Rockridge Resources (TSX-V: ROCK)(OTC: RRRLF) President Jordan Trimble and incoming CEO Jonathan Wiesblatt on Management Transition and Update on Flagship Knife Lake Copper Project, Saskatchewan, Canada
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the president of Rockridge Resources, Mr. Jordan Trimble, and incoming CEO of Rockridge, Mr. Jonathan Wiesblatt. John, Jordan… how are you today?
Jordan Trimble: Good. Thank you.
Jonathon Wiesblatt: Doing great, Gerardo. Thanks for having us.
Gerardo Del Real: John, it's exciting to have you on. Before we get into it, congratulations on the new role. I think your timing is excellent with copper being where it is.
You just announced plans for a drill program last week. I want to get into that in a bit. But before we discuss Knife Lake, I want to talk about your background because it's pretty extensive. And I think it really, really speaks to a more targeted effort to get the Rockridge message out there because, frankly, I believe it's one of the best copper speculations in the space.
Jonathon Wiesblatt: Yeah,Gerardo, thanks for having me and thanks for the acknowledgement. So I can start off by telling you that I've been an investor for my entire career. In fact, I started investing in the markets when I was in my teens. I've been investing with institutional portfolios for the better part of two decades.
I helped to run a very successful hedge fund, a multi-strategy hedge fund product, in Toronto for about a decade, that, at the end of my tenure, had put up award-winning performance. And then went on to manage the Sprott Canadian equity fund, which was the flagship fund over at Sprott and run by Eric Sprott for a number of years.
And then after that, I ran some internal capital at a large family office, in fact, one of the largest well-known family offices here in Canada. And you can't be running money in this country without having exposure to resources. And the portfolios that I was managing up until about a year ago had started to just reorient into hard assets including precious metals, base metals, and energy — just given my overall macro view.
So that's a brief background on myself, and I'm super excited to be joining the team at Rockridge. There's a lot of excitement happening at this company.
Gerardo Del Real: Jordan, what attracted you to allow John to come in? Obviously, Grant is stepping down and will remain on, I believe, as a technical consultant, which, frankly, it really speaks to his strength, right? But why John and why now?
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, so John and I have gotten to know each other over the last year and built a working relationship. And I think what we needed at Rockridge was some more capital markets expertise and experience in an officer role.
We've got a great technical team, you can see that; we've built that over the last several years, and Grant is a PGO — a well-respected geologist. He's going to continue on as a consulting geologist working closely with us in a technical advisory role, which is what he's well-suited to do.
And John is going to come in and help be the face of the company. And as you mentioned, he's out in Toronto. It's good to have some representation out east; a great network and Rolodex out there. And he's invested in many companies like Rockridge through his career.
He knows the resource space well, and it's going to be, I think, an excellent compliment to the existing team that we have at Rockridge. And we're absolutely thrilled to have him onboard. Over the course of the last year, it just kind of fell into place. And happy to have him join and looking forward to continuing to build the company over the coming years with him.
Gerardo Del Real: John, I mentioned that I believe your timing is excellent. You announced an upcoming 1,600-meter, that's a minimum, drill program on Knife Lake. Can you tell me a bit about your approach moving forward and how much of a focus Knife Lake, within the context of $4.15 copper, will be as the year progresses?
Jonathon Wiesblatt: Yeah, for sure. So let's take a step back and let's look at the strategy overall of this company. The strategy is to go into stable, political, sociopolitical jurisdictions and find assets, resources, historical resources that haven't been exposed to more modern exploration techniques.
Knife Lake, when it was acquired, it meets that criteria perfectly. So as you know, Knife Lake deposit is around 200 million pounds of copper located in Saskatchewan in a very friendly mining jurisdiction just to the north of the Flin Flon mining camp where large companies such as Hudbay, and emerging companies such as Foran, have been building their resource bases. So we're super excited about the location, the geography, and the historical resource.
So the plan going forward is to go into that particular area, the Knife Lake deposit, and its surrounding areas, and to go and look for other like-deposits. And so far, the team is very excited about the prospects of doing so.
Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic!
Jordan Trimble: I'll add to that too. We haven't really spoken in a while about Knife Lake; the focus being in 2020 at Raney. But just to refresh everyone's memories on the history of the project, as John alluded to, it was a project that there was a discovery made on in the late-60s and early-70s.
And a lot of that historical work and drilling – hundreds of drill holes in fact – were focused in and around the deposit, which is, as John mentioned, a couple of hundred million pounds, predominantly copper, at about 0.85% copper equivalent right at-surface. But not a lot of regional work that's been carried out at this project area. It's a big property – over 33,000 hectares of land that we have there – that we're earning 100% into.
We expect to complete that earn-in at some point later this year, early next year. We have to spend about another C$1.8 million to complete that earn-in at the project in exploration expenditures. And the idea with the exploration is – given that you've got a one-off of what appears to be a remobilized VMS deposit – there's a good chance that there's going to be additional deposits to be discovered regionally or at-depth. And as John mentioned, it really hasn't seen any modern exploration.
That's what we're doing. That's what we did a little bit of in 2019 when we took the project on. Keep in mind that it was a totally different copper market back in late-2018 / early-2019 than where we are now. So it's very exciting for us to get back there, and we have very high hopes for making additional discoveries at the project area.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, you answered my next question and I didn't have to ask it, Jordan. So great work. Yeah. John, go ahead…
Jonathon Wiesblatt: Gerardo, if I could just add one more point. You asked about the context of the copper markets where we're currently at around $4.15 per pound. The deposit sits fairly close to-surface. So we're looking at around between 100 and 200 meters below surface. And if we can find more copper at those depths, it makes it a very viable and economic project especially as the copper prices continue to march higher.
Gerardo Del Real: Given your experience in the markets, John, what do you see as far as the copper space? I've long predicted higher prices; I think we'll see new all-time highs likely this year. But I would love to hear your take on where you think copper is headed.
Jonathon Wiesblatt: There's a couple of very interesting dynamics. Over the last 5 to 7 years, we've seen a very limited amount of capital going towards the discovery and to the development of new mining assets on a global basis. And as you know, when you have limited resources going into a particular sector, you see curtailments in supply. And that's what we're starting to see in the market right now.
In addition to that – as we come through this COVID very peculiar time in the world – demand is starting to recover. You're starting to see the economic recoveries in emerging markets like China and now in North America and Western Europe. As we start to see those economies recover and demand start to rebound with limited amounts of new supply coming into the market over the next couple of years, you're going to start to see a reaction in the price of the commodity — which we're starting to see now.
I think $4 is the beginning. The high in the last cycle, I believe, was in the $4.50 to $4.60 per pound range. I think we're going to work our way well through that for the upcoming cycle, the current cycle, that we're in. So very bullish on the commodity environment.
And then when you take into account the financial drivers of the market – markets moving towards hard assets with all kinds of liquidity in the system, more and more stimulus, more money being printed – the markets are going to expect higher inflation. And when you're having higher inflation, markets are going to start to move towards hard assets such as copper. So very, very bullish on the commodity going forward.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent… I am as well! Jordan, before I let you go, I have to ask about Raney. Obviously, right now, everybody is bored with the gold, right? There's crypto and NFTs and all sorts of speculative assets you can allocate capital towards.
But that's usually a good sign of a bottom. What's going on on the Raney front?
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, we did a fair bit of work there in 2020. And as you recall, earlier in 2020, we had that one drill hole – the pretty spectacular number – 28 grams per tonne of gold over 6 meters, relatively shallow. And we did some follow-up drilling on that. And we've continued to intersect good mineralization at the project.
It is an earlier stage asset. It's in the right jurisdiction just southwest of Timmins. But a project that we've now earned 100% of. We don't have any obligations or holding costs for the project.
So we are currently, right now, looking to bring in a potential partner company to continue to advance the project. Or we can sit on it for the time being. This year, we will remain focused at Knife Lake, as we've talked about, with the geophysics having just been completed and the drilling commencing shortly. Raney is a great little gold project for the company. But it's all-hands-on-deck for Knife Lake over the next 12 months.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent! John, anything else to add to that?
Jonathon Wiesblatt: I think Jordan said it best. Nothing to add on Raney.
Gerardo Del Real: And market cap for those not familiar – and this is why I believe Rockridge is one of the better copper speculations out there right now – where's it at, Jordan?
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, we're still hovering around a C$7 million - C$7.5 million market cap. We just closed a $C2.5 million financing. So fully funded for all of the drilling at Knife Lake; well-funded for the remainder of this year.
So yeah, I think an incredible value proposition right now. And with any success with the upcoming drill program, I'd be shocked to not see a rerating on the current valuation.
Gerardo Del Real: I couldn't agree more! Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time today… it was fun!
Jordan Trimble: Thanks, Gerardo.
Jonathon Wiesblatt: Thanks, Gerardo.