São Paulo – Syria’s Basel Ibrahim Al Jughami (pictured above) arrived in Brazil in 2014, where he founded Trilha Gold Capital. With the mining company, Al Jughami intends to develop a work based in social and environmental sustainability. The group features 10 companies, including Instituto Trilha, which, the businessman explains, will coordinate social projects.
Trilha Gold Capital currently consists of ten mining companies and consulting firms focused on geology, geophysics, drilling, and reserve calculation. To move forward with the expansion, the brand bets on acquiring projects in advanced stages of development, study revalidation, and gold and precious metal mining in the North and Northeast Brazil.
But the company, which aims to become a world leader in gold and precious metal mining, still has a long way to go and wants the help of foreign investors to get there. In the case of international funds, the group is focused on the Middle East. In the process to get the Brazilian citizenship, Al Jughami wants to show a positive image of Brazil to foreign investors.
“Some investors are afraid [of investing in Brazil] as I once was. When I got here, I found a different reality, though, so I recommend any Arab investor to invest in Brazil. Not only in mining. I’d like to show them that Brazil is one of the best countries in the world, one of the only ones where I didn’t feel like a foreigner,” finished the businessman.
From Syria to Brazil
Coming from a farming family in South Syria, Al Jughami left the region when he was only 13. From there, he moved to Jordan, where he worked in projects in Turkey and Russia, selling goods such as iron and oil. “I used to work in trade, but I was very close to the mining industry, so I’m very familiar with the sector,” he said.
A Jordanian friend advised him to come to Brazil. In 2014, the Syrian arrived in the country and saw the mining industry as an opportunity to start his own business. “I realized there were many opportunities in Brazil, but there’s still a deep-rooted idea of a mining with no regard to the environment or social issues, and I want to change that. Trilha Gold is a Brazilian company that aims to produce, and not only certificate and sell the mine. We want to create jobs, distribute income and carry out social projects,” he said.
Before starting the company, Al Jughami said he spent many years carrying out studies and planning. He traveled to different regions in the country to get a better understanding of the industry and how to improve it. “I went to Amazonas and took many trips by car, too,” he reminisces.
The first step to bring the plan into existence was gathering preexisting surveys. “There were many surveys carried out by foreigners that mapped out the [mining] potential and then left to countries such as Canada,” explains the group founder. He says many study owners acquired the mining rights but didn’t have the means to carry them out, and he saw an opportunity there to acquire the assets.
With the studies in hands, the Syrian moved on to find professionals that could point out the ideal mining process for each mine and open doors for new projects. One of them is engineer Djalma Cordeiro Menezes, whom he met in 2017 and is now Trilha Gold technical director. “This was one of the most relevant aspects the technical staff delivered, as they were in contact with business owners that could be our partners,” said the Syrian, who now has partnerships established with organizations such as the Institute of Geosciences of the Federal University of Bahia.
Then in 2020, the businessman started organizing the group’s administrative structure, founding 10 companies at once. By now the investment in Trilha revolves around BRL 27 million [USD 5 million]. The amount, according to the group’s Corporate Governance president, came from Basel himself, some angel investors, and bank financing.
Social and environmental sustainability
According to the company founder, besides developing an Environmental Management Program and operating with clean energy sources, Trilha won’t have tailings dams. Instead, the group will have a filter press, which enables dry stacking of tailings. “The system is self-contained, and the mines don’t feature a dam, as the filter press takes the tailings to a vat where the water is recycled,” explained Menezes.
As for the social return activities, the company will focus on the Instituto Trilha. Founded in late 2020, the initiative aims at investing in education through scholarships, preparatory courses and remedial education.
The group’s first project, which is carried out by the group’s company Trilha Gold Serrita, is Cedro Mineração in Pernambuco. According to the company, the project is at an advanced stage of development for research and gold mining.
According to the Al Jughami, around USD 2 million will be invested in this phase of the project and other USD 3 million in the pilot plant. The gold mining will start only after the new studies are finished at an experimental plant. Serrita project is expected to create over 300 direct jobs when it starts operating. The founder says the group owns four other projects in Tapajós in North Brazil. According to Trilha Gold, the potential of these other plants revolves around 3 million ounces of gold and a USD 5 billion return at the current gold price.
Translated by Guilherme Miranda