Canadian explorer Solaris Resources (TSX: SLS; US-OTC: SLSSF) has made a significant new discovery at its 100%-owned flagship Warintza copper-gold project in southeastern Ecuador, about 100 km south of the city of Macas.
The discovery was made by the first drill hole of initial drilling at the Warintza South target. The discovery hole, SLSS-01, intersected 755 metres grading 0.28% copper, 0.02% molybdenum, and 0.02 gram gold per tonne (0.36% copper-equivalent) from surface, including 606 metres of 0.32% copper, 0.02% molybdenum, and 0.02 gram gold (0.41% copper-equivalent).
“It was very exciting to make such a significant new discovery especially with the first hole ever drilled on the target intersecting a long interval of porphyry copper mineralisation that starts right at surface,” says Solaris’ president and CEO Daniel Earle.
“This is the third major discovery on the property made outside the Warintza Central deposit in less than a year, with further targets of the same signature still to be tested. The Warintza South discovery further demonstrates the potential of the project to host a substantial open-pit mineral endowment in a demonstrably low capital and operating cost mining district, and could establish Warintza as one of the best undeveloped copper projects globally.”
Mineralisation at the property occurs over a seven km by five km cluster of copper porphyries that include Warintza Central; Warintza South, three km to the south of Warintza Central; Warintza East, discovered in July 2021, about 1.3 km to the east; and Warintza West, discovered in February 2021, one km to the west.
Earle said that the discovery at Warintza South followed a geophysical survey of the area that returned a high conductivity anomaly over twice the size of that identified at Warintza Central and showed a porphyry system with dimensions of about 2.5 km by 2 km by 0.7 km.
Solaris conducted additional detailed mapping and sampling of Warintza South, including 265 soil and 131 rock samples, which “expanded the geochemical signature of the target and better aligned it with the geophysics while also shifting its core to the northwest,” Earle said.
“The interpretation of drilling data together with the results from recent mapping and more detailed sampling programs provide important vectors for follow-up drilling once additional access and drill platforms are established at Warintza South.”
The 268-sq.-km Warintza project lies along a mineral belt that also hosts the Mirador copper and gold mine, about 40 km to the south. Operated by Ecuacorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan, Mirador is one of the world’s lowest-cost copper operations and the largest mine in Ecuador and is expected to produce 94,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year.
“Warintza also benefits from its proximity to a national highway that connects it to Pacific ports, has access to clean and inexpensive hydroelectric power, and lies at a low-elevation with an abundant supply of freshwater,” Earle said.
A 2019 mineral resource estimate for Warintza Central estimated 123.8 million inferred tonnes grading 0.56% copper, 0.03% molybdenum, and 0.06 gram gold per tonne (0.7% copper-equivalent) for 1.5 billion lb. contained copper, 77.5 million lb. molybdenum, and 238,600 oz. gold. The estimate was based on about 7,000 metres of historical drilling to an average depth of about 200 metres.
Solaris plans to release an updated mineral resource estimate for Warintza Central in the first quarter of 2022, which says Earle “will include drill results from over 12 months of intensive drilling on the deposit.”
He said the drilling is expected “to expand the resources to exceed the threshold for a world class open-pit copper deposit, while upgrading the 2019 estimate and the near-surface portion of the resource to the higher confidence categories, with our discovery drill program aimed at demonstrating further the potential for significant growth beyond this.”
The company, he added, is also undertaking technical studies that will form the basis for a preliminary economic assessment that is slated for release in the second half of the year and is expected to demonstrate a starter pit within the high-grade component of the resource.
It also plans to drill-test the Yawi target, located about two km to the east of Warintza Central. A geophysical survey of the area, said Earle, showed an anomaly almost twice as large as the one identified at Warintza South. “We also plan to explore other recently generated targets within the broader land package, including Caya, immediately northeast of Yawi, which shows a strong gold signature.”
According to Earle, at the end of quarter three last year Solaris had about US$47 million in the treasury, which he says, “will be more than enough to fund our planned work program.”
In addition to a healthy treasury, he said the project also benefits from strong support from Ecuador’s local and national governments. In 2019, Solaris completed Ecuador’s first government-sponsored consultation process and signed the country’s first Impact and Benefits Agreement with the local indigenous communities in 2020.
The company also has a pipeline of grassroots projects in the Americas, including Ricardo and Tamarugo in Chile, Capricho and Paco Orco in Peru, and La Verde in Mexico, a development-stage 60:40 joint venture with Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.A/TECK.B; NYSE: TCK).
Significant shareholders in Solaris include Richard Warke, Solaris’ chairman and founder of the Augusta Group, a management group specialising in exploration and project development with a track record of $4.5 billion in exit transactions in the last decade. Warke holds a 33% stake in Solaris; Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX; NYSE: EQX), holds a 16% stake; the Lundin Family holds 5%; and management holds 5%.
The preceding Joint-Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by SOLARIS RESOURCES and produced in cooperation with The Northern Miner. Visit www.solarisresources.com for more information.