By Dr. Allen Alper, PhD Economic Geology and Petrology, Columbia University, NYC, USA
Interview with Mark Gibson, COO of HPX: High-Power Geophysical Systems for Induced Polarization and Electromagnetic Exploration; Partnerships with Cordoba Minerals and Kaizen Discover (PDAC 2017 Booth # 2217A)
HPX High Power Exploration Company is a privately-owned company led by CEO and Co-Chair Robert Friedland and an experienced board and management team. We learned from Mark Gibson, Chief Operating Officer of HPX, that the company has developed very high-power geophysical systems for induced polarization and electromagnetic work that are particularly amenable to the porphyries found in South America. HPX entered into a Joint Venture with Cordoba Minerals on the company’s highly-prospective San Matias and Alacran Copper-Gold Projects, and also brought 37% Cordoba Minerals stock. HPX's second partner is 67% owned Kaizen Discovery that has restarted exploration at the Pinaya project in Peru.
Dr. Allen Alper: This is Dr. Allen Alper, Editor-in-chief of Metals News, interviewing Mark Gibson, chief operating officer of HPX Exploration Company. Could you tell me what your company is doing? I know you're working with Cordoba. By the way, I interviewed Mario Stifano some time ago and published an article about Cordoba, an excellent company, and recently they had some great news, too. Why don't you fill me in on your partnership with Cordoba and how you're working together? I see you have a rather important fellow as CEO, Robert Friedland, but go ahead and tell me about your relationship with Cordoba and also what differentiates your company from many others.
Mark Gibson: Sure. HPX is a private company, and we look for very high potential mineral exploration ground that we can bring to account through our team’s expertise and our technologies. We have developed very high-power geophysical systems for induced polarization and electromagnetic work. Those are particularly amenable to the porphyries that we find in South America. Cordoba occupied a package at the northern end of the Cauca Belt, which we felt in 2015 wasn't really being recognized. That's why we entered into a partnership with them.
The partnership is on a couple of levels. First of all, we took a share position in Cordoba, because we wanted to support our joint venture partner at a time of great difficulty in the market. The second level is the joint venture, which we're running together. That is exploring the Alacran project, where we've just released excellent results. We're also still looking for surrounding porphyries, some of which are on the surface but some of which are at varied and quite substantial depth. That's where our technology is appreciated.
Dr. Allen Alper: Could you elaborate on your technology, how it works, and how it's useful for exploration?
Mark Gibson: Sure. It's an IP EM transmitter system. As such, it uses the same physical principles as other IP EM systems. The difference is the specification of the system. We have taken an order of magnitude more power, more voltage, higher signal quality than other systems that are in the service market, and as such we use it for our own proprietary account. We believe in the technology, and that's why we're prepared to fund joint ventures and fund companies that benefit from the technology. We're really putting our money where our mouths are.
Dr. Allen Alper: That's excellent. Could you tell me a little bit more about your plans for 2017?
Mark Gibson: Certainly. We have two listed companies in our portfolio right now. We've talked a bit about Cordoba, and we’ve recently announced excellent bonanza gold grades. Of course, as drilling results continue to be generated, they'll be released to the market. Cordoba has a busy year taking Alacran, in particular, up the value chain, increasing confidence, improving the resource and we look forward to continuing that with the Cordoba team.
The second listed company is Kaizen Discovery. Kaizen had a fairly substantial change in 2016. The management was changed. I took the chief operating officer position in May of last year, and we have recently appointed Tom Peregoodoff, who's sharing the CEO role with his role at Peregrine Diamonds. Between Tom and I and Dave Garratt, the CFO, we're rebuilding the team. We're rebuilding the portfolio. We've just concluded a rights issue. Kaizen, you'll see renewed exploration restarted at the Pinaya project in Peru, but I suspect that you may also see some business development taking place at Kaizen as well.
Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds excellent. Could you tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, and your team and board?
Mark Gibson: Certainly. I have 26 years in the industry. I started off as a geologist, and I was working in South Africa on greenstone exploration and on deep-level gold mines for some years. I did a master's in geophysics, specifically focusing on the application of seismic technology to deep-level gold mines and deep-level platinum mines, because I recognized that it was a very powerful planning tool, being able to map the structural orientation of a reef before you mined it.
As gold hit its low of about $250 an ounce back in 2000-2001, I restructured my relationship with AngloGold Ashanti where I've been working, and Anglo American. I rejoined them as a contractor so that they'd get my skills, but I also then built a contracting business with other South African groups like Goldfields and Impala. I successfully built that business for several years, to the extent where Anglo American took me back into their technical division in 2006 because they wanted me to operate globally on all of their divisions that needed that expertise.
Throughout my career, though, I've worked with Ian Cockerill. He's the ex-CEO of Goldfields. Ian brought me into iPulse and HPX in 2011. That's when we founded HPX and did the first capitalization, and so I was one of the founding executive team. We built the company now over the last six years. We have those two attractive listed subsidiaries. We have several private investments and operations which we continue to pursue. That brings me up to the present time.
Dr. Allen Alper: That's great. Could you tell me a little bit more about some of the other members of the team?
Mark Gibson: Certainly. In HPX, of course Robert Friedland needs no introduction. He's the CEO and very much gives the strategic leadership and direction to the company. We have Eric Finlayson who is the President, and he's very much focused on new businesses opportunities and evaluation of the opportunities around the world – that leverages on his previous experience as global head of exploration for Rio Tinto. We have Catherine Barone, the CFO. She is ex-Turquoise Hill and led the finance team there some years ago. We have Charlie Foster. Charlie is the guy that was partially responsible for finding Oyu Tolgoi and also worked with ENRC in Africa for some years. Sam Riggall is the commercial advisor, ex-Rio Tinto, and an old colleague of Eric's, and is extremely good at negotiating commercial agreements. Those are some of the key members. We have other junior staff as well, and we share offices with the Ivanhoe Group of Companies in Vancouver, so some of the investment relations, commercial, and legal facilities, we share all of those to save costs.
Dr. Allen Alper: Your company is a private company, is that correct?
Mark Gibson: Correct, yes. HPX is private.
Dr. Allen Alper: Right. Is there anything else you would like to add, Mark?
Mark Gibson: I think we've covered the key items, thank you.
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