Nicola Mining (TSXV:NIM) is a Canada-based mining company with diversified British Columbia-based mining investment opportunities.

Nicola has its hands in copper, silver and gold with a 100 per cent stake in its New Craigmont Project and Treasure Mountain Property as well as a 75 per cent economic interest in its Dominion Creek Property.

Joining The Market Herald Canada is Nicola Mining CEO, Peter Espig.

TMH: The past 12 months for Nicola have been significant. Before we dive into the details on Nicola’s progress, can you give us a brief overview of Nicola’s projects, all in British Columbia offering investment opportunities in gold, silver and copper?

Espig: Nicola is really comprised of four key assets. The first asset, which is our most important, is the New Craigmont Copper project and that’s a permitted mine site. Then we have a fully permitted mill that processes gold and silver mill feed. We also have a permitted silver mine, which is located off the Coquihalla and we have a 75 per cent economic interest in the Dominion Gold Project.

Now what’s important is that all projects are within the same political geo-jurisdiction, so we’re able to extract synergies from those projects rather than having projects in different provinces. It’s very important to have them close together.

TMH: Overall, where has the focus been over the past 12 months?

Espig: The last 12 months have been really significant for the company. We’ve achieved a lot of milestones but I would say that cash flow is king, and so we wanted to get to a point where we became independent of the market for raising capital or for our own exploration purposes. We focused on our cash flow, profitability and then also getting everything ready for the Craigmont exploration.

TMH: This year, you signed a Mining and milling profit share agreement with Osisko Mining and completed mill upgrades … and in July you started shipping AU concentrate – talk about this milestone and the fact that Nicola’s mill is the only mill in B.C. permitted to process gold and silver province wide.

Espig: I mean, the significance of that milestone, it just kind of highlights that because our mill is the only mill in the province of British Columbia that is permitted to receive gold and silver material from anywhere in the province. To have a company the size of Osisko Development reach out and do an agreement with us really highlights the strength of having those permits, and getting permits is not easy, and so we have those permits.

We conceptualize it like these projects. There are a lot of projects in British Columbia, and they’re akin to airplanes. And our mill site is like the airport, and we’re the perfect landing place for their materials.

TMH: Let’s move to your gold project, the Dominion Creek Property. Following your bulk sample permit application, you signed a profit-share agreement and mineral-purchase agreement, and in August you started work. Tell us about how this milestone moves Nicola forward.

Espig: At the end of 2022 we submitted our bulk sample permit, and this year we did roadwork to get the site ready for when we received the bulk sample permit. And, I mean, it’s a very exciting project.

We have a 75 per cent economic interest, but the gold grades at surface exploration that we did are close to an ounce a ton. It’s a very exciting small resource project that we hope to work on next year.

TMH: You signed an amendment with Blue Lagoon resources – with an extension until the end of March 2027 What does this mean for Nicola?

Espig: It means a lot for both. It means a lot for Blue Lagoon, it means a lot for Nicola. So Blue Lagoon is a well-run company, strong management and strong First Nation relationship, and we also have that. So we have a partnership with LNSS, which is an affiliate of the Lower Nickel Indian Band, and so just being able to work together showing that a lot of these projects are better to work with a partner than to do it all on your own, and we’re excited about that.

TMH: You had some significant findings from the WP Zone on your Craigmont Property. What were they, and what do they mean moving forward?

Espig: Last year we did a ZTEM survey, which is a form of electromagnetic survey but it uses lightning strikes to simulate metals. And so we looked at the WP, the MARP 72, so these are zones on the western side of the property, and we’ve got solid outcroppings that are copper bearing. And what’s amazing about Nicola Mining or the Craigmont site is that it’s largely unexplored and unlike most sites where you’ve had a lot of drilling or previous exploration.

It’s hard to fathom that the New Craigmont site is the site of the highest grade copper mine in the history of North America adjacent to the largest copper mine in Canada. So those are things that we’re going to go right after next year in our exploration program.

TMH: You received a “game changer” permit … a multi-year area-based exploration permit to conduct copper exploration on never-drilled areas located adjacent to Teck’s Highland Valley Copper (Canada’s largest copper mine) though to November 2027. How is that changing the game for Nicola?

Espig: The MYAB is a multi-year permit. So typically, what you see in Canada is companies will go out and they’ll apply for a one-year drill permit, and they’ll go out and they’ll raise capital as part of that. So, they’ll go out, they’ll raise flow through financing, they’ll do their drilling, hopefully the results are good and then the next year they’re able to raise capital again.

We were very confident in two things. We were confident in our ability to garner cash flow and we were confident in our exploration success. So based on that, we wanted a five-year permit. The MYAB permit is essentially a carte blanche over the entire property that allows us to do exploration drilling up until 2027.

That’s very significant because you don’t know where your key zones are going to be and to have to go back to the market and explain every year. And also to apply for permits. It took two years to get the permit, but we did it because we believed that we didn’t need to raise capital, which is the case.

So it is a real game changer.

TMH: And if you needed it for longer than that, what would be the step?

Espig: You’d have to reapply for another permit.

TMH: For another five years?

Espig: In 2026, yeah, we would apply for that.

THH: For those not familiar with mining-speak … you observed “molybdenite coinciding with chalcopyrite” and is currently under examination with UBC. What does that mean?

Espig: UBC brings a lot of expertise when it comes to understanding the different batholiths in British Columbia. We work very cooperatively. I’m a UBC alumni; go, Thunderbirds. Go, T-Birds. They provide a lot of the lab data that you could not do internally and they’re able to look at that data and then compare it to other projects within the region.

We sit on the corner of the Spences Bridge, the Guichon Batholith that hosts Copper Highland Valley and the Nicola unit, which is where the Craigmont mine site was. There’s a lot there but copper is copper and so leveraging the expertise at UBC is very helpful.

TMH: Let’s talk about your financial results.

Espig: I mean, we’re still in the middle of 2023, but we’ve had two quarters of positive earnings. We’re cash-flow positive. It really makes us unique among juniors and I cannot emphasize how important that is because in times when markets are good, it’s easy to raise capital.

I look at nickel mining as essentially the perfect hedge for investors because you’ve got the stability of cash flow. That means we don’t have to go out and raise capital and yet you have the upside of one of the best exploration copper plays in North America. So that cash flow gives us both things, and so it’s very significant.

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