After forty years in the business Norman Brewster knows a thing or two about developing mining projects.
As one of the founders of Iberian Minerals (IZN-V), he successfully brought Aguas Tenidas into production. The polymetalic mine in southwestern Spain, about 110 km northwest of Seville, currently operates at a rate of about 2.2 million tonnes a year, producing copper, zinc, and lead concentrates that also contain gold and silver. Iberian bought the mine out of bankruptcy proceedings and Brewster remains the company's non-executive chairman.
Today you'll find Brewster promoting his latest company -- Cadillac Ventures (CDC-V) -- a junior explorer with one project in Spain and a second in Ontario and counts heavyweight metals trader Trafigura as its largest shareholder with 25% of the company and three board seats.
Trafigura is the world's third-largest independent oil trader and second-largest independent trader in the non-ferrous concentrates market. The private company has access to an estimated US$24 billion in credit facilities and has investments in industrial assets around the world valued at more than US$1.9 billion.
It was contacts through Trafigura that helped Iberian Minerals get the Aguas Tenidas mine up and running and Brewster expects big things from its shareholder on Cadillac's projects, too. "This industry giant is a strong and supportive shareholder who will support a production decision at either of Cadillac's non-ferrous projects and has the right, consistently exercised, to maintain their position in subsequent financings, if any," he says.
Cadillac's flagship project is Thierry -- a property that spans about 5,600 hectares in the Pickle Lake area of northwestern Ontario. Mining of the Thierry deposit started from two open pits in October 1976 but moved underground in 1978.
Between 1976 and 1982, Belgium-based Union Miniere Explorations and Mining Corporation (UMEX) mined and processed 5.8 million tons of ore at Thierry producing 480.1 million pounds of copper, making it one of the major copper producers in Canada.
In 1981, UMEX recognized the value of nickel and other elements that occurred in the ore body and revised the mill recovery process to recover it. The change resulted in the production of 15.2 million pounds of nickel and recovery of 17,500 ounces of platinum; 47,000 ounces of palladium; and 17,000 ounces of gold. UMEX temporarily closed the mine in 1982 due to declining copper prices.
"When UMEX left they felt they had about 17 million tonnes remaining there," Brewster says. "Hudbay looked at it in the 1980s...but there was not a lot of push to develop this property.
Since acquiring Thierry, Cadillac has concentrated on adding to the resource in the immediate area of the mine by drilling a gap in the NI 43-101 deposit model referred to as "the tooth," which management has internally calculated contains about six million tonnes of material. The final of six holes is currently underway. In addition, drilling along strike to both the east and west has intersected mineralization outside of the NI 43-101 model, the company says.
The Thierry project currently has measured and indicated resources of 6.2 million tonnes at a grade of 1.92% copper, 0.2% nickel, 7.3 grams silver per tonne, 0.14 gram gold, 0.14 gram platinum and 0.41 palladium. Inferred resources add 8.4 million tonnes at a grade of 1.79% copper, 0.16% nickel, 9.6 grams silver, 0.18 gram gold, 0.12 gram platinum and 0.35 gram palladium.
Cadillac plans to update those figures this summer with the results of more drilling.
In the meantime, other exploration targets on the property look very exciting, Brewster says, particularly the K1-1 deposit, about three kilometres east of the historic Thierry mine shaft. Three holes drilled into the shallow K1-1 deposit have returned intercepts including 582 feet of 0.39% copper in hole K-11-03; 130 feet of 0.35% copper in hole K-11-02; and 173.5 feet of 0.27% copper in hole K-11-01.
Brewster notes that the results from K-1-1 demonstrate "exciting potential as a large tonnage, low-grade shallow copper occurrence on the Thierry property."
"This mineralization, when added to the known resource at Thierry, has implications for the Thierry project which cannot be ignored."
Now the company is focusing on defining a National Instrument 43-101 resource estimate for the K1-1 deposit.
In addition to the Thierry project in Ontario, Cadillac is earning a 90% stake in a joint venture in Spain with Minas de Aguas Tenidas, S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Iberian Minerals.
The joint venture holds 14 investigation permits, one of which, Chaparrita, is just 24 km east of Iberian's Aguas Tenidas mine.
Chaparrita was mined intermittently between 1855 and 1909 and according to historical records about 70,000 tonnes of material was mined there grading between 2% and 12% copper.
Positive drill results by Cadillac at Chaparrita include 18.10 metres of 1.5% copper and 2.57% zinc including 9.6 metres of 2.27% copper and 3.66% zinc and Cadillac is working on a compliant resource estimate.
At a second permit, called the Esperanza target, Cadillac has found a sizeable gold gossan formation on the surface, not far from open pits and cuts left from previous miners.
Brewster says he wants to deliver two million tonnes of 2% copper to the mill at the Agus Tenidas mine. "Spain represents positive cash flow for us," he says.
At press time in Toronto Cadillac was trading at 18¢ per share and over the last year has traded in a range of 13¢ and 34¢. The company has about 107 million shares outstanding and a market capitalization of about $20.3 million.
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