First Mining Gold Corp. (“First Mining” or the “Company”) (TSX: FF) (OTCQX: FFMGF) (FRANKFURT: FMG) is pleased to report that Auteco Minerals Ltd (“Auteco”) (ASX: AUT) has completed the first stage of its earn-in with respect to the Pickle Crow Gold Project located in northwestern Ontario, Canada (“Pickle Crow”).  In connection with the completion of Stage 1 of the earn-in, Auteco has issued 100,000,000 shares of Auteco to First Mining. As a result of completing Stage 1 of the earn-in, Auteco (through one of its subsidiaries) now owns a 51% interest in PC Gold Inc. (“PC Gold”), First Mining’s wholly-owned subsidiary that owns Pickle Crow. In addition, the parties have executed a joint venture shareholders agreement (the “JV Agreement”) in respect of PC Gold.  Auteco has a two-year follow-on period, commencing as of June 4, 2021, within which to acquire an additional 19% interest in PC Gold (the “Stage 2 Earn-In”).

“First Mining is delighted by the excellent progress Auteco has made on Pickle Crow in such a short period of time.” stated Dan Wilton, CEO of First Mining. “With this latest issuance of shares, First Mining now owns 125 million shares of Auteco with an approximate fair value of $10.5 million.  The Auteco team’s timely completion of Stage 1 of the earn-in and their equally aggressive target for completing Stage 2 demonstrates the calibre of partner we have engaged to help unlock the value of one of the exceptional projects in our portfolio.”

“We have completed the Stage 1 earn-in requirements for a 51% stake in the Pickle Crow Project, and it is a testament to the dedication of our team that we have achieved this within the first year of taking management responsibility for the project” commented Ray Shorrocks, Auteco’s Executive Chairman. “We are continuing to drill flat out, with several rigs targeting areas of known, high-grade mineralization to bring them into the resource, with mineralization open in all directions.  We look forward to working with First Mining to continue advancing the Pickle Crow Gold Project.”

Under the terms of the earn-in agreement that First Mining signed with Auteco with respect to Pickle Crow, in order to complete the Stage 2 Earn-In, Auteco must fulfil the following requirements within the next two years: (i) incur a further $5 million in exploration expenditures (the “Additional Expenditures”); and (ii) pay $1,000,000 in cash to First Mining within 90 days of completing the Additional Expenditures. In addition, upon completing the Stage 2 Earn-In, Auteco will grant First Mining a 2% net smelter returns (“NSR”) royalty on Pickle Crow, 1% of which can be bought back by Auteco paying US$2,500,000 to First Mining. Once the Stage 2 Earn-In has been completed, Auteco will have the right to acquire a further 10% of PC Gold by paying $3,000,000 in cash (the “Buy-In”) to First Mining. During the term of Auteco’s earn-in to Pickle Crow, First Mining will be free carried until a decision to mine has been made, and will not be required to make any financial expenditures relating to Pickle Crow until such time.

The current 45,000-metre drill program remains on track for completion by mid-year, with up to five rigs active on site at Pickle Crow during the last quarter. To date, Auteco has completed 120 diamond drill holes for 31,160 metres, focusing exclusively on near mine extensions and discovery of mineralized structures outside of the resource area. In the short term, drilling has transitioned toward infill drilling aiming to provide sufficient data density on newly identified or extended structures to enable the calculation of an updated mineral resource estimate for Pickle Crow.

Auteco is well funded with cash reserves of A$26.8M as at March 31, 2021, and is on track to execute the remaining earn-in requirements to earn up to an 80% interest in PC Gold (and thereby, Pickle Crow) by the end of this calendar year.  Once Auteco has fulfilled all requirements of the earn-in agreement, First Mining will hold a 20% interest in PC Gold (and thereby, Pickle Crow) which will be free carried until the earlier of the termination of the earn-in agreement or a decision to mine by Auteco.

Drilling completed in the first quarter of 2021 has identified several new, high-grade gold veins and the extensions of previously known structures proximal to Shafts 1 & 3. Mineralization remains open in all directions on targeted structures, and Auteco’s work will now focus on defining high-grade gold shoots within the mineralized envelopes.  Drill highlights and assay results will be reported in a future news release.

The Pickle Crow Gold Deposit is a high-grade, shear-hosted, mesothermal Archean lode gold deposit. The deposit occurs primarily within mafic volcanics and banded iron formation (BIF) units in the Pickle Crow assemblage of the Pickle Lake Greenstone belt located in the Uchi Lake Sub-province of the Superior Craton of the Canadian Shield.

Mineralization is focused around steeply north-west dipping, regional scale shear zones. Multiple mineralization styles have been identified on the property, including Quartz-Gold-Tungsten (+/-Tourmaline) Shear Veins which are the focus of the current exploration, and banded iron formation mineralization (BIF-style), which comprises structurally controlled, sheeted vein arrays hosted within the BIF.

Pickle Crow was one of Canada’s highest-grade historical gold mines. It operated from 1935 until 1966, during which time it reportedly produced almost 1.5 million ounces of gold at an average grade of 16.14 g/t. The property consists of ~190 km2 (19,000 hectares) of tenure covering a major gold province. Auteco recently increased its landholding near the Project by acquiring an additional 176 km2 (176,000 ha) of land contiguous to Pickle Crow, which, together with the 130 km2 acquired by Auteco in 2020 (see news release dated February 17, 2021) increases the combined property’s land package to over 496 km2 (496,000 ha) (see news release dated January 28, 2021). First Mining acquired Pickle Crow in November 2015 through its acquisition of PC Gold Inc.

Auteco’s development focus is on returning to first principles, completing a new geological review, and applying modern exploration technologies in their advancement of Pickle Crow. Auteco has a strong focus on discovering and developing new project scale, high-grade, near surface gold resources.