Can you please tell us about yourself and Silver Viper Minerals (SVM)/Belcarra Group?
I am one of the youngest CEO’s in the industry but have worked in mining now for 15 years in various roles. I am trusted to run the company by a group that is exceptionally well respected and experienced in our space.
Silver Viper Minerals is a relatively new company. We completed our IPO in September 2017, and we acquired the La Virginia project in 2018. The geological team – comprised of four senior geologists - in the Belcarra Group has over 150 years of combined experience in the industry.
Belcarra Group is comprised of three publicly traded companies: Barsele Minerals, Orex Minerals, and Silver Viper Minerals. The formation of the group allows us to split general and administrative costs around the companies, and as a result, shareholders see a lot more of the capital raised go into the ground relative to our peer average.
What skills do you bring to the table that set you apart?
In this space, much success comes down to bringing together the right people to do the job. I think my best leadership quality is not only the ability to bring these people together but also the ability to recognize people’s strengths and allow them to succeed by focusing on those strengths.
Subsequently, I also understand where my strengths are best focused and trust that I have surrounded myself with a team that will work together to achieve the collective goal of the company. I tend to be very strategic and analytical in everything I do in life, and I think that serves me quite well as a CEO. The strategic and analytical elements lend itself well to the corporate development side of our business (M&A, Financing, Marketing, and Investor Relations).
Can you tell us a little bit about the broader team at SVM?
Gary Cope is the Chairman of the board and my father. He founded the Belcarra Group after we sold Orko Silver back in 2013 for $350-million. He is exceptionally well connected and respected across our industry and is a fountain of knowledge and experience for me to be able to ask questions when needed.
Dale Brittliffe is our VP of Exploration for SVM, a professional geologist with over 20 years of international experience. Dale and I work very well together; we are both young, motivated, and ready to make our mark on this industry. Ben Whiting and Rob Van Egmond are our technical advisors and great sources of knowledge in geology for Dale to utilize. Finally, on the geology side, Art Freeze has 45 years of experience in Mineral Exploration and Project Management. He is a name that everyone from big companies to small know in our industry. He is also an excellent asset for Dale to use on geology-related topics.
On the finance side, Carla Hartzenberg is our CFO. With ten years of experience primarily focused on the natural resources sector, she is very good at her job. She worked with the group for years under Ross Wilmot and is now CFO of Silver Viper. Ross Wilmot, a director, has run the accounting department since the beginning. He is a wealth of knowledge and is a vital member of the team.
Last but not least, Alex Tsakumis, our VP of Corporate Development, is a seasoned executive in the mining space with over twenty-five years of investment experience with private and public companies. He is very well connected in the industry and is another excellent source for me to bounce ideas off of where we can add value for our shareholders.
If you could paint a picture of how things are going to play out over the next two to three years, what would you like to happen? How do you plan on making it happen?
The plan is to continue to grow the resource at La Virginia through drilling; ideally, we would have 1-2 resource updates every calendar year, and we will have developed the project to a point where we have sold outright, or we have brought in a significant partner either as a strategic investor or joint venture partner. We plan to achieve this by continuing to drill the project and expediting the process by adding rigs based on success. We would continue to fund those programs by private placements at higher and higher prices as the share price moves up based upon prior success.
Could you tell us a little bit more about the La Virginia project?
It is located in Eastern Sonora 220 km from Hermosillo. It was the number one exploration asset of Minefinders in 2012 when Pan Am bought them for $1.5 billion. Minefinders did helicopter reconnaissance on the entire trend looking for another Project like their Dolores Mine that sat 75km south of the project and settled on La Virginia as the lookalike. They completed 188 holes and over 52,000 meters of drilling before Pan American put the project on the shelf as metals prices fell in 2013. We were approached by a group of claim holders that owned the private Rubi Esperanza group of claims in 2018. They asked us to try to bring the project back together.
We were able to get a deal done with Pan Am and those claim owners to bring the project back together as one single project, and we have the right to own 100%. We then completed our first phase of drilling at the end of 2018 and discovered the El Rubi portion of the project with a highlight intercept of 13.3m of 3.16 Au g/t and 228 Ag g/t. This Phase I drilling comprised work over five target areas totaling 4,753m in 20 drill holes.
Just in March we provided results from an additional five drill holes at La Virginia as part of our phase II drilling. A highlight interval of 0.5m grading 1584g/t silver and 5.56g/t gold was returned from 185m down-hole in LV20-219. In addition to drilling, we recently completed a 4,800-hectare, 718 line-km helicopter-borne magnetic-radiometric geophysical survey centered on the El Rubi Zone. Notably, a second diamond drill has been testing the satellite Macho Libre target.
The results to date have been very encouraging. The El Rubi zone continues to grow both along strike and at depth and we are excited to see what the assays look like from Macho Libre. With Covid-19, we’ve decided to halt all field exploration, but this will give us a chance to assess the recent results and consolidate our interpretation of the work to date.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We completed oversubscribed financing in September for $4 million this was our first raise since the IPO, which was also done at $0.25, so we have a shareholder base that is mostly priced in close to where the stock is currently trading. If you combine that with the fact that we have a very tight share structure with strong institutional ownership, it means there should be very little downward pressure on the stock, and it won’t take much buying to get the stock moving up.
On top of this, macroeconomic turmoil is going to continue to play a critical role in the markets in 2020, especially gold. I don’t think that’s doing any good for any of the world’s economies, but gold has always been the hedge in your portfolio. I think you’re going to see gold and silver benefit from these tensions as we move forward
The team is quite excited about the future of this company, and we look forward to continuing to provide steady news flow from the ongoing program.