John Watson has seen it all in his 45 years as an exploration geologist and senior executive in resource-rich Nevada. As founder, chairman, and interim CEO of junior exploration company NV Gold Corporation, Watson currently oversees the company’s expansive portfolio of over twenty 100%-owned assets. The massive slate of projects is mainly found in Nevada’s Great Basin region, spanning all levels of exploration from grassroots to the advanced stage. NV Gold is well-funded – with +$3 million Canadian in cash in its treasury, and 80 million shares outstanding. The company’s management team and board are as seasoned as Watson is, with over 150 years of collective exploration experience in Nevada. NV Gold’s mission is simple and clear – find the next major gold discovery in Nevada. How they are going about realizing that unique mission, is a testament to John Watson’s extensive experience in the field and board room.
Watson founded NV Gold privately in 2009, funding the company’s first property with his own money. He served as CEO and Chairman until handing over the CEO reins to Peter Ball in 2018, reclaiming the role in July 2021 when Ball moved on. Prior to founding NV Gold, Watson served as the president and CEO of Horizon Gold Corporation, building and operating two open-pit heap leach projects in Nevada, and more recently, President of the Pan-Nevada Gold Corporation, which he took from a 130K ounce resource, to a 600K ounce resource, before selling the company to Midway Gold in 2007. The Pan Project is currently a profitable producer.
While 20+ projects may seem like a lot to handle for a junior explorer, Watson’s four-plus decades of in-state experience as an exploration geologist and executive tells him this is the best approach for NV Gold. Watson has a deep understanding of the Nevada landscape and a particular exploration ideology that he feels will help propel the company forward towards a major gold discovery.
NV Gold doesn’t follow the ‘Prospector Generator’ model of gold exploration, like many companies – a model that requires using the capital of other companies to fund risk, which according to Watson, is not always ideal. “If you’re successful, you get to keep only a minority operating or royalty interest. You spend your intellectual capital as a prospector generator, but your discovery and your reward if you make one – and they’re rare – will largely accrue to your partner.”
Watson has taken NV Gold in a different direction, using a different approach. “Our model incorporates what I refer to as the ‘Sole Risk Model’. We generate projects for our own exploration account, and we employ our own intellectual and financial capital to advance those projects at our own risk. So, if we make a discovery, we control it, and we have the ability to maximize the value going forward because we have that control.”
It is a high-risk, high-reward approach. That’s our place in the market. We still will lease or joint venture projects where it is appropriate, but want to give our shareholders full exposure to those rare and exciting successes the can instantly elevate a junior company and richly reward those invested in it.”
It’s an approach that Watson hopes will pay dividends at two of NV Gold’s advanced stage projects – Slumber and Sandy – where an aggressive 2021 exploration program has yielded promising results. The company drilled three holes at The Slumber Gold Project, in Humboldt County, Nevada in Q4 of 2020 that hit low grade gold over fairly significant thicknesses, signalling the potential for a nearby gold deposit. The next round of drilling at Slumber will commence in late October, and is designed to determine the extent of additional near-surface oxide mineralization.
The Sandy Project, located southeast of Carson City, also looks promising. The company drilled 17 holes into a high-grade epithermal target, which can be notoriously challenging. While they didn’t strike high-grade, Watson is still excited about the project’s potential. “The drilling was successful. Almost every hole had gold in it. It’s over 2km long and 600m wide, so it’s quite a large block of mineralized rock. There’s a lot of quartz veining that we encountered. There was an abundance of thin quartz veins with pyrite and gold in them, that we think may coalesce at depth into a more significant and wider structure. This has been further supported by a recently announced IP program that illuminated a strong target at the periphery of our 2021 drilling”
NV Gold has four other properties that are drill-ready, and are expecting consecutive drill programs to take place in Q4 of 2021 and into 2022, with the primary goal of finding that next multi-million-ounce gold resource in Nevada. The company has a strategy of looking for that discovery in obscure, out-of-the-way areas in Nevada. Watson feels it’s here that significant new deposits of gold mineralization can be found. “The vast majority of the gold that’s been discovered in Nevada has been discovered in the mountain ranges. But there is absolute certainty that there will be deposits that will be discovered in the valleys and under post-mineral cover. The things that are still out there to be found can be giants. That’s what we’re after. If you’re a little tiny company and you make a giant discovery, the rewards are fabulous. That’s the investment opportunity.”
While there are several junior exploration companies operating in Nevada with the same goal in mind, like Millennial Precious Metals (TSX.V: MPM), and Augusta Gold (TSX: G), very few employ the Sole Risk exploration philosophy that Watson and NV Gold have put into place to uniquely position themselves for success.
According to Watson, “If you want to make the big reward, you have to take the big risks.”
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