Thunderstruck exploring copper in the Ring of Fire
Thunderstruck Resources Ltd. (TSXV: AWE) CEO Bryce Bradley and co-founder Brien Lundin chose to go bargain hunting back in 2013 as the copper market endured a prolonged sell-off.
The main criteria for Bradley was finding a top-class discovery of base metals with promising supply and demand fundamentals, and in a favorable mining jurisdiction. Their search led them to the idyllic island of Fiji. Bradley admitted they had hesitations about Fiji as a destination, but soon bought into the idea with the help of outside analysts.
“The market was suffering and we thought that we could pick up something up in a good jurisdiction,” Bradley recalls in an interview with InvestorIntel. “The analysts we gave it to, they all came back and said that the assets are spectacular if you can get over the fact that it is in Fiji.”
It turns out that Fiji is a great mining destination. The Vatukoula gold mine has operated in Fiji for 80 years and has churned out more than 7 million ounces of gold. The existence of Vatukoula means that the Fijian government has an established mining code that is easy to understand. Several companies are developing mining assets on the main island of Viti Levu. Fiji straddles the so-called Ring of Fire, an area of high volcanic activity that circles the Pacific Ocean, encompassing part of South East Asia, Oceania and the west coast of the Americas – and home to 75% of the world’s active copper and gold mines.
Bradley, who has a strong background in investment banking, also appreciates that Fiji is free of venomous creatures. Season tropical cyclones run from November to April. While that doesn’t stop mining year-round at Vatukoula, it does shorten the drilling season to a six month period.
Thunderstruck has overcome some major challenges since purchasing the Fijian mining properties from Arcadia Mining, an Australian exploration company, back in 2013. The company had to wait years before obtaining the full title rights to the four mining properties that it now owns, given the somewhat painstaking task of obtaining signatures from villagers. In addition, Arcadia hadn’t paid taxes in some time and the company had to build a new relationship with government officials.
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With all permits in place, Thunderstruck is now going full steam ahead with its strategy of attracting partners to advance exploration work on all sites. The biggest interest that Thunderstruck has received to date is on its two copper-zinc properties that were first drilled by Anglo American geologist Doug Kirwin in the 1970s. Kirwin later worked on the discovery team that unearthed the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper deposit in Mongolia.
The original Anglo drill holes shows high grade zinc, with 12% zinc and 1.8% copper over 4.8 meters and 12.7% zinc and 0.3% copper over 12 meters. Anglo dropped the site to work at Namosi, a deposit 20 kilometers to the east, which is now being developed as a major copper mine by Australia’s Newcrest Mining Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corp.
Thunderstruck is in talks with Newcrest and others, Bradley said. Two companies are at the data room stage for the company’s zinc and copper assets – Nakoro and Wainaleka. The company is also seeking a partner to conduct further drilling on the Rama Creek copper and gold porphyry, which might exhibit similar geology to Newcrest’s Namosi.
Most recently, the company hired Tookie Angus, a mining venture veteran who has been involved in $8 billion dollars of industry Mergers & Acquisitions since 2005, in an advisory role. His experience in developing strategic partnerships will be key to developing the partnerships that Thunderstruck needs to succeed with its promising Fiji projects.
Matt Craze has covered commodity markets for more than 20 years, working as a researcher at CRU International, and for over 10 years as a ... <Read more about Matt Craze>