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 under development by Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG).
The newly acquired 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 project, discovered approximately 13 years ago and now under development, hosting an NI43-101 Indicated Mineral Resource of 23.8 million tonnes at 9.61 g/t gold and a further Inferred Mineral Resource of 11.6 million tonnes at 5.69 g/t gold (9.48 million ounces total). (Reference: Lundin Gold Technical Report, 2015) Rio Zarza’s eastern boundary is 850 m west of the Fruta del Norte deposit and exhibits strikingly similar geological, structural and alteration characteristics. The 2,195 hectare concession hosting the Valle del Tigre Project is situated to the north of Fruta del Norte and contains repeats of the subparralel rift faults that control the Fruta del Norte deposit.
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 south east 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 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 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 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.
Permitting for drill testing of key targets adjacent to Fruta del Norte is being progressed by the vendor of the Zamora Projects, to allow drilling to commence as soon as possible after completion of the acquisition, expected within 6-7 months. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate drilling target zones, interpreted to represent favourable structures and stratigraphy for Fruta del Norte related targets on the Rio Zarza concession.
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, subparralel 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 are 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 ground work 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