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He’s a 30-year veteran of the international finance industry, a former investment banker, and the author of one of the greatest turn-around stories in the history of mining—taking Aurcana Corporation from life support to a market cap of $600 million, making it one of Canada's 500 largest companies. He’s also the only person known to have negotiated a $25 M buyback of a streaming mining agreement. He was a member founder of the Mexican chapter of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, founded by Lawrence Klein, the 1980 Nobel Economics Sciences Prize winner, for whom he developed an econometric model focused on air traffic demand in Mexico. He has worked throughout the whole of North America, establishing an excellent reputation within the industry and yet, Lenic Rodriguez refers to himself as an “accidental miner.”
In 1992, Lenic launched FirstAccess Financial Group, Inc., a boutique investment and merchant bank serving primarily in North America, executing some of the largest transactions in the TSX.V in Canada. It was sometime later, when the company acquired a mining operation, that Lenic discovered the value and possibilities of the resources sector. Confident in the long-term economic outlook for this market, he founded The Apache Mining Group, which would encase three operating branches: Apache Copper, Inc., Apache-Abba Minerals Limited, and Apache-Iron Corporation. Most notably, Lenic’s metallurgical team has developed a green disruptive process to produce high purity metallic copper (98%-99%) from copper oxides, requiring no electric power and using only naturally occurring based reagents, and is leading the efforts to move away from carbon-based energy to green energy.
As Lenic prepares Apache for its IPO in early 2022, we spoke with him to learn more about his companies, their operating models, and the future of mining.
Lenic, how did you get into mining?
It truly was by accident. I got into mining in 2007, after First Access arranged the financing for the acquisition of La Negra mine and the re-starting of its operations. I personally participated in the financing, becoming the largest individual shareholder. The operations were not going well, and I needed to protect my investment. I remained an active investor until the board of directors appointed me as its CEO.
Tell us more about First Access’s transition to focus primarily on the mining sector?
We’ve conducted transactions in debt and equity for several industries over the years, but we will now be concentrating on the resources sector since we believe that the long-term economic outlook for metals is excellent, and we have a very skillful team of professional in this sector. In fact, we’ve recently expanded our operations to Papua, New Guinea, with the acquisition of Aiabba Minerals, Ltd (today, Apache-Abba Minerals Limited) and with the acquisition of Ferrominera de Uruguay through our Apache-Iron Corporation, where we plan to develop a huge magnetite minerals reserve.
Tell us briefly about the Apache Project.
Apache Copper, Inc. has a copper/silver deposit in a totally unexplored region of Mexico. The state of Tamaulipas, where we are located, is not known for mining and upon developing our mine, projected for 2022, we’ll be the first copper/silver mine in the state to detonate further exploration. In line with those projections, our IPO is planned for early 2022, and we’ll use it as an investment vehicle to control the three companies in the Apache Mining Group. The area is covered with green bushes, proper of the region. However, on our property, no vegetation grows. This is called a vegetation anomaly and it is due to the high mineralization that no vegetation survives. The only economic use of this is mining.
Give us a short description of your other two companies.
Apache-ABBA Minerals controls two tenements comprising over 2,700 Km2, highly prospective in gold and copper. Some of the world largest copper and gold mines are on this island and in our geological trend, including the Grassberg mine, but also Lihir (61M Oz gold), Porgera, (32M Oz gold), Ok Tedi (18M Oz gold & 8/Mt Copper), and Panguna.
Apache Iron is focused on advancing and developing a huge iron magnetite mineral reserve that we’re very familiar with. The authorities have welcomed us, knowing quite well that this is a country-transforming project.
Can you explain your innovative Metallurgic and Green Process and how it benefits investors, society, and the environment?
The Apache Process(TM) is a disruptive green process that produces high purity metallic copper (98%-99%) without the use of electric power. It is a clean mechanical/chemical process that saves 1,000 amps per 1.6 g copper produced (Grupo Mexico). Our reagents occur naturally, and they get recycled, making it the greenest process for copper oxides and carbonates. The process is highly economic since all it need are tanks, pipes, and some pumps. The ROI of our plant is counted in multiple not in percentages.
Will you share a few of your previous projects?
In the past, I launched Aurcana Corporation from a shell into a mining company, acquiring La Negra mine for $6 million. The mine was in the care and maintenance of Peñoles, the largest silver producer in the world, but they purportedly had only 1 million tons of ore left for the life of the mine. We raised another $14 million and within 12 months, Aurcana was worth $100 million. We extended the life of the mine for about six years, mined 20 million tons of sliver, and let it go for $50 million. After four years, in 2013, Aurcana had morphed from a $500k shell company into a $600 million market cap and was one of the 500 largest companies in Canada in terms of growth and profitability and became part of the mining index in Canada.
What do you enjoy most about your work, what drives you?
I am a workaholic by nature, and I enjoy my work. Being able to help stakeholders and maximizing investors returns, while progressing the industry is what drives me every day.
First Access Financial Group
Website/Apache-ABBA Minerals Limited: www.apacheabbaminerals.com