Big picture - Why invest in ECR Minerals PLC
ECR Minerals PLC Snapshot
ECR is a mineral exploration and development company, incorporated in the UK.
ECR’s wholly owned Australian subsidiary Mercator Gold Australia (MGA) has agreed to acquire 100% ownership of the Avoca and Bailieston gold projects in Victoria, Australia. Mercator Gold Australia is estimated to have tax losses of approximately AUD 66M as at 30 June 2015, which may be available, subject to certain conditions (as described in ECR’s announcement dated 4 December 2014), to reduce MGA’s future taxable profits. This is considered particularly significant in view of an opportunity which may exist at Avoca to establish relatively near term gold production from the reprocessing of historical mine dumps, with the potential for sale of gravel and sand by-products.
ECR has the right to earn a 50% interest in the Danglay epithermal gold project in the Philippines. Danglay is an advanced exploration project located in a prolific gold and copper mining district in the north of the Philippines. An NI43-101 technical report was completed in respect of the Danglay project in December 2015, and is available for download from ECR’s website.
ECR’s wholly owned subsidiary Ochre Mining has a 100% interest in the SLM gold project in La Rioja Province, Argentina. Exploration at SLM has focused on identifying small tonnage mesothermal gold deposits which may be suitable for relatively near term production.
ECR shares are listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange with the symbol ECR.
Danglay Gold Project, Philippines
Exploration by ECR at the Danglay gold project in the Baguio District, Philippines during 2015 enabled a resource estimate and target for further exploration to be disclosed in accordance with Canadian NI43-101, leading to the publication of an NI43-101 technical report (the “Report”) regarding the project in December 2015. The Report confirms that Danglay has robust exploration potential for both oxide and primary intermediate sulphidation epithermal gold mineralisation.
The following information pertaining to the Danglay gold project should be read in conjunction with the Report and relevant ECR regulatory announcements.
Inferred resource of 1,277,500t at 1.55 g/t gold for 63,500oz gold, estimated at cut–off of 0.75 g/t;
Resource estimated in respect of the surficial oxide deposit only; in addition, a target for further exploration has been determined in respect of primary intermediate sulphidation vein–hosted mineralisation, which shows significant similarities to better known intermediate sulphidation deposits in the Baguio District;
The resource estimate and the target for further exploration have each been determined by a qualified person and are disclosed in accordance with Canadian NI43–101;
The Baguio District has a long history of mining centered on the exploitation of multiple intermediate sulphidation gold–silver–base metal vein deposits.
Since commencing ﬁeld work at Danglay in January 2014, ECR has completed systematic exploration including a prospect-wide topographic survey, 935 metres of surface channel sampling, 383 metres of underground channel sampling, 440 metres of trenching, 30 test pits, and 1812 metres of RC and diamond drilling.
The work completed by ECR has enabled the estimation of an inferred oxide gold resource of 1,277,500 tonnes at a grade of 1.55 g/t gold for 63,500 ounces using a 0.75 g/t cut-off grade (effective date 18 December 2015). The resource comprises both in situ oxide material and scree that has moved downslope, forms a generally ﬂat-lying zone that drapes topography, and extends from surface to a maximum depth of approximately 20 metres for the purposes of the inferred resource estimate.
ECR has deﬁned three strongly gold mineralised zones at Danglay: Danglay Ridge, Hillside and Bito, with cumulative strike length of approximately 600 metres and individual widths of up to 100 metres. The oxide mineralisation at each is underlain by multiple, steeply-dipping quartz-pyrite-base metal sulphide veins and structures, of an intermediate sulphidation epithermal type.
The styles of mineralisation and overall vein architecture show similarities with better known intermediate sulphidation epithermal deposits in the Baguio District. The intermediate sulphidation epithermal vein deposits of the Baguio District have been mined over 100s of vertical metres and giant deposits such as Antamok and Acupan have been mined over vertical intervals of approximately 600 to 800 metres. Most production has come from quartz-pyrite-base metal sulphide veins and breccias, with lesser production from carbonate-sulphide-base metal sulphide veins.
The Baguio District has a long history of open pit and underground mining and is one of the world’s great gold mining camps. As such, there is a signiﬁcant mining-oriented industry in Baguio City and an extensive pool of skilled labour available at globally competitive rates.
On the basis outlined in the Report, a lower bound target for further exploration was estimated at 600,000 tonnes at 5 g/t gold for 95,000 contained ounces of gold and an upper bound target was estimated at 700,000 tonnes at 7.5 g/t gold for 170,000 contained ounces of gold (the “Exploration Target”). The Exploration Target is in respect of primary mineralisation, and the Report recommends that diamond drilling be carried out to target the down-dip extension of the highest grade parts of quartz-pyrite-base metal sulphide veins and mineralised structures. Breccias are also identified as a priority target. Prior to drilling, the Report recommends rock-chip sampling, structural mapping and soil sampling to assist with drill targeting.
It should be noted that a target for further exploration is not a mineral resource estimate, is conceptual in nature, and is used where there has been insufficient exploration to define the target as a mineral resource and where it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the target being delineated as a mineral resource. The basis on which the Exploration Target has been determined is set out in full in the Report.
Exploration potential for further oxide mineralisation remains significant, and field observations, along with logging of RC chips and drill core, indicate that quartz veins, breccias and siliciﬁed zones and their associated stockwork and silica-pyrite selvages may be strongly oxidised to vertical depths of at least 40 metres. The current inferred resource estimate extends only to approximately 20 metres depth.
The Report recommends further drilling to provide a more robust data set with respect to oxide grade distribution, the location of potential high grade oxide zones and the base of oxidation, and to test potential strike extensions of the current inferred resource. Completion of this work would enable an updated resource to be estimated and hopefully an indicated category resource, equating to a higher level of resource confidence, to be determined.
ECR is currently the operator of the Danglay project with the right to earn a 50% interest therein by obtaining, for CTGR, a mining licence for the project. The Company has already earned a 25% interest in Danglay by disclosing a resource estimate in accordance with NI43-101. ECR has the right to terminate the current earn-in agreement at any time and retain this 25% interest. In that event, any future expenditures in connection with CTGR and the Danglay project would be expected to be contributed by ECR and Tiger pro rata, or else the interest of the non-funding party would be diluted
Mercator Gold Australia (MGA)
ECR’s wholly owned Australian subsidiary Mercator Gold Australia Pty Ltd (“MGA”) has entered into a deed of assignment and assumption (the “Deed”) with Currawong Resources Pty Ltd (“Currawong”) for the acquisition by MGA of 100% ownership of the Avoca and Bailieston gold projects (the “Projects”) located in Victoria, Australia.
The following information pertaining to MGA and the Projects should be read in conjunction with the relevant ECR regulatory announcements.
Currawong has identified significant exploration potential for mesothermal quartz vein hosted gold and related placer-style ‘deep lead’ gold mineralisation at Avoca, and epithermal ‘Carlin’ style disseminated or sheeted vein hosted gold mineralisation at Bailieston;
An opportunity exists to generate relatively near term revenue from reprocessing of historical mine dumps at the Avoca project (subject to confirmation as described below);
A JORC Code-compliant technical report in relation to the Projects is being prepared by Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, and is expected to be published by ECR during March 2016 (the “Report”);
The consideration for the acquisition comprises up to AUD 250,000 in ECR shares (based on certain milestones described below), and a net profits interest royalty of 20% in respect of mine dumps and 10% in respect of other deposits (royalty capped at AUD 3.5M);
The acquisition remains conditional on the necessary Victorian government authorisations and registration of the transfer of the Projects to MGA.
The Projects comprise two exploration licences issued by the state government of Victoria: EL5387 (Avoca project), granted on 25 January 2012 and expiring on 24 January 2017, currently covering 115 graticular sections; and EL5433 (Bailieston project) granted on 28 March 2013 and expiring on 27 March 2018, currently covering 79 graticular sections. A graticular section occupies 1” by 1” of arc (around 2.5km by 2.5km, dependent on latitude).
The Avoca and Bailieston projects are located approximately 183km west northwest and 150km north, respectively, of the Victorian state capital Melbourne, with good road access. The Projects are located geologically within the major orogenic Lachlan Fold Belt (LFB). The LFB is subdivided into zones, based on distinct geological and metallurgical characteristics, with the Avoca project lying to the west, within the Stawell Zone, and the Bailieston Project lying to the east, within the Melbourne Zone.
STRATEGY OF MGA FOR THE PROJECTS
Currawong, and its parent company Flitegold Pty Ltd, have carried out significant early stage exploration in relation to the Projects, including: soil and rock chip sampling at Bailieston; and augur sampling of historical mine dumps, ground penetrating radar surveys, preliminary development studies and limited drilling at Avoca.
ECR and MGA are still in the process of assessing available data in relation to the Projects, including historical exploration results and production records, and the results of exploration and evaluation to date by Currawong, and will use this data to determine appropriate work programmes for MGA to further assess the potential of the Projects.
However, it is likely that continued studies in relation to the reprocessing of historical mine dumps at the Avoca project will be an immediate priority, given the possibility that such an operation would be capable of generating revenue in the relatively near term and with relatively low capital costs. MGA is expected to have a significant economic advantage in such an activity, on the basis of its estimated tax losses of approximately AUD 66M as at 30 June 2015, which may be available, subject to certain conditions (as described in ECR’s announcement of 4 December 2014), to reduce MGA’s future taxable profits.
Additional licences and permits would be required to commence reprocessing of the dumps. If warranted, these will be applied for by MGA in due course. Application for renewal of the exploration licences currently pertaining to the Projects is permitted under Victorian mining law, and such applications, if warranted, would be made by MGA prior to expiry of EL5387 and/or EL5433.
Snowden Mining Industry Consultants has been asked to produce a JORC Code-compliant technical report regarding the Projects for MGA. This Report will provide a summary of all material scientific and technical information in respect of the Projects as of the effective date of the Report, and is expected to be available during March 2016.
SLM Gold Project, Argentina
The SLM gold project in La Rioja Province, Argentina, of which ECR has 100% ownership via Ochre Mining SA (“Ochre”), comprises three prospects: El Abra, JV and Maestro Agüero.
The following information pertaining to the SLM gold project should be read in conjunction with the relevant ECR regulatory announcements.
Exploration at the SLM project during 2015 focused on the Maestro Agüero prospect and included a bulk sampling programme, which returned lower grades than had been hoped for, but did demonstrate good recoveries from cyanidation of the surficial mineralisation sampled. No further exploration is planned for the SLM project in the immediate future.
The SLM project was initiated in 2010 based on an exploration strategy which aimed to identify a number of small gold deposits suitable for processing at a single plant in the Sierra de las Minas region. This concept has been validated and realised by a local company, Esperanza Resources SA (“Esperanza”), which has constructed such a plant in the vicinity of Ochre’s JV and Maestro Agüero prospects. The plant is configured to recover gold via gravity and flotation processes and is not located immediately adjacent to any deposit, being situated instead with good road access for the trucking of feed material from various sources.
A non-binding memorandum of understanding (the “MoU”) was signed between Ochre and Esperanza in May 2015. The MoU provides for discussions aimed at forming a joint venture or other commercial arrangement for the processing of ore from Ochre’s licence areas by Esperanza, and remains in place, albeit that there are no active discussions between Ochre and Esperanza at present.
Ochre is prepared to take a patient approach to see the value of its deposits realised, and, in view of the practicalities involved, ECR’s likely preference is for Ochre to partner with an Argentine group, such as Esperanza, in order to advance the SLM project towards production. Recent signs of interest in the SLM project from parties other than Esperanza are encouraging in this regard.
In November 2015, Argentina elected a new president who is seen to be relatively pro-business, and the new administration has moved to liberalise currency controls and remove export taxes on mined products. These welcome measures do much to improve the general viability of mining in Argentina, and are considered supportive of ECR and Ochre’s above-stated objective for the SLM project.
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Geologist with 49 years of experience in mineral exploration and project evaluation. Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy and Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists. Listed as Senior Associate Geologist with ACA Howe International Ltd. Formerly Exploration Director of AIM-listed Triple Plate Junction plc 2004-2011, having co-founded that company. Also formerly Chairman of TSXV-listed Asian Mineral Resources Ltd during 2012 reorganisation of the company, which now has the producing Ban Phuc nickel sulphide mine in Vietnam. Previously held senior roles with BHP, Normandy Mining Ltd and Newmont Mining Corporation, including heading up BHP's overseas exploration 1975-1981, and Managing Director of South East Asia exploration for Normandy and Newmont 1995-2003.
Director and Chief Executive Officer
Appointed as Finance Director in May 2016. Founding shareholder of Kryso Resources plc, now known as China Nonferrous Gold Ltd. Acted as Finance Director and Company Secretary of Kryso before becoming Managing Director in 2010 and stepping down from the board in September 2013. During this period, Kryso/CNG delineated a 5 million ounce JORC Mineral Resource at the Pakrut gold project in Tajikistan, completed a bankable feasibility study for the project, obtained debt and equity finance for mine development, and commenced construction of the mine and infrastructure. Prior to his roles with Kryso/CNG, Craig held positions with Gulf International Minerals Ltd and Nelson Gold Ltd, both of which also successfully put gold mines into production during his tenure.
Christian Dennis is a highly experienced stockbroker and is currently the CEO and a major shareholder of Optiva Securities Ltd (“Optiva”), a member of the London Stock Exchange. Mr Dennis holds a BSc. (Hons) from the University of Birmingham, is an associate member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and is an FCA approved person. During his career Christian has worked for a number of major investment firms both in London and New York. He has been involved with advising and arranging funding for a large number of mining companies across a wide range of commodities, working with companies at varying stages of development from seed funding through to IPO, and has assisted in bringing a number of those companies along the value curve from project development through to production.
Ivor Jones is a geologist with 30 years’ experience in the industry and is currently practising as an independent consultant based in Australia. Mr Jones holds a BSc (Hons) in Geology from Macquarie University and an MSc in Resource Evaluation from the University of Queensland. He is a Fellow and Chartered Professional (Geology) of the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (AusIMM) and a Member of the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC).
Mr Jones has extensive expertise in all aspects of geology, including project evaluation, resource estimation and the preparation of JORC and NI43-101 reports, across both precious and base metals. His previous roles have included numerous positions with leading consultancy Snowden Mining Industry Consultants (“Snowden”), including as Group General Manager of Geosciences from 2009 until 2014. Mr Jones has also held positions at operating mines, including as Manager of Mine Geology at the Leinster Nickel Operations of WMC Resources Ltd in Western Australia, and as Group Resource Geologist for Anvil Mining Ltd with operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has experience of working in Australia, Africa, North and South America, Europe and the Philippines.
Major Shareholdings by Registered Shareholder
|JIM Nominees Limited||40.63|
|TD Direct Investing Nominees (Europe) Limited||5.20|
|Barclayshare Nominees Limited||4.47|
|HSBC Client Holdings Nominee (UK) Limited||3.77|
|HSDL Nominees Limited||3.47|
|Hargreaves Lansdown (Nominees) Limited||3.07|
ECR Minerals plc
Unit 117, Chester House
81-83 Fulham High Street
Tel: +44 (0)20 7929 1010
Email: [email protected]
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