While some analysts are suggesting that southern and Latin America’s biggest gold projects are in for a difficult 2022, recent M&A and exploration successes provide plenty of confidence that the region’s precious metals activity is not slowing down.
Leading business intelligence platform, BNamericas, recently noted that the region hosts nine US$1B plus gold megaprojects, with a combined capex of around US$16.6B.
However, it also revealed that a number of companies are grappling with a variety of issues, including political and permitting uncertainty, community opposition, while the viability of some projects have also been put into question. On the other side of the coin, two of the region’s biggest gold players have recently highlighted their confidence in the future there.
Newmont investing half a billion at Yanacocha
Newmont Corporation (NYSE: NEM | TSX: NGT) recently entered into a definitive purchase agreement through which it will acquire Compañia de Minas Buenaventura’s 43.65% interest in Minera Yanacocha, giving it control of the world-class Peruvian asset.
Newmont president and CEO, Tom Palmer, said the company continues to advance its sulphides project a Yanacocha, investing more than half a billion dollars through 2022 as the project continues to progress toward a full-funds decision later this year.
The sulphides project will develop the first phase of sulphide deposits at Yanacocha through an integrated processing circuit, including an autoclave, to produce 45% gold, 45% copper, and 10% silver.
The project is expected to add average annual production of 525,000 gold equivalent oz per year with all-in sustaining costs between US$700 and US$800 per oz for the first five full years of production (2027-2031). An investment decision is expected in the second half of 2022 with a three-year development period.
Barrick moves on Argentinian project
Meanwhile, Latin Metals Incorporated (OTCQB: LMSQF) has entered into an earn-in agreement with a wholly owned subsidiary of Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: GOLD).
Under the terms of the earn-in agreement, Barrick has the right to acquire up to an 85% interest in the company’s Cerro Bayo, Cerro Bayo Sur, and La Flora properties, located in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Barrick’s earn-in right consists of an initial option to acquire a 70% interest in the properties and a second option to acquire an additional 15% (aggregate 85%) interest.
Juniors making strong headway
It is not only the majors turning their focus on the region’s golden riches, with a host of TSX and ASX- listed juniors making significant investments in exploration and development projects.
Newly listed Astra Exploration Incorporated (TSXV: ASTR) is moving quickly to advance its flagship Pampa Paciencia high-grade gold project in northern Chile. The company, which has an 80% stake, is undertaking a fully funded, 3,000m drilling programme at Pampa Paciencia in February 2022.
“We will start drilling immediately at Pampa Paciencia with a fully-funded programme and are reviewing a pipeline of complimentary assets in the country,” CEO, Brian Miller, said.
The company also owns a 100% interest in Cerro Bayo, a high-sulphidation epithermal (HSE) gold project in the world-class Maricunga belt of northern Chile.
Bluestone Resources Incorporated (TSXV: BSR) is on target to reach a number of key milestones with its Cerro Blanco gold project in Guatemala. President and CEO, Jack Lundin, said major achievements in 2022 are expected to include the completion of the feasibility study, initiation of project financing, along with the anticipated approval of the permit amendment application.
“This will lead into licensing for early works which we are targeting to initiate by the end of the year,” he said.
Capitan Mining Incorporated (TSXV: CAPT) recently received promising results from its work programme at the Peñoles Gold and Silver Project in Durango, Mexico, including the discovery of a new zone of mineralization.
RC Hole: 21-CARC-29 intersected 38.1m of 0.63g/t AuEq within a broad zone of 195.1m of 0.34g/t AuEq and intersected a second interval with Jesus Maria (JM) style silver mineralization (New). The second interval in Hole 21-CARC-29, is located immediately below the Capitan Hill Main Zone and is highlighted by an intersection of 3.0m of 103 g/t Ag, 0.26 g/t Au, 0.1% Pb and 0.49% Zn. The company said this new discovery is significant as it represents a 350m step out down-dip, and to the south of the previously drill-defined extent of the Jesus Maria Silver deposit.
Bluestone (TSXV: BSR) also released an update mineral resource estimate for project that increased measured and indicated mineral resources to 3.1Moz gold grading 1.5 g/t Au and 13.4Moz silver grading 6.6 g/t Ag, with 77% of gold oz assigned to measured category.
After achieving several successes in 2021, Chesapeake Gold Corporation (TSXV: CKG) is aiming to significantly improve the economics of the Metates’ Gold-Silver project in Mexico in 2022. “In 2022, we plan to advance the metallurgical and technical work that will be key value drivers for the company,” CEO Alan Pangbourne, said.
The company has selected 2021 drill core samples from metates for metallurgical test work in a Vancouver lab where 16 columns are oxidizing. Following oxidation, conventional cyanide leaching will be undertaken for precious metal recovery. Results from phase one will be incorporated into a prefeasibility study, expected to be delivered in late 2022.
Golden Arrow Resources Corporation (TSXV: GRG) recently executed a definitive option agreement to acquire a 75% undivided interest the Libanesa project in Santa Cruz province, Argentina. Libanesa is a 14,500-ha project is located at the north-eastern margin of the Deseado Massif Gold-Silver metallogenic province, approximately 70km west from the port of Puerto Deseado, 40km northwest of the Cerro Moro Mine operated by Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) and 100km northeast of the Don Nicolas mine operated by Cerrado Gold (TSXV: CERT).
Cerro Plomo is the principal prospect and is characterized by a well mineralized Au/Ag hydrothermal breccia that is exposed at surface and supported by both chargeability and resistivity geophysical anomalies at depth.
Rio2 Limited (TSXV: RIO) and Sixth Wave Innovations Incorporated are undertaking the second phase test work of patented IXOS purification polymer at Rio2’s Fenix Gold Project in Chile. The second phase test work at the mine site follows on from the successful completion of ore tests at Sixth Wave’s Salt Lake City, Utah, facility in August 2021.
President and CEO of Rio2, Alex Black, said the IXOS process operates at a significantly reduced power consumption and with fewer reagents than activated carbon creating opportunities for enhancement of Rio2’s ESG initiatives at its Fenix Gold Mine. “The Fenix Gold Mine will initiate operations with a carbon adsorption component of the processing plant, but we are hoping that, as a result of this upcoming test work, the IXOS process can be proven as a more cost-effective, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly solution for the adsorption process when we look to expand mine production in the future,” Mr Black said.
Tesoro Resources Limited (ASX: TSO) looks to be onto a promising new find with its Ternera Gold Deposit within the company’s El Zorro Gold Project in Chile. Managing director, Zeff Reeves, said the latest results continue to underpin further resource growth at Ternera with the deposit open in all directions.
“This set of results confirms and expands multiple shallow gold zones on the edges and within the Ternera Gold Deposit,” Mr Reeves said.
“These near surface mineralized zones have the potential to significantly enhance the existing Ternera mineral resource, with continuous gold mineralization having now been proven from surface to over 500m depth, up to 550m wide and over 1.3km long.
“Ternera is shaping up as a significant deposit with multiple gold zones, scale, continuity all coming together and the more we drill, the more we define. With the deposit open in all directions there is significant potential to expand the mineral resource at Ternera with continued drilling.”