Streetwise Reports caught up with Ian Slater, the CEO of Libero Copper and Gold Corp. (LBC:TSX.V:, LBCMF:OTCQB). Slater is ramping up his international firm's exploration program at its Big Red property in the Golden Triangle of British Columbia, Canada.
The Golden Triangle is difficult to mine, terrain- and weather-wise, but payoffs for tenacity have been consistent during the past 150 years. The region sports several of Canada's most lucrative copper-gold mines, including Premier, Red Chris, Snip, Brucejack and Eskay Creek.
There is road access into Big Red, so the harsh winter is the main obstacle to working the area—the weather window is July through October. Big Red is a big patchwork: It covers 20 contiguous claims totaling 26,000 hectares.
Slater is fresh off of raising $3.7 million in a private placement for Libero. The placement found institutional support and was oversubscribed by $1 million. Slater said the expected proceeds are more than enough to finance Big Red exploration and general capital needs for the next two mining seasons in the Golden Triangle.
Slater's team includes legendary geologist Leo Hathaway of Lumina Gold Corp. At Lumina, Hathaway's historic discoveries resulted in a $1.6 billion buyout. Slater and Hathaway are pushing to commence the Big Red exploratory drilling program in a few days. They aim to finish the first round of drilling before the heavy snows of October.
"We spent the summer taking continuous rock samples, confirming the results from historical assays, which were gold-laden soil samples that date back to 1963. We took the new samples from the bedrock. Our plan is to start drilling in September; we are waiting for the final permit," Slater said.
Slater pointed out that his workforce can drive through the wilderness to Big Red on a dirt road, which is a big plus in these rough-hewn mountains. The drive is worthwhile: Past and present surveys show that Libero's exploration zone is heavy with porphyry copper and gold, epithermal gold and silver and volcanogenic sulfide mineralization.
The centroid of the Big Red targets is a large magnetic-high feature that coincides with a radiometric potassium anomaly, copper, gold and molybdenum anomalies and a mapped Jurassic aged porphyry intrusion. Epithermal gold targets lie to the south and west including the Poker target to the west of the porphyry targets.
On September 5, Libero released results from its early-stage sampling program, announcing a significant new gold discovery at the Copper Bowl target "where five contiguous 50 meter continuous rock chip samples returned intervals of 2.91 grams per tonne gold over 250 meters including 6.14 grams per tonne gold over 100 meters in two contiguous samples."
The company also noted the sampling "confirmed the anomaly previously compiled from historical sampling campaigns conducted at the Ridge gold target. Continuous rock chip sampling results at the Ridge gold target included 5.14 grams per tonne gold from a single continuous chip sample taken over 50 meters."
The company plans to target both Ridge and Copper Bowl in its upcoming drill program.
Slater said the newly raised capital will be used to work through the end of the next year's drilling season. "We will be permitted for 15 drilling pads of multiple years. The lab results should turn around on three-week schedules." He expects the samples to show mostly gold-copper porphyry. "We are focused on the gold," he remarked.
"This is the first time that the Big Red project has been consolidated under one operator," Slater noted. The company has invested in a series of affordable, structured options. "If the exploration does not work out to our liking, we can walk away with minimal losses," he explained. Libero's eggs are not all in one carton.
Libero's business strategy is acquiring "high-quality copper and gold deposits with significant resources but without any fatal flaws or significant holding costs." It looks for projects with known mineralization, but significant exploration potential. The plan is to sell at a premium when strong markets inspire the hunt for acquisitions, Slater said.
Buy cheap, sell dear fits the Libero's plan for exploring its Big Red asset, as well as its 49 unpatented claims in the Tomichi deposit in southwestern Colorado.
Tomichi contains an inferred mineral resource of 711 million tons at a grade of 0.33% copper equivalent. Slater says that exploring Tomichi is currently on the backburner. That project awaits a change in market conditions. because the Tomichi metal, while abundant, is relatively low grade compared to the prospects at Big Red and Mocoa.
"There is a lot of metal in the ground, but it is not costing much to hold on to Tomichi until global supplies are reduced and the pricing changes," Slater noted.
Libero's "flagship" venture is a higher-grade deposit near the town of Mocoa, Colombia. It contains an inferred resource of 636 million tons at a grade of 0.45% copper equivalent. The deposit is accessible by road and it has an unusual history.
The Mocoa deposit was discovered in 1973 when the United Nations conducted a regional stream geochemical survey. Through 1983, explorers mapped the geology, did surface sampling and ground geophysics (IP, magnetics). It sank 31 diamond drill holes totaling 18,321 meters, resulting in promising, if preliminary metallurgical test work.
Four drill core composites, representing different rock and ore types, and a bulk composite of all these samples were processed at Dawson Metallurgical Laboratories in Murray, Utah. Standard grinding and flotation tests were completed. A bulk copper-molybdenum flotation concentrate was processed to produce copper and molybdenum concentrates.
According to contemporaneous reports, the copper concentrate has a grade of 24.2% Cu with a recovery of 85.9% and the molybdenum concentrate has a grade of 55.14% Mo with a recovery of 82.7%. Both concentrates are clean with no deleterious elements.
Majors have been circling Mocoa from afar, waiting for the juniors to strike. In 2008 and 2012, B2Gold executed diamond drill programs at Mocoa. Slater acquired the deposit from B2Gold Corp. (BTG:NYSE; BTO:TSX; B2G:NSX) in return for a 19% stake in Libero.[NLINSERT]
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