Projects

Santa Maria

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  • Project Details
  • Resources & Geology
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Snapshot

Location
Chihuahua State, Mexico

Land Area
101 hectares

Property Description
Silver and gold underground mine

Metals
Silver and gold

Ownership
Option to purchase; $1.1M remaining to acquire 100%, payable through Apr. 2022

Project Stage
Advanced Exploration

Current Activities & Work
Second PEA completed Sept. 2018

Permitting
Exploration and mining permits in place

Overview

The Santa Maria property represents a potential source of near-term production with low associated development costs. The property contains an underground silver and gold mine and is located near the Parral District in southern Chihuahua State, Mexico. We have completed two Preliminary Economic Assessments (PEA) and NI 43-101 Technical Reports for the project, as well as conducted test mining and processing at a nearby third-party mill with whom we have established tolling arrangements. In the third quarter 2017, we purchased 77 hectares of adjacent mining claims and began a drill program testing extensions of the vein deposit, with the goal of expanding the resource and improving the overall economics reported in the March 2017 PEA. The drill program was completed in February 2018, with 22 holes/4,850 meters drilled. The second PEA was completed in September 2018 and outlines a potential 4.2-year mining operation producing 3.13 million oz LOM payable silver equivalent production at an average silver grade of 331 g/t, at a 5% discount rate.

Location, Access And Facilities

The Santa Maria property is located near the Parral district in southernmost Chihuahua State, Mexico. Santa Maria is located 19 kilometers southeast of the town center of Santa Barbara and approximately 39 kilometers from the town center of Parral, a moderate sized, full service regional center of commerce.

The property is accessed by 15 kilometers of unpaved road from the highway to Santa Barbara. Legal access to the concessions are granted through an agreement between the concession holder, a private ranch owner and Mancomun Chicanaya Los Solices.

Should we make the decision to begin mining activities at Santa Maria, its operation would entail relatively small tonnage and therefore neither onsite milling facilities nor tailings storage would be required.

Title And Ownership

The claims covering the Santa Maria property are privately held. We hold the right to acquire the property under two separate option agreements representing the total concessions that comprise the 101-hectare property for additional payments of $1.1 million (as of October 2018), payable through April 2022. 

Property History

The Santa Maria project, historically known as La Union Mine, dates as far back as 1658; however, the earliest known operational detail dates from the 1940’s. Several past operators constructed shafts and a ramp and mined from Santa Maria, and most recently the project sat inactive from 2011 until our involvement in 2014.

Exploration Activity

2015 AND 2016 – TEST MINING

In the third quarter of 2015, we mined approximately 2,600 tonnes of material from the vein as bulk samples at a total cost of about $0.25 million and entered into a contract to process the material for metallurgical and process testing purposes at a local third-party toll milling facility at a cost of about $0.1 million. The extracted material, mined from a high-grade portion of the vein, had grades of approximately 500 g/t silver and 0.9 g/t gold. We did not have sufficient drilling data to predict the ultimate size of this higher-grade zone. The 2,600 tonnes of mined material processed through the toll milling facility generated approximately 100 tonnes of concentrates containing approximately 43,000 ounces of silver and 78 ounces of gold. Under an October 2015 sales agreement, we received proceeds for approximately 32,000 ounces of silver and 44 ounces of gold with a net payable value of about $0.4 million. As required by the option agreement, we used a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the concentrates to pay the claim owner an advance royalty payment of $0.2 million, credited toward the $1.2 million purchase price of the property, with the remaining proceeds used to reimburse our costs for exploration and mining activities at Santa Maria since April 2015.

During the first two quarters of 2016, we mined approximately 4,500 tonnes of material as a bulk sample with grades of approximately 235 g/t silver and 0.7 g/t gold. This material was substantially lower in grade than material mined in 2015 from the same vein. We processed the bulk sample through a toll milling facility, generating approximately 100 tonnes of concentrates containing approximately 35,000 ounces of silver and 101 ounces of gold. The concentrates were sold to a third party for approximately $0.3 million during the first two quarters of 2016 consisting of approximately 24,000 payable ounces of silver and 46 payable ounces of gold, which offset exploration costs. The average grade of 7,100 tons mined and processed in bulk samples since 2015 is 338 g/t silver and 0.7 g/t gold.

2017 AND 2018 – DRILL PROGRAM, LAND ACQUISITION, PEA

In August 2017, we acquired three additional claims that cover the eastward extension of the Santa Maria vein. The new claims provide a 600-meter potential extension to the strike length of the vein system and add substantial downdip expansion potential.  In August 2017, we also began a new drill program targeting extensions of the vein deposit described in the PEA and recent estimate of mineralized material, with the goal of expanding the existing estimate of mineralized material to improve the overall economics reported in the PEA.

We increased the drill program from an original 2,000 meters to about 4,800 meters due to geologic complexity along the eastern extension and newly encountered mineralization on the western extension of the vein system.  We completed the program in February 2018 with 4,850 meters drilled in 22 holes. The weighted average silver grade of the newly-reported intervals is higher than the previously reported silver grade of the resource and we expect an improvement in the overall mineral resource and its economics.

We reported Santa Maria’s second PEA in September 2018. Highlights are as follows:

  • After-tax net present value (“NPV”): (US)$10.6 million at a 5% discount rate
  • After-tax internal rate of return (“IRR”):  159.0%
  • After-tax payback period:  10 months
  • Total capital cost:  $1.2 million, comprised of $1.0 million initial and $0.2 million sustaining capital expenditures
  • Pre-production development time:  6 months
  • Life of mine (“LOM”) 4.2 years
  • LOM after tax free cash flow $12.4 million
  • LOM payable silver production 2.66 million oz.
  • LOM payable silver equivalent production 3.13 million oz1
  • LOM average silver grade 331 grams per tonne (“g/t”)
  • LOM average gold grade 0.78 g/t
  • Net cash cost $10.72 per payable ounce of silver
  • All-in sustaining costs (“AISC”) $11.12 per payable silver oz. 2

1 Calculated using prices of Au $1,238/oz and Ag $16.63/oz, or 74:1 gold: silver

NI 43-101 Compliant Mineral Resource Estimate

          Grade
  Tonnes Silver  Gold  AgEq. Silver  Gold
(M) (M oz) ('000 oz) (M oz) g/t g/t
Santa Maria            
Measured 0.004 0.37 1.13 0.45 271 0.8
Indicated  0.17 1.59 5.70 2.01 291 1.0
Inferred  0.26 2.30 7.61 2.92 272 0.9
  • Source:  Tetra Tech NI 43-101 Technical Report & Updated Preliminary Economic Assessment, September 14, 2018. 
  • Silver equivalents calculated at 74:1.  Cutoff grade 180 g/t.

Geology & Mineralization

The Santa Maria vein deposit is hosted in Cretaceous Mescalera Group sediments associated with Tertiary felsic dikes and partially covered by post-mineral basalt.  Two distinct veins have been recognized and modeled.  The main Santa Maria vein averages 1.5 meters in thickness, strikes east-west and dips north at about 65 degrees.  The secondary vein is a hanging-wall split and averages about 0.5 meters in width with a south dip.  The veins are epithermal quartz veins characterized by low temperature chalcedonic quartz in the near surface portions and commonly with a healed brecciated texture.  Sphalerite and galena are observed in portions of the vein with amounts generally increasing with depth.  Oxidation of the vein is observed to about 75 meters depth in most areas; in the eastern extension of the vein the depth of oxidation increases to more than 200 meters below surface. 

Santa Maria Drill Results

Santa Maria 2017-18 Drilling Results