Together, the Ecuador Companies own three mineral exploration concessions (the "Zamora Projects") adjacent to and within the same district as the world-class Fruta del Norte gold project, currently in production by Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG).
The Zamora Projects provide high-quality early-stage gold exploration prospects in Ecuador. The 1,000-hectare combined concession package hosting the Rio Zarza Project is located adjacent to the Fruta del Norte gold Mine, discovered approximately 15 years ago and now in production. Despite the proximity of these properties to Fruta del Norte, there is no assurance that similar or identical results will be achieved as a result of the company’s exploration and development activities on these three concessions.
The Valle del Tigre project is an early-stage, exploration project in the highly prospective Cordillera del Condor mineral belt of southeast Ecuador. VdT's license boundary is situated approximately 2.5km northwest of Lundin Mining's Fruta del Norte (FdN), an epithermal gold-silver mine and approximately 15km southwest of the Mirador copper-gold porphyry deposit, owned by CRCC-Tongguan Investment Co., as shown in Figure 1. The property is underlain by the same sedimentary and volcanic rock formations and lies within the same rift faulting corridor as Fruta del Norte and the Jurassic Mineral Belt. Ecuador has, in recent times, become one of the most sought-after exploration jurisdictions for gold and base metals. Companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group, Newcrest, and Solgold have made significant advances in the country in the past three to five years. Ecuador received the “Best Country” award at Mines and Money London in 2017.
The Zamora-Chinchipe Province in the southeast of Ecuador, bordering with Peru, where the Zamora Projects are located is considered some of the most prospective ground in the country. Since the initial discovery of Fruta del Norte in 2006, it has grown into one of the world’s most valuable gold discoveries of the last 15 years.
Figure 1 – Zamora Projects Location
Rio Zarza comprises two concessions covering approximately 1,000 hectares, directly adjacent to the west of Fruta del Norte. These were originally granted prior to the discovery of Fruta del Norte. Exploration was carried out from 2008 until 2012 by Ecometals Limited and included surface magnetics, induced polarization (IP), gravity surveying, soil/stream sediment sampling, mapping, and limited diamond drilling.
Exploration delineated several targets with most of the work focused on targets situated in the eastern section of the property.
Limited previous drilling at Rio Zarza was undertaken prior to a new geological interpretation and was ineffectual in reaching target depth. Further, several coincident geochemical and geophysical anomalies remain largely untested.
Rio Zarza’s geochemistry, alteration, and geology have been noted as being strikingly similar to Fruta del Norte, which is hosted by the Misahualli volcanics. Additional drilling was planned, vectoring from previous drill intersections that displayed low-temperature alteration and anomalous As, Sb, Hg, Mn geochemistry. Under the current geological interpretation, it is thought that the Misahualli volcanics have been dropped by step-faults to the west of Fruta del Norte and so the potential gold target is located at Rio Zarza is at depths of 700-800 m (Figures 2 and 3).
The Company’s view as that the previous wide-spaced drilling was unsuccessful for two reasons: (1) the majority of the holes never tested the upper part of the Misahualli volcanics; and (2) the favorable conjugate structures were not tested at the right orientation.
The favorable contact between the Suarez conglomerate/Misahualli volcanics was only encountered once during the drilling programs, failing to intersect mineralisation because the hole was located too far to the west near the Zamora Granodiorite complex manifested by high-temperature propylitic alteration with pyrite. A number of targets remain untested in the eastern part of the property.
Low temperature, epithermal calcite-quartz veining has been recognised in the Zamora granodiorite and validates the potential to host a gold-silver vein system. Mineralogical studies of the extensive alluvial gold mineralisation situated in the central and western areas indicated the gold is sourced locally and is epithermal in nature. A large number of coincident geophysical and geochemical anomalies remain untested in over 70% of the concession area.
Additional potential exists for large tonnage alluvial gold targets hosted by elevated dry river terraces.
A well-maintained exploration camp is available on the Rio Zarza Project, from which exploration will be based, and excellent road infrastructure has recently been established in the area as part of the Fruta del Norte development by Lundin Gold.
Figure 2 – Rio Zarza and Fruta del Norte Surface Geology Map
Figure 3 – Rio Zarza and Fruta del Norte Cross Section
At Valle del Tigre, subparallel NNE trending rift faults that control the Fruta del Norte deposit are repeated. A similar age, fault-controlled western sedimentary-volcanic basin exists at Valle del Tigre, The Hollin/Suarez Formation sediments that cover the Fruta del Norte deposit cover 90% of the Valle del Tigre block, with the prospective Misahualli volcanics likely to exist at unknown depth below Hollin Formation sediments.
Significant gold in stream sediment anomalies is located in the southern part of the concession, and potential targets will be structural in nature (Figure 4).
The exploration plan for Valle del Tigre will include magnetotellurics, magnetics, gravity and ionic soil sampling, followed up by stratigraphic drilling of the coincident targets. The initial phase of groundwork is planned to commence as soon as practicable after the completion of the acquisition by Tempus, expected within the next 2-4 months.
Figure 4 – Valle del Tigre Geology and targets