Shares in Solgold plc (LON, TSX:SOLG) surged after the company released the latest set of drill results from its massive Cascabel copper-gold project in northern Ecuador. In Toronto on Friday, Solgold shares added 7.2% in more than double usual volumes in afternoon trade for a market capitalization of $822m before paring some of those gains on a down day for the broader market.
The latest in a string of results from Ecuador, where the Brisbane-based company have completed 63,000m of drilling again shows the sheer size of the Alpala target of the porphyry deposit located on the Andean belt, the world’s richest source of copper:
• Hole 26-D2 (Alpala NW) returned 453.7m @ 0.53 % CuEq (open-ended), incl. 229.7m @ 0.75 % CuEq. Hole 26-D2 ended in mineralisation at 1333.65m due to reaching limits of drilling capabilities in that hole.
• Hole 26-D3 (Alpala NW) intersected approximately 1136m of visible mineralisation (936-2072m), and ended in mineralisation due to limit of drilling capabilities. Assay results are pending.
• Hole 29-D2 (Alpala East) returned 484m @ 0.49 % CuEq, incl. 146m @ 0.74 % CuEq.
• Hole 30 (Alpala Central) returned 772m @ 0.62 % CuEq, incl. 500m @ 0.71 % CuEq.
• Hole 33 (Alpala Central) intersected approximately 977m of visible mineralisation (585-1562m). Assay results are pending.
Solgold, which has $110m cash in the bank, is planning to release Alpala’s maiden resource statement before the end of the year and the team plans 120,000m of further drilling in 2018. The company says Cascabel has produced “some of the greatest drill hole intercepts in porphyry copper-gold exploration history” and calls attention to Hole 12 which returned 1,560m grading 0.59% copper and 0.54 g/t gold including, 1,044m grading 0.74% copper and 0.54 g/t gold.
SolGold owns 85% of Cascabel located 180km north of the capital Quito, with the remainder held by Cornerstone Capital Resources (CVE:CGP). Shares in TSX Venture‐listed Cornerstone also enjoyed a nice 5.5% bump on Friday, lifting its market value to $170 million.
In turn, Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining owns 14.5% in SolGold. Newcrest, the world’s sixth largest gold producer, put Craig Jones, the top exec at its giant Wafi-Golpu block caving project in Papua New Guinea, on the board of Solgold in March.
SP Angel, a London-based investment bank specializing in the resource sector which also acts as a broker for Solgold, points out that Wafi-Golpu appears to be of similar scale and characteristics as Alpala:
It is easy to forget the significance of these massive intersections of copper and gold. Such long intersections of relatively consistent grade are highly unusual and are of great interest to the major mining companies from a block cave mining perspective.
SolGold have promised a resource statement by the year end to quantify the scale of the Alpala resource which should add confidence to the prospects of mining this project.
We note that the Wafi-Golpu project is to publish a Feasibility Study by end March 2018 which will also make interesting reading by way of comparison with the Alpala project.
At the recently held Mines and Money conference in London, SolGold executive director Nicholas Mather won the global award for the CEO of the Year – Exploration, Latin America while Ecuador won the Country Award for Latin America.
The South American country has been gaining ground as a mining investment destination thanks to a revised regulatory framework and a major investor engagement campaign that has already attracted around 420 applications for concessions in less than a year.
Currently, the nation’s emerging mining sector employs 3,700 people, but the government estimates the figure will rise to about 16,000 in the 2017-2020 period.
The country’s Ministry of Mining has said it expects to receive $488 million in revenue in the next four years from the 237 mining concessions that it recently granted to private companies.