High-grade gold fight: Enter Integra

Integra Gold (ICG-V) has stepped into the Eastmain Resources (ER-T)-Columbus Gold (CGT-T) fray with an opportunistic $6-million financing contingent on Eastmain leadership changes — including a new interim CEO.

The deal comes a week and a half after Columbus came after Eastmain with its own board slate. Columbus CEO Robert Giustra says Eastmain's Don Robinson has failed to unlock value at the flagship Eau Claire project in James Bay, Quebec — and the company's other projects — despite 20 years of exploration work.

Columbus owns 2,675,000 Eastmain shares, a roughly 2% stake (pre-financing).

The agreement with Integra would see engineer Claude Lemasson — who has extensive Quebec experience with Goldcorp — step in as interim CEO.

Integra's plan foresees keeping three Eastmain directors — Lemasson, Laurie Curtis and Michael Hoffman — and adding four more: Integra CEO Stephen de Jong, Integra chairman George Salamis, Blair Schultz and Timo Jauristo (ex-Goldcorp).

Integra will also have the right to nominate a director and participate in future financings, provided it maintains a 5% shareholding in Eastmain.

Eastmain announced an additional private placement of 50-cent flow-through shares and 35-cent units, taking the total raised to $11.13 million. The money will go to advancing Eau Claire, according to Eastmain's NR, and the CEO change was part of a "previously planned" succession plan. Lemasson has been an Eastmain director since November.

The Eastmain-Integra defence gives Integra an important toehold in Eastmain, not to mention skin in the game. It addresses one of Columbus's complaints about Eastmain — Don Robinson's leadership — but not Giustra's beef that the company is neglecting its other projects, including Eleonore South. The latter project is a JV with Goldcorp and Azimut, but Eastmain is operator.

The Eleonore South project is adjacent to Goldcorp's Eleonore mine (acquired from Andre Gaumond's Virginia Mines) and has seen no drilling since 2010. Recent discoveries in the area — including 12.08 g/t Au over 20.3 metres by Sirios Resources — have generated a buzz. So the Goldcorp background of those taking centre stage at Eastmain is interesting.

Eastmain shares rose about 8.7%, to 50 cents, in early trading this morning. The company has 134 million shares out for a market cap of roughly $71 million.

It's a bit of a silver lining for Robinson, who seems to be finished as Eastmain CEO regardless of the outcome of the proxy fight. He owns a 2%-plus stake in the company and purchased 100,000 shares at 35 cents on March 14.

Here's Eastmain's NR

Integra's NR

Author owns shares of Columbus Gold and Eastmain Resources.

By @JamesKwantes

Image of the camp at Eastmain's Eleonore South project (37% owner and operator)