Ian Slater is pushing ahead in the global mining industry in Canada, the U.S., and South America. The mining entrepreneur is currently involved in several copper mining projects. Slater sees a bright future for copper mining as electric vehicles and renewable energy industries boom. Unlike some in the sector, Slater didn’t launch his career as a geologist or engineer.
Slater started his career as a chartered accountant at Arthur Anderson and Ernst & Young. The entrepreneurial dream bit him early. “After working in the mining office in Vancouver, I transferred to Moscow, Russia. It was an entrepreneurial experience to recruit staff, develop contacts, and manage a steep learning curve,” Slater shared in an interview.
While in Russia, Slater started to develop the skillset that opened the door to many opportunities in the mining industry. “I transferred to Central Asia and started to help major mining companies negotiate stability agreements with the government of Uzbekistan,” he shared with Streetwise Reports.
Breaking new horizons for Andersen in Central Asia provided some essential learning experiences. “Entering a country and starting a business from scratch taught plenty of lessons. First and foremost was the importance of hiring a great team. Once you have the key people in place, everything else was much easier,” he recalled.
From Accountant to Legendary Explorer
By 2007, Slater was ready for a new challenge. He retired as a partner from EY and started his first mining venture.
By the mid-2010s, Slater’s mining ventures were starting to take off in several countries. Today, Slater’s companies have developed multiple successful mining ventures in Colombia. In addition, Slater has found mining opportunities closer to home in British Columbia. He is the founder
and chairman of Libero Copper and Gold Corp. (LBC:TSX.V:, LBCMF:OTCQB), a mining company developing copper projects in South America and British Columbia.
In addition, Slater is executive chairman of Zacapa Resources, which is focused on copper mining projects in Arizona and Nevada. Adam Melnik, CEO of Zacapa Resources, has worked at several resource companies, including Pembridge Resources and Vedanta Resources. Timothy MacIntyre, VP Exploration, has a PhD from the Colorado School of Mines and joined the company from Rio Tinto, with previous experience at First Quantum and Ivanhoe.
The company’s Red Top copper mine is located nearby several significant copper mines such as Pinto Valley (Capstone Mining) and Resolution and Superior East (Rio Tinto and BHP). The Red Top project will be drill tested in 2021.
Developing New Mines In Northern British Columbia
Slater’s Libero has recently found a significant mining opportunity in Big Red, a mining property located in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle. “We optioned the property in 2019 and started to explore it. Some prior exploration work had been here back in the 1960s and 1990s. All of those old records had to be digitized to guide our 2020 drilling efforts,” Slater commented.
In December 2020 Libero discovered a new porphyry copper deposit. In contrast to less developed opportunities, Big Red should be relatively economical to develop. The mining site is already connected to the local road system, is at a low elevation of just 700 meters and has relatively low snowfall.
Big Red is a set of 20 continuous claims covering 26,000 hectares (64,247 acres) in the northwest of British Columbia. In July 2021, the company started a 5,000-meter (16,404 feet) drill program to develop the mine further. The Big Red mining site is located approximately 833 kilometers (517 miles) north of Prince Rupert, BC.
Colombia: The Next Frontier in Mining
For years, investors had mixed feelings about Colombia. The country’s reputation for instability and violence is starting to fade away.
In reality, Colombia has become much safer in recent years. A 2020 ranking of the world’s most dangerous cities by murder rate includes multiple cities in Mexico and Brazil. By betting on Colombia’s improving reputation, Slater has found promising mining opportunities.
"We’ve been working in Colombia for more than a decade, and we’ve had no security issues. Yet, investor perception of Colombia has lagged behind the reality we see,” Slater commented.
“As the Chairman of Outcrop Silver & Gold Corp. (OCG:TSX.V; OCGSF:OTCQX; MRG1:DE), I’m excited about our recent silver discoveries in Colombia. Santa Ana was the largest colonial silver mine in Colombia, and so far we have mapped 65 kilometers of silver veins and drilled up to 10 kg/t silver. Jesus Velador, VP Exploration, recently joined from Fortuna to progress the Santa Ana project after making multiple high grade silver discoveries in Mexico."
In recent company news, Outcrop announced that its four core holes extended Santa Ana's Megapozo shoot by 100 meters, with hole 72 intercepting 2.18 meters of 1,098 grams equivalent silver per tonne and hole 73 intercepting 1.42 meters of 3,151 grams equivalent silver per tonne.
Navigating The Ups & Downs of Mining
The mining business is highly cyclical as commodity prices move up and down. That’s not the only challenge Slater had to overcome as a new mining entrepreneur. “When I started, it was right before the 2008 financial crisis. We acquired options on some projects to do exploration in Kazakhstan and were ready to go. When the financial crash happened, nobody returns your calls to finance grassroots exploration in Kazakhstan,” Slater commented.
Developing Mines in a COVID World
Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a limited impact on Slater’s mining companies so far. “We had established teams in Colombia and BC, so closing international borders didn’t affect us. The main problem we’ve faced recently is long delays with lab work. The mining labs in British Columbia were backed up for months for much of 2020,” he recalled. These bottlenecks continue in 2021.
Earning A Social License
Running a successful mining business takes more than labs, geologists, and market demand. “In our projects, we’ve been focused on earning a social license. It is only possible to operate when the local community benefits from the mine and supports the project,” Slater commented. “Ian Harris, CEO of Libero Copper & Gold, has spent much of 2021 in Colombia meeting with people in the local community to understand and address their concerns,” Slater explained. “Ian Harris was SVP and Country Manager for Corriente and was instrumental in obtaining a social license to develop the Mirador copper mine in Ecuador.”
The social license concept goes beyond running the occasional listening tour. Libero Copper & Gold also focuses on hiring local geologists and workers to develop the mine. Earning a social license to operate is part of the company’s success.
1) Bruce Harpham compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an independent contractor/employee. He or members of his household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. He or members of his household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None. His/her company has a financial relationship with the following companies referred to in this article: None.
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