By Jorge Cirett
Amidst the Coronavirus widespread suspension of activities, including mining and exploration, decreed by the Mexican government, a record number of press releases was issued. During the 14th week of the year (March 30th to April 5th, 2020), at least 57 press releases were announced by companies working in Mexico, of which 20 were on how companies were dealing with the situation. ON MEXICO ISSUES, a national decree by the federal government suspended all non-essential activities, which include mining and exploration, until the end of April. The DGM (Mining Regulator) is to manage everything through electronic channels during the Coronavirus contingency (in practical terms, do not expect anything done during this period of time). Previous to the federal government decree, the Sonoran government ordered the stoppage of all work on the mines on the State. Mexico is well poised for a substantial growth in lead and zinc production in 2020 (although the work suspension on mines might prevent it). ON EXPLORATION, in Sonora, Silver Viper released more drilling results on El Rubi zone of its La Virgina project. Tocvan Ventures commenced geophysical and soil survey programs at its Pilar project. In Chihuahua, Discovery Metals and Kootenay Silver announced the suspension of activities at its Cordero and Columba projects respectively. In Sinaloa, Kootenay Silver announced the suspension of activities at El Copalito. Advance Gold released drilling information on its Tabaqueña project. ON MINING, Mag Silver, Excellon Resources and Odyssey Marine Exploration presented 2019 results. First Majestic plans to invest $46 M in capital expenditures at its Santa Elena project. GoGold completed the commissioning of a SART palnt at its Parral tailings facilities. Equinox plans to produce 170 K – 190 K Oz Au during 2020 at Los Filos, Guerrero, and invest a total of $75 M. ON FINANCING, Orla Mining closed a bought deal for C$75 M. Mithrill is to conduct a rights issue for share holders in Australia and New Zealand to raise $2.45 M. Southern Silver announced the exercise of 2015 and 2016 warrants and options, raising $1.25 M. ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, First Majestic updated the mineral resource estimate on seven of its Mexican properties. Sierra Metals updated the mineral resource estimate on Bolivar, Chihuahua. Prime Mining produced a new resource estimate for its Los Reyes project in Sinaloa. Mag Silver has to obtain funding, or see its 44% JV participation in the Juanicipio project (Zacatecas) dwindle. Great Panther filed two technical reports on the Guanajuato mine complex. Bacanora Lithium granted a contract to GRES on the Sonora Lithium project. Golden Minerals presented a new PEA for its Velardeña properties. GR Silver Mining released underground channel results from the Plomosas project in in Sinaloa. ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES, GR Silver completed the acquisition of the Plomosas project in Sinaloa. Argonaut Gold and Alio Gold are merging. Orex Minerals and Pan American Silver are forming a JV on the Sandra project in Durango. Riverside is going ahead with the Peñoles project (Durango) spin-off. Mithrill Resources informed on the acquisition of Sun Minerals. Southern Silver entered into an agreement with Monarch Minerals to purchase a mineral concession adjacent to Cerro Las Minas project in Durango. Oroco Resources amended disclosures on the Santo Tomas project technical report. Odyssey Marine Exploration continues with the arbitration process for its offshore phosphate project in Baja California Sur. ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. Newmont GoldCorp Peñasquito donated 500 COVID-19 tests and delivered thousands of cleansing packages in the communities near the Peñasquito mine in Zacatecas..
ON MEXICO ISSUES
- Mining halted in Mexico. A national decree by the Mexican federal government suspended all non-essential activities for 30 days on the wake of the fight on the propagation of the coronavirus. Mining is not considered essential thus all operations are due to shut down.
- Mexico is well positioned for increased lead and zinc production, BNamericas. Supported by expected continued work at Newmont’s Peñasquito mine, Southern Copper’s San Martin mine and Peñoles operations, the lead and zinc Mexican production is poised to grow in 2020. Lead production could increase 27.8% to 194.9 K tonnes, with the expected production of 90.7 K tonnes at Peñasquito. Zinc production could increase 27% to 633.2 K tonnes, with its expected production of 192.8 K tonnes. Both zinc and lead face extremely low prices, with zinc at US$0.85/Lb and lead close to US$0.75/Lb.
- To reduce coronavirus contagion risks, the Dirección General de Minas (DGM) initiated a protocol to process requests and information only through electronic media, for the time that the contingency lasts (in practical terms, the already slow pace of proceedings at the DGM is coming to halt for the time being).
- The Mining Fund served its purpose at Jiapaz, Zacatecas, where solar panels were installed to power the water system on La Martinica de Guadalupe neighborhood.
- The Sonora government issued orders to stop all non-essential activities, including mining, as a mean to reduce the propagation speed of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
- Mining companies that presented press releases on Coronavirus related suspension of activities: Argonaut Gold, Sierra Metals, Pan American Silver, Premier Gold Mines, Equinox Gold, GoGold Resources, Gold Resource, Excellon Resources, Endeavour Silver, Azucar Minerals, Avino Silver & Gold Mines, Agnico Eagle Mines, Almaden Minerals, Alamos Gold, Fortuna Silver, Mithrill Resources, Vizsla Resources, Torex Gold, Great Panther, and Golden Minerals.
- Silver Viper Minerals Corp. released drilling results at its La Virginia project in Sonora. The Rubi zone strike length increased by 100 m, to a total of 400 m, where a total of 6,103 m in 20 holes have been collared; a further 852 m in four holes were drilled at the Macho Libre target. The results for the last nine holes are still pending. Highlighted true width intervals comprise: 1.42 m @ 156 gpt Ag, 1.79 gpt Au; 2.84 m @ 249 gpt Ag, 1.55 gpt Au (including 0.36 m @ 1,584 gpt Ag, 5.56 gpt Au); 17.04 m @ 28 gpt Ag, 0.69 gpt Au; 1.07 m @ 52 gpt Ag, 1.27 gpt Au; 1.07 m @ 124 gpt Ag, 3.32 gpt Au; 4.26 m @ 38 gpt Ag, 0.64 gpt Au; 6.04 m @ 74 gpt Ag, 0.99 gpt Au (including 1.78 m @ 187 gpt Ag, 2.48 gpt Au. The company recently completed a 4,800-hectare; 718 line-km helicopter borne magnetic-radiometric geophysical survey centered on El Rubi zone.
- Discovery Metals Corp. announced the temporarily suspension of all exploration activities at its Mexican operations due to the COVID-19 risks. “Discovery has already completed 48 holes totaling 17,500 metres of its planned 30,000 – 35,000 metre Phase 1 drill program. The Company will provide ongoing exploration updates for the 34 drill holes not previously press released once results have been received and validated”. Discovery had a cash balance of CAD$24 M by the end of 2019 (Cordero, Chihuahua).
- Tocvan Ventures Corp. announced the commencement of the 2020 field program at the Pilar project in Sonora. The focus is to expand the known areas of mineralization, gain a better understanding of structural controls, identify mineralization targets and define drill targets. A multiple-task (?) geophysical survey is underway concurrently with a close-spaced soil sampling program. These surveys will be followed up with structural refining, XRF survey across the property and reviewing historical drill holes.
- Kootenay Silver Inc. temporarily suspended the current drill programs at its Columba (Chihuahua) and Copalito (Sinaloa) projects, to reduce the propagation risks of the Coronavirus.
- Advance Gold Corp. released information on drilling at its Tabasqueña project in Zacatecas. One hole was abandoned because of challenging drilling conditions; a second hole intercepted a black slate with small sulphide lenses 0.3 cm to 1 cm in thickness, this unit explains the chargeability anomaly detected by the geophysical survey. The best intercept was 1.25 m @ 2.79% Pb; the third hole also intersected the sulphide bearing black slate unit, assays pending. Teck’ San Nicolas VMS project is 11 kilometers East of Tabasqueña.
- First Majestic Silver Corp. plans to invest US$46.3 M in capital expenditures at its Santa Elena mine in Sonora. Exploration, the installation of an autogenous mill, exploration and development of the Ermitaño West, mine access preparation and prefeasibility studies are among the use of the funds involved.
- GoGold Resources Inc. reported the completion of commissioning of the SART plant at its Parral Tailings facility in Chihuahua. “The main economic drivers are the recovery of a high-grade saleable copper sulfide product, the re-generation of cyanide, which is the largest single operating cost at Parral, and improve the leaching efficiency of the heap”. GoGold reduced the need to purchase cyanide by $200 K in March.
- Excellon Resources Inc. reports 2019 annual and Q4 financial results. At Platosa, in Durango, 19.8 K tonnes @ 435 gpt Ag, 4.84% Pb, 6.39% Zn were processed, recovering 91.7% Ag, 80.2% Pb, 76.5% Zn to produce 259.2 K Oz Ag, 1.69 M Lb Pb, 2.06 M Lb Zn during the quarter. For the full year 75.2 K tonnes @ 409 gpt Ag, 4.75% Pb, 6.82% Zn were processed , recovering 89.9% Ag, 79.2% Pb. 77.7% Zn to produce 1.05 M Oz Ag, 6.1 M Lb Pb, 8.4 M Lb Zn, or 1.93 M Oz AgEq.
- Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. reported results for the full year 2019.
- Equinox Gold Corp. provided production guidance for 2020, including figures from its operations in Mexico. At the Los Filos mine in Guerrero, production is set to range between 170 K to 190 K Oz Au, at an AISC of $1,000 to $1,050 per Oz Au, sustaining capital of $24 M and Non-sustaining capital of $51 M. “The Company is advancing an expansion of the Los Filos mine complex including enlarging the Los Filos open pit, developing a second underground mine (Bermejal), adding a new open pit (Guadalupe) and constructing a new carbon in leach (“CIL”) plant to process higher-grade ore…….. Equinox Gold has budgeted a total capital spend of $75 million at Los Filos during 2020. Non-sustaining capital of $51 million relates primarily to the expansion project and includes $20 million for pre-stripping of the Guadalupe open pit and $23 million allocated to Bermejal underground development”.
- Newmont Corp. has announced expiration and final results of the tender offers for its 3.5% senior notes due 2022 and Goldcorp’s 3.7% notes due 2023. (Peñasquito, Zacatecas).
- Mithrill Resources Ltd. will be conducting a pro-rata non-renounceable rights issue to allow shareholders, of ordinary shares with a registered address in Australia or New Zealand, to apply for one share for every ordinary share held, to raise $2.45 M (Copalquin, Durango).
- Southern Silver Exploration Corp. informed recent warrant and option exercised during the current fiscal period. Warrants and options issued in 2015 and 2016 were exercised for $1.25 M in gross profits (Cerro La Mina, Durango).
- Orla Mining Ltd. closed its previously announced bought deal financing with a syndicate of underwriters led by Stifel GMP and including Desjardins Capital Markets, Paradigm Capital and Cormark Securities Inc. for aggregate gross proceeds of C$75 M.
ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT
- First Majestic Silver Corp. updated mineral reserve and mineral resource estimates for the San Dimas (Durango), Santa Elena (Sonora) and La Encantada (Coahuila) producing mines, as well as from its San Martín (Jalisco), La Parrilla (Durango), Del Toro (Zacatecas) and La Guitarra (Estado de Mexico) properties.
- Sierra Metals Inc. updated mineral reserve and mineral resource estimates for its Bolivar mine in Chihuahua. Mineral reserves decreased by 2.5 M tonnes on mining depletion from 2017, but measured, indicated and inferred resources have significantly grown.
- Mag Silver Reported 2019 annual results. Development of the Juanicipio mine (Zacatecas) and processing plant continue, with the plant expected to commence commissioning in mid-2021. Underground development is ongoing, exceeding now 26 Km. Remaining pre-operative initial capital is estimated at $305 M, although this figure can be reduced by cash in hand of the operator of the JV (Fresnillo 56%, Mag 44%) and expected cash flow from mineralized material extracted and processed at the Fresnillo’s mine facilities commencing in mid-2020. “The Company needs to raise additional capital in the future in order to meet its full share of initial capital required to develop the Juanicipio Project. Mag does not generate operating cash flow at this time to fund such obligations, and accordingly, future liquidity will depend upon its ability to arrange debt or additional equity financings. The Company is currently evaluating several proposals. The inability of MAG to fund its 44% share of cash calls would result in dilution of its ownership interest in Minera Juanicipio in accordance with the shareholders’ agreement”. At the end of the year Mag had $71.86 M including cash and cash equivalents of $72.36 M AuEq.
- Great Panther Mining Ltd. filed two technical reports regarding the Guanajuato mine complex. “The reports are titled “NI 43- 101 Mineral Resource Update Technical Report on the Guanajuato Mine Complex, San Ignacio Mine, Guanajuato State, Mexico”, dated March 17, 2020, and “NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Update Technical Report on the Guanajuato Mine Complex, Guanajuato Mine, Guanajuato State, Mexico”, dated March 27, 2020”.
- SilverCrest Metals Inc. released protocols to minimize exposure to coronavirus, in order to decrease the risk to employees, contractors, families and communities near Las Chispas project in Sonora.
- Evrim Resources Corp. updated the resource on the Ermitaño project in Sonora, of which it holds a 2% NSR. Property owner First Majestic Silver Corp. announced a 15% increase in grade and a 345% increase in contained AgEq ounces in the indicated resources compared to the previous estimate. The indicated resources are 2.1 M tonnes @ 4.59 gpt Au, 70 gpt Ag, containing 311 K Oz Au and 4.73 M Oz Ag; the inferred resources stand at 3.73 M tonnes @ 3.08 gpt Au, 58 gpt Ag, containing 370 K Oz Au, 6.98 M Oz Ag.
- Bacanora Lithium. Announced the granting of a contract to GR Engineering Services for engineering, acquisition and construction services on the Sonora lithium project.
- Prime Mining Corp. released a new resource estimate for its Los Reyes project (formerly Guadalupe de Los Reyes) in Sinaloa. The pit constrained resources range from 19.75 M tonnes @ 1.31 gpt AuEq measured and indicated resources (M&I) containing 833.1 K Oz AuEq and 7.1 M tonnes @ 1.14 gpt AuEq in inferred resources containing 261.1 K Oz AuEq at a 0.22 gpt AuEq cutoff; to 5.91 M tonnes @ 2.72 gpt AuEq M&I resources and 1.68 M tonnes @ 2.59 gpt AuEq containing 516.2 K Oz AuEq and 140.5 K Oz AuEq respectively, at a cutoff grade of 1.0 gpt AuEq. The pit strip ratio is calculated as 4.6 to 1 waste to ore in six separate pits.
- Golden Minerals Co. announced positive results from the updated mineral resource estimate and preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Velardeña properties in Durango. The PEA states a pre-tax net present value of $85.9 M at an 8% discount rate, an internal rate of return of 138.6%, pre-production capital cost of $10.27 M, post production and working capital $15.93 M and a life of mine of 10 years to produce 10.2 M Oz Ag, 119 K Oz Au. The resource estimate including sulfide and oxide ore comprises 1.35 M tonnes @ 307 gpt Ag, 4.92 gpt Au, 1.54% Pb, 1.78% Zn in measured and indicated resources, containing, 13.34 M Oz Ag, 214 K Oz Au, 45.8 M Lb Pb, 53 M Lb Zn; and 1.76 M tonnes @ 354 gpt Ag, 4.73 gpt Au, 1.72% Pb, 1.86% Zn, containing 20.1 M Oz Ag, 268 K Oz Au, 67.1 M Lb Pb, 72.3 M Lb Zn.
- GR Silver Mining Ltd. released assay results from initial underground channel sampling from the San Juan workings at the Plomosas Silver project. San Juan is one of six priority areas with underground development not yet exploited by previous owners. Some of the highlighted composites comprise 2.1 m @ 0.30 gpt Au, 552 gpt Ag, 0.7% Pb, 1.0% Zn (including 0.40 m @ 1.2 gpt Au, 3,003 gpt Ag, 2.9% Pb, 3.1% Zn); 5.0 m @ 0.28 gpt Au, 816 gpt Ag, 0.9% Pb, 0.5 % Zn; 2.0 m @ 0.51 gpt Au, 1,145 gpt Ag, 0.9% Pb, 0.4% Zn; 2.8 m @ 0.42 gpt Au, 482 gpt Ag, 0.4% Pb, 0.4% Zn; 9.3 m @ 0.13 gpt Au, 346 gpt Ag, 0.7% Pb, 1.0% Zn; 3.0 m @ 0.11 gpt Au, 485 gpt Ag, 0.2% Pb, 0.3% Zn.
ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES
- GR Silver Mining Ltd. Has completed the acquisition of the Plomosas silver project in Sinaloa, from First Majestic Silver Corp. .GR Silver paid CDN$100 K, granted First Majestic a 2% NSR, of which half could be bought for US$1 M, and issued First Majestic 17.1 M shares of GR Silver. The project comes with six areas at the drilling/resource stage, with 563 drill holes totalling over 100,000 m of core drilling and the mining infrastructure of the Plomosas mine, that produced over 2.5 M tonnes of Pb-Zn-Ag ore.
- Argonaut Gold Inc. and Alio Gold Inc. have entered into a definitive agreement for an at-market merger whereby Argonaut will acquire all of Alio shares. The transaction creates an intermediate producer with four operations rendering 235 K Oz AuEq per year from four mines and presence in Mexico, Canada and USA, and a pipeline that includes Ana Paula (Guerrero), Cerro del Gallo (Guanajuato) and Magino (Canada).
- Orex Minerals Inc. entered into an agreement to form a JV with Pan American Silver Corp. to explore and develop the Sandra (formerly Sandra Escobar) project in Durango. Orex and Pan American will own a 40% and 60% interest in the JV.
- Riverside Resources Inc. has received requisite shareholder approval for the spin-out of the Peñoles Project (Durango) to its shareholders. “Once the Arrangement becomes effective, Riverside shareholders will own shares in two public companies: Capitan, which will focus on the development of the Peñoles Project, and Riverside, which will continue to generate prospective mineral properties”.
- Mithhrill Resources Ltd. Informed on the proposed acquisition of Sun Minerals Pty Ltd., which holds an option to earn up to 100% interest on the Copalquin project in Durango. Due diligence was completed, a formal share agreement for the acquisition of all issued share capital of Sun Minerals was executed and shareholder approval received. On view of recent market developments, Mithrill and Sun Minerals agreed that Mithrill is to raise a minimum of A$1.5 M.
- Southern Silver Exploration Corp. entered into an agreement with Monarch Minerals Inc. to purchase the El Sol mineral concession in Durango, near the Sothern Silver and Electrum Global Holdings L.P. Cerro Las Minas JV project. The purchase will not form a part of the Cerro Las Minitas JV. Acquisition cost is $US300 K payable in three equal installments on signature, 12 and 18 months, with the vendor retaining a 2% NSR that can be bought by Southern Silver at any time for US$1 M.
- Oroco Resource Corp. wishes to clarify and amend its disclosures with respect to its Santo Tomas project in Sinaloa. “The BCSC reviewed the Company’s October, 2019 and March, 2020 corporate presentations (the “Presentations”) and its current technical report dated August 22, 2019 and titled “Technical Report Geology, Mineralization, and Exploration of the Santo Tomas Cu-(Mo-Au-Ag) Porphyry Deposit Sinaloa, Mexico” authored by D. A. Bridge, P. Geol.” (the “Report”). Both the current Presentation and the Report have been removed from the Company’s website pending revision. The disclosure issues in the Presentations and the Report with respect to National Instrument 43-101 (the “Instrument”) and Form 43-101F1 are summarized in the following discussion”.
- Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. has launched a NAFTA arbitration process on its “Exploraciones Oceánicas” phosphate project off the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur. “The Arbitral Tribunal, consisting of three international arbitrators well-versed in international investment treaties, has been constituted and the parties are now in the process of finalizing the arbitration schedule and procedures with the Tribunal……..“We intend to continue to work diligently and in good faith with Mexico’s current administration to achieve an equitable resolution of this dispute and to help Mexico provide fertilizer to its farmers, but we are prepared to proceed with the full NAFTA arbitration process if necessary, and have recently received increased litigation funding specifically to support this case”. The Exploraciones Oceánicas project contains an estimated 588 M tonnes of phosphate, at a depth of 70-90 m, lying 25 to 40 km from the coast, with almost no overburden.
ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- Newmont Goldcorp donates 500 COVID-19 tests in Zacatecas. The donation amounts to more than $2 M pesos.
- Newmont Peñasquito delivered 3,000 cleansing packages, in the communities near the Peñasquito mine in Zacatecas, amidst the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus. The packages are to be delivered in and by local health institutions.
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: Hematite-goethite stained quartz vein in an orogenic gold system, Oaxaca. Picture by Jorge Cirett.