Courtney Chamberlain of Minera IRL sets the gold standard for mine developers

Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 by
Courtney Chamberlain of Minera IRL sets the gold standard for mine developers

When Courtney Chamberlain watched the first gold pour at his company’s Corihuarmi mine, high in the central Andes of Peru, it marked a major milestone in his strategy to build a mid-tier mining company. By coincidence, the start of production in March 2008 came in the same week that the gold price broke through the $1,000 per ounce barrier for the first time ever.

By the usual standards of the executive chairman of London and Lima listed Minera Irl (LON:MIRL) , Corihuarmi is a modest project. Yet for the past three years it has bankrolled the company through a market downturn that left a number of its peers ragged or broke. It also funded a relentless exploration and development programme that looks set to generate a second and third generation of mines in Latin America and put Minera IRL on a 200,000 ounce per year footing by 2014. From a low last June of 56p, the Minera IRL share price on AIM currently lies at around 84p, having spent the second half of 2010 gaining ground, which values the company at £101m (US$162m).

In the pipeline are major projects at Ollachea in Peru and Don Nicholas in the Patagonia region of Argentina, the latter of which was snapped up in the company’s acquisition of struggling neighbour Hidefield Gold in December 2009. Beyond that, another longer-term project could potentially see production start from the company’s latest discovery at its Escondido project in Patagonia, which adjoins the Calandria Sur discovery made by its AIM-listed compatriot, Mariana Resources (LON:MARL) . Elsewhere in the region, and among the company’s larger peers, industry giant Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX) runs the Pierina and Lagunas Norte gold mines in Peru and the Veladero gold mine in Argentina while Hochschild Mining (LON:HOC) operates three underground epithermal vein mines in southern Peru.

In an interview with Stockopedia, Chamberlain discussed Minera IRL’s strategy in South America and the reasons why investors should be taking a closer at the company.

Courtney, tell me about your background and what led to the creation of Minera IRL?

I grew up in a mining family, got a degree in metallurgy and went on to work first of all for Newmont Mining Corp (NYSE: NEM) and then…

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Mariana Resources Limited is a holding company. The Company is engaged in the mineral exploration in Argentina, Chile, Suriname, Turkey and Peru. The Company's segments include Argentina, Chile, Peru, Suriname, Turkey and Head Office operations. The Company's Head Office operations segment is the support function provided to the Company from Guernsey and Australia, including early stage exploration opportunities. The Company's projects include Soledad Copper-Gold-Silver project, Nassau Gold Project, Las Calandrias Project, Ergama Copper-Gold Project, Hot Maden Project, Rurimarac project, Dona Ines Gold-Silver (Au-Ag) and Exploradora East Copper-Molybdenum-Gold (Cu-Mo-Au) project. The Company's subsidiaries include Mariana Exploration Pty Ltd, Mariana Turkey Limited, Minera Mariana Argentina S.A., Minera Mariana Sierra Blanca SA, Mariana International Limited, Minera AMG Chile Limitada and Minera Mariana Peru SAC. more »

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Hochschild Mining plc is engaged in mining, processing and sale of silver and gold. It has approximately three operating mines (Arcata, Pallancata and Inmaculada) located in southern Peru and approximately one operating mine (San Jose) located in Argentina. Its segments include Arcata, Pallancata, San Jose, Inmaculada, Exploration and Other. Arcata and San Jose business units are engaged in the sale of gold, silver, dore and concentrate. Pallancata business unit is engaged in the sale of concentrate. Inmaculada business unit is engaged in the sale of gold, silver and dore. The Exploration segment explores and evaluates areas of interest in brownfield and greenfield sites to extend the life-of-mine of existing operations and to assess the feasibility of new mines. The Other segment includes Empresa de Transmision Callalli S.A.C., a power transmission company; HMX, S.A. de C.V., a service company in Mexico, and Empresa de Transmision Aymaraes S.A.C., a power transmission company. more »

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Rio Tinto plc is a mining and metals company. The Company's business is finding, mining and processing mineral resources. The Company's segments include Iron Ore, Aluminium, Copper & Diamonds, Energy & Minerals and Other Operations. The Company operates an iron ore business, supplying the global seaborne iron ore trade. Its Iron Ore product operations are located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The Aluminium business includes bauxite mines, alumina refineries and aluminum smelters. Its bauxite mines are located in Australia, Brazil and Guinea. The Copper & Diamonds segment has managed operations in Australia, Canada, Mongolia and the United States, and non-managed operations in Chile and Indonesia. The Energy & Minerals segment consists of mining, refining and marketing operations in over 10 countries, across six sectors: borates, coal, iron ore concentrate and pellets, salt, titanium dioxide and uranium. more »

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