Under the Surface

With preliminary drilling and diagnostics underway, Block A is expected to host a gold-mining operation by 2016.

Trade Winds Ventures Inc. is a junior-resource company on the brink of discovery

It’s not that junior-resource companies are perpetually looking for a needle in a haystack, but—with mining businesses built around the concept of finding and developing properties with the best potential for productive gain—it can sometimes appear that way. Likewise, it’s not that Ian Lambert speaks with anything but pride when it comes to Trade Winds Ventures; it’s just that he yearns for the company to be properly evaluated and get its due.

As a junior-resource company, Trade Winds delivered an average return of 260 percent in 2010, taking a spot on the 2011 TSX Venture 50 List. Lambert, CEO, is well aware that his company is a top-flight organization that navigates the luck/skill factor of mining gold with great finesse.

“The key is to know, after seeing 30 different [exploratory] results, whether you should take a shot at a certain one and see if there’s something there,” Lambert says. “That’s the really tough part of the process, so you have to have competent people.”

Lambert sees Trade Winds as an advanced-stage exploration company—one of the few juniors with a significant resource where actual production is imminent. That resource is known as Block A, a property in Ontario near the Québec border, in which Trade Winds holds a 50 percent interest, thanks to a joint venture forged with Pelangio Mines in 2006. “With Block A, we’re comfortable the resource is big enough that it’s not, ‘Can we go into production?’ but ‘When?’” Lambert says. An overall resource of 4.6 million ounces of gold is available on Trade Winds’ Detour Lake properties, including 2.7 million ounces that can be extracted by open-pit production.

As for that question of “when,” it won’t be answered until Trade Winds gets further along the mining cycle with Block A. 2012 will be a preliminary economic assessment year, and the combined efforts of the assessment, environmental evaluations, and drilling work should yield a completed feasibility study by the end of 2014, with a target production date in 2016. Still, Lambert knows nothing in the mining industry is set in stone. The drastic fluctuation of gold’s value in the past five years is just one example.

“It completely changed the scope and nature of the project we were working on,” Lambert says. “You’ve got to be able to be flexible and go with the flow, and take the results you’re getting and interpret them properly.”

The flexibility factor applies to Trade Winds in more ways than one, as its joint-venture partner, Pelangio, sold all of its interest to the Detour Gold Corporation. Despite a new agreement with the Detour Gold taking two years to hammer out, Lambert is very pleased with the results. “They have a lot of knowledge, and we’ve been able to benefit from the things they’ve done,” he says.

Trade Winds appears to have everything in place for full-out success—making it a great time to attract new investors, especially with the company still undervalued. Lambert feels it’s a company with the right combination of employees, knowledge, and resources to carry its challenging missions to fruition. “It’s a fine line,” he says. “You have to try and build a project that, even in a worst-case scenario, will work. And if you don’t have a worst-case scenario, it should be highly profitable.”