Digging deeper has seemed to do the trick: First Vanadium Corp. (FVAN:TSX.V; FVANF:OTCQX; 1PY:FSE) is drilling a Carlin-style gold system below its vanadium deposit on the Carlin Trend in Nevada.
First Vanadium originally explored for vanadium on the property and in 2020 released a positive preliminary economic assessment resource estimate of 180 million pounds of V2O5 flake mined over 11 years and processed over 16 years.
But the Carlin Trend is known for high-grade gold, and more than 84 million ounces have been produced there since the 1960s, with plenty more to come: The Carlin complex, operated by Nevada Gold Mines, the joint venture between Barrick Gold and Newmont Corp., is home to 30 million ounces in the Measured and Indicated category.
"We linked up with Dave Mathewson, the well-known geologist, a former Newmont regional exploration manager and probably one of the best explorers in the world for these types of projects; he has made six gold discoveries himself and tens of millions of ounces of gold," First Vanadium CEO Paul Cowley told Streetwise Reports.
Mathewson, who now serves as a geological advisor to First Vanadium and is spearheading the gold drilling program, "conceptualized a gold target underneath the vanadium resource, and we've drilled on it in the late summer and announced in November that Dave was right; we have indeed intersected a gold system in a prolific world-class gold trend," Cowley said.
The company has drilled seven holes to date and noted on December 22 that the first three holes "define a Carlin-style gold system with dimensions of at least 500 meters vertically and 1.4 kilometers in length." First Vanadium expects to receive the assay results for the remaining four holes this month and next; the seventh hole was drilled to a depth of 2,500 feet.
"The first three holes were a pilot test of the system, which proved successful," Cowley explained. "The subsequent four holes are to start to give us a better understanding of the system."
The company plans to conduct induced polarization (IP) this month that should help define how big the system is; the results of that along with assays of the remaining drill holes will help guide further drilling.
"The combination of drilling plus geophysics, those tools will help us find the sweet spots in the system. What we're trying to do now with this program, as well as subsequent programs, would be vectoring in on sweet spots, and that would be high-grade gold," Cowley said.
The gold system starts at a depth of around 300 meters and goes to at least 760 meters. Cowley explains that this is a fairly intermediate depth for underground high-grade deposits in Nevada. "Two decades ago it was all about low-grade, open-pit mines in Nevada, but now probably 90% of the ounces in Nevada come from deeper, high-grade deposits. So this is realistic and not excessively deep."
The area has extensive infrastructure: the project is located about 13 miles away from Newmont's gold processing facility, about 6 miles from the town of Carlin and is easily accessible by road. "We are surrounded by claims owned by Newmont and Barrick," Cowley noted.
"We are beyond the proof of concept now. It's a very exciting pivot from vanadium to gold, and a very real and substantial opportunity for First Vanadium shareholders," Cowley said.
A gold resource would give the company optionality. The price of vanadium went sky high in 2018 after the Chinese government mandated its use in steel production, driving it to $34 per pound, but the price has since come down and now sits at around $7 per pound. "Vanadium prices should rebound with the deployment of vanadium redox flow batteries in large renewable energy projects around the world," Cowley noted.
First Vanadium has on option agreement to earn 100% of the Carlin property. "We've completed all the terms except for the final payment of $1.9 million," Cowley said. "That is due in about a year and a half."
First Vanadium has also just added to its gold portfolio by optioning the AVP property from Dave Mathewson. This property, made up of 40 unpatented lode claims, is located on the southern extension of the Battle Mountain – Eureka Trend, and more specifically, on the southern extension of the Cortex-Gold Bar Trend, 23 kilometers east of Eureka, Nevada.
"We are very pleased to add this high-quality opportunity from Dave Mathewson who obviously has a proven eye for good gold prospects in Nevada. The terms are modest to manage, still allowing us to focus the bulk of our treasury on drilling the Carlin Vanadium-Gold Project," Cowley said.
In the spring, the company plans to conduct a ground magnetics and gravity survey on the AVP property, followed by reverse circulation drilling in 5-10 holes in 1,500m (5,000 ft) this summer. "Drilling in the 1980s on AVP suggests mineralization remains open in almost all directions and, according to Dave Mathewson, may represent the tip of the iceberg," Cowley stated.
First Vanadium has approximately 57 million shares outstanding and 76.2 million fully diluted.
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