James G. Pettit began his career in the resource industry in British Columbia working with his father-in-law and local legend Bern Brynelsen who were integral to the development of Noranda’s copper-molybdenum Brenda Mine that was in production from 1970 until 1990.
Pettit began serving as Director, President & CEO of Aben Resources Ltd in 2002. Aben Resources is a gold exploration company headquartered in Vancouver, BC, busy advancing projects located in areas renowned for their mineral potential.
Pettit spoke with Canadian Investor about the excellent news coming from their flagship Forrest Kerr Project in British Columbia’s mineral rich Golden Triangle, developments at their high-grade Justin property in the Yukon and gave an update regarding their Chico property in Saskatchewan.
The Forrest Kerr Project
Currently, Aben is focusing on their Forrest Kerr Project where the company is earning a 100% interest by spending $3 million over four years. Pettit said, “We had been following the Golden Triangle and what was going on up there. It took a few years for it to really start picking up steam. We put together a land package there that made sense to us based on geology.”
Pettit explained that the Forrest Kerr Project’s long narrow shape (8 km wide and ~50 km north south) is a result of strategically acquiring three claim groups on the Kerr fault that runs the whole length of the property. Pettit said, “We got a lot of data from each of the three properties. We consolidated everything and did a big compilation study and prioritized targets and here we are – still working on target number one two years later.”
In August 2017, Aben Resources began drilling at Forrest Kerr. The first three holes were drilled just to the north in a place called Carcass Creek. “We didn’t match the drill holes drilled in the past by Kiska Metals, so we moved on very quickly to the Boundary Zone,” said Pettit. “We went to the Boundary Zone because there was a Noranda hole from 1991 that was very high-grade – 10 metres of 34 g/t gold which comes down to one really high-grade metre but also there was mineralization for the next nine intervals. There was also a geochem survey done – historically. We had all that data. It looked really good. There was a tremendous amount of gold showing up in soil and rock samples. Our head geo and his guys started at the north end of the Boundary Zone. They found one outcrop; it’s hard to find outcrops, and they took samples off that. They came back 50 grams plus. So that’s where we started drilling. We drilled underneath it last year and that was three holes off one pad at 40, 60 and 75 degrees. We hit it and it was pretty significant.”
Highlights Reported October 4, 2017
- Hole FK17-04 returns 6.7 g/t Au, 6.4 g/t Ag and 0.9% Cu over 10.0 metres, including 18.9 g/t Au, 16.6 g/t Ag and 2.2% Cu over 3.0 metres
Highlights Reported November 6, 2017
- FK17-05 returned a broad intercept of 1.2 g/t Au, 1.8 g/t Ag and 0.21% Cu over 122 metres that includes 10.9 g/t Au, 14.6 g/t Ag and 1.5% Cu over 12 metres with a high grade core of 21.5 g/t Au, 28.5 g/t Ag and 3.1% Cu over 6 metres;
- FK17-06 returned 0.51 g/t Au, 1.03 g/t Ag and 0.1% Cu over 94 metres including 2.91 g/t Au, 5.2 g/t Ag and 0.6% Cu over 14 metres;
The 2018 drill program met success in the very first hole. Pettit said, “We stepped the pad back and we put the pad 40 metres to the north of last year’s pad…We drilled two holes in the same plane, so they are on the same section as the other (2017) three holes. They came in underneath them. That was the first hole this year. The company had hit the bull’s eye. “You could see it. It was obvious,” said Pettit. “So we rushed it in before the labs in Terrace got swamped. “
On August 9, 2018 Aben Resources reported that the first drill hole of 2018, “Discovers Multiple High-Grade Zones Including 62.4 g/t gold over 6.0m within 38.7 g/t gold over 10 m.”
Originally the drill program was up to 5,000 metres planned in ~18 holes. Pettit said, “After that first hole we raised a lot of money …now we are up to almost 10,000 metres. Today we are at 38 holes. There is a lot to report. At the time of writing, Pettit said, “We have got 24 more holes to report on now that our 3 South Boundary Zone holes have been released.”
The company is in good shape going into next year’s exploration program. “We could easily have two drills (turning),” said Pettit. “I raised, very quickly, $4.2 million; half of it was taken by Eric Sprott. Almost the other half was taken by a fund in Toronto but we kept back almost half a million for the office here to distribute. While I was in Toronto, I went around to some of the flow through funds there and raised $950,000 and cleaned them out. There were three funds and that was all they had left… “We have got seven million in the till.”
Next year, Pettit says the company is going to consolidate all the new data from geo chemistry, an airborne survey and drill results and create a 3D model of the structure. “We really need to get a handle on structure,” he said, “It’s not easy looking at some of the veins to tell what direction some of them are going in so after the first eight holes we switched to oriented core which allows us to understand the actual angle and direction of the core and helps us to understand the structure better.”
He continued, “Next year we are going to have a better understanding of it all. The three drill holes from the South Boundary Zone are a km and a half to the south of the North Boundary Zone where our focus has been this year. These are the first holes ever drilled to the west into the Kerr fault. These holes had a fair amount of chalcopyrite in them which was a surprise to us and looked like the discovery holes drilled in 2017. We have just received final assays for these holes and we are very impressed with the grade and tenor of the mineralization in the holes. There are not the high grades as in North Boundary but the broad and strong mineralization in these drill holes is an indication of a strong mineralizing event in the area. Follow up drilling next year will definitely be required. These holes further confirm the robust discovery potential of the overall boundary Zone.”
The Justin Project – Yukon
Aben Resources holds a 100% interest in the 18,314 acre Justin Project in the Yukon right next to Golden Predator’s high-grade 3 Aces Project on the Nahanni Range Road. Pettit said, “We are quietly doing some things to move it along and we have had some good success. In 2012 we discovered an intrusive related gold system there and almost all holes had gold mineralization. It looked like something that could potentially become something quite big. As you get away from the intrusion you get into some pretty high-grade gold veins. You get the quartz veining and fracturing in the older rock…We did a little trenching this year and we have had some great success. We’ll come out with some information on that in the latter part of October.”
In 2017 the company sent in a 30 kilo bulk sample last year that came back with tremendously high gold and grain count. “As I recall it was like 1,300 gold grains and about 85 to 90% of them were pristine. So we had Mike Burke (Yukon geologist formerly with Golden Predator) come up and look at it and he said you’re real close. We did a little trenching this year and did ten days worth of work. I think we are on to something there,” said Pettit.
“We’re excited by what we are seeing. If you look at a model of an intrusion related gold system you have got a younger aged rock that comes up through the older age rock called the skarn. Going around the perimeter of it we hit gold. In 2012, we drilled 14 holes and we hit gold in 12 of them. They had good intersections – 2 to 4 gram stuff. It’s like that all the way along the Tintina Belt.
The Chico Project – Saskatchewan
Aben Resources also has the Chico property in Saskatchewan (option with Eagle Plains) where Aben can earn 80% interest, located just south of the old Claude Resources Mine (Seabee Gold Operation) which is now owned by SSR. Their property package comes right down to our northern border. Drilling was halted there last year due to concerns from some local trappers. The company had the camp set up and we were waiting for the drill when exploration was halted. “Now they want us back,” said Pettit. The government gave us the go ahead and the permit. They had been in discussions with the local native band as well. Pettit said property vendors, Eagles Plains, had been back to the property several times this summer to continue with the ongoing consultation work. The company can work there right through the winter.
Selwyn Recce Gold Project, Northwest Territories
Pettit said Aben Resources’ Selwyn Recce Project in the Mackenzie Mountains, NWT is untried and untested. The company does have some data on the remote project that is currently on the back burner.
Aben Resources had no problem raising money on the spectacular Forrest Kerr drill results. Petitt spoke on the financial environment for exploration companies In general. “There are a lot of companies struggling to raise money, said Pettit. “We put a lot of money into marketing and I think liquidity is important for juniors. If you have the liquidity, you are going to attract investors. To them, liquidity means it’s safe to buy. You’re not going to buy something that does not trade.”
He explained, “Discovery has way more effect on the market right now than development. This is what I was talking to Ron Netolitzky M.Sc. Geology (Chairman of the Board of Aben Resources) about. He had some tremendous success at Snip and wasn’t getting any love for it at all. We come out with a good discovery hole and boom!”
Investor opportunities, according to Pettit, are found in exploration companies employing good people in good jurisdictions with the ability to finance. He said, “You could come up with something like we did. There has been a few of them in the last little while. Look at Great Bear in Red Lake.”
Concerning the market’s current focus on cannabis and block chain tech and its affect on the resource industry Pettit said, “I think it is going to create a really awful tax loss selling season this year because a lot of people made a lot of money. If they are sitting on things that are not moving, that aren’t doing anything, they are going to get sold for the tax loss.”
Also, I think there is going to be rotation back into the sector. I think we are probably just seeing the beginning of it. We are seeing the mid tier and senior mining companies starting to move now. They are actually doing better than gold. Gold hits this resistance and bounces back up. I think eventually that is what is going to happen.
Pettit’s longer term outlook is positive. He pointed to recent improvement in uranium prices. “The price of uranium is up. It’s at $27 $28 now. Not too long ago it was $21. Some of the better tiered juniors like Skyharbour Resources; their stocks are doing quite well.” Uranium,” he said, “has been a contrarian play for a very long time. And now the market is tightening up because of Cameco closing. One of their operations, Kazakhstan, is closing off a bunch of their production to tighten up the market. They are getting into a cycle now where they are negotiating with utilities and they don’t want to do it at these cheap prices.”
When asked about which direction the price of gold is headed Pettit said, “I think gold has probably bottomed. Some are saying that it has got to go down to $900 but that is extreme to me. I think the volumes in gold deals are low because a lot of the people that would have been investing in those companies are putting their money into cannabis and block chain and cryptos. And, by and large, the cryptos lost them money. So when you have reduced volumes you have the potential for better price moves. So gold is in that position. It is going to be interesting to see what happens on the 17th when cannabis is legalized. I talked to a lot of people in the states and they said they are getting ready to short it where ever they can. You are going to have wild swings and some of these companies are just too volatile. With the pot companies, I think there will be a day of reckoning. I think it will be sooner than later. The gold market is just priming itself.”
Pettit says Aben Resources’ success comes down to having the right people on the team. He mentions Ron Netolitzky Chairman of Aben Resources who is the chairman. “His background in the Golden Triangle is spectacular. Snip and Eskay, he was pretty involved in those,” said Pettit. He added, “Then you have geologist Tim Termuende, Aben director who started his career up at Snip. He got to know all the juniors and got to know all the properties. That is why we went into the Kerr Fault area. He is also very knowledgeable on this side of the market. He and I play off each other very well. Cornell McDowell is running the program. He and I worked together, south of Houston, on a copper project. He oversaw the drilling of over 130,000 metres. He runs a really tight ship and is a really good field geo. It’s a good crowd.”
Keep an eye out for more news coming from the very advantageously positioned Aben Resources.