VANCOUVER — Newly branded Silver Viper Minerals (TSXV: VIPR) has launched a drill campaign at its 62.1 sq. km Clemente silver-gold project in Sonora, northern Mexico, just days after the company completed its initial public offering.
In its IPO, Silver Viper issued 12.3 million shares at 25¢ per share for $3.1 million, which is more than enough to fulfill this year’s exploration commitments at Clemente, says Silver Viper’s CEO Steve Cope.
“With Clemente, we have the opportunity to make a discovery — the project has never been drilled before and it has some really nice high-grade samples at surface,” Cope tells The Northern Miner during a phone interview. “You look at GT Gold, or Aurion Resources for example, their stocks went way up on really good first-round results. The market wants new assets to come online — that’s what investors are getting excited about — and we believe we can deliver that.”
Clemente is under option from prospect generator Riverside Resources (TSXV: RRI), whereby Silver Viper can earn a 100% interest in the project by making staged annual cash-and-share payments to Riverside totalling $750,000 and 2 million shares over five years, and spending $4 million on exploration over the same time.
Riverside would keep a 2% net smelter return royalty on the project, which Silver Viper can buy for $4 million before the fifth anniversary.
“It’s fairly rare for prospect generators to give up 100% interest in the project, but from talking to Riverside, they did it for us because they respect our team, our history and the work we do. So they were content to just hold our shares and gain value that way, as opposed to retaining a full interest,” Cope says.
Silver Viper is the latest addition to Belcarra Group Management, a private firm that oversees junior explorers Orex Minerals (TSXV: REX; US-OTC: ORXIF), Barsele Minerals (TSXV: BME; US-OTC: BRSLF) and Dolly Varden Silver (TSXV: DV; US-OTC: DOLLF).
“We were looking for another company to bring into the group,” Cope adds. “Orex was looking very good, having made the Sandra Escobar silver discovery in Mexico, and Barsele was in joint venture with Agnico Eagle,” he says.
“Mexico is our bread and butter, and where our group has spent the majority of our time, so we know it quite well. We started looking for assets that would pique our interest, and then we found Clemente.”
Clemente is situated within the Sonora-Mojave megashear, a region of structurally controlled gold deposits, including Alio Gold’s (TSX: ALO; NYSE: AM) 1 million oz. San Francisco gold mine, and Alamos Gold’s (TSX: AGI; NYSE: AGI) 2 million oz. El Chanate gold mine. The closest mine to Clemente is Goldgroup Mining’s (TSX: GGA; US-OTC: GGAZF) Cerro Colorado gold mine, 5 km south, which is on care and maintenance.
Surface work by Riverside at Clemente has targeted three mineralized zones: El Mundo, Nuevo Mundo and Santa Elena. All three show evidence of century-old, small-scale historical production — though no official production records exist.
As noted in Riverside’s technical report, the mineralization style at Clemente is more akin to Cerro Colorado and El Chanate, with silver mineralization being concentrated at the intersections of low- and high-angle structures.
At El Mundo — Silver Viper’s primary target — sampling of rock pillars in the old workings returned individual samples grading 512 grams silver per tonne and 0.69 gram gold per tonne, 924 grams silver and 3.4 grams gold, and 2,108 grams silver and 5.4 grams gold, across true widths of 0.5, 1 and 0.6 metre.
“You don’t see ground like this in Mexico where you have these high grades, and yet it’s never been drilled — that’s what really piqued our interest in this project. It’s just screaming to be drilled,” Cope says.
Relatively difficult access to the land in past years may be why Clemente was overlooked by previous explorers, he adds.
“You’re not dealing with the ejido in this area, you’re dealing with individual ranchers, and traditionally there were a lot of ranchers that made up the ground where the claims are,” he says. “Now we’re essentially down to two ranchers, so it’s a lot easier to get things moving.”
Silver Viper plans to drill a minimum of 2,000 metres in 10 holes at El Mundo before year-end, after which the company will likely expand the drill program.