Welcome to the Market Herald Video Q&A Podcast, I’m Simon Druker.
World Copper is a Canadian mineral explorer focused on advancing a pair of resources, in Chile and in Arizona.
The Vancouver-based company recently announced $2.5 million in financing to help its experienced leadership team further exploration on both of those properties.
Today, we are joined by the company’s President and CEO Nolan Peterson. Nolan thanks for dropping in with us.
TMH: To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the history of the company?
NP: So I’m an engineer that is my background, metallurgical engineer. I spent over a decade building and advancing projects for a number of large companies including New Gold, TMAC Resources. I also worked for SNC Lavalin. I also then transitioned to more of a financial role inside the industry, picked up an MBA and a CFA and spent six years in corporate finance and that’s how I ended up with World Copper. They were looking for an experienced executive who had technical experience, development experience as well as the ability to do corporate governance and manage their company. World Copper was created as a subsidiary of a company called Wealth Minerals a few years ago. Wealth Minerals deals in lithium in Chile and World Copper deals with copper in Chile. So, we were spun out from that and last January 2021, we went public and then I joined in April of last year.
TMH: Your primary focus is on two resources in ‘mining-friendly’ jurisdictions in Chile and in Arizona, tell us a bit about those two properties and why you’re so enthusiastic about their potential.
NP: Yeah, I mean, obviously when you are picking a mining project, you want to look for things that play to your advantages, good infrastructure, good populations nearby that are supportive of mining and of course, Arizona and Chile are tier one mining jurisdictions that have a lot of those intrinsic advantages. So, we’re very happy to be at both regions. Arizona is a premier destination for copper mining in the United States. Our Zonia project, which we brought into the company in January of this year through a merger with a company called Cardero Resources. It’s a development ready project. One that can be pushed forward very quickly. It sits on private patented land in Arizona, which means that the permitting process can be streamlined to a three-to-four-year timeframe, which is very quick in the mining industry. So it’ll be looking to play to that advantage and then Escalones in Chile is a perfect example of a project that we picked up that was very undervalued, under understood. The previous operators were pursuing a different path for development. We saw the potential to pursue an oxide path. So copper oxide. I don’t want to get too technical, but we see a lot of advantages to processing oxide through heap leach methodology and that’s certainly born out in the economics of the project that we have proven or demonstrated with our PEA that we put out in February this year. So, yeah, great jurisdictions, great projects, great management team. We have all the pieces we need to make a good company.
TMH: You’ve just mentioned your management team. Maybe take us through a few more of their highlights and why that team’s so well positioned to take advantage of the Chilean market.
NP: Yes, so we have Henk van Alphen who is a prolific company builder. He’s been in the industry for over 30 years. He’s our chairman and the founder World Copper. He founded Wealth Minerals that lithium company I spoke of. So he is our chairman. He has successes, including Corriente Resources. That was an exit for $860 million. He was also the chairman and founder of International Tower Hill Mines. At one point that company was worth over a billion dollars. Our executive director in Chile is a gentleman named Marcelo Awad who spent 16 years with Codelco, the largest copper company in the world and then 14 years with Antofagasta, one of the largest copper companies in the world, both Chile and of course he’s Chilean himself. He took Antofagasta from $4 billion to $20 billion dollars in market cap. So an experienced company builder in his own right who’s helping us navigate this base.
Our on the ground management in Chile is led by Krzysztof Napierala is our general manager in Chile. He comes to us from KGHM which is of course is another global copper giant. He was their general manager in Chile for the Franke mine. So we have a very strong operational and development focused team with company built with people like Hank van Alphen as well to provide exposure on that front and on the geology front we’re well experienced as well. Our chief geologist as a gentleman named John Drobe who has a number of significant discoveries to his name, primarily in South America with Corriente Resources. He worked with Hank on that project at that company and we’re happy to have him here as well at World Copper.
TMH: The method you’re planning on using, heap leach mining, is one of the more environmentally friendly practices out there. Expand on that a little and why you’ve chosen that particular method.
NP: Yeah, so, I mean usually the deposit kind of decides for you what technology you’re going to use or what options are available. Most companies are focused on processing copper sulfides, which as you mentioned, are very prevalent in the industry. They’re much larger deposits. They have a longer life of mine but the trade off is very much more expensive, orders of magnitude, more expensive. We’re talking billions of dollars of initial capital costs, higher operating costs, lowered returns. They use four times as much water in Chile than oxide heap leach operations. They emit 40% more greenhouse gases along entire supply chain to create copper. So yeah, we looked at the deposits we had, we saw very strong oxide layers that led us to determining that oxide heap leaching is something that would work for the projects and then we prepared, for example, at Escalones the PEA that demonstrated the economic viability of it and the numbers bore that out $1.5 billion post-tax, 46% internal rate of return for only $438 million initial capital investment. You don’t get those kind of ratios and numbers from a sulfite project very often, if at all.
TMH: You announced a round of financing in July, to help fund exploration on both properties, break down for us what your next exploration steps are both Arizona and in Chile.
NP: Yeah, so we’re raising some money. We’re still in the process of closing the second half of that financing. It’s a little slow in summer but we’ll get through it. The money to be used there is to develop the Zonia1 project and push it forward. The PEA update is something we’re looking to do there leading into a feasibility study next year and then at Escalones, we have drill results coming out in the near future from an expansion of their main resource that we started drilling a few months ago, finished drilling a few months ago rather and then we’ll be moving into permitting and drilling for the next stage of expanding that resource and as we continue to develop and de-risk both of the assets
TMH: Your belief is that copper demand is expected to continue growing and is tied to the future of electric vehicles, expand on that point for us and tell why.
NP: Yeah, so we think that demand is going to increase and it’s not just me that’s saying it, of course, many analysts up there are pointing this out and it’s not just electric vehicles, although certainly that’s a big driver. That’s one consumers see and can relate to, to an extent. The average electric vehicle uses four times as much copper in it as an internal combustion engine vehicle which I think maybe is counterintuitive to some people’s initial thoughts that EVs are cleaner. Well, they absolutely are but copper has a role in a clean green economy too. Copper is also used a lot more in renewable energy. So if we’re transitioning to solar power or wind power, more and more copper will be used for those purposes as well. Distribution networks for the power will be generating the charging networks for cars and infrastructure and buses and transportation networks. So yeah, we see a strong demand picking up as the world really starts to get into gear to reducing carbon emissions and then of course on the supply side, there’s pressure mounting as actually supply numbers are expected to drop in the near future, starting in 2024, 2025 and there’s no end in sight to that. So really, we’re at a perfect time for investing into copper. That’s where World Copper is positioning ourselves to benefit from – we’re very bullish on copper.
TMH: Is there anything else perhaps that we’ve glossed over or haven’t mentioned that’s important for our viewers and of course for your investors?
NP: Yeah. I would say for investors, it’s always a question of there’s lots of companies out there you can be putting your money into. I would say of course, do your due diligence, take a look at the assets that we do have, take a look at the evaluation of us compared to some of our peers that maybe have similar asset profile and really see if there’s an opportunity. I certainly think there is, I think we’re under valued at the moment, a lot of upside potential and don’t be afraid with the way the market is right now. I think that the storm will be over sooner than we expect and we’ll be off to the races again. So pick your horses now and I hope that World Copper will be one of them.
Thanks again for joining us at The Market Herald today, Mr. Peterson. We look forward to chatting with you again…
We’ve been speaking with Nolan Peterson, the President and CEO of Vancouver-based World Copper. The company trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol WCU.
I’d once again like to thank Nolan for joining us to learn more about his company and talk to our Market Herald video podcast audience and investors.
For regular updates, visit https://worldcopperltd.com/
FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by The Market Herald.