Aldebaran Resources (TSX-V: ALDE)(OTC: ADBRF) CEO John Black on Drilling & Updated Resource at Altar Copper Gold Project
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Aldebaran Resources, Mr. John Black. John, how are you?
John Black: I'm doing very well. Thanks, Gerardo. How are you doing?
Gerardo Del Real: I am well, thank you for coming back on. You just announced an updated mineral resource estimate for the Altar copper-gold project and you also snuck in and initial maiden resource for the QDM Gold, as it is stated here in the release. A gold deposit, which by the way, it's like a half a million ounces of at-surface gold. But we'll talk about that in a bit.
The last time you and I chatted, I played devil's advocate a bit and said that if there were two knocks on the company, it would be that the project, though massive was lower grade and there were some critics that liked to highlight the arsenic levels. It seems like you directly address both of those with this release. I'll let you provide the context there.
John Black: Great. Yeah, well, we're very pleased to get this out. This is really the result of a couple of years of work of us tearing apart the project, understanding it better, and then having the opportunity to recast the resource. This is not based on a lot more drilling, it's based on a lot better geologic understanding of the project and taking a look at what we think is a better way to approach the project.
So the fundamental takeaways from this are that what was an extremely large, but low grade deposit, we've recast this as a smaller deposit, but still very large. We're still talking about, well over a billion tonnes of measured and indicated mineralization, as well as some additional inferred mineralization, but of much better grade.
The grade of the previous way of looking at this project was two and a half billion tonnes at about a little over 0.3% copper grade. We've reduced that down to a little over a billion tonnes, but we show a grade that's much closer to 0.5% copper equivalent now. So a notable increase in grade, and it puts it more in context of a number of other peer companies that have similar assets.
They are not very many of these large copper gold projects in the hands of junior companies right now, and fewer and fewer each cycle that we go through. But this one now compares quite favorably with a number of our other peers. So that was one of our principle objectives on doing this resource was to present at a more reasonable grade and how to move forward with the project.
But a couple of other things fell out of this as well, with much better geologic control we now know where the arsenic is in the project, and one of the outcomes of this resource estimate is that the overall arsenic levels are much lower than previously thought, particularly in the hypogene mineralization, the type mineralization that you'd be producing a sulfide concentrate from.
Much of the arsenic is up high in the deposit in the baron overlying waste material or in a zone of secondary enrichment, which is where we have redeposition of secondary copper sulfides and that material is an interesting aspect of the project as well in that we have a sizable amount of supergene copper mineralization.
We break that out in the resource estimate and the reason we do that is twofold. One is there's a possibility that we could exploit that by lower CapEx SX/EW technology. It'd be a way to have a starter pit that would be able to come in and for a much lower cost begin to process material on the project and potentially cashflow for the development in the underlying primary sulfides.
One of the advantages to that is by doing SX/EW heap leaching you can process that material that has elevated arsenic in it and the arsenic becomes converted to a stable mineral form called scorodite, that's non-soluble and therefore safe to store and you produce copper cathode on site. So we don't know for sure that that's a pathway forward, but we've segregated that material out to be able to take a look at it.
Then another outcome that you mentioned on this is that there's a small zone called the QDM Gold zone. It's really a separate deposit. What the Altar system is turning out to be as a series of deposits, the two big ones are Altar Central and Altar East, where the main copper resources is delineated, but QDM Gold is a separate gold-dominant zone, almost gold-only zone, and that's shaping up to be something pretty interesting.
We have over a half a million ounces at nearly a gram of gold there, almost on the surface, and that has room to continue to grow. So we're pretty excited about this turning into be a series of deposits as we further explore it.
Gerardo Del Real: I know of several companies that have half a million ounces of gold at surface and command a market cap equal or greater than your current market cap right now.
John Black: We were commenting on that as, "Boy, this is something pretty attractive just by itself," before it's been kind of buried in the wash of it.
Gerardo Del Real: No, look, well, congratulations. Obviously, a lot of progress made here, a lot of hard work that went into it. I know you had, I think it was over a hundred thousand meters of core that you've been reprocessing and interpreting. How is the drilling coming along?
John Black: The drilling is going well. We have two rigs on site. We've completed the first hole just recently. The second hole is getting close to completion. So we'll move on to holes three and four, hope to get a couple more long holes in before the end of the season, and then see, if the weather permits, to move to holes beyond that as well still. So it's progressing well. We're seeing what we like to see in there, and we look forward to being able to put out some drill results here in the not too distant future.
Gerardo Del Real: Well, I'm looking forward to them. John, thank you so much for that update and can't wait to have you back on to see some of those results.
John Black: Okay. We look forward to catching up with you again soon. Thanks, Gerardo.
Gerardo Del Real: Appreciate it. Thank you.
John Black: Take care.