Mining veteran takes helm for Tintina’s home stretch

He’s only been on the job as Tintina Resources CEO for two weeks, but John Shanahan brings a wealth of experience in Montana mining that spans operations and development.

The mining veteran was brought onboard to take Tintina and its high-grade Black Butte Copper Project through the home stretch of permitting and development. He replaces Bruce Hooper, who is returning to Australia’s Sandfire Resources as Chief Business Development officer after 20 months spent advancing Black Butte.

“We will get permitting across the finish line and build a state-of-the-art mining operation,” said Shanahan, who was previously president and CEO of Revett Mining. “The building blocks are there.”

New Tintina Resources CEO and mining engineer John Shanahan (TAU photo)

New Tintina Resources CEO and mining engineer John Shanahan (TAU photo)

Shanahan’s experience at Revett Mining should help. Revett, acquired by Hecla Mining about a year ago, operated the Troy silver-copper mine and was advancing the development-stage Rock Creek silver-copper project through permitting. Rock Creek is an underground deposit with an Inferred resource of 228 million pounds of silver and around 1 billion tonnes of copper.

The Troy mine was a 4000tpd bulk underground operation that employed about 200 people but closed down in early 2015 due to low metals prices. Troy was recognized for its safety standards by the National Mining Association for two years running prior to its closure.

Shanahan’s experience advancing Rock Creek while working closely with state and federal permitting agencies should be an asset for Tintina. Rock Creek, also faced opposition from environmental groups, but Revett won over many of the opponents with a direct and open approach that addressed environmental concerns.

“You can have both — you can have a pristine environment and have an underground mine, particularly with a state-of-the-art operating and reclamation plan,” Shanahan said. “The community wants to know that there is prosperity and jobs, but more importantly, they want to know that you can address all the environmental concerns and operate to the highest standards.”

Tintina’s Black Butte project is on private lands and will employ both pasted backfill underground and cemented tailings on the surface, minimizing the overall footprint of the project. Once mining has been completed, the lands will be reclaimed and returned to their traditional agricultural and grazing uses. This should limit the scope of any potential legal challenge.

The prize is a big one — the Black Butte Copper Project would be the ninth-highest grade copper mine in the world if it was operating today. The global Measured & Indicated resource at Black Butte is 15.7 million tonnes at 3.4% copper.

“Grade allows you to do all sorts of things, including making a profit ,” notes Hooper. The lower zone at Black Butte is even higher grade, at more than 6% copper (Indicated).

Tintina submitted its Mine Operating Permit application to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) late last year. Tintina got it back in March — there are no fatal flaws, says Hooper — the company is working through the final issues including geochemistry and hydrology.

Once the resubmitted application is complete and compliant, an Environmental Impact Study will commence which is expected to take around 12 months to complete. A Record of Decision will then be issued which will outline conditions for mining. Construction is expected to take 2 to 3 years and minelife is currently estimated to be around 12 to 14 years.

Hooper remains a Tintina director, so he’ll be following Black Butte’s progress closely even as he returns to his homeland and former post with Sandfire. The handoff to Shanahan closes a circle that began shortly after Hooper first arrived in Montana, when Shanahan — then CEO of Revett Mining — gave him a tour of Revett’s Troy mine.

Shanahan shares Australian roots with his predecessor and the new CEO visited Sandfire’s high-grade DeGrussa copper-gold mine in Australia before taking the top role at Tintina. He said he came away impressed with the environmental focus at DeGrussa, where Sandfire has built the world’s largest off-grid solar plant at a mine. Sandfire owns 57% of Tintina after purchasing a 21% stake last year from George Soros’s Quantum Partners LP.

Shanahan says the visit to DeGrussa — the world’s second highest-grade copper deposit — reinforced his belief that Black Butte can be developed to exacting standards.

“This is a world-class deposit being developed in a world-class way,” he said. “It can be done and it can be done well.”

Tintina Resources

Price: 10.5 cents
Shares outstanding: 222.5 million

Market cap: $23.36 million
Cash: $4.8 million (as of March 31)

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