VANCOUVER — It has been a busy year for Vancouver-based El Nino Ventures (ELN-V). The company released results from a US$3-million, 18,500-metre drill program on its Murray Brook pollymetallic massive sulphide project 60 km outside of Bathurst, N.B., in hopes of completing a preliminary economic assessment by April 2013.
On Sept. 6, El Nino and private Brazilian partner Votorantim Metals Canada announced the successful earn-in of a 70% interest in Murray Brook from private company Murray Brook Minerals. Votorantim had acquired the right to earn the additional 30% in the project in August, and offered El Nino an option to extend the partnership to a full 50-50 ownership split.
"It has really been our focus over the past nineteen months. We’ve looked at both the Murray Brook mining leases and nearby exploration package," director and CEO Harry Barr states, explaining the joint-venture partners met the $5.5 million exploration requirement in roughly 18 months. "Our important milestones this year involve completing the maiden resource. We're developing new drill targets with geophysics at the Camel Back exploration property, we started up our first round of metallurgical work, and this is all leading to a preliminary economic assessment we're aiming next year.”
In February, El Nino announced Murray Brook's maiden resource estimate, which includes 18.7 million measured-and-indicated tonnes grading 2.61% zinc for 1.07 billion pounds of contained zinc, 0.95% lead for 391.2 million pounds of contained lead, 0.42% copper for 172.96 million pounds copper, 39.3 grams silver per tonne for 26.61 million ounces of silver and 0.51 gram gold per tonne for 300,000 ounces of gold at a $20 per tonne net smelter return cut-off.
The project hosts an additional 3 million inferred tonnes grading 1.83% zinc, 0.75% lead, 0.62% copper, 35 grams silver and 0.75 gram gold.
Barr explains that the follow-up $3-million exploration program was split into two parts. The first was a $2.5 million drill program aimed at upgrading Murray Brook's resource estimate heading into the economic assessment, while the second was a $500,000 target generation platform geared towards expanding exploration upside on the greater land package.
The Camel Back property is bordered by the Murray Brook deposit to the west, and Trevali Mining's (TV-T) recently-acquired Caribou mine and mill to the east. Camel Back was the target of ground geophysics, as well as 2,000 metres worth of bore-hole electromagnetic surveys in 2012.
El Nino announced results from nine holes on Aug. 28, including targets designed to test the southwest boundary of the Western zone, as well as delineate the northeast boundary of the Eastern zone.
Highlights from the Western zone include: 112 metres grading 0.1% copper, 1.92% lead, 6.15% zinc, 0.64 gram gold per tonne, and 70.6 grams silver per tonne from 89 metres depth in hole 2012-132; and 33 metres carrying 0.93% copper, 0.03% lead, 0.08% zinc, 0.07 gram gold, and 8.9 grams silver from 183 metres depth in hole 2012-133.
The Eastern zone was highlighted by 18.4 metres averaging 0.41% copper, 1.54% lead, 3.21% zinc, 1.16 grams gold, and 61.9 grams silver from 139 metres depth in hole 2012-134.
On Oct. 2, El Nino released further results from its delineation program, and announced it intended to publish an updated resource estimate on Murray Brook by the fourth quarter. The company also indicated it should have metallurgical test results completed by the end of the year, putting the deposit on pace to hit preliminary economic status in 2013.
The second round of results featured Hole 2012-144, which was collared on the northeastern side of the Eastern zone and cut 11.6 metres of 2.82% zinc, 0.65% copper, 1.78% lead, 1.57 grams gold and 63.9 grams silver from 147 metres down hole.
On Nov. 16, El Nino issued 33.3 million shares during a private placement that raised $1.4 million. The capital will assist the company in meeting its portion of the funding requirements as Murray Brooks economic study moves forward. El Nino has traded within a 52-week range of 6¢ and 18¢.
The company closed near 52-week lows at 6.5¢ at the time of writing, and maintained 59 million shares outstanding for a $3.8 million market capitalization.
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