Galena-sphalerite-Ag sulfosalts in a quartz vein
By Miguel A Heredia
During the 38th week of the year (September 18th to September 24th, 2023), at least 18 press releases were announced by companies working in Mexico, and 4 news published by the media, with ten disclosing deals and corporate issues, three commenting on Mexican issues, three announcing financing issues, two reporting resources and development of their properties, two informing on exploration results, and two discussing social issues. ON MEXICO ISSUES, According to El Financiero, there has been a 69% increase in the number of suspended projects during the López Obrador administration. According to information from the US Geological Survey, there are 82 lithium deposits in 18 states of the Republic, which can represent 1.7 million tons. ON EXPLORATION, In Chihuahua, Southern Empire received permitting from the Mexico´s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) for 30 drill hole sites at its Centauro project. In Zacatecas, Radius provided an update on drilling at its Tropico project. ON MINING, no relevant news. ON FINANCING, Equinox announced and completed a bought deal offering of convertible senior notes (Mina Los Filos, Guerrero). Excellon announced debenture restructuring to reduce the outstanding principal amount to CAD $7.5M (La Negra Mine, Queretaro). ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, Golden Tag announced the commencement of a 7,000m drilling campaign at its La Parrilla Mine Complex in Durango. Tocvan provided an update on the acquisition of Pilar project in Sonora and outlined target areas for the next phase of drilling. Silver Valley provided a corporate update on its MexiCan lithium-potassium projects located in Zacatecas-San Luis Potosi. ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES, Luca Mining announced the appointment of its Director of Corporate Development (Tahuehueto project, Durango). Santacruz reported fatality at its Zimapan Mine, Hidalgo. GR Silver reported results from its annual general meeting of shareholders (Plomosas project, Sinaloa). Sierra Metals placed Cusi Mine in Chihuahua on care and maintenance and initiated sale process. Radius announced that it proposes to issue 500K common shares of the company to Bruce Smith (Tropico project, Zacatecas). Angel Wing announced the consolidation of its common shares (La Reyna project, Nayarit). Bear Creek announced results from its special meeting of shareholders (Mercedes Mine, Sonora). Colibri announced the retirement of its President and CEO, and its replacement (Evelyn project, Sonora). Orex announced a consolidation of its issued and outstanding common shares at a ratio of ten pre-consolidation shares to one post-consolidation share (Coneto project, Sonora). Pan American announced that it will host a conference call to discuss the company´s environmental, social, and governance efforts and development (La Colorada, Zacatecas). Silver Viper announced that it will present a live virtual corporate update hosted by Red Cloud Financial Services on September 28th, 2023 at 2:00 PM ET (La Virginia project, Sonora). ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, MAG Silver published its second annual sustainability report (Juanicipio, Zacatecas). Ternium completed the restoration of the Cerro Náhuatl Mine and Jala Station Closure Plan in Coquimatlán, Colima, which covers a period from 2012 to 2022 in which reforestation works and programs were implemented.
ON MEXICO ISSUE
- According to El Financiero, the mining sector has experienced a series of obstacles set by the current administration. The number of suspended projects stood at 439 in 2018, while the current figure is 837, representing a 69% increase in the number of suspended projects during the López Obrador administration. Likewise, the Fraser Institute of Canada placed Mexico in 37th place out of 83 countries evaluated, a drop of three places compared to 2021 and 17 positions compared to 2010. The sector is worried that the USD $77.2M budget assigned to Mexican Geological Survey (SGM) for 2024 is 95.47% below the USD $1.7 B private companies invested just in exploration. “With this lack of budget for exploration, they are condemning the country and the mining sector, because mining will be halted for another six years. If the modifications to the Mining Law remain as they are, we will witness Mexico’s mining sector entering a clear decline,” said Alfredo Phillips, Vice President, Argonaut Gold, in an interview with El Financiero. In an interview with Mexico Business News (MBN), Ramón Luna, Director General of Servicios y Proyectos Mineros de Mexico (SPM), acknowledged that SGM has talented geologists and manages the most comprehensive database in Mexico. However, the public body does not match the infrastructure of a private company. “(The reform) would either force the more than 100 exploration companies in the country to work with the SGM or make the latter the only operator. This is not feasible because it lacks the necessary infrastructure,” he added. Similarly, Raúl García, President of College of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists and Geologists of Mexico (CIMMGM), said that we could see the first impacts of lacking exploration by 2025 and a drop in production within the next five years, if SGM does not maintain the current levels of exploration. According to data from the Secretariat of Economy (SE), in 1Q23, the total foreign direct Investment (FDI) in the mining sector amounted to USD $419M. In contrast, during the same period in 2013, this figure reached USD $2.036 B, reflecting a decline of 79.4%. During Enrique Peña Nieto’s initial five-year term, from 2012 to 2017, the country received mining FDI totaling USD $2.8 B and USD $1.9 B, respectively, representing a decrease of 32.1%. Meanwhile, during the first five years of López Obrador’s administration, covering the period from 2018 to 2023, FDI amounted to USD $1.9 B and USD $419M, marking a significant 78% decrease. However, it is important to note that data for 2023 is not fully available, which means that the percentages provided could vary.
- According to information from the US Geological Survey, there are 82 lithium deposits in 18 states of the Republic, which can represent 1.7 million tons. A few days ago, Héctor Usla, Economist and Reporter of the El Financiero Newspaper, reported that the 2024 Expenditure Law project plans to allocate MXP $9.77M to Litio para México (LitioMx), the entity created in August 2022, for the exploration, exploitation, benefit and use of lithium found in national territory. This is an amount that allows the administrative operation of the decentralized organization, but that seems insufficient to reliably establish the total amount of probable lithium reserves and initiate exploration and production in the most promising deposits. (Note of the writer.- Are you serious?…Obviously, it would be vastly insufficient to have a budget like that reported above to carry out exploration, exploitation, etc.).
- Southern Empire Resources Corp., received permitting from the Mexico´s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) for 30 drill hole sites at its Centauro project in Chihuahua. “The Centauro Gold Project exhibits significant potential to host “Carlin-style” and/or epithermal precious metal mineralization based on extensive brecciation, silicification and argillization of the Tertiary-age Ahuichila Formation conglomerate, a strongly coincident gold (“Au”), arsenic (“As”), antimony (“Sb”), mercury (“Hg”), thallium, silver, barium soil geochemical signature associated with a silicified mesa “cap” covering 2.5 km along the strike of the main zone, outcrops containing arsenopyrite, realgar, orpiment and stibnite, and low to non- anomalous base metal values”.
- Radius Gold Inc., provided an update on drilling at its Tropico project in Zacatecas. The initial hole TDD-001 plan for 300m to intersect the Tropico breccia pipe encountered difficult ground conditions and was abandoned at 56m. “The hole from 19m to 56m is intensely altered with clay, silicification, variable zones of hydrothermal breccias and repeated sets of banded silica veins with fine sulphides and stockwork veining. Banded veining had not previously been seen on the property”. “The drill rig has been stepped back from the target an additional 25m and a new hole drilled deeper under hole TDD-001, this time using large diameter PQ sized core and casing which is expected to alleviate the drilling difficulties”.
- No relevant news.
- Equinox Gold Corp., announced that it has entered into an agreement to buy, on a bought deal basis, 4.75% unsecured convertible senior notes due 2028 in an aggregate principal amount of $150M. The company has granted the initial purchasers up to an additional $22.5M aggregate principal amount of notes. The notes will be issued at par value. Later on, the company announced that it had closed its previously announced bought deal offering of $172.5M aggregate principal amount of 4.75% unsecured convertible senior notes due 2028, which includes exercise of the full amount of the option to purchase an additional $22.5M aggregate principal amount of notes Net proceeds will be used for repayment of debt and for general corporate purposes (Mina Los Filos, Guerrero).
- Excellon Resources Inc., announced debenture restructuring to reduce the outstanding principal amount to CAD $7.5M representing a reduction of CAD $10.4M (58% reduction), and to amend the terms of the remaining debentures to, among other things, further extend the maturity date to August 31, 2026. In exchange for CAD $10.4M aggregate principal amount of the debentures, Excellon to pay CAD $3.5M in equity, 25% interest in Silver City Project, plus additional non-dilutive contingency and royalty payments (La Negra Mine, Queretaro).
ON RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT
- Golden Tag Resources Ltd., announced the commencement of a 7,000m drilling campaign at its La Parrilla Mine Complex in Durango. The 7,000m phase 1 drilling program will focus on infill and step-out drilling in proximity to underground mining infrastructure and existing development in three key areas: a) Rosarios and Cuerpo 340 Veins (3,000 m of drilling to test the east, west and central down-dip extensions; b) Quebradillas Underground (3,000 m of drilling to test the strike and down-dip extensions of three key zones including Cuerpo 460, Norte-Sur, and San Nicolas; and c) San Marcos (1,000 m of drilling to test the extension of San Marcos and Cuerpo 1100 at depth.
- Tocvan Ventures Corp., provided an update on the acquisition of the Pilar project in Sonora and outlined target areas for the next phase of drilling. The company has exercised notice to Colibri Resources Corp., to purchase the remaining 49%. It also is completing a due diligence expected to finalize in coming weeks to acquire over 21 square-kilometers of land surrounding the Pilar, which contain recent placer activity, historic workings, and prospective geology, indicative that the area is highly prospective for gold and silver. “Tocvan plans to restart field operations at the close of the expansion acquisition to advance new target areas already identified quickly towards drill targeting. Drilling at Pilar and within the new expansion area is planned to total 2,000-meters before year end”.
- Silver Valley Metals provided a corporate update on its MexiCan lithium-potassium projects located in Zacatecas-San Luis Potosi. Highlights of this project include that significant grades of lithium, potassium sulphate, and boron are located on surface in unconsolidated sediments; the brine potential has not been tested to date; deep basin large aquifer brine potential defined by regional geophysics surveys, remains to be tested; he inferred resource has been tested from surface to an average 5 metres depth; the company anticipates the sediment basin could range from 40m to greater than 100m deep, so the prospect of expanding the sediment resource at depth is substantial; and 12.3M tonnes of Potassium Sulphate and 243K tonnes of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent defined thus far. The company declared that discussions are active and advancing with LitioMX and near-term plans are in place to come together to potentially finalize a partnership agreement.
ON DEALS AND CORPORATE ISSUES
- Luca Mining Corp., announced the appointment of its Director of Corporate Development. The company also granted incentive stock options to its employees and consultants to purchase an aggregate 225K share in the capital stock of the company (Tahuehueto project, Durango).
- Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd., reported that an employee was fatality injured at its Zimapan Mine, Hidalgo. The fatality was the result of rockfall from a stope face.
- GR Silver Mining Ltd., reported results from its annual general meeting of shareholders. Incumbent director Laura Diaz chose not to stand for re-election and was not a nominee (Plomosas project, Sinaloa).
- Sierra Metals Inc., placed Cusi Mine in Chihuahua on care and maintenance and initiated a process to sell the mine. Ernesto Balarezo Valdez, Sierra Metals’ CEO, stated that “Sierra Metals is transitioning to become a copper-focused mining company, and the planned divestiture of Cusi will allow us to focus on our two key mines, Yauricocha in Peru and Bolivar in Mexico, where we have significant potential to continue growing our copper production”.
- Radius Gold Inc., announced that it proposes, subject to TSX Venture Exchange approval, to issue 500K common shares of the company to Bruce Smith. The common shares will be issued at a deemed price of $0.24 per share, for a total deemed value of $120K (good for you Bruce!) (Tropico project, Zacatecas).
- Angel Wing Metals Inc., announced the consolidation of its common shares on the basis of one post- consolidation common share for every two pre-consolidation shares issued and outstanding as of the close of business on September 20, 2023. (La Reyna project, Nayarit).
- Bear Creek Mining Corporation announced results from its special meeting of shareholders (Mercedes Mine, Sonora).
- Colibri Resource Corporation announced the retirement of its President and CEO, and its replacement (Evelyn project, Sonora).
- Orex Minerals Inc., announced a consolidation of its issued and outstanding common shares at a ratio of ten pre-consolidation shares to one post-consolidation share. The reasons for the consolidation are to increase the company’s flexibility and competitiveness in the marketplace and to attract new equity investment in the company (Coneto project, Sonora).
- Pan American Silver Corp., announced that it will host a conference call to discuss the company ´s environmental, social, and governance efforts, and development on October 19, 2023 at 11:00 am ET (8:00 am PT) (La Colorada, Zacatecas).
- Silver Viper Minerals Corp., announced that it will present a live virtual corporate update hosted by Red Cloud Financial Services on September 28th, 2023 at 2:00 PM ET (La Virginia project, Sonora).
ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- MAG Silver Corp., published its second annual sustainability report. , which provides a comprehensive overview of the company’s environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) commitments, practices, and performance for the 2022 year. Highlights of the 2022 sustainability report include zero fatalities at the Juanicipio project, Zacatecas or at MAG´s exploration projects; a lost time injury frequency rate of 1.92; over 62,000 hours dedicated to safety training; zero significant environmental incidents at the Juanicipio and other projects; 66% of MAG Silver´s workforce is hired from local communities; over 13 community engagement initiatives across 4 different project streams at the Juanicipio project: health, education, capacity buildings, and microenterprise projects; 38% of Board directors are female, surpassing the 30% target established in MAG´s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy; and Code of Conduct and Social Responsibility Policy refreshed and updated to specifically articulate the importance of engaging with Indigenous communities through meaningful dialogue, cooperation, and deepening of the shared-value approach to local development activities to promote sustainable and lasting economic and social benefits.
- Ternium completed the restoration of the Cerro Náhuatl Mine and Jala Station Closure Plan in Coquimatlán, Colima, which covers a period from 2012 to 2022 in which reforestation works and programs were implemented. With this project, the forest area was increased by 88 hectares and the area was repopulated with 180 species of native fauna. It is a component of the company’s commitment to sustainability in the communities where it operates, according to a statement.
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On the picture above, galena, sphalerite, and silver sulfosalts in a quartz vein from an intermediate sulphidation epithermal vein system in Sonora, Mexico Photo by Miguel A Heredia.