Insights from industry

Gold In Nevada: An Interview With Ken Cunningham

Ken Cunningham, CEO of Miranda Gold Corp talks to AZoMining about gold exploration opportunities in Nevada, Columbia and Alaska.

Could you please provide a brief introduction to Miranda and the sector which it works within?

Miranda is a bit different to a lot of the junior mining companies: we’re strictly an exploration company, so as a result of that we pride ourselves on being a project generator.

As exploration is really our forte, we joint venture our projects out for two reasons:

  1. We do it during the early stage of drilling on the project when the risk is the highest. Of course, this has a benefit to our shareholders and our treasury
  2. Down the road, if a discovery was made at one of the projects, we’d be happy to have a partner in as the operator as our goal is not to be a miner really, but a finder.

Where are you main projects located?

We are as I mentioned an exploration company, but we are very aware that we want to be exploring in areas where if we make a discovery then it has a real chance of being a game changer for the shareholders.

So we work in what I call world class gold jurisdictions and look for big deposits. Nevada is the 4th largest gold producer in the world, and the two gold trends, the Cortez and the Carlin, are the reasons that Nevada is so high up on the world production list, and we have a lot of projects in the Cortez area.

In about 2008/09 we made a strategic decision to go into Columbia, as it is also a world class jurisdiction, but it didn’t undergo the modern day gold rush that has been going on for the last 30-40 years. So we were able to get into Columbia, not the earliest, but at a good time, and we now have an office now down there which supplements our office in Nevada, and we run the same model, i.e. we’re generating projects and then looking for joint venture partners.

We do have one project in Alaska and we are looking for additional projects, but we’re also very keen on logistics so when we look at things in Alaska they need to be on or adjacent to infrastructure.

Could you Outline your main projects in Nevada?

Our exploration team is Nevada based, as am I. We have a lot of Nevada experience, in particular in looking for Carlin-type gold deposits. Our exploration team, which is comprised of 4 staff geologists, led by our Vice-President and myself, have been responsible or involved in excess of 10 discoveries in the gold belt of Nevada and those discoveries exceed 30million ounces in total. So we feel as a junior, we know how to explore for these types of deposits as well as the big companies.

We also know the major companies are always looking to feed their depleting resource base, so Nevada makes a lot of sense for us.

We have a couple of key projects: certainly Red Hill is one that we’re still very excited about, it’s about 5 miles southeast of the new Barrick discovery which is called ‘Goldrush”‘. Right now, Barrack has announced 7 million ounces there, but they’ve also had 12 drill rigs drilling the deposits all year long and really we expect that there will be a major increase in the size of Goldrush by the end of the year. Our Red Hill property has a drill hole with an intersection of 45feet that runs about 1/4ounce of gold. So we know we’ve got a Carlin-type system there, we just don’t know if it’s big or not.

We’ve got another project just south of that, called Red Canyon. The partner is going to start a fairly large drill project beginning October 1st and then we have another partner starting again around October 1st on the third round of drilling on our Angel Wing project.

We announced recently some fairly good results at Angel Wing: we had an intersection that was running at almost 1/2ounce per tonne over 5 feet it was 14 grams over a meter and a half. Then we had some bigger intercepts of 1gram material, so we’re hopeful that we’re on to something at Angel Wing.

How is drilling progressing at these sites over 2012?

We’re not moving on to feasibility studies just yet, but we are pleased. It takes patience to work this joint venture model and it takes patience to be rewarded if you’re a shareholder, but we see that we’re gaining momentum every year.

We’ve had 9 active properties and joint ventures this year, so it will be our largest drill season ever and we’ll see partners spending up to or in excess of 5.0million dollars on the projects.

Next year we’ll be going into Columbia with a strategic alliance that we announced about a month ago with Agnico-Eagle and we’re right now in the process in finalising the definitive agreement, but essentially we have them coming into Columbia as a strategic partner. We’ll be funding a million dollar project generation program every year for 3 years, with Agnico funding 70% of that so there will be at least 700 000 dollars being added to our exploration in Columbia by a major company. Then on any projects that we generate, Agnico will have a first right of refusal to move those out of the generative portfolio and into a project joint venture.

By producing a feasibility study they can earn a 70% interest in that project so we’re really pleased and it’s the best deal that we’ve done this year and one way of looking at it with the commitment is that we’ve got a 2.1million dollar non-dilutive financing coming into our treasury in a very tough market, so we’re really pleased to see that.

Which other mining companies do you have joint venture partnerships with?

We’ve also got a partnership with Agnico-Eagle drilling up on our Alaskan project, we’ve got a mid-tier Australian producer called Ramelius that’s been drilling Angel Wing and earlier this year drilled on our Big Blue project. We also have joint ventures with junior companies called NuLegacy Gold and Montezuma Mines.

Any plans to expand operations in the near future?

By nature we’re explorers, so we love to go anywhere that we see opportunity, but to be honest with you we believe that we have to stay focussed. We have a mature gold jurisdiction in Nevada that we’re working in and we’re got a frontier jurisdiction in Columbia and I think that will keep us busy here for the next couple of years.

Do you believe the growing demand for gold will continue?

I do, and I see a lot of reasons for that. I see a lot of instability with paper money, be it the euro or the US dollar, I see problems that continue to grow and new problems on a daily basis and I just feel that gold is both a safe haven and is something that we’re not replacing on an annual basis. The major companies have a difficult time replacing what they mine and the mining and CAPEX costs have increased, so yes I see a strong gold price for the future.

How do you see the gold mining sector progressing in the near future?

That’s a good question, what I would like to see is less inexperienced junior companies. There has been a time when anybody could form a junior company, regardless of their experience base, and raise money in markets and go down to Columbia for instance and just do ridiculous deals without any real understanding on how exploration is undertaken.

Companies that are being led by people who do have a wealth of experience and are serious about making discoveries and providing a benefit to their shareholders - I would like these to be the companies that are left standing.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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