Aurizon Mines

Creating Value Through Production, Development, and Exploration

Aurizon Mines is a gold producer focused on developing existing projects in the Abitibi region of north-western Quebec, one of the world’s most favourable mining regions.  The company, incorporated in 1988, explores and develops large land positions in favourable geological areas that are close to infrastructure.

Aurizon’s presence in politically stable, pro-mining jurisdictions is no accident. The company, led by David Hall, President and CEO, focuses on areas with low risks: “We try to remove as much of the risk as we can. Our mission statement and strategy is to focus on good geology, near infrastructure.  For that reason, we’re in  an area in Quebec that has produced a lot of gold, as well as other base metals, for that matter.”

Mining in low-risk Quebec
Exploration is currently underway at the Casa Berardi mine, as well as at Aurizon’s other gold project, Joanna, and its gold/uranium project, Kipawa. In 2008, Casa Berardi produced 158,000 ounces of gold – showing tremendous continued potential for the region. Since November 2006, Casa Berardi has produced 335,000 ounces of gold in total. Casa Berardi represents a property with low risk for Aurizon. Hall explains that in addition to ensuring an area is producing, there are other ways Aurizon mitigates risk. “The other two things that are important to us in order to reduce the risk of our operations include having favourable geology close to infrastructure, whether it be road accessible or close to power. It is also important that we run operations in a part of the world where mining is recognized as being an important contributor to the economy, and laws regarding mining are clearly defined. Equally important is support from the government, regardless of which party is in power, and that they encourage the exploration and development and production of natural resources. You find all of those things in Quebec.” He adds “we don’t have the appetite to go visit far flung regions of the world where mining and environment laws and regulations are in the early stages of evolution, because that leads to a tremendous amount of uncertainty.”

Environmental and financial stability
In terms of Aurizon’s commitment to environmental stability, Hall says that protecting the environment Aurizon operates in is old hat. “We’ve always maintained  high environmental standards. Mining companies in Canada have to, and we’ve been doing it since the ‘80s. Canada, frankly, leads the world in terms of environmental rules and regulations and compliance” he says.

However, Hall admits that although Canada leads the world in mining regulations, communicating that commitment has not always been one of the industry’s strong points.  “I think that’s where mining companies are putting more effort. Instead of just simply having the social license to mine, we are putting more effort into  communicating more effectively what we are and have been doing.”

Aurizon is also leading the charge with regards to finances, when it comes to the market in Canada. Although commodity prices have certainly shifted in recent months, Aurizon is in a very fortunate position, and is not unduly concerned about the economic downturn. Hall says “fortunately, we don’t have to worry about finances in the short term to a great degree, because we are generating healthy cash flows in the region of $50 to $70 million annually. We are in a net cash position, and we also significantly paid down our debt last year. We have enough financial resources to fund what we need to do in the next 12 months and beyond. We’re not relying upon the equity markets for funding. The only area that we’ve altered is we’ve cut back on the discretionary-type exploration expenditures for this year. But our mine is performing well.”

Taking advantage of ‘golden’ opportunities
Gold prices are currently buoyant  – and that is also a reason Hall can afford to breathe, in a time of uncertainty. Much to his relief, he maintains that Aurizon is “the only Canadian company that produces corporately in the region of  150 to 200 thousand ounces a year – from Canadian-based mines.” This greatly improves the competitive landscape for the company, something that Hall has had an eye on since the inception of Aurizon. “There are fewer Canadian producers in our space than there used to be” he says, adding “but we still believe there is tremendous potential for other gold companies in Canada. There is still more mines to be found that will ultimately go into production”.

For now, Aurizon has set its sights on maintaining a predominantly North American presence. “Staying in North America for now means that we’re focusing on areas of Canada that we like geologically, mostly Ontario and Quebec”. The company may explore potential in Nevada and Mexico, but today are resource-strong in a tough market, and are fortunate to have a well-rounded management team capable of carrying the company into its next level of production.

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