It’s a long way from St. John’s to Kenya — and maybe even longer to go from a Newfoundland marketing company to drilling for gold in Africa.
Not that Jim Megann of St. John’s is wielding the shovel himself, but the former senior vice-president of M5 Marketing Communications didn’t have as much chance to get what he calls “gold fever” at a marketing firm.
Megann left St. John’s to open M5’s Halifax office several years ago, and says he loved working for the company, but found himself looking for a change.
“I said, I’m 47 years old — am I going to spend my career with just one company or will I try something else?”
Through M5, Megann had done some work with Wade Dawe of Kelligrews, CEO of Brigus Gold and chairman of Linear Metals, who would occasionally float the idea of bringing Megann in to work in the mining industry.
“You hear that kind of stuff, but you never really know if he’s actually going to follow up,” he said.
“One day he called, and what he said was, ‘Look, with Linear Metals, here’s the situation: we’ve got this unbelievable property. We got a really great deal on the licences that we acquired. We got a great team, fabulous geologists. We’re getting really great preliminary results. The problem is, no one knows about us.’”
An offer was made and Megann — calling it the right time in his career and the right time in his life — took his communications experience to Linear Metals.
“Mining for gold is exciting. People get gold fever because you wait on every little result, and you get the results and you get excited and people get excited around you. I’m really glad to have made the move. It was just good timing.”
Where he had felt a level of remove from clients at M5, Megann says his work talking to investors in Linear feels more direct.
“Your hands are right in the middle of it,” he said.
His role is primarily focused on investors, but he’s looking forward to heading to Kenya soon to see the project first-hand.
The project is in the Kamwango area of southwestern Kenya. It came about several years ago when Linear was looking for another enterprise after the price of molybdenum (a type of metal used in alloy steel) plummeted from $40 to $8 per pound — the company has a molybdenum-copper project in Ontario. Then they got word of the exploration in Kenya.
“Our geologist knew a geologist who knew a geologist who had actually been in Kenya in 2003, 2004 when they drilled those first holes,” Megann said.
The results had been promising, but the man who staked the original claim had died, and the family wasn’t interested in pursuing the mining themselves, he explained.
“So we were able to contact the family and do a joint-venture deal to take over that project, and that was about 550 square kilometres at the time, and we’ve expanded it to 2,000.”
“The key thing that we’ve been able to learn here is that with just a few holes we were able to intercept what appears to be an ore body. Now, it’s very early stage at this point, but there was some drilling done in 2003, 2004, which had a really nice high-grade intercept, and we’ve been able to intercept that same body over 140 metres now.”
The company’s looking to expand the discovery and find additional gold resources, and the initial results are promising, he said.
“Normally, in exploration you’re not necessarily going to always hit mineralization with each hole, but obviously these first three holes were able to intersect that mineralization,” he said.
“So right now it’s a matter of doing more due diligence in terms of the soil sampling that we’re going to do, and additional drilling that we’re going to do, so that we can better define exactly what is the resource under the ground there.”
The next step, said Megann, is what’s called “IP testing” — an electrical pulse is sent underground to measure the amount of return so the company can determine what kinds of materials are present.
“We’ve decided to do that because, since we know we’ve got something there, we want to get a better sense of that, so that’s going to take between six weeks to a couple of months. Once that’s completed, we will then come back with a very detailed, expanded drill program, and a target and an objective to define what we’ve actually found.”