Tracker - January 3, 2023: Speculative Value Rating for Amarc Resources Ltd
Amarc Resources Ltd was made a Fair Spec Value rated 2023 Favorite at $0.15 on December 30, 2022 based partly on its British Columbia focused copper exploration plays, two of which, Joy and Duke, are funded by majors Freeport McMoran and Boliden who can earn up to 70% by spending $105 million and $90 million respectively. Freeport optioned the Joy copper-gold porphyry project in May 2021 and has spent about $20 million to the end of 2022. The 48,200 ha Joy project adjoins to the north of the Kemess Mine now operated by Centerra Gold. Freeport, which drilled 15,427 m in 2022 for which results were still pending at the start of 2023, is delineating the Pine copper-gold system and testing district wide targets. Boliden optioned the 67,800 ha Duke project in November 2022 and immediately initiated a winter drill program. Duke, located 50 km north of the former Bell and Granisle copper mines in the Babine Lake region, is an emerging copper-molybdenum-silver discovery Amarc made in 2017. Amarc is operator of both projects. The company is headed by CEO Diane Nicolson and Chairman Bob Dickinson who with 29 million shares representing 16% is Amarc's largest shareholder. Amarc has for two decades been focused on grassroots exploration in British Columbia during a period when Northern Dynasty's now beleaguered Pebble copper-gold project in Alaska dominated the attention of the HDI group. Amarc appeared on track for a major emerging discovery in 2014 when it assembled the IKE copper-molybdenum-silver district located in southwestern British Columbia between Taseko's stalled New Prosperity copper-gold project and the Bralorne gold project to the south. IKE, which does not yet have a resource estimate, was first optioned to Thompson Creek in 2015 which dropped out after Centerra Gold acquired Thompson in 2017. In mid 2017 Hudbay optioned both IKE and Joy, but dropped out in early 2019 after spending nearly $10 million when Waterton launched a proxy battle. Amarc, which had a weak treasury supported by loans from Dickinson, spent the next two years bottom-crawling below $0.10 until the Joy farmout in 2021 woke up the company. Market interest strengthened with the Duke farmout because one never knows when a major like Freeport might suddenly lose interest, but it will take at least a year before Boliden is in any danger of losing interest. In May 2022 Amarc also quietly optioned the Hearne Hill project for $1 million in the form of $100,000 annual payments. Hearne Hill is south of Duke and southeast of Pacific Booker's Morrison copper-gold porphyry project which is stalled because of proximity to Morrison Lake. Hearne Hill is inland and hosts a copper breccia pipe system that underwent small scale mining but which Amarc plans to rethink as a bulk tonnage copper system. The main reason, however, for making Amarc a 2023 Favorite is its plan to revisit the Empress area at the northern end of the 100% owned IKE project. The Empress area represents a gold enriched copper replacement system within older volcanics and sediments off-board the northern boundary of the Coast Plutonic Complex. Amarc would also like to do enough drilling of IKE to allow a maiden resource estimate. Working capital as of September 30, 2022 was about $3 million, not enough to mount a major program. But with 199 million shares fully diluted and the last financing done in 2017 there is no market overhang if Bob Dickinson comes through with his threat to emerge from semi-retirement and turn Amarc into the success story that has eluded it for two decades.