Battle North Gold – The Battle to the Strong
When we last talked with George Ogilvie, P.Eng., President and CEO of Battle North Gold, they were steadily de-risking the Bateman Gold Project located in the heart of one of the most prestigious gold mining camps in the world, the Red Lake Gold District in Northern Ontario, Canada.
Battle North Gold controls approximately 28,000 hectares of land in Red Lake, Ontario, including potential gold mining sites such as the Bateman Gold Project. It has been over a year since we spoke to President and CEO George Ogilvie, P.Eng. – and a very long year at that- and when we speak to Ogilvie again, he is in high spirits.
“We’ve been doing extremely well,” he says. “Last year was a transformational year for us. Early in the year, we put out an updated NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimate at the Bateman Gold Project, and we saw a significant increase in gold ounces in the higher-category Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource estimates, allowing us to advance the Project towards a feasibility study.”
The feasibility study is a key stage in any mining project, indicating which Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource estimates can be converted to reserves, which determines whether or not a gold project is economically viable.
“In the past, the Project never had a pre-feasibility or feasibility study conducted on it, so delivering a feasibility study on the Bateman Gold Project was a watershed moment for us,” says Ogilvie. “In August last year, we raised CAD$62 million in equity financing, putting us in a great position to substantially fund the Project. Shortly after, we announced a positive feasibility study for the Bateman Gold Project, demonstrating an after-tax IRR of 50% and after-tax NPV of CAD$305 million using a 5% discount rate and a US$1,525/ounce gold price assumption. We already had numerous groups in the data room doing technical due diligence to provide us with the debt component of the Project’s financing. From those groups, we were able to whittle down to three potential lenders.”
Macquarie Bank Limited provided Battle North Gold with terms that were of the lowest cost of capital compared to the other lending groups, and ultimately, reached an agreement with Battle North Gold for a US$40 million facility in December 2020. Ogilvie anticipates that before the end of March 2021, the credit facility agreement will be finalized, allowing Battle North Gold to access the US$40 million facility for the Project’s construction.
“What was most satisfying was when Macquarie Bank’s strong technical team undertook extensive due diligence on the Bateman Gold Project and gave it a “thumbs up”. This not only led to the US$40 million credit facility agreement, but it provided external validation on how we’ve de-risked this project over the last four years,” Ogilvie says. “It’s very much a different company today.”
“Once we have access to the credit facility, the Project is estimated to be fully funded to Commercial Production. We are currently finalizing the agreement and don’t foresee any significant hurdles to completion. Battle North Gold has recently received the greenlight from its Board to commence construction of the Bateman Gold Project, and we are aiming to pour our first gold before the end of the calendar year,” Ogilvie tells us excitedly.
A Resourceful Community
That Battle North Gold has been able to achieve these results is partly due to the rich community of mining suppliers and vendors that exist in their locality.
“We’re in Red Lake, which is a mining camp that’s been around for years, so with respect to vendors and suppliers, the camp itself is well serviced,” Ogilvie says. “Myself, I emigrated from South Africa to Canada in 1997. I’m in my 24th year in Canada’s mining industry, working with those suppliers and vendors. So we’ve already had a prior relationship.”
Indeed, Battle North Gold has built strong relationships with vendors such as Northstream Rapid Labs and Patrick Sprack Ltd. That community turned out to be essential in facing some of the unique challenges of 2020, particularly the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have a 240-person camp at the Project, that was installed under prior management in 2015. It was for fly-in, fly-out employees,” Ogilvie says. “Before COVID-19, the camp was considered to be in good condition, but now we’re in pandemic times we can see the camp was never laid out for social distancing. So we had to take out the old kitchen and put in a much larger kitchen, for when the employees are congregating for breakfast lunch and dinner. GNS Trailers has been fantastic about working with us there. They will also be bringing in additional trailers later in the year.”
As well as being of practical help, GNS Trailers has been supportive and understanding of Battle North Gold’s financial challenges.
“They’re helpful with invoicing and how they propose we pay for the trailers,” Ogilvie says. “We’ve got C$70 million going out the door and no revenue coming in yet, so they offer structured payment terms that have really helped with our cash cycle.”
A New Identity
Of course, the most obvious change since we last spoke with Ogilvie is that the company has changed its name to Battle North Gold, to better reflect the company’s culture and the community of Red Lake in Northern Ontario.
“We chose the name because of the work we have put into de-risking the Bateman Gold project over the last four years given the project’s history. We’ve been tenacious, shown our battling characteristics by never giving up,” he tells us.
With the Company in a much stronger position, along with a positive feasibility study for the Bateman Gold Project and with the company on the verge to become Canada’s next gold producer late this year, it comes with no surprise that the shareholders of the company voted overwhelmingly in favour of the name change. The company’s coincided with a timely sports victory, as Ogilvie relates, “The Toronto Raptors won the NBA last year, and their slogan is ‘We are the North’, so that’s how we decided on ‘North’, and we’re focused on Gold. So we became Battle North Gold.”