Q&A with Bryan Slusarchuk, CEO of Tirex Resources Ltd.
Q&A–ProspectingJournal.com–Bryan Slusarchuk, CEO of Tirex Resources [TXX - TSX.V] recently took the time to answer some of the Prospecting Journal’s questions on Albania, Tirex’s exploration and development activities, and the price of copper and gold.
Q: Why Albania? When you think about copper and gold exporting countries, Albania isn’t the first one to jump to mind. Can you tell us a bit about what Albania has to offer?
A: It’s an interesting question as Albania isn’t a country that most people think of when it comes to copper and gold production. That, however, is not due to geology but due to a 40 year period of isolation that the country went through. For 40 years, Albania was likely the most isolated country in the world. Today, the country has opened up in a big way. They are a NATO country, have a flat 10% corporate and personal tax rate and are growing quickly. The natural resource sector is also now starting to open up in a big way, led by Bankers Petroleum as a first mover in oil and gas and Tirex Resources as a first mover in the hard rock space. Lots of eyes in the investment world are on both Tirex and Bankers and with our two companies leading the way, more and more companies are considering Albania as a place to invest.
Q: Who are the other players in Albania right now? Is there interest in the region given that Tirex is moving towards production?
A: In addition to Tirex Resources being a first mover in mineral exploration and development, there are some high profile companies such as Bankers Petroleum and Petromanas operating in oil and gas. There are other mining companies also joining the fray in Albania but many potential investors in hard rock are on the sidelines, waiting to see how the Tirex story unfolds. Since Tirex is targeting near term production after five years of exploration, I have a feeling that Albania might just become a hot area of the world to invest for mining companies and explorers.
Q: Do you still expect to commence production by end of Q1/2012 on your joint venture?
A: Tirex is targeting production in Q1/2012. Our mining team is ready to go, the mill that we are using is up and running and we are keen. The final thing we are waiting for is our mining permits. Tirex has worked in the District for more than 5 years now, has invested close to $25 million into exploration and has submitted all of the necessary documents to the Albanian government to move into production in six specific areas of the District, in accordance with Albanian Mining Law. Now, we are waiting for these permits to start mining production and we are hoping the issuance of these permits occurs soon. Once issued, in addition to the benefits to Tirex shareholders in the United States, Canada and Europe, we will be creating a lot of local employment in the north of Albania and couldn’t be more excited about the benefits to the small local communities in the region.
Q: What do you expect to be the production capacity of the mine?
A: As per our previous news release disclosure, we are targeting 500 tpd of production on day one of operations within the mining partnership and targeting up to 2000 tpd by month 24.
Q: The joint venture will be producing copper concentrate with gold. Are their any other potential by-products investors should be aware of? Possibly Zinc?
A: Initial production is copper-gold while we are evaluating the potential of having a zinc circuit added to the production facility at the end of the first year of production. Early investors in Tirex will remember some fairly exceptional zinc assay results from drilling at Koshaj. These can be found on our website at www.tirexresources.com
Q: With the global economy as unstable as it currently is, what are your projections on the short to medium-term price of copper and how do you believe this will affect Tirex? What about gold?
A: I don’t know any more than anybody else about commodity prices and hate to pretend I have a crystal ball. With that said, we are very bullish on the price of copper and feel that the next leg up may have now started. As to gold, my belief is that as the world wide printing presses of fiat currency kick into overdrive, gold will go higher.
Q: 9 of your 17 known historical deposits were previously in production. Can you tell us a bit about some of the previous producers and when they stopped producing?
A: Previous production and exploration in Albania was conducted by the state using quite outdated technology and equipment. While the country was isolated and the equipment antiquated, we have a lot of respect for the geologists who worked during that era. That’s why during our work in Mirdita to date, we have utilized not only the best technology in the industry and new geological interpretations from Canadian geologists, but also have closely consulted with Albanian geologists and geophysicists who know the area from their past work.
Q: In terms of exploration, what news should investors be expecting next? What areas are you targeting in your next drill campaign?
A: Our belief is that Mirdita represents truly world class potential. As investors, we all know what world class VMS deposits can create; some of the most valuable aggregates of metal in the world. That said, exploration takes good fortune and good luck. What we are attempting to do via the production and cash flow we are targeting is to expose investors to world class exploration upside in a de-risked manner due to production. However, production and exploration always carry risk so investors need to understand this industry is a venture proposition and not for the faint of heart. When Tirex recommences exploration, we intend to drill multiple drill holes, utilizing bore hole electromagnetic geophysics in an area of the property known as South Bari Pass, an area that we believe has all of the geological, geophysical and geochemical hallmarks of an area that can host significant size.
Q: Tirex is the first ever exploration company to receive funding from the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). What advantages does this give Tirex going forward?
A: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is the largest investor in Albania. We are proud the EBRD made Tirex their first ever exploration funding anywhere in the world and their first natural resource investment in Albania, after a period of significant due diligence. In addition to being excellent financial partners, they have been great to work with as we bring modern mining and exploration standards to Albania in terms of environment, health, safety and community which they have great expertise in. We look forward to ongoing support from the EBRD as we target a rapid transition from exploration to production. The EBRD, incidentally, has also backed Bankers Petroleum in Albania as that company modernizes the oil and gas industry in the country.
Disclaimer: Tirex Resources is a sponsor of the Prospecting Journal.