Cordoba Minerals (TSX-V: CDB) CEO Mario Stifano on the Excitement as Drilling Restarts at the Perseverance Copper Porphyry Project in Arizona
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Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the President and CEO of Cordoba Minerals (TSX-V: CDB)(OTC: CDBMF), Mr. Mario Stifano. Mario, how are you today?
Mario Stifano: Very well, Gerardo. How are you?
Gerardo Del Real: I'm well, I'm well. Thank you for asking. We have copper flirting with $3 again. It's been on a good run here on perceived resolution to the tit for tat that's been going on between China and the U.S. That's positive. It's positive for Cordoba because you just commenced diamond drilling at your huge Perseverance Project in Arizona. It's a big target. You just recently raised some money on the back of that target.
I know you're excited privately. Can you tell everybody why you're excited about the target and what's going on out there?
Mario Stifano: Well look, we're really excited. First, I’ll address the copper market. We're in full agreement that we're starting to see a lot of interest flowing into the copper names. I just came back from the very exclusive BMO Conference in Miami, and everyone was talking about base metals, and the money seems to be more interested now in the metals space and the gold space. Obviously, people are still interested in gold, but the metals space has seen quite a bit of downturn over the last year. And now you’re seeing the base metal companies, like BHP and Rio Tinto, approaching and now surpassing 52-week highs.
As a company we've always been focused on copper, and we were able to pick up a project in Arizona called Perseverance. It's in the northern part of Arizona, close to the Nevada border, and the closest town would be Kingman, Arizona. And we were really excited about this project, and the reason for our excitement was the ability to have a project that could potentially be 5 billion tonnes or more, in terms of size. The reason we know this is when we picked up this project there's a really big outcrop to the east of where we're currently drilling, and everyone tried to drill this project in the ‘50s and ‘60s, because there's this intense stockwork with copper mineralization in there and moly mineralization. Everyone from Rio Tinto, through their exploration arm called Bear Creek, Noranda, Cyprus tried to drill this deposit.
No one was able to find it. And Dr. Tim Marsh, who is the geologist that drilled Resolution for Rio Tinto, he drilled through the bottom of the deposit called the footwall. And what he recognized is certain minerals were prevalent in the footwall, particularly greisen. And the footwall was sparsely mineralized, even though Resolution is 1.5% copper. You put two and two together and you recognize this big outcrop in this area wasn't the actual outcrop, it was the bottom of a porphyry system.
Over 13 years, Dr. Tim Marsh has been able to trace this deposit further to the east, and we've now believe we found it about 9 kilometers east of the exposed footwall. K-20, which we basically announced in one of our news releases, that we're getting the copper mineralization, nothing ore grade. But the reason why it's not ore grade is we haven't hit the system yet. What we recognized is Rio Tinto, who was drilling this about a year and a half ago before they dropped the joint venture, was looking for a supergene, open pit style deposit. And what they didn't do was test for a deeper, buried porphyry.
And you must be wondering, the readers must be wondering, why would a big major not test for a deeper porphyry? Well, Oyu Tolgoi, which is one of the world's largest copper-gold mines in Mongolia, that was drilled by BHP. And again, they were looking for near-surface, supergene, open pit deposit. And when they didn't find it, they didn't test for the deeper porphyry targets. So majors do sometimes miss opportunities. Actually more often than not, they do miss opportunities.
So what we're seeing, we were able to reprocess all of Rio Tinto's IP, and they only covered a small area. So what they didn't do was extend the IP, because it was wide open further to the east. But what we've been able to get from Rio Tinto's geophysics is we see at depth, at around 1,150 meters to up to 1,400 meters, a really big, empty low, which is similar to what you would see at Resolution, which is one of the world's largest and highest grade copper mines. Exact same thing is what you would see at Oyu Tolgoi, which is one of the world's largest copper-gold mines.
The two geologists working on this project are Tim Marsh, who drilled Resolution for Rio Tinto, and Charlie Foster, who discovered and managed the whole exploration team in Mongolia for Ivanhoe. We've got two smart geos that are basically saying this thing looks and feels like geophysically from what you see at Resolution and at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia.
So the size of the project – I know I'm going on here, you can tell my excitement here – the size of this project and the potential deposit is 5 billion tonnes plus. So put it in your mind what does that kind of deposit worth in Arizona or anywhere in the world, but particularly in the United States, in the safe mining friendly jurisdiction. And we know it's 5 billion tonnes, which is a rare statement for someone to make. Because the bottom of the porphyry is exposed, which is again very rare, and we know this porphyry is somewhat vertical, and we're able to measure what the perceived copper shell would be. And it's about 1.5 by 2 kilometers in size. And we know in prior holes, including what we've seen visually, you've got between 200 to 700 meters of anomalous copper.
So our view is this is potentially a really big monster deposit. The ability to be able to drill something like this is pretty exciting.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, obviously the wild card is going to be the grade. Right? It sounds like you're pretty darn confident about the geometry of this thing and the potential tonnage. Can you talk to me about the depths? I know that you're re-entering this K-20 hole. Can you talk to everyone about the depths and what the approach is?
Mario Stifano: Okay. Excellent question on the grade. So I'll address the grade first, because for a deep porphyry to work, you obviously need grade. So we wouldn't be deepening this hole if we didn't have the view that this is potentially a higher grade than normal copper porphyry. And the reason why we see that is if you look at our last news release, we talked about hypogene mineralization, and that's basically the oxidation from the intrusive that converts chalcopyrite, which is about 30% copper, to bornite, which is in the 60% range, to chalcocite, which is in the 70% range for copper. If you looked at Resolution, you get the same kind of hypogene mineralization. So the geologists know in the current hole we're seeing the engine at work. So we're confident that we're going to potentially see higher grade copper in this deposit.
In addition to that, Dr. Tim Marsh is going to rewrite a lot of the porphyry papers on how porphyries are formed, the higher grades style porphyries. At Resolution and as well at Oyu Tolgoi, as you had the fluids coming up from the magma, what did not happen in Arizona, and this didn't happen in Mongolia either, you've got these really hard old rocks, so the intrusive never broke the surface. So if you go to Chile or Peru, you will see what they call these lithocaps, basically where the intrusive comes to surface and you get this wide area of indicator that there's a porphyry nearby and the copper gets disseminated over a wide area. And these hard rocks, you almost have like a dome effect. Think of fluids coming up and you've got a top, and the hard rocks act as a top. So the fluids can never break out to surface.
What ends up happening is because they can't break through with his hypogene mineralization and chemical process where the water from the intrusive is converting the lower grade copper to the higher grade copper, it all gets contained in this nice big engine. What you end up seeing is a higher grade towards the top of what you call a copper shell. Now K-20, we know or we believe we're on the side of the system, and that's why we haven't hit it as of yet. So we're deepening the hole and we think we're going to come into the side and slightly underneath it, but we think we're going to hit the system a little bit further and deeper than we typically would if we went a little bit further to the west and potentially to the northeast. We need to do some more geophysics here to get exact geometry of this Perseverance Project. But we have real confidence here that we're going to hit the system. May not be the best part of the system, but we believe we're going to hit it with K-20.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. I know drilling is slow out there, I know that because K-20 took a bit to get to. When can we expect – the million-dollar question, right? – when can we expect results out of Perseverance?
Mario Stifano: Well look, exactly to that point. We're now almost beyond 1,100 meters. These are hard rocks, and it just takes a little bit of time in this part of Arizona to drill through this kind of rock. I would think, if we're going to drill to somewhere between 1,200 and 1,400 meters before we hit the system, and that's based on our analysis of the geophysics and where we think we'll come in underneath it or to the side of it, it could take another month or so before we hit the system. We'll probably announce to the market once we hit it, we may not have to wait for assays to come, because visually we'll know that we hit a porphyry system here. That's the goal of this drill hole is to hit the porphyry system.
We know we're not going to hit the best part of the system, but we wanted to know we're in the right spot now for the porphyry. Our view is this was the cheapest and quickest and most effective way to confirm to ourselves that we've got a porphyry system here, because by the time we arranged for all the permitting to do a big wide area of geophysics, it probably would have taken three months to go down that route. And the cost to do that would be similar to deepening the hole. So not only do we spend similar money getting actual geological information by deepening in the hole, we actually get it a lot quicker. So that's why we made the decision to deepen hole K-20.
Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic, Mario. Well listen, I'm looking forward to flying out to Perseverance if there is indeed a discovery made. I'm also looking forward to having you back on. So thank you so much for the update today.
Is there anything else that you'd like to add? Do you want to touch on Colombia a bit?
Mario Stifano: Sure. In Colombia we are continuing to work at Alacran. And basically what we think we now have in addition to the current Alacran deposit, which is around 70 million tonnes at 0.7% copper. We've done a lot of work to the north of Alacran, and we think we've been able to now identify potential 1.1 kilometer strike to the north of Alacran. That's pretty important because with drilling, if we can demonstrate that Alacran continues to the north and to the northwest – and there's been no geophysics in that area, and no drilling in that area – but we are seeing quite a bit of copper and gold based on soils and streams, and all the work of the geologists in that northern part of Alacran, then that would materially increase the overall size of the deposit at Alacran.
In addition to that, as I mentioned on a prior interview, at depth to Alacran we've been able to see some broken up porphyry class in our core that we missed previously. So we take a big step out to the west of Alacran and drill a hole a depth of about 700 meters and see if we can hit this porphyry, as well as a potential extension of Alacran, because Alacran more or less gets cut off around 250 to 270 meters. We weren't sure that maybe Alacran got eroded away, but we do see a fault, which seems to have shifted things to the west at Alacran. So maybe we'll find the rest of Alacran with a big step out to the west.
And again, that western area, we don't really have much geophysics. We don't have much inverse polarization, which is IP for chargeability. But in the magnetics, which has been airborne that's covered a much wider area, we do see some interesting features in the magnetics that would help support the addition of a potential porphyry sitting underneath Alacran.
Then in addition to that, we're doing quite a bit of work south of Alacran, about 2 kilometers south of the current pit design, and we're starting to see some interesting things in that area. Just pay attention. We'll be able to update the market on what we're starting to see south of Alacran in due course.
Gerardo Del Real: I wouldn't be doing my job effectively, Mario, if I didn't ask about the horrible humanitarian crisis playing out in Venezuela, which of course borders Colombia. Has that affected you on a business level in any way? Obviously, what's going on out there is atrocious. But as far as the property goes, as far as the San Matias district, has there been any negatives on that front?
Mario Stifano: Look, I agree with you. The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is really tough for anyone to see. I really hope there's going to be a quick resolution because the people suffering all this are the Venezuelans. Seeing people starving, not being able to put food on the table for their families, is pretty tough for anyone to see. In our area, northern Colombia, it's pretty remote in the sense of there's really no big towns. We're not near Bogota, we're not near Cali, or Medellin. So, our area is actually quite poor and it's not an area where you can have some Venezuelans or refugees coming into really getting any support systems. There's just not enough support systems in our area to get an influx of individuals from Venezuela. So there's really been no impact whatsoever in our area. But I really do hope there is a resolution to this quickly.
Gerardo Del Real: I do as well. Mario, thank you so much for the update, a thorough update. I hope the next time we see each other, we're talking about a new discovery.
Mario Stifano: Yeah, me too. Let's pay attention to what's happening at Cordoba over the next few weeks and months.
Gerardo Del Real: Sounds good. Thanks again.
Mario Stifano: Thank you, Gerardo.
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