“The discovery of a deposit is one thing, but it’s very different when you’ve discovered a whole new gold trend.”
So says Professor Richard Conroy, the founder and chairman of Conroy Gold and Natural Resources PLC (LON:CGNR), and he should know because it looks very much as if Conroy will be instrumental in developing Ireland as a major new gold province.
Seasoned investors will know the Professor has been at work in Ireland for many years now, painstakingly building up the knowledge base on the Longford Down massif, an area which straddles the border between north and south and which now boasts four major targets along forty mile trend.
But although these are the most advanced targets, they aren’t the only ones.
“There are a series of other targets we’ve identified from gold-in-soil anomalies,” he says, “and we own 100% of the licences over 700 square kilometres.”
It’s a big proposition, as it has been for a while. But the difference now is that it’s now beginning to move towards realisation.
One sign of this has been the levels of interest Conroy Gold received at the last PDAC, where the company took out a booth and was inundated with delegate inquiries all through the conference.
But more than that is the tangible progress on the ground.
A back-of-the-envelope extrapolation from the existing half million ounce resource at the Clontibret project in County Monaghan produces a JORC exploration target of 8.8mln ounces in the north-eastern area of the company’s landholding alone.
Plenty of work to be done yet you might say, but there’s already a PEA in existence for the Clontibret project, which highlights the attractive economic potential of development and opens up several choices for Conroy.
One would be to go it alone on Clontibret and to use the cash flow from a mine there to fund further development work on the other major targets at Clay Lake, Slieve Glah and Glenish.
But perhaps a more likely route, now that the Canadians and others are so interested, would be some sort of a joint venture or trade sale.
“Those PDAC meetings are now being followed up by people doing site visits,” says the Professor. “And that means they’re seriously interested.”
What’s more, in exploratory conversations with some of these potential partners the Professors says he’s been “pleasantly surprised” with the terms that have been offered.
To put it crudely, Conroy isn’t likely to be diluted down to nothing when the big money starts coming in.
And that’s partly because of the substantial land position the company has. While it would probably be possible to boost the resource at Clontibret up to a million ounces fairly quickly and get a mine going, what potential partners are really interested in is the whole district.
And it’s on that basis that any deal will likely be done, meaning that on a long-term view Conroy is likely to be looking at upside from not just one or two gold mines, but several.
“It’s not just a one-off mine,” says the Professor. “This will be the first of many in the area. And there are very few parts of the world where a company has a whole trend to itself.”
Add to that the attractive nature of the jurisdiction. Ireland became a well-regarded destination for mining after it was opened up to zinc production in the second half of the last century, not least by the Professor himself who was instrumental in the development of the famous Galmoy mine.
The Fraser Institute ranks the country as one of the best in Europe for mining, and the Professor himself is clearly very comfortable there, having served on the Irish Senate at one stage in his career.
He knows, too, how the trajectory of mining development goes, having worked up Galmoy all those years ago.
“We saw the Galmoy share price go down to virtually nothing,” he reminisces.
“It was only when the major companies started getting interested that we started to get traction. And interestingly, the first in were the Canadians.”
That’s a pattern that may well get repeated with Conroy Gold and Natural Resources. The Professor has always got a group of friendly investors at the end of a phone, so it’s unlikely he’ll ever be pressured into doing a deal he doesn’t want.
But if a sniff of the right deal comes along, just watch as interest in the shares skyrockets.