Frugal Innovation: Exploration to Production...Now Royalties
In 2008, Ian Ball, then 26, was given US$3 million by Rob McEwen to make the next discovery in Mexico. Not being a geologist, but having been taught by Rob to continually question the fundamental assumptions of a business, Ian used low cost innovations to increase the probability of a discovery, while reducing the costs/risks associated with exploration. Within 10 months, the first drill hole intersected the El Gallo II discovery, forecasted to become one of the 15 largest primary silver mines in the world.
After the discovery was brought through feasibility and its construction permits were approved, Ian was asked to rebuild the El Gallo I gold mine that had previously been shut down twice. Looking again to low cost innovations, Ian led the team that rebuilt the mine for US$13.5 million and solved the issues experienced by the previous operators. Last quarter, El Gallo I produced 17,325 ounces of gold at a cash cost of US$351 per ounce and AISC of $546 per ounce.
In 2014, Ian left McEwen Mining and became president and CEO of Abitibi Royalties where the push for low cost innovation has continued through the “Abitibi Royalty Search”. The Abitibi Royalty Search is an online platform designed to help exploration companies and prospectors keep their projects in good standing, while generating royalty interests for Abitibi Royalties on properties with good geology and located near an operating mine.