by James Kwantes
Published first at Patreon
Once upon a time in Yukon Territory, an ambitious young man ran a bush crew staking claims in a storied land of bygone gold discoveries. The man was Clive Johnson. He's back: Johnson's B2Gold today announced a 5% investment in Yukon gold discovery play Snowline Gold (SGD.CN).
We live in dangerous times. War based on centuries-old grievances halfway around the world. Shifting global power alliances. Closer to home, banks are breaking banks after a social-media-fuelled game of whispers and musical chairs.
It’s all lifted gold above US$1,900 an ounce, as investors (not to mention central banks) rediscover the “barbarous relic” that carries no counterparty risk.
Dangerous time to be a gold miner, too. Just ask Kinross Gold (K-T), which sold its high-grade Kupol gold mine in Russia shortly after the invasion of Ukraine. Rewind to 2006: that’s when Kinross acquired Kupol by purchasing Clive Johnson’s Bema Gold for US$3.1 billion. The Bema boss had ventured into new frontiers for gold exploration and mining, and it worked out well for him and his company.
Johnson now runs gold miner B2Gold (BTO-T) and his maverick reputation endures. The bulk of B2Gold’s 2022 production of 1 million ounces came from mines in Mali and the Philippines. Johnson won the 2015 Murray Pezim award for “perseverance and success in financing mineral exploration” from the B.C. Association for Mineral Exploration.
As investors flock to the safety offered by gold, B2Gold is pivoting to safer jurisdictions. First was the $1.1-billion acquisition of Sabina Gold & Silver (SBB-T) and its high-grade Back River gold camp in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, announced on February 13. Johnson doubled down on northern exposure today with the investment in Snowline, which is developing a high-grade gold camp in Canada’s storied Yukon territory. Across the Atlantic at a similar latitude is B2Gold's 70% owned Helmi gold discovery in Finland, a joint venture with Aurion Resources (AU-V) and one of B2's top exploration priorities.
The Snowline stake is particularly intriguing, given Johnson's Yukon start. Next door to Snowline’s gold properties near the Yukon/Northwest Territories border are Fireweed Metals’ (FWZ-V) high-grade zinc-lead-silver and tungsten projects. Fireweed landed a major investment from the Lundin family late last year and boasts Teck as an 8.4% shareholder.
Dangerous times call for different measures.
Disclosure: I own shares in Snowline Gold, Fireweed Metals and Aurion Resources.