"With four permitted drill targets, each equivalent to a primary project for many exploration companies, we are poised for an exciting future."
What were some developments from the 2023 field season?
Our extensive land portfolio encompasses 10 property blocks covering over 300 km2, with the most significant four constituting 75% of the total area. These key properties include the North Hemlo block, featuring a JV with Palladium One; Sunbeam, a historical gold mine near the Hammond Reef deposit; Esa property located 11 km north of the Hemlo Barrick Williams gold mine; and Zigzag, a newly acquired hard rock lithium project. The pivotal focus of this year's field season was to bring four of our properties to drill-ready status in 2023. This goal has been conclusively realized across all these properties.
While gold remains our primary focus, we have strategically diversified into valuable EV minerals and initiated a nickel-copper JV on West Pickle Lake. Furthermore, this year we ‘inked’ an Earn-In agreement on a hard rock lithium property – Zigzag, only 10 miles from the Seymour Lake development, where we undertook a 10-hole drill program with every hole targeting the pegmatite being successful.
A standout in our exploration endeavors is the Dead Otter Trend on the North Hemlo block, where a 19 g/t gold sample has been reported.
Only our Esa property necessitates some additional exploration (stripping), which was initiated now the Exploration Permit is granted. A geochemically anomalous (in gold) structure of 4 km in strike and up to 200 m wide, dissects the property, and the preliminary soil samples indicate anomalies in gold and other elements like rare earths. Our strategy is to bring Esa to a point where its value is evident before considering JVs or selling.
As for Zigzag, initial grab samples indicate a 400 m long core area with over 1% lithium oxide. Channel sampling further substantiates this, with one channel showing over 5 m at over 2.5% lithium oxide. While we have already received offers for this property, our philosophy prioritizes conducting an initial drill program to consolidate potential and increase the overall value. With an initial modest drill program now completed; striking a balance between advancement to add value and preserving potential is imperative.
I have been liaising with seven First Nation groups who have traditional ownership of land on which our exploration properties sit. I feel a notable achievement is securing six permits on our properties within just over 12 months.
How has First Class Metals navigated the challenging environment for financing in 2023?
In terms of financing, our company encounters a constraint known as the 20% rule on the main board of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). FCM can only issue up to 20% of the issued shares in a rolling 12-month ‘headroom’. Despite facing this limitation, we completed an oversubscribed £1,000,000 funding round in June. A subsequent round in November 2023 for over £600,000, using a share loan scheme, mirrored our earlier success.
Why did First Class Metals choose to list on the LSE?
Listing on the LSE distinguishes us in a market as very few small-cap Canadian-focused exploration companies are listed in London.
I feel it is worth highlighting the increasing interest in small-cap exploration companies in London. Moreover, a significant development took place in December of 2022 when the LSE’s main board adjusted its listing requirements. Previously, the minimum market cap for listing was below £1 million. However, this threshold was then raised to £30 million. Strategically, we submitted our documents at the eleventh hour on the final day, thus making us one of the few smaller companies listed on the main board.
Could you share your key goals for 2024 and the upcoming field season?
My belief for the upcoming field season is grounded in the progress at Zigzag and the untapped potential of Esa and Sunbeam. Whilst not underestimating the significant potential of North Hemlo's Dead-Otter trend as a new discovery that spans over 3 km and remains open, with intermittent samples ranging from 1-20 g/t. Looking ahead to 2024, our strategy involves developing these promising projects incrementally, seeking partnerships, and remaining open to additional opportunities, all while maintaining a financially sustainable approach. With four permitted drill targets, each equivalent to a primary project for many exploration companies, we are poised for an exciting future.