Novo Resources (NVO.V): A Conversation (from IKN 472)

By Otto Rock

A minor part of the Weekly IKN473, out last night.

We join this conversation half way through:

A: So do you agree that it’s going to be very difficult to reach a 43-101 or JORC compliant resource number for NVO?
B: Yes, we agree on that. But that doesn’t make the company worthless! They clearly have a lot of gold!
A: And I agree with you on that. But what I’m interested in is monetizing it, making the company profitable.
B: Me too.
A: Good! We’re on the same page. But what really matters is being able to justify the current market cap, because if you include those very-in-the-money warrants (and you have to, really) NVO is now revolving around a $1Bn market cap. That’s expensive.
B: Okaaaay…if you say so. I think NVO is cheap!
A: Fine. So in that case, I’m not even going to ask you to justify a future where NVO is double or triple today, all we are going for is to justify $1Bn.
B: They have a lot of gold!
A: And a lot of market cap valuation, too. Let’s justify its market price with that gold, yes?
B: Well, you do what Bob Moriarty says! You mine it!
A: I agree 100%. Now, how do you mine it?

B: Placer-style of course! Dig it up, process it, produce gold!
A: Okay, how much gold?
B: What do you mean?
A: How much gold will you be able to produce from any given part of the NVO tenements in, let’s say, one year.
B: Why one year?
A: Okay, ten years! Whatever time period you prefer, I simply suggest one year at this point because it’s a standard period used in the industry.
B: Well, let’s say a year then. And they mine the rock at a 10g/t average and 90% recovery.
A: To be honest, I think the nature of this deposit means you get higher recoveries than that. I’d prefer you used 95%.
B: Okay, so one tonne of rock produces 0.305 oz of gold.
A: Agreed.
B: And 2,000 tonnes per day is 611 oz gold.
A: Agreed.
B: That’s 55,000 per quarter! That’s a lot of gold!
A: Not bad, is it? 220,000 oz gold per year.
B: Lots of mines at that production rate are worth $1Bn!
A: Well that might be pushing the envelope a little, but I’ll concede the point.
B: Good!
A: But for how may years will it produce?
B: Sorry?
A: 220,000 ounces in a year, yes. For how many years?
B: Lots of years!
A: How many?
B: We don’t know yet.
A: Why not?
B: We haven’t finished exploring yet.
A: And when NVO does, will it have a resource?
B: No, probably not.
A: And what about that average grade? How do you know it will all be around 10g/t like the recent bulk samples?
B: We don’t know yet.
A: Why not?
B: We haven’t finished exploring yet.
A: And when NVO does, will it have an official average grade to tell us? One that it can safely use in economic modelling?
B: No, probably not.
A: And what about the capex to build the mine? How much will it need?
B: We don’t know yet.
A: Why not?
B: We haven’t finished exploring yet.
A: So what you are saying is that NVO has a lot of gold and should mine it. And under reasonable circumstances (e.g. 10g grade, 2,000 tonnes per day, 95% recovery) it can produce 220,000 oz per year. But we don’t know if that grade will hold up across the whole of the resource and we don’t know what size production facility it will need. Or how and when the mill is built, because we don’t have a resource we don’t know how many mineralized tonnes there are and the operator will be hoping for the whole life of mine that they find enough for the next year.
B: Well…maybe. But they can mine more! And produce more! What about a 4,000 tonne per day operation?
A: Okay that’s fine. So apart from the risk that it depletes twice as fast and runs out, are you also telling me that we don’t know what size mine it will need and therefore the capex cost is unknown?
B: Hmmm, probably not.
A: And that’s because we don’t know the grade or the tonnage, right?
B: Right.
A: And though certain people can make a reasonable guess on both, we won’t have any guarantees because the third-party peer review system in the world of mining, namely 43-101 or JORC, won’t be able to give us one. So when the company goes to the financiers to ask for money to build the mine, what will they be able to use to guarantee the bankers’ investment?
B: They have a lot of gold!
A: How much gold?
B: We don’t know yet. But Quinton says there’s a lot!
A: So a bunch of hard-nosed bankers who always want a guaranteed path to return of principle loan will simply believe the founder, president, driving force and promoter of the company? Who is also the chairman by the way and that avenue of unusual corporate oversight can be explored another day, but for the moment let’s give that a pass. Who is the same person who burned through a bunch of OPM at Evolving Gold by looking for a massive gold deposit that started well with excellent early discovery stages but eventually petered out and failed when the deposit couldn’t grow?
B: Are you suggesting Quinton is a crook?
A: No not at all, far from it. He’s as straight as an arrow and his integrity is not in doubt. All I am saying is that it might not be easy to raise the type of capex NVO will need to build a mine.
B: They can sell shares! Kirkland Lake will buy shares!
A: Okay, shall we assume 300m shares out then, rather than 220m?
B: Okay, for ballpark purposes.
A: And you think that company, with that mine, is worth around $1Bn today and once the placement is done $1.5Bn at its current share price? The same ballpark valuation as MAG Silver, Fortuna Silver, SSRI Mining, Pretium Resources, First Majestic etc etc.
B: Yes, because they have a lot of gold!
A: How much gold?
B: We don’t know yet! But if it can produce over 200k oz of gold a year for a few years, it’s bound to make money!
A: Oh I agree on that, don’t think for a minute that I don’t agree. But will it be able to command the type of price/earnings ratio that a mine with a compliant resource or reserve will be able to get? One that knows it has gold to mine and produce in 10 or 15 years?
B: Kirkland Lake can buy them out!
A: And KL takes on the type of unknown resource risk you’re implying? No reserve asset value? The potential the crater the whole company if the resource surprises the bulls by being smaller than once imagined? We know Eric Sprott likes taking risks, but that’s a whole different league of exposure.
B: But these ounces are going to be very profitable.
A: I agree. For what it’s worth, my ciggypack calculations say they could produce at an AISC of U$700/oz and that’s U$600/oz profit per ounce. Pay taxes and everything, I see U$80m per year net/net and that’s not to be sniffed at.
B: Good!
A: That’s enough to justify a $1Bn market cap…if you could give it the normal type of PE multiple. And if it were in production. And if it had raise the capex cash. But right now…?
B: Dude, you don’t get it! They have a lot of gold!
A: How much gold?


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