(Disclosure: The following represents my opinions only. I am not receiving any compensation for writing this article, nor does Hydra Capital have any business relationship with companies mentioned in this post. I am long AU.V)
Yesterday Aurion Resources (AU.V, last at $3.11) reported that drilling has started on its Aamurusko prospect, the most advanced exploration target within the company's 100%-owned Risti Project in Finland's Central Lapland Greenstone Belt. The company also detailed sample results from two other promising target areas named "K2" and "Notches" with visible gold noted in samples from both locales. The stock promptly hit a new 52-week high as investors continued to digest the scale and potential of the land package that Aurion has put together over the past few years. Aurion has assembled a truly district-scale land position in what is a grossly under-explored region and the story is only just beginning from an exploration perspective. Yesterday's news follows a recent $16 million investment by industry giant Kinross Gold Corp (which takes Kinross to a 9.98% equity stake) that has boosted Aurion's treasury to around $23 million... that's going to pay for a lot of drilling. Twenty-one holes totalling 3,400 metres of drilling are planned in the Phase 1 program (all at Aamurusko), but that can (and likely will) change quickly as the program progresses. The company should be able to complete a hole every 2-3 days and I would expect results sometime in mid-late October or early November. A map detailing some of the prospect locations is shown below:
In terms of geography, once you get off the plane in Kittila (a 90-minute flight from Helsinki), you could very well convince yourself that you were in northern Ontario somewhere around Thunder Bay. Topography is generally flat with open pine and birch (largely managed) forests that make for relatively easy walking with good visibility. You could drive to all of the sites we visited in a Honda Civic if you wanted to, and access is year-round (drilling can also take place year-round). Despite being north of the Arctic Circle, it doesn't feel like you're on the moon when you're up there. We were never farther than about 45 minutes from two of the two largest towns in the area and there is excellent access to labour, power, water, and all the logistical support you would need to actually build and operate a mine. The first stop on the World Cup ski tour is actually very nearby and as a result there are some great accommodations in the area as well. The project areas we visited are easily accessed by a combination of paved highways and high-quality logging roads. In short, access and infrastructure are excellent.
Here's a panoramic of the terrain within the Aamurusko area, with Exploration Manager Mathias Forss (centre) schooling a couple of Haywood attendees as chairman David Lotan (grey jacket) looks on:
Below, CEO Mike Basha (centre, left image) shows where we've been and where we're going and technical advisor Eugene Flood (on right, right image) points out key textural features in one of many quartz boulder samples: