Eloro's Maiden Resource Estimate a Potential Game Changer in Bolivia
In the world of mining exploration, there are big discoveries, there are unexpected discoveries, and then there are game changing discoveries like Iska Iska. The silver-tin polymetallic project (featuring zinc, lead, silver, and tin) in the Potosi Department in southwestern Bolivia has the potential to be one of the largest bulk tonnage operations in the world.
Iska Iska is the flagship project of Canadian-based exploration and mine development company Eloro Resources (TSX: ELO, OTC: ELRRF), and after nearly three years of development work, and over 100,000 metres drilled, Eloro has finally published its eagerly awaited Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE). And it was well worth the wait.
The numbers in the MRE show the immense scope of the Iska Iska deposit – a whopping 670 million tonnes of potential economic material (300 million ounces of in situ silver, 4.1 million ounces of zinc, 1.7 million tonnes of lead, and 130,000 tonnes of tin), and the gargantuan size of the mineralized system, which is at least three kilometres long by two kilometres wide, and one kilometre deep.
“The bottom line is that we are very, very happy with the results of this MRE.”, enthused Eloro’s Chairman and CEO Tom Larsen. “We have taken an underexplored, never been drilled property, and created one of the most significant greenfield discoveries of the past 25 years. We expect to move it up to a PEA stage and look for a major world-class partner to move it into commercial production.”
While there are a handful of large mining operations in Bolivia, like Pan American Silver and the massive 50,000 ton per day San Cristobal Mine 180 kilometers west of Iska Iska – relatively little foreign capital has gone into mining exploration. New Pacific Metals (TSX: NUAG) is the only comparable junior operating in country.
Eloro was keen to find a brand-new unique world class deposit in Bolivia, rather than trying to develop an older project or an existing property. It hired Dr. Osvaldo Arce – formerly the head of the Geological Society of Bolivia – as their in-house mine manager to head up its exploration logistical team. He was the one who brought the opportunity of Iska Iska to Tom Larsen’s attention, and Eloro signed an option agreement for the property in January of 2020.
Three and a half years later, the numbers are in. While they are indeed impressive, and the consistency of the mineralization is exceptional, the grade of that mineralization is actually lower than the market had predicted. But Larsen immediately saw a silver lining when he looked closely at the economics of potential production at the site. “When you zero in on the 130 million tonnes that make up the upper parts of the open pit, what we deem as the starter pit, those grades produced a really good profit margin in our conceptual model.”
Another feature of Iska Iska that could be attractive to a potential buyer down the road, is the relatively low cost of operating the site, thanks to project’s proximity to key infrastructure. There is well-maintained road access directly into Iska Iska’s volcanic structure, a rail link close by to take concentrates all the way to the nearest port in Chile - currently in use by the nearby San Cristobal mine – along with water, hydro, and the town of Tupiza all close by.
According to Larsen, this access to developed infrastructure sets the project apart from many of its South American counterparts, significantly lowering the cost of operations.
“Most of these major discoveries and projects were found in more remote places with little infrastructure high in the Andes. We however have infrastructure close by allowing for much cheaper drilling costs, US$250 to US$300 all in sustaining cost per meter. That puts us in the lowest quartile.”
Another unique element to Iska Iska is that it sits on top of a tin porphyry. Tin is a relatively small market compared to the other metals found at the site, but with approximately 300,000 tons produced annually, it still presents a unique opportunity. Most of the world’s tin comes from China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, but there are export limitations on what can be shipped to the western hemisphere. This presents an opportunity for a local player to make a move in the tin market. “We have a chance of potentially coming out with a major bulk tonnage tin operation.” Larsen continues “As green energy metals become more important worldwide, I think it could be exciting from a blue-sky standpoint down the road. I think that's another hook that'll bring in a much bigger player to help take this into commercial production.”
While a potential bulk tonnage tin operation is farther down the road, the next steps following the recent MRE are: current infill drilling, further metallurgical and XRT ore sorting work to upgrade MRE and then completion of a Preliminary Economic Assessment. The majority of the 130 holes drilled so far incorporate 100 metre spacings, and Larsen is keen to tighten those numbers up to 50 metre spacings, saying “You want to really tighten it up 50 metre spacings to go to indicated, and chances are you'll be able to improve your grade which will allow a higher basic NSR cut off, which will give you more profit margin.”
"Think about it. A company that can produce potentially 2 PEA's..one on this existing world class silver, lead, zinc bulk tonnage/open pit deposit and another, later, on the expansion of the Tin/Silver bulk tonnage Open pit deposit already outlined in the MRE."
With big profit margins in his head, a successful MRE in their back pocket, a PEA on the horizon, and a world-class deposit on their balance sheet, Eloro Resources is in an excellent position for continued success.
For more information on Eloro Resources Ltd. (TSX: ELO, OTCQX: ELRRF) please click the request investor info button.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Eloro Resources Ltd. is a client of BTV - Business Television. This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional. Any action taken as a result of reading information here is the reader’s sole responsibility.