Unigold (TSXV: UGD; US-OTC: UGDIF) has released the latest drill results from its exploration program at the Candelones Extension deposit, part of the company’s wholly-owned Neita concession in the Dominican Republic, 220 km northwest of the capital Santo Domingo.
Highlights included drillhole LP20-165, which returned 7 metres grading 21.89 grams gold per tonne, 17.46 grams silver per tonne, 2.68% copper, and 0.78% zinc from 458 metres.
Drilled on Target B, one of three epithermal gold veins identified on the deposit, the hole intersected the deepest and highest-grade interval to date at this target, extending the mineralisation a further 100 metres to depth.
Most of the drilling at the 21,031-hectare property has been within 350 metres of surface, which has uncovered “some pretty appreciable mineralised systems,” says Joe Hamilton, Unigold’s chairman and CEO.
“However, there’s a possibility that these epithermal veins go much deeper,” he explained in an interview. “Generally, veins like those found on Neita can extend from 750 metres to 1,000 metres vertically to depth. So, the idea now is to explore how deep these systems go.”
Hole LP20-165 also passed through Target A, another epithermal vein 150 metres east of Target B, before continuing into the deep footwall extension of Target B, and cut 17 metres of 6.72 grams gold, 5.93 grams silver, 0.94% copper, and 0.51% zinc from 444 metres, extending mineralisation at Target A another 25 metres to depth.
Two additional holes have also been pre-collared, each a 100-metre step-out down-dip along the Target B trend after passing through the Target A horizon. The holes are in the process of being extended by larger drill rigs, Hamilton said.
In addition to extending the mineralisation at Targets A and B, the company also drill tested Target D, 800 metres west of Target B.
“We believe that Target D could be another epithermal vein, so we were looking to follow up on two historic drill holes that were drilled in the area,” Hamilton said.
The area around Target D, he added, had not been drilled since 2011, when holes LP62 intersected 9 metres of 6.6 grams gold and 3.2% copper, and LP66 cut 6 metres of 8.2 grams gold and 2.6% zinc, with both intersections within 100 metres of surface.
Drillhole LP20-177, the first hole of the 2020 drill program to test the potential of Target D, returned 4.9 metres of 1.17 grams gold, 2.6 grams silver, and 0.3% copper from 130.10 metres.
“Although the grades and thicknesses were less than those returned from the other epithermal targets,” Hamilton said, “the drill hole showed 85 metres of strong alteration and mineralization, which has encouraged us to continue drilling around Target D.”
Hamilton, an exploration geologist and chartered financial analyst, has over 30 years of experience in mineral exploration, capital markets, and mine development. He has managed precious and base metal projects across North America, Latin America, and Africa and has taken projects from early-stage exploration and development through to construction.
“The Dominican Republic has been largely underexplored over the past 30 to 40 years, so there is significant potential to find new deposits,” he said. “The rocks in the region are very permissive to world-class deposits like the Pueblo Viejo gold mine.”
The Pueblo Viejo mine, operated by the Pueblo Viejo Dominican Corp. — a 60:40 joint venture between Barrick (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) and Newmont (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM) — produced 542,000 oz. of gold in 2020.
Unigold started exploration on the Nieta concession in October 2002.
As of June 2020, it had completed 542 diamond drill holes (128,293 metres), 31,559 metres of surface trenching, collected 32,704 soil and 11,089 rock samples, and 196-line-km of surface geophysics and 687 sq. km of airborne geophysics on the property.
An updated mineral resource estimate for the Candelones Extension deposit in August outlined 3.4 million measured and indicated tonnes grading 0.84 gram gold per tonne for 92,000 oz. contained gold and inferred resource of 34.9 million tonnes grading 1.65 grams gold for 1.9 million ounces.
In the second half of 2020, the company launched a 15,000-20,000-metre drill program at Candelones Extension to increase the known high-grade targets and probe for new discoveries close to the known Candelones deposits, particularly along the 1,500 metres gap in drill coverage between the Candelones Connector and Candelones Extension deposits.
“Although the drill program was delayed by four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to provide instruction remotely to our Dominican management team on the ground,” Hamilton said. “Even under these challenging circumstances, we achieved over a 90% hit ratio with the drilling.”
Currently, Unigold has four drills turning on the project. Two drills are continuing to test the depth extensions at Targets B and C, 600 metres west of Target B. One drill is testing Target D, and one drill is exploring the Montazo geochemical-IP anomaly, 4 km west of the Candelones mineralisation.
This year, the company plans to release a prefeasibility study for the shallower lower-grade oxide resource by the end of March and a bankable feasibility study by the end of the year. These studies, Hamilton said, will allow it to apply for a mining license in the second half of 2021.
Unigold also plans to complete an updated resource estimate for the deeper and higher-grade sulphide mineralisation, slated for release by the end of March or the beginning of April, and complete trade-off studies for open-pit versus underground mining in the second quarter of the year.
“Another big push for us this year is to ramp-up our community engagement and Corporate Responsibility programs,” Hamilton said. “We are also looking to finalize our sustainability framework to understand what the communities want to see out of a mining project and to address any issues they have during the design process.”
Unigold currently has about $3 million in the treasury, “which, depending on how much drilling we put into the ground this year, should be sufficient to fund our work into the second half of the year,” he said. “We’ll then need to go to the markets to raise more capital.”
The company’s shareholders have been very supportive, Hamilton said, with many of them participating in Unigold’s last two financing initiatives, in June 2020 and September 2019.
Major shareholders in the company include the Canadian mining billionaire Eric Sprott, who holds a 17% interest in the company. Unigold’s officers and directors hold a 5% stake.