In an April 24 research note, analyst Gabriel Gonzalez with Echelon Wealth Partners reported that First Mining Gold Corp. (FF:TSX) began the provincial environmental assessment and permitting process for its Springpole asset, "with the company entering into a voluntary agreement with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change." Just last month, First Mining began the same process at the federal level.
The next step is for the company to submit the terms of reference, which describes Springpole's "provincial environmental scope," Gonzalez noted. If approved, it will "set out [a] work plan for determining environmental impacts and indigenous and other stakeholder consultations."
Due to similarity between the federal and provincial permitting procedures, First Mining will work to avoid making duplicative efforts. Both are expected to require a minimum of two years to complete. Once done, the company may apply for construction and operating licenses.
After a site visit to Springpole last week, Gonzalez concluded that it "reinforced our view that Springpole is a solid contender for development into a significant future gold mine." What stood out from seeing the property and talking to management and others were "1) the very small, bay area required for dewatering, 2) the highly detailed, quality environmental baseline work and 3) potential scenarios for improved project economics through metallurgical test work."
Recent accomplishments at Springpole include completion of drilling along the roughly 800m area for the proposed coffer dam, which revealed the bedrock is "sufficiently competent" for such a structure, wrote Gonzalez. Another finding was absent or thinner than expected lake bed sediments, which means dredging under the dike would likely be minimal. First Mining has retained Tetra-Tech, the firm that engineered the larger Diavik mine dam, to oversee the geotechnical work, design the construction and estimate its cost, all for inclusion in the anticipated prefeasibility study. Metallurgical test results are expected by year-end 2018.
As far as the value of First Mining, Echelon derives for Springpole alone a CA$45 enterprise value:ounce figure, "which still leaves room for a rerating compared to other companies with comparable, high-quality projects," Gonzalez purported. Investors essentially get a free option on the other assets, and those could further boost the company's overall value in the near term. For instance, for Goldlund, drill results are expected in H1/18 and following that, an updated NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate, by the end of H1/18.
Echelon rates First Mining Gold a Speculative Buy and gives it a CA$1.30 price target based on "the continued development and derisking of the company's asset portfolio," wrote Gonzalez.
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Disclosures from Echelon Wealth Partners, First Mining Gold Corp., Apr. 24, 2018
Echelon Wealth Partners compensates its Research Analysts from a variety of sources. The Research Department is a cost centre and is funded by the business activities of Echelon Wealth Partners including, Institutional Equity Sales and Trading, Retail Sales and Corporate and Investment Banking.
I, Gabriel Gonzalez, hereby certify that the views expressed in this report accurately reflect my personal views about the subject securities or issuers. I also certify that I have not, am not, and will not receive, directly or indirectly, compensation in exchange for expressing the specific recommendations or views in this report.
During the last 12 months, has Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. provided financial advice to and/or, either on its own or as a syndicate member, participated in a public offering, or private placement of securities of this issuer? No
During the last 12 months, has Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. received compensation for having provided investment banking or related services to this Issuer? No
Has the Analyst had an onsite visit with the Issuer within the last 12 months? Yes [17-Apr-18: Springpole (Ontario) project camp, core-shack. Visit incidentals paid by Issuer]. [9-Mar-17: Goldlund (Ontario) project exploration camp, Issuer Paid].