Maurice Jackson: Today we will introduce an early-stage exploration company focused on identifying district-scale high-grade copper and silver systems in Peru. Joining us for our conversation is Michael Hudson, the CEO of Hannan Metals Ltd. (HAN:TSX.V; HANNF:OTCPK).
We're glad to speak with you today to discuss the value proposition before us. Before we delve into company specifics, Mr. Hudson, please acquaint us with Hannan Metals, and share the opportunity the company presents to the market.
Michael Hudson: Hannan Metals Ltd. is a TSX.V-listed company exploring for copper and silver in Peru. The company is headed by people who have extensive experience within the mining industry, and specifically in Peru. We are exploring in a completely new district in the San Martin area of northeastern Peru. The project encompasses a newly identified, 120-kilometer (120 km) long, basin-scale, high-grade, sedimentary-hosted copper-silver system. This is a new deposit style for Peru, however it is the second-most prolific producer of copper, as a style, in the world, after porphyries. Geologically, the system shares similarities with sedimentary copper-silver deposits in the African copper belt. With a first-mover advantage, we recognized the exceptional potential for large copper-silver deposits during late 2018, and since then have aggressively staked 521 square kilometers of prospective geology.
Maurice Jackson: Let's go to Peru and visit the San Martin. Where and how did Hannan Metals obtain the data that led to the acquisition of San Martin?
Michael Hudson: We have a 25-year history of exploring and acquiring exploration data in Peru. Based on some information from our datasets, we commenced reconnaissance exploration and found a significant amount of high-grade copper over a large area, and started staking. We put in our first claims in September 2018, and granting of these mining concessions started at the end of 2019. We are putting in a significant amount of effort to ensure that we meet and engage all relevant stakeholders, from local communities to regional and provincial authorities. Generally, the local people have been very welcoming. We are talking to people, listening to concerns, educating as we move forward, and building trust.
Maurice Jackson: Is the San Martin project already fully permitted?
Michael Hudson: We have about 40% of our mining concessions granted to date, with more continually being granted on a monthly basis. We are not at a drilling stage yet, with work over the first half of 2020 aimed at regional reconnaissance to [do] detailed mapping of mineralized horizons over specific prospect areas. Our aim is to balance project and social governance. We will try and keep the permitting process as simple as possible by keeping target areas small and engaging with the community to educate them and be transparent throughout the entire process. We are taking our time to define the right target areas and engage with the relevant communities.
Maurice Jackson: Can you elaborate on the infrastructure and the logistics surrounding San Martin?
Michael Hudson: The San Martin project is located about west and south of Tarapoto. There are multiple daily flights into this city from Lima. Project access is excellent via a proximal paved highway and, broadly, no part of the project is more than two hours' drive from Tarapoto. This infrastructure is, of course, relatively new for Peru, and makes this project so much easier than if we were tackling it, say, 20 years ago.
Maurice Jackson: Well, let's talk about a clever way that Hannan Metals has de-risked their project. Hannan has shifted the paradigm on exploration by implementing a concept known as new search spaces. And the intellectual capital derived from this concept has positioned Hannan Metals in a first-mover competitive advantage among your peers. Sir, please introduce the concept of new search spaces, and how does it fit into the narrative of defining the San Martin as a greenfields or a brownfields exploration plain?
Michael Hudson: Well, firstly, I didn't coin the phrase. It comes from a very smart geologist called Jon Hronsky. And really, this is a concept that's been taken a little further than just talking about grassroots exploration or greenfields. It's basically identifying an area of prospectivity for whatever you may be looking for. And it may be in an old or a very mature terrain where there's lots of data, but you come up with a new thesis. And then you search for that new thesis, whether it's going underground for high-grade systems underneath old oxide gold, for example, or you go into new areas completely and say, "Well, the San Martin area has the same geological characteristics for many, many reasons as some of those super deposits that form in Africa or in Poland and northern Germany." And then you collect the data that opens up that search space, I suppose.
It really is the true way to make discovery. It's very hard to go back to old ideas in old camps and do the same again. And really those easy pickings have been made in our business. So you really have to think a little broadly from the initial start of your exploration. It's looking into new areas with new theses or ideas or concepts, and then collecting the data to support or refute those. That's the exploration or scientific process, but it really means that you're thinking about it much earlier on, from a perspective of trying to find something large and new.
Maurice Jackson: Mr. Hudson, to truly appreciate the value proposition of the San Martin, please provide us with a mental picture and tell us about this stratigraphy and the genetic model.
Michael Hudson: That is how the magic happens, I suppose, and we have been very fortunate here in, that this literally had very, very little exploration. There have been a couple of explorers in the past in this area, but we're talking one year here and one year there. But really, the area and the understanding hasn't been put together until. . .the last six to 12 months.
We've benefited from the data that has now been made freely available to the hardrock mining industry from the petroleum business, and the petroleum explorers were working in these areas a long time ago—way, way, way before we ever thought there could be any prospectivity here for metals. And that's important because the petroleum explorers have bought hundreds, if not millions, of dollars' worth of exploration data collected in a different way for a different commodity, of course—looking for oil. We can use that data and apply it to the things that matter for copper, and the things that matter for copper here in the sediment-hosted copper systems
I should say, there's quite a large amount of silver with this system. So it's really a copper-silver system. The things that matter here for these systems, like any deposit, are source, transport and trap. And they're fairly well defined. It's a relatively simple model in its gross scale. We always look for a source, and the source rocks, and the seismic data that the oilees have produced over these areas, give us a great understanding of the rocks, or the stratigraphy, or the layers of rocks and how they've formed through that period of time.
So, we can identify source rocks. We can identify transport, which is really important also. The seismic shows us those big structures, those big faults that have operated from very early stages in this geological basin right through to when the Andes were forming, and they went from. . .extension to compression when the Andes were forming. All these different stages we can identify through the rock record, and determine not only what is important, but when, and then we can target those structures that have been moving at that appropriate time.
And then the trap is probably the most important part. And in this case, it's a chemical reaction that drops the metal out. We call it a redox boundary, a reduced oxidized boundary. The fluids are oxidized, and when they see the first reduced rocks in the sequence—they could be anything from black shales or graphite to what we have here, organic material—then the copper drops out.
The key point now is that these systems form over a vast scale. We have an area here that is under tenure for 120 kilometers of length. My apologies for using the metric system, but it's something like 60 or 70 miles. It's a very, very large system that is working that source, transport and trap. We're finding copper in those trap horizons over this extensive zone. It's not just one trap horizon we see. We see multiple traps, multiple redox boundaries forming in that stratigraphic pile of rocks. So, that data-rich environment that we have has really helped us fast track not only to understand, but to target, this system over such a large area.
Maurice Jackson: We have before us a 3D model. What are we looking at here?
Michael Hudson: This is quite an unusual circumstance, in that [this area has] really only been explored for less than a year, [and] we're able to build up a comprehensive 3D model. And this is a model in a program called Leap Frog. It's something like 300 kilometers long by 180 kilometers wide. We can see the planes, or the sections, like cross-cutting a loaf of bread along the long axis. Their interpretation is from the seismic sections that the oil companies have provided.
We've been able to tie all those together literally in this program, and we can start to understand all those features that I've just talked about: the source, transport and trap. Features that really allow us to understand how this copper basin formed, and how the copper formed, and that gives us the style. Once again, as I said, this style wasn't really understood until all this data was pulled together.
Then it allows us to home in on specific areas, not only stake those areas, which we've done very aggressively. We've had a first-mover advantage here because we were first, and it's led to a staking rush all around us, I should say. But we had that benefit of all that data and the ability to stake what we wanted first. And then, within those mining concession areas that we've staked, many of them have now been granted. We're able to narrow down the areas which we want to explore.
Maurice Jackson: Can you walk us through the exploration model?
Michael Hudson: This is a very good, summarized, cross-section model created by Lars Dahlenborg, the president of Hannan Metals. What he's summarizing there is the source, which are those purple rocks and the fluids taking the copper. The other key point here that I didn't mention before is that scavenging the fluids and bringing up into those source rocks is driven by salt, of all things.
So, there's vast salt deposits that formed in these areas, and salt forms an amazing scavenger of metals. These highly brine-rich fluids act with superpowers, basically, to take the copper out of those purple rocks at the bottom. Then those fluids move up through those faults. So there's the transport. We can see the dotted lines.
And then into those areas at the top there, we've got little red line. That's one area we call the Sarayaquillo Formation, and that's one area where this redox boundary, or the trap, forms—and then even up and higher, where there's the green rocks with the blue. They're areas where we're finding gossans of lead and zinc, which are peripheral to the copper—and also copper in those areas now. [The gossans] are 50 to 80 meters wide at surface over multiple kilometers. This is a big and vast system. We're talking about five- or six-kilometer views through the earth's crust there. The scale of that is very big, but that's the magic.
Maurice Jackson: You alluded to some comparisons earlier, but a picture's worth a thousand words. And when I think of the San Martin, the first thing that comes to my mind is scale, and I'm talking about district scale. To put some things into perspective, can you provide us with some comparisons?
Michael Hudson: Yeah, the important things that you've just mentioned there are scale and grade, and if you can find that, that's the nirvana of our business, of course. We have both of those in abundance. The picture that you see here is the Central African copper belt. It's not where we're exploring, of course, but what it shows is the scale of that system. The sediment-hosted copper deposits on earth are the second-most prolific form of copper, where we derive our copper from—the first being porphyry these days. The porphyrys are coming to an end, in my prediction. Those higher-grade porphyrys have been mined. There's many more of them that have a lower grade, but as the world is changing, those big open pits with lower and lower grades become less desirable. These higher-grade systems that have a smaller footprint will be more desirable. And that's what happens here in the copper belt, in many respects.
These systems are big and high-grade. You can see the scale of the basin that we're exploring, called the Huallaga Basin, and that's overlaying in that yellow color. And you can see we're about a third the size of the copper belt just in the basin that we're exploring in. That is really only a small part of this full-end basin system that extends on the eastern side of the Andes.
This is a new copper belt that not only exists where we're exploring, but it extends from Colombia through Ecuador, where we have some peer companies exploring for the same systems. They're about 300 kilometers north of us, and then down through Peru into Argentina and Chile. So, this is a big new copper belt. We have some of the more advanced and more easily accessible areas and that's why we targeted where we wanted to, but this has some big implications for Peru too, right? This is a new copper belt for Peru potentially developing here. They already produce, on a country basis, the second-most amount of copper in the world. This could shift them to number one, if this thesis continues to hold.
Maurice Jackson: We're going to cover your technical team later, but they've been quite successful in the results on the implementation of the new search spaces. And that's not just on scale, but equally impressive on identifying high-grade. What are some key results that have current shareholders excited?
Michael Hudson: We have some very high grades, and they've actually surprised us too, to be completely frank, Maurice. This system is developing some very high grades, from the initial boulders—and hundreds of them that we found over this very vast area in creeks—and then we've started to find some of these outcrops. We're seeing three to five-meter-thick zones in the Sarayaquillo Formation running 2–5% copper, something like that. That obviously is our next challenge, is to find continuity of these high grades, and that's what we're working to do, of course. But as I've said, it's relatively early stages. This is our first intense year of exploration, which has had a little hiatus, of course, now, with everything that's going on in the world with COVID-19. But we still had quite a good start before we were shut down a few weeks ago.
There'll be many more of these high grades found. Also, we're finding not only that Sarayaquillo, that 2–5% copper over those widths over large areas. We're seeing these outcrops 20 kilometers apart, and we're finding very thick lead-zinc gossans that we think are peripheral to the copper-bearing parts of the system. These gossans are 50 to 80 meters wide and running percent levels, up to 10% zinc.
The main target here is copper. But you never know what you just may find here. And we may find both—not only a copper system, but a lead-zinc system, as it's turning out here. So, yeah, we've been very successful so far because of that data-rich environment that I talked about before, which has allowed us to target these areas. Just maybe there's a hell of a lot more here to be found, of course, and so the early results will reflect where this project's going.
Maurice Jackson: What are Hannan Metals' principal objectives for the next 12 months?
Michael Hudson: We hope that within the next year we will have drilled and demonstrated both continuity and scale of the mineralized system. This will be subject to permitting. We have recently raised CA$2.2 million (CA$2.2M) and now have a CA$1.7M budget for 2020 to complete a significant amount of field work over the next year.
The other key point is our main objective to work with the locals to tell them what we want to do, to gain their acceptance, and then come back and show them what we've done. And show that we've been operating with responsibility. Because these areas haven't been explored before, there's a general lack of understanding about what exploration is, so there's a lot of education here to be done to explain that we're prospectors, and obviously looking for areas that could potentially be mines one day.
But it's a very high-risk business, of course, and we just don't know where those better areas are going to be. So, it's very much a first principle, working with the local people, as well. So, that's a key objective as well, because if you get off on the wrong foot anywhere in the world from the very early stages, it's very hard to recover. Starting well is a key objective for us in that respect.
Maurice Jackson: We've discussed the good. Let's address the bad. What can go wrong, and what is your action plan to mitigate that wrong?
Michael Hudson: Well, lots of things can go wrong in exploration. You don't find what you think is there, and then that second-guessing nature, without a doubt. As I hinted at before, we are de-riskers by nature, and the only similarity of businesses is the R&D [research and development] business in the pharmaceutical business where we spend lots of capital. There's very few projects that progress and advance forward toward mining. That's sort of like the wonder drugs that are eventually permitted and become very successful drugs, after lots of R&D in the pharmaceutical business. That's what we're doing. So there's, of course, inherently a lot of risk.
How is that mitigated? That's mitigated by having the right managers of the scarce capital that we're able to access in the capital markets, and exploring appropriately. Not spending another dollar if we're proving something isn't there rather than is there. It all comes down to the opportunity itself, and whether the system develops. And so far so good. We can certainly see that there's truly a great prize here to be gained. But we'll spend the capital appropriately to mitigate those risks.
The other area, I suppose, and I touched on that, also is permitting. We want to make sure we get that right. So, it's no good if we find the world's biggest deposit of copper and we're never able to access it—and, of course, with getting the local stakeholders our side. We have to make sure that those two go hand-in-hand. And really, it's working with credibility and respect, and good communication. And, like any relationship in life, if you have those values, then ideally things can progress for you, but that's our culture of the company, and how we aim to succeed.
Maurice Jackson: Those are some good ethics to subscribe to. Switching gears, we've covered the project. Let's discuss the people responsible for increasing shareholder value with their business acumen, and discuss the commercial and technical expertise your team provides to Hannan Metals' shareholders. Mr. Hudson, please introduce us to your board of directors and management team.
Michael Hudson: Well, I've mentioned a few of the team here before. I see myself as a leader and spokesperson, but I have some much more capable, and fantastic people around me. I should just say that I'm a geologist, of course, and I worked in and breathed geology for my career over the last 30 years. And. . .what I really love doing is finding things, and that's what motivates me.
I've worked with a good group of people, the majority of which I've worked with for the last 20 years in the junior business. We're a very tight team. We're technically driven. We've been in the capital markets, and made many discoveries before. In the last cycle we took three discoveries to half-a-billion-dollars in market capitalization, through from first principles, and really you can say this is our next one in waiting, in terms of the next discovery.
Lars Dahlenborg is the president. He and I have worked together for 12 or 13 years, and Lars is a brilliant geologist, and done most of the pulling together here. . . .It's very important to have geologists who've made discoveries and know how to manage their capital. Some gray hair is important, and David Henstridge is a geologist I've worked with for 20 years, and he sits on the board also. Ciara Talbot is a geologist also. Ciara is the director of exploration for Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN:TSX), so she runs Lundin Mining's large exploration budgets. So, she's got some amazing experience worldwide and brings that larger company philosophy, of which most of us have worked for in our careers but not for some time, from my point of view.
Then, of course, you can't just have geologists. You've got to have other people around you, and Georgina Carnegie is more from the geopolitical side of things. She's Harvard trained, World Bank, OECD, came out of the Australian government, and she really has helped me in many places in the world unravel the different onion rings of power as you work your way up through a country. She's been fantastic at articulating those messages.
And then you need the engine room, of course, behind you in running these public companies. Nick DeMare, a long-term business partner, manages all the governance, and that side of the business. And once again, Mariana Bermudez, who sits in Vancouver, is our long-suffering corporate secretary, and makes sure that the business runs on a day-to-day basis.
And so, that's really the team from the board and the offices. I should say the hardest workers, in many respects are those geologists, and we've got long experience in Peru. We've gone back to people, for the most part, that we know and know well. They're the people and the drivers and the helpers in the field who are doing the hard yards finding all this copper.
Maurice Jackson: Mr. Hudson, I notice we overlooked a very important name. Could you please share who that is?
Michael Hudson: Well, a very important person indeed, and that's Dr. Quinton Hennigh, who came to the company relatively recently, but has known the company and the story pretty much from the first press release we put out on this copper discovery. Quinton is an extremely well-known geologist. He's probably one of the most famous geologists in North America for his ability to think big, to pick discoveries, and then to support teams in developing them.
From a personal point of view, I've really enjoyed working with Quinton. You don't generally learn a lot in this business, and in the junior business, unless you surround yourself with some super people, and Quinton is just one of those people who's taught me a lot from his vast experience base. Quinton is an advisor to the company. We were both down in Peru relatively recently together, and kicking the rocks. And his voice and experience is a tremendous advantage, and we love having him on the team.
Maurice Jackson: Having Dr. Quinton Hennigh is a competitive advantage in and of itself.
Michael Hudson: Exactly.
Maurice Jackson: All right, let's get into some numbers. Please share the capital structure of Hannan Metals.
Michael Hudson: Well, we've got 74 million shares on issue; fully diluted around about 104 million shares. The market cap varies around $10–12 million at the moment. In terms of cash, we've got about CA$2 million cash in the bank. That will see us well and truly for this year's budget, which was targeted to be $1.7M, of which we've spent some of that already. We were going to end with about half-a-million dollars cash after this field season.
That, of course, has been changed somewhat with this lockdown that we've seen now globally, where we try to avoid spreading this nasty virus, and Peru is no different. So, we just have to see where things go, until it's appropriate and responsible to start our efforts again. But we'll surely have enough cash in the company to get through to that first drill program that we spoke about.
Maurice Jackson: How much debt do you have?
Michael Hudson: Zero. If you take debt into one of these companies it's a death spiral, and you really don't want to operate with any debt as a junior explorer, in my humble opinion.
Maurice Jackson: Who are the major shareholders?
Michael Hudson: Well, we just completed a capital raise with $2M with the Sprott Group out of Carlsbad in California, and so they have a large percentage on their books. And then the other large percentage is actually insiders. It's something like 40% of the holdings tied up between those two groups.
Maurice Jackson: I hope readers are taking note here. We've got Dr. Quinton Hennigh and Rick Rule: Those are two names that have given the endorsement to Hannan Metals, so I would certainly take note of that. And there are some other high-profile names that vetted Hannan Metals and are shareholders.
Michael Hudson: We have been fortunate to have some high-profile names as shareholders, such Bob Moriarty, Mickey Fulp, Brent Cook, Joe Mazumdar and Maurice Jackson.
Maurice Jackson: Are there any redundant assets on the books that we should know about?
Michael Hudson: Wow, that's an interesting question. We still absolutely hold our Irish projects. But I wouldn't call them redundant in any way, shape, or form.
Actually, we did some fantastic work there, and probably have some of the most compelling targets that have developed through lots of exploration, and lots of seismic acquisition actually. And that's what gave us the real insight to going into this data in Peru, with all that petroleum data. That has inherent value rather than redundant value.
But the key point there is if we can keep those on the books with minimal expenditures, we've got such an exciting project here in Peru. There will be interest in those assets in Ireland, and we'll determine just how to monetize those for shareholders as we go forward.
Maurice Jackson: Are there any change of control fees, and if yes, what is the compensation?
Michael Hudson: No, there's none.
Maurice Jackson: That's quite impressive actually. Is management charging a consultant fee for any services?
Michael Hudson: Yes. Myself and Lars have a salary. But I think that you're probably hinting at, do we have a separate company that charges above and beyond, which is not the case. I take a very modest salary; something like CA$8,000 a month to run this company, which is probably one of the lower cost CEO salaries you'll find in the business. But I truly believe in putting money in the ground. And I've got a lot of equity. I've written lots of checks for this company, and I'm in it for discovery.
Maurice Jackson: When was the last time you purchased shares and at what price?
Michael Hudson: I purchased shares right up and down from $0.25 down to $0.15 down to $0.05. So, I've purchased all the way up and down the chain there. In fact, myself and my business partners, along with Rick, were the only ones writing checks last year when nobody was interested.
Maurice Jackson: In a closing, multilayered question. What is the next unanswered question for Hannan Metals? When can we expect a response, and what determines success?
Michael Hudson: Well, we'll continue to put out press releases over the next three or four months. We've got rocks in the lab. We've got rocks in our field camp that need to be sent to the lab once we can get back there. Then we'll go back into the field when it's a responsible time to do so. There'll be continuous news flow despite the lockdowns that we see in Peru.
What will success be? Success will be further discoveries and confirmation of these areas over the larger area. It's very early days, as I've said, and so we need to collect a hell of a lot more data to de-risk, and find a lot more of those outcropping areas, ideally, that we move toward drill targets, permitting those drill targets, and then demonstrating that continuity of grade. And I think if we can do that over the next year, where we've de-risked this project, and really proven at the next level, the opportunity here.
Maurice Jackson: Michael, what keeps you up at night that we don't know about?
Michael Hudson: What keeps me up at night: That's a really good question. What drives me is discovery! I live here in Australia. I have the benefit of waking up and seeing the day's field results, so I'll always take a look there before I have my morning coffee. What keeps me up is capitalizing these projects, or these companies, appropriately, and finding the right shareholders who share the vision. I suppose it's not keeping me up at night, but it's always an ongoing challenge, of course. And making discoveries in a timely manner that fits the needs of that capital. Often that's very hard to do, of course, because everything always takes longer. I've been managing these companies because I love it.
I suppose the only other thing that I should say is just the safety of people. We've got field teams operating in these challenging environments, and even a slip of the ankle on a slippery stone is some of these areas. In jungle areas it's tough to medivac someone out, so they'd have to walk out. Safety is paramount and it is something that I think about, as I have firsthand experience, having spent lots of time in those areas myself.
Maurice Jackson: Mr. Hudson, last question: What did I forget to ask?
Michael Hudson: You had very thorough questions, Maurice. So, I think we've covered a lot about the project, the people and the opportunity here, so I thank you for that. I suppose I want to say two things.
I think there's huge opportunity here for the mining industry to be reshaped. It's not a popular industry per se, in wherever you go in the world, yet everybody relies on something for mining. I hope there's a greater discussion between society and the mining industry itself, to demonstrate that this is such an essential industry. In fact, it is an essential industry. It's one of the few industries still going here in Australia at the moment, because if we didn't produce the metals, we don't have our mobile phones. We don't have our washing machines, houses, in any sort of infrastructure.
As we decarbonize the world and go toward electrification, copper plays an extremely important aspect of that. We're going to mine more copper in the next 20 years than we have for the whole history of the earth. New discoveries are really needed to meet supply, and this discovery plays into that narrative perfectly. And as I mentioned there before, this has a huge opportunity for Peru to create a completely new mining district in what is already one of the world's most prolific countries from a metal endowment point of view.
So, I think there are just a few high level thoughts that I have. I thank you for your time.
Maurice Jackson: Well, thank you, sir. Mr. Hudson, for someone listening that wants to get more information on Hannan Metals, please share the website address.
Michael Hudson: It is www.hannanmetals.com.
Maurice Jackson: For direct inquiries, contact Hannan Metals at (604) 699-0202, or you may e-mail [email protected]. Hannan Metals trades on the TSX.V: HAN | OTC: HANNF.
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Michael Hudson of Hannan Metals, thank you for joining us today on Proven and Probable.
Maurice Jackson is the founder of Proven and Probable, a site that aims to enrich its subscribers through education in precious metals and junior mining companies that will enrich the world.[NLINSERT]
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