There aren't many mining CEOs who believe so strongly in their company's prospects that they're willing to move their family to a whole new backyard near their mineral rich properties.
But that's just what Margaux Resources Ltd. (TSX.V: MRL) President and CEO Tyler Rice did when he packed up his Calgary household and relocated his wife and kids to the Kootenays.
"It's definitely helpful to get to know everybody in the community, what their expectations are and their thought processes — I'm very fortunate and lucky to be living in the Kootenays," says Rice, who was born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta.
"I'm not only financially invested by having two million shares that I bought with hard dollars, but my family's also socially invested by virtue of living here in the community and my children going to school here, which has allowed us to understand the different dynamics that enfolds the community's future development with our development in the area."
Family community values, a sense of social responsibility and confidence in the future define Rice's Margaux Resources, a mineral acquisition and exploration company focused on the development of zinc, gold and tungsten deposits in the Kootenay Arc in southeastern B.C. The company has become a regional consolidator, acquiring properties with a diversity of commodities at an exponential rate. To date, the company has assembled a portfolio totalling 21,719 ha (mineral and crown granted).
"We're very fortunate to have 26 out of 34 past producing veins from the historic Sheep Creek camp on our property, and we consolidated that area for the first time in 100 years," says Rice.
"What we've been able to do is to fly under the radar, to a certain extent, in the consolidation of the region, and now that we feel we've amassed a significant portfolio, we're starting to go to the market to communicate what our story is to a greater extent."
Margaux Resources has a pipeline of projects with both Greenfield and Brownfield potential. Most of the properties the company has acquired have long mining pedigrees. This is particularly true of their flagship Jersey-Emerald property, where the company holds 16,686 ha of claims (mineral and crown granted).
"The Jersey-Emerald was our first acquisition and has production all the way back to the 1920s," says Rice. "Not only was it the second largest past producing tungsten mine in North America, it was also about the third largest past producing lead-zinc property in the province."
The property has known lead-zinc and tungsten resources, with the potential to add to those resources through further exploration. But it also has something more — there's gold in them thar hills.
"We've been very fortunate to hit gold on our Jersey-Emerald property," says Rice. "In our 2014 drilling program, when we were targeting tungsten, we actually hit 25 grams per tonne over 10 metres of gold, and we've had subsequent follow up intercepts whereby we hit gold in the skarn material where the old timers had mined the tungsten. The old timers never looked for gold when they were mining and milling the tungsten.
Margaux Resources’ nearby Sheep Creek property also has historic gold production totalling 690,000 ounces from 26 historic gold vein mines, and is similar in age and style to the Barkerville District in the Cariboo. Located about 12 kilometres east of Salmo, the property consists of 69 Crown granted claims (913 ha) and nine mineral cell claims (782 ha) in the Nelson Mining Division. The Bayonne property, located 10 kilometres east of the Sheep Creek property, has an orogenic gold vein occurrence similar to the Sheep Creek veins.
Throw in the advanced stage lead-zinc Jackpot Property located 15 km north of the Jersey-Emerald property, and Margaux Resources has assembled a portfolio with immense commodity diversification.
"We don't want to have to wait for a certain commodity or a certain application to turn around," says Rice. "We have enough irons in the fire that we've got the opportunity to move the project forward, given a number of situations."
All the properties are in the Kootenay Arc, which stretches 300 kilometres from Duncan Lake in the north down into northern Washington State in the south. This historic, mining friendly region has well-established infrastructure. In addition, Margaux Resources’ properties are close to a major lead-zinc smelter on the Canadian side of the border, and a major gold mill on the US side.
With gold and tungsten, as well as lead and zinc, the company has no shortage of options. But Rice is particularly excited about the current demand for zinc.
"Zinc is a fabulous commodity to be in right now," he says. "When we were first looking at this project, we saw zinc at around 70 or 80 cents and now we're up to about the $1.30 mark."
Used primarily in steel to avoid rust and corrosion, zinc is also in demand for use in the latest generation of batteries, something that Rice sees as a potential "major boom possibility”.
That has Margaux Resources gearing for another round of growth. Phase Two of the company's drill program is scheduled to start in mid-August, with permits having been recently approved for the Jersey-Emerald, Jackpot and Sheep Creek properties.
Rice says none of this couldn't have been achieved without having the right team in place.
"I've been very successful in oil and gas, and the health care arena, and that success was driven by surrounding myself with individuals that have operational and site specific knowledge, and so I'm applying that same template to what we're doing here in the Kootenays," he says.
Rice has long-standing relationship with the Margaux Resources’ management team, including Chairman and Director Jim Letwin, who is CEO of Jan Kelley, a full service marketing and consulting agency with global clients. An experienced and connected advisory committee also helps guide the company. A key member is Christopher Stewart, who brings over 24 years of experience in the mining industry, and is currently President and CEO at Treasury Metals Inc.
And Margaux Resources is also closely connected with community. The company has an office in Salmo, the picturesque Kootenay town nearest to several of their prime properties. Rice was recently appointed to the village's Economic Development Committee, which also includes Salmo Mayor Stephen White, two councilors, as well as other local business owners.
"I've learned to appreciate why they have push and pulls, and how they feel about issues," he says. "I can truly relate at community presentations I give because I live and breathe by the same parameters that they do in the community."
Before making the move to the Kootenays, Rice built a business career in Calgary in the oil and gas sector. He then moved into the health care field before going all in on mining. That may seem to be quite a leap of faith, but Rice isn't looking back — he's looking ahead.
"Without risk, there's no great reward — I feel very confident in the opportunity that we have here," he says.
"Those out there who are interested in a diversified portfolio of commodities with significant infrastructure and proximal location to potential customers, definitely keep an eye on our story because there's a lot of good things coming down the pipe, and we'll be able to speak to more of that late this summer and early fall as the results come in."
Some of those early results are already in and looking promising. The results from initial surface rock sampling on the Bayonne and Jackpot properties include high gold assays from grab samples of up to 27.5 g/t Au on the Bayonne and widespread zinc mineralization at Jackpot, including 20.8% Zn from Jackpot Mine.
“Our boots-on-the-ground work is paying off,” said Rice. “We’re encouraged by these gold and zinc results from Bayonne and Jackpot.”