A new wave of exploration is revitalizing a series of gold deposits long forgotten in Nevada’s mining history. Earlier this year, attracted by its resource-rich past, inviting present and a promising future, Northern Empire Resources Corp. (TSX.V: NM) acquired the Sterling Property, about 185km northwest of Las Vegas.
Here, in the treasure laden desert of Southern Nevada, Northern Empire is giving a new shine to the ‘Silver State’ which is the fourth largest gold producer in the world.
The combination of excellent location, geology, and infrastructure attracted Northern Empire’s management team to Nevada. The directors of the company have come from recent successes with Newmarket Gold (sold for +$1B) and Kaminak (sold for $520M), both of which were purchased by senior gold producers in 2016.
“Nevada is probably the best place to be for a miner right now,” said Michael Allen, President of Northern Empire, as he listed the many facets of the mining-friendly jurisdiction, which produced 5.34 million ounces of gold — 5.5 per cent of the world’s total production — in 2015.
“To get a mine up and going in B.C., for instance, can take up to 10 years. Here in Nevada it’s about three years.
“Nevada is experienced at supporting exploration, has a stable law and tax regime and a well-established permitting process.”
Currently permitted and now cashed up following a $15M bought deal lead by Cormark Securities, Northern Empire is on an aggressive plan to explore the property to expand the known deposits and discovery potential.
The Sterling Property boasts an inferred high-grade gold resource of 709,000 oz Au, with an average grade of 2.23 g/t Au. The company controls most of the Bare Mountains located in the Walker Lane gold belt, which has seen little modern exploration since the last downturn in gold in the mid-1990s. The Bare Mountains are located approximately 2 hours by car from Las Vegas.
“We’re seeing an uptick in activity in the area around the Sterling Property since our acquisition. Corvus Gold (TSX: KOR) acquired a small package of inlier claims to the Sterling Property, and appear to have made a significant discovery. AngloGold has begun to explore in the area, and Coeur Mining, our largest shareholder, came in when we made the acquisition” said Allen, who leads Northern Empire’s enviable team of industry leaders in exploration, mine development, mergers and acquisition, and finance.
Northern Empire has been busy expanding the ground under their control since the acquisition closed in May of 2017. The Sterling Property now totals 116 square kilometres, more than double what they originally acquired.
The Sterling Mine produced 194,996 ounces of gold from 941,341 short tons (853,984 tonnes) of ore with an average gold grade of 0.217 oz/ton (7.44 g/t) between 1980 and 2000. Recoveries averaged 88% without milling.
“The Sterling mine previously operated as both a high-grade open pit and underground operation as recently as 2015, and is known for its excellent run-of-mine heap leach recoveries. The site is staffed, with leach rinsing operations continuing,” said Allen.
“Processing facilities, mine offices and generators are on site, and are currently being used to rinse heaps from prior operations.”
Historical data in excess of 10,000 drill holes and underground channel samples reflect the optimism arising from a new drill program that began this month on the property.
"We continue to be excited by the upside of these deposits as new results show the potential for high-grade mineralization,” said Allen.
Northern Empire’s foray into Nevada comes at a time of heightened global political risks and robust purchases by consumers in India and China.
Chris Howson, regional chief financial officer for Nevada mining giant, Newmont North America, said his company has begun to see increased investor interest in gold, particularly from India and China.
“Uncertainty around US policy, along with global geopolitical uncertainties, is driving interest in gold as a safe haven investment,” he said at the recent Denver Gold Forum.
“All this uncertainty seems very fertile ground for people to get into gold,” he said.
World Gold Council Chairman Randall Oliphant, speaking at the same forum, which attracted over 1,100 industry leaders, suggested gold could be trading at $1,300 or $1,400 per ounce in the next year, and could later retest the highs it reached in 2011.
“I don’t see any reason for that not to happen,” he said.
According to Sheldon Mudd, mining industry specialist at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), mining companies spent more than $15 million exploring for more resources in 2015 in Nevada.
“Nevada mining is drawing attention on a global scale,” said Mudd.
“I have people calling me from all over the world interested in coming here to mine or to support the mining industry. That tells me we’re looking good.”
For Northern Empire Resources Corp. (TSXV: NM), that’s testimony to its belief that the Sterling Property is worth its weight in gold.