"There are very few copper or copper-gold resources the size of AntaKori that are in the hands of junior companies and therefore potentially available for acquisition. As copper demand increases in the next few years, we anticipate that major companies will be motivated to acquire an interest in projects like AntaKori."
Can you provide an update on Regulus’ phase II drill program at the AntaKori copper-gold project?
Our ongoing drilling is progressing well as we continue to increase the size of the resource at the AntaKori project. The phase I drilling program was completed in late 2018, which allowed us to put out a resource published in March 2019. We moved directly from phase I into phase II, which ran throughout 2019 and is continuing into 2020. We have completed approximately 16,000 m of what we anticipate will be a 25,000 m phase II program. The focus of our phase II drilling program has been to extend the mineralization, mostly to the north of the project. The resource already announced gave us a great start with 250 million mt of 0.48% copper and 0.29 g/mt gold in the indicated category and 267 million mt of 0.41% copper and 0.26 g/mt gold in the inferred category.
We have had some very eye-catching results on some of our drill holes, for example, drill hole 31 hit 610 m of 0.84% copper with 1.02 g/mt gold, a 1.66% copper equivalent. The AntaKori project has produced five of the top 20 copper intercepts that have been reported worldwide over the last two years, and with mineralization close to surface. It is producing very lengthy intercepts that are high grade and indicative of a very robust system. We anticipate to complete the phase II program in mid-2020, which will allow for an updated resource by the end of 2020.
What are Regulus’ plans to drill the newly permitted Anta Norte portion of the AntaKori project?
The area we refer to as Anta Norte is outside of the immediate agreement we have with Coimolache, the neighboring operating mine. Regulus thus required a separate drilling permit (DIA) which we obtained in late November 2019. We are currently in the process of getting the initiation of activity (AIEA) stage approved and we anticipate that we will be in a position to start a drill program in April 2020, when we expect to complete approximately 6,000 m by Q3 2020.
Considering the scarcity of sizeable undeveloped copper projects globally, how do you think AntaKori compares to other junior projects?
Regulus specializes in acquiring opportunities to drill out and demonstrate very large copper or copper-gold deposits. We had the success with Antares Minerals which we sold to First Quantum and we think we have the same scale of project or better with AntaKori. We have already demonstrated that we have a fairly sizeable resource at AntaKori, with significant potential to grow.
There are very few copper or copper-gold resources the size of AntaKori that are in the hands of junior companies and therefore potentially available for acquisition. As copper demand increases in the next few years, we anticipate that major companies will be motivated to acquire an interest in projects like AntaKori. Considering its potential size and immediate proximity to operating mines, I believe that the AntaKori could logically become part of a joint venture between a number of different parties to consolidate the district and establish a large long-life copper gold mine.
How is Regulus planning to deal with the arsenic content found in some of the deposit?
We recently initiated an extensive metallurgical testing program and, by mid-2020, we will have more definitive metallurgical results. Currently, approximately 40% of our resource is high arsenic material and about half of the project is skarn mineralization with lower arsenic contents. The portion with high arsenic will require additional treatment to be properly processed. We are currently investigating a number of techniques that are applied to other projects, including partial roasting and pressure oxidation or autoclave processing. We will be testing our material to see which technique is most appropriate. As we move to the north of the project, we expect to see cleaner mineralization which will allow for less processing challenges.
Social issues have delayed the development of a number of projects in Peru. Can you elaborate on Regulus’ approach to community relations?
It is of paramount importance to work with the local communities from an early stage and to demonstrate the potential and positive benefits of a project, as well as clearly communicating what is being done to manage the impacts of the project. Regulus has an advantage in that AntaKori is located next to two operating mines and the communities have seen the benefits of mining in the area. We coordinate our efforts with neighboring mining operations and, as the AntaKori project is beginning to demonstrate significant potential, I am pleased that we will be able to increase our efforts to improve conditions for communities in the vicinity of the project. Our focus will be on sustainable projects associated with education, water and agriculture.
What are Regulus’ main objectives for 2020?
With the new permit in hand, Regulus aims to complete the phase II drilling program, which will consist of the completion of the extension holes to further increase the current resource, as well as the initial drill holes at Anta Norte. We anticipate to have an updated resource by the end of 2020 and will be planning our phase III program based on the findings at the Anta Norte drilling. We will also be completing metallurgical work throughout 2020. We will continuously work on community relations and aim to initiate programs benefitting host communities, focusing on sustainable activities which positively impact people’s lives.
Regulus offers one of the more exciting copper-gold projects that is available worldwide. We have already demonstrated a sizeable resource with great opportunity for expansion. We have the security of a solid investment premise on the known deposit, but also the benefit of additional exploration upside.