SolGold’s Ecuador copper project gets bigger

Alpala, part of the Cascabel copper-gold project, 180 km north of Ecuador’s capital Quito. (Image courtesy of SolGold.)

SolGold’s (LON, TSX:SOLG) confidence in its Cascabel copper-gold asset in Ecuador received a boost on Tuesday after a long-awaited third resource update for Alpala, the project’s main deposit, showed larger than anticipated resources.

The new report has added 1.6 million tonnes of copper, 2.5 million ounces of gold and 92.2 million ounces of silver — a metal not previously estimated — to Alpala’s measured and indicated mineral resources.

The deposit’s resource now stands at 2.66 billion tonnes at 0.53% copper-equivalent in the measured and indicated categories, and 544 million tonnes at 0.31% copper-equivalent in the inferred category.

Third resource update for Alpala has added 1.6 million tonnes of copper, 2.5 million ounces of gold and 92.2 million ounces silver to the deposit

“This significantly increases our confidence that the economics identified in the preliminary economic assessment are achievable and are based on a bankable porphyry orebody,” chief executive Nick Mather said in the statement.

The Australian miner has long said its project in Ecuador is one of the largest copper-gold porphyry systems ever discovered.

Ecuador has lately attracted a flurry of interest from big miners looking to increase their exposure to copper. The highly conductive metal is in demand for use in renewable energy and electric vehicles, but big, new deposits are rare.

Diversified majors particularly favour such large-scale, long-life projects as the one SolGold promises. BHP, for one, upped its stake in the company last year to 14.7% from 11.1%, becoming the Ecuador-focused miner’s top shareholder.

The country has been trying to move from an explorer hotspot to a mining exporter. Its oil-led economy has been hit hard over the past few months.

Ecuador is reeling from both the spread of covid-19 while also suffering from the collapse in oil prices in the wake of a dispute over production between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Prior to recent developments, the South American country expected to attract $3.7 billion in mining investments between 2019 and 2020, up significantly from the $270 million it received in 2018.