Cordoba Minerals (TSX-V: CDB) CEO Mario Stifano on Final Assays from the 2017 Program at Alacran, First Discovery of Cobalt in Colombia, & Upcoming Resource Update
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is President and CEO of Cordoba Minerals (TSX-V: CDB)(OTC: CDBMF), Mr. Mario Stifano. Mario, how are you this afternoon?
Mario Stifano: Very good, Gerardo. Thank you for having me on your show again.
Gerardo Del Real: Well thank you for coming back on. I wanted to provide everybody an update. You had some news a bit over a week ago reporting the remaining assay results and just to summarize briefly and then I'd love for you to fill in the details. More high-grade, more continuity, these are numbers that are going to go into the resource estimate, which I know you're hoping to get out in the first quarter of 2018. But also interesting to me is the fact that you found cobalt and I'm not familiar with cobalt anywhere in this district, or Colombia for that matter. So I thought that was a bit fascinating and I'd love for you to touch on each of those points. Let's start with the assays.
Mario Stifano: Okay, exactly to your point we've now completed 81 holes at Alacran that Cordoba has drilled. The drill program was very successful, we've been able to extend the mineralization to the south. We've been able to extend the mineralization to the north and particularly to the downdip in the northwest which is quite interesting because that's where we hit this high-grade cobalt – as you pointed out – nowhere in Colombia that we're aware of. And we've gone through all the records and we have not been able to find any reference anywhere to cobalt being intersected anywhere in Colombia. That 1% cobalt that we intersected is intriguing because it's on the downdip of the northern part of our Alacran deposit and we really don't know what it means and where the rest of this type of mineralization could be.
That's going to be a great exploration target for us for 2018 and hopefully into the future, continuing to explore Alacran and understand what the controls are for this cobalt and as everyone knows, cobalt is a key metal right now. Everyone's talking about electric vehicles and cobalt is in extreme short supply and anywhere you can find economic quantities of cobalt, it's quite interesting and 1% cobalt would be considered bonanza type grades of cobalt. You just don't see that kind of mineralization anywhere. So we're really excited about that cobalt discovery and hopefully there's a lot more where that comes from but we'll leave that up to the geologists to try to piece that together for us.
Gerardo Del Real: And I think it speaks to the complexity of the property. We've talked in the past that all the best deposits in all the best districts are the toughest ones to understand initially. We've had news releases where you're hitting 2,000 grams per tonne gold and then you're following up on that. Now you're following up on cobalt. Obviously, that doesn't take away from the pending resource estimate but I have to imagine – you mentioned regional exploration – I have to imagine that that's going to be an area that your geologists and the company and the board is going to look at.
Mario Stifano: Well that's exactly it, Gerardo. Now that we finished our drill program at Alacran and we're working on a resource update, our guys are on the ground as we speak starting to look at all our various targets in our region. To remind all our listeners here, Cordoba's got 20,000 hectares of ground that we consider the San Matias district and project. In addition to that we've got another 200,000 hectares around it. And so we control this northern part of Colombia and it's quite intriguing because as we continue to drill Alacran we do some age dating and we start to understand more and more what's happening in our area. It's becoming quite apparent to us that northern Colombia is quite different than the rest of Colombia.
A lot of the previous discoveries in Colombia have all been in this Miocene type belt, we think we might actually be in Cretaceous age rocks and our area might be more like island-arc type porphyry. Think of Papua New Guinea where you've got these great high-grade and large porphyry discoveries. We think we're potentially in the same kind of geology in northern Colombia, which means no one has really looked in northern Colombia for exploration, especially these type of exploration models. Our guys are on the ground now, we understand Alacran a lot more so we're going to be looking for other Alacrans because we have some ideas where we can see some repetition of Alacran style deposits.
In addition to that, we have to start looking for the porphyries. We know we're in a porphyry district, we had one of the best geologists that's known for porphyries coming up to site and again he reiterated to us that he thinks we're in a porphyry district. That means it's up to our guys to find these porphyries, we think we got some of the best technology in the world using HPX's Typhoon technology which helps identify chargeability up to two kilometers at depth. There are guys on the ground, the technology, the treasury, the backing of HPX and Robert Friedland's exploration expertise, I think we got a good shot here at not only expanding Alacran for the prior resource but in addition, finding new discoveries. That's our job.
Gerardo Del Real: Excuse me, Mario, go ahead.
Mario Stifano: No, I'm good.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. I was going to pivot to the shares not responding to the excellent results despite the fact that you have the resource estimate coming up. I believe there's probably some concern, shares today hit a 52 week low, that you may dilute at these prices and that you may raise capital at these prices. What does the treasury look like and do you plan on raising money at these prices or can we anticipate that you'll get through the resource estimate, get that out and see how things go from there?
Mario Stifano: Look, every exploration company in the world always needs to strengthen its treasuries until such time as it's producing revenue and generating free cash flow. We're quite lucky here at Cordoba because we got one of the largest backers in Robert Friedland and we have patience, which means our intention will always be to issue the resource and then at some point when the market's right, we will look to raise a little bit of money. But we're in no rush. We've got a strong treasury to see us through into the second quarter and potentially into the third quarter. So we're going to be very patient to ensure that when we look to raise treasury, we're looking at two things. That it's in the best interest of shareholders, so the highest price possible as well as the minimum amount of dilution. There's no need for us to raise $20 million or $15 million today because that's not in our budget.
From a junior exploration company, because you have a strong backer in HPX, we don't feel the same level of pressure to raise capital as a lot of other junior explorers because we have that strong backing and we know whenever we need to raise a bit of money, we got a checkbook ready for us. From a shareholder perspective, you should always be confident when you've got such a large company backing you. They're always looking to create shareholder value because their wealth is tied to Cordoba's wealth and Cordoba's wealth is tied to our shareholders’ wealth. We're very patient. As you know my background, prior to being CEO of Cordoba, was CFO of multiple public companies. So I'm quite accustomed to raising capital and I'm quite good at raising capital when the time is right.
Gerardo Del Real: Fair enough. You mentioned HPX, you mentioned Robert Friedland. I have to imagine that with the note in the release about regional exploration, that you're going to be looking to make or add to discoveries in the district because it truly is a district. Can you speak to that a bit, Mario?
Mario Stifano: That's exactly it. When we came into this area of northern Colombia, we recognized that we were in a new district. We recognized potential for copper-gold mineralization. More importantly we recognized the potential for porphyries. We started working on the district and then of course we were able to acquire Alacran and Alacran's been a great acquisition for us. A great discovery and a great deposit. Because of that, we focused quite a bit over the last 18 months, two years on drilling Alacran. As I said, we drilled 81 holes there and almost 40,000 meters of drilling. But now the time is to start looking for other potential in this district because we really believe Alacran is not an isolated deposit.
Keep in mind, just to the north of us we have Cerro Matoso, which is the world's largest nickel mine. 20 kilometers to the south is Alacran. You take a bird's eye view of this district, what are the odds Alacran, Cerro Matoso being the only deposits in this area when no real exploration work has been done in this district since the 1980s. We think, and time will tell, but we think we've got a real good shot here at having multiple discoveries in our district. Alacran plus hopefully a porphyry discovery and some other Alacrans. Our geologists, as I said, are on the ground. They're looking. They're starting to work up some of the targets so we'll get ready for drilling some additional targets hopefully late second quarter, early third quarter.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. Mario, I want to thank you for the update and I hope that once you finalize the details of the regional exploration program that you come back on and give us an update then. Will you be at any of the upcoming conferences? Can people see you there?
Mario Stifano: Yeah, actually. We're going to be at Diggers and Dealers next week in Vancouver. And one of our geologists, drilling guy Julian Manco, who is now taking his MBA, has prepared a paper explaining our district and what we think is happening and where we see some real potential for porphyry. So if anybody's around at Diggers and Dealers, come around, have a look at our poster and our paper and give us your thoughts because we're opening it up for people to give us their views of where they think there's potential in our district. We got our ideas and we're just opening it up to peer review. This is an exciting district. We get calls all the time now from people wanting to come have a look because it's very rare for people to find deposits like Alacran in a brand new district. If any company wants to explore here, there's only one company that they have to come calling on and that's Cordoba.
Gerardo Del Real: You're also going to benefit from that great infrastructure. I know that's something that stood out to me. There's only a couple of projects that I've been to that have the kind of infrastructure that the San Matias district has. I think that's going to go a long way towards potentially positive economics with Alacran. Mario, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
Mario Stifano: You brought up an excellent point about the infrastructure. One of the key events that's going to be coming up next after this resource is actually putting out a PEA on Alacran because, exactly to your point, we think there's real potential here for Alacran to be an economic deposit. The infrastructure goes a long way to reducing your overall capital expenditures. The way the Alacran deposit is situated, where it's on a hillside, we expect an extremely low strip ratio for Alacran which is going to make it very attractive for any mining company, obviously Cordoba, to put this into production and generate hopefully, what we believe will be strong cashflows from Alacran for a very long time.
Gerardo Del Real: With copper sitting at $3.20, you have to be happy about having a district on your hands.
Mario Stifano: Yeah, and we're very positive as a company and as an overall group on the perspective of copper. We think $3.20's just a beginning. We have not got anywhere near the highs of the prior cycle and what we think is significant demand coming on for copper but very limited supply. If you look around, there's not a lot of copper plays out there. We think there could be real potential here for a significant run in copper prices. Particularly by the time we hit 2020, we see some really strong potential for much higher copper prices than today.
Gerardo Del Real: I absolutely agree and I think the leverage with the district is pretty compelling. And I think maybe in a little bit's time we're going to look back at today's share price and laugh about it. Time will tell, as you said earlier. Mario, thank you so much.
Mario Stifano: Thank you. Cheers.
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