General Precious Metals
Ophir Gold (TSX-V: OPHR)(OTC: OPHRF) CEO Shawn Wescott on Forthcoming Maiden Drill Program at Flagship Radis Lithium Project, James Bay, Quebec
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Junior Resource Trader. Joining me today is the CEO of Ophir — and I'm tempted to say “Gold” because, technically, that's what's correct but I think one day it'll be Ophir “Metals” or Ophir “Battery Metals” despite the fact that you have an excellent gold project — Mr. Shawn Westcott. Thank you so much for joining us. How are you today?
Shawn Westcott: Hey, Gerardo, I'm doing great. Thanks for having me and Ophir on.
Gerardo Del Real: Listen, let's jump right into it. I made a buy recommendation to paying subscribers of my trader service back when the company was, I believe, right in the high C$0.30’s.
This was prior to the unfortunate fires that caused a pretty significant delay in some of the groundwork, the exploration work, which, of course, subsequently caused the delay in what's going to be the main catalyst, which, of course, is going to be the drilling of the lithium in James Bay.
I'll be very frank with you, Shawn, there are very few companies in James Bay that I am willing to write a check for and willing to own. Yours happens to be one of them.
Obviously, you have Darren Smith, who's a director for you and knows the region as well as anyone out there. Obviously, he's the VP of Exploration for Patriot Battery Metals. There's a lot of, and I hate this word too, but there's a lot of synergy there between your group and the other two companies that I also own that I think are going to be — well, Patriot is, obviously, very successful. The other one will be successful, I believe. And I think you have a heck of a shot.
So, look, the stock has pulled back. We talked about it off-air a little bit. I'm considering adding in the open market so I thought I'd have you on to just lay out what the next quarter or two looks like because it's going to be a transformational one for the company.
Shawn Westcott: Yeah, that's a pretty good overview of the market, and, like you said, your entry point and what we've seen here. Just the big overall picture here… there are probably 100 companies searching for lithium in James Bay and Newfoundland and Manitoba and Ontario.
And we've seen only 6 or 10 companies actually make spodumene discoveries. And we're one of them. So that sets us apart from the rest of the pack there.
But just going back a bit here, just so your audience knows, we're on the western half of James Bay. And we share a significant chunk of greenstone. And the greenstone belt we share, as we call it, the Yasinski greenstone belt, and we share that with Q2 Metals, which is our neighbor contiguous to our property.
And what really got us excited to acquire this property was that it had a historically documented lithium pegmatite. And we’re on trend to Q2 Metals, which had multiple spodumene outcrops. So given that we have the braintrust of Darren Smith and a bunch of other consultants, it was our idea that there had to be potential for a lot more spodumene in the system. So that's what we did.
We acquired the property on December 12, 2022, and we put all of the data together and, unfortunately, like you were saying, there were some forest fires. We got up there in June. We only had a day and a half onsite, and that day and a half was incredibly fruitful.
Not only did we get to the original, historically mapped lithium pegmatite — which was confirmed as spodumene by our team — we had really good results there at 2.33% Li2O, 1.68% Li2O, and 1.17 Li2O out of three grab samples. So we confirmed that and, like our hunch, there is the potential for more spodumene on trend. And we found that.
The first one we called Chou; that's the historically documented pegmatite. And then, that day and a half, we visited a tourmaline zone and discovered that there was also spodumene. That came back with a sample of 1.26% Li2O. So a very fertile system here between those two spodumene pegmatites that were discovered roughly 2.5 km in discontinuous spodumene.
There was also a tantalum-rich LCT pegmatite in the middle, which is suggestive that this is even more fertile. You can see, next to the tantalum LCT pegmatite (Corporate Presentation, Page 6), the potential for an elevated spodumene pegmatite.
The system is incredibly fertile on our side of the fence here; 2.5 km of discontinuous spodumene. And you put that in concert with what Q2 has on their side of the fence, at Mia, we are now looking at roughly a 12 to 12.5 km trend, which is incredibly robust and fertile and just begging to be drilled.
So unfortunately, due to the fires, we got kicked out and had to sit on our hands while the fires abated until we were finally able to get back onsite. We were able to do that in September, and we got a good 14 days onsite and hit the ground running after these targets that we defined in June. And so we put news out last Thursday. That might be part of the reason; we put news out on probably the worst day to hit the markets.
Gerardo Del Real: It was a tough day all around.
Shawn Westcott: People played our news as bad because the stock was down a penny, and that might've triggered some people to lighten up when, really, I believe the news was fantastic and just the lithium market was hemorrhaging and that might've conflated the issue. Anyways, unfortunate.
But what we did there is we got back to Chou, that original historical pegmatite. There was some overburden there, and the crews were able to extend that first pegmatite by 26 meters. That spodumene zone is now 41 meters of strike length and it's open in three directions. So it's looking significant.
What they were also able to do is take two channel samples from the northern part — the 6.5 meter channel sample — and from the southern zone, they did a ~3 meter sample. It looks like it's abundant spodumene, and that is in the assay labs now. It is probably going to be about two to four weeks for those assays.
So what we're doing is we're getting back there and mapping these things, and they look bigger than they originally did and they're open in multiple directions. So highly encouraging.
We got back to the Navet, which is the new one that was discovered 2.5 km away. It's closer to the Q2 Metals’ ground, and the outcrop is looking like roughly 18 meters by 8 meters and it's open in three directions. And there are also about 20 other additional pegmatites, suggesting a very large pegmatite swarm.
It's over about a 100 meter by 75 meter grid. So this could suggest a very fruitful LCT system and swarm over in the Navet. It’s yet to be determined as to how big these things are as they dip undercover and the contact is not truly known. We're encouraged that drilling will assess the size of these things.
Also, the potential interconnectivity of these zones is something we don't know at this point. So that's where we're at right now. Our plan today is to keep exploring and growing these systems, and we plan to be drilling these in Q1 of 2024.
Gerardo Del Real: Shawn, I'm glad that you mentioned the 4.5 km trend. I'm also glad that you mentioned Navet. And I'm going to play a little bit of devil's advocate here because I know there's a core group of people… and there's always a core group of people that are just going to focus on the potential negatives.
And if there was a potential negative in the news release that I think was perceived by the market, it was the type of mineralization in which you found that extension at Navet and the fact that it was a meter wide, right? And I think the context on that specific part of the news release wasn't appreciated by the market, and I do think it contributed to the selloff.
So I wanted you to just step back, and you covered it already, but I wanted you to provide the context of that type of mineralization, including where you found it and how it relates to everything around it. Because I think some people walked away and said, ‘Oh, their pegmatite dike is only one meter wide, and we don't like the mineralization it's in.’
Shawn Westcott: No, as you probably know, we work with a completely transparent group of people; Darren Smith and our project manager Nathan Schmidt. We will never try to sugarcoat anything.
But just to bring it back a second, that was not found at Navet, which is towards the west towards Mia. That was found at the extension towards the east, towards the hinge fold. So that is completely independent of the Chou and the Navet spodumene systems.
Gerardo Del Real: Got it.
Shawn Westcott: So it was a lithium LCT pegmatite dike, and it was
lepidolite. But what does that mean? Well, look, in the major deposits in James Bay — I'm not going to name any — but there's lepidolite everywhere within and around those major deposits in James Bay.
So we're looking for spodumene. I mean, we're not looking for lepidolite. But what lepidolite suggests to our geologists, who, as you know, have probably some of the best expertise in James Bay, is the lepidolite — which is two and a bit km to the east of our main spodumene showing — suggests that there could be additional spodumene on trend.
That's all it means. It just means that the system is more fertile and extends farther than we think. But just to remind you, that lepidolite was not found within our Chou or Navet; that was the extension to the east.
Gerardo Del Real: Perfect. And I think that context is important because I think it was lost in translation. And if I could give an analogy for people that may be more familiar with gold mineralization than lithium mineralization, I would equate, in the gold space, what you found to finding arsenic in Nevada, right?
It's not gold… and arsenic in your deposit isn't the best thing in the world… but you're not looking for the arsenic. You're looking for the fact that arsenic is a pathfinder element to finding big bonanza grade deposits of gold in Nevada.
So I thought the context was important. And I'll be honest, even me reading the release — because of the fact that those two sentences were one right after the other — it read to me, and this could just be me, as if it was near the other showings, right? And so I'm glad that you were able to provide that context.
So look, the main catalyst is going to be the drilling in Q1 of 2024. You were prudent when the market was hot, and you were oversubscribed. And look, I reached out to take a chunk of the financing, and it wasn't available.
And so I know you have loyal, long-term shareholders. I know that your network is a robust one. What are you hoping for in Q1 of 2024? Can you talk about the treasury position because I want to highlight that as well?
Shawn Westcott: Yes, absolutely. So we were fortunate to start the year with about C$2.5 million in the bank. We were approached by probably about 10 different groups trying to bash us over the head with their checkbooks.
Gerardo Del Real: I tried too, Shawn!
Shawn Westcott: Yeah, everybody was trying… and really solid big groups as well. We are all about building relationships with people that are going to be helpful down the road.
And so we raised C$3 million in a charity flow through. And the backend, and I hope people know what the backend means, the ultimate subscribers of that placement were the who’s-who out of Western Australia.
And these guys are involved in some of the biggest mine development out there. And so we were fortunate with that group; guys that will be there for the next go-round as well. And we raised C$3 million at C$0.34. That was back in…
Gerardo Del Real: June.
Shawn Westcott: We were also fortunate when the price was up around C$0.40 to C$0.50 as we were able to bring in about another C$1M in warrants. That, as you can see, is in our MD&A as a subsequent event.
As of right now, I don't like to pinpoint our treasury but it's well north of C$5 million. So given that, like I said, a hundred companies looking for lithium spodumene, and there are only a handful that have found it. We did… and we’ve found multiple spodumene zones that look very robust in a fertile system.
We were also able to work with some of the biggest and best names in the business, especially out of Western Australia, to do our financing. Our treasury is looking very solid. We have drillers lined up. We have Heli lined up. We have the geologists lined up. And we have the camp lined up.
Now, all we need to do is wait for the deliverables of our LiDAR survey that was flown in September. That should be coming in in the next week or two. And we are starting our IP survey in the third week of October.
Both of those geophysical tools will help us with the mapping, sampling, and with the mag that we did in the summer all to hone in in terms of making that drill bit as efficient as possible.
So our plan is to drill in that January to February period. We're straddling that zone when there's more daylight where we can have proper crew changes and put roughly 2,000 to 4,000 meters in during Jan-Feb.
This will be the first time the property has been drilled for lithium and the first time these targets have ever been drilled. And I think it's going to be an incredibly exciting event.
Gerardo Del Real: I absolutely agree, Shawn. Again, I want to thank you for taking the time. I'm looking forward to having you back in the not too distant future. I know you have several different results that are going to help you vector in towards those targets here for Q1 of 2024. So thank you again.
Shawn Westcott: Yes, the next catalyst should be the channel sample results from the Chou spodumene zone. And there should be some other stuff that should come out as well.
Gerardo Del Real: Perfect. Thank you, sir.
Shawn Westcott: Take care.