Ross_Bhappu

Interview with Ross Bhappu

Ross Bhappu is a Senior Partner of Resource Capital Funds and a specialist in metallurgical engineering and mineral economics. Ross spent time initially working on the operations side of mining before deciding that it was M&A activity in the mining sector that he was particularly passionate about.

I grew up in a little town in New Mexico and my exposure to the mining industry came from my father who was a college professor in metallurgical engineering. I think for most Americans, you rarely hear about mining in school as it’s only a small part of the U.S. economy, but I really enjoyed what my father did from the massive trucks and the shovels to the chemistry.

I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and studied metallurgical engineering in college at the University of Arizona. At the time I graduated, the job market was very weak so I decided to complete a master’s degree in metallurgy.  While in school, I worked for a copper mining company based in Tucson, Arizona where I met my wife. Early on in my career, I decided that I really loved the mining industry, but wanted to be more involved on the business side, so I went to the Colorado School of Mines where I completed a PhD in Mineral Economics.

 

Following university Ross went on to work for several resources companies in operations and business development capacities, including running a junior mining company which provided excellent groundwork for Ross’ career at RCF.

After graduating from the Colorado School of Mines, I worked for Cyprus Minerals Company for about seven years in various capacities.  Initially, I was part of the Planning and Economics group which served as an interface between the operations and corporate office.  It provided tremendous exposure to all aspects of the business.  I then joined the Smelter Project team where I was involved in the analysis of various smelting technologies, the decision to use a new state-of-the-art technology developed in Australia and then the feasibility study team for a new copper smelter.  I participated as a member of the construction team based in Miami, Arizona and after commissioning held various operating management roles before spending several years working at Newmont as a director of business development focusing on M&A activity globally.

I left Newmont after about seven years and was recruited to run a junior copper company with a development project in Arizona. This was a great learning experience, particularly when as we were completing the feasibility study, we discovered an endangered species on the property. We recognized that being a small company we wouldn’t have the capacity to mitigate the risks and implement a management plan so we decided to exit from the project.

It was around the same time that I had been talking to James McClements about RCF investing in our project when we ended up exiting.  As luck and timing would have it, RCF was just finishing raising RCF II and James invited me to join the RCF team around the beginning of 2001. While my primary focus was always deal focused, James got me actively involved in fundraising and investor relations early on and it’s still a big part of my role today.

 

The resources industry is often associated with high risk yet Ross explains that for RCF, these risks are scrupulously managed. Extensive research and analysis is undertaken to establish a complete understanding of all aspects of a mining project before an investment decision is made.  

Something my father stressed to me as a metallurgical engineer is that metallurgists make some of the best environmental engineers because you have a comprehensive understanding of geology and mineralogy. He explained that if you can understand how the mineral got there in the first place, then you can figure out how to recover it and manage any impurities to minimize any environmental impact. We have always been trained to not pollute and that you always have to be thinking about environmental aspects of a project so it is second nature when evaluating mining projects.

RCF not only provides financial support to our portfolio companies, but we also provide a source of valuable experience. I know from experience what it’s like to run a junior company, knowing that there were times that were very tough and money could be very tight. I think most of our portfolio companies really appreciate that RCF is able to bring that experience to the table.

 

Ross has been with RCF for almost 15 years now and has been involved in the mining sector for over  30 years.  Over the course of that time he has seen several fluctuations or cycles in the market. Ross provides some insight into the current market environment and the additional consequences of a market downturn.

When I joined RCF I think there were only five or six people in the firm, it was a tough time in the market and commodity prices were depressed. Similarly to the market then, the current market is tough too. It’s particularly difficult for junior mining companies to raise money.  The value of private equity is that we continue to invest in projects through good times and bad times with the recognition that this is a cyclical business and the market will improve – we have to be patient and supportive of our portfolio companies – an important characteristic that is valued by both our investors and portfolio companies.

One of the very difficult things that we see impacted by these downturns is the lack of support for education. When times are good mining companies support funding for mining related education, but when times are bad, this funding tends to dry up. RCF has continued to do its part to support education in mining by providing fellowships and financial support at a number of mining focused universities.

As with education,  one of the first things that companies cut when times are tough is exploration which results in a shortage of good quality projects in the pipeline for future mines. RCF has recently funded an exploration strategy to help support companies with exciting new mineral discoveries which we hope will lead to a pipeline of new mines in the future.

 

RCF has several key goals for both the short and long term, including why they’re important for the future of the business. Ross also shares what his experience with RCF has meant personally.

We’ve built a great reputation in the industry as an organization that pioneered the concept of private equity investing in mining, and we’ve built a template that we can grow on. The key for us is to ensure that we maintain a strong reputation by being thorough in our due diligence, attentive to ESG issues, maintaining investment discipline and with the ultimate goal being to provide strong returns to our investors. RCF has invested in a very strong team to manage our business and it is incumbent on our senior staff to instill this discipline on the next generation of managers.

On a personal level I would say that I have been very fortunate to be part of RCF and the mining industry. Three years ago my family was inspired to set up our own small family foundation.  Through this foundation, we support a number of causes including education for the next generation of mining professionals. Throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to travel extensively throughout the world and on many occasions take my family so we can all experience other cultures.  Seeing other parts of the world certainly makes us appreciate the life we have.

deckerw700px - Ambre

Lighthouse Resources Plans to Supply Cleaner Coal to Asian Market

Lighthouse Resources is an owner and operator of two thermal coal mines in and around the Powder River Basin which stretches across southeast Montana and much of Wyoming. Currently the mines produce approximately 5.8 million metric tons per annum for the US domestic market (4.4 million tons per annum to Lighthouse’s account) and the Company is currently working towards expanding production and exporting coal to the international market.

The mines include the wholly-owned Decker mine in Montana and the 50/50 joint venture Black Butte mine in Wyoming with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation where Lighthouse is the operator. The Powder River Basin is known for producing some of the highest quality and lowest cost coal in the U.S. and the region currently supplies approximately 40 percent of coal consumed in the US.

Lighthouse Resources is focused on the coal export market and it is developing two port projects in the Northwestern U.S.  The Company holds a 62% interest in the Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview port facility located near the mouth of the Columbia River at Longview Washington.  This industrial site includes an active dock and was used previously for aluminum smelting.  The site is currently being permitted for coal handling.  Lighthouse also holds a 100% interest in the development stage Morrow Pacific port located in Oregon on the Columbia River.  This port is in the permitting stage.

Lighthouse Resources was previously known as Ambre Energy North America before the company announced in April 2015 that it would change its name to reflect the company’s core business strategy to focus on resource management and infrastructure projects. Resource Capital Funds through RCF V initially financed what was then Ambre Energy North America’s purchase of the Decker and Black Butte mines in 2011.

Since its original investment in 2011, RCF has made a number of additional investments in the Company.  In late 2014, RCF purchased the North American assets of Ambre from its Australian Parent and it now holds a 92% interest in these assets with 8% being held by the shareholders of the Australian entity.  As part of the acquisition, RCF retained the North American management team which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The purpose of the acquisition was to have a core management team focused on developing its port facilities and the coal mining operations.

corvus gold

Resource Capital Fund VI L.P. Acquires Approximately 5% of Explorer and Developer Corvus Gold

Corvus Gold, a junior gold explorer and developer, recently announced that RCF VI had acquired approximately 5% of the Company’s outstanding common shares via a private placement of CAD $2 million. Corvus Gold’s primary focus is advancing its wholly-owned North Bullfrog project, a new gold discovery in Nevada, USA.

RCF Senior Partner, Russ Cranswick, said that the Corvus Gold investment was part of the firm’s exploration funding strategy to enable companies with strong underlying potential to aggressively develop and test new targets.

“Our exploration funding strategy has been designed to populate the future development pipeline by investing in early stage projects with recognized potential, such as Corvus Gold,” said Mr Cranswick.

In the Company’s announcement, CEO Jeff Pontius said that, “Bringing Resource Capital Fund VI L.P. into the Corvus family of major long-term investors is a significant accomplishment as it continues to build the depth of our shareholder base.

“In addition the vote of confidence that this brings to the Company and its projects is substantial, particularly in the challenging markets that junior explorers face today.  The proceeds from this financing will give the Company added flexibility to act decisively on exploration success from its ongoing drilling program well into 2016.  Driven by the strong results from the Company’s recent North Bullfrog PEA study and new exploration discoveries in the large and untested Eastern portion of the North Bullfrog area, Corvus is rapidly building what could be a new Nevada high-grade gold District.”

To read the full announcement from Corvus Gold, please visit the Company’s website.

Russ

Interview with RCF Senior Partner Russ Cranswick

Russ Cranswick is from British Columbia in Canada and had an extensive career in mineral exploration before joining RCF. Russ spent most of his early career working as a geologist on exploration projects in remote northern Canada. 

While growing up in a more rural area of southeast BC, as a teenager, I did yard work for a retired geologist who regaled me with old-timer tales and graciously sponsored me to attend university and study geology. He had no children of his own and perhaps saw my education as a gift back to the profession. I studied four straight years of geology and worked each summer for different companies to gain experience in a range of commodities, geological settings and geographies.

I worked in silver, gold and base metals at several different locations in northern BC and then a large reconnaissance program for gold that took me from the far northern Canadian city of Yellowknife to the Arctic Circle.  This area was then all within Canada’s Northwest Territories, but now some of it would be part of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut. After I graduated, I worked in the Yukon on a gold project and other, mostly northern, exploration programs.

I then worked for Freeport McMoRan Gold Company, which was based in Vancouver and looking at assets across Canada. I rounded out my exploration career at Kennecott for about five years where I was back to northern Canada in base metals and helping acquire Kennecott/Rio Tinto’s initial 7.5 million acre diamond exploration land position during the Canadian diamond rush of the early 1990s.

 

After 10 years working in the field, Russ was introduced to the concept of a resource analyst role by David Thomas, who is now RCF Managing Director Canada, yet at the time had been a geologist and transitioned into a similar role as an analyst with a brokerage house.

By the time I was 30, I had spent much of the past decade working in the field which then, in Canada, meant you’re pretty much away six or seven months of the year for one to three months at a time, and was ready to be closer to home and family.

During a site visit in the eastern arctic of Canada, I ran into to David Thomas (now RCF Managing Director, Canada), who had been a field geologist and had shifted careers by becoming an analyst with a brokerage house. I wasn’t really aware that type of job progression was available and the idea of being able to use your mineral exploration skills and also a lot of financial analysis, yet be at home more of the time, really appealed to me. Within two months of this encounter, I had found a job as a mining analyst in Vancouver for a brokerage house.

It was around the same time that I first met Ryan Bennett on a field visit (it could have been the same one that I ran into Dave Thomas on) and he and another industry colleague introduced me to James McClements at a mining conference in the late 1990s.  We talked a bit about joining RCF near its inception, but it wasn’t until several years later, in 1999 when RCF II was being raised, that I joined RCF. The timing made sense as it was a downturn in the mining industry and slow on the junior company equity side, yet RCF was ramping up and actively investing. I contracted for six months, then my wife and I moved to Denver in mid-2000.

 

Russ has worked with RCF for 15 years now and has been linked to many of the transactions which have taken place during that time and throughout his career has made many industry connections around the world. Russ talks about being close to the work performed by the deal teams and the benefits that RCF brings to its portfolio companies.

‘Canada’, Compliance’ and ‘Trading/Market Research’  are technically my portfolios, but really it is about the transactions. As one of the Senior Partners, I am responsible for overseeing the entire portfolio and the range of investment teams, so I spend a lot of time in particular with our deal teams. I sit in their area and they’re regularly dropping in to talk about the history of a company or management team, and to discuss the process that they might go through for a nuanced transaction. Being able to provide real time input is important and certainly what I like being involved in.

With respect to the transactions, I like the creativity with which we structure deals and the personal connections that many of us have with people after many years spent in the industry.  I think the benefit for portfolio companies having RCF as a partner is multi-fold, given that a lot struggle, particularly these days, to obtain consistent, long term support. It may be that the market loves the company when the market is hot, but as soon as it is not, or the particular commodity is out of favor, they lose a lot of their investors overnight.

We can be comfortable with the investments that we make, partly because we take a lot of time and care to complete due diligence and get comfortable with the company’s assets.  When we invest, it is often a sizable position and, by the illiquid nature of that large position, we’re committed to sticking with the investment and working to help realize the company’s potential. This view is obviously in parallel with the company’s management team’s goals of advancing the asset, so we’re aligned as well as committed.

 

Over time, Russ has observed several changes in the market and industry dynamics and provides some insight on what he perceives to be the current market situation and how this impacts on RCF as well as work that Russ is doing personally to support the next generation of resources industry professionals.

We’ve certainly seen a lot of the industry players change quite dramatically over time. Funds that may have invested significantly a few years ago don’t exist now, and ones that still exist may have had a high turnover of people. On the other hand, the RCF team has been pretty consistent throughout the past 15 to 20 years, which is certainly one of our strengths.

People know where to find us and they know the types of transactions that we do and I think they’re often quite pleasantly surprised when there’s always another suite of things that we can do that they weren’t aware of or we haven’t done to date; we’ve more or less created something to suit their situation. Preconceived ideas of what we are or what we do can probably slow the process down and management teams often don’t appreciate RCF’s value-add until after the fact.

In the current market, I think there’s a good opportunity in the fact that we’ve consistently been a mining focused private equity firm. It has been nice to see the measured growth – we have grown quite a bit over time, but it’s always been measured. It’s as much about the people as what they can do when we hire and build groups. The people have always been important and still are. We’ve got a good culture and it makes us all want to come to work each day.

In addition, the JP Morgan Center for Commodities is something that the Dean of the University of Colorado Denver business school approached me and a few other industry colleagues about several years ago. Created with the goal of becoming the global leader in commodities research and education, I joined the Center’s advisory council at its inception and it is great to see it growing and gathering some momentum.  Denver is a natural location to foster collaboration between academics and professionals from the agriculture, energy and mining sectors.

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Value of Private Equity for TMAC Resources

Toronto-based TMAC Resources is currently developing the Hope Bay Project, a gold development in Canada’s Hope Bay region with planned first production by the end of 2016. In a market that has been otherwise difficult for gold companies, RCF provided over 85% of the last two rounds of private funding and, with RCF contributing one third of the amount raised, the company recently successfully closed its C$135 million initial public offering (IPO) on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).  Priced at C$6.00 per share, the issue established a market value for the company of C$445 million.

RCF has built a strategic partnership with TMAC Resources, since its initial investment in early 2013, which has enabled the company to complete a positive pre-feasibility study to further advance and de-risk its Hope Bay project prior to accessing the public markets and  developing the mine. RCF VI now owns approximately 37.1% of TMAC’s common shares.

RCF Senior Partner Russ Cranswick said that the initial TMAC Resources evaluation completed by RCF revealed a good quality asset with a high value proposition, given its Hope Bay project’s previously known resources, significant existing infrastructure and strong management team.

“The investments which ultimately attract RCF are those where we can see the long term potential for future growth and opportunity. When we invest, it isn’t about making a quick entry and exit, it’s where we see that we can add value through our market environment agnostic financial support plus our mining and risk management expertise over time. Mining Journal has astutely identified that, as a shareholder, RCF has invested in TMAC Resources’ long term strategy from exploration to construction ready and now the company’s IPO / project development funding.”

The company has said that it would use the proceeds raised under the offering to advance the Hope Bay Project to planned first production by the end of 2016, for exploration activities and general corporate purposes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Canada’s resource-heavy Toronto Stock Exchange hasn’t listed a mining company since December 2012, when Oban Mining Corp. completed a small, C$10 million IPO.

In the May 2015 issue of Mining Journal profiles the value of private equity over time for TMAC Resources. Read the Mining Journal article.

TMAC Resources is now trading under the TSX ticker ‘TMR’.

TMAC

Investing in Northern Canada’s Nunavut Territory

Resource Capital Funds has had a long held interest in northern Canada and the Nunavut region, having held several successful investments in the area. In particular, some of the attributes that make the region an attractive investment proposition include its highly prospective geology, world class deposits, commodity diversity, shipping in close proximity to some projects and populations near, but not in immediate proximity to projects. It is also a jurisdiction that welcomes and readily facilitates investment in resources.

To date, RCF has invested $265 million, or approximately 10% of the funds that it has invested since inception, in Nunavut to support four key projects – Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation’s Mary River high grade and direct shipping iron ore project on Baffin Island, Comaplex Minerals Corp.’s Meliadine gold project near Rankin Inlet, Cumberland Resources Ltd.’s Meadowbank gold project north of Baker Lake and TMAC/Miramar’s Hope Bay gold project south of Cambridge Bay.  RCF’s substantial investments in each project were provided to advance assets through feasibility, bulk sampling, permitting and/or project financing stages.

Each investment faced its owned challenges from fickle equity markets to challenging joint venture arrangements yet ultimately became examples which demonstrate how RCF’s flexible funding and long term investment approach help to achieve positive outcomes. All of the four projects were later taken over by mid-tier and major companies in $3.5 billion worth of acquisitions.  Fortunately, the Hope Bay project is once again in the hands of a junior company, TMAC Resources, and is fully funded to build the region’s next significant gold mine.

Key achievements which resulted from RCF investments made in Nunavut include less dilutive bridge loans, greater investor confidence, improved communication and, in the instance of the Cumberland Resources and TMAC investments, the private equity advantage for the companies was a cornerstone shareholder when they were financing their mine development.

In each of the four opportunities, RCF was able to see beyond the market valuation of the day to provide long-term and stable funding, which is always important in fluctuating markets and volatile project dynamics. For more information on RCF’s investments in Canada please contact RCF’s office in Toronto.

Firestone Diamonds   Liqhobong Highlands Q2 2014

Firestone Diamonds

Liqhobong Diamond Mine

Firestone Diamonds is developing its flagship asset, the Liqhobong Diamond Mine located at the head of the Liqhobong Valley in the Maluti Mountains of northern Lesotho in Southern Africa. The Liqhobong Diamond Mine is owned 75% by Firestone Diamonds, and 25% by the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Construction of the Liqhobong Diamond Mine treatment plant and associated infrastructure commenced in July 2014. At the time of writing, the project remains on time and on budget, and it is anticipated full production will commence in mid 2016.  At least 89% of orders and lead items under engineering, procurement and construction budget have been placed.  Key related infrastructure, including connection to the main power grid, is expected to be achieved in the second half of 2015, ahead of schedule. RCF Senior Project Director Allan Brownrigg chairs the Project Steering Committee for Firestone Diamonds’ Liqhobong Mine.

The project team is fully in place, and the development has already created over 400 jobs, which will increase over the course of the project, and is maintaining its target of zero lost time injuries.

Once constructed, it is anticipate the mine will produce diamonds at a rate of 1.1 million carats per annum.

RCF’s Investment

In early 2014, RCF VI provided a bridge facility in an amount of US$5M, a mezzanine facility in an amount of US$10M and an equity subscription in an amount of US$30M, which with other funding (including other funding facilities from third parties, project finance debt, and a public equity raising of US$40M) completed a total funding package of US$222.4M, that should fully fund development of the Liqhobong Mine.

In addition, in April 2015, RCF provided a further standby debt facility of US$15M. This provides the company with a buffer in developing the project. The funding also satisfied a condition that would allow the company to drawdown on a project debt facility of up to US$82.4 million provided by Absa, one of Africa’s major financial services providers. As the project is on time and on budget, it is not anticipated that the standby facility will be needed.

Supportive Investment Structuring

RCF’s Firestone Diamonds investment is an example of how the firm can provide flexible funding options to meet the needs of companies as well as long-term patient capital that supports emerging companies to process the development of projects. In April 2015, RCF Managing Partner James McClements acknowledge that it had been a tough time recently for the mining sector with falling commodity prices and weak public markets impacting cash flows of operating companies.

“At RCF we take a long term view of value, and so are pleased to partner with Firestone Diamonds to provide development funding and support for the Liqhobong Diamond project,” said RCF Partner Mason Hills.

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Managing Partner Message
James McClements, Managing Partner

As a specialist in mining, Resource Capital Funds regularly observes the benefits that our trusted partnership brings to portfolio companies. We have proven many times over the value of not just being an investor but a patient advisor with extensive industry experience.

We often work with companies which have known assets, yet possess limited capital but have the depth of technical capabilities to develop the asset into cash flow. It has been encouraging to see that even despite the downturn in the mining industry in recent times we are still observing positive progress across a range of our portfolio companies. Essentially this has been because we have been able to identify assets with upside potential prior to investing, despite weak market conditions, and then work with the company over the long term to realize the potential of their project.

This month we have published a case study on Firestone Diamonds, an African diamond developer with its flagship asset in Lesotho, Africa. Firestone Diamonds is under construction and has been supported by RCF throughout the process. We are able to support construction activities with insight from our Denver-based Senior Project Director, Allan Brownrigg, as well as the Senior Partner, responsible for a significant team with specialist technical skills, Ryan Bennett, which is integral in RCF’s technical and due diligence offering.

Please continue to check back to the website for more recent announcements and insight from Resource Capital Funds.

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Interview with Ryan Bennett, a Resource Capital Fund Senior Partner

Ryan Bennett is one of Resource Capital Funds Senior Partners and has been with the firm since its inception in 1998.  Ryan specializes in managing technical risks in mining projects yet started his career as an exploration geologist.

My interest in economic geology and mining started in my early youth as our family often traveled to Colorado from Wisconsin for vacation.  Colorado, with its diverse geology and rich mining history piqued my interest in these subject areas leading me to pursue an undergraduate degree in geological engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and ultimately a master’s degree in mining engineering at Colorado School of Mines, thus satisfying both of my interests academically.

My early career reflects my academic pursuits, starting as an exploration geologist in Alaska and working at the now defunct United States Bureau of Mines on strategic minerals projects.

I later worked as a consultant to Caterpillar before receiving a fellowship from NM Rothschild & Sons funding my master’s degree and providing an internship in 1992 to work in their newly established office in Denver.  That internship led to full time employment in their project finance team in a technical role and the opportunity to spend time in a similar role in their Sydney office from 1993 to 1995.  It was in Sydney that I first had the opportunity to work with James McClements, following him back to Denver to oversee technical due diligence for the many project opportunities that were being identified by a more aggressive marketing approach to the junior mining sector.

Ryan transitioned from Rothschild’s to Resource Capital Funds in 1998.  He notes both the markets similarities between then and now and also the differences experienced as the firm has grown over almost two decades.

Early days were very interesting given the market environment at the time, which isn’t dissimilar to where we are today.  The equity markets were not very supportive of the industry and we had a very small fund (RCF I, $41 million), that was principally devoted to funding feasibility studies.  Being part of a small team of three, we got to see and do everything, getting involved with projects around the world representing multiple mineral commodities.

My role today has evolved since the early days, although technical risk management remains a key element.  Today I oversee a technical team which has grown from one person to a team of many specialists including geologists, a metallurgist, a mineral processing engineer, and our project management group.  Within the technical team we also have an individual focused on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues, a very important role today given the challenges developers face in these areas.  We plan to further build the team to also include a mining engineer which will compliment the rest of the technical skills within the team.

For Ryan and Resource Capital Funds, it is the ability to effectively evaluate and mitigate risk that makes the firm a leader in the mining industry.  Ryan explains that their risk management focus is broad based encompassing all risks faced by the industry.

Risks within the mining industry are quite broad based including legal, political, commercial, technical and environmental. Our success is being able to proactively identify, mitigate, and manage those risks.  Risk management is ultimately our livelihood.  My focus, along with our technical team, is to really dwell on those key technical risks, such as resource and reserves, mining, metallurgy, and project development as well as ESG considerations.  RCF has been quite progressive in this space, with its technical specialists addressing key project development challenges in order to add value to portfolio companies.

RCF has recently allocated a portion of RCF VI to exploration.  Its not that we haven’t had exposure to exploration before, but now we are looking at pure exploration plays.  We see significant value here as little exploration dollars are being expended and the public equity markets are unsupportive.  From a risk management perspective, exploration presents a different risk profile.  It is definitely higher risk, the probability of exploration being successful has always been low, but with a properly structured, well diversified portfolio, exploration risk can be managed.  It is exciting, with the addition of exploration to the fund, we are now covering the entire mine development spectrum from early stage exploration all the way through developing and operating assets.

After almost two decades with Resource Capital Funds, Ryan has experienced first-hand the benefits the firm brings to its portfolio companies.  In addition to being a patient investor Ryan talks about the value of Resource Capital Funds deep technical and operational experience. 

The most obvious benefit for the companies that we invest in is that we are patient capital.  The public equity markets tend not to be.  Mining project development takes time, it just doesn’t happen overnight.  If I look at some of the great successes that we have had, it is only because we were supportive and patient investors.

We see value creation through developing projects.  Often management teams come to us and they don’t have a team with the full skill set available to them to be able to take the project through development.  It is being able to work with the company to help build or enhance the team that puts the company in a position where they’re going to be a successful project developer.

We often see ourselves acting as a catalyst, bringing together a development ready project and the appropriate project finance.  Often the project financier has been unsuccessful in prior projects due to cost overruns and weak equity sponsors.  Our focus on appropriate project management is designed to mitigate the completion risk.  If issues do arise, as they sometimes do, we are there to be the strong equity sponsor so that the project financier can take comfort in knowing that the project will be completed.

Because of the cyclical nature of the mining industry, academic departments servicing the industry are often challenged.  Ryan is passionate about the human resource issues faced by companies and participates in university advisory committees for the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Wisconsin.

It is difficult to allocate faculty and resources to a department that might have 100 or more students in an up cycle but 10 in a down turn.  We recognize that the success of the mining industry and ultimately RCF will be dependent on a stream of well-qualified graduates.

We work with a number of key resource based academic institutions providing financial support to students as well as internships within RCF, not dissimilar to my support from Rothschild early in my career.  It has been great to see the caliber of students coming from these institutions.  The concern is whether it will continue if proper support is not provided to academia.  This is one of the issues that I have been able to consider sitting on the advisory committees.  How can industry work with academia to provide a sustainable education program that can not only withstand the cycles but provide a relevant candidate in an evolving environment?  While we don’t have all of the answers yet, certainly commitment is needed from industry to assure that it has a consistent supply of new graduates.  If we don’t, we will see the gap between senior and junior professionals continue to grow.  We want to see consistently well qualified people entering the mining industry, appropriately managing risks and sustaining the industry for a successful future.

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RCF’s Expertise Available to Portfolio Companies During Key Development Phases
Allan Brownrigg, Senior Project Director

Cost and schedule overruns have long plagued the mining industry affecting both major and junior mining companies. With this in mind, plus the strategy of Resource Capital Fund VI L.P. (“RCF VI”) to develop construction ready projects, RCF added project management professionals to its Technical Services team to focus on assessing projects during the feasibility study phase, and support companies during the execution phase.

Although many Owner companies produce feasibility reports they often fail to be complete, concise and correct. Guidelines such as by the Association for Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) are known by many consultants, and spell out the degree of work that must be completed to satisfy a robust study.

Among the failure factors affecting the quality of reports, with respect to the Owner:

  • The agenda may be to display the asset for immediate sale;
  • It does not possess sufficient funds to pursue an industry standard study;
  • The project team responsible for the study is incapable or inexperienced in selecting and then managing the study consultants.

Typically RCF encounters deficiencies in freezing of the project scope; geotechnical studies for water management, plant and infrastructure locations; basic engineering progress; estimating; scheduling; Operations Readiness; Project Execution Plan; and Risk Register. Using experience and benchmarking RCF is able to quantify and distribute cost and schedule ranges in its Financial Model to ascertain the project’s health.

At the time of project funding RCF continues to follow the detailed engineering, procurement, construction and start-up activities during the execution phase. As a minimum a monthly report and a Project Steering Committee are established with the Owner project team. Site visits are also conducted as required.

Among the failure factors affecting the success of the project execution:

  • Scope creep after the feasibility is issued
  • Site access, community and permitting issues
  • Geotechnical surprises
  • Weak Owner project team

Although RCF has extensive in-house expertise it also employs known consultants to ensure quality due diligence of the study resulting in an informed investment decision. In many cases the decision is to invest for a period of time wherein the study is de-risked and improved, frequently with RCF in-house and consultant resources assisting the Owner project team. This working with the Owner project team continues throughout the construction phase in tracking key performance indicators to obtain the best project outcomes for the Owner.