50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2018

Elevating Gold and Silver: Comstock Mining, Inc, a Nevada-based Company, Accelerates Growth with an Inimitable Approach


Our plans accelerate technological and commercial developments of environmentally-enhanced products and processes that maximize the sustained wealth from our northern Nevada-based properties: Corrado De Gasperis

Gold has always fascinated humans. Even before the beginning of recorded history, it has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal. Through the years it has served many needs, from jewelry and art, to more practical uses in medicine, dentistry, and electronics and most profoundly, as money and the discipline of monetary systems. In recent years, sustained concerns over systemic flaws in the global financial system increased the demand for gold and caused prices for the metal to soar, leading to many mining companies bolstering efforts in gold exploration.

Comstock Mining Inc. (NYSE: LODE) is a Nevada-based, gold and silver mining company with extensive, contiguous property in the World-class, Historic Comstock Lode District and has recently established itself as an innovative leader in sustainable, responsible mining.

The company began acquiring properties in the Comstock District in 2003. Since then, the company has consolidated an unprecedented and substantial portion of the District, amassed the single largest known repository of historical and current geological data on the region, secured permits, built an infrastructure, brought an exploration project into production, fully restored an open pit mine, realigned and constructed a new highway, removing legacy contamination all while enhancing the character of the Historic District, and receiving in both 2015, and 2017, the “Excellence in Reclamation Award” from a unanimous coalition of State and Federal regulators.

Corrado De Gasperis, Comstock’s Executive Chairman, President and CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Comstock was initially established as a junior gold and silver exploration mining company that embarked on one of the most ambitious acquisitions and consolidations of one of the largest, most prolific, historic, world-class mining districts in the United States (collectively, the Historic Comstock Lode District). The company not only consolidated the substantial majority of the known mineral claims, but extended the known mineralization to over 7.5 miles of strike, established millions of ounces of previously unknown gold and silver resources, and achieved production with an unprecedented and innovative approach toward the community, social responsibility and environmental practices.

Our definition of sustainability is a core belief that every and any transaction must create value and wealth for all stakeholders. Receiving the top reclamation excellence awards in two of the past three years is just a derivative of how we work and how we act, every single day. I believe this is how we have established ourselves as a leader in sustainable, responsible mining and now, coincidently, as a developer of clean technologies.

We are located within the western portion of Nevada, between Reno, the industrial capital for mining and mining technology and Carson City, the political and regulatory capital for Nevada mining. The company’s permitted footprint perfectly situates us for introducing, piloting and commercializing a series of yield-enhancing, non-toxic, zero-waste alternatives to conventional cyanide and heap leaching technologies.

What can you tell me about the company culture?

The most important part of our culture is the core belief that, in any action, transaction, interface or activity, we must create value for all parts and parties. This means that our people believe that we would never initiate an activity that would create value for us to the detriment of others. In other words, we would not act in a manner that created scarcity for one party to benefit the other. We do not believe in a zero sum scenario, where one must take from the other for profit. If our actions do not benefit the land, the community, the Company, the shareholders, and all others in a meaningful way, we would not engage in it. We do not believe that creating scarcity, in any scenario, is ever sustainable. In this regard, we think very systemically, understanding the network created by a Company, its trading partners, the community, the government and all that benefit from our actions.

By thinking systemically, we create a system and a culture based on interdependence and reliability. If we cannot define what we are doing with a specific process, roles and responsibilities then we don’t believe we ‘know what we are doing.’ By dismantling the hierarchy and working systemically, interdependently, knowledgably across the system, we empower our people with knowledge and responsibility but also the obligation for sharing and communicating. We subordinate to the system and its ‘Goal’, versus individuals, departments or titles. This creates a most open culture of sharing and collaborating and then extends the systems to our customers, suppliers, partners and community. These feedback channels create the opportunity for innovation that is now extending beyond our original vision for the company. The result is having one system, statistically monitored, moving daily, in its entirety and at a scheduled pace, like the beat of a drum, towards the same goal. That is how we define our one, quality system and the culture that surrounds it.

Do you have any new projects ready to be launched?

We have positioned one of the largest, mining, clean-technology and non-mining real-estate development platforms in one of the most economically explosive and incentivized regions in Nevada and, for that matter, anywhere in the United States. We have expanded our mining, commercial and industrial properties, with a leading water and entitlement position, all for profitable growth. We have also become a priority destination for renewable, clean technologies and are advancing multiple venture possibilities for commercializing new and existing solutions.

In conjunction with our ongoing evaluation of our mining properties, the company has been collaborating with a number of clean technology developers including Itronics Inc. (OTC:ITRO) and Clycladex Inc., a strategic investee (Cycladex).

Itronics has reported positive results from initial testing of its KAM-Thio, clean processing technology, on the company’s mineralized material. KAM-Thio leaching test results, performed at independent metallurgical labs, demonstrated that the residual silver, gold and base metals, can still be recovered from both previously leached material and new mineralized samples, creating a potentially efficient and environmentally attractive process. The metals were recovered while the new KAM-Thio residual solution was substantially regenerating during the extraction process, thereby reducing the net consumption of the materials, and creating a potentially compelling economic solution.

Test results also showed that the cyanide residual in the cyanide leached material was removed by the new leaching process, neutralizing the solution to drinking water standards. These results could dramatically reduce reclamation costs and associated bonding while adding the prospect of reuse of the material for mine reclamation purposes. All tests and results were performed with independent, metallurgical laboratories.

We now know that we can recover substantially all of the residual silver, gold and base metals while neutralizing the cyanide. The results are very positive and justify continued feasibility work for assessing process economics. If this technology can efficiently recover these materials, then it could become a substitute for the use of cyanide, and significantly change the permitting, reclamation and processing cost profile for these types of mining projects.

The company also recently conducted on-site, metallurgical column tests of both cyanide and non-cyanide solutions. These simulations were conducted in the company’s metallurgical labs, coordinated through Cycladex and funded by U.S. National Science Foundation grants. Cycladex yields exceeded expectations for both gold and silver and tracked exceptionally well against the cyanide parallel columns. Although still in the early stages, we are pleased with the Cycladex yields and speed and look forward to assessing the specific consumption and cost efficiency in the next few phases. Perhaps the most surprisingly positive outcome was that the Cycladex exceeded cyanide in these first tests for yields on silver, where we had very low starting expectations.

Corrado De Gasperis: A Brief Background

Corrado De Gasperis is the President, Executive Chairman, and CEO of Comstock Mining. He brings more than 30 years of experience in transformational, quality, systems-based management of innovative, industrial manufacturing, land development, construction and infrastructure, with financial, operational and project management, capital markets expertise and public company board governance.

Mr. De Gasperis was formerly the CEO of Barzel Industries Inc. Barzel operated a network of 15 steel-based manufacturing, processing and distribution facilities in the United States and Canada and prior to Barzel, was the CFO and one of the transformational leaders on a team that turned a mature, declining, insolvent, industrial company called UCAR Carbon Company Inc., into Graftech International a leader in graphite material science and new product innovations, who received global R&D 100 awards for the last five consecutive years of his tenure. Prior to Graftech, Mr. De Gasperis worked with KPMG, who announced his admittance into the firm, as Partner, in June 1998.

Mr. De Gasperis holds a BBA from the Ancell School of Business, Western Connecticut State University.

“We have positioned one of the largest, mining, clean-technology and non-mining real-estate development platforms in one of the most economically explosive and incentivized regions in Nevada and, for that matter, anywhere in the United States.”

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