Strathmore Plus Uranium (TSX-V: SUU)(OTC: SUUFF) Director John DeJoia on Advancing Multiple Near-Surface ISR Uranium Properties in Wyoming in a Rising Uranium Market
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is P.Geo and director of Strathmore Plus Uranium — Mr. John DeJoia. John, it's an absolute pleasure to have you on. How are you doing today, sir?
John DeJoia: I'm doing fine. It's a pleasure to talk with you.
Gerardo Del Real: Strathmore Plus Uranium. Tell me a bit about the company. And then, I really want to dig into the team that you have in place because it's a team that has a history of big time success.
And so when I see the type of uranium market we have now and I see where Strathmore is and I see the great jurisdiction it's operating in, all of that checks a lot of boxes for me. I think it's a perfect time to introduce the story to our audience.
John DeJoia: Well, Strathmore Plus Uranium is a direct descendant of the original Strathmore Minerals that Dev [Randhawa] started up, geez, 20 some years ago or so. And they brought me, oh, I think it was 2005, 2006, and I ran the New Mexico operations. I was senior vice president.
We divested about 9 or 10 years ago. In the meantime, Dev spun out with his Canadian properties and started up the Fission Groups, and we are now on F3 up there, Fission 3.
And in the meantime, Strathmore, as the uranium group in the United States, basically went defunct. Well, about two years ago, Dev called me up and asked me what I was doing, and we stayed in touch over the years and I said, ‘Geez, Dev, I'm retired, have been for quite a few years now.’
And he said, ‘Well, you're too young for that.’ And I said, ‘Well, I'm actually old enough to retire.’ And he said, ‘No, you need to go back to work.’ And I said, ‘Well, Dev, I have no desire to make out a timecard. I don't want to make out an expense sheet. I don't want to pay taxes. However, I'll help you.’ And he said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Sure!’
So anyway, we got together and thought along the lines of how this would function, and he said, ‘I think the way to do this is you'd be the technical advisor. And by the way, do you have any properties you'd bring into the group?’
Gerardo Del Real: By the way…
John DeJoia: I said, ‘Well, geez, that's a little different than being a technical advisor but let me put my head to that a little bit.’ So I did, and I said, ‘You know, Dev, I have a couple in mind.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you're not going to be our chief geologist, I also need a geologist too.’ And I'm thinking, ‘Boy, this is getting a little deeper than I had originally planned.’
But anyway, long story short, I suggested that we hire Mr. Terrence Osier as our senior vice president. And I talked to Terrence before Dev did, and it turns out he had one of the properties, a partial part of what I wanted to pick up, which was part of our properties when I was with Federal American.
But anyway, Terrence came in and agreed to come on with us as senior vice president. I was a technical advisor, and so now Dev had me for two things; senior geologist and the Beaver Rim properties.
Well, after that, he said, ‘You got any more?’ And I said, ‘Well, there was a property across the road from where I used to work.’ And we had Terrence on. Terrence looked into it and said, ‘Geez, John, those things are still there.’ That was our Agate property. Well, Dev and I talked more and he says, ‘We need something else!’
So I dug into my mind and it was a property, oh, about seven miles from the mine in Shirley Basin where I worked for 10 years. And it was owned by a gentleman down in Colorado. He was an older fella, and I actually led him up to the property with his drill rig one day. And this was long ago. Anyway, I'd kind of remembered it, and I'd gone up there for a barbecue one night with him.
And anyway, that was our Night Owl property. It had been dropped in the 80s and we picked it up. So that's how I got in with Dev and how we got the three properties that we currently have.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. Let's talk about the importance of jurisdiction and where the properties are located. You are one of the most experienced uranium geologists in the US, right? You've overseen, I believe, over 20 million pounds of uranium in Wyoming alone, and I think you've been in the industry for coming up on five decades. Is that accurate, John?
John DeJoia: Yeah, that's pretty close. The first place I worked was out in Shirley Basin, Wyoming, and I got hired in 1971 in December. But I had another job and I couldn't break away until March, and they said that's fine. I showed up there, I think it was March 13th, and I was put on night shift as a mine geologist. I had no idea about uranium, no idea about driving a Mack truck, or anything like that.
They sent me down to the pit. It was about 20 below zero that night and they said, ‘This is your home for the next eight hours. Enjoy it!’ ‘I said, Well, can you tell me how to start it?’ And they showed me how to start it and said, ‘Keep it on the ramp. You'll be fine.’
Well, I did, and I did that for a couple of months on night shift. And finally, they decided the new kid wasn't that bad. They gave me a promotion and let me come into the office. But that's how I got started. And that was in Shirley Basin, Wyoming.
Well, Shirley Basin, Wyoming was the second-biggest producer in Wyoming. Gas Hills was the biggest producer at that time. And why Wyoming?
Well, Wyoming has the best public, so to say; it's friendly. The public is friendly; the regulators are friendly. It's a good business environment. And everybody says, ‘Well, that's great… but does Wyoming have any ore left?’ Well, yeah, we actually have quite a bit, and we have some good properties left up there.
And one of the things a property has to have for ISR [In-Situ Recovery], especially, is permeability, porosity, and transmissivity. And these parameters are great in Wyoming. Where there's mineralization, they have ISR appropriate deposits. So that's why we're in Wyoming.
I was in charge of the New Mexico operations and we were partnered with Sumitomo Corporation down here. And we struggled and fought and battled and spent millions trying to permit a mine 15 years ago and pretty much threw up our hands. It was very, very difficult. Great deposits but a very tough working environment.
Gerardo Del Real: Times have most definitely changed a bit, right? We have Wyoming now as one of the leading uranium jurisdictions. We're seeing a surge in prices right now. I think we just touched a 15 or 16 year high. I suspect that price is going to continue higher.
You have, as you mentioned, multiple properties and you have exploration plans for each of those. Before I let you go, can you do me a huge favor and just provide me an overview of the many catalysts that the company has over the next couple of quarters, not just Q4 but Q1 and Q2 of 2024 as well?
John DeJoia: Well, we'll be looking at all of our properties. But mostly, we're going to concentrate on our Agate property over the winter and early spring. It's right across from the major mine district in Shirley Basin. That was Utah International, which became Pathfinder Mines Corporation and Kerr-McGee Corporation and Getty. Petrotomics was just south of us.
Together, they mined about 50 million pounds. This is right across the highway from our Agate. I used to go over there. I got to know the geologist that worked there occasionally. And I'd go over and I could look at their cutting but they wouldn't tell me anything. And it just stuck in the back of my mind.
Well, the mineralization on Agate is anywhere from 15 to 150 feet deep. Now, that is shallow for ISR work. Well, we started drilling there a couple of weeks ago and we came up with ore right where we thought it was going to be. The drill logs that we got from Kerr-McGee copies were pretty accurate, and we're going in and doing some verification drilling and some exploration drilling.
We're expanding the area a little bit, and it's saturated with water. Of course, it has the same permeability and porosity as the deposit across the highway a half mile away. So we're very pleased with this property. Our initial drilling results have been great. Totally set up for ISR type work.
I mined through the original ISR property at Shirley Basin. I did an open pit, three of them actually, that went through the previous solution mining that Utah had done, and they did the very first commercial operation in the world for uranium.
So I was fortunate enough to actually excavate and mine through it. I cored it first and determined that there was still enough ore to mine. We open pitted the area and made our production out of the area. And I got to see what happened over a three-year period.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, listen, the results early are favorable. I know the team is excited about what you're seeing. The program is an ambitious one. I believe it's a 100-hole drill program that totals 15,000 feet. Is that accurate?
John DeJoia: Yeah, that's pretty close. I don't know if that's exactly the number, and I don't know what the number will finally turn out to be but we'll just have to wait and see there. Terrence is still drilling out there. I think we'll probably end up with less footage.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent! John, it's been an absolute pleasure. I’ve got to touch on the share structure briefly. You have, for the market that I see developing in the uranium space, a pretty modest market cap. It's in the order of between C$40 and C$45 million depending on the trading day.
I recall the last uranium bull market, and I recall seeing companies go from C$40 million to C$400 million in pretty short order. In addition to the multiple properties, in addition to the flagship that you're focusing on and the good results thus far, you also have a working agreement with a partner that I know has to be pretty consequential down the road.
Can you just touch on that briefly before I let you go?
John DeJoia: Yes, we're, let's just call us ‘friends with a working business agreement;’ the company is Ur-Energy Inc. John Cash is the CEO, and John's just been a pleasure to deal with.
They've got all the properties I used to have across the highway. I moved across the highway in 50 years… so they've got a lot more than we have right now. But they also have some capacity available, excess capacity, with their license that we hope to tag onto for the Agate property.
Now, our other two properties, we haven't touched on, and we did some initial work at Night Owl this year, and we discovered a lot. We didn't hit a lot of ore because it's mostly at the surface. And with our drilling, we didn't hit a lot. We determined a lot about the deposit that we needed to know and gave us some targets for next year.
But the other thing is… we have the Beaver Rim property, which is just south of the Gas Hills. It's a little deeper but it's right next to the best ore that was in the Gas Hills.
I became chief geologist and director of technical services out there in the early-80s, and we had a shaft into the ore at the UPZ area but we didn't get to mine it. Everything fell apart by then. And we, as Strathmore Plus, picked up the properties just south of that. So we're pretty excited about those also.
Gerardo Del Real: A lot to look forward to. I'm glad that you took the time today. I'm looking forward to doing this again soon as the results continue to trickle in. John, it's been great. Thank you so much, sir.
John DeJoia: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Gerardo Del Real: We'll make sure to put a link to the corporate presentation for those that want to take a deeper dive into the company. But again, I anticipate we'll be talking fairly consistently here.
John DeJoia: Yeah, when you look at our market cap, you have to really put us as a target.
Gerardo Del Real: Couldn't agree with you more. Thank you, sir.
John DeJoia: Thank you. Take care.