Golden Minerals Company (“Golden Minerals”, “Golden” or the “Company”) has provided activity updates related to five of its active precious metals exploration projects.
Velardeña Properties – Durango State, Mexico
The Velardeña Properties contain two underground silver and gold mines that were last operated in late 2015, at which point mining activities were suspended when a combination of low metals prices and dilution and metallurgical challenges rendered operations unprofitable. The Company elected to preserve this asset for future use, and since that time it has evaluated and tested various mining methods and processing alternatives that could enable sustained profitable operations.
The recent rise in precious metals prices, the advancement of alternative processing technologies in the industry, and the results of the Company’s testing activities have prompted Golden to engage the engineering firm Tetra Tech to complete an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) prepared in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 for the Velardeña properties. The PEA was last updated in 2015 and is available at https://www.goldenminerals.com/projects/technical-reports/. The updated PEA will incorporate refinements to the resource model as well as a bio-oxidation processing methodology designed to enhance the recovery of gold from pyrite and arsenopyrite that is common in the veins at both the Velardeña and Chicago mines. Previous test work has shown bio-oxidation and subsequent cyanide leaching of the pyrite concentrates from the Santa Juana mine area to achieve gold recoveries over 90%. Testing is in progress to confirm the previous study results using a newly prepared pyrite-arsenopyrite concentrate from current levels of the Santa Juana mine workings. The Company expects the PEA to be completed during the first quarter 2020.
Rodeo – Durango State, Mexico
Rodeo, a 1,900-hectare gold project located about 80 kilometers west of Velardeña, contains approximately 46,000 ounces of gold with an average grade of 3.3 g/t, as referenced in a Mineral Resource Estimate prepared in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 by Tetra Tech dated January 26, 2017. The complete report is available via the same link provided in the preceding paragraph. Rodeo represents a source of mineralized material that may be processed at Velardeña’s oxide mill once the Company’s lease of that mill to Hecla Mining Co. concludes. Hecla currently has the right to use the mill through December 2020.
Golden Minerals plans to initiate a small drilling program at Rodeo to provide greater resource definition for a mine plan and to provide samples for additional metallurgical testing. The Company has begun the process of obtaining the required mining and environmental permits for an open pit mining operation, a process that could take up to one year. Complementary to the permitting process, Golden has initiated a PEA study to document the possible economic results of the planned operation. The resulting report, which will be prepared using 43-101 guidelines, is planned to be published in early 2020.
El Quevar – Salta Province, Argentina
In September 2019, the Company announced results of a 3,000-meter, 19-hole drilling program at the El Quevar district-scale silver project. The program sought to identify areas of potential mineralized material that could be accretive to the currently-defined high-grade silver resource in the Yaxtché deposit. A new shallow high-grade zone was partially outlined in the Vince area about two kilometers southwest of the Yaxtché deposit. Complete results of the 2019 drill program are available at https://www.goldenminerals.com/projects/el_quevar/.
The Company is continuing surface exploration in the district to identify further drill targets in the 57,000-hectare property area. The property holdings contain two district-scale high sulfidation epithermal systems with potential to host additional precious metals deposits. Golden Minerals plans to continue to advance El Quevar as much as possible within the limits of its current exploration budget, and the Company continues to discuss possible partnership arrangements with companies who have expressed an interest in the project.
Yoquivo – Chihuahua State, Mexico
Yoquivo is a 1,975-hectare property covering an unexplored gold-silver district that is in the same portion of the Sierra Madre as the nearby Ocampo and Orisyvo gold deposits. Golden conducted surface sampling and mapping at Yoquivo in 2018 and subsequently announced the discovery of multiple epithermal veins characterized by samples with high-grade silver and gold assays. Recent surface rock sampling has demonstrated gold and silver values of potential economic interest. Golden has identified the most attractive targets on the property and has permits in hand to initiate a drill program. Subject to the availability of capital, the Company intends to begin drilling in Q1 2020 to test the most promising portions of the veins.
Sand Canyon – Nevada, USA
This property is located approximately 18 miles northwest of the historic Sleeper Mine in Nevada, and Golden’s mapping and sampling have identified multiple epithermal veins exposed at surface that show potential for hosting gold and silver deposits. Golden Minerals has completed surface exploration activities to identify drill targets and has begun seeking drill permits. Subject to the receipt of permits and the availability of capital, the Company expects to initiate drilling before year-end 2019.
In May 2019, Golden entered into an earn-in agreement with Golden Gryphon Explorations for the 4,500-hectare Sand Canyon gold and silver property in northwestern Nevada. Golden holds an option to earn 60% interest in the project by spending $2.5 million in exploration expenditures over four years plus making $0.1M in cash payments spread over 2020-2022, plus $75,000 paid upfront to acquire the option.