General Precious Metals
Rockridge Resources (TSX-V: ROCK)(OTC: RRRLF) CEO Jonathan Wiesblatt on Revving Up the Drills on an Exciting High-Grade VMS-Style Copper Project in Canada with Higher Copper Prices Right Around the Corner
Gerardo Del Real:This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Rockridge Resources — Mr. Jonathan Wiesblatt. Jon, how are you today?
Jonathan Wiesblatt: I'm doing okay, Gerardo. Just getting ready to start summertime.
Gerardo Del Real:Listen, let's get right into it. I was joking with you off air that this is the time of the year where two things happen: the summer doldrums kick in and people hopefully are able to be outside and enjoy the outside. And the other thing that happens is there's very little liquidity for most juniors in our business. So with that said… the other joke I made is that it's time to buy winter coats now in the summer because you can get winter coats at a discount in the summertime.
Boy, the junior resource space right now is trading at a pretty severe discount. Bargains abound. Rockridge Resources is no exception. I think you have a sub-C$6 million market cap. And you just announced the completion of a 3D geophysics model which identified 15 kilometers of strike length of electromagnetic conductors. And so I want to talk about why that's important and how that informs the fully-funded upcoming drill program at the Knife Lake high-grade copper project.
But before I get into that, I’ve got to get your thoughts on the recent pullback in the copper space. I've had some questions. I'm pretty clear about how I feel about it. I think it's short-term noise that is coinciding with less demand as a number of logistical and global issues are meeting in the middle. But I do think it'll be short-lived. I'd love to get your take given your background.
Jonathan Wiesblatt: Let's start off with the macro. But before I do, I can tell you that there's a lot of winter coats and parkas in my part of the world. I'm up here in Canada. If any of your readers or listeners want to warm up in the summer, I can send them to the proper place to purchase winter coats. So I'll kick it off starting there.
Let's talk about the macro for a second. We've seen not only copper prices retreat… we've seen all global commodity prices retreat all the way from crude oil all the way down to things like tin, aluminum, steel, etc. So what's really driving that? Let's really unpack that.
We have seen a lot of inflation in the macro economy. And a lot of the things contributing to inflation are some of the supply disruption items that you spoke to. A lot of the supply disruptions go all the way back to the pandemic… back in the early-2020 timeframe where a big chunk of our globe and the economic factors and forces that drive our economy — they shut down. A lot of those channels and infrastructure — they haven't reopened.
And as they've reopened specifically in AsiaPac — China to be more precise — we've seen more and more shutdowns and then restarts. And we've really clogged up the global economy with a lot of the supply disruption. So we're seeing the demand side, as you alluded to, we've seen it slow down.
Now, with that being said, we've seen inflation spike. We've seen prices for goods rise across all of the various commodities and sub sectors. And that's created an environment where the Fed… and we have seen the eurozone and other Western G7 countries follow suit; we've seen the rising of interest rates off of their historic all-time lows.
And this has really caused some pressure in the markets specifically creating recessionary fears. When you have recessionary fears coupled by global supply and infrastructure disruptions, you get a really big fear of recession and economic slowdown. So that's why we've seen commodity prices decline.
However, I stand by my view that supply of important global commodities with a very robust demand backdrop such as copper… I see the supply being very constrained for the next 5 to 10 years. The reason for that is very simple: there's been a global lack of CapEx and investments in new copper supply, in most commodity supplies, for the previous decade.
When you have those types of macroeconomic forces and lack of investment in a sector in an important commodity — you get supply disruptions. And as demand recovers over the next few years, we're going to be very hard-pressed to supply the market. So very bullish on copper prices. We've seen it retreat from the US$4.75 - US$4.80 level down to like the US$3.75 - US$3.70 level at present and getting very, very bullish.
If you don't have any other questions, we can talk a little bit about Rockridge and what kind of program we're embarking upon and why it's important for our shares, which are trading at an incredibly, incredibly depressed price level.
Gerardo Del Real:No, listen, I think your macro take sets it up beautifully. And I want to get into Rockridge. And I want to get into the fact that you already have a resource. It's not as if this is a greenfields project that you're hoping to make a discovery on.
Of course, you're looking for more discoveries but can you just remind the market that you already have a well-established resource to anchor the valuation. And mind you, that valuation should be a whole heck of a lot more than sub-C$6 million.
Jonathan Wiesblatt: Yeah, so there is greater than 200 million pounds of copper sitting in Saskatchewan, which is a very friendly mining jurisdiction right here in Canada. The most important part about that deposit — although on the smaller side and we would like to just advance the size of that resource — it is just about at surface. It has very good grades, and there is excellent exploration opportunity and prospectivity for a company such as ours to go in and really drive the size of that resource higher.
And when you look at our resource relative to others, it's very similar to some larger, more robust VMS-style deposits in the region. So we just have to get our program and get our drilling campaigns prepared and ready and hopefully follow up with some really good results.
Gerardo Del Real:You mentioned this being a high-grade VMS project. And a couple of important points, obviously. The first one is that VMS deposits don't tend to happen in isolation; they tend to happen in clusters. And as of right now, Rockridge has identified the one… but I believe there's discoveries to be had.
And I think the second point speaks to the recent news with the 15 kilometer strike length of electromagnetic conductors. That's going to be critical for this drill program here in July because that's like — and again, I'm not a geologist but correct me if I'm wrong — you want to see those conductors on a VMS deposit because that really informs where you should be drilling, correct?
Jonathan Wiesblatt: Exactly. And not only has this type of geology and this type of exploration technique identified at or near-surface deposits but they've also extended length. Fifteen kilometers is a pretty large area for us to get into and to start to explore.
Gerardo Del Real:That provides scale that should excite anyone that's looking for a quality exploration copper story that already has a resource in place and one of the better teams in the junior resource space. Talk to me about the targets and talk to me about the results that you just received and what comes next.
Jonathan Wiesblatt: Yes, so we completed 3D geophysical plate modeling of recently acquired VTEM data. That's unique because part of the thesis at Rockridge is applying some of these more modern exploration techniques to areas that have never been explored with those types of techniques. And they're really very applicable in this part of the world.
So the purpose was to further refine targeting for the upcoming drill program, as you quoted, which starts mid-July. And we should start to see results from that program in the weeks following mid-July.
The VTEM data that we're looking at right now shows up to 15 kilometers of strike length of highly-conductive — and a really important point here — near-surface anomalies, which are hosted in this prospective rock. The focus of the upcoming drilling campaign, again, is to focus on one of the key target areas called Gilbert Lake.
And that was the area that we really keyed in on last summer. And we're super excited to get more positive geophysical data that will enable us to go back and really refine our search for more copper. Gilbert Lake hit our radar; it posts the 2021 geophysical and drilling campaign as I just mentioned. And we really believe that the VTEM is a great tool for identifying new zones of VMS-style mineralization, which, as your readers should understand now, that's what we're chasing.
So right now, we're finalizing the high-priority drill targets. We've signed up all of the contractors. The camp is being built. The drilling company that we've outsourced is ready to go. And we're super excited to get back to Gilbert Lake and try to really hone in on the next new exciting deposit at Knife Lake.
Gerardo Del Real:It's a fully-funded program. It's fully permitted. I have to ask you about the area in which you're exploring because it's not just Rockridge; your neighbors and that region in particular have attracted a lot of capital here over the past 12 to 18 months. And I don't think that's a coincidence. Can you speak to that a bit?
Jonathan Wiesblatt: Yeah, there's been a lot of interesting capital to come into the sector and come into the region. Foran Mining, which has been a phenomenal success story, is to the south of us. Some big players, some large financial organizations have injected a lot of equity into this particular company in order for it to go and develop its own VMS, which is now going to be a mine in the very near-term.
And then, there's a bunch of other very large, robust organizations that have been operating in the region for many, many years. They continue to drive capital into the region. Hudbay, for example, has been a clear leader in this space for many years. So a lot of focus, a lot of attention on this particular part of the country and these types of deposits.
Gerardo Del Real:You have the permit, you have the funds, you have the drill secured. Mid-July is when it kicks off, correct?
Jonathan Wiesblatt: You bet.
Gerardo Del Real:Looking forward to the results. I'm really excited to see what the drill bit turns up. Anything to add to that, Jonathan?
Jonathan Wiesblatt: No, I really appreciate the time, as always, and hopefully we'll be able to share some really encouraging results with you and your audience over the next couple of months.
Gerardo Del Real:Looking forward to it. Take care out there. Thank you.
Jonathan Wiesblatt: Thank you.