In southeastern Arizona, a mining success story is unfolding — and its author is Mark Morabito, founder and Chairman of Intrepid Metals Corp. From his base in Vancouver, Canada, Morabito specializes in identifying, funding, developing and managing business opportunities within and beyond the mining sector.
Mark Morabito is also known as the founder and CEO of King & Bay West, a Canadian merchant bank and technical services company. Over the course of his career, he has raised over a billion dollars for ventures and companies across multiple industries.
Morabito’s instincts have led him to Arizona’s Cochise County, where he is coordinating an advanced exploration and development project in an area that has yielded over 8 billion pounds of copper to date. There, Morabito’s team secured land and mineral rights to nearly 9,000 prime acres, including 1,725 acres of patented mining claims and surface rights ownership.
Recently, Mark Morabito sat down to provide an update on his Corral Copper project, as well as some intriguing insights into the strategies, philosophies, and perspectives that underlie his mining industry achievements.
Q: In interviews, you’ve often said, “It’s not about the risk — it’s about the opportunity.” That perspective seems especially relevant to your latest venture, exploring precious metals in Arizona. Is it business for you or adventure?
Mark Morabito: This business is very tough. Roughly 1 in 3000 exploration projects ever become a mine, and even fewer become a real positive cash-flowing asset. Exploration firms are the intrepid sleuths of the resource business. They raise money and explore resource deposits. You’ll often find them in jungles, deserts (like where I am), and arctic tundra. Both by necessity and definition, the enterprise of mine finding is both a business and an adventure.
I was Chairman of another company located in Cochise County for ten years, and we were successful in identifying a large deposit and, of equal importance, getting both federal and state permits to operate a mine. The most beautiful mineral-rich rocks in the world aren’t any good if you are located where getting a permit is going to be difficult or impossible.
Q: Arizona does seem like a place for adventure. What has your experience been like?
Mark Morabito: There is so much mining and exploration history in the region. We are part of a long historical chain, generations of explorers who have sought to extract resources from the land or, in some cases, completely missed the opportunity.
For example, an 1870s gold prospector, the first North American to find copper in the region, overlooked its potential due to his gold obsession, abandoning the “copper-stained rock” rich land.
The late 19th century was an eventful time in this territory. In the early 1900s, Phelps Dodge established a copper smelting facility in nearby Douglas, providing new opportunities. North America’s electrification then boosted copper demand and was a catalyst for the further development of the region.
A lot of discoveries had already been made, but the land kept many secrets, even to this day. In 2023, it’s still possible to find opportunities there and to be a pioneer.
Q: That does raise an interesting question, which you’ve answered in part; the question of why so much of the land is still unexplored and undeveloped. Are there other factors involved?
Mark Morabito: In the area where we are currently engaged in surveying and exploratory operations, a major barrier to resource development has been the diversity of property ownership and a variety of commercial land disputes. Traditionally, many resource companies haven’t wanted to deal with this because the issues are complex, and the financial rewards aren’t going to show up in the next quarter or even next year.
At Intrepid, we’ve taken the time to understand the history of these conflicts and the interests of the landowners. We’ve put together a team with deep local roots, which has built trust among key stakeholders. The most recent result has been the acquisition of key tracts from two of the largest property holders. Now landowners are casting their lot with Intrepid, positioning our company as the consolidator of property on a regional scale, as opposed to the pizza pie it looked like for decades.
Q: What is your relationship like with other mining companies with active operations in the area?
Mark Morabito: Anglo American conducted extensive geological mapping of the area beginning in 2016, and we have a constructive relationship with them. On a regional scale, there exists a plethora of historical drill results which confirmed the existence of both carbonate replacement deposits and porphyry copper targets, but the companies involved in the drilling never moved on to the extraction stage. Once again, the reason was the fractured ownership and history of commercial conflict among property owners.
We offered to take up that challenge, and in return for their data package, Anglo American retains a right of first refusal on the part of the land. The ownership stake is triggered if we drill over 300 meters of 1.2 percent copper. It’s a win-win alliance that is moving the project forward to an advanced exploration stage.
There is a lesson here that is at odds with the history of the region, or at least the way it has often been portrayed. Success is a team effort — a coming together of stakeholders in the community and within the industry. And that’s fortunate because coordinating and promoting cooperation is something we’re really good at.
Read More: https://insightssuccess.com/