How has Orford Mining evolved?
In 2017, the founders of the company Dundee Corp and Karora Resources proceeded to take the company public, and since then we have been working to progress our two key assets and adding new assets to the portfolio. These assets at the foundation of Orford are the Qiqavik gold project, which is 100% owned by Orford, and a discovery that we think is a brand new gold belt in the Nunavik region of Northern Québec. There is 390 km2 of land there, and we have a number of high grade gold showings we have already discovered on the project. We are the first people to systematically explore that piece of land for gold, and we intend to spend approximately C$3.2 million on that project this summer. The principal target in 2021 will be the IP Lake structural zone.
The other key project from the beginning of the company is the West Raglan nickel project, which is also in the Cape Smith Belt of Northern Québec. In January of 2021, we signed an earn-in agreement with Wyloo Metals where they can earn up to 80% in our project by spending C$25 million, completing a feasibility study and making a cash payment to Orford mining of C$1.5 million. We already have a number of discoveries on this property throughout the 814 km2 land package, and it is very promising because the property sits on strike with the world class Raglan and Nunavik nickel deposits. Glencore's Raglan mine has more reserves today than when they opened the mine in the late 90s. We have the same grades on our project as the Raglan deposit, and Wyloo Metals is set to spend C$1.7 million on it this summer, with Orford operating the project.
In addition to these core assets, this past year, we staked three new projects in the heart of the Abitibi, in the Joutel region right next to Agnico Eagle's original gold mine. We have been exploring those properties this past winter. The Joutel properties total a 209 km2 land package, and we look forward to further progress in this area.
How is Orford positioned from a financial standpoint to continue to develop its portfolio of assets?
We raised C$5.25 million in October 2020, so we are fully funded for 2021. We have a very strong partner in Alamos Gold—their CEO, John McCluskey recently joined our board, and they own over 22% of the company. Karora Resources still owns over 9% of the company, so we have a lot of strategic support and a wide variety of institutional and retail support as well.
From our point of view, the Qiqavik project has the potential to be a gold camp, so having a partner like Alamos Gold who is committed to the project, and to the company as a financial backer has really helped us be able to raise the kind of money we need to spend on this project. Qiqavik is in a remote area, and until we have made that big discovery, field seasons are not extensive, because we need to see the rocks with no snow on the ground. Once we make the discovery, we will be able to expand the drilling period to a bigger percentage of the year, as opposed to 2 to 3 months.
What makes Orford a compelling investment for potential shareholders in the junior exploration space?
When you look at Orford, it has potential for multiple discoveries on a massive land position in what we think is a new gold district. It has the potential for discovery of multi million ounce gold deposits on that project, and it is a new, unexplored project area, unlike people beating around the Abitibi with all their projects or working in the Golden Triangle, where things have been explored for quite a while. This is new, and there are not often new gold districts discovered in Canada. Coupled with the optionality of us working with a partner on the West Raglan nickel project, there is a lot to be excited about. You are not just buying a gold company you are buying a gold company that has huge optionality on the nickel price. I think those two things together make Orford a good buy in this market.
Furthermore, we are going to continue to look for things to add to our company, because I am a firm believer that increasing your NAV either through discovery or acquisitions is the only way to increase value. We are a small team, but we are looking at things all the time that will add to the value of Orford to by increasing the NAV per share for investors.