VanGold is gearing up for a very active remainder of 2020. The company is on a mission to restore and expand the El Pinguico mine in the silver-rich region of Guanajuato, Mexico.
Guanajuato has a rich mining history; most notably, the famous historic Valenciana mine began to produce silver in the 16th century.
From 1774 until the early 19th century, it was one of the most productive silver mines in the world. It produced 80% of all silver mined in the state of Guanajuato, and one-sixth of all Mexico. For over 250 years, it produced about 30% of the world’s silver.
Mining at Valenciana was undertaken along the Veta Madre or ‘Mother Vein’ – a regional formation that can be traced at surface for over 25 km (15.53 miles), and from which many mines have produced over the centuries. Veta Madre is somewhat unique. It is a low sulfidation epithermal system mined over 600 m (1968.50 ft) of vertical extent, demonstrating the prolonged nature of the mineralizing event that introduced the silver and gold.
VanGold is hoping to be the next highly successful story in the Guanajuato mining camp. The company’s El Pinguico mine was in production from the late 1880s until 1913.
When the asset was in production, it was a very high-grade producer of silver and gold. When the mine closed, underground and above ground material remained at the mine.
Today, the El Pinguico mine is in close proximity to several active, modern mining operations, including Endeavour Silver’s El Cubo and Bolanitos mine and mill complexes; Fresnillo PLC’s Las Torres mine and mill operation, and Great Panther Mining’s Guanajuato mine complex which includes the San Ignacio mine. All of these operations lie between 2 and 30km from Vangold’s principal project.
The company has been able to take advantage of having many different operators in close proximity to the asset.
The company recently completed a bulk sample and metallurgical test which consisted of delivering a total of 1039 wet tonnes of mineralized material from its above ground stockpile which was processed at Endeavour Silver Corp.’s (Endeavour) (TSX:EDR) nearby Bolanitos mill.
The average recoveries from the bulk sample were: (click here for full release)
Gold: 75.18% Silver: 60.36%
The next steps for the company is to clear the shaft so they can sample the bottom of the underground stockpile.
Inside the El Pinguico mine, there is a large stockpile of broken mineralized material, which has existed since the mine closed in 1913. The Mexican Geological Survey (CRM in 1959 and SGM in 2012) have completed historical estimates of the stockpile’s size and grade. VanGold undertook a trench sampling program of the underground stockpile in 2017 with a view to validating these historical estimates using NI 43-101 sampling standards, please click here for more information.
We recently caught up with James Anderson, CEO and Chairman of VanGold and asked him a few questions about the company’s upcoming plans:
With navigating through this COVID environment, how has it been operating and advancing the El Pinguico project?
In May, when we sent our 1,000 tonne bulk sample to Endeavour Silver Corp.’s mill, about 28km from our silver-gold project in Guanajuato, Mexico, people were amazed that we could get that done in the midst of the pandemic. Our workers used face masks, had sanitizer, and physical distancing – and we were able to accomplish the task quite efficiently.
We are now starting work on clearing out debris from the bottom of the El Pinguico shaft, and the same basic principles of safety apply. However, we have been slowed somewhat in recent weeks due to travel protocols within Mexico. The work that we are doing is delicate – taking place in the underground workings of a 110-year-old mine. Therefore, our General Manager, mining engineer Gerardo Dorado Cantu, has hired very experienced underground miners that he has worked with before, many of whom are from out of town. We isolate these workers, test them for Covid-19, and only if their tests come back negative (generally it takes three days to get test results back) can they then start working on site.
Can you give us a brief overview of your thoughts on the bulk sample that was completed on the surface stockpile in early June, did it surpass your expectations?
In a short time, we were able to learn an enormous amount about our project, our rocks, and the economics of sending mineralized material to a local mill.
All of the material we used was from our above ground stockpile, which has been sitting on surface since mining ceased on the property in 1913. We achieved excellent results when this material was passed through Endeavour’s floatation mill. Gold recoveries of 75% and silver recoveries of 61% on a first pass, trial bulk sample we think are excellent results. Also, our recalculated head grade of the gold and silver that actually came out of the rocks was 1.23 grams per tonne gold equivalent – which is almost exactly what we have been quoting as the grade from our above ground stockpile. So it has given us a lot of confidence that the other data we have is exactly as advertised.
We ended up producing 18 ounces of gold and 930 ounces of silver from the bulk sample; a modest start, yes, and one that we feel we can quickly expand on.
With VanGold now on the verge of beginning to clear the El Pinguico shaft, can you elaborate on the three initiatives the company wants to complete?
Yes, that work, though delayed by a couple weeks due to various Covid-19 issues and protocols, is now ramping up nicely. And as you mentioned, we have three goals in mind here:
- First, we want to sample the bottom of the underground stockpile – to gather even more confidence that we know what the material grades, and what we can expect financially when we undertake to send this material onward to a local mill.
- Second, we want to make a determination of whether we will use the El Pinguico shaft to commercially remove material from that stockpile, or whether we will use the #7 (Sangria) adit level. Both are possibilities – and getting down to the bottom of the shaft will allow our engineers to determine what will be the most cost effective, safeest, and efficient solution for our purposes.
- Third, we will channel sample areas of high grade veining within the mine workings. Cut-off grades in the mine were about 15 gpt AuEq 110 years ago – and there remains exposures of high-grade veins within the old workings.
Does the company have some drill targets it wants to explore? If so, does the company plan to drill in the coming months?
Because VanGold has discussed the stockpile materials so much in our news releases, some people have come to think of that as the ‘main event’ at El Pinguico. That is not the case. The monetization of the stockpiles is a means to an end for VanGold. It is our aim to ship that material to a local mill, make a good sum of money, and turn that money back into aggressive drilling campaigns.
El Pinguico was the highest grade silver and gold mine in the famous Guanajuato mining camp 110 years ago. Extensions of the high-grade epithermal veins that are exposed in the underground workings on our property will be the first areas targeted by underground drilling. Computer modelling of those target areas is ongoing, and will be supplemented with additional underground and surface geological and structural mapping in the weeks ahead, in order to identify high probability targets for underground drilling in the fall.
Also, the intersection of the El Pinguico vein structures with the regional precious metal bearing fault feature known as Veta Madre – or Mother Vein – which may occur on our property – is a conceptual, but very compelling, and potentially game changing target that VanGold plans to target late in 2020.
There are many moving pieces with this story as the company moves to process and test the underground material, which should generate cash flow while looking to expand the historic mine through drilling by targeting the famous mother vein that may run through the property.
It is going to be a very active remainder of 2020 for VanGold, and we will check in with James in a month for an update.
Be sure to visit the company’s website, here for further information. www.vangoldmining.com
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