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Zinc play Belararox (ASX:BRX) is kicking goals in Argentina!
April 4, 2023
Belararox (ASX:BRX) is making headway in Argentina
We spoke with Belararox CEO, Arvind Misra, about the company’s new Toro-Malambo-Tambo zinc project in San Juan province of Argentina and how BRX expects to be able to grow a resource fairly quickly with the help of legendary exploration geologist Jason Ward.
See full transcription below.
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Stuart: Hello, and welcome to “Stocks Down Under.” My name is Stuart Roberts, and I’m one of the founders of our service. And joining me from Perth this morning on Tuesday the 28th of March 2023, is Mr. Arvind Misra, who’s the CEO of Belararox (ASX:BRX). Arvind, good morning.
Arvind: Good morning, Stuart. Thank you for having me on your platform.
Stuart: Pleasure. Belararox is probably not a name that many investors will know. You only did IPO in the last year or so. But it’s fair to say it was…for a market that wasn’t in great shape last year, you’ve had a pretty successful IPO.
Arvind: Yeah. Look, we’re only about 14-months-old company. We listed in January 2022, and we listed this company on the back of a project called Belara itself, which is a Lachlan Fold Belt not far away from Masi [SP] and a town like Orange. And the project was previously drilled by the company Ironbark ASX:IBG. They had drilled 25 odd holes. They had a 2004 JORC resource. So, when we did the marketing of the project to the investors, they knew that we will be drilling some holes and making it JORC compliant, which is what we did within…we’re six months’ time from listing after completing a lot of geophysics works. And about 57 holes we drilled, we completed a JORC resource, which came out about 5 million tons at 3.4% zinc equivalent. So, that project actually had a lot of interest. And our share price, we were on the successful IPO for the last year, sale price ran from 20 cents to $1.50 within a few months of listing. And then came along the global factors like inflation, interest rates, and the war in Ukraine. Share price started sort of, you know, in line with the market falling, but we’re still faring well about 20 cents, and we are very happy that we had such a good reception last year.
Stuart: Well, 20 cents was the IPO price. So, your investors are still up if they were there at the IPO.
Arvind: That’s right. So, we’re still there. And with this exciting announcement about the Toro acquisition in Argentina, I think we’ll get…the investors will be very proud of when I start announcing board results going forward.
Stuart: Now, that’s the one that’s got me excited. A lot of investors wouldn’t know the name Jason Ward, but they have heard of the Cascabel Goldmine that SolGold is working on in Ecuador, and it turns out that Jason was the discoverer of that. He’s now working for you or at least consulting with you on a project that he’s invented for you in San Juan province of Northern Argentina where you’ve got some wonderful neurology by the looks of it.
Arvind: Correct. I’ll cover Jason Ward just in a minute. Just in terms of neurology, about 10 kilometers south of this project, which has been drilled 22 holes, 8 down and 14 of at sea. Ten kilometers south of there is a couple of mines called Pascua-Lama and Veladero. The both are operated by Barrick Gold. And north of us is a couple of very good projects called Filo del Sol and Josemaria. Filo del Sol had recently announced intersection of 1.3 kilometers, so 1.3% copper equivalent, and Lundin is investing four billion dollars.
Stuart: One point three kilometers, 1,300-meter intersection.
Stuart: Go figure.
Arvind: That’s 1,300 meters, so 1.3% copper equivalent.
Arvind: And they’re investing $4 billion setting up the new copper mine there. So, it’s in the region where big players are there. It’s in elephant country in the 320-square kilometer area that we have. Well, the southern part of that this total project has been drilled, which I said before, 22 holes drilled, and it’s got 8.7 kilometers for trenching work done. And some of the grades in those trenchings are in double digits. So, we are now very busy conforming all this information to the 2012 standard. And as we do that, we will bring out and that will look very good. But in addition to that, and sorry, I will cover now Jason Ward and I’ll cover a little bit more about the project.
Arvind: Obviously, Jason Ward was involved as a discoverer of the Cascabel project in Ecuador, which is a billion-dollar company, SolGold now. And he’s done a few more. And Jason lives in Argentina with his family for a majority of the year and not far away from San Juan province. He lives in Mendoza, which is very well-serviced for the mining kind of exploration [crosstalk 00:04:44]
Stuart: And great wine country for those folks who know they’re wine, right?
Arvind: That’s right. Great wine country. So, and San Juan province is also ranked number one by French Institute of Australia in terms of mining-friendly base being number one in all Latin America. So, it’s an area that’s attracting a lot of investment with a lot of things going on.
Stuart: That’s right. It’s a trap for the unwary, isn’t it? Argentina may be a basket case or may not be a basket case but because mining is pretty much regulated at the provincial level in Argentina, it doesn’t matter what stupid stuff is going on in Bueno Aires. So long as you’re in a place like San Juan, you’re set, right?
Arvind: Correct. And proof is the pudding is money that’s been poured by a lot of major players there.
Stuart: Right. And we’re talking…there’s serious companies, Barrick and Lundin, in this case, two major Canadian companies are investing heavily in this region.
Arvind: Correct. Correct. And there are several more. So our project too, is also there, I can take a few more names, but these are the ones already producing and significant money invested already.
Stuart: Right. And so what we need to do is convert your existing drill intersections to JORC 2012, then you’ll be in a position to talk about an exploration target. And it’s fair to say you’re not coming here just for a small deposit like the one you’ve got at Belara, this is elephant country, as you say.
Arvind: This is elephant country. And the intersection that we recently announced in our acquisition binding agreement when we signed, it’s in hundreds of meters of intersections. And the grades are for that kind of intersection pretty good. And when we put the numbers around to get exploration target, it’ll be not in single digits, not in double digits, probably it would be in three digits. And we just have to do our work to publish that.
Stuart: Right. So, you’ve got a new potential company maker in Toro in San Juan province. What do we wanna do with the Belara deposit in the Lachlan near Dubbo?
Arvind: I’ll come to that. Actually, I didn’t make the point just for the Toro itself.
Arvind: So, this Toro project is on the southern side of the 10 and 20 square kilometer we have got. And that’s in this high sulferation zinc kind of thing, but that’s mainly intermediary leading to indication for a copper porphyry system. So, north of us, there are two more projects called Malambo and Tambo. And those projects got all the signatures for copper porphyry. And as far as Jason goes, his excitement is more for the porphyry. And this zinc itself is very exciting and very world-class, looks like, but the main target that he’s going for is for those copper porphyry systems.
So, now coming to the Belara, at Belara we sort of…amidst our second phase of drilling after the first round, we announced the JORC 2012 and failed on that one. And that drilling, we are waiting for some results. We’ll re-evaluate and see how this looks like. But in additionally, I have been granted about 400 more square kilometers, two more leases on the eastern side of the current deal that we have. And that 400 is square kilometer with the existing 200, we have 643 square kilometers of sizeable package. So, mineralized corridor, which is Belara in the southern project called Native Bee, that continues on for 20 more kilometers. And there has been no more in geophysics work done. So because this kind of looks like a missed deposit, which happens in ports along the way. So, we’ll be doing some tests around those 20 kilometers and see if there are repetitions for them. And also on the eastern side with the new leases, there are examples of some old gold working. So there’s gold that has been mined in the past in small scale and nobody knows where the source is. So, our focus would be apart from this base metal, this 20-kilometer additional join that we will be investigating, we’ll be also investigating potential for the gold on the eastern side. That’s what we’ll be doing on our Belara project.
Stuart: All right. So, get big or go home. And you’re choosing to go big here. There could be 20 kilometers of some pretty juicy VMS stuff, plus who knows what gold.
Arvind: Correct. Correct. So, a lot of exciting stuff, a lot of work to be done.
Stuart: Right. We haven’t talked yet about your Bullabulling project in Western Australia. You’ve staked out all the ground around Zijin’s bullet bullying project, 3 million ounces, which they have yet to develop. That could be very valuable for the extensions that the Chinese don’t have.
Arvind: Correct. So, that area is traditionally has been known for a lot of gold mining around. It’s like you talked about 3 million ounces of gold. Immediately north there’s a deposit called Gecko, which is about 300,000 ounces. And there’s a bit of history on that one. My largest shareholder, Mondo Rox, which is represented by my director, Michelle Stokes on the board, and her husband Dr. Greg Partington. Greg actually did a lot of work on that 3 million ounces when he was working for Aztec Resources. So, he knows that area very, very well. And he is the one who helped peg that ground. So, he has done 2D and 3D modeling. He has got seven drilling targets for gold. And we were about to commit to doing the drilling and then when we did a bit more research about what’s happening there in the near neurology-wise, there’s a lot of work going on in the drilling and finding successfully lithium pegmatite. And like a fairplay ground, they drilled about two kilometers north of us. They found 0.7% lithium in their drilling. And similarly, Nepian is about 10 kilometers south of us.
So, recently, we have been looking at that aspect. Also, lithium is dense on some ground surface work. And then we found some lithium pegmatite on our ground also. So, the work that we are doing right now is doing some radiometrics and then we will do a bit more soil sampling and probably do some cellar drilling to see if the ground is prospective from lithium point of view also. And as you know, I mean, if you look at a lot of gold mines near us, Mount Maria and a few other examples, they were traditionally gold mines, but they found a lot of good lithium also. So, at the moment, we are evaluating lithium, but we have not given up the gold. We probably would drill for gold also, but we just prioritizing a bit of lithium work ahead of gold drilling down the track.
Stuart: Fair enough. Yeah. So, there’s a heck of a lot of pegmatites that got overlooked until the present day when they’ve suddenly become very, very valuable indeed, or potentially so.
Arvind: Correct. Correct. So, a lot of historical assays that were done, they were not…lithium was not included in them. You know, you’re finding them that, you know, they’re lithium-bearing. So, we’re looking at that aspect right now.
Stuart: Yes. Now, Arvind, people would have guessed by now given that accent, you’re not from around here. Your first degree was in mining engineering from IIT in Varanasi. You’ve been living in Australia for 35 years, but you spent a bit of time back in India developing one of the first foreign-owned copper mines in the entire Indian subcontinent several years ago for India resources. That was a very successful adventure for you.
Arvind: Very successful venture. We had 10 million IPO. We were so subscribed. We took 30 million from the market, and then we went and set up a copper mine in India in a very remote area of India itself, a place called Jharkhand. And I took 20 of my friends, Australian, South African and we set up everything from scratch. And we were producing about half million tons of oil. We had a concentrator plant also. And I ran that joint for 10 years breaking all the production records. We were probably the lowest-at-cost per pan producer of the copper. And I was only…the ore body was only 0.9% underground. It was flat dipping. So, I was using cut and fill mining method to produce and make money from that kind of deposit underground. It was…
Stuart: And you were still able to do so profitably, even with the lower copper prices of, say, 10 or 15 years ago.
Arvind: Correct. Copper prices were like $5,000, $6,000. And I was not getting all the LME because I had the contract to supply that to this military government of India smelter. And even then, we were making money from there. That was a very successful venture, but I employed 2,000 local guys. I mean, it was a air lake mine, so. And it was only eight-hour shift they’re allowed, so you had three shift in a day in all air lake body. So, there were a lot of local boys that I trained. And that’s the most satisfying part. Is that of being able to train and give them the skill that they’re using now working globally, a lot of those boys are working in Australia, Africa, and even in India, they have foreign economies. I mean, it was very successful from that point of view.
Stuart: The thing about India is it’s been a pretty free economy since it got liberalized in the early 1990s, but the mining industry never really came back. You know, from the era when the Raj were in charge and they worked the coal and gold fields, for example, and other stuff, you’d never seen the mining industry return. You were a pioneer in that regard.
Arvind: Correct. So, we were the…to date, we are still the only foreign company that operated the mine for 10 years, underground mine in India as they call it, mine developer and operator in India. And not many people have been able to do that. And we had very good profile from that aspect because you have Rio or BHP. We are not comparing ourselves with them, but they have been present in the country for decades and have spent heaps and heaps of money, offices in big cities and not a single tons of rocks have been moved by any of their players like them also. So, for me to go there and set up a mine and run it for 10 years successfully, I am very proud of what we achieved.
Stuart: And your hair didn’t turn completely gray through that period, so you must be a very calm individual, Arvind.
Arvind: I’ll tell you what, after finishing that 10 years, I never thought I’ll do another executive role, but, you know, in this game, you know, you never know what opportunity comes, what gives you excitement. And now I’m still going and I really enjoy what I do. And in those 10 years, I’m using all those experiences, skills that I developed running this company now, which is very handy.
Stuart: All right. So, let’s summarize. We’ve got a potential company maker in the Toro project in San Juan province of Argentina. We’re doubling down in a serious way on Belara near Dubbo in the Lachlan Fold Belt. And then there’s some very interesting work both for gold and for lithium at Bullabulling. You’ve got your hands full for the next year or so.
Arvind: Correct. We’ll have plenty of exciting news to give to our share investors and we’ll be announcing them along the way.
Stuart: Arvind, thanks for joining “Stocks Down Under.”
Arvind: Thank you, Stuart. Really appreciate your time and really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.