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 are advancing 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 outlined 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 produced around 3.7 million oz. 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), which has amassed an impressive 1,100 sq. km land package across its West Omai tenements. But the crux of Azimuth’s success so far lies in its centralized Smarts and Hicks deposits, where the company is delineating 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 continuous mineralization underneath a partial sand cover at Hicks and Smarts, and semi-continuous gold mineralization along a 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 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 high-grade intercepts announced at its Larken target, which lies less than 1 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 7 and 5 metres of 2.5 grams gold from 91 metres depth in hole 9. 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 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 also had success during geochemical soil sampling, which has identified a 2 by 4 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 keep yielding gold ounces. Eagle Mountain is aiming to produce between 35,000 and 45,000 oz. 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-Sulphur 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. Results from the 120-hole program are anticipated in late March.
Lying just 60 km 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 4 km of east to 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 km east of port city of Bartica, which would 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 infill and step-out programs in anticipation of its economic study.
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