Brodie Sutherland
CEO
Tocvan Ventures
/
View from the Top

Sonora Continues to Demonstrate Great Mining Potential

By Karin Dilge | Mon, 07/04/2022 - 12:10

Q: How has the relationship between the company and the communities where it has a presence evolved?

A: We are still a fairly new company and are always looking to improve our relationship with the communities around us. Tocvan has been operating at Suaqui Grande for over two years now and we have an excellent relationship with the community there. The company hires locally as much as it possibly can. We are proud that our entire technical team is from Sonora, including a new geologist who recently graduated from the University of Sonora. She has been working with us at the El Pilar project. To have someone from the area where we operate working with us is amazing.

Tocvan really tries to promote education and constantly engages with the local university. Currently, there are two students doing their undergrad bachelor thesis on geology at the El Pilar and El Picacho projects. It is crucial for us to enable the opportunity for students to be educated in the same field that we work in and also support them through university with that information.

In terms of engagement, the company is constantly looking for ways to utilize the work that we do to benefit the people around us. For example, by drilling many holes to look at rocks, we sometimes hit water, which can become an important resource for a local rancher. Always improving, being present and trying to hire locals are key.

Q: What led to the company’s decision to sell its Canadian assets to focus on Mexico and how will this decision impact the company’s growth projections?

A: It was an easy decision for us. When the company first came to Mexico with the El Pilar project, it was not sure where it would focus. However, as soon as we began having more success, it was clear that building a team in Sonora was a major benefit for Tocvan. We really felt support from those who work with us, the local community and the local government. Tocvan saw Sonora as a strong place to develop responsible projects. The company’s focus was pulled to Sonora so much that it made little sense to have other projects elsewhere.

Moreover, this decision will impact the company massively, because it shows that we are focused on one jurisdiction. It is our intention to move these projects forward as much as we can. If Tocvan is spread out, thinking about too many projects in different locations, then it is difficult to remain as focused as it aims to be. 

Q: How have the recent policy changes and the critical position of the Mexican president toward mining affected the company’s operations?

A: It has not changed any of our operations but Tocvan is aware of the issue. The company is in the relatively early stages of mine development. Nonetheless, sometimes a great deal is said by the government but not necessarily implemented in jurisdictions with a long history of responsible mine development. One of the reasons why Tocvan is so comfortable in Sonora is because of the local skill set. Many have come up in this industry in this state. Sonora is pretty much built around the mining industry. If policy would limit that sector’s development there in the future, it would have a massive impact on the economy and Mexico. As for Tocvan, the company wants to be responsible and make sure it is doing what it should to advance mining projects with the support of local stakeholders. It is also somewhat short-sighted to ignore the fact that Mexico is such a powerful resource-backed country with an amazing workforce.  

Q: What ESG policies is the company implementing and how are you balancing these with sustainable expenditures?

A: Because of Tocvan’s early development stage, the biggest impact it has is through drilling and trenching. What the company can do on both of those fronts is to minimize its disturbances and utilize existing infrastructure as much as possible. We are very fortunate that at both of our projects, quite a few roads are already developed. Therefore, we do not need to clear new areas and disturb the environment. Even though this area of Sonora is a desert, every piece of vegetation matters and is part of the ecosystem. We want to minimize our impact. When we are done, the area should look exactly how it looked like when we arrived. Regarding added cost, this is not an issue for the company. Mining companies should operate responsibly regardless, so Tocvan does not really see these efforts as an added cost.

If you can utilize existing roads, this translates to lower costs, because you do not need to pay for equipment to clear new areas. We also use drill rigs featuring broad tires, which helps to minimize the impact as well.

Furthermore, when we intersect water at depth and it comes to the surface, we ensure that we can manage it. We do not allow water to spread. We capture it and prevent any materials from harming the environment this way. The team in Sonora keeps the site very clean. It is practically their backyard. Leaving it a mess would be something they would not want to see on a personal level, either.   

Q: After the company’s success at El Pilar, what are its expectations for El Picacho?

A: The company’s expectations at El Picacho are very optimistic. It is a strong exploration project; it is early stage and it has seen very little drilling historically. El Picacho is at a perfect point for us to take over and move toward drilling soon. The company would like to start drilling by November 2022, beginning with some strong targets. We have over 6km of a prospective trend that we would like to focus on. El Picacho is a big property, over 24km² in size. We see many similarities in terms of host rocks and geology with the highly prolific San Francisco mine. The company fully expects to intersect mineralization but El Picacho holds a type of deposit that would take time to define exactly how big its potential could be. We also see significant indications of silver.

Q: What have been the company's milestones during 1Q22 at El Pilar and what is the company's focus for the next quarter following the successful results of its drilling program?

A: The company completed a trench program late in 2021. It received encouraging results: we completed four trenches and all intersected mineralization. Then, we took material from those trenches and sent them to different laboratories to understand the gold recovery rate. We are still waiting for the results from that analysis but we also completed drilling during that time. Tocvan drilled over 1,500m across El Pilar earlier this year. This was one of our most successful programs to date because of how often we intersected mineralization. Drilling is now ongoing at Pilar as we look to expand on our past programs and define new areas of mineralization.

 

Tocvan Ventures is an early-stage natural resources company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of mineral properties. It is developing gold and silver projects in Sonora.

Karin Dilge Karin Dilge Journalist and Industry Analyst