Monumental Minerals (TSX-V: MNRL)(OTCQB: MNMRF) CEO Dr. Jamil Sader on Drilling Multiple Critical Metals Projects in 2023


Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Monumental Minerals, Dr. Jamil Sader. Jamil, it's great to have you back on. It's been a bit. How are you?

Jamil Sader: I'm doing pretty well. How are you doing today?

Gerardo Del Real: I am well. I wanted to catch up. You have multiple projects that you're advancing. You had some news earlier this month about the finalization of drill targets and the drilling program that you're planning at your heavy rare earth element project in Mexico. Rare earths, of course, in the news once again, as there are mounting fears of, potentially, China deciding, especially with the heavy rare earths, to go ahead and restrict export of those very, very important metals. So I wanted to have you on and just get an update and see where things were at. I know that 2023 is a pivotal year for the company, and so I thought it would be worthwhile to catch up.

Jamil Sader: Absolutely. 2022 was very much a building year. It was year where we had projects. We picked up several projects, we built teams, and we did a lot of surface exploration. 2023 is pretty much the year of the drill, so it's drill baby drill. At the Jemi Project, we're planning to be drilling there in June of this year, so we have six holes planned for a total of 1,800 meters. This is really based on the excellent work that was done on with our on the ground treat team, that's ProDeMin, that's run by Craig Gibson out of Mexico. We think that doing approximately 300 meters per hole, we're going to be able to explore the deeper parts of the system and to really better understand the project, and to find the source of those mineralized dikes and veins that we see at the surface.

Gerardo Del Real: Now, I mentioned the importance of the heavy rare earths, and this project, this Jemi Project, is a heavy rare earth project. For those that may not be familiar with the rare earth space and the very important economic considerations and differences between the light rare earths and the heavies, can you please provide just a basic primer there for us?

Jamil Sader: Of course. There's really four rare earths that provide most of the economic value for rare a earth deposit, so that's neodymium and praseodymium. Those are your lights. Then terbium and dysprosium, which are your heavies. They all go into magnets. But the heavies, the terbium and dysprosium, those ones increase the operating temperature of your magnet by double, so you don't lose magnetism until about 160 degrees. But they're really significant also because China has an absolute monopoly on them. They mine almost all the heavy rare earths globally. Then they have the entire supply chain, all the way down to the consumer products that we buy. That does make a lot of people, especially Western governments, quite uneasy.

I think that, most recently in the news, this started with the Chinese spy balloon, and after the US military shot it down, first thing that the Chinese did was cut off Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

Gerardo Del Real: Yeah.

Jamil Sader: Small, but a shot over the bow. As you said, there's been more rumblings from China. They've told the US and told other countries that they're cutting off rare earth technologies, so they will not ship rare earth technologies anymore to these other countries. We're starting to see rumblings of 2010, when they throttled rare earths to Japan and the prices went parabolic.

Gerardo Del Real: I had some spectacular gains during that price spike. I'm talking companies much like Monumental, that right now are 16, 17, 18 cents. I remember Rare Element Resources was one of them. That eventually shot up as high as $18 within a matter of a year to a year and a half. Look, I think there is definitely the potential for that type of geopolitical situation to develop once again. Tell me a bit about the system that you have at Jemi and how that compares maybe with some of your peer deposits, some analogs that maybe people could dig into a bit just to get a better idea of the type of system you're looking to drill into.

Jamil Sader: That's a great question. What we really see at the surface, as I was mentioning, as we see these dikes, these veins that are highly mineralized in rare earths, specifically in heavy rare earths, in a mineral called eudialyte. And when we look at the geological models that have been developed from the work that was done by Craig and his group, it looks very similar to a top of a system that would be like Tanbreez in Greenland, Norra Karr in Sweden, Mont Saint-Hilaire in Quebec and Canada. These are all layered intrusions. What we think is that when we drill our 300-meter holes, we will start to hit these parts of these layered intrusions. What we're looking for essentially is the magma source that fed these dikes and these veins near the surface. So that's what we are anticipating we're going to hit with these holes.

Gerardo Del Real: There's nothing like a drill turning and making a discovery. I'm looking forward, obviously, to what you turn up there. We have to talk lithium a bit, and we have to talk Chile, before I let you go. There's a lot going on in the lithium space.

Jamil Sader: Absolutely.

Gerardo Del Real: The headlines, the gloom and doom headlines, are that this lithium spot price has taken a hit in 2023. I would caution to those that really want to learn more about the space to look at the contract price, which is not equally important, more important than the spot price. This is the contract price, where transactions are actually made. That's held up really well. There's a lot of people much smarter than I, people like Joe Lowry, that believe that 2023 will see higher contract prices than 2022. Again, just a word of caution to those that think that the lithium bull cycle has had its run. I think it's far from over. I think if you're of that camp, you're going to miss out on substantial gains moving forward. With that being said, Chile's had a lot of advancements in regards to lithium, and of course you have a project there that you're developing a bit at a time. Can you get into that a bit?

Jamil Sader: Chile's been on the news quite a bit, and especially, most of the news has been regarding this public-private model for lithium exploration or lithium mining. The Chilean government sees lithium as being very strategic, and they want to make sure that they get their cut and they see value. I don't blame them. I would probably want to do the same if I was in that position as well. But they also understand that they're not experts in lithium exploration or extraction and that they need to work with private companies. So they're developing this private-public model. They haven't come out with the final blueprint yet on how it will work, but what they see is some sort of partnership, I think, and that it will be region-to-region depending on the region's social and economic requirements.

But like I said, they understand that they don't have the know-how, so they want to work with other lithium producers or other lithium companies. I'll also say that there is zero risk of Chile or the government in Chile nationalizing any of these assets that companies like ours have. There are treaties in place with Chile that prevent this. The government is not stupid. They don't want to drive away foreign investment. They don't want to scare people away, so they're trying to come up with some sort of model. I actually think it's quite a positive thing, because what it does is it puts the government with skin in the game so that they have a real drive to get these projects across the line and to start producing and start making money, so that everyone makes money.

In terms of our projects specifically with Turi, Laguna Blanca, they're progressing well. We're laying the foundations for drilling. We're ticking all the boxes with respect to various regulatory, groups, and stakeholders. So things are moving forward very, very well. As I've discussed here, we've also got our ears to the ground, especially on how things will move forward in Chile with the government and this new blueprint.

Gerardo Del Real: You have a tiny market cap. You have two projects that you're advancing towards drilling. You're in the right commodities, in my opinion, with lithium and rare earths. Both projects seem to have fertile systems for a discovery. I am looking forward, starting with Jemi, to seeing what the drill bit turns up. Jamil, it is always insightful and a pleasure to have you on. Anything to add to that before I let you go?

Jamil Sader: No, I think that's great, Gerardo. Thank you very much for having me on today, and have yourself a great weekend.

Gerardo Del Real: All right, you as well. We'll chat soon.

Jamil Sader: All right. Cheers.

Gerardo Del Real: Bye now.


Click here to see more from Monumental Minerals