Mawson Gold (TSX: MAW) CEO Michael Hudson on Four Rigs Turning in Finland & Multiple Discoveries-in-the-Making
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Mawson Gold — Mr. Michael Hudson. Mike, how are you this morning?
Michael Hudson: Good morning, Gerardo. Very well, thank you!
Gerardo Del Real: You are a busy man! The Mawson team is a busy team! There are four drill rigs now in Finland. I believe those are diamond drill rigs onsite and ready to get busy. Can you provide some context?
Michael Hudson: This is our big drill season! When things freeze, it creates the super highways to get the rigs in there. So after a little bit of a later start in Europe, it was amazingly warm through the Christmas break… we usually start late-December or the first week or so of January but we had to hold off to get most of our rigs in until literally today.
We've had one rig drilling at our Joki East discovery over the last two or three weeks, and we’ve drilled further holes there. But now, we’ve brought three rigs in to complete the 20 kilometers of resource expansion drilling.
And the key aim of this program is simply to increase that 716,000 ounce gold equivalent in the resource. We want to extend that significantly, and our aim to do that, of course — is drill, drill, and drill! We're fully funded, fully permitted.
The detail is where we're looking to infill and extend the high-grades – the high-grade parts of the system that we found over the last year or so – we've got 7 to 8, 9 meters at 18 to 19 grams per tonne drilled consistently but with broad spacing, and we need to infill those.
So we’re bringing 60- to 80-meter spacing down to 40. And once we've got a handle on that, we can extend those zones beyond their limits. So that's one part of it but probably only 20% of the drilling meters will be directed to that stage. The key aim is to bring more near-surface resources to the table. And we've got some very good stats.
Over the last couple of years, we have drill hits that have economic… (I can't use that term; that's even going past my forward looking statement criteria) but good thicknesses and grades that, in single scout drill holes, that, subsequently, we've done electromagnetic geophysical surveys over, within the last year, and defined big conductors that are associated with those strong single hits. And they're all near-surface and there’s many of them over kilometers.
And that's our aim, this year, is to build up new resource areas to add to the four that we already have in that 716,000 ounces.
Gerardo Del Real: The hit-rate last year was absolutely phenomenal! It's clear to me that the team now has a really, really deep understanding of where it's drilling and why it's drilling there, right? Can you speak to that a bit?
I know that the ground EM conductors have played a big part in that, and you just touched on that a second ago. But can you describe that for those that maybe weren't around for last year's program or are new to the story and are just getting familiar?
Michael Hudson: It's very good to have prospectivity, and we've got that in spades up in Finland. But if you don't understand your mineral system, don't understand the controls on gold, and don't understand where to drill — it's just a very easy way to go broke because you can drill and drill… and drilling is very expensive!
We drill at relatively modest costs in Finland; C$200 a meter all-up for the drill costs. Assays are on top of that; about another $50. So it's an expensive business, and you want to find as many resources for the least amount of drilling that you conduct.
And so, last year, we were drilling out the resource upgrade at about US$10 per ounce to find. So that's a pretty good strike rate, right? And why did that happen?
That happened because we’ve put (I’m using lots of currencies here) something like just over US$30 million into the ground. That's brought a lot of understanding.
Our mineralization, unfortunately, because it's blind – meaning it doesn't come to the surface… it’s covered by a few meters of the melted glacial debris that came there over the last 10,000 years – so we need to use remote techniques to find it. Geophysics is one of those techniques, of course, that we use.
And when we put a current into the ground in these big loops – a bit like a big metal detector – these areas light up like a Christmas tree! The resource areas, all of these electromagnetic highs that light up (and I use the word “shine”) but we can measure these incremental changes in conductivity. That's what I was talking about.
So we know that there's an intimate association with known resources, and we've got many more of those areas to test. So it's de-risked as much as you probably would want a geological project, or a project in the geological world, to be. We're still second-guessing nature so it's never one-to-one, of course, but we're in a pretty good place.
Gerardo Del Real: The cobalt has been very consistent along with the gold mineralization. Obviously, cobalt is going to play an increasingly important role as we transition globally into cleaner technology, right? Can you speak to the cobalt mineralization on the project because it's really important, I think, and again, very underappreciated in the project?
Michael Hudson: Yeah. There's two very strong points outside the geology, in many respects, for this project. One is the extremely strong local support we have for this project from the local villages, municipalities, to the broad Lapland political support.
This project is one that people want to advance and to be built eventually into a mine. And the other side of that is the cobalt which is a key byproduct. It's about 10% to 15% in-situ value to the rock but it makes this project a strategic resource for Finland and for Europe.
That's easily said but it's a much easier argument to support this project for those who support it for us, around us, to argue the case that it is a strategic project rather than just a gold project owned by a foreign company.
Europe and Finland are ingrained, want to be ingrained, and are already ingrained in the battery supply chain. Finland produces 10% of the world's refined cobalt from the world's largest cobalt refinery. And that's 50% of the non-Chinese refined cobalt in the world. So they are already big into it but the government has just allocated 450 million Euros to build out their battery supply chain from raw material supply, which is where we're at, right through to battery plants.
So we're right in the sweet spot of where Finland and Europe want to go. And we can provide a homegrown source of cobalt for Finland to meet their aims.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent! Well put. I have to ask about Australia. You're on to not just one but multiple discoveries there. How are things coming along there?
Michael Hudson: Well, I think that if you really wanted to compare Mawson in Victoria, Australia, to our other Canadian peers… we’re one of the few companies to continually put out consistent gold results around the discovery — and that's at Sunday Creek.
A drill rig continues to drill there, and you'll see more information from that drill program come to the table soon. So that is a discovery-in-the-making, and I'm pretty confident that we'll continue to see good results from there… but await the results.
We've also collected a lot of information now over at Sunday Creek, Redcastle — a lot of geophysical information. And that's what we said we'd do. And then putting the earlier stage drilling to understand those systems. And literally, up until Christmas, that's where we got to. We're still just finishing off those programs.
And now we're in a very good position to pivot from that data collection on those other projects and see to where-next. And you'll see more information. And we've been a bit slow, as I've spoken about many times, putting information out around Redcastle. We're just getting final assays in from that project where we've drilled 15 holes.
So one discovery-in-the-making and lots of good gold results!
We’ve drilled 10 to 20 meters at 3 to 4 grams consistently. And that project is building up nicely. And, encouraging, a lot of data that we've got to talk about soon from Redcastle. So, once again, earlier-stage than Finland but we're on the roll there. Proof-of-concept completely proven and now extending those systems.
Gerardo Del Real: Well put! I suspect we'll be chatting soon. A lot to talk about… a lot of news flow!
Michael Hudson: Absolutely! It's almost hard to keep up with the news flow. And press releases every week are a little too much for the market to get hold of. But we almost need to do that to keep everyone informed.
Gerardo Del Real: It's a good problem to have, Mike! Thank you so much for the update.
Michael Hudson: Thanks, Gerardo.