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 polymetallic massive sulphide project, 60 km outside of Bathurst, N.B., with hopes of completing a preliminary economic assessment by April 2013.
In September, El Nino and private Brazilian partner Votorantim Metals Canada earned a 70% interest in Murray Brook from private company Murray Brook Minerals. Votorantim had acquired the right to earn an extra 30% of the project in August, and offered El Nino an option to extend the partnership to a fifty-fifty ownership split.
“It has 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 says, adding that the joint-venture partners met the $5.5-million exploration requirement in about 18 months. “Our important milestones this year involve completing the maiden resource. We’re also developing new drill targets with geophysics at the Camel Back exploration property and started up our first round of metallurgical work. This is all leading to a preliminary economic assessment we’re aiming for by 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 contained lb. zinc; 0.95% lead for 391.2 million contained lb. lead; 0.42% copper for 173 million lb. copper; 39.3 grams silver per tonne for 26.61 million oz. silver; and 0.51 gram gold per tonne for 300,000 oz. 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 says 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 to expand 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 of bore-hole electromagnetic surveys in 2012.
El Nino announced results from nine holes on Aug. 28, including targets to test the southwest boundary of the Western zone and 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 more 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 year-end, putting the deposit on track 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 downhole.
On Nov. 16, El Nino issued 33.3 million shares during a private placement that raised $1.4 million. The capital will help the company meet its funding requirements as Murray Brook’s 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 press time, and maintained 59 million shares outstanding for a $3.8-million market capitalization.
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