In a wide-ranging interview, we talked with Eclipse Gold Mining’s Vice President of Exploration Warwick Board about well-timed and perfectly aligned opportunities, impressions of the Hercules Project in Nevada, the Brucejack analog and unlocking value in 2020. Part 1 of 2.
Q: What brought you from Pretium’s (PVG: TSE/NYSE) Brucejack in northern B.C., which you played a significant role in advancing to what is now a 350,000 per year gold producer, to Eclipse (EGLD: CVE) and its early stage Hercules project in Nevada?
Warwick: It was really a unique instance of many important considerations all aligning at the right time: people, mining jurisdiction, project and capital backing. I worked at Brucejack right from its discovery hole in 2009 after it was spun off from Silver Standard Resources (SSRM: TSE) and helped advance it to where it is now. Projects like Brucejack eventually get to a stage where, as a geologist, you can’t add too much further value. I was looking for my next opportunity to scale up a potential meaningful project.
Mike Allen and I both worked at Silver Standard years ago, on Brucejack, and I was very impressed with him both professionally and personally. We had crossed paths many times since then trying to work together again but the timing was never right for a variety of reasons. He knew of my interest in working in Nevada, which is not only a Tier 1 mining jurisdiction with great mineral endowment, but a beautiful place that I’ve enjoyed recreationally. I had already checked off my list of working in other great mining jurisdictions like Latin America, Australia and South Africa; Nevada was next.
Last year, Mike sent me a cryptic email wondering if I’d be interested in an epithermal project in Nevada. Of course, he knew I’d jump at the chance. Nevada is renowned for hosting low sulphidation epithermal gold mineral deposits. Many years of experience working the challenging Brucejack system had piqued my interested in working on other deposits in the epithermal spectrum. One of the exciting features of low sulphidation epithermal systems is that they tend to be big. The Hercules project is located in the Walker Lane trend of western Nevada, which is the home address of many of these systems. Mike showed me Hercules on a large-scale map and my first thought was, “Wow, this thing is hiding in plain sight.” It had all the typical elements of an underexplored or ignored project in Nevada: abandoned because of past low gold prices of around $300 per ounce, fractional ownership and limited exploration. The amazing thing is that the Hercules project is just an hour’s drive from the city of Reno, close to the historic Comstock Mining District. It is a rarity to work within driving distance of a major city in mineral exploration and mining. The absolute clincher was to know that Pathway Capital was a backer. Pathway is one of the best-in-class venture firms in our industry. They have raised over $2 billion in equity financing and have been involved in several billion dollars in M&A transactions. It was important that we had the ability to fund growth to unlock value, which is the truly exciting part for me in my role.
Q: Boots on the ground, what excited you at the Hercules Project as a geologist when you first toured the project site?
What impressed me right away was the large scale of the system. You can see physical size on a map, but you don’t appreciate the true potential and prospectivity of a project until you get on the ground and get your boots and jeans dirty. I saw the epithermal system exposed right at surface in the various defined targets and the potential for linking these targets over a broader area beneath younger cover rocks. I also saw additional showings exposed on surface elsewhere on the property, to the south of the defined targets. What impressed me in each of the showings was the presence of broad zones of alteration around vein- and breccia-filled structures indicating favourable rock permeability conditions at the time of formation: rock permeability is a key ingredient needed for the development of large epithermal deposits. Furthermore, almost every type of vein and breccia texture that a geologist would hope to see in epithermal systems is present in surface outcrop. I realize many of these terms are likely white noise for a layperson but they are a symphony for a geologist in Nevada. Looking at the historical surface samples and drill data from previous operators, as well as our new surface sample results, in the context of my field observations, has heightened my excitement levels: we have a large, low sulphidation gold-mineralized epithermal system in western Nevada, about an hour from Reno.