Benz Mining Corp.’s Mel Project is a zinc treasure chest
By: Don Hauka
China mine closures, and shrinking supplies drive exploration boom
Miloje Vicentijevic is achieving his vision.
For over 25 years he worked on some of the biggest mining projects in the world as an engineer and operations expert. Now as President, CEO and Director of Benz Mining Corporation (TSX.V: BZ), he’s enjoying developing his own projects. And what better place than in the mining rich Yukon.
Certainly this year’s drilling results from Benz Mining’s Mel Zinc/Lead/Barite Project, just 80 kilometres from Watson Lake in Southeast Yukon, is something to be proud of. The property, which consists of 257 mineral claims, is returning promising sample results, which indicate large deposits of zinc, lead and barite.
The results were so positive that Vicentijevic is highly anticipating the next exploration season.
“Next season will be the one that will enable us to increase project size, and develop the Mel main zone deposit to the measured and indicated resource categories, and identify the blue sky zones where we can develop it,” says Vicentijevic.
“We’re already seeing confirmation of historical data, so this gives us confidence.”
Located in a belt of important sedimentary exhalative zinc-lead deposits, the Mel Property has four zinc-rich zones: the Main Mel, Jeri, Jeri North and Mel East Zones. The Mel Main Zone hosts an inferred resource of 5.28 million tonnes grading 6.51% zinc, 1.86% lead and 45.05% barite (BaSO4), at a cut-off grade of 5.0% zinc-equivalent.
Results from this past drilling season also show significant mineralization at the Jeri and Jerri North Zones, as well as the potential to expand the Main Mel Zone northwords and southwards.
“I wasn’t surprised that we identified opportunities to the north, but I was a bit surprised that there was clear indication that the ore zone exists to the south as well,” says Vicentijevic.
“I was quite pleased with what I saw. The current deposit clearly has the opportunity to expand by approximately 30 per cent.”
Not only are the results encouraging, so is the Mel Property’s location, only 40 kilometres north of the Alaska Highway.
“It’s in the Yukon, but it’s the most southerly location, and that makes it easier,” says Vicentijevic. “It’s in a very good location in terms of access and infrastructure.”
While Vicentijevic and the Benz Mining team prepare for the next exploration season in Yukon, there are other factors at work elsewhere in the world that are boosting the Mel Project’s prospects. Put simply, while the demand for zinc is rising, the supply is shrinking.
“There are a couple of large mines in China that have been closed,” says Vicentijevic. “There has been a clear reduction in supply and existing mining operations, and grade of their deposits are declining as well, which adds up to a supply reduction on the zinc market side.”
At the same time, the demand for zinc as a key metal in energy storage and other industrial uses is rising, and prices have risen by over 28 per cent in the last year. The base metal has been trading well above the $3,000-per-tonne mark since August, and in October hit $3,308.75, the highest price in a decade. BMO Capital Markets is forecasting a price of $3,527 down the road.
The company is also currently very undervalued, according to industry analyst Cejay Kim of Palisade Research.
“According to our analysis, Benz is the cheapest zinc developer in Canada,” says Kim.
“They are trading at a paltry $8.81/tonne of zinc, while its peers trade at $42/tonne. Mel also has substantial lead credits. And 60 cents a share is on the low range of our spectrum, especially with our outlook in zinc.”
Kim says the price of zinc should continue to rise into the New Year, with China’s environmental reforms diminishing supply at a time when private supplies are shrinking and demand is significantly increasing. That’s left smelters scrambling for supplies. And it puts Benz Mining in a good position to realize a good return for investors.
“At a market cap of $5.7M, we challenge anyone else to find another zinc developer with as much torque as Benz Mining,” says Kim.
“It will check the list of any astute investor: safe jurisdiction, a conservative and proven management team, strong catalysts on the horizon, and deep, deep value. Benz has flown under the radar while lesser zinc projects have seen incredible appreciation. It’s only a matter of time before the market realizes what they have in Mel.”
The Mel Project is only the beginning of Vicentijevic and his team’s business plan of building Benz Mining into a multi-project, mid-tier mining company operating base metal mines.
Vicentijevic’s mining management aspirations started early, when he discovered his passion for operations and construction in university. He spent 15 years working in the mining operations in Europe, Yukon, and Alberta, and had a position of mine superintendent in a gold operation. He worked on construction and start-up of the $5 billion capital cost oil sands project in Fort McMurray, and was technical services manager for Sherritt International Luscar’s mine operation in Alberta. His more than 25 years of experience includes lead/zinc, copper, gold, coal, and oil sands mining operations, and consulting engineering companies.
He received his BSc degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and his Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and is a registered professional engineer in B.C.
Vicentijevic has assembled an experienced and capable team to help drive Benz Mining forward. Chairman and Director Ron Hall has over 40 years professional experience in the management, operation, evaluation, and design of global mining projects. A graduate from Cardiff University in Wales, he’s lived all over the world while being involved in business and mining opportunities in India, Russia, North America, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico. He is a former independent director of Chinalco Mining International (a subsidiary of the Chinese State Owned Enterprise Chinalco), engaged in the development of the Torromocho copper project in Peru, and the current director of Panoro Minerals Ltd. (TSX.V:PML).
Michael Gareau, VP Geology and Exploration has 40 years international mining industry experience. He worked with Placer Dome for 15 years in technical and management positions, as VP Exploration for Black Hawk Mining, Glencairn Gold and Wega Mining and as a consultant. Gareau has a BSc. (Hon.) in geology.
With a good team, with hands-on management, with global mine construction, production and public market experience, and a promising first project, Benz Mining is poised to become that profitable mining producer that Vicentijevic has envisioned for all those years. He says they’re moving ahead with their plans to acquire and operate mineral properties in the Americas by integrating mineral deposits, financial resources, and human resources, while utilizing sound safety and environmental operating practices.
“We are reviewing all the opportunities daily in the base metals space, particularly in copper and zinc. Our goal is to be a multiple project company we are aggressive in that regard,” he says.
Vicentijevic says Benz Mining Corporation (TSXV: BZ) is committed to developing their properties in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner, demonstrating industry best practices that will be beneficial for all stakeholders, including not just investors, but the communities in which they operate.