MNN Awards: Mason leads Eagle Mountain's rapid rise

COPPER explorer Eagle Mountain Mining was one of the standout performers of the 2021 financial year.
MNN Awards: Mason leads Eagle Mountain's rapid rise MNN Awards: Mason leads Eagle Mountain's rapid rise MNN Awards: Mason leads Eagle Mountain's rapid rise MNN Awards: Mason leads Eagle Mountain's rapid rise MNN Awards: Mason leads Eagle Mountain's rapid rise

Tim Mason

Eagle Mountain was listed in 2018 by resources entrepreneur Charles Bass, but the game-changer for the company was the acquisition of the Oracle Ridge project in late 2019.

After meeting Bass for coffee and learning about the project, Tim Mason came on as CEO in January 2020.

He told MNN he'd been working in operations and business development for Panoramic Resources, but was ready to take the next step in his career.

Mason managed to make two trips to the US to visit the project, but just two months into his new role, Australia went into lockdown due to COVID-19.

"I guess being in nickel for 10 years, I was used to ups and downs," he said.

Still, the pandemic thwarted the company's capital raising plans and it went into survival mode.

The board took no fees and everyone else took pay cuts.

"When we took pay cuts, it was a bit of a watershed moment as it brought us all closer together," Mason said.

The slowdown forced the company to cut its US team from four to two, which was regrettable.

However, the US was offering loans that, if used on salaries, did not have to be paid back.

The program allowed the company to bolster its local team back to eight.

"We hired six people in a week!" Mason said.

"It really gave us a kick-start."

While the company wasn't able to drill at that stage due to COVID, over the next two months the enlarged team doubled the landholding and generated new targets.

Once Eagle Mountain was able to start drilling, the momentum really started to build.

Eagle Mountain reported a maiden indicated and inferred resource of 12.2 million tonnes at 1.51% copper, 16.3 grams per tonne silver and 0.19gpt gold for 184,000t of copper, 6.38 million ounces of silver and 73,000oz of gold, using a 1% copper cut-off.

The company is regularly hitting high-grade copper outside the resource.

"It's incredible - 90% of the holes outside the resource have hit mineralisation," Mason said.

The strong results have allowed the company to conduct three capital raisings throughout the year - the last one of A$11 million at no discount.

Eagle Mountain is planning to ramp up from two rigs to five rigs this year.

Mason believes the skarn-hosted mineralisation at Oracle Ridge is just the "tip of the iceberg".

"The major feeder system has never been discovered," he said.

"That's a real opportunity."

The company now has a team of 20 in the US, or 40 including contractors.

Former Asarco president Manuel Ramos was recently appointed as CEO of US operations, which Mason said was a real coup for the company.

The company has also engaged world-renowned skarn geologist Dr Larry Meinart to assist with exploration.

Mason said the US-based team had been outstanding, enduring Arizona's severe COVID-19 outbreak, wildfires, which impacted drilling for a month, and even being snowed in.

"The US guys have really stepped up," he said.

"The share price is up more than 500%.

"If you get the team right and the culture right in the team, that's the most important thing."

Mason describes himself as a very "transparent" leader.

"Within reason, I tell people everything," he said, adding that context empowered people to make better decisions.

Bass, who is Eagle Mountain's major shareholder and its managing director, has been a mentor to Mason.

Mason describes Bass as a "humble and confident leader".

"He's a big support of me and the team - he lets us have a bit of a go," he said.

Mason also counts former Panoramic boss Peter Harold and former chief operating officer Terry Strong as mentors.

"I still reach out to them to provide wise counsel," he said.

The two tapped Mason to be general manager of the Lanfranchi nickel mine.

"I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity - they really took me under their wings," he said.

Mason was essentially brought in to close the mine, given it had only six months of remaining life.

The changing of the mine plan, combined with a strong team culture, extended the life for another three years.

He's also grateful for the Lanfranchi experience, as that's where he met his wife Vanessa. They now have two young children, which keeps them busy.

Mason is clearly passionate about innovation and emissions reduction, and as a side project is developing a hybrid, autonomous truck for the mining sector.

He has a vision of eventually developing Oracle Ridge as a low-emission - possibly even zero emission - copper mine.

Mason has a degree in geotechnical engineering from RMIT in Melbourne, and started his career doing fly-in, fly-out, working for 3.5 years at Newmont's Granites mine in the Northern Territory.

He moved to Perth 12 years ago and has an MBA from Murdoch University.

Eagle Mountain Mining CEO Tim Mason is a nominee for New and/or Emerging Leader of the Year in the 2021 MNN Awards.