CEOCFO Current Issue
Cover Story Archives
Private Equity Review
CEOCFO Interview Index
This is a printer friendly page!
A strong and
experienced board and management team have Panoro Minerals well
positioned with their copper-gold porphyry
projects in the Philippines and Peru
Panoro Minerals Ltd.
Suite 912, 510 West Hastings Street
Vancouver BC V6B 1L8
Helmut H. Wober, P.Eng. (Brit. Columbia)
President and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
March 24, 2005
Helmut H. Wober, P.Eng. (Brit. Columbia)
Mr.Helmut Wober has over 42 years of experience in
the mining industry. Mr. W÷ber received a multidisciplinary education in mining
engineering and economic geology at the Mining University of Leoben, Austria, where he
graduated in 1963. Mr. Wober has underground and open pit mining experience and has held
senior positions of responsibility in exploration, company administration, mine production
geology, engineering and development in Greenland, Canada, Australia and the United States.
Prior to his arrival in Canada, Mr. Wober was Project
Supervisor for Nordisk Mineselskab A.B. in East Greenland, working in a producing lead
zinc mine and in charge of the surface and underground exploration of a large porphyry
molybdenum deposit in 1961 and 1962, including the subsequent reserve estimation.
Mr. Wober was Chief Mine Geologist of United Keno
Hill Mines, Yukon Territory in 1966, at that time Canadas largest primary silver
producer, and worked as a consulting engineer and junior partner for MacDonald Consultants
Ltd. in western Canada, and the United States and, during this period was Vice President
of Texada Lime Ltd from 1971 to 1973, a new producer of metallurgical Lime in British
From 1973 to 1975 Mr. Wober was Technical and
Administration Manager for Uranerz Australia, in Perth, Australia. The political situation
regarding foreign investment brought him back to Canada.
Mr. Wober joined Chevrons Mineral Division as
Senior Geologist in 1975. In 1986 he became responsible for Development and Production
Geology, world wide, and was subsequently appointed Manager of Engineering and
Development, also with world wide responsibilities and principal projects in the United
States, Canada, Australia and Chile.
In 1990 Mr.Wober formed MDE International, Mine
Development Engineering Ltd. and has since worked as a geological consultant and
consulting engineer for senior and junior mining companies on projects in the United
States, Canada, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Tanzania, The Philippines, Venezuela, Uruguay, The
Peoples Republic of China and in former East Germany. Mr.Wober was a Director of
Queenstake Resources Ltd.(TSE) from 1992 to 1999 and has been appointed President of
Panoro Resources Ltd. (private) in March of 1999.
Mr.Wober has led Panoro Resources Ltd. into a merger
an becoming a public company trading on the TSX-Venture exchange as Panoro Minerals Ltd..
Panoro Minerals is exploring a portfolio of gold copper porphyry targets in Peru
and in the Republic of the Philippines.
Panoro Minerals Ltd. is an international mining exploration company headquartered in
Vancouver, Canada, and traded on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV: PML) and the Frankfurt
Stock Exchange (PZM). Panoro's strategic focus is on exploring for large-potential gold
and gold-copper projects in countries with the corresponding geological potential and the
right political and economic conditions.
The Company has a strong management team. Members of Panoro's management team -including
chairman, Allen Born, president, Helmut Wober and Bill Boden - have held senior executive
positions with some of North America's largest resource companies. Christian Pilon, a
geophysicist with over 30 years of experience, and Chris Staargaard, P.Geo., a geologist
with over 25 years of experience, add to the technical strength of the board.
Current projects are located in the Philippines and Peru.
The Surigao Projects - the Philippines
Panoro has entered into a Formal Agreement with Mindoro Resources Ltd. (Mindoro) whereby
Panoro has been granted an option to earn a 40% interest in the 24,000 hectare land
position of Mindoro in the Surigao (Porphyry-Copper) - Gold District in northern Mindanao.
Panoro can earn its interest by spending a total of CAN$2 Million in exploration
expenditures over a period of four Years. The exploration commitment for the first year is
CAN$350,000. Under a separate agreement with a private Philippine company Minimax Mineral
Exploration Corporation (Minimax), both Mindoro and Panoro may increase their interests at
feasibility stage through an interest purchase based on established mining reserves.
Potential interest levels at production would then be Panoro 42.5%, Mindoro 42.5% and
Exploration work has been underway since June of 2004.
The El Rosal Project - Peru
The 100% owned El Rosal project in Peru is an early stage exploration project with
indications of two copper or copper-gold porphyry targets. The project has been explored
by the Company intermittently since 1998 and has seen two drill campaigns (2000 and 2004).
Further exploration on the project requires substantial funds for drilling of unexposed
targets. The Company is in the process of finding potential Joint Venture partners to fund
CEOCFOinterviews: Mr. Wober, will you tell us a bit about
your background with Panoro?
Mr. Wober: I started scouting and evaluating projects
for Panoro Resources, the predecessor company of Panoro Minerals, in 1996-1998 and we
picked up a project in Peru in 1998. The board asked me to take over as president of the
company in 1999, after the founder of the company succumbed to the consequences of a
traffic accident. Then, I led the company from 1999 to the middle of 2003, when we became
a publicly listed company; Panoro Minerals Ltd., after a merger with Supernova Capital
Corporation, a junior capital pool corporation. I have been its president since
is the focus for Panoro?
Mr. Wober: The focus for Panoro is to explore for and
look for deposits that have a large tonnage potential. We are looking primarily for
gold-copper porphyry deposits in countries that are politically acceptable form an
investment point-of-view and exhibit the necessary geological potential to find these
types of deposits. So far, on the project in Peru, we have found a target but we have not
made a discovery of any economic deposit. We have no resources or reserves in our
inventory or on our books at this time. We have a project in Peru that we have worked on
intermittently since 2000, and another drill program in 2004; the target there remains to
be elusive and needs to be tested at depth. The project has two targets, and requires
further financing for a larger drill program for which we are looking for a senior
partner. We have found another opportunity in the Philippines by farming into a large
property package, into lands held by Mindoro Resources Ltd. (TSX-V: MIO) (Mindoro), that
is another TSX Venture listed company out of Edmonton, Canada, which has been working in
the Philippines since the late nineties. We saw an opportunity there to farm into a land
package that had multiple targets with the potential of hosting gold-copper porphyry
deposits in a district with high geological potential, where there were some recent
is that project?
Mr. Wober: That is in northern Mindanao in the
Philipines, in the Surigao (Porphyry-Copper) - Gold District, where in recent years Anglo
American has made a discovery in a joint venture with Philex Gold Inc. the so-called
Boyongan gold/copper porphyry deposit. They have some resources published for the Boyongan
deposit; about 300 million tonnes, with 0.6 percent copper and one gram gold per tonne, a
typical grade for the large Philippines gold/copper porphyry deposits. A second porphyry
has been identified there and has been drilled into that straddles the border of Manila
Mining with Philex Gold, that is called the Bayugo. A third porphyry system has recently
been intersected by RED 5 LIMITED a company that is in the process of doing a feasibility
study on a former gold producer there (the Siana Gold Project). After having speared the
edge of this new porphyry system, ANGLO ASHANTI GOLD has entered into a strategic alliance
with RED 5 to further explore this project. In addition to that, just to the northwest,
and almost adjoining our northern most project the Tapian San Francisco target in the
district, the Korean Resources Company is exploring a porphyry system that is also on the
same northern peninsula of Mindanao.
CEOCFOinterviews: You are in a good place!
Mr. Wober: We are in a very good place and we are a bit
ahead of the crowd. At a time when the investment climate was still a little tenuous, it
was at a time when the Supreme Court of the Philippines had rendered an opinion that said
that the Financial & Technical Assistance Agreements were not constitutional for
foreign investors to hold 100% beneficial interest. Last December the Supreme Court of the
Philippines has reversed this opinion and said that these Financial & Technical
Assistance Agreements are constitutional and do allow foreign investors to hold 100%
beneficial interest if the capital development cost are $50 million-U.S, or more. Even the
challenge to this reversal has now been rejected. The Philippine government has made it
one of its priorities after the re-election of the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to
promote foreign investment in the minerals exploration and mining industry, in order to
kick-start their economy. There is a ripple effect of these activities: to derive some
immediate economic benefits and, down the road, to provide a source of foreign currency
for the country.
is Panoro doing differently now that this has taken place?
Mr. Wober: We were setting the scenario that we are
seeing now. We embarked on a major exploration program in this district and on that land
package, and did extensive ground geophysical surveys, in conjunction with geological
mapping and rock geochemical surveys. As a result, we developed some very attractive drill
targets; three of the projects, the Tapian San Francisco Project, the Tapian Main project
and the Agata Project. We are compiling everything and in a week or so, we expect to
receive an independent report in compliance with National Instrument 43-101, to give an
independent evaluation of everything that we have found. With that, we are planning to
raise financing to do a major drill program on the projects here within this year.
are listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (PZM) and you have engaged as investor
relations group in Europe; why is that a good strategy for Panoro?
Mr. Wober: It is more of an expansion and a
diversification of market for our shares than a new focus. It allowed us to be exposed to
a much wider market and at this time German and other European investors have shown a
great interest in junior resource companies especially those who are offering from Canada.
They seem to understand, and so do the investor relation firms there, the basis of our
industry and what has been accomplished by the Junior Canadian mining industry in the past
and they are willing to participate in this industry to be able to benefit from any
discoveries that the Junior Canadian exploration companies might make worldwide. It means
that our shares much more widely held; substantial amounts of trading have now moved to Europe.
That allows us to find more interest and broader basis for future finances.
you looking at other projects presently?
Mr. Wober: We are looking at other projects. We are not
yet entering into any negotiations on any project, but given that we will be able to raise
that financing, we will. With the joint venture with Mindoro in the Philippines, we have
met our first year work commitment of $350 thousand dollars. We have spent $450 thousand
in the first year; the year does not end until June 21st (2005). We need about
another 1.5 million to spend before we are vested with our initial 40% of the joint
venture. A two million dollar financing will also give us the opportunity to take
advantage of our presence in the Philippines and take advantage of some other projects, in
not only Mindanao but also other parts of the Philippines that appear to be available
right now. There is an opportunity to expand our portfolio, put more projects in the
pipeline, and grow our project base.
are many companies looking at gold projects; why should investors be looking at Panoro?
Mr. Wober: We are a company that has a good management
team, with people that have worked for major resource companies. Our Chairman and a
Director is Allen Born, who during his career, was CEO of Placer Development Ltd. (now
Placer Dome Inc.), Amax Inc. (now known as Cyprus Amax Minerals Co.) and later Alumax Inc.
before it was sold to Alcoa Inc (AA: NYSE). I have worked for Chevron's minerals division
for fourteen years and ended up with worldwide responsibilities for development,
production geology and for engineering and development of the minerals sector of Chevron.
We have some strong financial backers. Two of our board members, both Allen Born and Bill
William J. Boden, C.A., our CFO and director, who comes from Ventures West Capital Inc., a
venture capital management company; have a strong history of investing in the company.
Management at this time holds about 25 to 28% of the issued and outstanding shares in the
A U.S. investor has recently disclosed an accumulation of Panoro shares when it exceeded
ten percent of the issued shares. Presently, we are looking at somewhere around 38% of the
issued shares of the company to be tightly held. In addition, Rio Algom (now BHP Billiton)
who optioned our Peruvian project in the year 2000, still holds about 1.2 million shares
of the company. Over 40% of the outstanding shares of the company are therefore tightly
held. Management and the Board are focused on looking for copper-gold porphyry
deposits with a large tonnage potential because we feel that not only is copper an
important commodity for countries like China, India and Japan, but Gold as a second
commodity gives us two rails on which to run. The gold resources that are contained in
these copper-gold porphyry deposits, will find the future attention of large pure gold
producers like Newmont Mining Corporation (NYSE: NEM), because that is the future source
of where they can replace depleting reserves of gold that they are mining every year. Only
these gold/copper porphyry deposits have these large storehouses for these commodities.
The pure gold deposits that were to be found near the surface are getting mined-out and
are not easy to replace.
you explain a bit about the market for copper?
Mr. Wober: The market for copper grows because of
demand primarily coming out of China, and India. A lot of the manufacturing is moving into
these countries and there is a demand for consumer goods developed within these countries
that are fueling the demand for copper. China has always been a huge importer of copper.
New discoveries and new production capacity has just not been able to keep pace with the
increasing demand. That has worked to raise the copper price from sixty-two to sixty-eight
cents a couple of years ago, to the $1.40 range that we are looking at now.
seem to be in the right place at the right time with the right commodity!
Mr. Wober: We are fortunate for once to have all these
things come together at the right time in the right place.
closing, what would you like readers to remember about Panoro?
Mr. Wober: We are not here for the short-term; the
company expects to be here for a long time. We have recently added some geological
strength to our board. We have added an experienced professional and with his help and the
help of the other particular expertise on the board, as well as Christian Pilon,
geophysicist and our man in Peru, I think we have a strong technical Board and a
commitment to be here for some time to come.
Any reproduction or further distribution of this
article without the express written consent of CEOCFOinterviews.com is prohibited.