By Mirelle Vitale
You could argue Peter Clausi has come a long way from his youth pouring molten zinc and driving fork lifts at a zinc plant in Timmins, Ontario. But then again, even as CEO of GTA Resources and Mining Inc. (TSXV:GTA), Clausi isn't far removed from the hands-on daily activities of a mineral exploration company.
Clausi sits at the helm of a gold-focused explorer with two projects in Ontario – its Northshore property located in the Hemlo-Schreiber greenstone belt, east of Thunder Bay, and its Auden gold project near Hearst.
The President and CEO is quick to identify GTA's people as one of the company's key strengths, along with its projects and very tight corporate structure.
"We believe in working with good people who have a varied background, who believe in shareholder rights and corporate governance and who understand substantively what the project is about," the CEO tells TSX/CP Equities News.
Among GTA's other key players are Chief Financial Officer Brian Crawford and Geologist and Vice President of Exploration Robert "Bob" Duess.
Clausi originally hails from deep within Ontario mining country, Tisdale Township, where he worked summers in the zinc plant at Kidd Creek Mines to put himself through Law school.
"Being from Timmins, you always know what's going on in mining and you understand the vital role that mining plays in the health of the economy and Canada as a whole," Clausi explains.
|Warrants: (strike price - $1.25)||2.1M|
|Cash on Hand:||5.4M|
Founding shareholders, Clausi and Crawford set up GTA in 2008 as part of the Toronto Stock Exchange's Capital Pool Company (CPC) Program, a unique listing vehicle on the TSX Venture Exchange. Back then it was known as GTA Corpfin Capital, referencing the Greater Toronto Area. Only half joking, Clausi now prefers the moniker "Gold Trusted Always".
As a CPC, which is required to identify an appropriate business to acquire within 24 months of setting up, GTA's qualifying transaction was the Auden property. This enabled management to option the Northshore project from Balmoral Resources Ltd. in 2011.
The option agreement with Balmoral stipulates GTA can earn up to a 70% stake in the Northshore Property. Meanwhile, the company owns a 100% interest in the Auden Property, which consists of over 1,500 claim units and, the company says, covers virtually an entire underexplored greenstone belt on strike with the prolific Geraldton-Beardmore gold camp.
GTA has raised $6 million to cover at least three rounds of exploration at Northshore. Clausi says drilling costs are roughly $200-220 a metre, all inclusive of assays and other expenses. And after two rounds of exploration so far completed at the project, GTA holds $5.1 million in the bank as of the middle of July, 2012.
The company caught the market's attention in February this year, delivering results for 12 drill holes at Northshore. Those results saw GTA's share price spike dramatically, almost 800% to a 52-week high of $2.00 a share. At press time, the shares are trading around $0.48 a share.
In summary, gold mineralization was encountered in each of the holes, and drilling confirmed the continuity of high-grade gold-bearing vein systems along strike and to depth, the company said in a press release. "Drilling also intersected a number of additional high-grade veins and demonstrated much better-than-expected continuity of the broad Afric Gold System which hosts these high-grade gold-bearing vein structures."
Clausi notes the most prominent hole was number 11, which returned 3.2 grams of gold over a core length of 149.5 metres.
The CEO credits Exploration VP Bob Duess with the solid results to date at Northshore, given Duess' and his team's ability to review the previous exploration data differently and implement the most effective exploration strategy. Clausi says the prior owners of the project were larger, well capitalized companies with different business plans.
"It would appear they were searching for very high tonnage situations and, at the time, the belief was that Northshore may not fit that model. GTA being a smaller company has different economics, and was able to explore the property differently by taking a fresh look at the data," Clausi says.
Phase 2 drilling at Northshore commenced in March and consisted of eight holes covering a total of 2,431 metres. GTA announced results for Holes 13 and 14 on April 18 and for Holes 15 - 20 on July 12. Clausi notes Hole 14 returned good values throughout the length – 1.4 grams of gold over 240 metres of core length, mineralized from surface. But he also highlights Hole 13 as it was drilled in a northeasterly direction, stretching the mineralization zone to the northeast.
"Hole 18 has us very curious as to what could be happening a bit deeper down, as that hole intersected a 0.5 metre interval of 44.2 grams per tonne of gold at a core length of 372 metres. This is similar to what we're seeing a bit higher up at the termination Hole 16," Clausi explains. As a result of Phase 2, he adds, the mineralized zone is now around 300 metres by 290 metres, by 190 metres.
Clausi sees Phase 3 of exploration at Northshore commencing by mid-August, with its main goal being to expand that mineralized zone.