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Interview with Dr. Andrew Tunks, Managing Director, Meteoric Resources (ASX: MEI): Exploring Canadian Cobalt and Polymetallic Deposits

on 7/3/2018
We learned from Dr. Andrew Tunks, Managing Director of the Australian cobalt exploration company, Meteoric Resources (ASX: MEI), with projects in Canada. Meteoric Resources has engaged leading Canadian geology firm, Orix Geoscience, to re-analyze historical exploration to identify targets for an aggressive drilling program. We learned from Dr. Tunks that their main focus will be on Meteoric’s extensive Cobalt Exploration portfolio, including the Iron Mask & Mulligan Cobalt projects in Ontario. Meteoric is focused on expanding upon the extensive existing data and research to build a regional polymetallic and primary cobalt exploration profile.

Dr. Andrew Tunks: Allen, you're a PhD Geologist is that right?

Dr. Allen Alper: That's right, in economic geology and petrology from Colombia University in New York.

Dr. Andrew Tunks: Mate, I'm delighted to speak to someone with a strong geology background that knows something about what we do.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, I'm really interested. I looked over your website and it sounds like you have some excellent deposits and projects, so I'll be interested in learning more. Could you give me an overview of your company Andrew?

Dr. Andrew Tunks: Approximately a year ago, the company was a shell with a bunch of legacy Australian projects. Then a group called Advantage Management completed a field visit out of Perth, to Canada in 2017. During that visit they made contact with a group called Orix Geoscience, who's led by a woman out of Toronto, called Shastri Ramnath. Orix Geoscience is a service provider essentially, but at the same time, they are moving into the project generation field. In fact that's split the company now into Orix and Exiro. Exiro has become a full time project generator now. They have some very exciting technologies and ideas.

The people who were running Meteoric before I was, met with Shastri and the Orix group a bit over a year ago and were talking about Canadian projects. They felt that the Canadian market was pretty quiet and the Australian market was bubbling on and that there were opportunities to raise money in Australia for Canadian projects. So there were effectively two types of projects that were acquired for Meteoric: they were the Nickel-Copper PGE projects at the Belleterre-Angliers Greenstone Belt in Quebec. And then there were a bunch of very small but highly targeted projects in and around the town of Cobalt in Central Ontario.

Initially the company commenced work on the Midrim Cu Ni - which was a well-known, but small high-grade Nickel-Copper showing. That drilling was successful in terms of it hitting the ore zone, however it didn't add much, to the prospectivity. Pat Burke, came in in November as the new Chairman. Pat recruited me and I joined the company in January. I felt that the opportunity for this company was the Cobalt rather than the Nickel-Copper. So, I've paused the work on the Nickel-Copper, in the short term, and focused 100% of our attention on the Cobalt. All the cobalt projects that Orix had identified, had previous historic workings on them. As you would know, this is part of a five element mine system: Silver, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper and Gold. But really, what we're talking about here are Silver- Cobalt mines related to the Nipissing Diabase intrusions and or potentially some skarns. I'm yet to be 100% convinced about the skarn, only because I haven't seen any in the field yet. The first thing we needed to do was to go in and understand the historic workings and the orientations. Unfortunately because of the Canadian winter, we couldn't get in. It's only been in the last month that we've been able to finally get on the ground and address the projects. So that's happening now.

We've just completed our geophysical survey at Mulligan, where we are using IP. We feel that's quite an appropriate technique for this style of mineralisation. So we started at Mulligan, where there's very significant old workings and we're using IP at the moment. Then systematically, we're going to work our projects and complete surface mapping, geophysics and we'll choose the appropriate geophysical technique for each project. Hopefully we will generate real targets that we will drill.

Dr. Allen Alper: It sounds like a good plan.

Dr. Andrew Tunks: At this stage, it's not rocket science. I see these things as almost akin to exploring vein hosted gold deposits, which is my own area of PhD expertise. So, like yourself, I'm an economic geologist. I did my study of Vein hosted Proterozoic gold deposits in the University of Tasmania and I see the Ontario Cobalt projects as very similar to gold deposits: high grade, narrow, vein hosted. In Ontario these were historically developed by old-timers; effectively moms and dads: small style miners. But what we've noticed in our mapping and this is I think, really crucial to the whole development of the area, is that where they've been discovered Are always in areas of outcrop and never undercover.

As you would know, often what we get in their systems are parallel or en echelon and anastomosing systems and if they're under a glacial till or any sort of soil covered in a not developed type. Yes the area has been well explored previously and there's been considerable historic work, but I suspect that there's a lot more to find. And in Australia again as I'm sure that you'd be aware that in the 1980's the Gold rush around Kalgoorlie, which in part related to the advent of CIL: the Carbon-in-Leach and the opening up of the open pit mining environment in Australia, was really driven by simply going out and drilling under old workings.

We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. We're just going to go back and do that; we're going to go to these places where there's been previous production and use the Geophysics to sharpen our targeting, drilling under the old workings and looking to extend them along strike but also particularly across strike. I think that there's a lot of opportunity based on what I've seen in Canada. This is early stage but good projects: fundamentally good projects.

Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds excellent, Dr. Tunks. Could you also tell me a little bit about the rest of your team and board?

Dr. Andrew Tunks: Sure. So we have our Chairman who's been integral to the great formation of the company, his name is Pat Burke and he's a lawyer by profession and very well known in West Australia and involved in quite a few company boards so he's very well connected in that sense. Pat and I have worked together in a couple of companies in the past and from my own perspective I think that that's a crucial relationship. The CEO and the Chairman and Pat and I get on quite well, which is great.

The other crucial person at the moment is Tony Cormack. Tony Cormack was the Chief Operations Officer for an unlisted private company, but one that is in the process of listing on the CFX, called Battery Minerals. They have a lot of ground in and around the Cobalt Ontario belt and they look to be coming on the market shortly, with a very substantial market capitalization. Tony did a lot of the initial exploration and project development and ground identification in the area and it's really been Tony who's driven the company's recent cobalt acquisition strategy.

Although, 12 months ago Orix and Exiro came in with 2 or 3 original Cobalt projects, you'll see from our recent work that while we've been waiting to get back in the field because of the snow, we haven't been idle, and we've picked up another three cobalt projects, which are in very targeted areas. Tony is very bullish and has a great history in the area.

Shastri Ramnath is the owner of both Orix and then the off-shoot Exiro-Orix. They're both private companies. One is a service provider geologically, albeit Exiro has intentions to become a full time project generator. She has some fantastic people supporting her particularly Exiro. They just raised private money and I believe they have some very big names on the register. But Shastri is extremely well known in Canada, based in Toronto, but I think from the Winnipeg area. She's had a long history of success in the minerals' industry. She's also on the board, with myself, Pat and Tony, as the principal driver of our cobalt strategy in Canada. To back that up, we're using Orix field personnel to do the groundwork and drive the projects ahead.

Dr. Allen Alper: It sounds like you have a very strong team and you have a great Board too.

Dr. Andrew Tunks: I'm learning a lot about Cobalt. I haven’t done a lot of work in Cobalt in the past. The bulk of my career has been in Africa. I'm very familiar with the deposits of Northern Zambia and Southern DRC and the African Copper belt; from which the bulk of the world's Cobalt comes. I've run projects in the DRC, during that time. I think one of the things that has driven the Cobalt price, other than genuine demand, is nervousness about the DRC and its political environment, child labor, occupational health and safety, corruption et cetera.

We are excited to be exploring in a first world country in Canada: great roads, great infrastructure, great government. I had meetings with the MNDN in Ontario last week, talking about the path towards development, which showed our exploration base is successful and I was very buoyed by what I heard there. I met some of the key first nation groups that are active in our areas and I believe that's very crucial.

We in Australia have our own Aboriginal groups that are heavily involved in the minerals' industry, so we think we know how to work with them. We're really excited about exploring Canada, it's new for me. I can't believe how much water they have, having worked in the deserts. I don't see them as being significant in terms of tonnage but the potential grades are amazing. This as a really exciting Cobalt niche area, close to market, away from the corruption and issues of Africa. We're very excited to be hitting the ground now. We anticipate starting to drill in July. The only time to invest in a new exploration company, if it's your first investment in the company, is in the lead up to and during the drilling phase. Because that's the only time that we actually add value and it's the only time that we're really going to make a discovery. We're about to start drilling in July and that's the ultimate truth meter. I'm very excited!

Dr. Allen Alper: It looks like you're doing exciting things, in a great area, with a great commodity and with the MIN Battery coming on board, and the problems in the Congo, it looks like you're well situated.

Dr. Andrew Tunks: Yes, we think so. By October I'll certainly have our first drilling results, hopefully they're good and the company will have taken a step ahead by then.

Dr. Allen Alper: It sounds great. Could you tell our readers/investors a bit about your share structure?

Dr. Andrew Tunks: We have shareholders in Australia and in North America. At the moment we have 570,000 shares on issue and about 50 million options outstanding and we would have just under $4 million in cash. We're about to come out with the quarterly very shortly and I can't preempt that number, but we still have a good cash balance to carry us through this exploration season. Our market cap at the moment would be about AUD 20 million, only USD 15 million. We think, with our up-coming drilling, it's the ideal time for new investors to get involved and we would absolutely love to see some more North American investors.

I'm very open to talking with new investors. Our company details are widely published on our website, so if anyone is considering an investment in our company and wants to contact me, I'm always happy to talk with them.

Dr. Allen Alper: What are the primary reasons our high-net-worth readers/investors should consider investing in Meteoric Resources?

Dr. Andrew Tunks: Well, I think the greatest reason is that we are about to start drilling, that's the key to any exploration company. The time to put money into exploration is as the drills are turning, that's the time we have a chance to make a discovery. This stock is well priced in Australia, the volumes are quite good, you can get in and you can get out. We expect, given that we're a month away from drilling now, those volumes to increase in the lead up to the drilling and continue throughout the drilling phase.

We expect some capital appreciation, not talking about our company specifically here but when you look at the Australian market, as you approach drilling, the share prices typically rise as people get ready to invest in the market. I think we have a good chance for a positive result. So this is a stock that does trade, you can get in, you can get out, the timing's right and the commodity is right. As you well know, we have cash in the bank, so we're not about to be diluted. We think the time is right for an investment in the minerals' industry and the time is right to invest in Meteoric.

Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds great. Is there anything else you'd like to add Andrew?

Dr. Andrew Tunks: We'd love to see more North American investors on the register. It is easy now, with the electronic nature of all registries. It's not a big issue to hold stock in another market and that would be a great thing for us. And we'll be across in New York in October. I'll make myself available to anyone who has an interest in meeting me at that time.

Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds great.

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