The Company’s activities consist mainly of acquisition, exploration and discovery of mineral resources, with the intent of advancing, developing and ultimately operating its key assets. In circumstances where considered appropriate, the Company may also sell or joint venture mineral resource properties to a corporation while retaining a royalty or other interest. The Company’s strategy is to pursue exploration activities on its key properties, which are primarily located in under-explored regions that are geologically comparable to the major mining camps in Canada, and to make joint venture or option agreements on its non-key assets.
The Company maintains a focus on gold exploration within the James Bay Region of Northern Québec, where it holds 100% interest in the Eau Claire and Eastmain Mine gold projects as well as interests in 9 other properties covering approximately 109,000 ha in total of this promising mineral district. The Company also has a 36.7% Joint Venture interest in the Éléonore South project (“Éléonore South JV”). Management believes these properties have excellent development potential.
In May 2018, the Company announced an updated Mineral Resource Estimate and first-ever Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) for the Eau Claire deposit at the Clearwater Property, located in James Bay, Quebec. Eau Claire’s Mineral Resources comprised (i) a Measured & Indicated Resource totaling 853,000 Au oz grading 6.18 g/t and (ii) an Inferred Resource totaling 500,000 Au oz grading 6.53 g/t.
The PEA represented a key milestone for Eastmain as it provided the first-ever technical study assessing the potential profitability and project economics of developing a commercial mining operation at the Eau Claire gold Project. Management notes that the robust economics presented continue to support future development initiatives as well as additional exploration to define additional gold resources. Highlight results included: a 12-year mine life producing 950k gold ounces at total average cash costs of US$486/oz (AISC US$574/oz). Production is forecast to come from two open pits in the initial 3 years of the mine life with a transition to underground mining commencing in year 2. Assuming a US$1,250/oz gold price and 0.77:1 $C/US FX rate, the PEA indicated robust project economics including a C$260MM after-tax NPV 5% and a 27% after-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR). While the PEA reflected very robust results, Eastmain continues to identify additional opportunities to further improve project economics through exploration and refinement of project parameters.
The Company continues to execute its exploration and development work programs focused on the Clearwater Property and the Éléonore South JV Property. For 2019, exploration and development programs will include testing new regional targets at Clearwater which were identified during previous work. In addition, ongoing advancement work for the Eau Claire Project is underway including preliminary engineering and environmental baseline studies. These studies will be used to support future permitting activities as well as feasibility study work. With Eastmain resuming operatorship of the Éléonore South JV in the summer of 2018, the Company is now working with its partners to review the results from its work programs and execute the 2019 winter drill program.