Prospect-generator Lara Exploration (TSXV: LRA; US-OTC: LRAXF) has a portfolio of mineral properties across South America with some heavyweight partners, but its Curionopolis copper project in Brazil’s Para state seems to be the one generating the most buzz.
On June 1, the company’s joint-venture partner, Tessarema Resources, announced the results of a 14-hole, 2,157-metre diamond drill program at the project’s Osmar target. The intercepts were eye-catching, with highlights of 56 metres of 16.5% copper, 12 metres of 8.9% copper, 18 metres of 5.5% copper and 8 metres of 6.8% copper, at a 0.3% cut-off grade.
Lara recently reported the results of four more drill holes, this time from the Galpao target, 500 metres southeast of the high-grade Osmar target. The results were also impressive, with one hole intersecting 27 metres averaging 4.4% copper and another hole returning 19 metres of 1.1% copper.
Curionopolis has three exploration licences covering 155.4 sq. km within the Carajas district. Artisanal copper-gold workings and drilling on the project in 2011 identified high-grade iron oxide copper gold (IOCG)-type copper- and gold-bearing breccias that the company says could be amenable to open-pit mining. Earlier work by Codelco before the project switched hands drilled 53.8 metres grading 9.6% copper and 29.1 metres of 4.6% copper.
In 2013, Lara executed an option agreement with Tessarema. The latter can earn full interest in the project by funding exploration, developing mining operations, making US$2 million in cash payments and granting royalties to Lara of between 2% and 5%.
Tessarema plans to release a resource estimate before year-end.
Lara has a large multi-commodity portfolio of 12 projects and active exploration programs, funded by partners, in copper, gold, tin, coal, phosphates, potash, nickel, graphite and iron.
At Liberdade, a copper project in Brazil, Lara is in partnership with Codelco and is intercepting near-surface copper-gold mineralization. The project is potentially a large, open-pittable Carajas-type IOCG system, and has a 1,200-by-350-metre footprint. Codelco is funding drilling to earn 51%, and must deliver a minimum 500,000-tonne contained copper compliant resource to raise its stake in the project to 75%. Lara also holds a 2% net smelter return royalty (NSR).
Lara has optioned its Corina gold project in Peru to Hochschild Mining for $4.15 million in cash and a 2% NSR.
The companies say Corina is a highly prospective, low-sulphidation epithermal vein system. The property is close to Hochschild-owned mines in the area.
The management team at Lara has credibility in the industry. Vice-president of exploration Michael Bennell was AngloGold Ashanti’s (NYSE: AU) exploration manager at the Crixas gold mine in Gois state until June 2006.
He also has a number of discoveries to his name.
In Brazil, Lara credits him with finding the Boa Vista nickel deposit.
The company also notes that while working for BHP between 1988 and 1999, Bennell was directly involved in discovering five gold deposits: Belahouro and Essakan in Burkina Faso; Kubi and Mampon-Aboronye in Ghana; and Tongon in the Ivory Coast.
Bennell has worked on a number of deposits in West Africa, including the gold deposits of Morila and Syama in Mali, Fayalala in Guinea and the Syola laterite nickel deposit in the Ivory Coast.
Miles Thompson, executive chairman, president and CEO, also has a good track record. Before founding Lara Exploration, Thompson managed business development for South African gold miner Gold Fields, where he worked on joint ventures and acquisitions in the Americas, Africa and Eurasia. He also cofounded Reservoir Capital (TSXV: REO), a renewable energy developer, and Reservoir Minerals (TSXV: RMC), an exploration company, both based in southeastern Europe.
Management could not be reached for comment before press time.
Over the last year, the junior has traded within a range of 26¢ to 84¢ per share. At press time its shares were trading at 26¢. The company has 31 million shares outstanding.
At the end of March, insiders held 10% of the company’s shares.