Marcelo Awad is a Chilean businessman and the former CEO of Antofagasta Minerals, one of the largest copper mining companies in the world. He currently serves as the executive director, Chile, of Wealth Minerals, a mining exploration and development company focused on lithium assets in Chile. Awad is known for his expertise in the mining industry and his ability to identify valuable mineral assets.
Prior to joining Wealth Minerals, Awad spent over 15 years at Antofagasta Minerals, serving in various senior leadership positions. During his tenure, he oversaw the company's expansion into new markets and played a key role in its growth into one of the world's leading copper producers.
Awad said, "Seven and a half years in the term as the president and CEO, and when I finished, the company was producing nearly ten times more than when I had joined the company." Currently, Awad is an independent board member for three companies. He is also the executive director, Chile, of World Copper and Wealth Minerals.
When asked how he became a board member for these companies, Awad told Streetwise, "I have been always been approached to become a board member. I have been lucky in the sense that I have been able to choose what company to join," the companies he likes to join are in the metals and engineering sectors.
"It's funny," he commented, "but since I was in secondary school, I always liked the sector. Still, I never thought that I was going to join the mining sector later. When I studied to be an engineer, I was mainly on the business side, but fortunately, I managed to join a mining company on the business side," and the rest is history.
Awad went on to speak about two companies he works for, which he holds in high regard.
The first company he spoke about was Wealth Minerals Ltd. (WML:TSX.V; WMLLF:OTCQB). Wealth Minerals is a Canadian mining exploration and development company, traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, focused on lithium assets in Chile. The company's primary focus is on the development of its Atacama Project, which is located in the heart of the Atacama Salar, one of the world's largest and highest-grade lithium brine deposits.
The company also has mining claims at the Ollague Salar in Chile, as well as a copper project in British Columbia
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Wealth Minerals Ltd. (WML:TSX.V; WMLLF:OTCQB)
In addition, Wealth Minerals has attracted investment from high-profile investors such as Eric Sprott, a Canadian billionaire and renowned resource investor. Sprott has invested in several rounds of financing for Wealth Minerals, citing the company's strong management team and potential in the lithium market.
Awad likes this company because "We have a very good team of experts in Chile and in Canada," all of which have deep experience in the mining sector.
When asked about upcoming catalysts for wealth minerals, Awad said, "We intend to develop as soon as the Chilean authorities announce what is going to be the lithium policy for the private sector to develop a project . . . We have been in Chile for many years, and we have been with three different governments waiting for this policy." However, Awad said it seems that this decision will come in a matter of days or weeks.
Reuters notes that 9.46% of the company is with management and insiders. Director David Lies has 7.02%, with 22.08 million shares. CEO and Director Henk van Alphen has 2.09%, with 6.59 million. Director Xiaohuan (Juan) Tang has 0.13%, with 0.40 million. CFO Sead Hamzagic has 0.10%, with 0.33 million. Director Gordon Neal has 0.10%, with 0.30 million. Director Stefan Schauss has 0.03%, with 0.09 million.
0.05% is held by institutional investors. Sandhill Investment Management has 0.03%, with 0.10 million shares. MAI Capital Management LLC has 0.01%, with 0.04 million, and Paladin Wealth Management has less than 1%, with 0.02 million.
The rest is in retail.
According to the company, Wealth Minerals has 313,089,583 outstanding shares and a market cap of CA$140 million. Market Watch reports it trades in the 52-week range between CA$0.17 and CA$0.48.
Next, he spoke about World Copper Ltd. (WCU:TSX.V;WCUFF:OTCQX). World Copper is a Canadian mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition, exploration, and development of copper projects in Chile. The company's primary focus is on the exploration of its flagship Cristal project, located near the Peruvian border in northern Chile, near one of the most prolific copper-producing regions in the world.
World Copper is led by a team of experienced professionals with a strong track record of success in mineral exploration and development. The company's management team is committed to responsible and sustainable mining practices and has a deep understanding of the local community and high environmental standard considerations.
When asked what Awad likes about the company, he pointed to the potential of its projects. He called World Copper's Escalones Project a "beauty." Escalones is a copper porphyry project about 35 kilometers east of El Teniente, which is one of the world's biggest underground copper mines. Previously two companies held this project but determined that the sulphide layer was too deep and difficult to develop.
When World Copper acquired Escalones, it decided first to target only the oxide layer.
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World Copper Ltd. (WCU:TSX.V; WCUFF:OTCQB)
Awad noted, "The information collected from the last drilling campaign expanded the previously known oxide resources and will allow a yearly production of 52.000 tons for about 18 years. And why still for oxide, not sulfide? Because the construction of an oxide operation is less invasive and the footprint is 1/5th of a sulfide mine."
Awad believes this would be well received by investors and authorities especially considering the support from the local community.
In terms of upcoming catalysts, Awad commented, "We are expecting to launch a second drilling program in order to improve the geology."
The company reports that 27% of its shares are with management and insiders. Reuters reports that Director Robert C. Kopple has 12.25%, with 14.91 million shares. Chairman Henk van Alphen has 2.67%, with 3.25 million. CEO and President Nolan Peterson has 0.70%, with 0.70 million, and Director Patrick Burns has 0.14%, with 0.17 million.
Reuters notes 1.18% is held by institutional investors. Mackenzie Financial Corp. has 0.91%, with 1.11 million shares, and Palos Management Inc. has 0.27%, with 0.33 million.
31.16% is with strategic investors. Wealth Minerals is its largest strategic investor at 15.78%, with 19.21 million shares.
The rest is with retail investors.
Market Watch notes that World Copper has a market cap of CA$$20.71 million. It has 115.06 million shares outstanding and trades in the 52-week range between CA$0.14 and CA$0.64.
Awad's heart has always been in the mining sector. However, he commented that he has always been interested in working for Formula One.
"I am fanatical about car racing, actually a tifosi ( Ferrari Team Fan)," he said. "When based in London, I was approached by a Formula One Team to meet and explore options to join them. But unfortunately, I couldn't make it because I was fully committed to my job then, and I couldn't resign, being in London before coming into the main office in Chile."
In the end, he noted, that opportunity loss may have been for the best, as he was contacted by Antofagasta Minerals right after, where he made his way up to become President and CEO.
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1) Katherine DeGilio wrote this article for Streetwise Reports LLC. She or members of her household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. She or members of her household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None.
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