Aeramentum Resources Limited (ASX: AEN, pending), the battery metals explorer, is focused on the Republic of Cyprus, EU, an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea renowned for its mineral wealth since ancient times. The company holds 8 tenements collectively known as the Treasure Project, among which the Laxia Project, the Pevkos Project, and the Apsiou Project represent key targets for drilling of high-grade copper, cobalt, nickel and gold.What made AEN choose Cyprus among all the other places in the world? We sat down with Geoff Muers— the managing director of Aeramentum Resources, to talk about the reason behind choosing Cyprus as their primary focus area and what sets Aeramentum Resources apart from others.Here’s the entire Q&A session.
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Hello Geoff, thank you for joining us today.
Thank you for having me, appreciate the opportunity.
Geoff, now that you are here, tell us about your background of study and your experience so far in the corporate world.
I hold a BSc (Honours) in Geology, majoring in Economic and Engineering Geology, and a Graduate Diploma in Finance. I worked as a geologist for a number of years, overseeing the planning, and preparation of exploration reports and feasibility studies, EIS, and management plans. Various roles include as a consultant, Mineral Economist, Mining Analyst, Equity Research and Investment Analyst, and currently, the Managing Director of Aeramentum Resources, as you know. I spent 7 years in buy and sell side roles and have visited a lot of mining projects across the globe. Since 2013 I have been involved with setting up various mining funds and ventures in the finance and exploration game and consulting with investors and public/private resource groups.
Fascinating and impressive academic journey!
Can you tell us, Geoff, what made you develop an interest in Geology?
I was always interested in rocks as a kid, started collecting rocks at age 9 and joined a lapidary club (involved in gem prospecting and jewellery making) which saw me visit my first mine at the age of about 12. I remember it clearly and still have the high-grade samples, it was the Lucky Draw mine of Renison Consolidated, back in 1990, so I have been visiting mines for over 30 years!
That’s interesting. Geology is quite complex and profound.
Geoff, what is your experience so far in Aeramentum Resources? Can you walk us through your company and its battery metals projects in Cyprus?
Yes. Aeramentum Resources was formed in 2021 to acquire the Treasure Project in Cyprus. This project first came to my attention in 2016, as was known for the high grades in past sampling and drilling (up to 18% copper, 11% nickel and 3% cobalt).Our current focus is on our three projects – Laxia, the Pevkos project, and the Western Recon or Apsiou project. The project was once called Black Pine. We consider it brownfields, with up to 1.5km of exploration adits from the 1950’s, extensive surface outcrops of mineralisation and known orebodies that require further delineation.Most of the historic drilling was in easy-to-access areas, and shallow (often just 30-50m deep) and we know from our studies of similar orebodies which have a major structural fault setting (in this case, an Ophiolite subduction zone, intra-plate) the deposits sought are typically not depth constrained, hence we could see a lot of potential upside through drilling.
PROSPECTING AND RECONNAISSANCE PERMITS IN CYPRUS
We have planned to start drilling operations at Laxia immediately post the IPO, with the rig already in the country. We can drill all-year round potentially, so that means a constant stream of newsflow for investors.
So, Geoff, we are eager to ask you, and of course, everyone would have the same question. Why did you choose ‘Cyprus’, which is such a long way from Australia?
Historically, the Republic of Cyprus was once a major mining centre for copper and gold. Surprisingly, the mining operations dating back to the 4th Millennium BC and past mining activities took place in Cyprus with multiple underground adits and shafts. And approximately 70Mt of ore and over 1.3Mt of copper have been mined from over 45 deposits, and the industry basically shut down in the 1970s for political reasons, and despite political stability for over 50 years, has essentially laid dormant. The government is right behind plans by several listed groups to re-start mining operations on the island, provided of course they can be done in an environmentally sustainable way.The Chairman (Rob Thomson) and I were looking around the world at cobalt projects for a number of years, and many countries have issues either environmentally (old mines in built-up areas, or adjacent to rivers) or in jurisdictions where permitting can be lengthy and uncertain. Cyprus ticked a lot of boxes: Extensive mining history, low population, great infrastructure, excellent past work, and importantly the price was at the right level where we could use the acquisition as a foundation for the business.We are applying our knowledge from studying these deposits to look at other regions in Europe, however, in the near term, we certainly believe we have some exciting drilling targets.
That’s quite interesting.
Geoff, we know the purpose of Gold, Copper, and even Nickel, and so does the demand. Can you tell us what is the major driving force behind Cobalt demand?
Surprisingly, total cobalt demand is predicted to rise 74% by 2025, driven largely by the EV revolution and up to 30 gigafactories under construction in Europe. With 80% of the supply originating from the DRC and Russia, there are strategic reasons why Europe needs the supply of copper and cobalt from places like Cyprus.For instance, Cobalt used in EV batteries restricts cathodes from overheating. This extends the life of batteries, say approximately eight to ten years. Yes many new batteries won’t use cobalt, there are alternatives, however at least 30% of new factories are still planning to use up to 10kg or more in every EV, so the demand outlook is strong.The Treasure Project is remarkably similar to one of the world’s highest-grade cobalt mines at Bou Azzer, Morocco. There they produce up to 5000t of cobalt sulphate a year, and they have been mining for over 80 years, now 900m below the surface. They mine grades of 1% cobalt, 2-3% nickel plus 2-4g/t Au, very similar metal assemblages we are seeing in Cyprus, with the added theory that the cobalt/nickel grades should pick up with depth. We are keen to test this theory with some deeper drilling next year, as these are more valuable metals than copper, as you know. Drill-core from the 2013/14 campaign;Some of the impressive high-grade rocks from surface sampling at Laxia, 2022
Aeramentum Resources proposed its IPO recently. What are your expectations, and how do you plan to proceed with the funds post-IPO?
We aim to raise between $4.5 M to $6M, which will act as additional funds for exploration activities at our tenements and facilitate further growth in exploration and mining. We set out to raise A$5M to $7M back in May and quickly got well past halfway to the target but the market fell 10% in early June just after we started marketing so we pulled the IPO, later reduced the share capital and kept adding tenements and working on the ground.We got some very encouraging results from 50kg of sampling over 150m or more of outcrops and stockpiled ore (>4% Cu Eq or 6g/t AuEq) at West Laxia so this is our first diamond drilling target. Shallow holes (<150m) with an 8m wide orebody are seen in the adjacent adit, so we are keen to bring this orebody into the core trays to get a proper look at the dimensions and grade.We often get feedback that why invest in a new IPO when there are cheap stocks on the market, our response to this is we will have a tight register, many listed companies have underperformed and investors are fatigued. We will also be fully funded for two years, so no need to come back to the market in a hurry. This can lead to outperformance as we have seen with an IPO Rob and I were involved with called Southern Palladium (ASX: SPD) which was listed at 50c back in May and is now around A$1/share. Nothing is guaranteed, however, we would love to replicate this success.
Is there any specific project you have plans to focus on post-IPO?
I mentioned West Laxia. The last group intended to drill there but never did. It has basically sat hidden up a valley for almost 70 years, and access was found by some German students we had in the area last year. We had to cut a path along the valley to get in there, and we found an old road from the 1950s, which we can re-grade, to enable us to drive the drill rig in.The orebody daylights in this vicinity, and we plan to intercept it less than 100m below the surface in the first hole or two, down to about 150m or so later in the program, so quick drilling, and possibly an Exploration Target out next year post the first round of holes.
Geoff, finally, do you have anything to tell your investors?
I would say come to Cyprus! You have to visit it to see how great a destination it really is, not just for tourists. Europe is one of the fastest globally growing markets for electric vehicles, with increased demand for raw materials such as Nickel, Copper, and Cobalt. We have a 12% corporate tax rate, and if we get to the mine development stage, expect a lot of interest from off-takers, particularly if we can produce cobalt, nickel, and copper sulphides.We envisage a potential smaller-scale underground mine, hence a low environmental footprint, but importantly, a lower capital requirement than those large nickel-cobalt laterite projects who may need hundreds of millions in equity.If you can’t make it to Cyprus, then apply to buy some shares, a minimum of A$2,000, and come along for the ride. We intend to consider adding other battery metals projects to the portfolio over time too, and we have a very supportive bunch of shareholders and are talking to strategic groups including mining companies, resource funds and others who understand that we have stumbled onto something special here. If this project was in Asia, Africa or South America, there would be hundreds of artisanal miners all over it bagging up the highly valuable ore and selling it direct to buyers.Not many companies can boast a project with up to 4 potential metals in their resource, so this also gives us a potentially robust project, not reliant for example on the cobalt price, which is volatile, or even the copper price.
Well, that would be for sure. And it was an honour to converse with you, Geoff. Thank you so much for your valuable time.
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