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Feeling “Lucky”? Here’s a Gold Play that’s No Fluke

Dave Jackson Dave Jackson, Stockhouse
0 Comments| May 4, 2021

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(Click image to play video)

A gold bull market is in stampede mode right now, and investors with an eye to emerging explorers in underexplored and underdeveloped jurisdictions know a good thing when they find it. And finding and developing solid mining prospects takes more than a little luck.

Enter Lucky Minerals Inc. (TSX-V: LKY, OTC Pink: LKMNF, Forum) – a Vancouver BC-based company which is active in discovering world-class potential in Ecuador’s untouched mineral district. Lucky owns a 100-percent interest in the Fortuna Project in Ecuador The Fortuna Property is comprised of twelve contiguous royalty-free concessions and occupies 550 square kilometres. Fortuna is located in a highly prospective, yet underexplored, gold belt in southern Ecuador.

In this exclusive investor video podcast, Stockhouse Media’s Dave Jackson was joined by company CEO, Francois Perron to discuss the emerging Ecuadorian metals & mining space, high-grade gold potential at their Fortuna Property, and all things Lucky Minerals.

TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

SH: To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the history of the company?

FP: Well my history is that mostly a financial background. Okay. I went from a sell side analyst. I went to become a buy-side fund manager, ran the mining with a small exploration company that I sold off. And then I got into a turnaround situation up in Northern Quebec with an operating mine. And then as the gold price, drifted sideways, I went and did a little bit of work with different companies that I'm involved in. A couple of companies I've been with lucky minerals on at the board level for four years. And actually I finished the about six months ago. I was chairman and then I got a demotion to CEO because the acting CEO was going on to another project and I've been watching the potential develop. I like what I'm seeing. So I said, look for the sake of continuity, I'll step into the situation. And that was since last October. And since then I've been a CEO of the company and things have been happening.

SH: Can you update our investor audience and your Lucky Minerals shareholders on all the new company developments, especially in the wake of COVID-19?

FP: There’s been some challenges we're lucky in this, literally, but that also, because the way we're structured, I have a very strong team in place with a country manager that really supports the operation. So our geology team right now is a hundred percent Ecuadorian. So there's no international travel, which makes things relatively simple. The campaign we ran last fall was like about two and a half months. So the team Wasso motivated that they said decided to do it in one stretch. So they'd have days off, but they stay in camp isolated. We've relaunched the campaign since the last round and this time around because we intend to be in the field a lot longer. We're implementing rotations, but it's all within the country. It's deemed an essential service so that we have to continue operating and we're meeting the strict standards, both in terms like the government guidelines. And we have our own things to make sure, you can't hide from it, but we're doing everything we can and we're ready in case something happens and act accordingly. So, so far so good. So that's the COVID-19 side. What's more exciting is what we found with the work we’ve done in the field. I just announced recently Lucky Minerals has been around in Ecuador for, I think almost three and a half years. We've been threatening people with finding gold in that area. Okay. It's finally happening. We found traces of gold. I'm happy now because I haven't drilled down, so it's still very early stage, but we have found the surface signature, what's called a high sulfidation epithermal system. There's a lot of these in this particular area. So some of the multimillion-ounce discoveries start out with this kind of signature.

We've got it. We know it's mineralized at surface. We've gotten up to almost three grams. So we know we're onto a system so far, we've pushed it and identified the right kind of rocks. It's not economic, but we've seen the signature. The footprint is over a kilometer of strike and it's like at least 500 meters wide. So how big it is. I don't know. But I do know the surface footprint is pretty big and it's still open in three directions at surface. So clearly, we've got work to do to a finished growing the size of the structure. And then we're going to figure out how it behaves based on the structural analysis we're going to do. And we should be getting a drill on that property probably in the coming months so that the exciting parts in front of us, but you know, discoveries come, this is really exciting because it's not like a lot of exploration project that I'm, you know, re drilling an old thing.

There are no real holes on this property. This is the time it's going to get drilled. And this is the first time that the stuff we're seeing in surface was undocumented as gold bearing. So like, this is the first time this structure has been identified as gold bearing. So this is real and it's at surface or like the potential for something exciting is definitely there. And that is why I am very excited. So I hope it shows if you look at that company as a whole, our whole approach has been to develop a pipeline of different targets. And then as the things go, we're adding more. So we have this Wayka target, that's just a very, very thrilling discovery. That's going to get drilled, but then it's stepped ahead of my other targets that I have, which are Emma, which, and the other big one would be El Garo and the other one is Sherman.

So I have this pipeline of projects or potentials right now. The most advanced has become Wayka. We're going to drill that, and I'm going to try and devote some of the drilling budget to one of the other ones. We're working at surface, we're identifying these things. We're finding gold in different areas on the property. There's potential for copper in the area. I haven't found it yet right now in looking for gold. We seem to be getting, you know, like some, some nature is rewarding us for our efforts, but our focus is on doing the work diligently and professionally. And it's, rewarding. It's not yet ounces in the ground, but this is, a good start, we've got this discovery at surface it's big. And I don't know how it holds up. The only one way to find out is you've got to bring truth machines to these things.

SH: Our Stockhouse audience was recently introduced to L-K-Y in an article detailing the gold potential at your Fortuna Property – an almost untouched mineral district? Can you walk us through the property and the project?

FP: Yeah, the property itself is very large. So it said the challenge is to where do I go exploring? Okay. So we've been doing regional work over the last three years. Last year was the first time we actually put boots on the ground specifically at targets. And it's daunting in some ways. Okay. Because it's very large and you have to understand like we're in the Andes. There's a lot of river systems. There's been a artisanal mining in the rivers, in the valleys where we are for it's documented for at least 300 years. So there's no question that there's ‘gold in them mountains’. So we are in a gold, rich area. There's a lot of gold mines in and around. If you drive within 50 kilometers, you have several world-class deposits and you know, it's, it's not rocket science. It's the fact that you're the whole Cordilleria all the way down. The big mines in Chile, in Peru, they’re the same structures, the same faults. And the tectonic activity, it extends into Ecuador and Ecuador is just starting to get exploration. So we're taking the recipes that worked in Peru and Chile, and we're applying them here. Okay. And these targets have existed elsewhere. We have way more science. We also have more ground cover. Because that it's a little bit warmer there, no snow in the mountains where we are, but there's a lot of rain and there's a grass that grows. So you get only like 10 to 15% outcrop exposure. So on that basis, okay. You need more science, but we have that. So it's exciting for me because we're getting these concessions where, you know, it's not like they haven't been explored, but I would say modern day geology know-how has never been applied there.

So like I say, high sulfidation epithermal systems that wasn't well understood 40 years ago. Right. You weren't looking for it. So the goal isn't yellow when it, like, when it sticks out of the ground, but now we know what we're looking for. We're finding it. And we found one already. And it's mineralized, we've sampled it. And it's showing us a strong signature. I can't wait to do more work, find out how big it is and then drill into it. And I mean that's the exciting part, but I mean, that's Wayka. We found the same kind of rocket El Garo, which is another potential that we have. And that one has like a four-kilometer-long footprint. We're like, it seems like there's a cap above it. And so we don't know if it's got gold in it or not yet, but we are finding all the pathfinder elements that the science around these deposits would tell us. Normally, when you find signatures of arsenic, antimony, and other minerals like that, usually there's probably gold and you have to drill into it to find out, cause it's not showing up at surface. In the case of Wayka, we were lucky. We were able to find it at surface. In the case of El Garo, we might be lucky and none of it will be eroded. I don't know. We'll find out.


SH: Up until about the mid-80s, Ecuador was practically closed for business when it came to major mining development and operations. What created the change in government policy?

FP: It was a decision like that. First of all, the foreign investments, a big part of the Ecuadorian economy, don't forget they're an oil producing nation. So they've had like foreign investment, but in the mining space, it was like mostly artisanal and illegal miners. So mining had a bad reputation. So part of the way forward that was to establish these large-scale mining concessions. You don't see very many publicly traded companies with land in Ecuador. And the simple reason is that there are a limited supply, like the government decided to open up large-scale resource exploration, and they allocated a fixed percentage of the land area as potential for mining. So they put those and since then, you cannot stake new land in Ecuador, under the present regime, the cadasters are locked up. So there's a certain scarcity value to having, you know, like suppose there's like about 175 of these concessions, We have 12 of them. So that’s a rather unique opportunity. There are other companies out there and some of the small-scale operations that pre-existed, this new thing are still available, but the large-scale opportunities, this is it. So they did that. That started the first wave of exploration. I think to most people, who look at the big discovery at Fruta del Norte that are really in resources that was an amazing discovery. It's now like more than 5 million ounces. And it was bought out by Kinross. As the, the fashion was back then they, they, there was problems with getting stability agreements in place and getting it right. Proper structure and that delayed the project evidence. Okay. Or a few, how do you get comfortable with doing business in Ecuador? I can tell you that the Fruta del Norte mine, which was bought by Lundin Gold is now in production.

Everybody's winning from that. It's producing money. It's contributing positively to the communities and to the shareholders. So, I mean, can you do business in Ecuador? Yes. Big mine,that was just finished being built and Ecuador can deliver on that. So I think that's the most important thing about what happened right there. It's open for business. Mining is viewed as a strategic sector. They want to grow. And it was part of the election discussion. You know, the election Guillaermo Lasso won and part of his platform is to continue to emphasize the potential for mining done as it should be done in the 21st century with consultation. So I think involve the local people, make sure everybody gets a win and things can move forward.

SH: The Company looks set for strong growth in 2021. How are you placed to expand operations?

FP: Well, it's actually, it's the plight of the junior. So I raised money and I spend it where I should, which is on the ground in Ecuador. So I have right now a prospecting team and two geology teams that are basically taking care of the pipeline. I have basically a prospecting team is the one that like for Wayka, we looked at some data that we'd received and it gave us an idea to go and check out this other area where we didn't have the right information and something that looked interesting. And then you mobilize the geology teams and then you're able to do the mapping and the systematic sampling. So these are not just little chips. We're taking things that weigh five to ten kilos, and that gives us something representative. So if I say it's one gram, it's not just a little speck, it's the average for that area, for that panel so the growth is going to be coming from just keeping those guys applied to the task. Growth for us would be to advance the project to drill stage.

I expect that over the coming months, roles for us is going to be drilling those things. And everything will be dependent that thing. But if I'm drilling for gold and I know I have it at surface, I expect to hit a bit more when I drill into it. And that would allow me to go like my, my first drill program is going to be about 2000 meters. And if that is successful, then we're going to go and, you know, 5,000, 10,000 meters then get to a resource and just keep working the project until it gets to something that generates cashflow. So the value creation from our perspective is going to be first by, you know, right now on an option value on moose pasture in Ecuador, actually, that's where I was month and a half ago today. The option value of Lucky Minerals is very different because I have found gold at surface.

It's part of the system. So now it's still not a guarantee, but it's very different. Okay. So that the option value is very different. Once we start drilling, it gets to be the exciting part because if the drilling holds up, all of a sudden, the value creation has started to accelerate. I mean, if you pull up the charts that have been around the junior mining space for awhile, there's a nice steep part of value creation. When you're in discovery mode, you don't need a rising gold price for that to create a lot of value for shareholders. And we're close to that. I mean, I'm on the scent.

SH: For company shareholders and potential investors, what kind of future development and progress can we expect at your Fortuna Project and specifically, Wayka?

FP: Well I'm going to put on my finance hat. I'm the Explorer sometimes, but sometimes I am financial guy. And right now the market pays you for ounces in the ground. Okay. How much does it pay you? 25 bucks, roughly 25 to 50 bucks, depending on where it is and things like that and how economic it is a bunch of things. But if I find something that's open, pitable, the cost to drill that. Okay. In terms of like how many meters is the take and how long the holes are and how many ounces can I put together? Okay. it would cost me probably around $10 an ounce. Okay. So I'm assuming, like, let's take an example. Here's a deposit to the North of me that has 3 million ounces. They had to drill something close to 70,000 meters to define that reserve.

If I apply today's costs of drilling, which I know I was in talks with a driller. That would cost me $10 an ounce. And if the market pays me $25 an ounce, I'm going to do that all day because I spend 10 it's worth 25. Everybody gets that math. Okay. So, so far, I've been looking for a place where I can get that leverage a lot easier to get that at a new discovery. And if you're drilling something old that wasn't quite economic, that the grades were too low. I don't know what the grades are, but I know they're not too low because we don't know what they are. So I had to show for a fresh discovery, close to surface. So we'll see. But I have right now, an option on that kind of leverage where you start to drill it up. And you look at some of the success stories that have just recently gotten to, you know, in Africa, you get in and per 60 to a hundred thousand meters of drilling, you can define multi-million-ounce deposits that get taken out because the majors need new reserves. that's the game. And they're trusting and relying on juniors to do that kind of work. And that's what we're doing.

SH: I have to mention your stock has had a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past year, although it appears to have established a solid base in the past year. What can you tell our investor audience regarding the current valuation of your stock and why you think it’s a good buy right now?

FP: Well, thanks for that. Very kind to say, it's a rollercoaster ride, but truthfully exploration companies generate value when they have boots on the ground and they're doing the work. And it's all about you're diluting shareholders. Every time you raise money are you making it a different and better option? I think that for a good long while we didn't have critical exploration mass, now we know enough about the properties we're getting good leverage off our exploration dollars. So it's expensive to structure ourselves to be an international exploration company. It's a lot more expensive than doing small projects up in Canada, where I have experienced, but so you have to structure it to be hitting the ground hard. So it is expensive to be there, but the potential makes it worthwhile to demonstrate that. And the key part is if you dilute, you have to be doing something that's going to create value.

My salary does not create value. The exploration team on the ground in Ecuador is creating value for shareholders. That's where the emphasis is up there. And if you look, we're starting to shift, a lot of our expenses are in Ecuador. And we're getting last year, we did four months of work, generally three targets this year, following up some of the information we got back, we're able to hit something that's new, also then got serious potential. So I think that you know the dilution value creation equations about to shift in our favor. So yeah, we've had a long time, the excitement in these things comes when you start to drill them. Yep. You're right. I mentioned I was going to start to drill mine pretty soon. This is your opportunity. So this is about to get a lot more exciting and, you know, you're always a drill hole away from changing something, especially when it's something new.

And I mean, I can't guarantee but I can guarantee you that the work is being done professionally and that we are going to have multiple potential opportunities. That's what I like about our situation. The scale of our package means if I don't hit on the first one, I've got three more already lined up. I'm prioritizing because, Hey, I've already found gold at surface. So like the rollercoaster ride, I can't change that. Some of it is related to the gold price, some of it is related to the fact that we haven't drilled yet. So people getting a little bit frustrated, but my goal is to drill in the next couple of months.

SH: What’s the long-term strategy for the company moving into 2021 and beyond, and what retail and institutional investors should be looking out for?

FP: Well it's to deepen the pipeline of opportunity, like from a strategy perspective, I can't bank on the first target. I walk up to being the best. So the strategy perspective is right now, I want to deepen the pipeline in Ecuador. You kind of raised money and investors expect me to spend money in Ecuador, the way we're spending it is very prudent. So we're doing all of the field work we can at surface, we're getting outstanding results for the amount of work we're doing and that, you know, we'll see what the drilling says about it, but we've identified so far four different systems that are like very promising. So the drilling is going to test some of those targets. And I still have the prospecting team. I still have 550 square kilometers. There are places on there. I haven't been to; I don't know where the big discovery on this kind of ground is. So I've just got to keep feeding the pipeline and keep doing the right things professionally and, you know, having a good reputation in the communities I operate in, and that's going to lead to where there is a discovery. We will make it. I don't know where that's going to be. I think it's obviously going to be the next drill hole, but that's because I'm an optimist.


SH: Can you tell our audience a little bit about your corporate management and board teams, along with the experience and innovative ideas they bring to the mining exploration space in Ecuador?

FP: Well, I've I would say there's a couple of ingredients. You need the financial side and you need a team of people. Okay. And with the right leadership starts, as far as that's concerned my head of exploration, Victor is somebody who's got more than 30 years experience up and down the court malarian, he's Canadian. And he's worked in the States. He's worked in Mexico. He's worked in Peru, he's working underground operations, he's got production experience, and he's written over 20 43-101’s. So he has a good general background. And when you're exploring, you need a different mindset than just a production guy, but when you're not in production, you need, when you're exploring, to have an eye for something that can go into production. Because it's nice to find gold occurrences and stuff. If it doesn't have the potential to go into a mine, you're wasting shareholder money.

Yeah. So Victor has that kind of culture and know how. And he's also, we're applying all of the new stuff. We can see, we're constantly looking for new ideas and some of them, you know, when you look around to the best practices in the industry, and, you know, we're exchanging like scientific articles about things. And I don't understand them all, but always looking for ideas. And the most important thing for your head of exploration is when he doesn't know something, he's good enough to say, we need to bring in the right guy. I had like geo statistics statistician. This new target we got comes from some work we did with a geophysicist. So it's a question of knowing who to marshall and bring to bear. Like we're doing soil samples on El Garro. We're going to get geo statisticians that are at the top, so that we're doing it to the best levels we know of.

I'm relying on Victor's network for that. And Victor is Canadian and he's not in Ecuador right now. Our team, our leadership team in Ecuador is based off Santiago. Santiago was importantly for me is somebody who's worked in the mining business in Ecuador for many years. He's been president of the chamber of mines several times. So he's somebody who knows how to do mining the Ecuadorian way. So we're not here to teach Ecuadorians about geology. There are lots of geologists over there. So we just have to like, get the team, open them up to like all of the ideas. And, you know, I have a corporate culture where you're encouraging people to step up to the plate, take responsibility. And I think that's what we're trying to establish, and we'll see where it goes, but that's the whole idea.

So I have good country, a good geology. And I'd say the last we're working on now is the stakeholder engagement or socialization of our work. I mean, we're very, very early stage, but the mining and exploration in the 21st century, you got to relate to the people that live there. So we're working on that as well. That's part of what you have to do. And if you want to do something, if I want to make a big discovery and put it into production, I have to be respected and known and trusted by the people that live there.

SH: And finally, Francois, if there’s anything I’ve overlooked please feel free to elaborate.

FP: For today, nothing has been overlooked, but make sure you've not overlooked something in a couple of months from now, when the drills come back.


For regular updates, visit luckyminerals.com.


FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing.



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