“Our story has always been about having multiple deposits in a single cluster, and our exploration has focused on defining how many of these breccia pipes there are. To date we have confirmed 17 of these pipes that are cropping out.”
What is the current progress on the Soledad project?
We have completed 25,211 m of drilling on four breccia pipes and published results on three of them. Our phase I was focused on breccia pipe 1 – we wanted to see if the pipe had sufficient scale to be mined. We had some very high-grade zones on the edges of the pipe, and we wanted to tie those zones together with some detailed drilling. In addition, we found the blind north zone by drilling further past the original type. Further to that, breccia pipe 5 showed outstanding mineralization as well, and we had some spectacular grades on breccia pipe 6. One of the intercepts was 22.8 m at 2.93 grams per tonne (g/mt) gold, 1.37% copper and 1,283 g/mt silver.
What is your exploration approach at the project?
Our story has always been about having multiple deposits in a single cluster, and our exploration has focused on defining how many of these breccia pipes there are. To date we have confirmed 17 of these pipes that are cropping out. In addition to that, there are 11 other areas that are strongly altered and that we think are the surface expression of blind pipes, so the potential of the project down the road is enormous.
We now have 3,085 hectares over the broader land position, and we see mineralization that spans 4 km (north and south) to 3 km (east and west). All of our initial drilling was based on a permit that already existed when we optioned the property. We obtained a semi-detailed environmental impact assessment (EIA-sd) that allows for 120 platforms, but that is restricted to the original land position we had with Condor Resources. Now, we are modifying that through an ITS permit to be able to cover our expanded land position. Following our initial agreement with Condor, we signed two additional agreements in the area with a private Peruvian family and Barrick, respectively.
What is going to be your focus once you restart drilling?
Our initial plan contemplates testing a variety of our high-priority targets to see which pipes offer the highest potential, and once we do that we will do in-fill resource drilling to prepare an inferred resource. We have budgeted 20,000 m for the upcoming campaign. We would like to have at least four or five pipes for the initial resource to demonstrate how we could increase that with the remainder of the 17 pipes we currently have. The initial resource will just be a starting point.
Does the market understand a breccia-type deposit?
Breccia pipes are quite common, but they have not been the focus of individual project exploration in many cases. The previous explorers at Soledad were looking for a porphyry copper system beneath, and we came with a different approach that focused on the breccia pipes themselves because they are numerous, extensive, have high grades and we think that if you put 10 such pipes in a project with a very small footprint, it can offer great economic upside. We believe the market is starting to understand the potential of this sort of project.
How important is the precious metal component of Soledad?
This project actually has more value in the gold and silver that it has in copper, even though we have high copper grades. About 65% of the value in breccia pipe 1 is in gold and silver. This project will change perceptions of what these breccia pipes can produce in terms of grade and tonnage. The great advantage is that mineralization goes at depth in a very small footprint. There is also 500 m of relief from the bottom to the top of the project, which means you can come in at various elevations at access mineralization to mine early-on in the mine life, and after that the underground infrastructure can be developed to access multiple pipes at the same time using standard underground methods.
Considering how fast you are moving at Soledad, would you entertain the idea of listing on the Lima stock exchange at some point?
We started in Canada with the TSX-V listing, and we are also listed in Frankfurt and the United States (OTCQB). The Lima exchange does make sense for us – probably when we need another financing. Right now we have a strong cash position with C$6.1 million in the bank, which is enough to see the completion of the 20,000 m of drilling planned. However, in the future, it makes sense to give Peruvian investors access to become involved in our story.