Alaska Energy Metals (TSX-V: AEMC)(OTC: AKEMF) CEO Greg Beischer on Game Changing Mineral Resource Estimate for the Eureka Deposit, Nikolai Nickel Project, Alaska, USA

 

Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the President and CEO of Alaska Energy Metals, Mr. Greg Beischer. Greg, it's great to have you on. How are you today, sir?

Greg Beischer: I'm doing really well, Gerardo. Thanks for inviting me again.

Gerardo Del Real: No, listen, congratulations are in order. You just published a new 43-101 resource estimate for the Eureka deposit, the Nikolai nickel project in Alaska, of course. A heck of an increase across the board. Well done. I'll let you touch on the main points, but anytime you get this kind of surprise to the upside, to the tune of 180% increase in the inferred tonnage while adding substantial new indicated tonnage to the deposit, you have to be pleased. 

Greg Beischer: Yep, we sure are, Gerardo. It worked out really well. I think the last time you and I spoke, late in the year, we had announced our maiden resource for the project, which really was two resources, two separate deposits about two miles apart that were sizable. I mean, it contained quite a lot of nickel, over 1.5 billion pounds of nickel. And when you add in the value of the copper, cobalt, platinum and palladium, it was over 2 billion pounds of contained nickel metal equivalent. But as a result of the drilling that we did in the summer of 2023, as well as some historical drill holes that could be brought into the calculation, it turns out we were able to have enough drilling to actually join two deposits together into one big long one that's nearly three miles in length. And you'll remember it was pretty thick slab of mineralized rock, so it's added up to quite a lot. In fact, we've multiplied the resource by a factor of five, over 8 billion pounds of contained nickel metal, over 10 billion pounds of contained nickel metal equivalent when you include the other metals.

So at this point, it's quite a substantial deposit, but there were several other good things resulting from this work. And one was that since we had just one pit shell instead of two, it greatly reduced the amount of waste rock that might have to be removed in order to get at the valuable rock. And so there was a significant decrease in the strip ratio, the ratio of waste to be removed to get at the valuable rock. And so it's now only at 1.5 to 1. That's a pretty good ratio. 

But we also did two other things. One was that we were able to upgrade our confidence in the resource in one particular area where drill hole density allowed that. So over half of our new resource is at the higher, more confident indicated category, while the remainder, just over half, remains in the inferred category. So that was great. But finally, our suspicion that there was a high grade near surface core to the deposit was borne out by the additional drilling we did last summer. And it itself is sizable. It's higher grade. One still wouldn't call it high grade yet, but if we were to mine this higher grade core early in the mining sequence, we wouldn't be taking any waste rock. It would all be ore in the early years of production, which could really seriously positively affect the economics of the project. The sooner payback of the mine and mill can occur, the better the economics.

But at this point, the deposit should be looking attractive to major mining companies already with this size of deposit, and at an aggressive large scale bulk tonnage mining rate, we've probably got close to 20 years of production visible. So I think soon we'll be approached by strategic investors that would be interested in partnering on the project, and that would be welcome. There's some heavy lifting to do on a project like this, and we'd like to see those investments.

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Gerardo Del Real: Well, given the quality of the jurisdiction that the project is in, and given global uncertainty as it relates to mining projects around the world, look, frankly, it's getting tougher and tougher, not just to discover deposits with significant scale, but to permit them, advance them, build them, right? And so I think you are right in the sweet spot as it relates to scale and jurisdiction, and I have to believe that you're likely already having at least preliminary conversations behind the scenes with potential suitors.

Greg Beischer: Right. Well, I can't talk about that too much.

Gerardo Del Real: No, I figured as much, and I definitely respect the need to be cautious on that front. But again, I think it's easy for everyone to connect dots and then be able to imagine that even if those conversations aren't happening, which I'll speculate that they are, that they definitely will, and hopefully we get a more public indication of that in the months to come.

What comes next for the project and what comes next for Alaska Energy Metals?

Greg Beischer: Right. Well, we'd like to mount a pretty aggressive drill program this summer. I think the project warrants it. We imagine extending the deposit further along strike. It's certainly open in both directions, though the grade vector tells us to extend first to the southeast, and so that's what we'll do. And it looks like the higher grade core extends in that direction as well. So the first goal is to extend the deposit further, make it a little bit bigger, but then do infill drilling, particularly in and around that higher grade zone so that we really understand it and start to move that up into the measured and indicated categories so that then we can start to attach some actual dollar value to it and do our earliest stage economic studies. Still a long way to go on this project, but we're off to a great start with just nine months of work.

Gerardo Del Real: Well, I know it's a project you're passionate about, one that you know very, very well. I am looking forward to what comes next, and I'm most definitely looking forward to what kind of interest you are able to attract.

Greg, anything else that you'd like to add?

Greg Beischer: No, I think that about covers it, Gerardo, except to say that 8 billion pounds of nickel sounds like a big number and it is. But just for comparison, one could look at Canada Nickel Corporation. They've got a very similar deposit in Canada to the one that we're developing, but they're several years ahead of us. They've got a measured and indicated resource that's over 13 billion pounds of nickel and a positive feasibility study now. And better yet, they've attracted those strategic investors, two mining companies, Anglo-American and Agnico Eagle, and even Samsung, who's building battery plants in America and needs guaranteed off-takes. So they've done a fantastic job with a very, very similar project. Their market capitalization is roughly $240 million now. Ours is at 33, so as we prove this project out and show that it's similar, if not larger than theirs, then I think that we should be similarly valued.

Gerardo Del Real: I couldn't agree more. Should be a pivotal year for what is developing to be one of the most recent, bigger, significant resources to come out of the state of Alaska. Glad to see it. Thanks again, Greg.

Greg Beischer: Thank you, Gerardo. Talk to you again soon.

Gerardo Del Real: All right. Chat soon. Cheers.

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