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Western Exploration (TSXV:WEX) is a Nevada-based gold and silver exploration company. CEO Darcy Marud has more than 30 years of precious metals experience in the Americas and is an active member of the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario. He provides updates on Western Exploration’s projects with a focus on its Aura project in Nevada.

The Market Herald: To start off, could you please give us some background on yourself and the company?

Marud: As you said, I’ve got more than 30 years experience. We’ll leave it at that. We won’t get into how many more above 30 but I’ve been active in geology since the late ’80s. Specifically in the Americas, as you said, North America, South America, Central America.

I’ve been with Western Exploration since 2018. I joined the company after about a 25-year career combined between Meridian Gold and Yamana Gold, where in 2017 I left Yamana as executive vice president of strategy. The company itself, Western Exploration, is a company that’s about 25 years old. It was a private company until we listed it publicly in 2022. So it’s got a lot of experience in Nevada and has been putting the Aura Project together since the late ’90s.

TMH: Your Aura project is situated in Nevada, tell us about the properties, resources and what makes this project special?

Marud: Nevada is always ranked as one of the top jurisdictions for mining and gold exploration in the world. It’s got a very good gold endowment, especially in the area where we’re focused, which is just north of Elko.

So Elko, for those that don’t know, is one of the largest mining centers in North America. It’s only about 80 miles from our project. So our project itself is only two to three miles off of paved highway, water, power, all-access nearby and we’re permitted right now for expiration drilling until 2029.

So we’ve got an area of good gold endowment, easy access and permits that are good for another six, seven years.

TMH: Expanding on the last question, you recently completed your first round of metallurgical test work at Doby George. What did the results say and what are the next steps?

Marud: I should add that we’ve got three resource areas on the project, Doby George, Wood Gulch and Gravel Creek. So it’s very unique in that aspect to have three different deposits on one project. Doby George, last year we did extensive diamond drilling to collect samples for metallurgical test work. We released the preliminary results in I think it was July of this year that showed about 69% recovery to bottle roll test work. Now that is the initial work that we’ll do.

The next phase is the column leach test work, which will be more indicative of the ultimate recoveries you’d expect to see in a heap leach operation. That work has been ongoing for a couple of months and we look forward to completing that here within probably the next month or so and then publicly releasing that. I would just add that in the past, Doby George has shown at least a 70% recovery to heap leach mining. So we’re anticipating a minimum of that 70% recovery.

TMH: Besides continuing metallurgical work, what can we expect from Western over the next 6-12 months?

Marud:: Apart from the metallurgy, we’ve also started a drill program on our other deposits. The Wood Gulch and Gravel Creek. Wood Gulch was mined by Homestake Mining Company in the late ’80s. The geology there led to the discovery of the Gravel Creek deposit in 2013. We believe that at time those two will connect to be one. At this time, we’re doing drilling on the Northeast extension of our Gravel Creek discovery, and if successful, it’ll significantly expand the footprint of that resource and then we see a path forward to increasing the resource.

So over the next six to 12 months, we’ll be releasing the metallurgy on Doby George that will then start a pre-feasibility level of study for Doby George and at Gravel Creek we’ll be releasing those drill results as they come in. We’ve also just completed some geophysics that will help interpret other areas for future exploration.

TMH: Before I let you go, is there anything else you would like to talk to investors about?

Marud: Just adding again that our project is very unique in the aspect of three resource areas on one project, all within about three kilometres of a paved highway and only about a hundred kilometres north of a major mining center like Elko, Nevada, in a top quality jurisdiction like Nevada.

So I think we tick all the boxes and I think the team that we’ve put together here has a lot of experience in taking projects from discovery all the way to project development and construction. So we look forward to doing that here at The Aura Project.

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