GBR GOLD REPORT 2020
Thomas E. Bowens,
President & CEO,
Tintic Consolidated Metals
“Investment has been very modest at around US$14 million because there was a lot of infrastructure already in place as Trixie was mined up until 2002. The idea is to take a significant amount of the Trixie profits and apply them to further exploration because the district is very large. Trixie can be put into production for a cost of US$300 per ounce (US$/oz, cash cost). It is going to be a very attractive project.”
Could you speak about your experience at IG Copper prior to the establishment of Tintic Consolidated Metals? The IG Group of companies started with IG Copper. I was VP of exploration for the Lundin Group when Mr. Lundin decided to exit Russia in 2008, so I took over the company’s assets in that country. I advanced the Malmyzh copper-gold project as a private company – first, as a joint venture with Freeport McMoRan, and then on our own. As exploration was expensive and it was difficult to raise money, I created a drilling company there so I could finance exploration without diluting myself to zero. We ended up selling the asset to Russia Copper in 2018 for US$200 million. It was a success story in a very difficult jurisdiction politically and financially.
After the sale of Malmyzh, we had money to invest. I had been looking at Tintic in Utah for the last 10 years, and decided to go after this project. I made a joint venture with Chief Consolidated, so IG Tintic was created and we currently have 75% of the project. You control a very large district at Tintic. What are going to be your first steps? Within Tintic, the first project is the old Trixie mine, a high-grade gold-silver deposit. Trixie will be a small operation of 300 tonnes per day (mt/d). Investment has been very modest at around US$14 million because there was a lot of infrastructure already in place as Trixie was mined up until 2002. The idea is to take a significant amount of the Trixie profits and apply them to further exploration because the district is very large. Trixie can be put into production for a cost of US$300 per ounce (US$/oz, cash cost). It is going to be a very attractive project.
In terms of the exploration, this has been a mining district for over 100 years with more than 20 mines in the area, so we took all the old data and incorporated it into three-dimensional models. By doing that we discovered a new vein we were not aware of (the North Survey discovery), so this is what we are going after first. There, we have an internal resource of 500,000 oz of gold now, but we continue to compile data and I am confident that, once we go through the whole process, we will have 1 million oz.
After that, the next project is Eureka Standard, just down strike from this one. There, we see that the project was mined in the past and there is a lot of opportunity at depth. So, looking at the big picture, Tintic is a patchwork of outcropping opportunities all over the place, with potential for millions of ounces.
What are the main particularities of Tintic’s geology? The reason Freeport was interested in this area in the past is because of Tintic’s potential for porphyry copper-gold systems, like Malmyzh. I agree with that, but underneath all these old base metals systems, there are gold systems. We see a consistent pattern across all of these old mines. The district is huge and was the biggest producer of base metals in the United States many decades ago, but nobody checked the gold potential underneath before. Do you have plans to go public anytime soon? I think the right strategy is to stay private until we put Trixie into production, have cash flow and build critical mass to do more exploration. The private company model is easier to manage and the best formula for shareholders as long as you have the capacity to raise capital. In this case, there are only 40 shareholders who have raised US$14 million, so we are currently funded. Looking at the future, however, there is the possibility that we spin out Trixie into a different entity, and then have the rest of the district under a new company that we could list on the public markets. As an explorer, why do you think the gold industry has been unable to find new elephant deposits? The biggest problem in the industry is that, somewhere around the mid-1990s, majors threw in the towel on exploration. They still had exploration going on, but it was sporadic. When you are an exploration company, if you do not find something, you die. That is not the case for major companies, so this has resulted in inconsistency and a lack of continuity in exploration. Without majors being serious on exploration for the long term, exploration becomes a hit and miss game. This is a poor model for the industry. What is your perspective on the gold price for 2020 and 2021? I am not a gold nut but I believe gold will probably go up to US$2,000/oz. All the nations are having to spend a lot of money on public stimulus and infrastructure projects, and we will see a devaluation of currencies against gold. Finally, could you summarize the main activities for Tintic Consolidated Metals over the next months? We will start production at Trixie at the end of 2020. We have a mill but we have not set it up yet, so we will use toll milling to start with and, by February 2021, we will have initial cash flow. With regards to exploration, our budget is US$6 million in 2020. We will start exploring Eureka Standard first, drilling that from surface and also via an underground access from Trixie with an underground drill. After that, we will also drill North Lily. Both Eureka Standard and North Lily have gold content of over 32 g/mt and in some areas it goes up to 60 g/mt.