RSD at Beaver Creek Interview Series: Rupert Resources (TSX-V: RUP) CEO James Withall
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Rupert Resources (TSX-V: RUP)(OTC: RUPRF), Mr. James Withall. James, how are you?
James Withall: Good, thanks.
Gerardo Del Real: It's good catching up. We're here at the 2019 Beaver Creek Precious Metals Summit. How's the conference treating you?
James Withall: Yeah, it's been really good for us this year. It's our second year here with the company. A lot of meetings, a lot of interest in the company. I think people have followed it for a couple of years, but now they're actually seeing what it's really about. So that's good.
Gerardo Del Real: There's a lot to talk about. You just closed a financing so you're cashed up. You own a mill, you have a starter resource, very aggressive exploration.
Let's talk about all of that. You have a project in Northern Finland. Can you tell me a bit about the project?
James Withall: Yeah, so Northern Finland has really come into its own the last couple of years. It's always been known about as a gold district. We own 290 square kilometers of the belt.
Gerardo Del Real: 100% owned.
James Withall: 100% owned. We bought it. We bought an existing permitted mine and mill for $500,000 plus $2 million in a fixed royalty on the restart of production.
Gerardo Del Real: How you work a bear market.
James Withall: Yeah. It was the time and place in the market back in 2016 that you could do that. My background is fund management and I was recruited by the owners of the company to come and run this. So it's an exciting time to be out there and there's a lot of other companies up there beginning to do some exploration and showing the potential of the region.
Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic. Tell me about the mineral belt because it's pretty extensive.
James Withall: Yeah, so the central Lapland Greenstone Belt sits really in Northern Finland. They host a couple of big operations, obviously Agnico's Kittila operation, which is 8 million ounces in the ground, going to produce 250,000 ounces now. So it's Europe's biggest gold mine. Apart from that, you've got the Kevitsa mine, a huge base metals operation run by Boliden, and Anglo American's discovery at Sakatti, which was one of the biggest base metals discoveries of the last 15 years and has pretty much sailed under the radar and you'll see a PFS out on that by the end of the year.
Gerardo Del Real: I mentioned the financing that you just closed. Can we talk about that a little bit? You're pretty cashed up.
James Withall: Yeah, so we just closed on $7.3 million. And importantly the company had a convertible debenture in place as well and we managed to get 95% of that to rotate into equity and that was for $7.7 million. So effectively it's like raising $14 million right now. So yeah, we're in a great position. We've got $8.3 million of cash and set out to push on with our exploration.
Gerardo Del Real: I know the exploration is aggressive, you're cashed up to be able to do it. Can you talk to me about that? What's the target type?
James Withall: Yeah, so it's 15,000-meter program, targeting a number of sort of sequential anomalies that we've tested. Over the last two years, we've been putting together all the background data, and the market doesn't really care about that, they just expect you to do all the science, and get it right.
Gerardo Del Real: Especially the one we just came out of. Right?
James Withall: Yeah, so but it's been quite a good period to do it. We've had supportive shareholders to fund that work. So now it's a case of we already made some discoveries based on our new modeling that we did and our new regional understanding, we've made those back in April, and now it's going on to test the next 6 to 8 anomalies that we've already identified.
Gerardo Del Real: So 15,000 meters, a little over $8 million in the bank?
James Withall: Yeah.
Gerardo Del Real: You have a mill, you have permits in place. What do the next 12 months look like?
James Withall: So this regional exploration program will run for the next 9 months sequentially doing these targets. We'll be restarting drilling within the mine itself on our half-a-million-ounce resource to bring that up in confidence level and test some extensions. That'll probably come out to a new 43-101, probably April, May next year. Then we've already done the in-house engineering to restart the operation. So you'll probably see us come out with a study mid-next year about restarting the operation.
Gerardo Del Real: Now when you talk about 15,000 meters of drilling and the various anomalies, do you have a specific target type? Are you looking for near surface or you're looking for deeper underground higher grade, or a combination, a variety?
James Withall: I guess just a bit of back background. So this part of Finland is mostly covered glacial till.
Gerardo Del Real: Right.
James Withall: So the discoveries we made back in April are the first discoveries, outside of base metals and the Sakatti discovery, to be made under cover, and that's just due to the way we've been targeting. Ultimately it's a belt of orogenic-style gold deposits. So you're looking for large-scale gold deposits, 2 to 5 million ounces, or 2-plus million ounces.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent.
James Withall: That's our target size. We're not really interested in small things. We're doing initial appraisals on each of them and we'll move on sequentially to the next one to test for the potential of these really big targets.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. Share structure, what does that look like?
James Withall: We've got 139 million shares out. It's a reasonably tightly held company. We've been supported by some very high-net-worth individuals, but they've been supporting the company and they've put in about up to $30 million so far into this company. So that's been good. So yes, it's a bit tight in the share structure, but that's good in this past environment. It's put us in a good position.
Gerardo Del Real: Absolutely, and shares traded today for approximately?
James Withall: Shares traded about $0.75.
Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic, fantastic. Well, James, it's an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.
James Withall: Well, thank you for your time.
Gerardo Del Real: Thank you.
James Withall: Cheers