GUYSBOROUGH – Construction of the Goldboro Gold project won’t begin as soon as proponents had hoped. Last week, Signal Gold issued a news release providing an update on their proposed project in Goldboro, explaining the delay.
“As announced on June 6, 2023, the unprecedented forest fires in Nova Scotia delayed the company’s work relating to, among other things, fisheries offsetting, archeological field work and geotechnical programs,” the release stated. “These matters, combined with ongoing Crown land use discussions will result in a delay to the project past the previously forecasted construction start in early 2024.”
The Journal spoke with Signal Gold CEO and President Kevin Bullock on July 13 about the delays and next steps in what remains of 2023.
Asked how the forest fires in early June impacted the project, Bullock answered, “There’s a whole bunch of work that’s ongoing – to do the engineering work, to do a feasibility study and some of that is drilling for geotechnical parameters for the pit wells. We had to pull our drills out. They had a total ban on working in forested areas. So, we had to pull out and close down for, I believe it was about six or seven days, but that turns into about two weeks of delays for us because we have to demob [demobilize] and mob [mobilize] back in and it’s a lot to move these things out.”
As for the delayed start in construction, Bullock said market conditions and government processing time were factors.
“Government timelines change…so you never know when the government is going to move quickly or not. And then there’s the markets themselves, we can only move as fast as the markets will allow us. Currently, there’s not much availability of funds in the market…The markets have gone completely silent. There’s not much liquidity in anything. There’s not much money out there to raise for these programs. So, we’re giving ourselves a good timeline by reducing our cost going forward; basically, because of these delays and because of the markets so that we can have time to look at optimizing the project, show size and attract further interest on the financing side and, hopefully, get into a better market in the fall,” he said.
As to why the markets have veered away from investing in gold mining, which Bullock told The Journal was the case in general and not just for the Goldboro project, he said he thinks there is a combination of factors, including the Russian war in Ukraine and China’s sabre-rattling towards Taiwan. Investors, he said, are looking for a safe haven for the time being.
Programs and funding for critical minerals projects needed to support the transition to a low-carbon, green economy by the federal government are also pulling focus from gold mining, Bullock said.
Speaking to activity on the Goldboro project, Bullock said, “The only thing we are not doing, that we were going to do, is aggressively do detailed engineering and move towards a construction-ready decision, because we’re not going to meet our timelines or have financing to do so. But, what we’re continuing on, even more aggressively now, is the exploration to show the potential scale of the project now that we’ve acquired this other ground [an increase of their exploration licence area in the Goldboro Gold District to approximately 19,450 hectares].”
In addition to work on the ground, Bullock told The Journal the company is also moving forward on the permitting process, mutual benefits agreement with the Mi’kmaq and land acquisition for project infrastructure; “All the things that add value to the project from the perspective of somebody looking to invest in the company….it’s these value drivers that we’re moving forward on without spending the big money on detailed engineering to be construction ready because that will come later.”
Bullock concluded, “We’re being conservative. We’re working within the market that were in… we’re making sure we have a runway that is quite long for us to try optimizing the project and showing growth potential, while searching for further funds into a better market in the fall.”