Aben Resources (TSX-V: ABN) CEO Jim Pettit on 2020 Drill Program at the Forrest Kerr Gold Project in BC's Golden Triangle

Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the president and CEO of Aben Resources, Mr. Jim Pettit. Jim, how are you this morning?

Jim Pettit: I'm great. Thank you very much.

Gerardo Del Real: Thank you for taking the time. You announced a few days back results in a summary of the 2020 drill program at the Forrest Kerr Gold Project. I am not a geologist, but I can tell you that the feedback that I've received is one, well, yes, they hit mineralization; two, it wasn't the high grade type that the market always hopes for. And then the third thing, the third observation on my end would be, it does present some questions moving forward because the mineralization aspect of it was important for the west side of the valley, if I'm not mistaken, right?

Jim Pettit: Yep. That's absolutely right.

Gerardo Del Real: Can you give us an overview of the results and the key takeaways, obviously, from your end of it?

Jim Pettit: Yeah, absolutely. Let's start at the beginning of the season when we first got in there and had to deal with the changes to how we approach everything up there because of the pandemic. Being cognizant of the local indigenous people in the area, we put the camp up on top where we are working rather than down at the bottom. There's a trailer park that we've traditionally utilized right beside a fixed wing airstrip . By doing that, it changed the dynamics. Obviously, we were trying to keep our guys away from the local people and it actually increased the cost substantially. When we got up there, we had 30 feet of snow through the winter on the existing floorings of the previous year's core shacks. We had a couple of core shacks and logging shacks and stuff, and they were crushed. They were destroyed.

So we had to start from scratch and we got that going. And then we did about a month's worth of field work first and then got the drill up there, and once we started the drilling we thought, "Oh, yahoo. We can work. This is exciting." We ran into troubles pretty quick because of the amount of shale covering the shattered rock, the scree slope. We ended up with over 50 meters of, what do you call it? The casing. We had to get down to the bedrock,. And once we got into the bedrock, quickly found out it's quite shattered. It's called fault rock for reasons. It's close to the big, main faults. We had to go slow. We had to drill very, very slowly so as not to get the bit jammed. 

At the end of the day, we got two holes done, 500 meters each, roughly. Yeah, and it was just, the costs were adding up so I pulled the pin on the project. It took almost two months to drill two holes. There was a fair amount of instability, too. We were worried about that, because the drill's sitting on the pads and so we did the right thing. Our costs had escalated dramatically. So yeah, I just thought, "Oh, I don't want to run out of money and be at the end of the season with no money." So we did the right thing and at the end of the day, we ended up waiting and waiting for assays to come back . We got all that just in the last week and it did show a continuous zone of mineralization, which is what we were looking for.

It would have been nice to found an extension to that high-grade zone at the North Boundary because we were west of that boundary on the other side of the fault, but we did hit mineralization. We had hit at the bottom of one hole the previous year that came across and through the fault and identified a zone there.   This corresponded with good surface mineralization directly above it. So what we just accomplished was in the middle, partway down, and fairly sizable continuous zone of mineralization and then sporadic mineralization all through. So we're in the exploration business and that was a good sign. It gives us a renewed look at the whole west side of the boundary valley and how it's affected by these faults, and what's feeding all this mineralization, because that valley is still full of mineralization, albeit lower grade, but a lot of it's on surface and a lot of it is just below the surface, and where do we go from here?

So that's something we'll be looking at through the off season for next year. We are not giving up and I've got a concerted effort underway right now looking at a number of different projects so that we could fill in the rest of the year. Right now, we seem to be saddled with three to four months of the year and the Yukon Project, it's very similar. You're almost working at the same time.  We are looking at some other projects that could take us through an additional six months of the year, if not more.

Gerardo Del Real: Hm. It sounds like you got hit by the perfect storm of just adverse conditions, you had tough weather for the three months you were out there. You had very tough rock to work with. You're dealing within the backdrop of COVID restrictions and being careful on that front, and it led to escalating costs. I have to believe that, with your deep network of contacts, that last statement you made about wanting to have a multitude of projects, which by any means is not a pivot from this project, which has a ton of merit obviously, but I have to believe that it's important for you and the company to be able to work year round, giving the quality of management that you have. It's got to be tough having eight months of the year where you're basically just analyzing and interpreting data, right?

Jim Pettit: Yeah, it is. It's something I've been trying to do and I haven't had the luck that I wanted, because so much of this business is luck, but I had the Saskatchewan property and that didn't go well with the First Nations people. That was a surprise even up as high as the prime minister's office and the province. And then the Yukon property is eminently sellable. I've got the guys going up there and we are going to get a 43-101 technical report done on it. So it becomes a property of merit and can be utilized if somebody needs a property of merit. A lot of people look for them. As we've moved forward, there are some pretty good looking opportunities available to us that would definitely enhance what we do year round.

Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. Given the tiny market cap of the company, is there an urgency to identify a property? I know you're selective. I know that you've looked at a lot of things. Can you give us an idea of the type of property that, in a perfect world, which of course we all know we don't live in, but in a perfect world, the type of property you'd like to roll into the company?

Jim Pettit: Well, I look for projects that have got some relatively substantial historic work done on them, and that can be all reinterpreted and then you go in with fresh eyes, that sort of thing. This is an important note, too. We still have a pretty good kitty treasury. We've got $1.2 million still in the treasury, so we didn't completely deplete what we were doing, and that gives us the time to find the right project. It gives us the capital to get into the right project. I get asked a lot, "Are we going to consolidate the company?" The answer has been, "No, we're not. We don't need to. We've got money." Generally, you consolidate a company because you have to raise money and no, we're good with cash and that's going to be put to work.

Gerardo Del Real: Well, I know it was a tough drilling season. You should be commended for recognizing that the costs were escalating and preserving the remainder of the treasury to allow you to be out there and be nimble and, hopefully soon, bring another, it sounds like advanced stage property, ideally, is what you're looking for, that you can look out with fresh eyes and get to work on immediately.

Jim Pettit: Yep. Oh, yeah.

Gerardo Del Real: Excellent.

Jim Pettit: That's the gist of it. Yeah.

Gerardo Del Real: Good. Well, Jim, I sense we'll likely be talking sooner rather than later, and I want to thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Jim Pettit: No. Other than we're still here and we're anxiously awaiting some activity to happen on our end and then move forward. That's the name of the game.

Gerardo Del Real: Well, look forward to hearing about the activity and again, I think it's probably sooner rather than later, so we'll chat soon, Jim.

Jim Pettit: It will be.

Gerardo Del Real: All right.

Jim Pettit: Yup.

Gerardo Del Real: You take care now.

Jim Pettit: Thanks.