Interview with Phoenix Copper
Interview Phoenix Copper: Copper with certain advantages
time to read: 7 minutes | The interview was conducted by Nico Popp on April 29th, 2022 in Virgin Islands (British) (GB).
CEO | Phoenix Copper
OMC Chambers, Wickhams Cay 1, ROAD TOWN, VG1110 Virgin Islands (British) (GB)
Table of contents:
Big plans, misjudged by the market
news|financial: "With Empire Open Pit, you have a project based around copper, gold and silver in Idaho that could go into production as early as 2023. The mine is expected to generate USD 43 million in cash in its first year. The market capitalization does not reflect that yet. What is the reason for that?"
"[...] If we pursue our goals conscientiously, the market will adjust its valuation accordingly, I am sure. Often, all it takes is a trigger. [...]" Ryan McDermott, CEO, Phoenix Copper
It is not unusual for it to take a while for the share price to reflect the performance of an exploration company, particularly an exploration company that has transitioned into development. We are measured by results. If we pursue our goals conscientiously, the market will adjust its valuation accordingly, I am sure. Often, all it takes is a trigger. What that might be, I cannot say.
Tasks that still need to be completed
news|financial: "What work still needs to be done before you start producing metals? Is there still a need for financing?"
We are currently working on our feasibility study, which is crucial to achieving our goal of financing the mine without major dilutions. At the same time, we are engaged in final technical work around the project and are moving forward with the permitting process. We do not expect any inconsistencies here and assume that the process will proceed as usual. We respect the work of the authorities and look forward to receiving the results as soon as they are available.
Approval process timing
news|financial: "Shareholders, in particular, are interested in timeframes. Can you tell us how long such a process usually takes?"
For projects where environmental impact assessments play a unique role, the permitting process can take as long as 18 months. Fortunately, we do not anticipate our mine creating any environmental impacts, which could shorten the process. But again, it takes as long as it takes. We enjoy the benefit of independent authorities and a secure legal framework in Idaho. We respect that.
news|financial: "When did you submit the applications?"
June 30, 2021, so we are right on schedule. Beyond that, there is no time pressure either.
news|financial: "You have just mentioned that your project does not involve any ecological risks. At the same time, you want to use the heap leaching process, which involves the use of chemicals. How does that go together?"
"[...] Since the limestone acts like a natural basin that does not allow acid to pass through, we are on the safe side. [...]" Ryan McDermott, CEO, Phoenix Copper
It actually goes together very well! But first, let me talk about environmental risks in the permitting process. In Idaho, groundwater and surface water issues are often critical when it comes to permitting processes. Our Empire project is located in a valley with no connection to the Pacific Ocean. Also, our groundwater investigations have shown that these reservoirs are deeper than 2,000 feet. Above that is limestone. Above this limestone, we want to produce copper, gold and silver. Since the limestone acts like a natural basin that does not allow acid to pass through, we are on the safe side.
And now for our process: We do not use cyanides; instead, we use sulfuric acid. In our process, the sulfuric acid is highly diluted. As the sulfuric acid drips through the rock, it dissolves copper and flushes it along. This copper-containing solution generates our sales. For this reason, we make every effort to bring 100% of this solution back to the surface. Thanks to the conditions on the ground, we succeed in doing so. The extremely positive side effect for us is that the impact on the environment is as low as possible. For Phoenix Copper, these framework conditions are a great advantage.
Innovative energy production
news|financial: "You are playing with the idea of producing your own energy. What does that entail?"
"[...] One way to transport the ores is by aerial tramway. Since there is a difference in altitude between the production site and the processing plant, we could take advantage of this to generate energy. [...]" Ryan McDermott, CEO, Phoenix Copper
One way to transport the ores is by aerial tramway. Since there is a difference in altitude between the production site and the processing plant, we could take advantage of this to generate energy. We are in an evaluation process with engineers, and it is not yet clear whether we will pursue this approach. However, it is an exciting option at this stage and could mean that we could eliminate the need for machines that run on diesel, making our carbon footprint smaller, which is important for companies like us. In addition, our workers on site would also be at less risk of accidents if we had such a facility.
news|financial: "Are you aiming for an ESG certification of some kind?"
Yes. Our ESG team is working on obtaining such certification at this time. On the one hand, it serves to document what we have achieved so far and to show the market the benefits of our project. Last but not least, it is also about showing that our project has lower risks in certain areas. This information is important for the market and can lead to investors forming an even more accurate picture of us. We will report more on this topic in a timely manner.
Arguments for Phoenix Copper
news|financial: "What key economic data do you want to use to convince investors in particular, and what has been the feedback from the investment community so far?"
"[...] The current copper price is in our favor. We have good prerequisites to be very successful in current market conditions. [...]" Ryan McDermott, CEO, Phoenix Copper
The current copper price is in our favor. We have good prerequisites to be very successful in current market conditions. The outlined aerial tramway between the open-pit mine and the processing plant is also an interesting point that should interest investors. There is potential for us to further reduce production costs in this way. Despite the favorable conditions for us, we prefer to communicate facts. We are in the middle of processes, and we have to wait until these processes are completed. Then we will inform the market.
Idaho as a location
news|financial: "What role does the location in Idaho play in potential partnerships?"
"[...] But the infrastructure is also in place in the immediate vicinity of our Empire Open Pit project. Our property connects to Highway 93. There is also a major railway about 1.5 hours from our project in the town of Blackfoot. [...]" Ryan McDermott, CEO, Phoenix Copper
We have not yet thought about who will ultimately take the raw materials we want to extract. But that is not because we are unprepared. We have many options - and we are not talking about unlaid eggs. Our project is located about four hours north of Salt Lake City. That is where Rio Tinto's Kennecott project is located, which has been producing copper, gold and silver for over 100 years and today employs more than 2,000 people. This mine has been well connected for decades. This is a circumstance that we could also take advantage of.
But the infrastructure is also in place in the immediate vicinity of our Empire Open Pit project. Our property connects to Highway 93. There is also a major railway about 1.5 hours from our project in the town of Blackfoot. Therefore, I do not see any limitations for us when it comes to selling our products in the best possible way.
news|financial: "In addition to Empire Open Pit, you have other exploration zones in the immediate vicinity as well as other projects. How are you developing these?"
The planned Empire Open Pit mine is our flagship project, which currently accounts for the majority of our overall focus. We have completed 430 drill holes there and have a lot underway. We are in the home stretch and need to keep going. That said, we haven't forgotten the additional opportunities that our concession areas offer. These include a sulfide vein system beneath the planned open pit that we will explore in more detail. There is also a zone further north that is very promising based on rock samples but where we have not yet drilled. So there is a lot of potential even on the Empire property.
In addition, we have two prospective cobalt projects a few kilometers to the north, Bighorn and Redcastle. A cooperation agreement with Electra Battery Materials is already in place for Redcastle. The Company has a permitted cobalt smelter in Ontario, Canada. So Phoenix Copper has plenty to offer beyond its flagship project.
Of importance in the coming months
news|financial: "In closing, could you briefly outline what will be important in the coming months?"
"[...] We expect to complete the feasibility study in late May or early June. [...]" Ryan McDermott, CEO, Phoenix Copper
We expect to complete the feasibility study in late May or early June. Currently, that is our most important project. Around the same time, we have also reserved drilling equipment and plan to do some drilling, most likely in the Red Star area. The ongoing permitting process will also be with us throughout the year.
news|financial: "Thank you very much for talking to us."