Almaden Minerals Ltd. reports that it has restarted the exploration work in the region of the Ixtaca project.
Image Credit: Mark Agnor/shutterstock.com
Preliminary work will focus on detecting drill targets in the region of the Southeast (SE) Alteration Zone via additional mapping and further geophysical surveys. As reported in the Fall of 2020, this region measures around 1 km north-south by 1.5 km east-west and is centered about 1 km southeast of the Ixtaca deposit.
The SE Alteration Zone contains clay-altered white argillic volcanics and, most fascinatingly, clusters of anomalies detected from a hyperspectral survey including the spectral signatures of significant epithermal alteration minerals, like buddingtonite, alunite, and kaolinite.
Back in November 2020, Almaden Minerals had reported the discovery of many veining regions that cropped out inside the SE Alteration Zone. In total, 17 veining samples were obtained and submitted for testing to ALS Global based in Zacatecas, Mexico.
Except for one sample, all yielded trace amounts of silver and gold but returned a value of 62 ppb gold. But while the outcrops are leached and weathered, several samples also yielded increased values for epithermal pathfinder elements that are generally found in the higher sections of epithermal alteration zones.
The existence of pathfinder elements in such samples is highly encouraging since it validates Almaden Minerals’ view that the SE Alteration Zone could indicate the higher levels of a prospective underlying epithermal system. The higher portions of these systems contain insignificant values of precious metals which is quite typical.
The SE Alteration Zone is located well beyond the current Ixtaca deposit resource region, which was the target of a Feasibility Study.
A new report titled “Ixtaca Gold-Silver Project, Puebla State, Mexico NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Feasibility Study” was prepared according to the NI 43-101 standard and is now available under Almaden Minerals’ profile on SEDAR and its website.
The entire work performed as part of this exploration program will be strictly carried out according to COVID-19 safety protocols, to ensure the safety of local communities and employees, using local people wherever possible.
Background to the Ixtaca Project
Ever since the first drill hole was identified, exploration work at the Ixtaca project has been almost fully targeted on the discovery region, and this work has resulted in the gold and silver reserve which underscores the feasibility study. The results of this study were declared in December 2018.
The highlights of the feasibility study, using base case costs of US$17/oz silver and US$1275/oz gold unless noted otherwise, comprise the following (all US dollars):
- Average yearly production of 7.06 million oz silver and 108,500 oz gold (203,000 gold equivalent ounces or 15.2 million silver equivalent ounces) over the first six years
- After-tax NPV of US$310 million at a discount rate of 5%
- After-tax IRR of 42% and an after-tax payback period of 1.9 years
- After-tax IRR of 57% at a maximum upper-case price deck of US$20/oz silver and US$1425/oz gold
- After-tax NPV (5%) of US$466 million at a maximum upper-case price deck of US$20/oz silver and US$1425/oz gold
- The initial capital of US$174 million
- Average LOM yearly production of 90,800 oz gold (173,000 gold equivalent ounces or 12.9 million silver equivalent ounces) and 6.14 million oz silver
- All-in Sustaining Costs (AISC), such as operating expenses, expansion capital, sustaining capital, expansion capital, public and private royalties, refining, and delivery of US$850 for each gold equivalent ounce or US$11.30 for each silver equivalent ounce, or
- Removal of tailings dam by utilizing filtered tailings, which decreases the footprint and water usage of the project; development of a water reservoir that offers a reliable and permanent long-term supply of water for residents
While it performs the required work to re-submit an environmental permit application needed for the development and operation of the Ixtaca project, Almaden Minerals has decided to continue the exploration work at this property, focusing on certain formerly detected high prospective targets that are located beyond the presently defined reserve and feasibility study envelope.