VANCOUVER — Though the last commercial-scale gold mining operation in the small Caribbean nation of Guyana closed its doors in 2005, the country's intriguing geology and artisanal mining history continue to beckon Toronto-listed explorers intent on discovering a major gold trend.
Along with Toronto-based Guyana Goldfields (GUY-T), which is looking like it will be first on the production line with its revitalized Aurora mine plan, there are a number of earlier-stage explorers active across Guyana that continue to advance promising projects, which range from new multi-million ounce gold discoveries to greenfield endeavours and historic brownfield sites.
And tracking progress along the Guiana Shield greenstone belt — from the Cuyuni belt in the north to the Mazaruni mining district in the south — a number of small-cap companies have started outlining some intriguing projects that underline just how much gold Guyana may have left to discover.
Located roughly 180 km by road from Georgetown — Guyana’s capital city — is the historic Omai mining district, where Cambior Resources produced around 3.7 million ounces of gold over a 13-year period that ended in 2005. It is here that a number of juniors are looking to kick-start a production renaissance in the country.
Topping the list from an ounces point of view is Australian-based outfit Azimuth Resources (AZH-T, AZH-A), which has managed to amass an impressive 1,100-sq.km land package across its West Omai tenements. The crux of Azimuth's success so far, however, lie in its centralized Smarts and Hicks deposits where the company continues to delineate a near-surface inferred gold resource. Both deposits are hosted in Proterozoic greenstone belts associated with major northwest trending sub-vertical to steeply southwest-to-northeast dipping shear zones.
Azimuth's drilling has uncovered the continuation of mineralization underneath partial sand cover at Hicks and Smarts, and semi-continuous gold mineralization has been identified along shear zone with individual shears averaging 15 metres in width. Weathered material reportedly occurs to an average depth of 35 metres and the mineralization is open at depth below oxide material, as well as along strike.
In early February Azimuth announced a 35% increase in its gold resources across Smarts and Hicks, which now total 16.7 million inferred tonnes grading 3.06 grams gold per tonne for 1.65 million contained oz. at a 1 gram gold cut-off. Resources at Smarts boast an even higher grade with 8.1 million tonnes averaging 4.15 grams gold.
Azimuth's exploration success continues in 2013 with the announcement of high-grade intercepts at its Larken target, which lies less than one km northeast of Hicks. On Jan. 10 the company released initial assays from a reverse-circulation program at Larken that cut 12 metres grading 4.8 grams gold from 25 metres depth in hole LRC007, and 5 metres of 2.5 grams gold from 91 metres depth in hole LRC009. West Omai boasts a number of other drill-ready targets including the Eldorado, Goldstar, and Kaburi prospects.
Azimuth has already undertaken preliminary plant and infrastructure studies, which model a US$165 million development with gravity and carbon-in-leach circuits that would average 1.5 million tonnes in throughput annually.
Closing in on its inaugural drill program is Vancouver-based Tajiri Resources (TAJ-V), which holds a 26-sq.km piece of greenfield property right in the midst of Azimuth's land package. Tajiri's wholly-owned Kaburi PL project sits where the Aurora-Gem Creek and Kaburi-Omai-Hicks corridors intersect, and the company has been generating some promising numbers during surface sampling.
Tajiri collected 158 panel samples during its 2012 field campaign, with hard-rock values peaking at 15.3 grams gold and carrying an average grade of 0.51 gram gold. Much like Azimuth, Tajiri's project has an alluvial mining pedigree and hosts a number of historic artisanal pits.
The company has had additional success during soil geochemical sampling, which has resulted in the identification of a two-km by four-km anomaly labelled Seer, with values peaking at 2.66 grams gold in soils. Tajiri is reportedly aiming to start up a 3,000-metre drill program by the end of March.
Eagle Mountain Gold (Z-V) is advancing its development-stage Eagle Mountain gold project towards production in the Omai district. Eagle Mountain boasts some strong backing — with producer Iamgold (IMG-T, IAG-N) holding roughly 15% in the company — and has spent US$16 million at its wholly-owned Eagle Mountain project to date.
In late November the company updated its resource across its Zion and Kilroy zones, which host 3.9 million indicated tonnes grading 1.49 grams gold for 188,000 contained oz., and an additional 20.6 million inferred tonnes averaging 1.19 grams gold for 792,000 contained oz. Most known gold mineralization at Eagle Mountain is associated with low-angle thrust shear zones within granitoid rocks. Thrust characteristics show a gradational progression from Zion in the northeast to Kilroy in the southwest.
Eagle Mountain's resource sits on 2.5-sq.km of a larger 50-sq.km land package, which the company hopes will continue to yield gold ounces. Eagle Mountain is aiming to produce between 35,000 and 45,000 oz. of gold per year by the end of 2014, and has a preliminary economic assessment on the project scheduled for release during the second quarter.
Meanwhile in northern Guyana, closer to Georgetown, exploration continues around the Toroparu-Aurora-Sulfur Rose gold trend, which already hosts Guyana Goldfields' Aurora deposit and Sandspring Resources’ (SSP-V) advanced-stage Toroparu gold project.
Vancouver-based Canamex Resources (CSQ-V) is busy completing a power-auger drilling campaign on two gold-in-soil anomalies identified during surface sampling at its Aranka North gold project. The 120-hole program is expected to wrap up by the end of February, with results anticipated in late March.
Lying just 60km southwest of Georgetown is Gold Port Resources' (GPO-V) Groete gold-copper project, which was the target of 5,100 metres of drilling by Coeur d’ Alene Mines (CDM-T, CDE-N) during the 1990s.
Groete is a 90-sq.km land package that hosts a defined gold-copper zone over four km of east-west strike. Due to the presence of historic drill results Gold Port was able to release its maiden resource at Groete after 1,400 metres of drilling in 2012.
In late January the company announced the project held an in-pit resource totalling 75 million inferred tonnes grading 0.66 gram gold equivalent for 1.59 million contained oz. Though the deposit is lower in grade it lies 30 kilometers east of port City of Bartica, which should offer transportation opportunities.
Gold Port raised $900,000 in January, and aims to start work on its PEA later this year. The company owns two drill rigs in Guyana, and plans on continuing its in-fill and step-out programs in anticipation of its economic study.
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