General Base Metals
Bravo Mining (TSX-V: BRVO)(OTC: BRVMF) President Simon Mottram on New Nickel sulphide Discovery & Next Steps in the Advancement of the Tier-1 Potential Luanga Project, Brazil
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the president of Bravo Mining — Mr. Simon Mottram. Simon, it's great to have you on. It's our first time chatting. How are you today, sir?
Simon Mottram: I am great, thanks, Gerardo. And it's good to be here.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, let's get right into it. The Luanga Project in Brazil was already a Tier-1, world-class deposit. And let me start by saying that I am a very biased shareholder. I participated in an earlier financing and plan on holding my shares indefinitely, and I absolutely think the world of the management team and think the world of the project.
I already loved the project for what it was… and we can get into that in a bit. But you're onto a new nickel-rich zone at the Luanga Project that I want to talk about. It's nickel; it's copper. The grades look to be fantastic. And I know it's early on there but it looks like it could be a game changer for, again, what I describe as what was already a Tier-1 project there.
Before we get into all of that, Simon, I would love for you to touch a bit on your background because it's pretty fascinating to me.
Simon Mottram: Sure, no problem. Naturally, I'm a geologist. Born in the UK and left when my parents emigrated to Australia and went to university in Australia. Obviously, I spent most of my formative years there. I started life as a mining geologist and then moved into exploration and probably predominantly feasibility studies and taking projects through to development.
I spent a little bit of time in Indonesia during that time and, ultimately, later in my career as I progressed through to exploration manager in a couple of different companies and then found myself working on late ultramafic projects just like Luanga. Starting in Australia, I was there for three years with a company on a late ultramafic project. It was a joint venture with Western Mining.
From there, I went to Vietnam, working on a late ultramafic project there with success on doubling the resources and reserves of the mine, and I lived in Vietnam for three years. And then, of course, I met some people and got involved in copper, massive sulphides again, in Brazil and have basically been living here in Brazil for over 12 years now.
A lot of that time was with Avanco, which, Luis Azevedo — who's our chairman and CEO at Bravo — was an executive director with myself and Tony Polglase. We were the three executives of that company, and, obviously, I think it was another great result.
We took that from an exploration discovery and, in less than five years, from the discovery hole to the first concentrate sales. We picked up a number of other projects, and, ultimately, with seven deposits across three projects, we were taken over by Oz Minerals for about AUS$440 million.
From there, I moved into another project in Brazil and had a crack at massive sulphide zinc. And then, ultimately, I came to Bravo when Luis started putting that company together. And here we are again talking about massive sulphides. So I guess 20 years in massive sulphides of one metal or another. And there's been a nice string of discoveries and mine developments and putting mines into production along the way.
Gerardo Del Real: Probably not a coincidence that you continue to make discoveries at top-notch projects, which brings me to Luanga. What is it about the Luanga Project that attracted you to it initially? And then, we have to talk about the recent news with the new nickel-rich zone. There was already a Central Zone and now you have a Central and a North Zone that are complementing each other.
So what attracted you to Luanga? You have a clear history of monetizing assets. I can't imagine that you had to come back to get involved with anything less than you thinking it was a world-class project with the opportunity to do the same value creation and wealth creation that you've been able to achieve in the past. Why Luanga?
Simon Mottram: Oh, I think Luanga, specifically, was one of a number of projects that we've — Luis and myself and others — have kept their eye on over the years. And obviously, living here in the Carajás where Luanga is located, you do get close to the ground, as you know, and you tend to know who's got the projects and what projects they have.
And especially in larger companies where they're not the sorts of things you can just go read about on the internet. You don't see the published articles. You don't see the news releases, and, obviously, the need is not there in terms of materiality when you're dealing with the big companies. And Luanga was something that we'd been aware of for some time and Luis was very keen on it.
And when he picked that project up and told me that he'd got it, I was extremely excited, and, I think, in much the same vein as yourself. It's already a Tier-1 project sitting there. But having come from a background that's heavily focused on massive sulphides and, specifically, late ultramafic massive sulphides, PGM-nickel-copper or nickel-copper-PGM, whichever way around, depending on the project — Luanga ticks all of the boxes for me, certainly.
And I think in fairness to Vale, Vale had done their work on it. They'd done enough drilling and had done enough work to realize that it's not a Vale-sized project for them. It's not their run-of-the-mill metal; it's not their metal of preference. And Luis was able to do a very nice deal on that. But I think that sort of project going into a junior company is extremely attractive and particularly, from my perspective, having worked on a number of similar projects over the last two decades.
Straight away, you can see there has got to be potential. And not just potential to drill Luanga out and prove the historic resource that's there but the potential to, obviously, make that resource bigger. But then, obviously, one of my personal passions is looking at the exploration upside and the blue sky.
And I think, again, that the work that Vale had done had focused entirely on drilling out the deposit that outcrops, essentially, across that entire 8.1 kilometers and not so much ventured elsewhere or, in this case, deeper into the footwall. And certainly, that was something of extreme interest to myself and to everyone else on the team.
Gerardo Del Real: The main project that's seen the most drilling, obviously, has been the palladium, platinum, rhodium, gold, and nickel portion of that 8.1 kilometers. But the recent news here, this new nickel-rich zone is, as you and Luis describe, a brand new style of mineralization that is completely different and separate from what's been found and discovered in the past.
Can you tell me about why that has the potential to be an absolute game changer for this project?
Simon Mottram: I think there's plenty of people out there in the market that have seen magmatic nickel discoveries, some with PGM deposits, some without PGM deposits. There's obviously some pretty big, famous ones out there. But I think that when you're looking at this style of mineralization — and Luanga is big, it's a big intrusion, it's over eight kilometers long and it's probably four and a half kilometers thick— it’s a substantial intrusion.
And when you look at the Luanga ore body, you see there's a historic resource there. It's 142 million tonnes and it does have nickel in it. The historic resource, its total nickel is 0.11% nickel. But in the great scheme of things, you're also realizing that that portion of nickel and those PGMs are only associated with perhaps 2% to 4% sulphide. And there were some assumptions that were made very, very early on in the project 20 years ago where no one had encountered copper, no one had encountered massive sulphides.
And so I guess we came into it and said, ‘Well, okay, is it a case of there is no copper or is the copper somewhere else? And is the copper perhaps located where what we believe to be the missing mass, if you like, or the volume? Where is the rest of the sulphides?’
And in doing that infill drilling, I think we were always mindful of that, and at the end of the day, Hole 47, which had the 11 meters of massive sulphides in it, the northern sector of Luanga, we essentially stumbled on that during infill drilling 200-meter sections.
But I think in all fairness, we were stepping back a little bit further just to make sure that we were tagging the hanging wall or just seeing what's right on the edge — and we picked that up. But I think the real driver for today's press release is expanding on that, in that we've basically repeated the same thing now down to the south. And again, we are looking out a little bit further into the footwall and just seeing what's out there.
And I think the key to today's press release is you look at those results in Hole 39 and Hole 61, which is down in that central sector, and you are now completely out of what is the host rocks for Luanga.
So the entire 8.1 kilometers is hosted in orthopyroxenite. That is the host rock, and that's where all of the PGM-nickel-gold mineralization is. But not in this case. And in this case, we are now down in the footwall; we're in what we call harzburgites, which is, let's just say, a more mafic ultramafic or it's an even more ultramafic ultramafic.
But we are not in the mineralized horizon. We are outside of that now and we're looking at ostensibly what we believe to be a new horizon, and thus we draw the conclusions that this is different. We are now seeing a different style of mineralization. And I think that, again, it is clearly backed up by when we start looking at the ratios between different elements and when you are looking in the PGM group, and, obviously, one of the most relevant ones that's out there for the holders is rhodium. Because, 20 years ago, rhodium was probably worth, I don't know, 400 bucks an ounce. Today, obviously, it's worth a hell of a lot more!
So you're basically getting a double win on this because it is relevant to backing the story with empirical data but it's also relevant because it's highly economic. So again, when you look at that press release, you're not seeing the usual or the same ratio between palladium and rhodium. And all of a sudden, it's gone as low as 1.5:1 or under 2:1.
So rhodium is nearly half the value or half the quantity grams per tonne of the palladium, which is highly unusual. And again, that's extremely supportive of a different chemistry in a different host rock. And we're clearly seeing something different.
And I think in the bigger picture, it's what we were always hoping for and it's what we were always looking at a low level in the background for. And obviously, this year, now, we're getting into the phase-two program of what we have in the technical report or what is the poster child for our work program, if you like. And that does contain a lot more exploration-focused work.
I think there's 7,500 meters of exploration drilling and there's a very nice chunk of change in there for geophysics. And obviously, again, this style of sulphide exploration — geophysics and particularly electromagnetics — is key to that kind of work.
So I think now, basically, the onset of those results down in Hole 39 and 61 was one of the key catalysts for taking that next step and saying, ‘Okay, this is starting to come together. It's time to put out a press release. We now have the empirical data to back up these theories.’ And obviously, there's a lot more data behind that but nobody wants a 250-page press release. But it's there and we obviously have a lot more confidence.
We're seeing not just sulphides — that style of sulphides just to the north — we now see it just to the south. And so I think with the usual caveats of, ‘This is my personal opinion and I'm going to make forward-looking statements,’ you'd look at it and say, ‘Well, what does it really mean in the big picture? Is this leading into something else?’
You have a different style of mineralization. You've got nickel and copper up to the north and down in the south. At this stage, it's just nickel but it's clearly magmatic primary nickel sulphides. This isn't something that's remobilized or it's some other source. It's clearly — and you can see that in those photos in the press release — you see the cumulus and the net textures. This is primary magmatic nickel.
So here we are today, following that press release and being able to share that with our shareholders and say, ‘Well, this is the blue sky that everyone's been waiting for, and this is where we're heading with the exploration program.’ And obviously, focused on the blue sky; Luanga, obviously, is the shopfront, and we're drilling that out.
We're on target for our maiden 43-101 [resource estimate] in the second half of this year. That program is going fantastically. People are seeing plenty of results flow and there's obviously going to be the potential to extend that at depth. And that program will start coming on soon. You'll start seeing that sort of information getting out to the market, essentially, before the resource lands so that shareholders can see the upside.
But now, we're ready to come out and show the public that this is the blue sky side of Luanga and this is where we've taken the exploration program. And we are, obviously, looking for nickel sulphides; ostensibly, massive nickel sulphide copper deeper in the deposit.
So looking down into the basement of the intrusion, looking at where the fluids came up from deep, deep down below and looking for where we can find those heavier base metals deeper down in the system. And I think the evidence now strongly supports that that is of significant potential and it's a very real possibility.
Gerardo Del Real: You've drilled a total of 144 drill holes; you have 76 that are still pending assays. I already loved the commodity mix with the palladium, with the platinum, with the copper, the rhodium, the gold, adding copper and nickel. And apparently, with this new discovery, it looks to me like you are vectoring in towards those higher-grade zones.
It's going to be an exciting rest of the year for Bravo. Simon, I want to thank you for your time. Anything to add to that?
Simon Mottram: No, I couldn't agree more with you. I think 2023 is going to be even more exciting than 2022 was. It's certainly shaping up to be an incredible year, and let's just keep going the way we are.
Gerardo Del Real: Great work! Appreciate the time. Happy shareholder. We'll chat again soon. Thanks again.
Simon Mottram: No problem. Thanks very much and thanks for your time. It's lovely to hear from you.
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