Interview with Barsele Minerals
Interview Barsele Minerals: 'I have never seen a project with such good general conditions'.
time to read: 10 minutes | The interview was conducted by Nico Popp on July 21st, 2021 in Vancouver (CAN).
President and CEO | Barsele Minerals
Suite 1130 - 1055 W. Hastings Street, V6E 2E9 Vancouver (CAN)
Table of contents:
What sets the Barsele project apart
news|financial: "You operate the Barsele project in northern Sweden together with Agnico Eagle. Please outline the progress of exploration and the perspective of the project!"
"[...] I wouldn't be surprised if the project ends up showing more than 5 million ounces. [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
Our perspective is extremely promising! From a geological perspective, northern Sweden represents two different mineral trends that meet at our Barsele project. We have expanded our resources from 1 million ounces to 2.5 million ounces, and grades have also doubled due to our exploration work. The best thing about our Barsele project is that with all our experience, we believe we have further potential to develop. I wouldn't be surprised if the project ends up showing more than 5 million ounces.
news|financial: "Why are you so sure about that?"
The Barsele project is characterized by an extensive mineral system. In total, it extends over 8 kilometers. However, the resource estimate to date only covers about three kilometers of this section. In addition, we see great potential in depth. There, the grades increase in the geological conditions that characterize our project. Our resource to date has been limited to depths of 450 meters. However, we have already drilled to 900 meters and know that there is excellent potential down there. So if we double the depth, we should also be able to show a resource that is twice as large. The remaining 5 km of our project would then be added to that.
More than gold?
news|financial: "Apart from gold, what other metals have you found, and how do you estimate the potential that these metals can also be exploited?"
"[...] Mining industrial metals on our property is quite realistic [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
The potential is very great! The combination of a polymetallic system and a classic gold system offers an opportunity to potentially extract other commodities besides gold. We are talking about silver, lead, zinc and also some nickel. Since we are in the same geological trend as the Kristineberg mine, which is about 40 km away and operated by the Boliden Group, mining industrial metals on our property is quite realistic. Boliden's processing plant is about 50 kilometers away.
How did the deal with Agnico Eagle come about?
news|financial: "You entered into a letter of intent with Agnico Eagle to purchase 55% of the project. In the end, Barsele Minerals would hold 100% of the project. They would only have to pay CAD 45 million, give 14.9% of the shares to Agnico Eagle and grant options to buy another 6 million shares at CAD 1.25. How did this letter of intent come about?"
"[...] Since the terms for the purchase of Agnico Eagle's share have been set, this is a good starting point for everything that is to come. [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
Agnico's Chairman, Shawn Boyd, has been increasingly focusing on North America to develop new mining projects. Most of Agnico Eagle's exploration budget now goes there. The Company also made acquisitions in North America. We then took the initiative and proposed talks on the Barsele project, to which Agnico Eagle responded affirmatively. That was about a year ago, and we managed to find a suitable solution for all sides. From our point of view, it was clear that we would find enough investors to develop the Barsele project. Since the terms for the purchase of Agnico Eagle's share have been set, this is a good starting point for everything that is to come.
Plans for the future
news|financial: "You plan to drill another 30,000 meters in the next 2 years. What exactly are your goals? Are you planning new discoveries, or do you want to take the project closer to production?"
We are proceeding step by step. We expect to expand our resources to 3 - 3.5 million ounces in the next year and a half. We are adapting all further steps to the knowledge gained in the course of exploration. Our goal is to be expeditious and efficient.
Current exploration work
news|financial: "What work are you currently doing, and how is this work funded?"
We are currently drilling 3,000 meters using an exploration budget from Agnico Eagle. At this point, we must emphasize the cooperative behavior of our partners. In general, the cooperation is very positive. We have come to know the entire Agnico Eagle team as highly competent and fair. Now that the purchase of the Agnico Eagle share has been completed, we are accelerating our exploration and picking up speed to achieve the outlined goals.
Produce or sell?
news|financial: "The signs are good that the Barsele project will go into production. Would such a step be possible with the current team, or would you prefer to sell the project?"
"[...] The Barsele Project is an opportunity for many mining companies that will not come around again soon. [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
We are not traditional mine operators, but project developers. We see it as our task to take projects to the preliminary feasibility study stage and find suitable partners or buyers. Since Barsele is not the first project we have developed in this way, and there are already mining groups that have visited the Barsele project on-site, we are pretty relaxed about the future. All the conditions for a profitable mine seem to be in place. We are talking about relevant deposits in an excellent mining region. It is up to us to confirm these assumptions and ultimately sell to a company that will make the most of the project. The Barsele Project is an opportunity for many mining companies that will not come around again soon.
The continuing role of Agnico Eagle
news|financial: "Is it entirely out of the question that Agnico Eagle will get involved operationally again?"
No, it is not entirely out of the question. In particular, if we were to discover polymetallic deposits, that would fit very well into Agnico Eagle's concept. Because of the framework conditions of the letter of intent, Agnico Eagle remains closely tied to the project anyway; after all, there is an NSR license agreement, and Agnico Eagle is one of our largest shareholders.
Sweden as a mining region
news|financial: "What potential do you see in northern Sweden as a mining region? Which major companies are already present there? What about the general conditions for mining companies locally?"
"[...] In Sweden, the situation is much simpler: If you play by the rules, you can work safely. [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
Many people do not know it, but Sweden is a mining nation. The north, in particular, is strongly characterized by mining. The framework conditions for companies there are good. Although the rules are sometimes strict, there are no problems if you follow those rules. From our point of view, Sweden offers a legal framework precisely as it should be. Large local companies are the aforementioned Boliden Group, which operates not far from our project, Lundin Mining, a Swedish-Canadian Company and the smaller Company Mandalay Resources, which operates the Björkdal mine, among others.
Sweden and all of northern Europe offer tremendous opportunities for exploration. It is an emerging region despite the already established projects. We find here a promising geology and, at the same time, a stable country with a regulatory framework at the highest level. Many young companies in regions like South America or Africa have to deal with strange decisions by the authorities or have other problems that are indirectly related to the country in question. In Sweden, the situation is much simpler: If you play by the rules, you can work safely. If you pay your employees reliably and well, you get good benefits in return. Sweden offers optimal conditions for companies like us.
ESG in Sweden
news|financial: "You mention the high standards in Sweden. Are those high standards also true for environmental requirements? As more and more investors develop an awareness of sustainability and ESG criteria, you could indeed be well-positioned with Sweden from that perspective too..."
I can only agree! Sweden is one of the pioneers in sustainability and has great awareness in this area. As a result, the demands on the respective companies are also great. But this trend is not limited to Sweden. In Canada and the USA, too, sustainability is a top priority. We believe that it pays off, in the end, to act sustainably even as a company from the raw materials sector. Just think of the many protests or strikes that have already taken place around raw material projects in South America. If companies consider all stakeholders, such as local residents or employees, they can reduce such risks. In the end, this also benefits the shareholders.
The infrastructure of the Barsele project
news|financial: "Let us move from the general conditions in Sweden to the specific conditions of the Barsele project. What about the infrastructure on-site?"
"[...] Everything we need is available around the Barsele project. Specifically, we are talking about several power lines across the area that provide us with the cheapest electricity globally, an asphalt road, and a processing plant that is easily accessible by truck. [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
Without exaggerating, I can tell you that I have never seen a project with such good general conditions. To put it briefly: Everything we need is available around the Barsele project. Specifically, we are talking about several power lines across the area that provide us with the cheapest electricity globally, an asphalt road, and a processing plant that is easily accessible by truck. Above all, the energy cost is worth highlighting. Crypto mining is done in Sweden as the kilowatt-hour costs under 2 cents. Also, there are numerous hydroelectric power plants near our project, which additionally stand for renewable energy. The location of the Barsele project is ideal for a mine. In addition, the region, which is one of the economically weakest within Sweden, is in urgent need of jobs. For this reason, the people around our project are also very open-minded and would welcome Barsele making further progress and going into production as soon as possible.
Financing the acquisition
news|financial: "The Barsele Project is not yet wholly owned by you. How do you intend to finance it, and what is the timetable for this?"
Together with our partner, the Bank of Montreal, we are in talks and want to present solutions soon. We have several potential partners, and as a team, we are weighing up how we can get the best for the Barsele project and our shareholders. The agreement with Agnico Eagle stipulates that we must have at least CAD 5 million in the bank to implement the transaction. For this reason, we will also carry out an additional capital increase, which will bring us this amount and a little more. That will enable us to meet Agnico Eagle's requirements and strengthen our equity base to implement our plans in a targeted manner. We expect to see results in the next few weeks.
Shareholders and management in the same boat?
news|financial: "Barsele's management team holds a significant stake in the Company. Can investors count on being in the same boat with you?"
"[...] Just as a reminder, we have 2.5 million ounces of gold in the ground and firmly expect to at least double that figure as we look deeper. Barsele Minerals is a promising Company and an excellent opportunity for all investors with one to two years of patience. [...]" Gary Cope, President and CEO, Barsele Minerals
That is the case with all the companies we have worked for as a team so far. I wouldn't single it out as unusual at all. The capital market valuation is an appropriate gauge of the progress of commodity projects and a management team's performance. By holding shares ourselves, we receive performance-based compensation and at the same time fulfill our second mission of creating value for shareholders. As both the geological and infrastructural conditions of our Barsele project are outstanding, our Company's shares offer excellent prospects. Just as a reminder, we have 2.5 million ounces of gold in the ground and firmly expect to at least double that figure as we look deeper. In addition, there is further potential on acreage that we have not yet explored to date. Barsele Minerals is a promising Company and an excellent opportunity for all investors with one to two years of patience.
news|financial: "Thank you very much for talking to us."