Interview with CEO Christopher Gerteisen
What's your journey in becoming a CEO?
I joined the company as CEO as the company was gearing up towards expanding its resource and progressing the Estelle Gold Camp to production. I've always considered this my area of specialization advancing projects from the resource development phase, where Estelle is positioned now, into mine planning and production. Certainly, my experience in both the technical and management realm reflects success in this arena. What's exciting for me personally, is with the Estelle Gold Project I'm able to put my skills to work in my home state here in Alaska where I was born and bred, and working with an Australian company, a place I consider my second home where, as I like to say, I was reborn and rebred. Up top meets down under, a recipe for success.
With over 25 years of experience as a professional geologist in technical and corporate roles, I have an extensive record of managing and advancing complex and challenging resource projects across North America, Australia, and Asia. My experience spans greenfields through to production stage projects focussed on a wide range of commodities, including gold and copper. I have worked as a geologist on the Carlin Trend in Nevada and on exploration in Alaska with Newmont. Have held senior positions at several projects throughout the goldfields of Western Australia. As a research geologist with Newmont I worked on the Batu Hijau Porhryry Cu-Au deposit in Indonesia. Most recently, through my technical contributions and management skills, I played a leading role in the successful start-up, operations, and exploration which resulted in further mine-life extending discoveries at several prominent projects in the Australasian region, including Oxiana's Sepon and PanAust's Phu Bia in Laos.
A few years ago, I took the opportunity to finally return to Alaska. I've come full circle. Alaska is a resource-based economy. It's a safe jurisdiction and ticks all the positive boxes for development of a project on the scale of Estelle. I'm based in my hometown where I grew up. Life doesn't get any better than this, building a mine here for my state and bringing jobs and economic benefits to my community. This could be my last stop in what's been a long rewarding journey. But I am now in gold miners heaven!
Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
We are in a self-imposed race to build a senior gold producer. Over the past two years we have been steadily proving up our gold resource, with the results to date going way above and beyond our original expectations. Now we plan to capitalize on this success by fast tracking the resource development. The drilling program currently underway is designed to significantly increase the total resource, adding millions of ounces to our inventory, but also it's aimed at converting a large portion of the resource to the higher confidence Measured and Indicated categories. The Estelle Gold Project is shaping up to be one of the most significant resource endowments, both in terms of quantity and quality, in the world today and the investment community is really starting to tune in to this project. We are seeing the smart money get in early, getting in now. These investors are taking note of resource, as discussed, but are also seeing a capable management team focussed on a fast track towards production at Estelle. The resource development drilling program currently underway will produce results shortly and we plan to release a mid-year JORC compliant resource update. Based on this, we plan to commence the feasibility studies on the path towards production. We are focussed on this objective like a laser, with our internal budgets and schedules moving us to commission a mining operation in the 2023-2024 time frame. I should mention, the production ambitions we are discussing, is only for our Korbel deposit, which on projection shows may host upwards of 10Mozs of gold, not uncommon in the Tintina Gold Province neighbourhood, see Fort Knox, Dublin Gulch, Pogo, etc. In addition, we have 15 other known prospects across our 220km2 claim block, at various stages of advancement. We are steadily progressing this pipeline of opportunities as we are really start unlocking and developing a district here. All of these additional prospects and further upside will provide the resources as we build the next world-class mining district over the next several decades.
As a note to investors, I want to make it very clear that Nova Minerals is not building itself to be sold; it's building itself to be a major.
How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
The health and safety of our people and the safe operation of our site is of paramount importance. Keeping our operation running is critical for jobs, our communities and for the Alaskan economy. We are not a business that can do all of our work remotely and we are fully focused on action to reduce the risk of transmission at our sites and in our offices. In light of COVID-19, we know the situation is difficult and we are encouraging our workforce to look out for each other, their families and communities as we manage through this together.
Operations at Estelle continue with additional monitoring and procedures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among our workforce. As things currently stand, there have been no material impacts on our operations or supply chain with our workforce able to access our safely and operate effectively.
Nova's supply chains are still open and we currently have adequate supplies to operate and maintain critical equipment.
The Estelle Gold Camp and offices across the world are monitoring local conditions and have plans in place designed to maintain workforce safety and business continuity. These include procedures to move quickly to isolate anyone who may require medical treatment or testing as well as additional information and resources to support the wellbeing of our workforce.
What's the most exciting thing about running your business?
As I said previously, Alaska is a safe jurisdiction and my hometown; life doesn't get any better or exciting building a mine here for my state and people.
I want to make it very clear that Nova Minerals is not building the Estelle Gold Camp to be sold, it's building itself to be big, create jobs and opportunity for the state of Alaska and my people, that's what excites and drives me every day. There are lots of good reasons for that; I would like the Estelle Gold Project to live beyond my lifetime as a very large gold producer and developer. That's something that I'm working hard to try to create, along with all our fine management team and crew on the ground.
How do you measure success?
Success is measured differently for each stakeholder in Nova Minerals, and my success is when each of those stakeholders is successful. For our investors, it is the share price and resource growth. For the staff, it's doing work they love and which makes them grow professionally, and which rewards them with the upside of the business as we grow the resource and move the project into production.
What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
For any CEO, its resilience, hands down. Ability to problem solve as the challenges come up. Progressing the project regardless what is thrown at you and most importantly looking after your people and all stakeholders each step of the way. The listed aspect adds the dimension of your performance judged by the market each day and it remains your job to run the business and communicate the value to the investors the best you can.
What is your favourite book?
The Bible, besides all the time-tested lessons to live by and stories of overcoming adversity, up, downs, etc. Here's the takeaway as pertains to the subject at hand, the Estelle Gold Project. When you truly believe in something, put all your heart, mind and soul into it, never give up, never give in. In business we call that perseverance, which has been shown time and again, in research as well as just plain old common sense, as the most critical key ingredient to success in any business endeavour. And that's what we have at Nova Minerals, unshakeable perseverance, and a management team on a mission to develop the next world-class gold district.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is another which gives great insight into strategy to rank and discipline and, as they say, a little bit of luck doesn't hurt either and to quote Sun Tzu "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
So the massive gold resource we have at Estelle, that continues to be wide open in all directions, helps our mission immensely. It also helps to have a bunch of committed, capable, and like-minded colleagues in the trenches along the way. I'm so proud to be a part of the Nova Minerals team as we push forward and get the results expected by our stakeholders.
What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
To keep it simple, view us as the Fortescue Metals Group of the Gold space in Alaska and how fast we move.
In 2019, we went out to prove the concept in the initial phase of fieldwork. From the first stage of metallurgical test work at the Korbel deposit, we had a 76 per cent average recovery. That result is exceptional when compared with our peers who average 55-60 per cent recovery, in this type of gold operation, even a one or two per cent recovery upgrade has a large impact on overall profitability.
Not only have we defined the major resource at 2.5 million ounces, but we managed to do it at a discovery cost of less than US$1 per ounce [A$1.7], which is why we're fast tracking this project. To give some perspective, anything less than US$10 [A$17] per ounce discovery cost is off the charts" and currently US$30 or $40 [A$52 or A$69] an ounce is more realistic.
Every time we drill, we're adding millions of ounces to the resource inventory. Our gold is very liberated throughout the ore body, so we have a high recovery, which keeps the recovery cost low, Our 2020 target is to recover somewhere between the 5-10 million-ounce range. Adopting advanced ore sorting technology is also an exciting possibility thanks to the style and mineralisation of our rock, which will further improve our recovery.
We believed in the project and now we've proved it. We have 15 other known prospects at various stages of advancement and Korbel, which is developing into a super pit scenario, so our future is very exciting.
Republished by permission of www.stockpal.asia
To view the article, please visit:
About Nova Minerals Ltd
The company plans to create shareholder value through two-pronged strategy:
- Capitalise on the growing demand for energy storage and the resulting demand for lithium, cobalt and nickel by fast-tracking exploration and development activities in our North American assets with particular focus on our flagship lithium project and prospective Chip-Loy Nickel Cobalt Sulphides project.
- Diversification by gaining exposure to base and precious metals through our farm-in JV at our district scale Estelle gold copper silver project and our Northern Australian gold exploration assets.
Nova Minerals Ltd