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Wallbridge Mining Continues Impressive Exploration Results

Aug 17, 2021

The Abitibi has been home to hundreds of world class mining companies for more than a century and it is far from being depleted. One of the companies that has captured the attention of investors and the Quebec mining fraternity is Wallbridge Mining and its Fenelon Project.
VP, Mining & Projects , Francois Demers told the Mining The Abitibi Conference that Fenelon is on track with its aggressive, well-funded exploration program as it looks to become Northwestern Quebec’s next big gold producer.

Cut Core sample

“It’s a great jurisdiction for value creation,” said Demers. “It’s one of the top jurisdictions in Canada and across the world for investment and project development. It has a hundred years of mining history, many ounces have been pulled from the Abitibi area. It’s a host of 21 gold deposits with a large skilled workforce, mining friendly policies in an established area. We’ve got great infrastructure and strategic partnerships. All in all, it’s a great district.”
Wallbridge has holdings on a 90-kilometer stretch from the Ontario-Quebec border, from due east of Detour Gold stretching 90 kilometers just north of Matagami and that’s where you find the Fenelon Gold system as well as the Martiniere Gold deposit which has a resource on. Demers says the company has not done much work on Martiniere since discovering Fenelon, however, he says it does have some significant opportunities as well.
“This is a very underexplored land package. There has been some work conducted in the past, however, Wallbridge has been the most active here in the last few years, drilling 100,000 meters in 2020 and targeting 170,000 meters this year. We’ve been active on the package since 2016 where the work on Fenelon initially started and then of course that story grew in 2017, in 2018 and to now up to 2021.”
In terms of corporate responsibility and ESG, Wallbridge is doing its part. “We focus on several pillars, being social responsibility, cultural heritage and diversity, health and safety well-being, corporate governance, the environment, and being good economic contributors.”
“We are working on developing a cultural awareness program for our site as well as a cultural center at Fenelon focused on diversity and inclusion and building some awareness amongst our teams as to our operations being in the traditional territories of indigenous peoples.”
On the health and safety side, Wallbridge had a stretch of good performance. “We went 683 days through 2019 and 2020 without a reportable injury. In 2020, we were awarded the PDAC Gold award in health and safety. And of course, as anybody else, we have good effective COVID-19 response.:
Wallbridge has 200 permanent jobs associated with the Fenelon project with greater than 70% of the workforce residing or coming from the Abitibi region. “Our annual spend this year is around $80 million and nearly all of our procurement and basically everything, our supplies services and our personnel come from Quebec other than some personnel coming from Ontario,” said Demers.

Wallbridge Drill rig

The company has supportive stakeholders in the First Nations and the surrounding communities.

“We do focus on local employment and facilitating access to our project and 25% of our workforce right now comes from indigenous communities. We recently participated in a funding announcement for road improvements for $1.5 million which will improve access to our project but also and more so provide access to the territory from the town of Matagami, reducing travel distance, improving access to the overall area.”
Wallbridge has some influential financial horsepower on board. Kirkland Lake Gold is a 9.9% investor while billionaire precious metals investor Eric Sprott holds over 20%.
Previous advanced exploration activity on the project in 2001 and in 2004 saw other companies conducted some exploration and bulk sampling activities. However, in 2018 that’s when things really took off with Wallbridge conducting an exploration campaign of 2,000 meters of underground development and a 33,000 ton bulk sample.
In 2019, the company followed that up with 40,000 meters of exploration and in 2020 with 100,000 meters as well as expansion of the camp from 80 to 160 people.
“In 2021, we plan on executing 2,500 meters of underground development into Area 51 and 170,000 meters of exploration ongoing. So, when we take a step back and we look at 2018 or 2016-17 when we first started, it was a flooded open pit with one metal building on site and a little bit of historic core stored on site. The infrastructure had been established in 2001 and 2004 and basically had been dormant ever since,” said Demers.
In 2018, Wallbridge took on a project of bulk sampling out of the Gabbro Zone. “The Gabbro Zone would be what you see directly underneath the flooded open pit at the time. The work included dewatering the open pit, establishing infrastructure, developing about 2,000 meters underground, and establishing an exploration drift and then bulk sampling 33,500 tons at 18.5 grams per ton gold, and we realized 98% recovery on them. What you see there is the infrastructure that was put in place underneath the open pit, basically a ramp, some open stoping, and an exploration gate.”
One of the key elements of the Fenelon project is being responsible. “In terms of environmental management and using surface water and using water in general, our underground workings are continuously dewatered and maintained, especially with our current underground development activities. Surface water is diverted around the site wherever possible and then water used for activities at the site is treated and discharged,” said Demers.
“One of the things that we did when we took on this project was making sure that we were responsible with cleanup at the beginning and at the outset or onset. An expensive cleanup effort was carried out of leftover materials from previous owner activities. We had over 200 barrels of fuel and oil that were safely removed and disposed of offsite. And one of our important focuses as well is diversity. We have a widely diverse team at site, people of all nationalities and providence, and again we encourage as much as possible local participation. We hire from the Abitibi as much as possible and from the First Nations communities as much as possible.”
As Demers wrapped up his Mining The Abitibi presentation Mining Life put him on the spot about the company’s conservative approach.
“I joined in 2018 and for myself it was the first gold project I really joined and got into, spending most of my career in base metals. And I did my research before joining on and I saw that there was a lot of potential with this project, and I’m really, really happy that I joined at the time I joined. You know, back in 2018 when I joined, the share price was $0.65 and market cap was 10 million. When you look at today, we’ve gone as high as $1.30 last year, but we’ve been hovering in around the $0.60-0.65 range and $500 million market cap now. And it really speaks to the team and it speaks to the potential.”
“When you look at the belt itself, when you look at the activities to use Marz’s (President Marz Kord)  words, in southern Abitibi where all you really needed to do was kick some moss over and there’s the mineralization, where we are, there’s quite a bit of overburden. And so, the effort that’s required to identify the resource to make the discovery to start and then identify and start to outline it, there’s just tremendous effort required.”
The company is spending $80 million this year on this exploration campaign and underground development to set itself up to de-risk the project and continue to understand the mineralization and the size of it.
“Our main resource coming out that we’re targeting at the end of Q3, to me, is really just going to be the start of this, it’s going to provide the information we need to start to evaluate the economics and move this project forward. So, if everything comes together, it has the potential,” added Demers.

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