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Beartooth Platinum is
well positioned with their exploration in Stillwater, Montana as the demand for
platinum/palladium continues to grow in the U.S., Europe, China and India for use in
catalytic converters in cars, and for jewelry and other uses
Beartooth Platinum Corporation
65 Queen Street West Suite 815
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2M5
Michael D. Johnson
President and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published - November 24, 2006
Michael D. Johnson, P. Geo.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Johnson has over thirty years in exploration and mining. The last fifteen years have
been in executive and senior management positions, evaluating, developing, constructing
and mining mineral properties located in North, Central and South America and Australia.
Most recently, Mr. Johnson was the principal of M.D. Johnson & Associates and in that
capacity, he and his team have been responsible for the evaluation and development of
numerous underground and open pit mines across the USA, Mexico and Brazil. Mike holds a
B.Sc. degree from the University of London, England. Mr. Johnson also held various project
and senior geologist postings with mid- to large cap companies mostly in the USA. His
commodity expertise includes base and precious metals, porphyry copper and uranium.
Beartooth controls 872 unpatented lode mineral claims over the exposed 50 kilometer strike
length of the Stillwater Complex, North America's largest known resource of PGE's where
there are two operating mines of the Stillwater Mining Company (SMC) from the J-M Reef. Beartooth's mineral claims are
contiguous with these significant resource properties.
Beartooth Platinum Corporation explores for Platinum Group Metals (PGM) in the Stillwater
Igneous Complex of Montana. The Company's core asset is a significant land holding of over
14,000 acres in the Stillwater Complex of Montana. Within this land package exists
numerous untested PGM zones with excellent near term discovery potential and several
advanced stage exploration targets.
CEOCFO: Mr. Johnson, will you give us a little background on
Mr. Johnson: Bearthooth was a take-over of another
company called Idaho Consolidated. Back in about 1998, Stillwater Mining Company,
because of the price paid for unpatented mining claims, which is over $100 a year to the
Bureau of Land Manaement (BLM), dropped a number of claims and a fellow by the name of
Will Struck was able to pick a lot of those claims up that surround Stillwaters J-M
Reef. He put them into a company called Idaho Consolidated. Just a couple of years after
that, the price of palladium went up to over a thousand dollars an ounce and the company
did well on the stock exchange, but they never had enough money to put into the ground to
develop the project. Therefore, back in about 2001, Beartooth, for a stock trade, took
over the company, renamed in Beartooth Platinum Corp, and started to do some exploration
and development on the property. A few years ago they decided they would start hitting it
hard in a holostic exploration program. Last April (2005), I was brought in to be in
charge of that that and get it done. The first thing we did was to put all the historic
exploration data in one data package and last year we started our fieldwork. We had a good
year in 2005 and developed about a 17,000-foot zone of chromite with platinum palladium
mineralization. This year we are drilling that as well as extending the chromite zones
along strike. Hopefully we will come up with the resource during this summers
CEOCFO: You have over 30
years experience in exploration and mining, what attracted you to this project?
Mr. Johnson: It had a lot romance to it and over fifty
years of exploration history. Much of it was concentrated on the J-M Reef, which is where
Stillwater Mining Company (NYSE: SWC) is mining. There are also many other reefs within
the Stillwater Layered Intrusive Complex. The geology at Stillwater is very similar
in geology to the Bushveld Complex in South Africa. The Bushveld has several parallel
reefs; the Morenski Reef and the UG2. There is also a 3rd reef that forms
locally, so I wondered if there is a similar geology to the Stillwater Complex. We have
found that the B Chromite Horizon; one of about 11 Chromite Horizons, contains quite
anomalous platinum, palladium and PGM palladium group metal mineralization. We were
getting locally in the outcrop, up to three ounces of combined platinum palladium gold and
radium. Therefore, locally it looked very attractive and then last year we were able, by
mapping, sampling and surface geo-chemistry to place a zone of this B-Chromite over about
a 17,000-foot length, which we are now looking at the depth potential with our drilling.
When we first saw the project, we felt it had a lot of romance, potential and excitement
because the area is one of complex geology, complex and interesting mineralization, and a
long exploration history which nobody had really put together. So that is what we are
trying to do now.
CEOCFO: Will you tell us
about the platinum group and the market for it?
Mr. Johnson: The market is fairly good and the
platinum/palladium prices have been increasing over the last couple of years. The
palladium market was cornered in 2001 when the price rose up to over a thousand dollars an
ounce. It dropped badly subsequent to that and went down to the low two hundreds. It has
now picked up again because it is a supply and demand metal; it is not a romance metal
like gold, but it is used extensively in industry. Perhaps the most common use for both
platinum and palladium is in catalytic converters for autos. In the U.S. the big
buyers are GM and Ford It now appears that Europe will be putting some of
their diesel vehicles onto catalytic converters too, so that will be another big demand
for platinum/palladium mineral. Another metal in the group is rhodium, which is about
$4,500 dollars an ounce now. That is a rare strategic metal with some very restrictive but
necessary uses. Although it is another supply and demand metal, the market is relatively
weak. Therefore, even though some of our samples have rhodium in them, we dont
expect the amount will affect the rhodium market too much."
CEOCFO: Exploration and
drilling are quite expensive, what is the financial picture like at Beartooth?
Mr. Johnson: We have been raising money mostly last
year and the beginning of this year and in the bank now we have more than enough funds to
do everything we need to do this summer on the project for exploration and drilling. The
hope and plan is to start developing a resource, which we can then go back to the
investors and say this is where we are this is what we have and this is what we need to
do, and build from that. Hopefully, the success of the summer drilling program and surface
exploration program will cause the stock to start increasing in price. So that the next
time we raise funds, we will not dilute the stock as much as we have done in the past when
the price was lower.
CEOCFO: Is Beartooth
100% owner of this property, and if so do you plan on keeping it that way?
Mr. Johnson: Right now we are planning on keeping it
that way. We are strictly in the exploration stage. As soon as we start building a
resource, then that may change. We do neighbor with our B-chromite reef, to the parallel
J-M reef; which Stillwater Mining Company is currently mining. From that standpoint,
it may be a win/win situation to joint venture or do something with Stillwater. However,
at this stage of the game it is a little to early to discuss those possibilities.
CEOCFO: What are the
challenges that Beartooth faces?
Mr. Johnson: We are in a very environmentally sensitive
area, so there would be no way you could permit an open pit in that area. However,
Stillwater Mining Company is successfully mining underground and they have a good
relationship with the environmental groups in the area. Therefore, I think underground
mining under those scenarios is quite feasible. Because the reefs are parallel, it would
seem to join forces with Stillwater, if we are successful in our exploration program,
would be the obvious way to go and it could be win/win for both Stillwater and
CEOCFO: Will you give us
a timetable as you are hoping for some results at the end of the summer?
Mr. Johnson: The problem is our field season, on the
surface is quite short - mid June to mid October. Of course, if you are underground you
can work all year round. We are up at 10 or 11 thousand feet in some of the areas of
exploration and due to snow cover, we did not get in this year until the middle of June.
And the snow starts falling any month of year but gets bad in about mid October. The
United States Forest Service (USFS) manages the land and they would like us out by the 15th
of October. Therefore, we have a small window for fieldwork and so we are working hard
within that window. We are collecting data quickly; unfortunately, we ship it off to the
assay lab and they are quite busy because other companies are doing the same thing, so our
assay turnaround isnt as quick as we would like. Of course, as soon as we get assays
we are publishing them to investors in the form of press releases. We just had a press
release announcing the start of the program and as soon as we start getting assays back, I
will be putting out more press releases with the raw data from the assays, without any
real interpretation. That will come in the fall after we collect all the data.
CEOCFO: How do you
attract qualified people to your project?
Mr. Johnson: We have been lucky. We still have Wilt
Struck and a fellow by the name of Mike Ostenson, who were part of the original Idaho
Consolided Group and they know the geology and geography of this part of Stillwater
Complex extremely well. When I took over the position of president of Beartooth, I was
able to find a very good Ph.D. geologist in platinum/palladium mineralization by the name
of John Findlay, and he understands these PGE systems very well. We just recently picked
up another Ph.D. geologist who is doing a lot of detailed surface mapping for us this
summer. We have a number of local people who are coordinating the soil sampling and
drilling. We also picked up about 7 students from various universities locally in the area
including: Butte, Boseman and Laramie. We are training them as to how we want to take soil
and rock chip samples and then coordinating with them for the logistics of doing it. That
is working out extremely well; they are young and very keen.
CEOCFO: Why should
potential investors be interested now?
Mr. Johnson: I think we are going to see some spikes
and dips in the price of platinum/palladium. However, the supply and demand curve, I think
is going to do nothing but grow. We have markets in Europe and existing markets in the U.S.,
but I believe that there are going to be huge markets, not yet for catalytic converters,
but for other uses of platinum/palladium as a catalysts and jewelry in China and India,
which have large populations and are developing rapidly their standard of living. I
believe that is going to drive the market for quite a few years to come. Therefore, I
think it is an excellent time to get into any metal but specifically platinum/palladium
and associated metals of the platinum group.
CEOCFO: Why Beartooth?
Mr. Johnson: We have a heck of a good address at Stillwater.
We have put a good team together of experts in platinum/palladium and in how to explore,
develop and find mines, both underground and open-pit. I want to develop Beartooth as a
premium Platinum Group Metal exploration and development company. We are looking for other
opportunities and if something we find on which we want to do more work then after we
finish the field season at Stillwater we will develop these other opportunities.
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