Vista Gold Corp: Australia’s Next World-Class Gold Producer (CEO Fred Earnest Interview)

Vista Gold Corporation (VGZ: NYSE American & TSX) is an undervalued, advanced-stage gold developer that is positioned to be Australia’s next world-class producer.  Vista’s principle asset is the Mt Todd project located in the Northern Territory in Australia.  Mt Todd is a world-class deposit in a Tier-1 jurisdiction and is Australia’s largest undeveloped gold project.  The 2018 Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) for Mt Todd demonstrated 5.85Moz Au reserves and 479K Au production in years 1-5 with a 13 year mine life.  After-tax IRR is 20.5% at $1,300/ou Au and a US$.80/AUD exchange rate.  NPV (5%) is US$679M.  All-in-sustaining costs are only US$678/ounce which puts Mt Todd in the lowest quartile of production costs in Australia.

In this interview, Vista Gold’s CEO Fred Earnest gives a comprehensive overview of Vista Gold and why it is a deeply undervalued investment opportunity for the mining investor.  Fred points out that Vista’s liquidation value is “$94 million compared to our current market cap of $68 million.”  Vista Gold is currently trading at about .1NAV while on average peers are trading at .5NAV.  And Vista only trades at $7EV/M&I AU oz while the peer average is dramatically higher at $79/oz.  The implied upside for Vista Gold is significant and Fred points out in the interview that the mining investment community does not yet fully recognize the impressive economics revealed in Mt Todd’s 2018 PFS coupled with the already de-risked nature of Mt Todd.

0:09 Overview of Vista Gold Corporation

2:23 Vista’s management team’s history of value creation for shareholders

6:35 Share structure and ownership

7:38 Vista’s current financial balance sheet and burn rate

8:20 Current liquidation value of Vista Gold versus its market capitalization

9:24 History of Mt Todd project

13:20 2013 PFS results for Mt Todd

15:23 Why the 2018 PFS Mt Todd results are so impressive

20:14 Mt Todd’s immense size and scale as an open pit gold mine

21:23 2018 PFS results largely due to addition of proven sorting & grinding technology

29:20 Why Vista is currently a deep value investment opportunity today

31:10 Mt Todd’s path forward towards production

36:01 Concluding remarks


Bill: Hello, this is Bill Powers with I want to thank you for tuning in to this expert interview. I’m in Littleton, Colorado, at the headquarters of Vista Gold Corporation. Vista Gold Corporation trades on the TSX and the NYSE American under the ticker symbol VGZ. I’m presenting it to you today because I believe it’s a deep value proposition for the retail mining investor. But I’m not the only one that thinks that. Adrian Day, the veteran resource investor and fund manager, as recently as the end of 2017 has given Vista Gold Corporation a strong buy recommendation. I’m joined today by Fred Earnest, the CEO of Vista Gold. Fred, thank you for joining me today.

Fred: Bill, good morning. I’m delighted to have this opportunity.

Bill: Thank you. And could you begin by giving us a thumbnail overview of Vista Gold and its goals and its assets?

Fred: It’s interesting that you mentioned Adrian. Adrian Day has been a longtime shareholder and supporter of Vista Gold. In fact, in the last nine months or so, we’re aware that Adrian has almost doubled his holding in Vista Gold. I think part of the reason for that is that Adrian, as a result of the research and analysis that he’s done, has come to realize that, as we do, our Mt Todd gold project, our flagship asset is not the same project that everybody remembers from five years ago. There’s been significant advancements made. And we’re gonna talk about those in the course of the interview today. I think that people should understand and recognize that Vista Gold is a junior developer that we’re focused on creating value for shareholders.

I think that we’re considerably undervalued right now. And I hope that by the end of our conversation this morning that people understand why. In addition to the Mt Todd project, we have a couple of other assets. We have a royalty interest in Indonesia, a project that we’ve got under option in Mexico. And we own some shares in a company that we helped create in 2011. And last of all, we own a mill that we purchased for a separate project in Mexico in 2008, and it’s now for sale. I think that this is a really interesting story, and I hope that as we go through our conversation this morning that people understand the immense amount of work that we’ve done and the value that that represents for them as potential investors.

Bill: In order to help listeners and viewers understand the company a little more, could you share more about your management and directors’ successes you’ve had in the past in both the mining and the markets and the value that you’ve been able to create for investors?

Fred: Yeah, absolutely. Let me start with the board and just the current management team as collectively as a unit. In 2006, we announced a transaction which was completed in 2007, whereby we created a new gold company. We took all of our Nevada assets and spun them out to create a company called Allied Nevada Gold Corp and dividended shares out to our shareholders, with each shareholder receiving 0.8 shares in the new company for every share of Vista. Allied went from $4 at original issue to over $40.

In 2011, we took an asset in Idaho, in the Stibnite district, and helped create Midas Gold Corp, which we have subsequently sold part of our interest there to fund our activities rather than dilute our shareholders. When we start looking at the board itself as individuals, Mike Richings as the chairman of the board, Mike has been…he’s a mining engineer. He’s been involved in numerous different projects throughout his career. I started working for him many, many years ago. But he was part of the team at LAC Minerals that sold that company to Barrick and rewarded their shareholders nicely.

Tom Ogryzlo is the past chief executive of Kilborn Engineering. Tom brings a lot of practical construction project management experience to the company. He’s been involved in the startup of several companies and currently serves as the acting CEO of a company that used to be called Baja Mining. Tracy Stevenson is the chairman of our audit committee. Tracy was head of global technology for Rio Tinto, prior to his retirement. So, he brings a wealth of experience with regards to global mining operations and brings a perspective of, you know, big companies. John Clark is a very well-known Toronto based resource company manager. And last of all, we have Randy Eppler, who, in past career, was senior vice president for Newmont, was involved in several of their transactions and helping them build the company that we all know Newmont as today.

With regards to our local management team, starting with Brent Murdoch, our general manager in Australia. Brent is a Northern Territorian. He’s been involved in several different operations. We hired him away from a very large iron ore construction job where he was part of the construction management team on a job that was in excess of $3 billion. It was a job for Fortescue, one of the iron ore companies. Jack Engele, our CFO, is a mining finance guy, mining CFO. He’s spent his whole career working in the mining industry.

John Rozelle, our senior vice president, handles all of our technical matters. John’s a geologist. Prior to joining Vista, he worked as a consultant. He’s been involved over his career with the evaluation and assessment of over 100 gold projects worldwide. John has considerable experience in managing technical studies and also with regards to metallurgical work as well.

I’m a mining engineer. My career has been spent building mines and taking projects that were struggling in their operation and getting them up to design capacity. I spent 11 years working in Latin America. I’ve worked in North America, and I’m really looking forward to and enjoying the opportunities that we have here at Vista Gold.

Bill: And how many years have you been the CEO of Vista?

Fred: I was named the CEO of Vista in 2012. Prior to that, I was president and the chief operating officer of the company.

Bill: So let’s move on to share structure. What does the share structure of Vista Gold look like and who owns the shares?

Fred: We have a really tight share structure for a company that’s as old as Vista. We have just under 100 million shares issued and outstanding. Our largest shareholder is Sun Valley Gold. They’re a long only gold only fund. They own 18.7% of our shares, and they’ve been a shareholder since 2010. Our next largest shareholder is Global Strategic Management. This is a fund that’s managed by Adrian Day. And they now own 8.2% of our shares. Our next largest shareholder is EuroPac Gold Fund. They own 4.3% of our issued and outstanding shares.

Bill: Does Adrian manage that fund as well, I believe, for Peter Schiff?

Fred: I believe he’s an advisor to the fund. And then Loews Corp owns 3.2%. And finally, the board and management combined own 3% of the issued and outstanding shares.

Bill: And what does the balance sheet of the company look like, and what’s your burn rate and any income you might have right now?

Fred: Yeah. So we have $13.3 million in cash in the bank as of the end of the first quarter. Our working capital, cash, plus the value of shares that we own in Midas, it takes to about $20 million. Our burn rate is about $7 million a year, and that’s split just about evenly between our corporate overhead cost, all of our compliance cost, and then the cost of maintaining Mt Todd, our site management obligations.

Bill: This question, as you know, is a Rick Rule question, but what is the current liquidation value of Vista Gold compared to its current market capitalization?

Fred: That’s an interesting question. We were talking before we started recording this about how…and sometimes that can be a subjective number. We look at our liquidation value being comprised of the value of the resource in the ground at Mt Todd, the value of the mill that we own that we’re trying to sell, the value of the royalty that we have on the project in Indonesia, as well as the value of our Midas shares, and then add in the cash to that. With those components, we estimate that our liquidation value is about $94 million compared to our current market cap of $68 million. That really says to the investor that there’s some fundamental value here in the company that’s not being recognized, rewarded by the market in any way at the present time.

Bill: And your principle project, of course, is the Mt Todd project. Can you give a history to listeners that aren’t familiar with it? What is the history of that project both before Vista bought it and since Vista bought it?

Fred: The Mt Todd project, as you’ve alluded to, is a project that’s been around for quite some time. It was discovered in the late 1980’s by a joint venture of two companies called Zapopan and Billiton, a name that we all recognize. They advanced the exploration, started this project as a heap leach project. A company called Pegasus Gold got involved and made the decision to convert it from a heap leach operation to a milling operation. Unfortunately, Pegasus began construction at a point in time in the late 1990’s when the gold price was starting to fall. And during the time that they were building the plant, the gold price fell from just under $400/ounce to somewhere in the range of $320/ounce.

What we know today, Pegasus didn’t completely understand the ore body, both metallurgically or geologically, and the plant that they designed was perhaps inadequate, would be the best way to put it. It didn’t perform as they had hoped. The ore was harder than what they designed for, and so they didn’t achieve the throughput that they were looking for. They had high maintenance costs. There are some minerals in the ore body that they hadn’t accounted for, and they started having some impacts on recoveries and reagent consumption. And ultimately, the project didn’t meet its completion guarantees at the conclusion of the construction phase. And the banks got anxious and called the loan. And the low gold price, the problems that Pegasus was having across all of its operations due to the low gold price pushed Pegasus into bankruptcy. From there, the project was picked up and operated for a year by a company called General Gold, in partnership with an Australian construction company called Multiplex. And their objective was to use up the tax losses. And at the end of that year in 2000, they walked away from the project and it was abandoned.

We were able to come along and pick up the project in 2006. One of the key aspects to our acquisition was getting the government to agree to retain the environmental liability for the site. The site wasn’t reclaimed. A better term would be it was abandoned. And there is a significant environmental liability associated with the site in its present configuration. We believe that the best way to deal with that is to build a new mine and to adopt current reclamation standards. And we were able to persuade the Northern Territory government to accept that idea. And so they retained the environmental liability for the site, which allowed us to get involved in the project without having that hanging over our head. We also executed agreements with the Jawoyn, Aboriginal people. They owned the surface land in the project area. And then, obviously, we executed an agreement with the receiver to get control of the asset. And then we began to systematically and methodically review and evaluate the project and build it into the project that it is today.

Bill: So you purchased the project in 2006. How much money has Vista sunk into the project since then?

Fred: We’ve spent $100 million, just over that today. About 30% of that has been dedicated towards site management and water management and environmental stewardship expenses. And 70% has been spent on things like drilling, technical studies, metallurgical testing, environmental permitting, all the things needed to advance the project and really create the value that we’re hoping to realize today.

Bill: A lot of that money was spent on the 2013 pre-feasibility study. Can you give us a thumbnail overview of what the study at that time concluded concerning the project?

Fred: Yeah. You’ll recall that the gold price was considerably different. When we started that work in 2011, 2012, the gold price was going up. We were seeing gold prices plus $1,600 an ounce. And it wasn’t until April of 2013 that we saw the huge drop in the gold price. It went from $1,600 to $1,450 in a matter of a couple of days. And at that point in time, we made a critical decision for the project. Prior to that, we’d been working to complete a feasibility study, but we felt that with that drop in the gold price that we needed to get news out to the market. They had to understand that even at a $1,450 gold price that Mt Todd had considerable value. And so we made the decision to curtail the engineering in the process plant and to announce the results as a preliminary feasibility study.

What this really means is that all of the engineering except for the design of the piping, electrical and instrumentation systems in the process plant have been completed to feasibility study standards. And we’ve maintained that engineering standard with all the additional work that we’ve done. Now, at that point in time, we had a gold price of $1,450, a foreign exchange rate of one to one. We’re at parity with the Australian dollar. So the economics of the project at that point in time, with those economic conditions where we had an after-tax IRR of 15.9%, an NPV of $591 million, and we had all in sustaining costs of $895/ounce, which was just not quite enough to incentivize us to move forward with the project. And then as history has demonstrated, eight weeks later, the price of gold fell to $1,300 and that changed the economics of the project.

Bill: Since January 2016, investors in the gold community have gotten more excited about both the price of gold and companies that have proven gold in the ground, Vista being one of them. And recently, you completed, in January of 2018, an updated pre-feasibility study. So could you give us the overview of that study and how it contrasts with the study that was completed five years previous?

Fred: Yeah. We’re really excited about the results of the updated study. It reflects the results of test work and changes in the design that we’ve been working on for the last 24 months. In 2016, we started looking at this saying that we’ve got an improving gold price environment, but it’s not likely to get to $1,600 any time soon. We also have seen changes in the foreign exchange rate. Today we have an exchange rate that’s closer to 75 cents. We’re able to take advantage of some of those things. But most importantly, we started looking at ways that we could change the fundamental parameters of the project, specifically looking at the process plant area. And we’ve done a lot of test work with automated sorting. We’ve redesigned the grinding circuit to now incorporate two-stage grinding. And the result is that our recovery has gone up substantially from 81.7% now to 86.4%. All of these things have resulted in the fact that we have a better project today at a $1,300 gold price than we had in 2013 at a $1,450 gold price. For example, the IRR of the project today is estimated to be 20.5%.

Bill: And that’s at $1,300 gold.

Fred: That’s the after-tax value at a $1,300 gold price, so $150 an ounce lower gold price but with a substantially better IRR. The NPV of the project today is $679 million. Our all in sustaining cost is $678 an ounce. So you can appreciate that it’s come down almost $200 an ounce at the same time that the price of gold has come down. So we’ve made significant advancements in the project during this period of time that we’ve been quiet.

Bill: So as Mt Todd comes into production, where would that place it relative to other Australian gold producers in terms of cost and size?

Fred: That’s a great question, Bill. Mt Todd is positioned to be the fourth largest gold producer in Australia, with the lowest quartile cost. And some people look at us and say, “How is that possible? How is it possible that Vista Gold can have a project that has that low a cost?” And I think there’s a couple of factors that are really important. One is that being a new project and being a very large project, we’re able to take advantage of economies of scale. We’re able to incorporate best technology, most recent equipment. We generate our own power, or we will generate our own power. We’ve included in the capital for the project a power plant. We have a natural gas pipeline to the project. Power in the territory is very expensive. It’s roughly 31 cents a kilowatt hour.

But by building a power plant at site and using natural gas to generate power, we estimate that we’ll be able to generate power for about eight cents a kilowatt hour. So that helps us out to have a better project as well. One of the other areas that we benefit tremendously is that this is not a remote site. This project is three hours from Darwin, 30 minutes from the town of Katherine. And as a result of that, we’ve designed what we call a community-based project, a project that we will encourage people to live in Katherine, and this will not be a fly-in, fly-out project.

Now, recently, we’ve completed an analysis just looking at what would be the impact on mining costs alone if we were a fly-in, fly-out operation, which is more traditional for Australia. And the impact that it makes is that having to pay airfare, own and operate a camp to provide housing and accommodations for people, and then to have a duplication of workforce in every position adds 15% to the cost. So by being a community-based project and having these other things to our advantage, we think that the costs that have been estimated, which have been built from first principles up, are very representative of the costs that we can achieve and place in a position to be one of the lowest-cost producers in Australia.

Bill: To help the listener really grasp the size and scale of this project, could you talk about the reserve base and also the projected production of this project?

Fred: The reserve is 220 million tons. We had an average grade of 0.85 grams per ton (5.85 million ounces of gold reserves). To kind of put that in perspective, the size of the pit that will be developed over the life of the project, as we understand the resource today, it’ll be 1.6 kilometers long. Or in other words a mile in length, about 1,000 meters in width or just under 3/4 of a mile in width, and it’ll be 600 meters deep. So this will be a very large mine. It’s designed to operate at 50,000 tons per day. That’s a very respectable size. And with that, we estimate that we’ll be able to produce, over the first five years of the project, average production of 479,000 ounces per year, with the first year of production being almost 600,000 ounces. This is a very large mine.

Bill: Yes, absolutely. So for the investor that would be skeptical, that they would say, “Okay. Well, I see the technical aspects of the study, but a lot of the cost, projected costs, are based on this new assorting and grinding technology.” And then the follow-up question will be, “has this been tested? Where has it been tested? How can we be confident that what you propose in the pre-feasibility study will actually be able to be implemented?”

Fred: Those are very valid questions. First of all, starting with the automated sorting, we’ve done more testing on automated sorting than perhaps any other part of the process plant, because it is new to us. We started out with testing on literally a couple hundred rocks, and then it went to a couple hundred kilos. And last July, we shipped 20 tons of material from Australia to Germany, had it crushed at the HPGR test facility. That’s the technology. High pressure grinding roll crushers is what we plan to use as the third stage of crushing. Ten years ago, that was new technology. People like Newmont have installed it at Boddington, Newcrest is using it at Cadia. And it’s being used at many, many other operations throughout the world. And so we’re very confident with the HPGR crushing. But we had it crushed there because we wanted to generate a product that would be very representative of what would go to the sorting plant.

We then screened that material at 5/8 of an inch and we sent the plus 5/8 inch material to TOMRA Sorting Solutions. TOMRA is one of the two world leaders in sorting technology. They’re the company that we’ve selected and are working with. And we ran the sorting tests at their facility. And as a result of that test work, we became completely convinced that this is technology that is very applicable to the Mt Todd ore body. And the reason that it works is because of the characteristics of the ore body. Our gold at Mt Todd, first of all, the host rock for the Mt Todd project is a package of sedimentary rocks, siltstone, shales, greywackes, very fine-grained sediments. They were cross-cut intruded in two different mineralizing events that were millions of years apart. The first one brought in sulfides in a calcite vein structure.

The second mineralizing event brought in quartz veining. And the gold is associated with the sulfides. It’s also associated with the quartz. And the sulfides are radically different from the sedimentary rocks in that they’re more dense. And obviously, the color differences that exist between the quartz and the sedimentary rocks, one is white and one is black. And so, the automated sorting works on the following principles. We first sort with technology called XRT, or X-ray transmission. Literally, we X-ray the rocks on a moving belt and the computer sees where there’s sulfide crystals, they’re more dense. Kind of like an X-ray of your hand, where we see the soft tissue as light gray, the bone is white. The computer sees the rocks in the same way. They see the sedimentary rocks as gray, the sulfide crystals as white or white clusters. And it’s able to identify where there’s sulfide minerals. And so those get sorted out.

Second of all, we take the rejects and we use a laser sorting step, which when you shine a laser on a black rock, it soaks up the light bone. It hits a white rock or a quartz, it lights up. And so, the sensors are able to detect that. And so by going through this two-step process, we’re able to sort out the minerals that have gold with them. We can’t physically see the gold in the sorting process so we’re sorting other minerals.
And ultimately, our testing program, the big program that we did last July indicated that the grade of the material that’s rejected varies between 0.7 and 0.22 grams per ton. Our cutoff grade is 0.4. And so you’ll appreciate that the material that we’re getting rid of is a material that’s below cutoff grade, or in other words would cost us more money to process in the plant than what we would recover. And that’s tremendous. That allows us to save money throughout the grinding, leaching, and tailings handling circuits.

Second of all, is the two-stage grinding. And the way this works is that by getting rid of…we’re able to get rid of 10% of the run of mine feed before it gets to the grinding circuit. That’s the efficiency of this sorting circuit. And so that reduces our grinding, leaching and tailings cost by 10%. But by getting rid of that material, we free up capacity in the third stage HPGR crushing step. So we’re able to crush finer. We’re crushing now to an eighth of an inch instead of a quarter of an inch. And that material then will go to a wet screen. The product will go to a sump and then be classified by size. Because we’re producing a finer product and there’s less of it, we were able to get rid of the three very large ball mills that we had in the design previously. They were 18 megawatt ball mills, nearly largest in class, and we’ve replaced them with two 12 megawatt ball mills. And so, right away you start to picture that the amount of work that we have to do in the grinding circuit is now less because of the work that we’re able to accomplish prior to that. And previously, all the material went to the ball mills.

Today, with the classification, only the coarse fraction will go to the ball mills. The fine fraction will go to the regrind circuit or the secondary grinding circuit, which is new. And we’ve selected IsaMill. They’re a horizontal regrind mill. This technology was first introduced in 1993. And out of the first 17 units produced, 14 of them went into Mount Isa Mines. I think that’s why it’s called the IsaMill. Today, the size of this equipment has increased in 2003, that the first large-scale IsaMills were produced. They were put into work and put into service in South Africa. Today there’s over 20 of these large units functioning in South Africa in the platinum industry, and as well as other installations in North America and Australia in gold and other mineral. We think that that technology is very well proven and well established, and that’s something that is really just an off-the-shelf item.

With regards to the automated sorting, this technology is being used more and more. It’s used in the gold industry in Alaska, in Sweden, in Namibia. It’s being used just recently in the United States and it’s also being implemented in Australia. And so we’re not the first company to do this. We’ve looked at this. The use of the XRT technology, probably the best comparison is actually a Tungsten operation in Austria that’s sorting the same size rock and just about the same volume per unit or per machine that we plan to sort. And here again, they’re sorting a sulfide mineral in order to improve their recovery. So this is technology that we think that more and more mining companies will begin to embrace. We’re aware from the manufacturers that many more people are looking at it, and we’re very excited about what it means for Mt Todd.

Bill: With your technical background, the confidence, I can just sense that as you talk about it in terms of what the PFS has laid forth. And I think this is one of the opportunities that is presented to investors today that many people, it seems, are viewing Mt Todd simply as a call option on the price of gold and almost through the lens of the PFS from five years ago without recognizing the investment opportunity that is here today. So can you speak to valuation? Mt Todd relative to peers, what do you see as the investment opportunity, the value proposition, so to speak, for investors today?

Fred: That’s the one thing that we’re working really hard to change. And I think that that’s the opportunity for investors who understand what we have at Mt Todd and what Vista represents today. When we look at a couple of different metrics, one that I like is price per NAV. Today, at our current market cap and share price, we’re trading slightly under 0.1 times NAV of the project. That’s a very significant discount. Now, projects in the development stage such as Mt Todd would be expected to trade at some discount to NAV. That’s very logical and we all understand why. When we look at our peers, those with projects that are equally well advanced are trading somewhere in the range of 0.4 to 0.6 times NAV. So, as we succeed in getting word out and helping people understand the significant changes in the project and help people understand the tremendous value that we’re unlocking at Mt Todd, there’s a significant opportunity to see the value of our shares increase.

Bill: When you think about moving the project forward, what keeps you up at night or what hurdles are there still maybe to cross over for Mt Todd?

Fred: Quite honestly, I don’t lose a lot of sleep about Mt Todd. I think that those days are behind me. We’ve spent a lot of time, a lot of money working on the technical aspects of Mt Todd. We’re in the enviable position where we have all of the major environmental permits for the project. Our last environmental authorization was received in January of this year. And so, unlike some of our peers who are equally technically advanced but yet just starting the permitting process, we’ve already spent that time. We started the permitting process in 2011 and here we are in 2018, finally able to say that we’ve got checks in each of those boxes. So that’s a tremendous positive for us. I think that probably the biggest challenge that we face right now is just the general market view of gold projects and the willingness to finance projects. This is a big project, and our market cap is such that the last thing that we would do would be to go out and issue equity to be able to finance this project. It’s just not who Vista is. We value our shareholders. We value the long-term relationship that we have with most of our major shareholders. And we ultimately, being shareholders ourselves, we wanna see value created rather than be destroyed by financing in a way that would create tremendous dilution. That’s not what Vista is all about.

Bill: And what is the capital expenditure needed to bring Mt Todd into production, and what are some options or partners that you’re speaking to, whatever you can share with us?

Fred: The estimated capex of the project is $839 million today. Now, that’s a significant reduction from where we were at in 2013. We didn’t even mention that number. But in 2013, the capex of the project was estimated to be $1.05 billion. So with the combination of the changes we made in the project, the benefits from foreign exchange differences, we’ve been able to substantially reduce the capex of the project, but it’s still a very big step for a company such as Vista. We think that a better way to build the project is through the formation of a strategic partnership. We’re looking for a strategic partner that will help us achieve a validation of the work that we’ve completed and help people understand that this is really first-class engineering that its first principles, that we’ve spent a lot of time and effort. We’ve spent far more effort testing and designing and evaluating Mt Todd than what we typically would do if this were a greenfield project. With that validation, we hope to achieve a revaluation. We talked about the value opportunity. I mean, trading at point 0.1 times NAV for a project where we have infrastructure, paved roads to the site, power lines to the site…

Bill: Tier 1 jurisdiction.

Fred: Absolutely, a great place like the Northern Territory of Australia, geography. We’re not high in the Andes. We’re not far north in Canada. We’re not gonna have to deal with snow for six months a year. We don’t have any of those things. To have the valuation that we have is frustrating to us, but we think that the way to get past that is to…and we’re in the process of evaluating strategic partnerships. Since last fall when we started releasing the results of the Met testing and some of the early design results, we’ve had numerous expressions of interest, both from North American and Australian senior gold producers and some Asian strategics. We’ve signed confidentiality agreements. Many of those companies are busy in the data room, completing their analysis. We’ve had some site visits. And so, the process is moving forward. We’re not trying to do this on a fire sale basis. That’s not in our best interest. It’s not in the best interest of our shareholders. Just like our approach to Mt Todd in general has been systematic and methodical in our thought, in our approach to making sure that we check boxes and do things in a way that’s very understandable and defensible, we’re taking that same approach with seeking a strategic partner. I’m hopeful that perhaps by the end of the year, perhaps early next year that we’ll be in a position that we’ve identified the right partner and that we’ve reached terms that that will be mutually agreeable and favorable to the Vista shareholders.

Bill: As we conclude, is there anything you’d like to share about Mt Todd or Vista Gold that I haven’t asked you?

Fred: I think I would just reiterate some of the comments that we’ve already made that this is a project that’s de-risked. I mean, we’ve spent a considerable amount of money to grow the resource, to understand the geology, to thoroughly test the metallurgy, to apply the most appropriate technology today. Our permitting is advanced. Our environmental permits are in place. Our mine operating permit is in the last stages of preliminary review. I’m hopeful that by the end of the summer North America time that we’ll have the preliminary approval for that and then we’ll just be waiting for the completion of a feasibility study. That’s the way the law is written in Australia, is that we can’t get the mine permit approved until we have a feasibility study. But we’re well advanced on that front. We enjoy infrastructure. And yet we have a valuation that none of us are happy about. And I think that’s the tremendous opportunity that as we continue to execute on our plans here at Vista to get that value recognizes that there’s a tremendous opportunity for our shareholders. And I think couple that with the fact that we’re a team that understands what it takes to build a mine and we’re focused on creating value. We recognize that while we’d love to be the ones to beat our chest and say that we built Mt Todd, that a better way to create value for our shareholders is to do it in the form of a partnership that presents less risk and greater reward for our shareholders. And that’s what we’re all about.

Bill: Fred, thank you for sitting down with me today. I appreciate it.

Fred: Well, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Bill: And for investors wanting to learn more, you can go to There you can see an updated company presentation and previous blog posts and thoughts from Fred and the management team. Also, you can find Vista on the NYSE American Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol VGZ and also under that same ticker symbol on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Thanks for tuning in.

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