Global Exploration Snapshot: Eight companies advancing projects around the world

Bear Creek Mining's Corani silver property in southern Peru. Credit: Bear Creek Mining.Bear Creek Mining's Corani silver property in southern Peru. Credit: Bear Creek Mining.

With few mineral discoveries made over the past decade, the industry is now on the lookout for new deposits and future mines. Below, we provide an overview of eight companies, explorers, developers and producers, focused on discovery.

Bear Creek Mining

Bear Creek Mining’s (TSXV: BCM; US-OTC: BCEKF) key asset is the road-accessible 55-sq.-km Corani silver-lead-zinc project in the Andes mountains in southern Peru, 160 km from the city of Cusco.

A November 2019 updated feasibility study for this project defined a 27,000 tonne per day open pit operation, mining the Este, Minas and Main pits. The 15-year mine would produce an average of 9.6 million oz. of silver, 98 million lb. of lead and 69 million lb. of zinc annually over its lifetime (16.3 million silver oz. in the first three years).

With life-of-mine all-in sustaining costs estimated at US$4.55 per silver oz. (US$1.36 per oz. in the first three years), and US$579 million in initial capital, the after-tax net present value estimate for the project comes in at US$531 million, at a 5% discount rate, with a 22.9% internal rate of return and 2.4-year payback. These estimates are based on US$18 per oz. silver, US$95¢ lead and US$1.1 per lb. zinc. Corani would produce separate zinc and lead concentrates, trucked from the Corani plant to the port of Matarani, 632 km from the site.

From a permitting perspective, Corani is shovel-ready. Bear Creek received construction authorizations in 2018.

Reserves at the site total 138.6 million tonnes grading 51.3 grams silver per tonne, 0.9% lead and 0.55% zinc, and contain 229 million oz. of silver, 2.7 billion lb. of lead and 1.7 billion lb. of zinc. Additional resources include 100.1 million measured and indicated tonnes at 29.2 grams silver, 0.33% lead and 0.28% zinc and 73.2 million inferred tonnes grading 35.5 grams silver, 0.4% lead and 0.3% zinc.

In March 2020, Bear Creek announced that it had engaged international banks BNP Paribas and Societe Generale as joint lead arrangers for a US$400 million senior secured credit facility to develop Corani. In January, the company closed a $34.5 million bought deal financing with the proceeds intended for development at Corani.

Bear Creek Mining has a $347 million market capitalization.

Blue Sky Uranium

Blue Sky Uranium (TSXV: BSK; US-OTC: BKUCF) holds the approximately 3,000-sq.-km Amarillo Grande property in Argentina’s Rio Negro province. This site, which covers a 145 km uranium-vanadium exploration trend discovered in-house, includes the Ivana, Anit and Santa Barbara properties. Blue Sky’s geological model for the property is sandstone-hosted uranium, precipitated into sandstone sediments.

Ivana includes an inferred resource of 28 million tonnes grading 0.037% uranium oxide and 0.019% vanadium oxide, for 22.7 million lb. of uranium oxide and 11.5 million lb. of vanadium oxide. A 5 km mineralized corridor, between 200 to over 500 metres wide and up to 23 metres thick, has been defined at Ivana.

A February 2019 preliminary economic assessment for Ivana outlined a 13-year, 6,400 tonne per day open pit mine, producing an average of 1.35 million lb. of uranium annually at all-in sustaining costs of US$18.27 per lb. uranium oxide, net of vanadium credits. With a pre-production capital cost estimate of US$128.1 million, the after-tax net present value estimate for the development stands at US$135.2 million, at an 8% discount rate and based on US$50 per lb. uranium and US$15 per lb. vanadium.

In February, the company started a 4,500-metre reverse circulation drill program at Amarillo Grande, focused on the Ivana Central and Ivana North targets. These two areas, 10 and 20 km north of the existing Ivana deposit, are interpreted to lie along the same reduction-oxidation trend as Ivana and feature geophysical anomalies and uranium-vanadium mineralization in past pit samples.

In November 2020, Blue Sky announced that its data compilation and target delineation program for Amarillo Grande defined two new uranium targets for drill testing: Cateo Cuatro and Ivana East. Cateo Cuatro is 32 km east of the Ivana deposit; Ivana East is 10 km northeast of the deposit.

In January, Blue Sky Uranium closed a $5.5 million non-brokered private placement financing. The company is a member of the Argentina resource focused Grosso Group.

Blue Sky Uranium has a $43 million market capitalization.

Blue Sky Uranium director David Terry in Argentina. Credit: Blue Sky Uranium.

Blue Sky Uranium director David Terry in Argentina. Credit: Blue Sky Uranium.

C3 Metals

C3 Metals‘ (TSXV: CCCM) key asset is the 57-sq.-km Jasperoide copper-gold project in southern Peru, within the Andahuaylas-Yauri porphyry skarn belt.

Skarn and porphyry-style copper-gold mineralization has been mapped for over 3 km at the project and also traced through drilling and trenching.

In January, the company announced that a resampling program, focused on core from seven holes drilled by Hochschild Mining (LSE: HOC) between 2011 and 2012, confirmed “significant” copper intercepts in all seven drillholes. Historic intercepts included 136 metres of 0.75% copper and 0.35 gram gold and 24 metres of 2.76% copper and 0.67 gram gold.

In December 2020, C3 received authorization from the country’s Ministry of Energy and Mines for drilling at Jasperoide. Camp construction is now underway. The first-phase 3,500-metre, 15 to 20-hole drill program will consist of holes 100 to 250 metres deep, on 50-metre centres, and will focus on testing the lateral and vertical continuity of the copper-gold mineralization.

There are three priority skarn-porphyry targets at Jasperoide with historic drill results for follow-up: Montana de Cobre, Cresta Verde and Callejon de Oro.

The 1.5-km-long Montana de Cobre trend features copper-gold mineralization in skarns with a coincident magnetic anomaly. Previous drilling, completed in 2011, returned intercepts that included 185.2 metres of 1% copper and 0.39 gram gold per tonne from 22 metres and 114.9 metres of 0.97% copper and 0.37 grams gold starting at 37.1 metres.

Cresta Verde includes an outcropping massive magnetite skarn. A 2011 drillhole returned 23.5 metres of 1.86% copper starting at 19 metres.

The Callejon de Oro magnetic anomaly, 1.2 km southwest of Montana de Cobre, features high-grade epithermal-style gold mineralization. Past trenching returned an 11-metre interval of 19.5 grams gold and a single drillhole hit 1.2 metres of 27.2 grams gold starting at 210.9 metres.

In January, C3 named Kevin Tomlinson as its president and CEO; Tomlinson has also joined the board. He  has over 35 years of experience with mineral project exploration, development and financing.

C3 Metals has a $56.3 million market capitalization.

Condor Gold

Condor Gold (TSX: COG; AIM: CNR) is focused on developing the La India gold project in Nicaragua, 70 km north of the capital city of Managua.

Condor is working to build a 3,500 tonne-per-day plant at the site, which would produce 120,000 gold oz. annually. According to the company’s corporate presentation, gold production is expected within 24 months. Additional gold output, on the order of 50,000 oz. annually, is possible from an underground development.

In August 2018, the country’s Ministry of the Environment granted Condor the Environmental Permit for the development, construction and operation of a processing plant with throughputs of up to 2,800 tonnes per day. In April and May 2020, the company received environmental permits for the planned pits.

A 2014 prefeasibility study for La India suggested an eight-year operation, producing an average of 79,300 gold oz. annually at all-in sustaining costs of US$690 per ounce. With a capital cost estimate of US$110 million, the after-tax net present value estimate for the project would be US$92 million, at a 5% discount rate and based on US$1,250 per oz. gold.

The company is working towards final engineering designs for key infrastructure elements. A feasibility-level design for the tailings storage facility and water storage reservoir is expected to be finalized in June. In December, the company started site preparation work for the plant.

Condor is also looking at the option of a high-grade, 1,000 tonne-per-day starter operation, mining the three permitted pits, which, in a high-grade scenario, contain 1.6 million tonnes at 4.65 grams gold. This option could make production this year a possibility with toll milling optionality.

La India hosts an indicated resource of 9.9 milion tonnes grading 3.6 grams gold per tonne, containing 1.1 million gold oz., and an inferred resource of 8.5 million tonnes grading 4.3 grams gold per tonne, host to an additional 1.2 million ounces.

Existing resources lie along the La India corridor, within a 587-sq.-km land package. The parallel Andrea-Limones corridor features a 12 km mineralized trend. The project also includes the Cacao dilutional opening between these two structures.

Between 1938 and 1956, the historic underground La India mine produced 1.7 million tonnes of material with a head grade of 13.4 grams gold per tonne.

Condor Gold has a $101.7 million market capitalization.

Condor staff surveys drill holes at La India in Nicaragua. Credit: Condor Gold.

Deep-South Resources

Deep-South Resources (TSXV: DSM) is working to advance its Haib copper project in southern Namibia, close to the South African border, towards a feasibility study. The 370-sq.-km Haib property is within 15 km of an existing highway and approximately 100 km from an existing rail system.

A May 2020 preliminary economic assessment for the project, updated in December, outlined an open pit operation, bio-heap leaching the run-of-mine material to produce copper cathodes and copper sulphate. The 55,000 tonne-per-day, 24-year mine would produce an average of 35,000 tonnes per year of copper cathode and 51,000 tonnes per year of copper sulphates at a cash cost of US$1.33 per lb. of copper-equivalent. With an initial capital cost estimated at US$341 million, the after-tax net present value stands at US$957 million, at a 7.5% discount rate and based on US$3 per lb. copper, with a 29.7% internal rate of return.

Indicated resources total 456.9 million tonnes at 0.31% copper, for 3.1 billion lb. of copper, with inferred resources of 342.4 million tonnes grading 0.29% copper, containing an additional 2.2 billion lb. of the red metal. The Haib porphyry copper deposit covers a 2.6-sq.-km surface area, is defined to a depth of approximately 350 metres and includes a high-grade core of approximately 140 million tonnes, where past drilling has returned drill intercepts between 0.5% and 1% copper.

Existing resources are open on surface and at depth. Historical drilling hit copper mineralization at depths of over 800 metres.

In February, Deep-South started a first, 5,000-metre phase of a drill program of up to 12,000 metres. This initial phase will be focused on infilling gaps from prior drilling to expand and better define the higher-grade mineralization. Deeper holes are also planned to test the vertical span of the deposit. Depending on the results of the first-phase program, the second part could test other anomalies on the broader property. Geophysics, together with coincided copper geochemistry, has also outlined five satellite targets at Haib.

In addition to drilling, the feasibility study work program will also include additional metallurgical testing on bio-assisted heap leaching, a mining engineering design and environmental baseline studies.

In January, Deep-South closed a $4.6 million private placement.

Deep-South Resources has a $25 million market capitalization.

Caldas Gold's Marmato project in Colombia. Courtesy: Gran Colombia Gold.

The Marmato project in Colombia. Image courtesy of Gran Colombia Gold.

Gran Colombia Gold

Gran Colombia Gold’s (TSX: GCM; US-OTC: TPRFF) key asset is the Segovia complex of underground mines, 180 km northeast of Medellin in Colombia, in the Segovia-Remedios mining district in Antioquia.

In 2020, the complex generated 220,194 gold oz., in line with prior guidance for 218,000 to 226,000 ounces. This includes 196,362 oz. from three mines operated by Gran Colombia (Providencia, Sandra K and El Silencio); additional ounces were sourced from small mines operating within the Segovia mining title, under contract with Gran Colombia. In December, the company also started production work at Carla, its fourth mine. This year, the Segovia operations are expected to deliver 200,000 to 220,000 oz. of gold.

One of Segovia’s distinguishing features is its high-grade. Last year, the operation processed an average of 1,280 tonnes per day of material at a head grade of 14.5 grams gold per tonne.

Also in December, Gran Colombia released high-grade intercepts from its in-mine and near-mine Segovia drill program. Highlights from existing operations included 1.9 metres of 51.22 grams gold per tonne and 1.9 grams silver per tonne from the Providencia vein; and  0.6 metres of 63.92 grams gold per tonne and 458.4 grams silver per tonne from the Sandra K Techo vein.

In addition, drilling at the El Silencio Deep zone discovered a new high-grade vein in the hangingwall of the Nacional vein, which returned a 0.5-metre intercept of 162.7 grams gold and 77 grams silver.

There are 27 known veins within the Segovia license and six drill rigs are turning at the site. One of the drills is targeting the Vera vein, parallel to the Sandra K vein system.

Gran Colombia also has a 44.3% equity interest in Aris Gold (TSXV: ARIS; US-OTC: ALLXF); previously known as Caldas Gold. After adding the Juby project in Ontario to its Marmato mine holdings in Colombia in July, in November, Caldas announced a $85 million subscription receipt offering alongside a new board and management. The funds are intended for Marmato, which produced 23,832 gold oz. last year.

The 1,200 tonne-per-day Marmato Upper zone operations are undergoing an expansion to 1,500 tonnes per day. Additional work is underway to expand into the Marmato Deep zone, which would be a new mine with a 4,000 tonne-per-day plant.

Gran Colombia holds a 26% stake in Nunavut-focused Western Atlas Resources (TSXV: WA) and an 18% interest in Gold X Mining (TSXV: GLDX; US-OTC: GLDXF), with a project in Guyana.

Gran Colombia Gold has a $381.6 million market capitalization.

Orezone Gold

Orezone Gold (TSXV: ORE; US-OTC: ORZCF) is focused on advancing the permitted Bombore project in Burkina Faso, 85 km from Ouagadougou, to first gold production by next year.

In January, the developer secured over US$182 million of binding commitments for the construction of Bombore. This includes a US$96 million senior secured bank debt facility, a US$35 million convertible note and a $65 million bought deal offering, which closed at the end of January and was upsized to US$73.8 million.

The financing news followed Orezone’s January announcement that it had awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) contract for Bombore to Lycopodium Minerals and completed the first-phase resettlement of villages and infrastructure. Orezone selected an open pit mining contractor for Bombore in mid-February; preproduction mining is expected to start in March.

According to a 2019 feasibility, a 13-year open pit, free-digging oxide operation at Bombore with carbon-in-leach extraction could produce an average of 117,760 gold oz. annually at all-in sustaining costs of US$730 per ounce. The study suggested adding a sulphide circuit in the third year of operations; mining of the sulphides would require drilling and blasting.

With an initial capital cost for the oxide phase construction pegged at US$153 million, the after-tax net present value estimate for the project stands at US$361 million, at a 5% discount rate and based on US$1,300 per oz. gold, with a 43.8% internal rate of return.

Measured and indicated resources at Bombore stand at 106.9 million tonnes of oxides grading 0.55 gram gold per tonne, with additional oxide inferred resources of 20.9 million tonnes at 0.4 gram gold per tonne. Sulphide measured and indicated resources add 122.6 million tonnes grading 0.8 gram gold per tonne, with further sulphide inferred resources of 32.4 million tonnes at 0.81 gram gold per tonne.

The Bombore deposit is hosted within a shear zone that is 11 km long by 200 metres wide and has been drilled to an average depth of 120 metres.

In November 2019, Orezone announced that results from its drill program refined its geological model for Bombore, with indications of a higher-grade plunging gold system within the existing Bombore mineralization. Higher grade drill highlights included 8.9 metres of 3.21 grams gold and 18 metres of 3.68 grams gold. Resource modelling with the new interpretation is underway.

Orezone Gold has a $319.7 million market capitalization.

Roxgold

Roxgold (TSX: ROXG; US-OTC: ROGFF) holds the Yaramoko underground mine complex and Boussoura exploration project in Burkina Faso and the Seguela pre-development property in Cote d’Ivoire.

This year, Yaramoko is expected to produce 120,000 to 130,000 oz. of gold, at all-in sustaining costs of US$895 to US$975 per ounce. In November, Roxgold added open-pittable reserves and resources to its Yaramoko inventory, which suggest potential for a surface operation complementary to the 55 Zone mine. Open-pit reserves total 820,000 tonnes at 7.2 grams gold per tonne, for 190,000 gold ounces. Underground reserves stand at 1.6 million tonnes at 7 grams gold, and contain 365,000 ounces. The Bagassi South mine at Yaramoko includes underground reserves of 576,000 tonnes at 7.6 grams gold per tonne.

Regionally, there are 23 targets within the 230-sq.-km Yaramoko property that lies on the Hounde belt. Also in November, Roxgold started a regional exploration program, targeting near-surface mineralization. Priority targets lie along the western corridor of the 55 Zone and around Bagassi South.

An April 2020 preliminary economic assessment of the Seguela project in Cote d’Ivoire outlined an open pit operation producing an average of 103,000 oz. of gold a year over an eight-year life at all-in sustaining costs of US$749 per ounce. Due to the high-grade nature of the Ancien deposit, in its first three years, this operation would produce 143,000 oz. per year at AISCs of US$600 per ounce.

With an initial capital outlay of US$142 million, the project has an after-tax net present value estimate, at a 5% discount rate, of US$268 million and a 66% internal rate of return, based on US$1,450 per oz. gold. A feasibility study and construction decision are expected in the first half of this year.

In December, Roxgold received mining permit approval for Seguela. January’s assay highlights from the Koula deposit, one of five within 363-sq.-km Seguela, included 14 metres of 42.9 grams gold and 11 metres of 46.2 grams gold.

The 250-sq.-km Boussoura project, 180 km south of Yaramoko, includes the Fofora and Galgouli target areas. Drill highlights, announced in February, included 10.7 metres of 5.6 grams gold and 5 metres of 17 grams gold from the Fofora area and 7 metres of 15.8 grams gold from Galgouli. An initial resource for Boussoura is expected by the end of the year.

Roxgold has a $552.2 million market capitalization.

Drilling at Roxgold’s Seguela project. Credit: Roxgold.

 

 

 

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