By Jorge Cirett
During the 26th week of the year (June 24th to June 30th, 2019), at least 43 press releases were announced by companies working in Mexico. ON MEXICO ISSUES, a resolution by the Supreme Court is awaited to learn how the Mining Fund resources are to be allocated, if for social and environmental infrastructure (as planned) or as direct allocations to the people of the communities, the preferred method of the president (a method the opposition denounces as vote buying). In Sonora a local congressman introduced a bill for a new state tax on dirt extracted from open pits, a measure that if implemented is to pose a further weight in the already heavy fiscal load for mining companies in Mexico. Furthermore, the Economy Secretariat (Secretaria de Economia) published a letter stating that the “Protocol of Good Practice of Mining for the Public Consultation” (Protocolo de buenas practicas de la Minería para la consulta pública) is under review by the agency. It is not possible to underrate the importance of the review of this protocol, because if it is implemented incorrectly the result would impact fast and catastrophically the Mexican exploration industry. One of the more pressing issues is the fact that placing the consultation process before exploration takes place, would end most exploration in one swipe. If in doubt, just take a look to Oaxaca, where, although not being in the law you have to make the community consultation process before exploring, and the result is that hardly any exploration work is nowadays conducted in one of the states with the best mineralization potential in Mexico. Trust is hard to earn, let’s not throw it away so carelessly. ON EXPLORATION, In Zacatecas, Galore continues to drill at Dos Santos; Alien Metals updated on its exploration of Donovan 2 and Los Campos. ON MINING, Alien Metals released its financial results for 2018. ON FINANCING, Santacruz signed an agreement to extend the payment of a US$2.3 M loan. Galore is making a $1.5 M financing. Goldplay closed an oversubscribed financing for $1.37 M. Leagold completed a debt refinancing for a $200 M term loan and a $200 M revolving credit facility. ePower intends to conduct a private placement for Cdn$6 M. Sable granted 2.8 M incentive stock options. Alien Metals raised £350 K. ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, Mexus Gold is to start leaching at Santa Elena, in Sonora. Telson reported significant underground channel sample results at Tahuehueto. Orla presented the result of the FS on Camino Rojo. Premier Gold presented results of its 42,000 m drilling campaign at Mercedes. Southern Silver file a technical report with updated resources on Cerro Las Minas. Santacruz presented results of drilling at Veta Grande. GoGold released results of drilling at Los Ricos. SilverCrest informed the decline has intersected the Babicanora vein at Las Chispas. Minera Alamos informed on the permitting of Santana. Almaden updated on permitting and legal issues at its Ixtaca project in Puebla. ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES, Millrock sold its Sonoran portfolio to Riverside. ePower Metals entered into a definitive agreement with Minera Alamos to acquire the Los Reyes project in Sinaloa. Silver Viper renegotiated much better terms on the lease of two properties within its La Virgina project in Sonora. Golden Minerals entered into an agreement under which Minera Autlan is to buy its Velardeña properties. Bacanora Lithoum signed an investment agreement and an offtake agreement with Ganfeng Lithium on its Sonora lithium project. Canasil and Pan American agreed on terms for the acquisition of Pan American of the Sandra Escobar project in Durango.
ON MEXICO ISSUES
- The Economy Secretariat is awaiting the resolution of the Supreme Court on the change of rules to apply the Mining Fund, which this year is anticipated to be amounting to 3.2 billion pesos (3,200 millones) or approximately US$168.4 M. The proposal by the present Federal government (ie.- the president) is to deliver the resources directly to the people to “augment the capacities” of the mining communities. The aim would be to organize the community and the service providers to be part of the service chain for the mining industry. The resources on the Mining Fund to date are to be funneled according with the current rules, until a resolution by the Supreme Court clarifies the issue.
- In Sonora, local congressman Carlos Navarrete from the Encuentro Social party (allied to the Morena party) introduced a bill for a new State tax on dirt extracted from open pits (includes waste, sand, dimension stone, clays, limestone, lime, among others). The US$0.63 tax per cubic metre of material would be split 80/20 between the municipalities and the State. The resources would be utilized in physical investments and infrastructure with social impact, in the environment and urban development (The bill intends to use the resources thus gathered in the same way that those of the Mining Fund were supposed to be used, and for which a 7% federal royalty tax was imposed on mining a few years ago. Now that the current president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador intends to use the resources of the Mining Fund for his preferred programs, allied politicians are trying to make the mining industry pay even more taxes).
- The Economy Secretariat published a letter on the “Protocol of Good Practice of Mining for the Public Consultation”. In the letter the Economy Secretariat states that the protocol is under review by the agency. On the Letter: The consultation process is to be applied to all communities that can be impacted by the mining activity. Also, both exploration and exploitation should be consulted before their realization. The responsible authority is to be the Economy Secretariat, with aid by the Instituto Nacional de los Pueblos Indigenas and other authorities (SEMARNAT, CONAGUA, CFE, local municipal and state governments), as well as the state and federal Human Rights Commissions.
- Galore Resources Inc. informed its 2,500 m diamond core drilling program at the El Alamo target of its Dos Santos project in Zacatecas continues to progress well. The first hole “intersected multiple zones of alteration and brecciation …… silicified and brecciated limestone similar to those observed on the surface over a much wider zone than was anticipated”.
- Alien Metals Ltd. updated on its exploration activities at its Zacatecas properties Donovan 2, Los Campos and Don Celso. Sampling and mapping at Donovan 2 has resulted in high grade mineralisation in historic workings open along strike, and channel sample assays of up to 1.15% Cu and float samples of up to 0.45 gpt Au. Planned work includes a ground induced polarisation (IP) geophysical survey before the first phase of drilling. Surface mapping and sampling will be undertaken at Los Campos and Don Celso properties, as well as underground sampling and a geophysical survey at Los Campos.
- Alien Metals Ltd. released its audited financial results for 2018. The company owns the Donovan 2, Los Campos, San Celso and La Africana projects in Zacatecas. The company held US$0.7 M in cash and cash equivalents by the end of the period.
- Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd. reached an agreement to amend the repayment terms of the US$2.3 M short-term loan that it has borrowed from a private Bolivian mining company. The principal balance of US$2.3 million is now to be repaid by January 30, 2020. As consideration for the extension on the date of repayment Santacruz is to increase the issue of 2 M warrants to 2.5 M warrants (Veta Grande, Zacatecas).
- Galore Resources Inc. is to commence a non-brokered private placement to raise gross proceeds of up to $1.5 M (Dos Santos, Zacatecas).
- Goldplay Exploration Ltd. closed its over-subscribed previously announced financing, for gross proceeds of $1.37 M. A total of $28.9 K was paid and 231 K warrants were issued as a finder’s fee payment (San Marcial, Sinaloa).
- Leagold Mining Corp. completed the debt refinancing with a syndicate of lenders that includes a $200 million term loan and a $200 million revolving credit facility. These loans have been used to replace $238 million of existing short-term debt, and will aid in the development of the Bermejal underground complex, the Guadalupe open pit and the CIL plant construction at it Los Filos mine in Guerrero.
- ePower Metals Inc. intends to conduct a non-brokered private placement to raise up to Cdn$6 M (Los Reyes, Sinaloa).
- Sable Resources Ltd. granted 2.8 M incentive stock options to certain officers, directors, employees and consultants of the company. Such options are exercisable at a price of $0.15 for a period of five years (Margarita and Vinata, Chihuahua).
- Alien Metals Ltd. raised £350 K through the placement of shares (Donovan 2, Los Campos, Zacatecas).
ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT
- Mexus Gold US. is to start leaching at its Santa Elena mine in Sonora (not to mistake for First Majestic’s Santa Elena mine, also in Sonora). Leaching is programmed to start on June 27th, with ore grading 1.8 gpt Au, 8 gpt Ag, to later on add ore @ 4 gpt Au, 12 gpt Ag. By September the company expects to be mining 3,500 tonnes per week.
- Telson Mining Corp. reported significant channel sample assay results for underground mine development at its Tahuehueto project in Durango, where a 1,000 tonne per day mine is under construction. Highlighted results include: 2.42 m @ 5.76 gpt Au, 129 gpt Ag, 1.44% Cu, 3.8% Pb, 6.2% Zn; 5.50 m @ 3.31 gpt Au, 57 gpt Ag, 0.32% Cu, 0.9% Pb, 3.5% Zn; 5.38 m @ 4.41 gpt Au, 44 gpt Ag, 0.38% Cu, 1.5% Pb, 3.6% Zn; 7.0 m @ 5.12 gpt Au, 40 gpt Ag, 0.29% Cu, 1.0% Pb, 3.2% Zn; 6.45 m @ 5.69 gpt Au, 51 gpt Ag, 0.21% Cu, 2.3% Pb, 5.6% Zn; 4.42 m @ 8.70 gpt Au, 59 gpt Ag, 0.18% Cu, 1.7% Pb, 2.2% Zn; 4.08 m @ 9.27 gpt Au, 69 gpt Ag, 0.19% Cu, 0.6% Pb, 1.0% Zn; 3.56 m @ 7.95 gpt Au, 76 gpt Ag, 0.25% Cu, 3.3% Pb, 4.6% Zn. Individual assays are often above 5 gpt Au, and up to 28 gpt Au.
- Orla Mining Ltd. presented the results of a feasibility study on its Camino Rojo Oxide project in Zacatecas. The main points include 18 K tonnes per day operation, with 44 M tonnes of ore to be put on the leach pad @ 0.73 gpt Au, 14.2 gpt Ag, containing 1 M Oz Au, 20.1 M Oz Ag. The expected recovery is 64% Au, 17% Ag, with an annual gold production of 97 K Oz Au at by-product cash cost $515 per Au Oz and an AISC of $576 per Au Oz. The after tax net present value (5%) is $142 M, with an after tax internal rate of return of 28.7% and a payback period of three years, all this in the case scenario of $1,250 per Au Oz price. The proven and probable mineral reserves stand at 44 M tonnes @ 0.73 gpt Au, 14.4 gpt Ag, whereas the measured and indicated resources amount to 353.4 M tonnes @ 0.83 gpt Au, 8.8 gpt Ag, containing 9.46 M Oz Au, 100.4 M Oz Ag. Inferred mineral resources are 60.9 M tonnes @ 0.87 gpt Au, 7.4 gpt Ag, containing 1.70 M Oz Au, 14.5 M Oz Ag.
- Premier Gold Mines Ltd. presented exploration results of its 42,000 m drilling program at its Mercedes mine in Sonora. New mineralised veins have been confirmed at San Martin, opening the area 600 m to the west of the Lupita deposit. Drilling at San Martin returned multiple intercepts, including 7.2 m @ 4.64 gpt Au, 30 gpt Ag; 1.4 m @ 5.56 gpt Au, 38 gpt Ag. Ongoing delineation at Lupita includes intercepts of 3.9 m @ 10.3 gpt Au, 88 gpt Ag and 1.5 m @ 23.9 gpt Au, 71 gpt Ag. Exploration is to be activated at La Mesa area, adjacent to Agnico Eagle’s Santa Gertrudis project.
- Southern Silver Corp. filed a NI-43-101 report with an updated mineral resource estimate for its Cerro Las Minas project in Durango (previously disclosed). The indicated resources amount to 11.1 M tonnes @ 105 gpt Ag, 0.1 gpt Au, 0.16% Cu, 1.2% Pb, 3.7% Zn, containing 37.5 M OZ Ag, 35 K Oz Au, 40 M Lb Cu, 303 M Lb Pb, 897 Lb Zn, Inferred mineral resources comprise 12.8 Mt @ 111 gpt Ag, 0.07 gpt Au, 0.27% Cu, 0.9% Pb, 2.8% Zn, containing 45.7 M Oz Ag, 31 K Oz Au, 76 M Lb Cu, 253 M Lb Pb, 796 M Lb Zn. “The overall objective of the 2019-20 exploration program is to continue to increase the existing resource base and to identify and drill test new epithermal vein systems within the larger claim package.”
- Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd. released results from phase 1 of the current drilling program on the Veta Grande, Armados and Navidad veins on its Veta Grande project in Zacatecas. Highlighted true width intercepts comprise 0.55 m @ 761 gpt Ag, 0.2 gpt Au, 0.86% Pb, 1.84% Zn, 0.04% Cu; 1.94 m @ 65 gpt Ag, 0.75 gpt Au, 1.23% Pb, 3.84% Zn, 0.03% Cu at the Navidad vein; 2.40 m @ 227 gpt Ag, 0.88 gpt Au, 2.71% Pb, 2.64% Zn, 0.19% Cu; 1.59 m @ 280 gpt Ag, 0.61 gpt Au, 3.60% Pb, 3.24% Zn, 0.22% Cu.
- GoGold Resources Inc. released results from two more diamond drill holes at its Los Ricos property in Jalisco. Highlighted intervals comprise 5.0 m @ 0.52 gpt Au, 161 gpt Ag; 6.3 m @ 2.14 gpt Au, 337 gpt Ag and 32.0 m @ 0.80 gpt Au, 179 gpt Ag, including 11.3 m @ 1.46 gpt Au, 348 gpt Ag. The 10,000 m HQ diamond drill program “is focused on defining the mineralized halo around the historical high grade ore shoots as defined by the underground workings and the 65 historical RC drill holes on the property”.
- SilverCrest Metals Inc. informed the decline has intersected the Babicanora vein at the Las Chispas project in Sonora. The decline intersected the Babicanora vein and the newly identified Baby Vista vein, the first with 3.6 m true width and the second with 1.5 m true width. Additional highlighted infill results of the area 51 of the Babicanora vein include 7.6 m @ 26.6 gpt Au, 2,676 gpt Ag; 3.5 m @ 32 gpt Au, 3,417 gpt Ag; 5.6 m @ 13.6 gpt Au, 1,154 gpt Ag. The 51 in-fill drill holes totaling 18,488 m reported in this news release were “generally targeting mineralization on the outer edges of the current block model” have a weighted average true width of 2.2 m @ 7.17 gpt Au, 753 gpt Ag. An additional 40,000 to 50,000 m of infill and expansion drilling with 15 drill rigs on site focused on expanding mineralization and improving resource confidence. To date over 203,000 m of drilling have been sunk in the property. Ongoing work includes the Feasibility study expected in H1, 2020 development of the Babicanora Vein in Area 51 zone, stockpiling of high-grade material, an extensive metallurgical test program, geotechnical work and permitting for project development.
- Minera Alamos Inc. received notification by SEMARNAT (Mexican environmental agency) confirming the successful completion of the technical review phase of the application (Estudio Tecnico Justificativo – “ETJ”) for the change of land use to allow the construction of mining and processing facilities at the Santana project area in Sonora. Phase 2 exploration will continue on the coming months, focusing to “demonstrate the potential of the project to host multiple “Nicho-style” mineralized systems that could be combined to supply feed material for an expanded regional production facility”.
- Almaden Minerals Ltd. current focus at its Ixtaca property in Puebla relates to permitting and financing activities. “Review by Mexican authorities of Almaden’s environmental permit application (Manifestación de Impacto Ambiental, or “MIA”) continues in the normal course, and recently SEMARNAT, Mexico’s environmental authority, completed its public information meeting in the town of Santa Maria”. Almaden is engaged with several potential financing parties to secure funds for the development of the project. Regarding a decision by a lower court in Puebla State concerning Mexico’s mineral title system, Mexico’s Federal Congress, Senate, and Ministry of the Economy each filed appeals against the decision, as well as Almaden.
ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES
- Ridgestone Mining Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire 100% interest in ten mining concessions adjacent to its Rebeico project in Sonora. The concessions cover 3,292 ha west of the Ridgestone claims, in an area with “numerous artisanal workings and mineralized outcrops”. Ridgestone has to make a $83 K payment and issue 5 M shares to the vendor.
- Millrock Resources Inc. entered into an agreement to sell the La Union, Los Cuarentas, El Pima, El Valle and Llano del Nogal claim blocks to Riverside Resources Inc. The Santa Rosalia option from the Los Cuarenta project will also be transferred. The deal, that includes a geological database and exploration equipment, involves Riverside paying $35 K and issuing 150 K shares to Millrock, as well as a 0.5% net smelter royalty (NSR) on the El Pima and El Valle claims, and in the Santa Rosalia option.
- ePower Metals Inc. entered into a definitive agreement with Minera Alamos Inc. and Vista Gold Corp. under which ePower has the right to earn 100% interest in the Los Reyes project in Sinaloa. In connection with the Transaction, the Company intends to change its name to “Prime Mining Corp.”, and will focus its resources on the immediate development of Los Reyes. ePower has to complete a $1.5 M cash payment to Minera Alamos, and assume the remaining option payments to Vista Gold of US$1.5 M on October 2019 and US$1.5 M on October 2021, as well as issuing Minera Alamos 9.45 M post-consolidation shares and 3.35 M warrants. ePower has to consolidate its common shares capital on a two-for-one basis and complete a financing of at least Cdn$6 M. The Los Reyes project has an historical estimate of 427.2 K Oz Au, 7.5 M Oz Ag in indicated resources and 196.7 K Oz Au, 4.8 M Oz Ag of inferred resources.
- Silver Viper Minerals Corp. renegotiated the terms of the Rubi-Esperanza option agreement to purchase three mineral concessions within its La Virginia project in Sonora. The overall agreement reduced the total cash payments from $4.49 M to $3 M, augmented in one year the term of the option and crucially reduced the amount on the first three payments by $1.46 M, enabling Silver Viper to direct maximum expenditures to advancing the project. According to the new agreement the company has to pay US$50 K on June 2019 (paid), US$75 K on June 2020, US$100 K on June 2021, US$200 K on June 2022 and US$2.575 M on June 2023. A 2% NSR can be purchased for US$2 M within 5 years of the original agreement remains unchanged. “Surface geochemistry and prospecting have identified targets to the north, south and east of the El Rubi discovery (6 m TW @ 3.16 gpt Au, 228 gpt Ag) which will be tested during the next phase of drilling. In addition, Silver Viper has contracted Geotech Ltd. to conduct a 720 line-kilometer magnetic and radiometric survey over the El Rubi and La Gloria targets for a total coverage of 4,900 hectares”.
- Golden Minerals Co. entered into an agreement to sell its Velardeña properties to Compañía Minera Autlán S.A.B. de C.V. for $22 M. The deal comprises the Velardeña properties, including the Velardeña and Chicago mines (currently in care and maintenance) and other adjacent exploration properties, and the lease agreement under which Golden Minerals has the oxide plant with Hecla thorough 2020. The proposed transaction also would include the sale of the Rodeo and the Santa Maria project concessions. Upon execution of this agreement, Autlan paid a deposit of US$1.5 million to Golden Minerals, which will be applied to the purchase price upon closing.
- Bacanora Lithium PLC. signed an investment agreement and off-take agreement with Ganfeng Lithium Co. (a key player in the lithium industry globally). Once completed this agreement would form a major part of the financing package needed to develop the initial 17,500 tonnes per year production of lithium carbonate. The £14.4 M strategic investment provides Ganfeng with 29.99% of Bacanora, pre-emption rights and a director on the board. Another project level investment of £7.56 M in Sonora Lithium Ltd. (the holding company of the project) accrues Ganfeng 22.5% of the holding company, with an option to increase its interest to 50% within 24 months and the appointment of a director to the board. GFL will provide a plant and process commissioning team to assist Bacanora in delivering first production in 2021.
- Canasil Resources Inc. and Pan American Silver Corp. signed the definitive agreement under which Pan American has the right to acquire Canasil’s interest in the Sandra Escobar project, in Durango. The transaction was closed for a payment of CDN$2 M and grant of a 2% NSR, with Pan American being able to buy 1% of the NSR by the payment to Canasil of CDN$4 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 image below, conglomerate with well-rounded quartz vein and silicified rock fragments in the coastal plain in Veracruz. Picture by Jorge Cirett.