By Jorge Cirett
Leisure is the mother of all vices, according to an old Mexican proverb, and having ample spare time during the worst part of the down cycle in the mining industry during 2015 led to creation of this weekly newsletter. First by fueling the creation of the Gambusino Prospector site to publish exploration and mining news, and then noticing that in mid-late 2015 there were news releases worth compiling and spreading, like the private raising of noticeable amounts of cash, and then by compiling the news releases by areas of interest. It was a matter of trial and error until a workable format was born. And remember, there was time available, as the downturn was not throwing much work in our way. The bottom of the downturn was felt in early 2016, with raising spirits in March after PDAC, spirits that continued high through May and Midyear. Things were looking brighter through the end of 2016, but it would take until 2017 for work to noticeably increase in Mexico. The past year has brought relief to drillers and laboratories, as well as some work for geoscientists and other professionals of the exploration area, but full work is still to come. The expectations for this year are high, even if a swing to a full boom is not expected, but a clear optimistic mood can be perceived in the exploration industry. Having said that, compiling and publishing the news releases takes a two or three hours every week day, and compiling, writing and publishing this newsletter takes anything from four hours (a few times in the year) to up to 12 hours in the more extreme cases…… every week of the year. Believe me, we have learnt to dread the times of the year when the quarterly reports are released. Writing the highlights every week is both a pleasure and hard work that satisfies and exhausts. For the last two years Miguel Heredia was taking care of finding and publishing the press releases from companies working in Mexico and I was doing the compression of the information in a few pages. We now have the help of Laura Ramirez in the research and publishing phase, and starting next week Miguel Heredia and I are to start sharing the task of producing the newsletter in alternate weeks.
During the 2nd week of the year (January 8th to January 14th, 2018), things come back to normal with at least 30 press releases being announced by companies working in Mexico. ON MEXICO ISSUES, the illegal blockade at El Limon-Guajes mine in Guerrero continues. A government sanctioned process to set a date to clear the issue will be held at the end of the month (the end of the month!). ON EXPLORATION, in Sonora, Riverside is awaiting drill results from its Glor and Clemente projects and announced its intention to drill during 2018 its Cecilia project; Canuc informed the delineation of several breccia bodies at its San Javier project; San Marco released high-grade copper results from a new zone at its Chunibas project. In Chihuahua Golden Goliath is in the process to select drill targets at its San Timoteo project. In Coahuila, Silver Bull announced high-grade channel sample results from underground workings at its Sierra Mojada project. In Durango, Riverside announced its intention to drill the El Capitan project during 2018. In Guanajuato, Vangold is to measure the underground stockpile (backfill) at its Pinguico mine. In Estado de Mexico Impact Silver updated on exploration on the Zacualpan district. In Hidalgo, Prospero released interesting results on the first drill campaign at the El Petate project. ON MINING, Seven companies: Torex Gold, Coeur Mining, Hecla Mining, Endeavour Silver, Capstone Mining, Alio Gold and Alamos presented preliminary Q4 and annual production results for 2017. Santacruz Silver announced the commencement of construction work to expand the mill capacity at Veta Grande, Zacatecas. ON FINANCING, Avino Silver is now formally on the TSX. ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, Southern Silver updated its resource estimate on Cerro Las Minitas in Durango to over 50 M Oz Ag, 400 M Lb Pb, 1,600 M Lb Zn. Leagold released the high-grade results of the last 15 holes of its 2017 infill and expansion drill program at the Bermejal underground deposit in Guerrero. First Majestic drilled over 800 holes and 156,000 m on its six operating mines and one prospect during 2017. For 2018 its plan is to drill 183,000 m on the same properties and prospect. Minera Alamos has completed the geotechnical reports on the La Fortuna project in Durango, to submit for approval to SEMARNAT. Kootenay Silver is to focus work in 2018 in the expansion of resources and increasing grade on its La Cigarra project in Chihuahua. Mexican Gold plans to focus exploration work in expanding the resource and finding more orebodies at its Las Minas property in Veracruz. Starcore International is to prepare a PEA on the La Fe property in Sinaloa. ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES, Torex Gold informed two of the largest communities near its El Limon-Guajes mine in Guerrero, Nuevo Balsas and Salvador Trujano, have publicly supported the company and have asked the state government to intervene to lift the illegal blockade. First Majestic has entered into an agreement to acquire Primero Mining in a deal valued in $320 M.
ON MEXICO ISSUES
- The illegal blockade at El Limon-Guajes mine in Guerrero continues. Torex Gold informed that two communities, Nuevo Balsas and Valerio Trujano have publicly supported the company and have asked the state government to intervene to lift the illegal blockade. The company is using an alternate route to enter and inspect the facilities while a government sanctioned process for selecting the workers union by vote is underway with a meeting scheduled for January 30, 2018, at which time the parties are expected to agree to a timeline for a vote (vote that the blockading union is expected to try to delay).
- Impact Silver Corp. updated on exploration work at the Santa Teresa target, located on the Royal mines of Zacualpan district in Estado de Mexico. Numerous north-south and northeast striking veins transect the Santa Teresa area, with 197 assays greater than 1 g/t Au and up to 114.5 g/t Au. Half of the veins have extremely low sulfide content. The presence of a feldspar porphyry is considered to enhance the prospectivity of the area.
- Riverside Resources Corp. informed on its exploration plans for 2018, which include the reception of drill results from the Glor and Clemente projects in Sonora, the drilling of the El Capitan project in Durango and Cecilia in Sonora. New partnerships will be explored to advance the Tajitos, (Sonora), La Silla (Sinaloa), Thor (Sonora) and Ariel (Sonora) projects.
- Vangold Mining Corp. is to star underground drilling at its Pinguico property in Guanajuato on January 15, 2018. The drilling is to focus on grade definition of the underground stockpile (backfill) which is thought to amount 500 K tonnes, to define grade and metallurgical properties. The phase 2 program is to target the Pinguico vein to depth and on strike.
- Canuc Resources Corp. announced that several breccia targets have been exposed and sampled at its San Javier project in Sonora. Recent mapping has shown that the Carranza breccia could extend over an area roughly 400 m by 100 m. Select zones of this breccia have previously assayed 238 g/t Ag, 0.7 g/t Au over 11 m and 133 g/t Ag, 1.1 g/t Au over 6.5 m. Another breccia has been mapped on the Jazmin workings, with local high grade silver-gold results. Over 400 samples have been sent to the lab, assays are pending.
- San Marco Resources Inc. released assay results from the newly discovered Cu-Ag mineralization on its Chunibas project in Sonora. The rock chip sampling followed the recognition of a geochemical anomaly in a soil survey, resulting in the discovery of isolated outcrops on otherwise covered terrain of presumably intermediate volcanic rocks strongly altered by an assemblage of epidote>chlorite>quartz>calcite>specularite. Results of 16 samples include 0.1%, 5.9%, 0.87%, 0.76%, 1.38%, 0.97% 1.8%, 0.41%, 3.72%, 0.25% Cu; 1, 51, 6, 8, 19, 4, 17, 4, 66, 4 g/t Ag.
- Silver Bull Resources Inc. informed on high-grade results from channel samples in newly opened and reconditioned historic workings at its Sierra Mojada project in Coahuila. The new zone comprises 350 m of old working, where 39 channel samples up to 2 m in length were collected, with 21 samples returning over 10% Zn and a peak value of 30.7% Zn; 21 samples over 100 g/t Ag and a peak value of 606 g/t Ag; nine samples over 5% Pb and a peak value of 17.6% Pb. “Our underground geological mapping shows a number of high angle structures up to 2 meters wide containing sulphide mineralization grading up to 1,300 grams per ton silver, 42% zinc, 18% lead, and 13% copper that appear to feed into the overlying oxide zone.”
- Golden Goliath Resources Ltd. is to complete early in 2018 the drill targeting that was commenced on 2017 at its San Timoteo property in Chihuahua. Past work included a review of past data, including geology, geochemistry, structural geology, geophysics and drilling. Final drafting and final drill target selection remain to be completed. The company anticipates receiving a US$100 K option payment in 2018, and a final payment of US$2.8 M in November 2018. This would provide more than enough funding required for drilling without the need for any further dilution that a private placement would create.
- Prospero Silver Corp. released drill results from its EL Petate prospect in Hidalgo. Highlights include 24.9 m @ 0.76 g/t Au, 22 g/t Ag; 12.6 m @ 0.51 g/t Au; 16.0 m @ 0.75 g/t Au, 2 g/t Ag; 3.9 m @ 1.18 g/t Au, 4 g/t Ag; 14.7 m @ 0.19 g/t Au, 2 g/t Ag; 1.1 m @ 10 g/t Ag, 1.5% Zn; 10.0 m @ 0.49 g/t Au, 24 g/t Ag; 3.2 m @ 1.96 g/t Au, 34 g/t Ag, 0.1% Zn; 19.3 m @ 0.32 g/t Au, 1 g/t Ag; 12.8 m @ 0.28 g/t Au, 6 g/t Ag. These holes were drilled on the El Tajo and Apartadero SE targets. Prospero is now planning to drill the Pachuca SE prospect, with funding being provided by partner Fortuna Silver.
- Torex Gold Resources Inc. informed that 241 K Oz Au were poured during 2017 at its El Limon-Guajes mine in Guerrero (The production is for the first 10 months of the year, before the illegal blockade by a union trying to grab a contract that continues to date).
- Coeur Mining Corp. announced fourth quarter and annual production, including figures from its Mexican operations. At Palmarejo, in Chihuahua, during the fourth quarter 389.5 K tonnes were milled @ 215 g/t Ag, 3.1 g/t Au, with a recovery rate of 87% Ag, 92% Au, to produce 2.35 M Oz Ag, 37,537 Oz Au. During the year 1.5 M tonnes were milled @ 175 g/t Ag, 2.8 g/t Au.
- Hecla Mining Co. released preliminary silver and gold production results for the fourth quarter and full year 2018, including figures from its operations in Mexico. At San Sebastian in Durango, during the fourth quarter 759.1 K Oz Ag, 5,955 Oz Au were produced, while 3.26 M Oz Ag, 25,177 Oz Au were produced during 2017. Cash and cash equivalents stood at $219 M at the end of the year.
- Endeavour Silver Corp. produced 4.9 M Oz Ag, 53,007 Oz Au on its three operating mines in Mexico during 2017. During the fourth quarter 1.39 M Oz Ag, 14,577 Oz Au were produced from its Guanaceví mine in Durango, and the Bolañitos and El Cubo mines in Guanajuato. At El Compas in Zacatecas, initial production is targeted on March 2018, At Terronera in Jalisco permits have been received to build the mine and the plant, while receipt of the dumps and tailings permit is awaited.
- Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd. reports that abiding by the terms of the LOI signed with Carrizal Mining S.A. de C.V., Carrizal has commenced construction works to expand the Veta Grande mill to 750 tonnes per day (tpd). In addition Santacruz has received permit for a surface drill program at the Veta Grande project which includes 6,000 m in 15 drill holes on the first phase, funded by Carrizal.Capstone Mining Corp. released Q4 and full year 2017 production results, including figures from its Mexican operations. At Cozamin in Zacatecas, 219.9 K tonnes were mined in the fourth quarter, 223.5 K tonnes were milled (2,430 tpd) @ 1.98% Cu, 0.71% Zn, 0.06% Pb, 46 g/t Ag, recovering 96.2% Cu, 64.2% Zn, 0.9% Pb, 79.7% Ag, to produce 4,254 tonnes Cu, 1,015 tonnes Zn, 3 tonnes Pb, 263.3 K Oz Ag. During the year, 912 K tonnes were mined and milled (2,499 tpd) @ 1.91% Cu, 0.71% Zn, 0.07% Pb, 43 g/t Ag, with recoveries of 96.1% Cu, 65.5% Zn, 8.0% Pb, 78.7% Ag, to produce 16,732 tonnes Cu, 4,232 tonnes Zn, 50 tonnes Pb, 1.0 M Oz Ag.
- Alio Gold Inc. informed on preliminary production results from its San Francisco mine in Sonora for the fourth quarter and full year 2017. During the fourth quarter 1.72 M tonnes were processed @ 0.46 g/t Au, 6.23 M tonnes of waste were moved for a total of 7.99 M tonnes mined, to produce 16,070 Oz Au and 7,873 Oz Ag.
- Alamos Gold Inc. reported fourth quarter and annual 2017 production, including figures from its operations in Mexico. During the fourth quarter Mulatos and El Chanate produced 42,700 and 12,100 Oz Au respectively, and 160,000 and 60,400 Oz Au on the whole year. The budget for development of La Yaqui Grande and Cerro Pelon is $13 M, focusing on engineering, permitting and early stage construction. During 2018 open pit grades mined and stacked on the heap leach pad are expected to range between 0.75 and 0.95 g/t Au. “A total of $13 million and 41,500 m has been budgeted at Mulatos for exploration in 2018 with the main areas of focus being El Carricito, La Yaqui Norte – Halcon, El Refugio, San Carlos and the near mine area”. At El Chanate mining activities are expected to cease mid-2018. Total crushed and run of mine ore is expected to average 9,700 tpd @ 0.69 g/t Au.
- ON FINANCING
- Avino Silver & Gold Mines Ltd. has received final approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) to list its common shares and warrants on January 8th, 2018. Concurrently with the TSX listing, the Shares and Warrants will be delisted from the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) (Avino, Durango).
- ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT
- Southern Silver Exploration Corp. updated the mineral resource estimate at its Cerro Las Minitas JV project in Durango (SSV 40%, Electrum Global Holdings LP 60%). The resource was calculated on four deposits: Blind zone, El Sol, Las Victorias and Skarn Front, with 10.1 M tonnes @ 102 g/t Ag, 0.10 g/t Au, 1.4% Pb, 3.6% Zn, 0.15% Cu as indicated resources, holding 33.4 M Oz Ag, 34 K Oz Au, 319 M Lb Pb, 813 M Lb Zn and 8.7 M tonnes @ 74 g/t Ag, 0.04 g/t Au, 0.7% Pb, 4.5% Zn as inferred resources containing 20.7 M Oz Ag, 12 k Oz Au, 131 M Lb Pb, 870 M Lb Zn.
- Leagold Mining Corp. reported results for the final 15 drill holes at the Bermejal Underground project at the Los Filos mine in Guerrero. These infill and step-out holes intersected high grade intervals like (true width): 4.16 m @ 9.2 g/t Au; 3.05 m @ 8.8 g/t Au; 1.77 m @ 10.1 g/t Au; 1.77 m @ 61.3 g/t Au; 7.43 m @ 12.4 g/t Au; 5.12 m @ 8.1 g/t Au; 3.89 m @ 7.0 g/t Au; 8.08 m @ 5.9 g/t Au; 13.59 m @ 4.75 g/t Au; 6.89 m @ 12.3 g/t Au; 14.08 m @ 20.2 g/t Au; 7.34 m @ 35.6 g/t Au; 10.49 m @ 8.79 g/t Au; 14.33 m @ 8.0 g/t Au; 23.57 m @ 6.1 g/t Au. A total of 111 holes comprising 56,280 m were drilled in this program, from April to December. To date the Bermejal Underground deposit contains 2.1 M Oz Au contained on 10.8 M tonnes @ 6.0 g/t Au. Los Filos currently operates two open pits, Los Filos and Bermejal, and the Los Filos underground mine.
- First Majestic Silver Corp. disclosed a year-end review of its 2017 exploration program, which includes over 156,500 m of diamond drilling on 807 holes across its six operating mines and the Plomosas project. Highlights include a new discovery at Ermitaño West (in Sonora) with drill TW intersects of 37 m @ 3.0 g/t Au, 50 g/t Ag; 12.9 m @ 4.7 g7t Au, 277 g/t Ag; identification of the Main Vein extension to the west at Santa Elena in Sonora; discovery of the La Fe replacement orebody at La Encantada in Coahuila; discovery of the Cerro de Santiago vein at La Parrilla, in Durango; the extension of the Santa Teresa vein to the south at Del Toro mine in Zacatecas; the continuation of the Hedionda vein in the San Martin mine in Jalisco; the Nazareno northwest extension and the Nazareno de Ancas finding at La Guitarra in Estado de Mexico; the extension of the Plomosas vein and finding a new stockwork system at Plomosas in Sinaloa. For 2018, a 183,000 m drilling program is envisaged across the six operating mines and the Plomosas project.
- Minera Alamos Inc. has completed the geotechnical studies for the approval of its mine development permits for the La Fortuna gold project in Durango. The study that includes the design of the containment facilities comprise the final data package to be submitted to the environmental authorities (SEMARNAT).
- Kootenay Silver Inc. informed on 2017 activities at La Cigarra in Chihuahua. The drilling of 37 core holes resulted on significant discoveries In the RAM and Las Venadas zones. Other activities include the re-logging of the entire La Cigarra deposit, mapping and sampling of seven other prospective zones. Work in 2018 is to focus in increasing the current resource and grade at La Cigarra. At La Negra, in Sonora, partner Pan American Silver announced the results of 26 holes from an infill program, including 7.5 m @ 529 g/t Ag within 40.8 m @ 194 g/t Ag.
- Mexican Gold Corp. informed on work completed during 2017 at its Las Minas property in Veracruz, which includes the completion of an initial 43-100 resources estimate for two of eight known mineralized zones, the completion of 5,873 m of drilling at El Dorado/Juan Bran and Cinco Señores zones, the extension of several zones, the identification of a parallel mineralized zone at Cinco Señores, the completion of geophysical surveys and the purchase agreements on several claims. For 2018 the focus is to expand the initial resource on El Dorado/Juan Bran and the Santa Cruz zone; exploration drilling of the Cinco Señores and Las Minillas zone; the field exploration at the Santa Cruz, Pueblo Nuevo and Changaro zone.
- Starcore International Mines Ltd. has engaged Global Kompas to undertake a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of the Santa Fe project in Sinaloa. The property was previously optioned by another company, completing two explorations programs up to 2014 which concluded with no mineral resource, but that discovered multiple veins and mineral ore shoots.
- ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES
- Torex Gold Resources Inc. informed on the state of affairs on the illegal blockade at its El Limon-Guajes mine in Guerrero, announcing that two of the larger communities, Nuevo Balsas and Valerio Trujano have publicly supported the company and have asked the state government to intervene to lift the illegal blockade. Access to the mine site has been gained through a road used during construction on the Rio Balsas Ejido land, allowing crews to inspect the site, make maintenance plans and plans to re-start operations if the security of the site can be assured. The government sanctioned process for a workers’ vote to select the union they want to represent them is underway with a meeting scheduled for January 30, 2018, at which time the parties are expected to agree to a timeline for a vote (date that the blockading union is expected to try to delay).
- First Majestic Silver Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Primero Mining Corp. by exchanging Primero’s shares for First Majestic shares on the basis of 0.03325 of a First Majestic common share for each Primero common share. Concurrently First Majestic has entered into agreement with Wheaton Precious Metals International Ltd. (WPM) whereby the current silver streaming interest at Primero’s San Dimas Ag-Au mine in Durango will be terminated. First Majestic and WPM are to enter into a new stream arrangement based on 25% of the gold equivalent production at San Dimas, with ongoing payments of $600 per AuEq Oz delivered under the agreement. As part of the transaction WPM will receive 20.9 M common shares of First Majestic, valued at $151 M. The total transaction values is estimated at $320 M.
- Content like what you have just read can be seen at https://gambusinoprospector.com/ and at LinkedIn’s Mexico Mineral Exploration Group.
- On the picture below, argillitized porphyritic intrusive with quartz veining and minor sericite alteration still visible, in a prospect of the Durango Altiplano. Photo by Jorge Cirett.