Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

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Page 76 of 107 E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 75 MINING IN PERU its own drilling campaigns this year is Condor Resources. Beyond its agreements with Chakana Copper and local mining companies, Condor wants to advance its Pucamayo, Andrea and Huiñac Punta projects. "Pucamayo is our more advanced project, both from a technical and a permitting perspective," declared Ever Márquez, VP Exploration at Condor. "It is an epithermal gold project, and next to it we have identified a porphyry copper-gold area." A year ago, Condor did a hybrid financing with Sandstorm in- volving both shares and royalties at Condor's early stage proper- ties. "Certainly, institutional investment is coming back, but the retail side has not picked up yet," related Lyle Davis, president and CEO of Condor. "In any case, today two thirds of the financing for junior exploration is coming from bigger, established mining companies, so the model seems to be that the majors are using the juniors as their exploration teams." Uranium and lithium 2017 was a transformational year for Plateau Uranium, now rebranded as Plateau Energy Metals. While exploring in one of its areas in the Macusani plateau, the company made the Fal- chani discovery, containing uranium but also high lithium grades of 3,500 parts per million (ppm). "The deposit is at least 100 meters thick and two square kilometers in area. We are quite confident that this will be among the top lithium resources in the world. It is a totally new style of rock: you can process it easily and it is within 200 meters of the surface, so it is open-pittable," said Ted O'Connor, until recently CEO of Plateau Energy Metals. The Falchani discovery adds to the sizeable resource the com- pany had already defined in the area of 124 million lb of uranium and 176,000 mt of equivalent lithium oxide. "As we move west towards the Falchani area, the focus is increasingly on the lith- ium," explained Laurence Stefan, president and COO of Plateau Energy Metals. "Having said this, the uranium at Falchani is dou- ble the grade of our uranium to the east, so we will end up as well with a significantly expanded uranium resource on the surface." Now, the company needs to define the size of its lithium re- source and confirm that the extraction will be straightforward and economic. O'Connor gave more details: "In this rock that has 3,500 ppm lithium, we get 80% of the lithium out by using warm sulphuric acid. Our solutions have 2,500-2,700 ppm lithium in them, as opposed to 250 ppm in a normal brine." Fertilizers Despite the poor forecast for global phosphate prices, the Sechura basin has become a hotbed for juniors due to its strategic location next to the ocean, its mineral richness that includes highly reac- tive phosphate rock, and a very large mine already in operation, initially developed by Vale and recently acquired by Mosaic. One of the juniors in the area is Crops Inc. (previously Focus Ventures) with the Bayovar 12 project. The company carried out recent beneficiation tests that showed a minimum of 30% P 2 O 5 content in their rock. With these results, the company has been able to sign MOUs with two phosphate rock merchants based in Switzerland, defining specific export destinations for the tradi- tional phosphate fertilizer industry. The shorter-term view for Crops Inc., however, is different. Its president, Gordon Tainton, has been looking at different methods to add value to the Bayovar 12 product given the low global phosphate prices: "We believe we have a genuine opportunity to produce elemental phosphorus (P4). P4 is one of the main materials used to make the Roundup weed killer. We investigated the North American and European markets and found out that Last year, Peru received 7% of the world's dollars for non-ferrous exploration. Photo: Ariana project, courtesy of Southern Peaks.

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