Rockridge Resources (TSX-V: ROCK) CEO Jordan Trimble on Bringing Modern Mining Techniques to Grow the Historical Resource at the Copper Polymetallic VMS Knife Lake Project in Western Canada
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today, wearing another hat, is the President and CEO of a new copper and battery metal exploration company based out of Canada, Rockridge Resources (TSX-V: ROCK). Jordan Trimble, how are you doing today?
Jordan Trimble: I'm good. Thanks for having me.
Gerardo Del Real: Thanks for coming on. I mentioned off the top that we're accustomed to seeing you with your Skyharbour hat on. I'd love to get your take, first off, before we talk about the company because it's interesting. Tell me about Rockridge. What led you here? Give me a little background.
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, absolutely. As we know, I've been running Skyharbour for a number of years. That's obviously my main focus, continuing to build the company. Over the last little while, we've seen some notable macro global trends, in particular with electric vehicles, clean energy, and the increased electrification that's happening globally, especially in the developing world. Uranium is the fuel for nuclear power plants, a source of CO2-free electricity.
But when you look at other commodities and metals that are important in these trends, copper and battery metals come to mind. Copper in particular, that's really going to be the focus for the company going forward, looking for copper projects in top-tier mining jurisdictions. Copper, as we know, is the conductor of the electricity. It's really the common denominator in all of these trends.
We've identified several opportunities. We've just consummated our first property acquisition, a copper project in a province we know very well, Saskatchewan. We're looking to build this company up like we've done with Skyharbour over the next several years. I'm assembling a team to help me run it. The news that we just had out today shows just that, bringing in a Canadian Mining Hall of Famer, very, very well-known individual and mine finder, a gentleman by the name of Ronald Netolitzky.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. Now, you know that when I vet companies, there's two things I always look at before everything else. The first is always the share structure, that's how I was taught. The second is the people. Let's talk and start with the share structure because it's impressive, frankly.
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, so as a new company, that's, I would say, one of the highlight points for any investor looking at building a position in the company, a very well-structured vehicle right now, with just over 23 million shares issued and outstanding. We did the IPO last year. Again, brand new company, publicly listed on the TSX Venture.
Outside of the share structure, or I guess within the share structure, let's talk about the public float. Within that, there's about less than 3 million of the 23 million that I'd say is within the public float, so there are some large positions held by, obviously, management and insiders – we founded the company – and close business associates and friends. I'd say collectively, those groups own over 50% of the company.
We also just raised $1.7 million which will help fund upcoming exploration programs. There was some notable institutional participation in there, along with management and insiders, and of course, some retail investors coming in as well. So absolutely, structure is very important in these companies. It doesn't get much better than that.
As far as the management team goes, the board and advisory board, I started the company. I'm currently the President and CEO. I will be looking to bring in a team that can help me run it. You saw the announcement today with Ron coming on. Ron is a very reputable individual with a long history, successful history of discoveries. Put three mines, found three deposits that have gone into production. Eskay Creek, Snip and Brewery. He's sold multiple companies. He's been directly involved in over 12 significant merger and acquisition events. He knows Western Canada very well. I think that's important, too. He's been around for a number of decades with a focused expertise in Western Canada, in particular in Saskatchewan. The project that we've acquired, Knife Lake, he actually did some work there years ago and likes the project, likes the area.
Outside of us two, you have my head geologist and Skyharbour's head geologist, Rick Kusmirski, who obviously knows Saskatchewan very well. He's been working there for over 40 years and knows the province like the back of his hand.
Gerardo Del Real: “Radioactive Rick.”
Jordan Trimble: “Radioactive Rick,” exactly. He has some base metal experience as well in previous years. He's worked on base metal projects. Again, it's about having that focused expertise in particular in specific places that you're working in and Rick really does know Saskatchewan quite well. So that makes a lot of sense there.
Jim Pettit, who I work with here in Vancouver, and Don Huston. Like I said, we're rounding out the board and you're going to see additional news releases over the coming months with new team members coming on.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. I look forward to that. Let's look forward a little bit. Let's talk about the project and maybe some upcoming catalysts.
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, absolutely. The project that we announced, the acquisition, the option deal late last year, the project is called Knife Lake. Knife Lake is in the broader Flin Flon mining camp. Flin Flon’s a well-known jurisdiction. Flin Flon’s actually in Manitoba. It's right on the border with Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but it's a prolific mining jurisdiction, VMS mining jurisdiction, polymetallic. It's been about 170 million tonnes of ore mined from this jurisdiction from 31 VMS deposits. That's in excess of $25 billion dollars’ worth of ore that's been mined over the years. It's been around. This is a jurisdiction that's been worked on for 100 years, so it's a well-known, prolific jurisdiction. There's, I think, a lot more to be discovered there.
Knife Lake in particular is obviously on the Saskatchewan side of the border, northwest of Flin Flon. It's got quite an interesting history, actually. This project was worked extensively by a company called Leader Mining back in the late ‘90s, and they actually drilled over 300 drill holes. They spent close to $20 million dollars exploring the project, drilling the project. They actually delineated a historical resource – again, this is non-43-101 – but a resource of about 20.3 million tonne grading 0.6% copper, and a gold, silver, cobalt and zinc credit as well. It starts at surface. It's relatively shallow. It was really only ever drilled down to 100 meters depth.
Then, as we know in the late ‘90s, the metals market crashed. The prices collapsed and, much like many other projects at the time, it was essentially orphaned and it bounced around between a few companies for the next, call it 15, 16 years before winding up in a gold company. Just about a year, year and a half ago, the gold company actually let, it was a mining lease, which was interesting. It was a mining lease that the gold company let lapse, and it's actually one of the only times that this has happened in Saskatchewan where a mining lease was actually let to lapse. It lapsed. They failed to pay the lease payments. These claims opened up and the company that we're optioning the ground from, Eagle Plains, who we've worked closely with on several other projects over the last 7 years, was able to go in and actually stake the ground.
This is one of those rare and unique opportunities to acquire a more advanced-stage exploration project at an incredibly attractive valuation. As you know with Skyharbour, that was one of the things that we looked at early on and continue to look at are these discounted valuations and opportunities and pouncing on them when we can, so we very much have done that here. We're optioning the ground 100% from Eagle Plains. We're essentially acquiring a historical deposit, a copper and polymetallic deposit, for less than what works out to be about half a penny per pound of copper in the ground.
Gerardo Del Real: Rick Rule has that famous throwaway line, “You're either a contrarian or a victim.” The best in the business always use bear markets to pick up quality distressed assets. When you mentioned the fact that the deposit is polymetallic, we're talking copper, cobalt, gold, silver, and I believe zinc. Right?
Jordan Trimble: Yes. Correct, correct. Most of the metal value is in the copper. So you have, as I pointed out, that historical estimate of 20.3 million tonnes of 0.6% copper and some other metal credits as well. There's actually a higher grade zone within that of about 11 million tonnes grading 0.75% copper. Good grade, it's shallow, but most importantly we think there's more to be found there.
We're going back in and we'll be drilling here within the next two months. We started an initial drill program to go in and look to expand that in particular along strike and, as I mentioned, at depth. It's really only been drilled down to 100 meters. There's good potential to find more and higher grade mineralization at depth.
It's also interesting because the project is 85,000 hectares. It's a big, big property package that we're acquiring, regional property package and it has many targets on it. Typically, with these VMS systems, what you find are several deposits. You'll find satellite deposits off of the main deposit. So what we're looking for, as well as going back into the main deposit area, is looking for additional satellite deposits regionally. There's a handful of targets that we'd like to test, and that'll be part and parcel with the initial drill program and work that we're doing at the deposit area.
Gerardo Del Real: You answered my second question. I was going to ask you what type of deposit it was. You mentioned it’s a VMS deposit. You mentioned that those typically don't happen in isolation. The historic resource on the property, is that all from one deposit?
Jordan Trimble: Yeah, correct. That's just the one deposit area. There really hasn't been a lot of historical work regionally. It's a relatively untested area in terms of the area around the deposit. That's exciting for us because there's still lots of exploration upside and discovery potential around the deposit area, and that's what we're going to test. I think it's also important to note I point out Leader Mining back in the ‘90s, and most of the work that was done there was well over 20 years ago. Well, as we know, a lot has changed between now and then, right? The exploration techniques, methodology.
We’re big proponents at going back into areas in good jurisdictions, Saskatchewan being the number two mining jurisdiction in the world, and applying new and modern exploration techniques and methodologies to go in and find new deposits that are likely there, but simply they just did not have the means to go and find them 20 or 30 years ago. Technology and innovation in the sector, in the exploration space has come a long way since then, and we're looking to employ some of those to go out and find more deposits in the area and create more shareholder value.
Gerardo Del Real: You mentioned the tight share structure, the exploration upside, the quality team. What's the market cap at right now?
Jordan Trimble: Well, 23 million shares issued and outstanding. It's been trading kind of between $0.20 and $0.25. You're looking at quite a small market cap with just under $2 million in the treasury. A lot of room to move here. If you look at it on a per pound copper equivalent basis, it's attractively priced right now. I think with catalysts coming out over the next few months, newsflow over the next couple months, with additional team members to help run the company and the first drill program at Knife Lake, which will start in March, I think you'll see a price appreciation. Look, getting kind of back to the more high-level view here, the copper market, I'm sure a lot of your listeners follow it and know it well, but we're strong believers in the long-term fundamentals for the commodity. We're looking at it potentially 5 million tonne deficit by 2025.
One of the things that always was interesting to me, looking at that space, was the lack of high-grade, big discoveries in the last, call it 10 years, right? You've had a lot of bigger lower grade deposits that have been found and resources that have been delineated, but you haven't really seen those mega discoveries, copper discoveries, over the last 10 or 15 years. There's been very few. As a result of that, going forward we're going to have to see the price of the commodity rise to meet growing demand. I like copper from the demand side. We always look at copper, view copper as Doctor Copper. It's a good proxy for global economic growth. It's obviously closely linked with what's happening in China and growth there.
I think the electric vehicle, clean energy, macro trends happening right now will be a big driver for the demand side with copper over the coming years, right? The electrification globally that we're seeing, I think that narrative is going to bring a lot of interest from the investment community into the copper space as a whole. I think we're going to see higher copper prices over the next five, six years. That's really what we're trying to take advantage of here and offer investors exposure to that as well as to high-grade discovery potential in Canada, in good jurisdictions with a team that knows it well.
Gerardo Del Real: Well said. I couldn't agree more. Jordan, thanks for your time. I'm looking forward to having you back on once we get closer to drilling at the project.
Jordan Trimble: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Gerardo Del Real: Thank you.