Minera Alamos (MAI.V) has received the official permit approval from SEMARNAT for the development of its Santana heap leach gold project in Sonora. The permit was issued faster than expected as the company received its change of land use notification just six weeks ago and the Mexican procedures usually take longer than that. So while the initial phase of the permitting process was delayed by a few months due to the new government coming in after the elections, it looks like the permitting process has now really sped up and Minera Alamos remains on track to start the construction activities later this year. This would enable the company to produce its first gold in the summer of next year.
Minera is now still waiting for the final paperwork on the ETJ – which already was approved before the MIA, but that’s literally waiting for the right piece of paper with the right stamp to arrive in the mail box.
Additionally, the company will start with its Phase 2 drill program at Santana, where the Nicho and Divisadero zones will undoubtedly be followed up on as the 2018 drill programs encountered thick gold mineralization at Nicho Norte (with 80 meters containing 1.05 g/t gold and 127 meters at 0.81 g/t gold) and copper-gold mineralization at Divisadero with almost 96 meters containing 0.85 g/t gold, almost 10 g/t silver and more important, 0.33% copper. As the mineralization appears to continue onto the Los Verdes claims which are also owned by Minera Alamos, it’s starting to look like the current conceptual mine plan at Santana Project (which will be brought in production without an official economic study) will be just the start as not only is it extremely unlikely no additional ounces will be added to the mine plan, the copper-gold discovery also shines a new light on the entire project as the oxide gold zone may be accompanied by a copper-gold porphyry at Divisadero.
More exploration work is needed on those two zones, but Minera also plans to drill-test an additional five targets that have been generated by the field geologists. The updated corporate presentation still mentions approximately 10,000 meters will be drilled this year and although the exact amount of meters wasn’t mentioned in the press release, we hope Minera Alamos will be able to drill a substantial part of that, and perhaps defer a second phase to 2020 as we’d prefer Minera to get cash flowing before spending too much on exploration.
Disclosure: The author has a long position in Minera Alamos.