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Hecla Tried to Buy this Junior

Jan 21st, 2018 | By brinvest | Category: AaronsBlog

Junior miners have long provided investors leverage to rising precious metal prices. When metal prices increase the valuations of related miners and explorers can increase much more; sometimes 3 to 5 times as much as the underlying mineral.

Exploration drilling
In the mineral exploration business, there is a saying that rings true across the sector, “Nothing pays like discovery.”

 

Today, we want to share the story of a what we believe to be a truly unique junior silver explorer. It is a junior potentially well-positioned to receive a buyout offer in the future; but first, let’s give you some history on the deal…

Silver Stock Dolly Varden has Storied History

The history behind our new Featured Silver Company’s main project began after the turn of the last century. Financiers, including Herbert Hoover, before becoming the 31st President of the Herbert HooverUnited States, financed historic production of the Dolly Varden Mine in the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia, Canada. Hoover was one of, if not the, wealthiest men to ever hold the presidency and made his fortunes as a mine engineer and financier. He was a businessman first, President second.

Investments in the Dolly Varden Mine by Hoover would have taken place before it entered production in 1919. Early investors reaped massive profits from the high-grade silver mines located on this project. However, for us, its story became relevant nearly 100 years later, in June of 2016…

On June 27, 2016, just as the mining world was creeping out of one of its worst bear markets in a generation, Hecla Mining made a takeover bid for all of the outstanding shares of Dolly Varden Silver (DV: TSXV) – our Featured Company we are introducing today. The price offered was CAD$0.69 cash per share (which represented nearly a 100% premium at the time based on the volume-weighted average price of Dolly Varden’s shares for the 20 trading days ending June 24, 2016).

Today, Dolly Varden’s shares sit at CAD$0.76… but since that takeover offer, which was not accepted, major developments have occurred; including more discoveries, equity financings and a new executive team – led by a President & CEO we’ve been following for years. We’ll explain why this is important shortly…

Hecla News Release from June 27, 2016 – click title below to read:

Hecla Announces Takeover Bid for Shares of Dolly Varden Silver at 97% Premium

 

Hecla was a shareholder in Dolly Varden Silver at the time of its takeover offer, owning roughly 19.8% of the outstanding shares, and they still are today. Through subsequent private placements, according to Dolly Varden’s most recent corporate presentation in December 2017, Hecla Canada owns 12% of the outstanding shares. Still significant by any measure.

Since the takeover offer from Hecla, Dolly Varden has brought in a new management team, the Belcarra Group, led by Mr. Gary Cope and Vice President of Exploration Mr. Ben Whiting. These two gentlemen are well-known for what they achieved with Orko Silver Corp. – which we’ll get to shortly…

Historic Ownership of Dolly Varden’s Project

Historic Dolly Varden Production
From 1923 to 1927 the Dolly Varden Mines Railway was utilized for logging operations. In 1929 the properties were optioned to Britannia Mining and Smelting Company, who conducted some development work, which was halted when the Great Depression hit.

In addition to Hecla owning 12% of Dolly Varden’s 53.7 million shares fully diluted (figure based on December 2017 corporate presentation), institutions own an additional 60%. Firms including US Global Investors, Sprott Asset Management and Ingalls and Snyder Brokerage Accounts. Institutional ownership is always important for us when looking for opportunities.

Hecla is one of the largest primary silver producers in North America. It has three operating silver mines and one gold mine spread out from Alaska and Idaho to Canada and Mexico. Hecla reported net revenues of approximately $645 million as well as $164 million in working capital for year-end 2016. Its market cap sat around US$1.7 billion Friday at the close.

Dolly Varden (DV: TSXV), on the other hand, has a market cap of roughly CAD$33.5 million.

Dolly Varden Silver logo

Hecla Mining and Dolly Varden Silver

Our first question was perhaps an obvious one: Why did Hecla pursue Dolly Varden in 2016? And, why is this major North American producer still one of Dolly Varden’s largest shareholders? Here’s what we found…

Dolly Varden Silver is exploring for high-grade silver, gold and base metals in the prolific Golden Triangle District of northwestern British Columbia, Canada. We have written numerous articles on B.C.’s Golden Triangle region, including British Columbia’s Golden Triangle | Hottest Area Play on Earth, where we outlined various infrastructure improvements to the area over the past ten years or so. While investors focused on massive sulphide and gold discoveries in the summer of 2017, Dolly Varden and its expanding high-grade silver footprint went largely unnoticed.

 

VP Exploration Ben Whiting
Dolly Varden’s VP Exploration Ben Whiting examining drill core from Torbrit North discovery.

 

Hecla Embraces Northwestern B.C. and Southwestern Alaska

For all intents and purposes, silver is Hecla’s metal of focus. And broadly speaking, Hecla is familiar with exploring and operating in this part of the world…

A few hundred kilometres north, as the crow flies, of where Dolly Varden’s key project resides, off the coast of Juneau, Alaska, on Admiralty Island, Hecla operates its Greens Creek Silver Mine.

Hecla describes Greens Creek as “one of the largest and highest-margin primary silver mines in the world.” It produced approximately 210 million ounces of silver and 1.5 million ounces of gold since beginning production in 1989.

Hecla reported,

“2.3M oz. of silver production and 12,563 oz. of gold production in Q3/17; 2017E silver production of 7.8-8.2M oz. and 51-53k oz. of gold.”

Furthermore, just weeks before announcing its unsuccessful takeover bid for Dolly Varden in June of 2016, Hecla made an investment in a project nearby Dolly Varden’s key asset in British Columbia.

Location of Dolly Varden's flagship asset
source: Dolly Varden Corporate Presentation dated December 12, 2017

 

On May 24, 2016, Hecla purchased 100% of the Kinskuch property which consists of 156 mining claims totaling 59,400 hectares. According to Hecla,

“The Kinskuch property is favorably located within the Iskut-Stewart-Kitsault Belt north of the tidewater communities of Alice Arm and Kitsault, British Columbia with access to the western part of the property on a historic roadbed.”

Note: The Kinskuch property is next door to Dolly Varden’s 8,800 hectare property. Much of the same infrastructure exists with both projects depending on the tidewater communities of Alice Arm and Kitsault.

Dolly's Ocean Port access - Alice Arm
Ocean Port access – Alice Arm

 

As we began to look more closely at Dolly Varden over a year ago, we realized there was much more to the story than the historic production (further details on the project’s history here). The proven ounces discovered, combined with the exploration upside, likely made it an attractive acquisition target for Hecla.

Dolly Varden | The Namesake Project

Dolly Varden’s flagship, namesake asset is the 100% owned Dolly Varden Project. It consists of an 8,800 hectare property, hosting a high-grade silver resource, with expansion potential – partially realized just last summer. The project is also home to two of Canada’s highest grade past producing silver mines.

The current *estimated resources as of August 2015 are Indicated Resources of 3.07 M tonnes, grading 322 g/t Ag for 31.8 million ounces silver, plus Inferred Resources of 0.90 M tonnes, grading 373 g/t Ag for 10.8 million ounces silver.
*Full Technical Report available here.

Dolly Varden resource estimate
source: Dolly Varden corporate presentation dated December 12, 2017

 

 

Roughly 40 million ounces of high-grade silver in the indicated and inferred resource categories put Dolly Varden on the map. However, it is what has happened since 2015, and since the takeover bid by Hecla in 2016, that has us introducing Dolly Varden today.

From our perspective, three key things have changed for Dolly Varden since Hecla’s takeover offer:

 

#1. Dolly Varden welcomed Gary Cope and a new management team to the fold in December of 2016 – almost six months after Hecla made its offer. Gary, Dolly Varden’s President & CEO, knows Gary Copehis way around the boardroom, to say the least…

Mr. Cope served as the President, CEO & Director of Orko Silver Corp., and was instrumental in negotiating and arranging the sale of Orko Silver to Coeur d’Alenes Mine Corp. in a deal valued at roughly $350 million in 2013. See more here.

As mentioned earlier, we’ve been following Gary Cope’s career for a few years. We featured him, alongside 49 other CEOs, in our Ebook on buyouts, published in February of 2015 titled, Leading Juniors to multimillion-dollar buyouts. This Ebook documents CEOs and executives who had their public companies bought out in the past and where they are today.

 

#2. Not one, or two, but four discoveries on Dolly Varden’s project in Northern British Columbia. The discoveries took place in 2017 amidst an aggressive drilling campaign led by Mr. Cope’s team that we will explain shortly.

What Dolly Varden accomplished in 2017
source: Dolly Varden Corporate Presentation dated December 12, 2017

 

 

#3. Global silver production declined in 2016 for the first time in 15 years. Furthermore, in November of 2017, moneymetals.com reported, “Two-Thirds Of The Top Primary Silver Miners Suffered Production Declines In 2017…”

Steve Angelo from Money Metals cited a few reasons:

“…global silver production will take a big hit this year due to several factors including, falling ore grades, mine closures, and strikes at various projects.”

 

These are the exact reasons we are introducing a North American silver deposit, located in mining-rich British Columbia.

Misty day drilling on the Torbrit East discovery
Misty day drilling for Dolly Varden on the Torbrit East discovery

 

Funny enough, Hecla’s silver production hit a record high in 2016, but declined marginally in 2017. Obviously, if Hecla, or any other major mining company for that matter, wants to maintain or increase production in North America, they will have to discover or secure ounces in the ground. While Dolly Varden certainly understands this, it is not sitting and waiting. 2017 demonstrated the company’s desire to advance its key project…

2017 – A Transformation Year for Dolly Varden in the Field

Many people familiar with British Columbia mineral exploration and mining know of Dolly Varden; and, the regions storied history and possibly even the company’s 2015 NI 43-101 resource. What they probably aren’t familiar with is the new silver discoveries made by the company in 2017, and the impact they may have going forward.

In a January 8th company press release titled, Dolly Varden – Recap of the Successful Silver Discoveries of 2017, Ben Whiting, Vice President of Exploration for the company, stated;

“In my opinion, there is an opportunity to double or triple the Mineral Resources in the Dolly Varden Mining Camp with a resource-focused drilling program. Three of the four new exploration discovery targets have thicknesses and grades comparable to or exceeding those of the existing deposits. Target sizes and grade ranges are presented for the exhalative-style and epithermal vein-style of deposits.”

 

Dolly Varden’s main focus in 2017 was diamond drilling. As the program expanded it included 20% in resource validation and 80% in exploration beyond the known mineral deposits.

The company drilled and reported 45 holes totaling 15,728 metres in the summer of 2017.

If Ben Whiting’s speculation is correct, and Dolly Varden has the opportunity to potentially double or triple its 40 million silver ounce mineral resource, the company would warrant a re-rate in our opinion. That’s a big if of course, but it’s worth noting.

The four target discoveries are the:

  • Torbrit North
  • Torbrit East
  • Moose Lamb
  • “Beginners’ Luck”

 

 A high grade core sample from the Dolly Varden's Torbrit horizon
A high grade core sample from the Dolly Varden/Torbrit horizon

 

 

The company expands upon each discovery individually in its January 8th press release,

“The Torbrit North and Torbrit East target discoveries are clearly of the exhalative-style of silver and base metal mineralization, similar to the historic Torbrit Mine, but located in parallel and/or fault offset basins. For the purposes of scoping the size potential of these new discoveries, we considered the sum of the past-production and current resources in Torbrit, which equals 44.4 million ounces of silver in 4.01 million tonnes grading Ag 344 g/t. Thus, the potential for each of these two new targets is deemed to be in the range of 3.5 to 4.5 million tonnes at silver grades of 300 to 380 g/t (plus base metals credits). This could potentially result in two new deposits.”

Full release here.

Dolly Varden's Torbit North Project

Dolly Varden continued in its January 8, 2018 press release,

“The Moose Lamb target discovery is an epithermal vein-style of mineralization and is similar to the historic Dolly Varden Mine. For the purposes of scoping the size potential of Moose Lamb, we considered the sum of the past-production and current resources in Dolly Varden, which equals 12.3 million ounces of silver in 0.59 million tonnes grading Ag 646 g/t. Thus, the potential for the Moose Lamb target is deemed to be in the range of 0.4 to 0.7 million tonnes at silver grades of 500 to 700 g/t (plus base metals credits).”

Finally,

“In addition, the Company made a new grassroots discovery called “Beginners’ Luck”, which was tested with one drill hole, and there are still high-grade silver targets from previous exploration seasons, which deserve additional testing.”

For many early-stage juniors, one or two of these discoveries could potentially be enough to raise capital for and possibly be a flagship pursuit. For Dolly Varden, they aim to build on what could be an increasing resource of high-grade silver.

There are two main deposits located on the Dolly Varden project, which not only host the vast majority of the mineralized ore used in the 2015 NI 43-101, but the historic production briefly mentioned earlier…

Dolly Varden’s Torbrit and Dolly Varden Deposits

The Torbrit Deposit was in production from 1949 to 1959, and yielded 18.7 million ounces of silver from 1.25 million tonnes at a grade of 500 g/t. It also produced lead from ore grading 0.46%, with recoveries of 85%.

The current 2015 resource for the Torbrit Deposit stands at Indicated 15.5 million ounces of silver in 1.91 million tonnes grading 251.4 g/t and Inferred 10.2 million ounces of silver in 0.85 million tonnes grading 373 g/t. (Lead grade was not estimated).

For scope of the Torbrit Size Deposit, the sum of the past-production and current resources equals 44.4 million ounces of silver in 4.01 million tonnes grading 344 g/t.

2017’s drill program proved that the Torbrit Deposit is still open to the southeast.

Hole DV17-040 yielded two mineralized intercepts. The Lower Zone core length of 12.55 m (9.89 m true) grading Ag 514.3 g/t, Pb 0.09 % and Zn 0.04 % for a silver-equivalent of 520.2 g/t.

The Dolly Varden Mine, which former U.S. President Herbert Hoover helped finance, was in production from 1919 to 1921. The mine yielded direct ship ore for 1.3 million ounces of silver from 33.2 thousand tonnes at a grade of 1,109 g/t. When it comes to average production grade, this is world-class.

The current 2015 resource for the Dolly Varden Deposit stands at Indicated 10.5 million ounces of silver in 0.522 million tonnes grading 625 g/t and Inferred 0.54 million ounces of silver in 38.6 thousand tonnes grading 434 g/t.

Chief Geologist Rob van Egmond inspecting structures in the Glory Hole in the historic Dolly Varden Mine
Chief Geologist Rob van Egmond inspecting structures in the Glory Hole in the historic Dolly Varden Mine

 

Chief Geologist Rob van Egmond inspecting structures in the Glory Hole in the historic Dolly Varden Mine.

For scope of the Dolly Varden Size Deposit, the sum of the past-production and current resources equals 12.3 million ounces of silver in 0.59 million tonnes grading 646 g/t.

Hole DV17-048 yielded three mineralized intercepts. The Upper Zone core length of 9.60 m (8.90 m true) grading Ag 878.7 g/t, Pb 0.42 % and Zn 1.19 % for a silver-equivalent of 959.6 g/t. Not too far from the 1,109 g/t silver grades ore was mined at between 1919 and 1921.

From our perspective, there is upside potential at this project. Also, the Dolly Varden Deposit has significant base metal values.

In short, the rock formations and style of the mineralization and alteration on the Dolly Varden property share strong similarities to the nearby Eskay Creek deposit, which is an exceptionally rich gold and silver deposit, located roughly 100 km north of the Dolly Varden Property.

Infrastructure near Dolly Varden's asset
source: Dolly Varden Corporate Presentation dated December 12, 2017

 

Dolly Varden Project Recap:

  • 8,800 hectares (88 km2)
  • 100% owned
  • Four historically active mines
  • Under-explored sectors – only 3% of property explored in detail
  • Well understood targets
  • 20 M Ag historic production
  • Region with world-class projects
  • Catalysts for higher valuation
  • Northwestern BC region capturing new interest

Wrapping Up

Dolly Varden’s share price sits relatively close to the price Hecla offered per share in 2016 (Hecla offered CAD$0.69 per share, and Dolly Varden has added to its shares outstanding due to equity financings since). Furthermore, Hecla remains one of the company’s largest shareholders. It has been diluted from its previous 19.8% ownership to 12% by way of private placements.

Recognize that we are biased toward Dolly Varden as the company is an advertiser client. Please take responsibility for practicing your own thorough and independent due diligence. Learn about the risks associated with investing in small-cap resource companies of this nature. Pick your spots…

VP Exploration Ben Whiting with local Nisga'a pad building crew
VP Exploration Ben Whiting with local Nisga’a pad building crew

 

We believe long-time shareholders are pleased with the numerous discoveries made since the takeover offer from Hecla. Is it fair to assume Dolly Varden’s management team believed there was more silver to be discovered at the time? Likely. If there was any doubt surrounding the exploration upside potential at the Dolly Varden project, it has probably been removed following the discoveries in 2017.

What’s more, the company is well capitalized with roughly CAD$6 million reported in its treasury and no debt, according to its December 2017 corporate presentation. And management boasts of its “Frugal corporate burn rate” – a statement most certainly not lost on us. Additionally, Dolly Varden’s share price has come off its 52-week high, another reason we have chosen to introduce them now.

Dolly Varden’s stock is relatively liquid for an explorer with a market cap near CAD$33.5 million. Its ten day average trading volume sits around 145,000 and the stock last traded for CAD$0.76.

Dolly Varden’s management team has certainly proven its ability to deliver results. Chief among them is Gary Cope’s track record. As CEO of Orko Silver, Gary led to the silver explorer’s sale to Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp., a large U.S. silver producer, in a deal valued at CAD$350 million in 2013…

We believe the precious metals complex is ready for a breakout. With gold stabilized above US$1,300 and silver hovering around US$17, the long consolidation of metals since 2012 is showing signs of fatigue. A breakout may be coming in 2018 that could lift many juniors, specifically those with proven ounces in the ground and exploration upside. This marks the initiation of our coverage on Dolly Varden Silver Corp. (DV:TSXV). Stay tuned…

All the best with your investments,

 

PINNACLEDIGEST.COM

 

Dolly Varden Stock Information

 

Dolly Varden Silver share structure
source: Dolly Varden Corporate Presentation dated December 12, 2017

 

Online Resources for Dolly Varden Silver

 

VISIT DOLLY VARDEN ONLINE

SEDAR FILINGS

 

Dolly Varden’s Corporate Presentation

Dolly Varden Presentation

 

Disclosure, Risks Involved and Information on Forward Looking Statements:
Please read carefully before proceeding.

THIS IS NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. All statements in this report are to be checked and verified by the reader.

This report may contain technical or other inaccuracies, omissions, or typographical errors, for which Maximus Strategic Consulting Inc., owner of PinnacleDigest.com, assumes no responsibility. We cannot warrant the information contained in this report to be exhaustive, complete or sufficient.

Important: Our disclosure for this report on Dolly Varden Silver Corporation applies to the date this report was released to our subscribers (January 21, 2018) and posted on our website. This disclaimer will never be updated, even after we buy or sell shares of Dolly Varden Silver Corporation

In all cases, interested parties should conduct their own investigation and analysis of Dolly Varden Silver Corporation (“Dolly Varden” or “the Company”), its assets and the information provided in this report. Prospective investors not willing and able to risk a loss of their entire invested capital must not consider purchasing shares of Dolly Varden.

For readers to understand some of the information in this report, they should read Dolly Varden’s technical report (available at www.sedar.com) in its entirety (the “Technical Report”).The Technical Report is intended to be read as a whole, and sections or summaries should not be read or relied upon out of context.

Forward-Looking Statements:
All statements in this report, other than statements of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or future performance. Forward-looking statements contained in this report regarding past trends or activities should not be taken as a representation that such trends or activities will continue in the future. Undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements because we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.

All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein including, without limitation, statements about the planned exploration of Dolly Varden’s project(s), growth potential, quality and timing of Dolly Varden’s exploration, potential mineral resource increases, future trends, strategies, objectives and expectations, conditions or financial performance that is based on assumptions about future economic conditions and courses of action, permitting timelines and requirements, planned expenditures and budgets are forward-looking statements.

Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Dolly Varden to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in this report. Such factors include, among others, the following risks: the need for additional financing; operational risks associated with mineral exploration; fluctuations in commodity prices; title matters; environmental liability claims and insurance; reliance on key personnel; the absence of dividends; competition; dilution; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; increased infrastructure and/or operating costs; political and regulatory risks associated with mining and exploration; the volatility of Dolly Varden’s common share price and trading volume and the additional risks identified in the management discussion and analysis section of Dolly Varden’s interim and most recent annual financial statement or other reports and filings with the TSX Venture Exchange and applicable Canadian securities regulations.

Forward-looking statements are often, but not always identified by the use of words such as “seek”, “anticipate”, “plan”, “aim”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, “may”, “will”, “project”, “predict”, “potential”, “targeting”, “intend”, “could”, “might”, “should”, “believe”, “budget”, “scheduled”, and similar expressions. Much of this report is comprised of statements of projection.

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We caution all readers that past historical production on any of Dolly Varden’s deposits or projects, or current production in the general region of which these projects are located, is not necessarily indicative of future production potential for Dolly Varden.

Risks and uncertainties respecting mineral exploration companies are generally disclosed in the annual financial or other filing documents of those and similar companies as filed with the relevant securities commissions, and should be reviewed by any reader of this report. In addition, with respect to any particular company, a number of risks relate to any statement of projection or forward statement.

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Because Dolly Varden Silver Corporation has paid us CAD$55,000 plus gst to provide our online advertising and marketing services, you must recognize the inherent conflict of interest involved that may influence our perspective on Dolly Varden; this is one reason why we stress that you conduct extensive due diligence as well as seek the advice of your financial advisor and a registered broker-dealer before investing in any securities mentioned in our reports.

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Disclosure of Compensation:
Set forth below is our disclosure of compensation received from Dolly Varden Silver Corporation as of January 21, 2018:

Maximus Strategic Consulting Inc., owner of PinnacleDigest.com, has been paid CAD$55,000 plus gst to provide online advertisement coverage for Dolly Varden for a pre-paid six month online marketing agreement. The company (Dolly Varden) has paid for this coverage. The coverage includes, but is not limited to, the creation and distribution of reports authored by PinnacleDigest.com about Dolly Varden (reports such as this one), as well as display advertisements and news distribution about the company on our website and in our newsletter. We (Maximus Strategic Consulting Inc.) may purchase shares of Dolly Varden in the future. If we purchase shares of Dolly Varden we will do so with the intent to sell them for our own profit and without notice to our subscribers. Please recognize that we benefit from price and trading volume increases in Dolly Varden. Please recognize that we are extremely biased when it comes to Dolly Varden.

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The past successes of members of Dolly Varden’s management team, board members, insiders and advisory team (including The Belcarra Group) are not indicative of future results for Dolly Varden.

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Cautionary Note Concerning Estimates of Inferred Resources:
This report and supportive documents used in the research process of this report use the term “Inferred Resources”. U.S. investors are advised that while this term is recognized and required by Canadian regulations, the Securities and Exchange Commission does not recognize it. “Inferred Resources” have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence, and great uncertainty as to their economic and legal feasibility. It cannot be assumed that all or any part of an Inferred Resource will ever be upgraded to a higher category. Under Canadian rules, estimates of “Inferred Resources” may not form the basis of feasibility or other economic studies. U.S. investors are also cautioned not to assume that all or any part of an “Inferred Mineral Resource” exists, or is economically or legally mineable.

Some of the mineral resources at Dolly Varden’s project mentioned in this report are categorized as indicated and some as inferred mineral resources. Mineral resources which are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The estimate of mineral resources may be materially affected by environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, socio-political, marketing, or other relevant issues. Mineral resource estimates do not account for mineability, selectivity, mining loss and dilution.

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