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Northern Andes Snapshot: Eight active juniors

The northern Andean countries of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are fertile ground for mineral explorers and mine developers, with their rich mineral bounty, underexplored terrain and pro-mining cultures. What follows are eight Canadian juniors with active exploration and mining programs in the region.

ATICO MINING

Vancouver-based Atico Mining (TSXV: ATY; US-OTC: ATCMF) is operating its 90% owned El Roble copper-gold-silver mine in Colombia, 145 km by road southwest of Medellin.

Atico describes the asset as the only copper-gold volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposit in production in the country. The underground mine has been in production for over 30 years, and had at last count 1.87 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources grading 3.46% copper, 2.27 grams gold per tonne and 8.87 grams silver per tonne. The deposit remains open along strike and at depth.

With Atico as operator, El Roble has been scaled up and upgraded to run at a rate of 800 tonnes per day, and produce copper concentrate with gold and silver credits. During the second quarter of 2017, Atico produced 5.15 million lb. copper and 2,570 oz. gold in concentrate, up slightly from the first quarter.

There is further exploration potential within the El Roble mining district, where the company has found a favourable 10 km contact that may host more VMS bodies.

Atico has a broader goal to grow its copper business by acquiring advanced exploration assets or small mines with exploration potential in Colombia, Peru and northern Chile.
The company had 98.2 million shares outstanding for an $84-million market capitalization at press time.

AURANIA RESOURCES

Aurania Resources chairman and CEO Keith Barron reading a letter by Columbus, Archive of the Indies. Credit: Aurania Resources.

Aurania Resources chairman and CEO Keith Barron reading a letter by Columbus at the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain. Credit: Aurania Resources.

Toronto-based Aurania Resources(TSXV: ARU; US-OTC: AUIAF) is best known as being the new gold exploration vehicle for Keith Barron, who cofounded Aurelian Resources, which went on to discover the world-class Fruta del Norte gold deposit in Ecuador, now being built into a mine by Lundin Gold.

Aurania is seeking gold at its Lost Cities project in southeastern Ecuador in the Cordillera del Cutucu region, which is contiguous with the Cordillera del Condor. The Cutucu forms part of the Northern Andean Jurassic metallogenic belt, which contains clusters of porphyry copper, gold-copper skarn and epithermal gold deposits.

In August, Aurania began a helicopter-borne geophysical survey of its Lost Cities property to target potential epithermal gold and porphyry copper mineralization. The survey will include 12,000 line km flown at a terrain clearance of 80 metres in east- to west-orientated parallel lines spaced at 400-metre intervals.

Veteran gold explorer Richard Spencer joined Aurania as president in May. In past decades he worked for Gencor and Iamgold in Ecuador, as well as for Crystallex International in Venezuela. He will continue as president and CEO of uranium junior U3O8, which is exploring in Argentina, Colombia and Guyana.

BEAR CREEK MINING

Bear Creek Mining's Corani silver property in southern Peru. Credit: Bear Creek Mining.

Bear Creek Mining’s Corani silver property in southern Peru. Credit: Bear Creek Mining.

Bear Creek Mining (TSXV: BCM; US-OTC: BCEKF) is exploring and developing silver assets in southern Peru.

The Vancouver-based junior describes its flagship Corani project east of Cusco as “one of the largest undeveloped silver deposits in the world, and stands alone by virtue of its substantial base metal credits, location in a mining-friendly jurisdiction and overwhelming community support.”

According to an updated feasibility study, Corani could produce over 8 million oz. silver plus lead and zinc credits annually over an 18-year mine life.

Bear Creek notes the project is highly leveraged to metal prices, with the net present value rising US$120 million for every US$1 gain in the silver price, with proportional changes in lead and zinc prices.

The company says it has the financial strength to fund Corani through to a development decision, which could come before year-end.

It has only put two press releases on its website in 2017, one in February about granting stock options, and a second in May to state that it had signed an agreement with Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and ProInversion that allows the company to recover, at its discretion and on an accelerated basis, the 18% IGV taxes applied to engineering and construction costs associated with future development of Corani.

CORDOBA MINERALS

A worker in the Montiel artisanal pit at Cordoba Minerals’ San Matias copper-gold property, 200 km north of Medellin, Colombia. Credit: Cordoba Minerals.

A worker in the Montiel artisanal pit at Cordoba Minerals’ San Matias copper-gold property, 200 km north of Medellin, Colombia. Credit: Cordoba Minerals.

Junior explorer Cordoba Minerals (TSXV: CDB; CDBMF) is looking to discover copper-gold deposits in Colombia.

The company’s current focus is the San Matias copper-gold project, located on the northern extension of the prolific Mid-Cauca gold belt, where it had been involved in a joint venture with Robert Friedland-controlled High Power Exploration (HPX), whereby HPX could have earned up to a 65% interest in San Matias by funding the project and completing a feasibility study.

Cordoba describes the San Matias property as covering over 200 sq. km of “ideal open-pit topography,” with excellent infrastructure.

However, on July 31, Cordoba acquired HPX’s 51% interest in the San Matias joint venture in return for 137.4 million Cordoba shares and 6.2 million warrants. As a result, Cordoba is now full owner and operator of the San Matias project.

Earlier in July, Cordoba raised $10 million by privately placing subscription receipts sold at 81¢ apiece. Each receipt entitled the holder to a share and half a warrant exercisable at $1.08 for two years.

Cordoba says the proceeds will be used to advance San Matias, repay up to $1.5 million of expenses by HPX that are not covered by the acquisition agreement and for general corporate purposes.

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