Results Keep Exploration Projects Moving ForwardMon, 10/21/2013 - 14:37
El Tigre mine, located in the Sierra El Tigre in Sonora, just 90km southeast of Agua Prieta on the US-Mexico border, was discovered in 1896 and consists of three veins: El Tigre, the Sooy, and the Seitz-Kelly. Production started in 1903, and the mine produced an estimated 70 to 75 million ounces of silver and 325,000 to 350,000 ounces of gold over the following three and a half decades. Even though the area has good geological potential, El Tigre remained on standby for the following decades, until Anaconda Minerals Company and Minera Talaman completed the first modern exploration program, between 1981 and 1984. It was not until 2006 that El Tigre Silver Corp. acquired the concession from Minera Talaman, and the company has been working there ever since.
“We have gotten excellent results from the little work that we have performed so far, and this is why we and our shareholders are interested in the property,” highlights José Velázquez Blanco, Country Manager of El Tigre Silver Corp. The company holds nine mining concessions in the same area of 215 square kilometres, but has focused most of its efforts on a claim called El Tigre Suertudo (Lucky Tiger), where the old mine used to be. “To this day, we have not even explored 30% of the property because we have focused on the most promising areas,” says Velázquez Blanco. “In one part of the property over 3 million ounces of silver have been extracted. From a mineralogical standpoint it is a very interesting place, and when we have more financial resources we will evaluate other areas so that more mining targets can be defined.”
During August 2013, El Tigre Silver announced the filing of the NI 43-101 Prefeasibility Study and Resource Estimate. “The evaluation of this report will show the mineral resources we have, and that will lead us to the prefeasibility studies. The vein system extends to approximately 2km, but we focused our exploration operation on only half of that distance,” Velázquez Blanco explains. Operations performed during the past century have led El Tigre Silver to believe that there are still deposits remaining where the mine used to be, and drilling has confirmed that theory, with even higher mineral grades than were expected at 8 g/t of silver and 235 g/t of gold.
Being located in Sonora is another advantage for El Tigre Silver since, according to Velázquez Blanco, the local people and the state have a mining mindset and know how the industry works. “The support provided by the government translates into the granting of concessions, and time is reduced in the permitting processes. It is relatively easy to claim land, begin negotiating with the relevant people, and start exploration,” he adds. As the project moves forward, new infrastructure challenges arise. For example, as the operations get closer to the veins, the old mine structure will become unreliable. The current access points have to be renovated in order to be able to reach the areas of interest. Other hurdles are geographical, due to the remote location of the property. “The terrain is very abrupt and has many acute slopes. During the rainy season we are completely isolated and it is very hard to get in and out. There are three or four days during each season when we cannot leave the property and the river overflows, destroying all roads and paths. These challenges have been overcome thanks to our very capable personnel and their devotion to their duties,” Velázquez Blanco says.
Even though there are no surrounding communities that can directly benefit from the company’s operation, people from slightly farther away are hired. “If everything goes as planned, when we start operating we will need a bigger workforce, and this project will be an even greater source of employment for the local communities,” says Velázquez Blanco. In order to be able to achieve this goal, a key element of the company’s business plan is a processing facility for recovering silver and gold from a large tailings pile, built up over 35 years of production at the original mine. The tailings recovery project was granted approval from Semarnat, Mexico’s Environment Ministry, in July and the construction stage will begin shortly. The goal of this project is to eventually help to finance further exploration. “We want to explore the north of the concession to evaluate the structures in that area, and then focus on the extreme south to define its potential,” Velázquez Blanco adds.