Asian Heritage Month, the CSE’s Phillip Shum is joined by Enduro Metals (CSE:ENDR) Director of Communications Sean Kingsley to discuss his journey to a successful career in mining, his advice for young people, and the challenges he faces at his job. The conversation also addresses what Asian Heritage Month means to Sean and the influence of his Chinese heritage on his perspectives.

Here’s an overview of what Phillip and Sean discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction and family background
03:40 – Professional background
05:15 – Getting into the mining space
07:10 – The most exciting part of the job
08:50 – Advice for anyone who wants to get into the industry
10:55 – How has your Asian heritage shaped the person you are today?
13:25 – Any traditions that you are especially proud of?
17:30 – The state of discovering new minerals/metals
20:30 – What does Asian Heritage Month mean to you?
22:30 – Final message and contact information

About Sean Kingsley
Sean Kingsley provides strategic consultation to private and publicly listed junior resource companies. He has 15 years’ experience within the mineral exploration, mining and development sector specializing in corporate development, strategic marketing, consultation, investor relations/awareness & capital raising. Mr. Kingsley has a strong grass-roots & a global investor network, a firm understanding of the financial markets and experience in utilizing diverse methods for public communications globally.

Learn more about Enduro Metals at https://endurometals.com/.

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