Perpetua Resources (TSX: PPTA)(NASDAQ: PPTA) – formerly Midas Gold (TSX: MAX)(OTC: MDRPF) – CEO Laurel Sayer on Name Change, Uplisting to NASDAQ, and Permitting Momentum for Flagship Stibnite Gold-Antimony Project, Idaho
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the president & CEO – and I want to say ‘Midas Gold’ but we have had a name change – I am speaking with Ms. Laurel Sayer.
Laurel, it is great to have you back on! How are you?
Laurel Sayer: We are doing great! And we had a very positive good week… and looking forward to a bright future.
Gerardo Del Real: I will let you do the honors on the name change and the inspiration behind it.
Laurel Sayer: You bet! So we changed our name from Midas Gold to Perpetua Resources. So one of the things that we have done is we have moved forward in the last few months; we have moved the company to Boise, Idaho.
And for Idahoans, maybe not for the rest of the world but for Idahoans, Esto Perpetua is our state motto and it is Latin — meaning ‘to be eternal.’ And we thought – as we re-examined our branding and who we are – we decided that we're more than just a gold mining company. And our name, Midas Gold, doesn't say what we are.
So we wanted to change our name to something that reflected what we are and what we do — and we changed it to Perpetua Resources.
We are a company that, I'm sure many of you know, but for those that don't is that our project is designed in a brownfield and we have a very, very strong restoration component to our project. We will be, also, not only producing gold but a critical mineral that puts domestic mining at the forefront of the conversation of the low-carbon future.
And we also talk about in our story that we are ‘Responsible mining.’ The only way mining moves forward in this country is if we demonstrate that we are listening; that we're working with stakeholders; that we have transparency. And those are things we've been doing for the last five to seven years and we've developed a company around that.
And so we thought that we should change our name to something that reflected what we do — and Perpetua Resources is what we changed it to.
Gerardo Del Real: I've seen the great work that you've done in the community and on site multiple times, personally, formerly under the stewardship of Mr. Stephen Quinn, whom, of course, I'm a big fan of and did a great job steering that ship. You were closely involved with that.
And to that point, I think your background is extremely important to the approach that Midas, and now Perpetua, has taken in regards to the environment and mining responsibly, right? Can you explain, for those not familiar with your background, what that encompasses?
Laurel Sayer: Sure. My background is different. I have a background in conservation. I’ve worked for a congressman for 20 years, and in that role, I worked over on natural resource issues. And we worked specifically with public land agencies and a lot of restoration projects; a wilderness bill; became very intimately involved with the funding of brownfields; how to work in brownfields; how to actually do restoration.
And so I became familiar with how difficult it is to get government money/funding to restore a brownfield. And I became acutely aware of the fact that you needed private funding to do that and to partner with public funding… after I left the congressman and went into working with Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts and helped coordinate that and work with that group.
It's important that people understand that it isn't a magical wand that goes across a contaminated area to restore it; it takes a lot of money and a lot of effort and a lot of planning. And the government doesn't have the funds to do that.
And when you have industry step in and say they will do that. So when I was approached by – then Midas Gold – and they told me about their plan to mine and also take the profits of that mining and do restoration in this brownfield area; that the restoration and environmental component could work closely with the economic development as a rural community in Idaho; and together the economy and the environment could work together and both could have wins; we could create 500 jobs; we could clean up a brownfield; we could restore salmon to the upper reaches of streams — those are things that I am passionate about personally.
And I thought, ‘Boy, let's try and make this work. We need to make this work. We need to change how people look at industry; how people look at how you clean up the environment.’
And so that's why I joined Midas Gold then and why we're part of Perpetua Resources now.
Gerardo Del Real: Well said, Laurel. It's worth noting that, along with the incredible environmental work that Perpetua will be taking on — the Stibnite project is an extremely profitable and economic project.
We have a net present value at 5% of $1.9 billion; that's in US dollars at $1,850 gold. We all, of course, expect much higher gold prices.
With that being said, you're at a critical, critical point – and we'll talk more about critical elements and antimony in a second – but you're at a critical point in the permitting stage. And it was positive and encouraging for me to see the news that there was a stay of some clean water litigation that had been going on.
It sounds like there is some positive momentum in that space as well.
Laurel Sayer: Yes, just the other day – along with all of the other good news we had this week – we were able to come to an agreement to have a stay to work with the tribes on finding a solution. We have always said that you can't solve problems by going to court. If you want to solve a problem… let's sit down at a table and talk it through and come to some agreements. And that's exactly what this stay will require.
And we will be sitting down with the tribe. We'll have some conversations. We'll work together, and together we'll find ways to have solutions to help alleviate the issues that the tribe has as well as some of those that we have and really get some good decisions made to get some work done up at the project site and perhaps other areas as we move forward.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent! I mentioned the permitting process. The Biden administration has been very clear that it is in full support of responsible mining especially when it comes attached with the potential to source a domestic supply of critical metals — antimony amongst those.
The antimony is a smaller portion of the economics at Stibnite but a very – again pardon the pun – critical portion of it… and I think it provides great flexibility. Can you speak to the antimony portion of the project and how that may be helping further the permitting process and expediting it a bit for you?
Laurel Sayer: Yes, antimony is not mined in the US. And where you use antimony is in electric car batteries; you use it in solar; you use it in wind; semiconductors. Antimony is a critical mineral that is needed, and there are no domestic mining sources in the US. We would be the only one, and we're one right now that – once we're permitted – that would be producing antimony… so it is very critical.
And as President Biden has talked about – just even recently this week about signing an executive order that will require government to produce even unclassified assessment of key industries and their supply chains, which would include semiconductor manufacturing, electric car batteries, rare earth elements and such things that are in iPhones and military systems – and antimony is found in those. And we would provide a great source for that.
And we're through the major first part of the permitting process; just finished up with our draft EIS in fall of 2020. And we're moving forward in this permitting process to get our final EIS out and a Record of Decision, hopefully, within a year. So we are on the track.
Gerardo Del Real: You are. No, and I was saying, and sorry to cut in, but it's excellent work. And I'll tell you another bit of news that obviously has had a very positive impact on not just the stock price but the liquidity of the stock: It's very clear that there's an appetite for quality gold-antimony projects in the US. You can see that from the share price performance this week.
And I've got to believe a large part of that is due to the major milestone, which is, of course, the new US stock exchange listing on the NASDAQ. Congratulations there. That's a big, big deal!
Laurel Sayer: Yes, we hope it will help us attract a broader range of shareholders, increase our liquidity, and ultimately deliver some term value to our investors. Bringing it back home – bringing our project back home, our Idaho roots, the US project, the US listing, US investors while also maintaining our TSX listing – all of these are positive moves towards where we want to go with this project.
Gerardo Del Real: We live in extremely interesting times highlighted by my week here in Texas and 2021 in general. So when I ask how the permitting timeline has been affected or not affected, and I ask, By when you anticipate having a final decision… I fully am aware that things may change.
But how are things looking as of today, Laurel? Is everything moving forward the way you expected?
Laurel Sayer: Yes, it is. It is moving forward. We have some good, qualified regulatory people that are working on the project. They are committed to working and following the process. And I have to tell you that one of the things I'm so proud of in our project is that our permitting team and our entire team that has supported the permitting team — we have always followed the regulatory process.
We haven't tried to cut any corners; haven't tried to do any undue influence; we have always followed strictly the NEPA process. And that's important to do as you move forward and it's kept us on-track. And we hope and continue that it will stay on-track. We did have a strong showing of comments in our draft EIS. We had over 10,000 comments; 80% of those were positive for the project.
You know, it's wonderful that you have that many comments, right, for your project. But that always provides a big workload for the agencies because under the NEPA process, they're required to review all of those comments and to categorize them. And it's the process — they take those comments; they help make the project better. That's the process. But it also increases the workload of the agencies.
And so we're anxious to stay on-track. We'll see where we are when we have to go do our quarterly schedule review with the agency — but things are looking positive.
Gerardo Del Real: Full disclosure, I was one of those positive comments! I love everything that you've done and you're doing. And I think that Stibnite represents one of the best undeveloped gold projects in North America. Laurel, I want to thank you for your time. You're welcomed any time. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
Laurel Sayer: Well, I do want to just add that we have had a lot of big things and big milestones met in the last six months. And we have had a team that has worked their hearts out with how hard our team has worked. And then to cap off all of the work we've done and milestones we've met — we've decided to pull off a rebranding.
So I am very pleased and proud to be part of a team that are committed to the project; to the restoration, to the economy-building, to the environmental components. Everybody on our team believes in this project. They take ownership in it. And that's why I'm confident that we're going to get it across the line… is because we care and we want to make sure it gets there.
Gerardo Del Real: I'm looking forward to it! Laurel, thank you for your time again. I appreciate it!
Laurel Sayer: Thanks, Gerardo!