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Atalaya acquires 51% interest in Rio Narcea Nickel, 20 permits in Spain

The Ossa-Morena project is located north of Atalaya’s flagship Proyecto Riotinto mine, pictured here. (Image courtesy of Atalaya Mining).

In a  €2.5-million deal with Grupo Sacyr S.A, Cyprus-based Atalaya Mining (AIM: ATYM, TSX: AYM) has become a major player in the Ossa-Morena Metallogenic Belt, located in the Badajoz province in southwestern Spain. 

According to the company, the Ossa-Morena Metallogenic Belt has strong exploration potential for a range of base and precious metals and is north of the Iberian Pyrite Belt where Atalaya operates its flagship Proyecto Riotinto mine.

The recent negotiation involved the signing of a purchase agreement with Sacyr, which includes the acquisition of a 51% interest in Rio Narcea Nickel, S.L., owner 17 investigation permits in the area. 

Atalaya also acquired a 100% interest in three investigation permits that are located along the Ossa-Morena Metallogenic Belt as well.

Together, the group of 20 permits will be known as the Ossa Morena project, as they are distributed along prospective zones of the Ossa Morena Metallogenic Belt, and in particular, along the southern flank of the major Olivenza-Monesterio Antiform.

The project includes the Alconchel copper-gold-iron project, which has a NI 43-101 compliant total indicated plus inferred resource of 23 Mt at 0.53% Cu, 0.15 g/t Au and 11.2% Fe.

It also includes two advanced-stage Au and Cu-Au exploration projects, Guijarro and Vicaria respectively, and several drill-ready coincident geochemical and geophysical anomalies, all located along the southern flank of the Olivenza-Monesterio Antiform.

In a press release, Atalaya said that, with a €2-million budget for 2022, it plans to conduct infill and step-out drilling at Alconchel, and additional exploration drilling at the Pallares, Vicaria and Guijarro projects. The aim of this work is to expand the known resources at Alconchel and advance the Pallares, Vicaria and Guijarro projects to the resource definition stage.

“With this acquisition, Atalaya has secured a prominent land position in one of the most prospective and underexplored metallogenic belts in Western Europe. Its location, close to the Iberian Pyrite belt where our Riotinto copper mine and other exploration projects are currently advancing, will allow us to carry out aggressive exploration programmes in a cost and time-efficient manner,” CEO Alberto Lavandeira said in the media brief.

“Priority will be given to advance the Alconchel copper-gold-iron project because of its excellent exploration potential which underpins our geologists’ belief that the current known resources can be increased significantly.”

Environmentalists worry

But Atalaya’s plans are a cause of concern for the Alconchel and Comarca de Olivenza without Mines Platform, an activist organization that fears that the presence of the miner in the region may cause environmental destruction. 

In declarations to local media, the Platform’s director, Ángel Vicente Piris, said that the group fears that Atalaya will make the same mistakes it has made in Riotinto and Asturias, where the company has had to pay millions in fines for toxic mine discharges and abandoned tailings ponds.