The experienced team, which is aligned with shareholders, has an unrivalled understanding of the geology in-country. It played an integral role in the discovery of many of the major projects in Ecuador.
Forged through the team’s Ecuadorian heritage, decades of exploration activities in Ecuador and its support for The Salazar Foundation, an independent non-profit organization.
A steady income from advance royalty payments, management fees and third-party use of drill-rigs. The wholly-owned drilling subsidiary enables low cost exploration.
The 25% fully carried stake in its maiden discovery, Curipamba, underpins the value of Salazar Resources with further upside potential from the wholly-owned properties and the Company’s proven ability to advance projects in Ecuador.
Work programs underway, both on its 100% owned exploration portfolio as well as on the carried projects in Ecuador, which is an exciting and under-explored mining destination.
Discover, de-risk and define deposits prior to finding partner for the more advanced work on its non-core discoveries, while retaining 100% exposure to its top future discovery.
In my capacity as a mineral exploration consultant I introduced Keith Barron of Aurelian Resources to the Fruta del Norte concessions, which in 2019 became the first large-scale underground gold mine in Ecuador. When Keith was first looking for targets in Ecuador I persuaded him to look at this area in the far southeast of the country, even though infrastructure was poor. We eventually drove down together in my Landcruiser, hired canoes, and I guided him around the field where he could see the geological potential for himself. Later I helped him to acquire the licences that covered key parts of the project area.
Fruta del Norte and Aurelian Resources went on to be huge technical and capital markets successes. This gave me the confidence to believe that I had the knowledge and understanding of Ecuador’s geology and cultural dynamic to do everything that Aurelian had done, and possibly more. In 2007 the gold price was strong, exploration capital was available, there was clearly a tremendous opportunity to pick up highly prospective ground in Ecuador, and so I launched Salazar Resources.
My vision is for Salazar Resources to be known as Ecuador’s best explorer.
Our operational team, which is predominantly composed of Ecuadorian geologists, has already made some spectacular discoveries in-country and I want to build on this track record and, in turn, create significant value for all stakeholders whether they be the local community, shareholders, or government.
I have worked in the Ecuadorian mining sector for over 32 years, for the most part as an exploration geologist, but with an important period as an environmental consultant, and latterly combining all of my experience in the role of CEO, Salazar Resources.
I think the secret to being successful in Ecuador is to approach community relations with an open mind, to empathize with the local situation, and to tailor a specific program that will have the greatest positive impact in that particular place.
Every other ingredient for building a successful natural resources business is generic to all businesses within the sector worldwide, such as the need to be well-organised, dedicated, skilled, effective at maintaining good stakeholder relations, and results focused. In Ecuador, the added ingredient is that the local community programs have to be addressed individually and not by formula.
The proudest moment of my career is hard to pinpoint, but hearing the crowd cheering ‘Miners, Miners’ at a Los Mineros football match in Bolivar State, home to our El Domo discovery at Curipamba and traditionally one of the more anti-mining provinces in Ecuador, is always an incredible feeling.
At times like that I feel proud that we listed Salazar Resources on the TSX, and that we have successfully brought the local communities along the journey with us. We have been closely involved in nurturing sporting talent in Bolivar State having established community football academies. They have been so successful that they have made Los Mineros, which directly translates to ‘The Miners’, the best team in the State.
In some ways this moment brings together everything that I believe in; that mineral exploration can lead to discovery, and through that it can create wealth and deliver positive change for community, workers, owners, and government, and for Ecuador, my beloved country.
Mining in Ecuador is at the start of a new chapter, which is incredibly exciting. The Government has realized that the country has significant untapped mineral wealth which is vital for the economy. This means that it is putting in a legislative framework to encourage the development of a responsible mining industry.
Two large-scale new mines were commissioned last year, and there are at least three other projects under development that will be mines soon. A large number of international companies are now exploring here, and there are many technical services companies setting up in Quito to meet anticipated demand.
The investment in new mines and in exploration will create jobs for local people, improve training and development of professionals, provide the Government with a source of US dollars via direct investment and royalties and taxes, and assist with infrastructure development to improve the welfare, productivity and prosperity of the people of Ecuador. It is a hugely exciting time for mining in Ecuador.
Salazar Resources is perfectly placed to benefit from the growing mining industry in Ecuador because we have the right people. For a start, we are a team of proven mine-finders. I am proud to say that geologists from Salazar Resources have played a key role in the development of seven of the ten most advanced projects in the country, including the two new mines Mirador and Fruta del Norte, and of course the El Domo deposit within the Curipamba project area.
As geologists we know the country intimately both from a mineral potential point of view but also from a ‘workability’ perspective. We know where we can work more easily, with regard to land access, permitting, communities that are looking for an economic stimulus and opportunities to improve living standards, and many of the soft issues that other companies perhaps do not fully appreciate.
Not only that, but members of our team bring specific skills to the table. I have considerable experience both in exploration geology and in environmental consultancy, and I take final responsibility for our CSR programs. Leonardo Elizalde, our Project Development Manager, brings 25 years of direct experience of the development of the US$1.4 billion Mirador copper mine, covering every aspect of a project advancing from grass-roots to production. As well as being excellent geologists, Francisco ‘Pacho’ Soria (our Exploration Manager) and Carlos Aguila (Senior Geologist), both worked in the Mines Department from 2015 to 2017, heading up the technical team for the government. EVP, Merlin Marr-Johnson is a Spanish-speaking geologist so he can liaise with the entire team, and he brings extensive international capital markets experience to the table. Finally, Simon Catt, our financial advisor at Arlington Group has an intimate knowledge of the ebb and the flow of the global resources sector which is a great help for the Company.
Ecuador is a relatively under-explored country. It has a superb geological endowment and yet it has had far less exploration done on it than other areas with similar potential for economic mineralisation. Previous mining codes were uncompetitive relative to other countries so companies did not invest in exploration in Ecuador as a priority. The gold and copper mineralisation does not stop at the political borders, and it is worth remembering that approximately 40% of annual world copper supply comes from the section of the Andes that runs from our southern border through Peru and into northern Chile. The opportunity to find world-class deposits in Ecuador is fantastic.
The Government of Ecuador has recently put mining as a core pillar of the economy, making it a strategic sector. The sector currently supports 33,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect job positions, as well as generating mineral exports which are estimated to be between $642 million and $1.1 billion annually; most of which is driven by the two operating mines of Mirador (copper) and Fruta del Norte (gold). The plan is to grow the sector until it contributes at least 4% of GDP by 2021 from current levels of around 2% of GDP.
The Government has taken concrete steps to facilitate the ongoing development of the mining sector. Since 2015 these steps have included removing a controversial national ownership clause; removing a Windfall Tax; designating mining projects as Strategic or Nationally important, which lifts them above single-agenda local protest groups; and simplifying the permitting process by grouping Water, Environmental, Drilling Permits, Licencing, the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Resources under a Strategic Projects oversight board that is tasked with delivering mine development in a timely fashion as a matter of national interest.
The response from international mining companies has been great, with many Australian and Canadian companies actively investing in exploration and development in Ecuador. There are still walk-up targets available, with deposits visible at surface, unlike in most other countries where mature exploration is targeting buried or blind mineral deposits. Everyone wants to be a part of the exploration wave that can still find Tier 1 assets at surface.