Solaris latest highlight for Richard Warke’s Augusta Group

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When Richard Warke’s Augusta Group of Companies took a control position in Vancouver-based Solaris Resources Inc. (TSXV: SLS) in 2019, he had a hunch the decision would pay off.

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After all, the company’s flagship Warintza Project in south-east Ecuador, a David Lowell discovery from 2000, doesn’t come around that often.

Fast forward to July this year, when Solaris began trading its shares on the TSXV.

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One month later, the company announced results from its first-ever deep drill hole completed at the Warintza Project, sending the share price up 99% since its public listing. Another month later, Solaris again made significant progress on the project, releasing additional drill results intersecting long intervals of high-grade porphyry mineralization from surface and further extending the footprint.

Solaris’ growth to almost $400 million market cap in two months of being public isn’t the only example of success for Richard Warke and his Augusta Group. Founded by Warke in 2005, Augusta Group has had an unrivaled track record of value creation, one that totals over $4.5B in exit transactions alone, over the last decade.

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First, it was Ventana Gold Corp., which sold for C$1.6B in 2011, representing a 12,960% return for early shareholders. Then, only three years later, Augusta Resource Corp. was sold for C$667M in 2014, representing a 3,300% return.

In 2018, most impressive of all, Arizona Mining Inc. sold for C$2.1B, representing a 6,100% return. Very few, if any, companies have returned more money to investors in junior mining over the past decade. Augusta Group also co-founded Equinox Gold Corp. (EQX-T), currently valued at over $C4.0B, representing a 1,700% return to investors.

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Part of the equation of acquiring undervalued companies, then increasing their value, is knowing when to sell the company in the best interest of both the company overall and its shareholders. Augusta Group’s specialization is surfacing value through award-winning exploration efforts and rapidly advancing projects with consistent access to low-cost capital through exploration, feasibility, and permitting to point of sale or into production.

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While selling Arizona Mining was unforeseen, it was in line with another one of Warke’s habits: placing a priority on winning returns for investors. By making the decision to sell in a tough environment, he was able to guarantee a profit for all stakeholders involved.

Titan Mining Corp.

In addition to Solaris and his other Augusta companies, Warke has been focused on growing Titan Mining Corp. (TSX-TI), which produces zinc concentrate at its wholly-owned Empire State Mine in New York.

Titan Mining recently signed an option agreement to acquire the Mineral Ridge gold property in Esmeralda County, Nevada, which is drill-ready, fully permitted and hosts a current known gold resource of 350koz.

“Similar to Empire State Mine, Mineral Ridge is another U.S. asset with promise. What we see in Nevada is a property with widespread, high grade mineralization that has never been adequately funded and has never seen a comprehensive exploration program beyond small scale mining,” Warke explained.

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Titan Mining’s strategy is to build long-term value, starting with leveraging its experienced management and board to attract top talent throughout the organization and to develop high-quality assets in North America.

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“We believe that growing our portfolio of projects is the best way to build substantial value for our shareholders,” added Warke.

The Mineral Ridge deal is another value-creating transaction in a long line of projects led by Warke.

Bullfrog Gold Corp.

Last month, Warke announced he will be investing C$22M in Bullfrog Gold Corp. (BFG:CSE), which entered into a binding agreement with Barrick Gold Corp. to acquire rights to 1,500 acres adjoining the Bullfrog Gold Deposit in Nevada.

As part of the agreement and to strengthen its board and leadership team, Augusta Group will assume management of Bullfrog Gold Corp., announcing the appointment of Maryse Belanger as CEO.

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Belanger was president, COO, and director of Atlantic Gold, where she helped take the Touquoy Mine through to full production before selling it to St. Barbara Limited for C$800M.

On the partnership with Barrick Gold, Warke comments: “It’s a very exciting time for us and we’re looking forward to partnering with Barrick in this historic mining camp. Bullfrog management has identified a substantial resource, and along with our capital and expertise that our CEO, Maryse Belanger, brings to the company, we see a lot of opportunities ahead for Bullfrog and its shareholders.”

Barrick President and CEO, Mark Bristow, has added, “This is potentially another value-creating transaction which, once completed will consolidate assets to create an exciting new mining project, led by a skilled team and with strong financial backing.”

If there is one thing that can be said about Warke, it is that he has proven, time and time again, that he is exceptional at creating value. One may say that he has ‘tipped the scales of the mining industry’ and will continue to do so as he finds and develops new mineral deposits in the future.

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