Last week in Vancouver I had the pleasure of spending some time with Banyan Gold CEO Tara Christie. Banyan has been successful in recent drilling at its Aurex-Mcquesten Project in the Mayo Mining District of the Yukon, an emerging mining district in a Canadian territory with an impressive mineral endowment. Without further ado here is my conversation with Tara Christie from the AME Round Up last Wednesday, January 22nd…
Goldfinger: I’m here with Tara Christie, the CEO of Banyan Gold (TSX-V:BYN), at the AME Round Up in Vancouver. Tell us about what Banyan has been doing recently and what your plans are for 2020?
Tara Christie: Well it was a great year in 2019. We started the year going out to our Aurex-Mcquesten Project (“AurMac”) in the Yukon to test our geological model at the “Airstrip Zone”. Then we thought we’d apply to an area further to the south where there are some geochemical anomalies. So we went out and drilled and got some amazing intercepts including ~100 meters of .74 grams/tonne gold.
Goldfinger: Let me stop you for a second because I believe this is important. 100 meter intersections are a big deal because when it’s mineralized throughout, it represents a lot of tonnage. The grades may not be eye popping, but when you’re talking about a project that could be a near surface open-pit heap leach operation, 100 meter intercepts of ¾ of a gram gold are pure gravy.
Tara Christie: That’s right. True widths are also about 90% and we have indications that we can see the mineralization all the way down to 350 meters depth. We’re focused on drilling out the near surface portion (< 200 meters depth) at 50 meter spacing so we can put together a resource estimate and better understand the volume of what’s there. In future phases of drilling we can definitely drill to greater depths to continue to explore what’s there. It’s open at depth and it’s also open both to the east and west.
To the east at Airstrip we have a historic hole that we can’t directly correlate but we know it’s there and it’s 100 meters to the east and it hit similar mineralization. To the west we are really encouraged by some of the higher grades.
At the Powerline Zone, which is an exciting new zone, we really have an opportunity to add a lot of ounces. You saw that intersection of 25 meters of 1.34 grams/tonne gold, which gives us the opportunity to add some higher grade areas. Powerline is open in all directions and at depth. So far we only have a small 250 meter by 250 meter grid into Powerline. That’s not the only thing that’s exciting, we have these two new zones but we also have a geological and geochemical model that is also applicable elsewhere on the property. We’ve been looking at some of the other historic results and drill holes from other companies that have worked in the area in the past and we’re really encouraged that there are some other areas that are exciting.
Goldfinger: How large is the total land package at Aurex-Mcquesten and how much of it has seen modern exploration?
Tara Christie: It is 92 square kilometers and roughly 15% of that has seen modern exploration work. Probably about 30% of the land package hasn’t even seen soil sampling so it’s completely virgin territory. Part of the problem is much of that area is covered by glacial/fluvial till, and that’s been enough to preclude people from doing exploration. Powerline has 8-10 meters of cover and that’s why it was untouched until recently despite being only 50 meters from a highway.
Goldfinger: I think this is such an important point that people need to understand about AurMac, this is a project that has road access right to site and power lines literally running through the property. So many projects in the Yukon need to use helicopters in order to access them and move drills and drillers around – all of that raises the costs a lot. Banyan was able to conduct a nearly 4,000 meter drill program for less than C$200 per meter. That’s an extremely cost effective drill program for the Yukon.
Another important point to make is that there are two mines within 20 kilometers of this project, one owned by Victoria Gold and the other by Alexco Resources. Both of these companies also happen to be significant shareholders of Banyan Gold. Banyan is well positioned to benefit from the emergence of the Mayo Mining District as one of the best mining districts in Canada.
Tara Christie: Our location gives us a tremendous advantage. We also have all the existing infrastructure of Alexco and we get to use their camp when we are conducting exploration work. We even have cell phone coverage at site which is a rarity in the Yukon. Between Powerline and Airstrip there is government maintained year-round highway which was what enabled us to drill in November at less than C$200 per meter all-in.
Whatever we find at AurMac, whether it’s heap-leachable or we find some higher grade stuff that needs to be milled, we have plenty of optionality with a heap leach operation (Victoria Gold’s Eagle Gold Mine) in one direction, and a mill (Alexco) in the other direction. This could also be a stand-alone operation considering the size of the property and the fact that it’s relatively under-explored.
Banyan’s 92 square kilometer AurMac project footprint in orange
Goldfinger: Let’s talk about 2020 and what you plan to be doing over the next several months.
Tara Christie: We put out those last results from Powerline (January 17th) so we’re still continuing to evaluate them and prioritize drill targets, this takes a little bit of time. We’re also looking at the overall results and we’ve committed to doing a resource by Q2 2020 so we’re doing some of those internal calculations now and getting all the data ready for that. We’re also contemplating getting back out there drilling because some of the area will still be frozen in March and April – we were really encouraged by that northern Powerline area where we saw some of that higher grade mineralization as well as the area to the west of Airstrip. We’d like to follow up there and it’s exciting to think we still have the cash in the bank (C$900,000 in the treasury) to go back out there.
Goldfinger: Is it easier to drill some of these areas when it’s still frozen?
Tara Christie: In some of the swampier areas it’s actually easier because we can drive out on the snow and drill some holes. There’s no reclamation required and it’s right near a highway so it’s not like the weather is a big issue. We also put in a well so we don’t have any water issues at AurMac. We’ve set ourselves up for year round drilling there.
Goldfinger: Thank you for the update Tara and I know that i’m as excited for Banyan as i’ve ever been. Great progress being made and I wish you great success in 2020!
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