Maurice Jackson: Joining us for conversation is Shawn Khunkhun, the CEO of StrikePoint Gold Inc. (SKP:TSX.V; STKXF:OTCQB)TC: STKXF). Glad to have you on the program to share the opportunity before us at StrikePoint Gold. Before we delve into company specifics, Mr. Khunkhun, please introduce us to StrikePoint Gold and the opportunity the company presents to shareholders.
Shawn Khunkhun: StrikePoint is an exploration company advancing high-grade properties in safe jurisdictions. I repurposed the company back in 2016; the gold price had been cutting out and majors were not exploring, nor developing. And the thinking was we could buy projects for pennies on the dollar. We could advance them. And in the future, we could move those projects along to the majors that are looking to secure development pipelines.
Maurice Jackson: You have a reputation for having astute business acumen and great use of optionality on how you establish the company. Looking at the map, StrikePoint Gold has its property bank situated in the prolific Golden Triangle. Get us acquainted with the region and some of your neighbors.
Shawn Khunkhun: Okay. So, near the Triangle is an area where exploration has been going on for over 100 years. It's produced some of the richest gold mines in the world. If you look at the Premier mine that Ascot is currently holding, that was one of the richest modern mines in the modern era, in terms of several ounces, in terms of grade.
Eskay Creek is a strong gold and silver mine. The Golden Triangle is known for large deposits, high-grade deposits, and is one of the hottest mineral exploration hubs on the planet. It's a flurry of activity with the discovery of Pretivm’s Brucejack, and we’re seeing large companies like Newmont and Newcrest come into the area. Noteworthy of mention, there is also tremendous infrastructure throughout the Triangle.
Maurice Jackson: Let's go onsite and find out more. Sir, take us to the flagship Willoughby project and introduce us to the value proposition before us.
Shawn Khunkhun: The Willoughby project is a spectacular world-class discovery that was originally explored in the 1989 to 1996 time period. There were about 120 drill holes, and there were some robust grades of 20-gram gold over 20 meters thickness that were discovered. During that time the Bre-X scandal happened and you also had the gold price heading down to just under $200 an ounce in 1999. So it was a very, very difficult time for the mineral resource industry.
We acquired the property in 2018. There's a lot of grade on the project and we are excited about the opportunity before us. We are trying to connect the dots in between zones. So, that's the value proposition, linking these zones to show that this is a mineable project.
Maurice Jackson: I referenced business acumen, when and under what terms was StrikePoint Gold able to acquire the Willoughby gold project?
Shawn Khunkhun: That's an interesting story. So back in October of 2018, the gold price got sold down to about $1,100 an ounce. And at that moment, we were able to acquire Willoughby for $85,000 in cash and by issuing three million shares of StrikePoint, which at that time was valued at about half a million dollars. Considering the amount of drilling that was done on the property, its proximity to Red Mountain, which was subsequently acquired by Ascot, it was a once-in-a-generation acquisition for the company.
Maurice Jackson: Germane to the value proposition and exploration thesis is an important stratigraphic marker known as the Red Line. What is the Red Line and where is it in relation to the Willoughby gold project?
Shawn Khunkhun: There are two British Columbia Geological Survey geologists, Jeff Kyba and JoAnne Nelson, who were looking at this tremendous area that's produced very high-grade deposits. They were trying to look at a geological model to identify where to look for the next giant gold, silver, and copper deposits in the region. So Kyba and Nelson came up with this theory, and it's a theory that has been widely accepted by the scientific community and identifies a contact.
The big deposits in the Golden Triangle are found within two kilometers of where two different rock types meet. So this is the Triassic to the rocks and the Jurassic Hazelton formation. These are two different rock types that meet within two kilometers of that contact, which have produced some of the biggest deposits in the region.
Maurice Jackson: Thus far, we've been able to determine that StrikePoint Gold is in a friendly mining jurisdiction, located in the prolific Golden Triangle, neighboring some very prominent names, and the project is along the Red Line. Two prong question, can you delve a little further into historic resource and share some of the grades with us?
Shawn Khunkhun: Willoughby does not have a formal NI 43-101-compliant resource on the property, however, the historic resource has about eight different areas throughout the Willoughby property where there's tremendous grade and there's been a lot of drilling. So, on the back of a napkin, I don't want to speculate in terms of ounces, but what we're looking for here is the neighboring Red Mountain deposit, which is just under a million ounces at about 7.5 grams per tonne.
We think this is analogous to Red Mountain. And if you look at the footprints of the mineralization from surface, it leads us to believe that we're onto a very, very large gold system here. So, this season is going to be crucial. We've done some significant work on the property to date.
We've got assays pending and we're trying to accomplish two things. Number one, link different zones of mineralization. Number two, we're looking for where we could fit a deposit into the system. And we are drilling what I would describe as Wildcat holes into areas that should host a very, very large system. There are two opportunities on the property. One is for a KSM-style disseminated large system. These are two systems, one's 40 million ounces of gold, and the other is 10 million ounces of gold.
And then the other opportunity is for a higher-grade epithermal vein-rich system. We have seen both types of mineralization on the property. And if you look at what Ascot is doing in terms of their hub-and-spoke model, along Ascot you also have Yamana and Newmont. So there's a huge appetite from larger gold entities for consolidation and acquisition.
Maurice Jackson: Speaking of Wildcat drilling, last month StrikePoint Gold announced the commencement of a 3,000-meter drill program. How's the program coming along and when can shareholders expect results?
Shawn Khunkhun: The program's going well. I was just up in Stewart, along with our technical advisor Rob McLeod. StrikePoint Gold is blessed with one of the best teams in the exploration business. These are professionals that have worked on a lot of the big projects in the Golden Triangle. We originally came out with a 3,000-meter program at Willoughby, and we're halfway through that program. It's going exceptionally well. It's on time, it's on budget.
It's very difficult to speculate on assays because you are dealing with third-party labs. And if 2020 taught me anything, we were exceptionally delayed in assay times, but I would suspect that we're going to have a very results-rich autumn season, a very result-rich fall after Labor Day and that we should be reporting ongoing into Q1.
Maurice Jackson: Sounds very intriguing. If you enjoyed the value proposition of Willoughby, wait till you read about Porter. Mr. Khunkhun, please introduce us to the Porter silver project.
Shawn Khunkhun: But before we get specifically into Porter, I want to share with readers this goes beyond Porter. This goes more to why silver, and my last experience in a bull market for gold. When gold prices went from hundreds of dollars up to thousands of dollars into 2011, it was the silver stocks, the silver equities that delivered the best returns for resource investors. I was very deliberate during this cycle.
In 2018, the company acquired Porter from Skeena resources. I was very deliberate in positioning the company with a high-grade silver property. If you look at the number of pure high-grade silver properties in the world, you could count them on a couple of hands. There are very few opportunities for resource investors in the silver space and even fewer outside of Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru.
Porter is in a safe jurisdiction. It's a past-producing silver mine and one of the highest-grade silver mines I've ever come across in my career. The average production grades at Porter were 2,500 grams per tonne, but it's the exploration thesis. It's the opportunity that really has us excited. The high-grade mineralization is on both sides of Mount Rainey overlooking the town of Stewart. Porter is two kilometers from the town, but you've got this high-grade mineralization that's at either side of Mount Rainey. We can see the Petro Canada Gas Station, the Deepwater Seaport going into the Portland Canal, Highway 37A.
So all the infrastructure is there. So, you've got the Silverado mine on one side, you've got Prosperity Porter Idaho on the other side. They're separated by about two kilometers and there was a large glacier, the Silverado glacier, that prohibited exploration in the past. That glacier is pulled back.
It's opened up a new exploration corridor and we believe those two systems are going to meet. And when you have two systems meeting, you usually have exceptional grades. The opportunity there is to link up these two past-producing mines by drilling into the center of the mountain. And it's an opportunity that previously was not accessible. And this is the season that StrikePoint tests that theory.
In addition to stepping out from each of the mines on either side, we've got step outs where we're trying to extend the known high-grade resources and known areas that were once in production. But the real opportunity is a target that we call Big Flex. The Big Flex opportunity is a series of drill holes right into the center of the system where these two systems should meet. And, if we're successful and if the assays come back anywhere in the neighborhood of where historic production grades were, this is going to be a transformational year for StrikePoint.
Maurice Jackson: You referenced 2,500 grams per tonne on the historical work. Let's put that into perspective for readers. What kind of grade would you need to go into production?
Shawn Khunkhun: Not all deposits are the same. You've got underground mines and open-pit mines. Typically what you'd see at an open-pit silver mine is one-ounce material or 30 gram material. At an underground mine, you're probably closer to 200 grams per tonne, which is about eight ounces roughly. So, we're talking about a system here that is 10 times richer than most underground mines. That's the opportunity here. And, just so you know that this isn't the exception in the area.
If you look at some of the giant silver mines in the area like Eskay Creek, they produced almost 200 million ounces of silver at better than 2000 grams per tonne. There's a lot of precedent in this area for mines like this — Eskay is one example. At the Premier mine there was a lot of high-grade silver recovered, at Pretium’s Brucejack there's a lot of high-grade silver that's coming out. And just to the south of us is Dolly Varden Silver.
Maurice Jackson: I see that Porter has a historic resource. Is the goal to twin the holes?
Shawn Khunkhun: No, the goal is not to twin the holes. The goal is to extend the known band. While we were drilling the Willoughby property last season in 2020, we sent a team out to do some surface work at Porter. They were looking to extend the veins at surface. This was the deep vein, the blind vein. This is on the Prosperity Porter Idaho side.
We were successful.
At surface, we had come up with new extensions, we've discovered new veins. And so the goal here is to extend and expand the known veins at both Silverado and Prosperity Porter Idaho. It's to uncover new veins around that. But the big prize here is if we were able to come up with some structure, some mineralization in between those two zones that had never been explored.
Maurice Jackson: You've also been busy doing some field mapping and grab samples. What were the results?
Shawn Khunkhun: Recently, we've had up to 3,800 grams per tonne, but when we first acquired the property. At the Silverado side we've had up to 44,000 grams per tonne. This is one of the most exceptional specimens I've ever come across in my career and so up to 44,000 grams per tonne, that's 20 times the average production grades.
Maurice Jackson: All right. So let's discuss some important topics that are germane to your projects, and that is, are the projects 100% owned?
Shawn Khunkhun: They are 100% owned.
Maurice Jackson: And what is your relationship with the First Nations?
Shawn Khunkhun: There are two First Nations groups in the area. South of Treaty Creek, we're in Nisga'a territory. And so we've got a very, very strong relationship with the Nisga'a Nation. About a third of our workforce comes from Nisga'a and everyone from our team had a long history of just a very strong relationship there. I've said this before, they're our brothers, they're sisters, they're our friends. They're truly our partners and it goes beyond Nisga'a, it's everybody close to the Stewart community. These are non-First Nations. These are non-indigenous peoples as well. We are truly from the north for the north and that's our policy.
Maurice Jackson: We've discussed the good, let's address the bad, what can go wrong? And what are your action plans to mitigate that wrong?
Shawn Khunkhun: In 2020, we had one of the worst weather years up in the Golden Triangle that we've seen in about a decade. That hasn't been the case this year. But last year, if you scanned about two dozen junior resource companies and went through their financial statements, what you'd see is some companies were operating at 30% production because of weather.
I'm happy to report that StrikePoint combated the weather, and we were operating at about 90%, 95% productivity last season. So, we overcame weather, but weather can be a challenge in this part of the world. Apart from the weather, we went through the COVID pandemic in terms of more regulations and just a stronger adherence to health and safety.
We are always on high alert in terms of COVID outbreaks. And lastly, just with the scarcity of certain supplies. We started the season, we saw some trends in lumber in late 2020. We made all of our wood purchases in Q4 of 2020 and in late Q3, and thankfully so, because how do we try to secure lumbering in Q1 and Q2? We would have paid twice the price.
Now, thankfully things like lumber and other costs have come down, but there is a shortage of certain goods and items. Sometimes there are some delays, but those are the types of things that can go wrong
Maurice Jackson: All right. Let's discuss the people responsible for increasing shareholder value. Mr. Khunkhun, please introduce us to your board of directors and management team, and what skill sets they bring to StrikePoint Gold.
Shawn Khunkhun: StrikePoint Gold has a diverse group, but, if you look at the skills and experience matrix, we've got a lot of boxes checked here. We've got a mining engineer, Ian Harris. Ian, was instrumental in the sale of Corriente Resources for about $690 million.
We've got an exploration geologist, Adrian Fleming. I don't think we have enough time to go through all of Adrian's successes, but he's just a tremendous mentor to the geologists that work for the company.
We've got a tremendous mining engineer. We've got a great exploration geologist. Carol Li, who is the chief financial officer for Ascot Resources and is on the board.
And then beyond the board of directors, we've got advisors like Rob McLeod, Ryan Weymark, myself. To round things out, I come from a marketing and capital reserve background. So we've got all the right elements you need to move a company like StrikePoint forward.
Maurice Jackson: Let's get into some numbers. Please provide us with the capital structure for StrikePoint Gold.
Shawn Khunkhun: StrikePoint has about 200 million shares issued and outstanding. Eric Sprott is the largest shareholder at close to 20%. We have a couple of corporate shareholders in Ascot and Skeena. In terms of institutional ownership, I believe it's around 40% and you've got tremendous names in institutional leadership.
You've got firms like Delbrook, Crescat, US Global, Gold 2000, Sprott. So, it's all the who's who in the resource fund space.
Maurice Jackson: How much cash and cash equivalents do you have?
Shawn Khunkhun: So, we've got about $10 million in the bank. And, we've got about a $4 million budget here. We should start January 1st, 2022, with about $6 million after all of our exploration expenditures and spending.
Maurice Jackson: How much debt do you have?
Shawn Khunkhun: Zero.
Maurice Jackson: And if you can just remind us one more time, what is the float?
Shawn Khunkhun: The float is roughly 40 million shares.
Maurice Jackson: In closing, sir, what keeps you up at night that we don't know about?
Shawn Khunkhun: When our crew is in the field, they're on my mind. I sleep like a baby come December when the crews are off the property. When you go to work with people, you start to care about them. And until everybody's gone home to their families at Christmas, that's the one thing in the back of my mind. And it's part of the reason that we make our best efforts to go up and to spend time with our crews. Team morale is important.
Maurice Jackson: Last question, what did I forget to ask?
Shawn Khunkhun: One of the things that you should know is that I've personally invested about $500,000 in StrikePoint. For me, that's a material amount of money. And so my interests are aligned with shareholders' interests, my family, and my friends. There's a lot more in terms of reputation and, then, in personal skin in the game. So, that's one thing I'd like your viewers to know.
Maurice Jackson: Mr. Khunkhun, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today. Wishing you and StrikePoint Gold the absolute best, sir.
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