The SLM gold project in La Rioja Province, Argentina, of which ECR has 100% ownership via Ochre Mining SA (“Ochre”), comprises three prospects: El Abra, JV and Maestro Agüero.
The following information pertaining to the SLM gold project should be read in conjunction with the relevant ECR regulatory announcements.
Exploration at the SLM project during 2015 focused on the Maestro Agüero prospect and included a bulk sampling programme, which returned lower grades than had been hoped for, but did demonstrate good recoveries from cyanidation of the surficial mineralisation sampled. No further exploration is planned for the SLM project in the immediate future.
The SLM project was initiated in 2010 based on an exploration strategy which aimed to identify a number of small gold deposits suitable for processing at a single plant in the Sierra de las Minas region. This concept has been validated and realised by a local company, Esperanza Resources SA (“Esperanza”), which has constructed such a plant in the vicinity of Ochre’s JV and Maestro Agüero prospects. The plant is configured to recover gold via gravity and flotation processes and is not located immediately adjacent to any deposit, being situated instead with good road access for the trucking of feed material from various sources.
A non-binding memorandum of understanding (the “MoU”) was signed between Ochre and Esperanza in May 2015. The MoU provides for discussions aimed at forming a joint venture or other commercial arrangement for the processing of ore from Ochre’s licence areas by Esperanza, and remains in place, albeit that there are no active discussions between Ochre and Esperanza at present.
Ochre is prepared to take a patient approach to see the value of its deposits realised, and, in view of the practicalities involved, ECR’s likely preference is for Ochre to partner with an Argentine group, such as Esperanza, in order to advance the SLM project towards production. Recent signs of interest in the SLM project from parties other than Esperanza are encouraging in this regard.
In November 2015, Argentina elected a new president who is seen to be relatively pro-business, and the new administration has moved to liberalise currency controls and remove export taxes on mined products. These welcome measures do much to improve the general viability of mining in Argentina, and are considered supportive of ECR and Ochre’s above-stated objective for the SLM project.
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|27 November 2015|