We spoke with Roger Lemaitre, President & CEO of Athabasca Basin located Uranium company UEX Corporation (TSX: UEX). Roger says the mood is starting feel like the Uranium space did back in 2004. UEX formed in 2001 and they have 21 projects, 18 in Uranium and 3 in Cobalt, all in the Athabasca Basin. Their strategy is to develop the resources for when the market moves. Focus is on two main projects.
Roger positions UEX as a Uranium company but they want to see if they can create value with their Cobalt project. They have talked about a spin out last year but got hit by the significant drop in the Cobalt price. So how does a CEO mitigate risk and create value in difficult markets? Why didn’t they get the spin out? How much money have they spent developing the cobalt asset? And how does UEX plan to recoup that capital. Roger explains.
- WNA Expectations
- Company Overview
- Cobalt, Nickel & Uranium – Strategy, Thinking and Focus: What Are They Building?
- Shareholders: What Can UEX Do to Increase Their Share Price?
- Management Remuneration
Click here to watch the interview.
Matthew Gordon: Hi Roger. So you’re in London for the WNA?
Roger Lemaitre: We are in and around the WNA and meetings around it as well.
Matthew Gordon: And what are you hoping to get from it?
Roger Lemaitre: Well, we’re just hoping, honestly, for our shareholders to a little more exposure to what we’re doing in the Uranium and Cobalt sectors, outside of the Canadian market. Uranium interest is starting to pick up again.
Matthew Gordon: Have you got shareholders over here in Europe?
Roger Lemaitre: We do have a few shareholders here in Europe, but we’re predominantly Canadian and American shareholder base.
Matthew Gordon: What’s the general mood? Have you picked anything up?
Roger Lemaitre: General optimism. People, I think, are starting to sniff value at the bottom of the Uranium cycle. And over the last few years, there’s been a whole lot of hype. And it reminds me so much of 2004 when I was in the Uranium space 20 years ago. People have heard it’s coming, it’s coming. It’s coming. They get tired of hearing it coming. And now I think people are trying to believe it might be coming. So we’re just trying to talk to people what we’re doing so that when that comes, they know who we are.
Matthew Gordon: A lot of people talking about the macro story and nothing but, to the detriment of telling their own story, but no one’s quite sure of when it’s coming. So I think we’ll leave it leave it to people smarter than me. Let’s talk about your project. Can you give us a minute summary and then we’ll get stuck into some questions?
Roger Lemaitre: UEX is one of the older junior companies out there. We reformed 2001 and we’re probably the third or fourth oldest junior company in the world. We have 21 projects, 18 in Uranium, 3 and Cobalt, but we have four flagship product. A lot for a junior company. And our goal really is… we have two projects that are on the wings waiting for development that under today’s Uranium prices, even in being hosted in the Athabasca Basin, all our projects, just won’t move ahead like any other company that’s in the Athabasca Basin. So our goal short term is to build the pie, as much resource we have in our portfolio, when that time comes. And then when that time does come, we’ll be able to move those other two projects towards construction.
Matthew Gordon: You’re an interesting story to me, because you’ve got a lot going on. You pick the tough commodities, Uranium and Cobalt. And Cobalt is coming back up a bit, there’s a Nickel component to that. And then there’s the Uranium stuff. So can we just talk about what your thinking is and what you’re trying to build out here? Because there’s a lot of moving parts. You can’t fund them all.
Roger Lemaitre: No, true.
Matthew Gordon: And there’s a lot of resource required to actually get these things moving. So let’s talk about what you’re trying to build first. So talk to me about the management plan.
Roger Lemaitre: We’re definitely a Uranium company. So first and foremost is moving our two core Uranium projects forward. But because they’re at the study phase and ready to move forward, in the current market, it’s not feasible, nor does it makes sense to try to build something that’s not ready for the market. Or the market’s not ready for. Meanwhile, on our Uranium projects, we had a Cobalt prospect and we realised into late 2017 that it was a pretty significant Cobalt prospect by world standards outside of the DRC. And so the plan has always been to get shareholder value for those Cobalt assets that are non-core to the company. And eventually move them out somehow. And there’s multiple ways we can do it. And last year, we’re looking at a spin out and unfortunately that timing for the spin out, by time we did the work we did, hit the downswing in the market. So we have some shareholders that are very unhappy that we didn’t do the spin out. It makes no sense for us to do something with those Cobalt assets.
Matthew Gordon: So that’s off the table?
Roger Lemaitre: No, we’re still we did lots of work on the Cobalt this year, but on a temporary basis. We are defining a deposit. So we put some resources into that this year. Our plan is still to create value for those assets for our shareholders.
Matthew Gordon: So I just want to be clear, because like you say, there’s a lot of kind of discourse in the marketplace. What happened? We were promised this. The timing of the Cobalt price wasn’t with you when you were thinking of doing that?
Roger Lemaitre: It actually imploded all in the same one week period.
Matthew Gordon: There you go. And your job, apart from mitigating risk across the organisation to maximise value. All of these lovely cliches. But what does that mean for shareholders? We decided not to do that project, to spin that out, because we’ve been the wrong thing for shareholders.
Roger Lemaitre: Absolutely. And I think the only reason to do a spin out is that the spin out creates more value than having it inside the company in the short-term. And when we were ready to do the spin out, got our NI43-101 report together from a program that we started only in January. By the beginning of June, we were ready to start to spin out with resource. The market price cratered and then being in Canada and Toronto focused in terms of the markets. There was a financing done in Toronto in the Cobalt space that did not go really well. Not our financing, it was another company, and that commodity became a four letter word in Toronto for a period of time. So we could have done it, no matter what and forced it to happen. But I think there was a strong, strong risk that we would have orphaned the Cobalt assets or imperiled the Uranium company. And at that time, we said, ‘OK, we’ll put it off temporarily and we’ll see when the market demands value for that Cobalt’.
Matthew Gordon: Do you know what you’ve got with that?
Roger Lemaitre: Yes, we do.
Matthew Gordon: You know exactly what you’ve got. What data do you have?
Roger Lemaitre: So we’ve done just a little under $5M worth of work over the last two winters on the Westborough Cobalt-Nickel project. And we’ve defined resources over a strike length of 650m, pittable starting at 30m depth, going down to about a 100m depth. We fully defined it and we’re in the process of putting together a final resource on that. We did an interim resource on it last year. While that was not big enough to be moved forward last year. the deposit was open ended in all directions. I think we’ve defined the limits of this particular single deposit. At this point in time, and now we’re ready to start moving forward.
Matthew Gordon: So you’re a $60M market cap. How much should we think of that is attributable to Cobalt-Nickel?
Roger Lemaitre: I would say probably about 20%. But if you asked any investor, they’d have a very different view on that. Some would say higher. Some would say lower. I’m going to say about 20%.
Matthew Gordon: So it’s not worth a whole bunch of money right now. So what you going to do?
Roger Lemaitre: Right now. I think it comes down to whether investors want to be in the Cobalt. And when we look at the assets, if it’s going be spun out or find a partner. It has to create value. So the last thing we do, say we went to spin out route and spun it out. How does it financed? Is it financing? The question would be,.
Matthew Gordon: What’s your liability?
Roger Lemaitre: Absolutely. And so you’re sitting here going, ‘well, maybe we can spin it out and maybe we can raise six months worth of money to keep it floating’. What happens in six months? Is it orphaned? And then there’s no value to that property to a current UEX shareholder.
Matthew Gordon: So what’s happening. You just going do nothing with it this year?
Roger Lemaitre: We are still looking to move forward. I think the market in Cobalt is changing, as we watch it every day. And the moment the time is right. We have been contacting people other people, not just the spin out route, to see where the value is. So we’re very active on it, but it is very quiet because negotiations and discussions and talking with bankers isn’t something you put in the public domain.
Matthew Gordon: But there are conversations going on and you are evaluating it. But there is no sense of timing yet?
Roger Lemaitre: Not not yet. But our goal has always been to do it as soon as it’s feasible, in our opinion, feasible from the board point of view. But, you know, in the Canadian market and North American market for Cobalt particularly, we’re seeing a lot of M&A activity right now. What I see particularly happening over the last year, is a change in the way that that Cobalt future is valued by investors. There is a lot of rumours out there about Cobalt not being used in EV batteries, which is driving all the interest, it’s engineered out. And we think we’ve seen that that’s not the case and it’s not going to be the case anytime soon. And then we’re seeing a global ticking global market and turning into a regional market. Here in Europe people are really busy trying to build regional Giga-factory. We’re seeing the same in North America. We’re seeing, of course, China dominates things now and everyone’s trying to get into this sort of, I think, what Benchmark Minerals calls the EV arms race. And so there is definite interest in seeing Cobalt projects that aren’t DRC based and groups jump to those challenges with the sourcing out of the DRC?
Matthew Gordon: Yeah, it’s a much told story. But like you say, making it happen is another matter. So you’re parking that for now. How much money if you spent on it in total?
Roger Lemaitre: In total in the last two years, just a little under $5M. We’ve drilled the about a 175 drill holes. So we’ve done a lot of work for a little bit of money.
Matthew Gordon: So you’d want to recoup at least that.
Roger Lemaitre: I think it’s fair for shareholders one way or the other. And the form may differ. Could be cash up front if bought out sale. Our company was founded on a dividend to shareholders through a spin out. The shareholders of the parent company received our shares in exchange and that we would look at that as well.
Matthew Gordon: So it’s very early stage. You’ve got to re keep your your capital. Are you viewing it as a distraction?
Roger Lemaitre: I think, for some shareholders. Yes. And for another is not. And I think that’s one of the key reasons why our company feels that eventually they have to be separated from each other somehow.
Matthew Gordon: Let’s leave that. Sit back and wait and see. You’re not sure on timing and you’ll let us know when you know.
Roger Lemaitre: The market will actually probably let you know more than us.
Matthew Gordon: We’ll see. So that’s about Uranium, because that’s why I’m here. WNA is happening this week, as we said. You’re meeting a bunch of people, shareholders, funds, trying to get everyone gee’d up and get a sense of what’s going on. So if 20% percent of your $60M market cap is Cobalt Nickel, there’s $48M, just under $50M, which is you think this company’s worth based on its Uranium play? There’s a lot going on with the Uranium assets. You’ve got a lot of assets. You’re a small company. How much cash you got?
Roger Lemaitre: We have just a little under CAD$5M right now.
Matthew Gordon: And again, back to the strategy. Back to what you’re thinking. You’re going spend $5M to do what. What’s the first thing on the list?
Roger Lemaitre: The first thing on the list is grow the Uranium resources in our inventory.
Matthew Gordon: That’s your strategy. Grow the resource.
Roger Lemaitre: That’s correct. And now we do have two projects or Shea Creek Project and Horseshoe-Raven Project, where we have Resources. We’ve have PEA level type studies on them that are ready to move forward in the next stage. We know that for example, Horseshoe-Raven Project, it’s going to take $48 Uranium to break even. So we could sit there and try to pretend to match this project forward. But the market’s not ready for it, and nor is the signal there that we’re going see that price imminently in the next few weeks.
Matthew Gordon: So it’s $48 bucks to break even.
Roger Lemaitre: Which is pretty comparable to what you see in the Athabasca project.
Matthew Gordon: People talking $50-$60…
Roger Lemaitre: That’s a Horseshoe-Raven. And then our Shea Creek project is on the West side. It’s the first of those West Side discoveries. Done back in the mid 2000s, when we were the market darlings of the Uranium world back then. And we’re partner is Orano and Orano has been going through their challenges and that that project’s been put on their shelf short-term while they reorganize their their operations.
Matthew Gordon: So how do you prioritise what you’re going to do? You’ve got a project. You’ve got to wait till price discovery happens and starts moving. Utilities start buying, doing contracts and it’s going to get to $48 bucks. That’s a break even level for you.
Roger Lemaitre: So you need a little higher to be incentivized.
Matthew Gordon: Yes. That’s what I’m saying. So I said we wouldn’t talk macro. Now I’m going to talk macro! So what’s your company’s view on the timing of this? Again, are you sitting back and dependent on what’s going on in the marketplace or what level of control you’ve got, but you move forward?
Roger Lemaitre: So on the Horseshoe-Raven project, we have complete control about how we work on that. It’s on 100% our project. And we can move that as we see as we see fit. We have been doing little things with that project over the last couple of years. Doing some heap leach studies to change the processing methodology. And that’s going along and continuing to move along. But at a pretty slow pace, because we’re not spending huge dollars was on it. We don’t feel it’s appropriate to dilute shareholders and spend tens of millions of dollars on a project at this point in time in the market. So yes, when we see momentum in that direction, we’ll start to move on that project. It’s a relatively simple project in the Uranium space in that part of the world because of its location, its grade, and the fact that we literally have infrastructure crossing over the deposits; power, road, et cetera. So it’s a relatively easier project to move forward than some of the other ones. We don’t have water issues. It’s conventional mining. So we think while there’s no such thing as fast tracking in the Uranium space, it’s one of the ones that can move quicker.
Matthew Gordon: And when you say maybe quicker…if you got to press the button. How much money would you need? How quick would you get into production? And how quick would you be able to get into the market?
Roger Lemaitre: Our PEA from from a few years ago shows it’s about $225M to get to the finish line.
Matthew Gordon: So it sounds like you’ve got to do some more studies and more economic studies above the PEA.
Roger Lemaitre: Correct.
Matthew Gordon: Totally understand that and optimise that. So what’s the timing?
Roger Lemaitre: You’re probably looking in the seven year window.
Matthew Gordon: Seven year window. So you know where you fit in the cycle, as it were. So as soon as the cycle moves, you know where you are, and how you win.
Roger Lemaitre: Yes
Matthew Gordon: That’s project number one.
Roger Lemaitre: And Shea Creek, that ones, unfortunately, in control of our majority shareholder Orano. And I think that will be part of what happens on the west side. But we’re not in control that and we will participate in the best we can. Encourage our partner to do more. And we don’t feel that the deposit has been fully defined. In fact, we’re pretty comfortable, it’s not even close to being fully defined. And we’re gonna be pushing them to make that bigger, in the meantime, to incentivise something to happen in that part of the world.
Matthew Gordon: What are they doing in the moment and what’s the financial relationship?
Roger Lemaitre: Well, we’re joint venture partners, right? And so they. But they’re also the operator. So they get to pick and choose when projects get done. And because they own the majority they have the ability to say yay or nay to projects.
Matthew Gordon: What are you obligated to do financially?
Roger Lemaitre: We don’t have to do anything we don’t want to. So we can dilute on any project we so desire. We have 8 joint venture projects with them. Shea Creek is by far the most important one. And we can decide whether to dilute on each individual one. At Shea Creek, we’d like them to propose some more programs. It’s been idle for a couple of years. So we haven’t had to make any decisions on that.
Matthew Gordon: So the trouble with partnering with big companies is they’ve got lots of options all around the world, and lots of different priorities to you.
Roger Lemaitre: Correct.
Matthew Gordon: So you can try and push this on, but they aren’t going to move to your drum beat. They’re going follow their own strategy. So this is a project which would you say you’re slightly out of control of? Or what are your options, when you say, ‘we’ve got options?’ What can you do?
Roger Lemaitre: I always like to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and say, what do they have for options, when you look around the world of what they have. This is actually one of their better projects. I kind of think, quite frankly, they just need to be reminded about the potential above and beyond what they already have. And I think that’s one of things we can do to help them out. And help them move the story.
Matthew Gordon: Why do you say it’s one of their better projects?
Roger Lemaitre: Because of 1. it’s location. 2. the fact that there’s going to be infrastructure built up in that part of the world from some of the other companies that have success in that area? When you look at what they have around the rest of the world, some of their stuff is in more difficult terrains and probably at higher cost, to be very honest, than what they could do here and there. Other good project in a similar jurisdiction, they just put on the back-burner.
Matthew Gordon: Jurisdiction. Get it? Infrastructure, get this. Some more isolated projects which they may have and the cost of getting that to a port, let alone out of the ground, is prohibitive. But what do you know about this in terms of grades.
Roger Lemaitre: At Shea Creek. We have almost a 100Mlbs deposit there, at a little over 1.3%, which is road average for the Athabasca Basin or a little bit above average. It’s located 22km South of their former Cluff Lake operating mine that they ran themselves. So they’re familiar with the neighbourhood. We have a road going right over it. It’s a classic unconformity deposit with basement roots. Similar to what was mined at Key Lake in the 1980s. So technically, this isn’t as much of a challenge. It’s a little deeper than some of the Athabasca projects. And that’s probably the biggest challenge.
Matthew Gordon: Good margins? What do you need to get?
Roger Lemaitre: Sorry?
Matthew Gordon: It was $48 bucks for the other project?
Roger Lemaitre: I would think it’s probably a little bit North of that, closer to the $50-$55 range.
Matthew Gordon: And then what’s the next project?
Roger Lemaitre: So the next project on our list is Christie Lake. And Christie Lake is immediately on strike North of McArthur River, 9km away. The structure that hosts every pound at McArthur River crosses onto our property. And there’s 3 known deposits there to date. We’re the only junior that has land package between the two worlds largest, highest-grade mines, Cigar and McArthur. And in 2017, we made a discovery there that grew the resource at Christy Lake. And it’s we picked this up on an option we vested or option now to say we own 60% of the property and our partner is JCU Canada and the Japanese private company. That’s actually one of the bigger players in the Canadian Uranium industry that nobody knows about. They own chunks of several deposits and our JV partners with all the big players, Cameco, Dennison and Orano as well as us.
Matthew Gordon: You’ve got a lot of moving parts there and some of it and control some of it you’re not. You can spend some money building out resource. You got partners who are not playing ball. How do you reassess or how do you assess your current strategy? And how often do you reassess that in terms of what’s going on in the market with price, whether JV partners want to do something or not. You’ve got this sponsorship with Orano, but you say you’ve got options there to dilute. Is that something you considered doing sooner rather than later?
Roger Lemaitre: Hard to build on resources when our goal is to grow the number of pounds we have in the portfolio.
Matthew Gordon: But there’s got to be other projects, which…
Roger Lemaitre: Yes, we are. And we have been on some of our grassroots project. So of our large number of products, we have the 14 or 15 grassroots projects we’re not working on we actually vended one out a couple of years ago. And my goal would be to see more of that portfolio working for us. But not necessarily using our resources so finding partnerships. One of the advantages that we have over everybody else in the basin is that we were there in 2001 before the last run up. And so we have a monstrous land package and there are companies have monstrous land packages. The difference is where our land packages are located in the primaries, in the Western Basin and in the eastern part of the basin around the infrastructure. And quite frankly, we’re sitting on projects that… there’s one project we have called Real Lake. We have three mineralised drill holes. And I’ve never followed it up because it’s not the priority in our portfolio. So the things that we have in the wings would be flagship projects for other juniors of similar or smaller size us. And when the market does turn, will engage them to take on some of these projects for us. My view is it’s better to have 50% of something than of nothing.
Matthew Gordon: It comes back to this strategy. What are you what are you thinking? How are you having to change and adapt to market conditions? Sitting on a large land package is like a liability quite frankly. It’s a cost, right? How do you monetise it?
Roger Lemaitre: So monetising it with. We did a deal with a company called ALX to have them work some of the property and work it for it. And so we are spending their money to decide whether we want to be involved in that product or not. We have a handful of those other projects that we want to do exactly the same thing with, that are not our core projects. On the core projects. We have two that we can we can’t move forward now because they’re ready to move forward. So the idea is to make those other ones move forward. Grow the pounds and then move the most appropriate projects forward when the market does change. We can’t control the macros, but we can’t control discovery. And what’s clear in the Uranium industry over the last 5-6yrs is that even in tough markets, a good discovery in the basin creates great value for shareholders. And so that’s our goal. Create the next discovery in advance of being able to move our project forward.
Matthew Gordon: So you’ve got some institutional shareholders in there?
Roger Lemaitre: We have a few Cameco are still our largest shareholder. They’re one of our founding shareholders when we first started the company. They contributed to a whole bunch of land packages, our Hidden Bay and Westbear, Horseshoe Uranium projects were their projects at one point in time, they contributed to them. And then we had a junior company called Pioneer Metals contribute to cash and the rest in the management team, that founded the company back in 2001-2002.
Matthew Gordon: So they got their own problems right now.
Roger Lemaitre: Cameco does. yeah.
Matthew Gordon: So are they picking up the phone and going, ‘what are you doing’, or are they just focused on themselves?
Roger Lemaitre: Well, I think if you asked anybody in the industry right now, Cameco is completely focused on themselves and rightfully so. They used to have and a right to participate in our financings when things got really tough for them. They had to make a choice between theirs or ours. And they, of course, chose theirs. It made the most sense for them to do so. They have a fantastic plan package because they’ve been around the longest and things that made a lot of sense for them. We do keep tabs with them. We do you talk to them regularly so they know what we’re up to? And they’re very happy with what we’re doing. So they tell us anyway.
Matthew Gordon: You’re still taking their calls. That’s good.
Roger Lemaitre: I think as much as they’re taking my calls as well.
Matthew Gordon: You’ve got $5M left. When does that run out?
Roger Lemaitre: We can refinance through to the end of next year without much trouble. What the level of activity in next year will be dependent upon what we decide to do. And I think that we’d like to be a little bit active at least. But we’re not going to go out there and try to do something crazy to dilute shareholders.
Matthew Gordon: So what you are saying to shareholders is ‘I need to be a bit fluid because the market bit flat at the moment and we need to keep our options open’. But at some point, you’re going need to go back to market, right?
Roger Lemaitre: Absolutely.
Matthew Gordon: You don’t have a whole bunch of shares.
Roger Lemaitre: 381M shares give or take few hundred thousand.
Matthew Gordon: You seen worse.
Roger Lemaitre: It’s not bad for a company’s been around since 2001.
Matthew Gordon: It does come back to what your plans are for next year. How much you’re going to raise. That’s a finger in the air time.
Roger Lemaitre: The key reason we don’t know about what we want to raise really comes down to what we do with Cobalt assets. And our goal was to get that out.
Matthew Gordon: You’re not expecting any money from that are you? The stage it is at?
Roger Lemaitre: Hard to say. It’s one of the only two only four in North America project with a resource to date. Sure. So it’s unique. It’s jurisdiction is unique. And yes, it’s still early stage. But I think what we’re trying to do with the Cobalt thing is also tell people, Cobalt deposits the Athabasca Basin are unknown. It’s a new style deposit no one’s ever seen before. And despite the fact that Cobalt Nickel is commonly associate with several deposits in the basin, what we’re finding are Nickel Cobalt deposits that aren’t associated with Uranium. And that’s not been looked for, despite the long history of exploration there, and despite the fact that several people have probably drilled a hole into one of these things and not realized it, because it didn’t sample it correctly. So what we have is a little bit of a knowledge and we’re willing to sell that along with whatever that process is, because we think we can turn the Athabasca, a global world class Uranium district, but it could be a significant Cobalt district as well.
Matthew Gordon: Potentially.
Roger Lemaitre: But it’s early stages. It’s very early days.
Matthew Gordon: It’s very early days. People have got to work out if they can mine it economically. So what the economics look like, what the metallurgy looks like. And indeed, if it’s worth doing. But again, you’re not in control in the sense that you’re own the asset. But in terms of any negotiations, if you’re going to just do it for cash, it’s not going to be a whole bunch of cash. If you sit and go along for the ride with them, it’s gonna be a while before they run into the money. So you can’t rely on that as a contributing factor for your Uranium?
Roger Lemaitre: It could be. I wouldn’t count on it. And I would agree with you there. To count on it would be silly.
Matthew Gordon: So with Uranium, you’re number one priority is Christie Lake, how much money would you need to raise and how much would you raise? Well, you’re going say that’s dependent on what what the price gets to because you’ve got to start somewhere.
Roger Lemaitre: We’re in the process of just doing a $2M program right now. And we look into 2020. I’d say we look to do somewhere between $2-$3M on our whole portfolio of assets. We will do an extremely small amount of somewhere around $400,000 on the Cobalt angle, because we believe that we have the next prospect right on our property. It’s easy player to get into with really short drill holes. And so we’ll put a little bit of money into that if we need to. And then the bulk will go into doing work at Christie Lake. We do have coming up this in probably in November. We’re going to do an extremely small drill program about 2,000 meters, right next door to the McClean Lake mine. We border up to the Riou Lake deposit and in fact the boundary the pit is within metres of the property boundary. We’ve looked down the trend and not found anything, we’re looking at a concept that our exploration team, including myself, were involved with discovering mineralization at the Eagle Point mine. Could be that extension at Eagle Point that they did back in the mid 2000s for a cross linking feature to actually right across the property boundary. And we’ve done some work to test up that theory and now we’re going to grow some holes in there. So it’s one of the few juniors companies that can look at true brownfield style exploration. And we’ll do a little bit of work on that. But what we’re trying to do is maximize every dollar we have.
Matthew Gordon: I get the idea that’s coming across loud and clear. I think you’re what you said is smart, intelligent in terms of the planning. I think you watch the cents and the dollars and you’ve got a low G&A, and we’ve looked at your numbers. It looks good. Your shareholders, though, so they’re waiting for great things. And they’re either they’re all in or they’re not. What would you say to them in terms of how this thing grows? I mean, price will bring some sort of bump and return here. How are you affecting share price? How can you affect share price? Can you?
Roger Lemaitre: Oh, absolutely. We’ve seen it with some of our peer companies, with the with no discovery. So the trick is, what land do you have? Is it really perspective? And are you looking for pure grassroots stuff or are you looking for stuff what we call mid-stage exploration projects? So at Christie Lake, for example, this year we’re following up old PNC, which was the previous operator back in the 1990s, where they hit mineralization and didn’t follow it up. What we’re not doing is saying, ‘here’s a chunk of moose pasture. Let’s go drill some holes and see if we’re lucky.’. What we’re doing is saying, ‘here’s a target that hasn’t been tested, up deep or down dip’, depending on whether we’re looking for classic unconformity. ‘Is this the right place to be looking up and down dip of’. Hey, on our Christie Lake project, we had that discovery at Aura on the North end of the three deposits and then suddenly that spot the trend dies. How did it die? This is kind of unusual because our experience, our team has extensive experience in the Athabasca. We haven’t seen this before. And we did some work and went ‘Oh’. We did resistivity survey. Looks like it’s offset the trend by 125m-150m. Let’s test that offset to see it continues like we think it might. So we’re not just hoping to find something on moose-pasture. We’re following up hot leads that would be flagship type projects for most of our peer companies. And I think that’s what separates our portfolio of opportunities. When we sit on opportunities like that on 4-5 other products, we’re not even be able to work because we don’t have the resources. We’re not starting from ground zero, we’re starting from a base of something that we know. And our team’s expertise isn’t so much about, ‘I can drill holes’, as how do we play these Uranium exploration mid-stage products to a T.
Matthew Gordon: So give me an example of that, because to me, I’ve seen so many companies do some drilling, get a report on a study done and expect that to radically change people’s perception of the company. Quite frankly, the market doesn’t care.
Roger Lemaitre: No, and I would agree.
Matthew Gordon: So I hear what you’re saying. And that’s, again, smart use of time and money and using data to make decisions. I think a lot of companies would claim that. What do you what do you what do you want to tell shareholders about what you’re doing, about making sure that, 1, you’re gonna be around long enough to see all this out and 2. how you’re going to see a significant bump? What’s the thing which gives them a significant bump. Why the market will react?
Roger Lemaitre: The only thing we can control is how we execute our portfolio to make any discovery. That’s clearly what we can do outside the market dynamics. And I love to say we’re going to move Horseshoe-Raven forward today, but this is not realistic. So all we can do is make discoveries on the portfolio. But looking at that lowest hanging opportunities we have on our tree. And what we do differently than everybody else is that we’re not bound by the models. So if you were in a Uranium explorationist, there’s the classic unconformity model. And what a lot of people do is follow the model to a T, and no matter what they see, they’re going to follow the model. What our team does differently is we say, no, ‘what does the rocks tell us we need to do? Where do we need to go?’ So, for example, that target we’re talking about to set the McClean Lake is something that nobody else would do. But we’ll do it because we’ve been involved in a discovery that actually did one of those. When we looked at our Christie Lake project, we had a plan about what we wanted to do starting it. And we started doing the work on our project at Paul Bay, and growing that we realized something that the previous operator didn’t understand. And so, for example, a classic unconformity deposit, where the fault structure in graphite comes to unconformity surface, and that forms a trap. And that’s where’s the Cigar Lake and Key Lake deposits are found. And it was almost a religion in the 1980s, 90s and even 2000s and even some companies today. What we realized is that we need to follow the structure, which sometimes is in the graphite and is something does not. And not only do we have the follow structure, we have to be at the bottom of the structure, and not projected somewhere differently than what was drilled in the past. And we went out and drilled where we thought was the right place. We made the Aura discovery. We’re applying that thinking across the rest of the property. So we let the rocks tell us where to go. We don’t let model tell us where to go.
Matthew Gordon: You’re agile thinkers technically. So you adapt according to what the rocks tell you. I get that. What are you doing in the market? You’re here at WNA. You’re meeting a few funds, a few investors. What are you doing other than that? Are you be bothered? What do you think it’s like? We’ll sit. Now’s not the right time. We’ll see where we are in the New Year and we’ll talk to the market then.
Roger Lemaitre: Always bothered me. If you’re not bothered, then you shouldn’t be in the public company. It should bother you. And it bothers me. It bothers me every day. But I think when it comes to what we do. We’ve varied. our strategy over the last few years, depending upon whether we thought the traction was right or not. We believe now with interest being a little bit different than it’s been in the last couple of years. Now it’s time to push and hear our story and show people what is different than what our peer company are doing. We’re not a project play per say. We’re a portfolio place. If you want a portfolio play on a bunch of Uranium opportunities, then we’re one of your best players. If you want to invest in a project specific thing, And want to see where Project A gets to in the next development cycle. Then that’s where you should be. What our difference is, is we’re a portfolio of opportunities that includes potential for projects because we have them in the wings.
Matthew Gordon: Gives you optionality, Ok I like that. I’m going to finish up with something which I talk to CEOs about, remuneration. How do you guys reward yourself in this market when no one’s making money, because you’re not producing. Shares are flat. You’ve got shareholder money. You’s got to prove you’re creating value, and it’s difficult in this marketplace. How does your board decide how to pay yourselves or remunerate yourselves?
Roger Lemaitre: Well, you’ll notice in our group there’s been very little changes in terms of the salaries for the executive team and the board over the last several years. And that’s market related. Our board doesn’t believe that in tough times that they should be giving out our company’s money. And personally, I would have been recommending that we don’t over last few years. We do stock options. And that’s the primary way we’re rewarding people today.
Matthew Gordon: What’s the average stock option at?
Roger Lemaitre: Probably for the board members you’re looking at about 300,000 – 500,000 in a given year.
Matthew Gordon: At what price?
Roger Lemaitre: At whatever the market prices is at that time. At that point in time. And the same thing for executives. The CEO’s getting a little bit more than that, but not much. We’re not giving away much. We have a 10% threshold allowed in North America, in Toronto. We’re trying to keep well below that. In the 8% or so range.
Matthew Gordon: It’s all public information. People should have a look. I think it’s very telling statistic.
Roger Lemaitre: We don’t see a lot of salary raises. And in this particular year, I wouldn’t be counting on salary raises for anybody as well, because it’s tough times.
Matthew Gordon: It’s tough times for everyone who has given their money to you. How much money have you put into the company or how much money has been put into the company? Well, I’ve been going back a while….unfair question.
Roger Lemaitre: My shares are definitely under water. So I hurt like everybody else at this point in time. I’m just a little 180,000 shares right now. But I’ve had to fund that out of salary since I started. And I haven’t been given any shares, which is appropriate.
Matthew Gordon: Thanks very much. That’s a wonderful first run through. We’ve not spoken to you or anyone in your company before, so our subscribers will get a good sense of what you’re about.
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