Aben Resources (TSX-V: ABN) CEO Jim Pettit on Commencing Field Exploration Program at the Forrest Kerr Gold Project in British Columbia Amid COVID-19

Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the President and CEO of Aben Resources (TSX-V: ABN)(OTC: ABNAF), Mr. Jim Pettit. Jim, it's been a few months. How the heck have you been?

Jim Pettit: Hey, thanks a lot. I've been doing good. Getting a little antsy. I want to get back to work. We've cleared the path so now we can. Like I just announced, we're heading in there first week of July.

Gerardo Del Real: Let's talk about what that looks like. Obviously a new normal, a new approach. You did announce a 2020 field program at Forrest Kerr. Gold is at $1,770. We're in a clear gold bull market and a market that is finally rewarding discoveries, drill results and accretive actions, right? So, I'm encouraged to see that you have a field program planned. What will that look like with everything going on?

Jim Pettit: Well, it will be a little different this year. We're going to start the season with a field crew up there, just a group of probably four geologists. We've got targets identified that we want them to look at and fine-tune. We've done a lot of drilling, 20,000 meters of drilling. We've gone and reassessed every meter, every analytical result from every meter. In the off season, we've incorporated what we're seeing with the geophysics because now we had last season with the geophysics and we did a lot of drilling as we headed south from that high-grade zone that we had initially hit. We obviously found that things changed, but we're seeing something we never saw before. So we want to send the field crew in there first. 

We've got specific areas. You can read the news release we just put out. It kind of identifies three, but the first one is the main one. And it's a zone between the very high-grade North Boundary Zone and the not so high-grade South Boundary Zone. I don't mean that in a derogatory sense. There's a lot of mineralization there. It's just changed from high grade to low grade and we're trying to get a handle on structure that'll tell us what happened. 

Why is that North Boundary high-grade zone there? I mean, it was high grade. We had four in one hole, hole 10. Let's say we have four mineralized sections of that hole. The high end was 10 meters of 38 grams, which was pretty spectacular. And then all four of them were high-grade as well. We want to know why that high-grade zone is there. 

That comes down to structures and understanding the fault systems because there's a lot of them. I think we've got it. I think we're onto something. It's going to take a little bit of field work because we need some surface mineralization along where we think these fault systems are and where they cross each other. It's going to just take a little bit of work on their part because we've got the geophysics. We know what that looks like.

We've only got one hole that actually drilled from the east side of the valley. The creek running down the middle of it is called the Nelson Creek Fault. We only got one hole that came underneath that fault to the west side, that's in the North Boundary, the high-grade zone. It ended in really good mineralization. Then when we drilled in the South Boundary area, that was about a kilometer and a half to the south. We hit a lot of mineralization, but lower grade. Looks an awful lot like what's at the bottom of that one hole that drilled to the west side. 

Then this last season, we drilled even further south from the South Boundary on what's called the Benchlands where our core shacks were. We drilled there and hit just some really good mineralization that looks identical to the South Boundary. It looks identical to that one hole where the mineralization was at the bottom of it on the west side. So we've kind of identified a new fault called the Benchland Fault, south of the South Boundary. We think it connects right up to the South Boundary drilling and ultimately would probably connect right up to the Nelson Creek Fault. 

Then there's a series of cross-cutting faults that we've identified now. At the north end of the whole system, the North Boundary Zone, the high grade, there is a cross-cutting fault called the Blind Fault that comes right across at an angle. It looks like where the Nelson Creek Fault deviated to the northeast on the Blind Fault, that's where the high grade was. So we're looking for these other faults and then we've identified a series of them that we want to get and do some sampling on the surface and then put a drill on it.

Gerardo Del Real: You've had some time, Jim, to go over the data as you mentioned. For those that aren't familiar with the story, we have a lot of new people in this space. The best intercept returned to 38.7 grams per tonne gold over 10 meters. It got the market excited, rightfully so. That was within, I think, 122 meters of 1.2 grams per tonne gold from that North Boundary. As you mentioned, you weren't able to duplicate those spectacular results. 

What's been the biggest insight in pouring over the data thus far, having the time to sit down and really go hole by hole in and kind of put everything in it's place? Has it been those faults and those structures that you mentioned?

Jim Pettit: Yeah. There was something that was controlling the high grade and there was a couple of holes there that were really good. The Blind Fault that comes down from the northeast to the southwest crossing the Nelson Creek Fault, it's right there and hard to deny it. We've got a couple other areas that we've identified now that look a lot like that. You've got a deflection of the main fault, the Nelson Creek Fault. 

Then if we extrapolate the new one, the Benchland Fault, it comes straight up and we think it'll deviate to the northeast and connect up to the Nelson Creek Fault. Where those bends are and where you've got these cross-cutting faults, that's where we're going to be concentrating a lot of our surface work because the geophysics is really plain to see. 

There are a couple of these big structures we didn't test last year that are just on the west side. We want to test that because one thing we did notice as we headed south from the high-grade zone is the alteration changes to get less potassic alteration, which gives you an indication of a heat source. 

There's a big, big intrusion right to the west across the Nelson Creek Fault that we didn't test last year. We have no surface work done there because there's a lot of scree coming off the mountain tops. So you got a lot of shattered rock that's fallen down and it's covered the surface. So there's no outcrop, but we're going to go in there and do some rock sampling. We will find some outcrop to work with and we want to put a couple of holes in that system, that big intrusion. It's also associated with these faults.

One of the things we're getting out of this season going forward is the ability to take the time to really analyze with all the tools in the toolkit; the geophysics, the old drill results and surface results. Whereas the first couple of years, first year we were drilling blind, just looking at a possible outcrop and that we were fortunate to hit early on and hit and attract a fair amount of money. We raised a lot of money the last couple of years. 

But going forward, we've got more information to work with. It's making us theoretically smarter to go in there and with a fair amount of confidence when we do drill. That's something we didn't have that luxury before, because the season's so short. We'd go up there and we'd drill. And then we overlaid the geophysics and we could see some targets that we thought would work. Some of them did actually and some of them didn't, but now we've come up with this whole concept that looks like it's going to pull together.

Gerardo Del Real: Well, in a sense, you were also a victim of your own early success, right? When you hit 38.7 grams per tonne gold over 10 meters, it's a heck of a bar to set for yourself. Let me ask you, Jim. Given COVID and everything going on, how has that affected hiring contractors and the supply chain in the field? I have to believe there's been an impact there.

Jim Pettit: Oh, there is. The government has finally issued – and this is why we're good to go now – how to handle exploration programs and remote facilities like mines and that sort of thing. They came back to us and gave us some rules that said, "Okay, here's what you got to do, signage, blah, blah, blah." Well we had the conversation with them the other day, the government. So where are we going to put signs up? The camp is going to be on top of the mountain. There's no point in having sings. There's only going to be six people. We're permitted for a camp on top of the mountain, a maximum, I think, of eight people. So, we're going to have a cook and we're going to have four GEOs that'll alternate in and out. And then two senior GEOs doing all the field work. They said, "You're only allowed two people plus the pilot in a helicopter." Well, we have six-man helicopters. We're not going to use a helicopter once the guys are up there, they're going to traverse to where they have to go because we're in an environment up top there that they can do that. It's not cliffs or anything like that.

I decided to do it this way with the exploration team, the field team first to keep the camp population down. When we get a drill up there in the second half of the season, that's going to increase the size of the camp. We'll move it back down to where it's been last several years down by the Bob Quinn airstrip beside the highway. There's a trailer park and we've got two big double wide trailers and we can put all kinds of people in there. Then they get flown up every morning and flown back down every afternoon. But it's just managing the size because if someone gets sick or someone comes back from a break and they've got a fever, well then we have to have a separate tent to isolate them. I don't know what the chances of that are, but you got to be ready for it. So, the fewer people we have in camp the better.

Gerardo Del Real: Good, good. Well, Jim, it's exciting to see you back out in the field soon. I'm looking forward to the company generating drill targets, and hopefully you can make some time and come back and talk to us about those once you've got those up and go.

Jim Pettit: Oh yeah. That'll be an ongoing thing. I think there'll be a fair amount of news to talk about. Yep.

Gerardo Del Real: Good. Jim, thank you so much for your time. You be safe out there.

Jim Pettit: Okay. And I just wanted to say, we've got a brand new website.

Gerardo Del Real: There you go.

Jim Pettit: So, have a look and it explains what we're looking at and where we want to concentrate. It's pretty good. A lot of maps.

Gerardo Del Real: We'll make sure to put a link up. I know it's www.abenresources.com, but we'll put a link up with the transcript and make sure everybody gets in there. I appreciate it, Jim.

Jim Pettit: Okay. Anytime.