By Ian Foreman
Golden Arrow Resources Ltd. [TSXV-GRG, OTCQB-GARWF, FSE-G6A] was born in Argentina, where it had over a decade of success that culminated with the sale of their Chinchillas project. They had been on the hunt ever since to find its replacement. In March of 2022 they were given such an opportunity; and it was significant enough that it made them cross the Andes into neighbouring Chile. Their new flagship project is the San Pietro copper-gold-cobalt project. They purchased the project from Sumitomo Metal Mining Chile Ltda. in an all-cash deal totalling US $3.35 million.
And the company hit the ground running… they have been busily working continuously on the San Pietro project since then, and from all accounts they are going to get even busier. With the company’s history in mind, management feels that they have a chance to repeat the success that they had with Chinchillas at San Pietro.
Golden Arrow has spent the last eight months diligently compiling all of the data it has inherited on the project resulting in a significant database. Gaps that were found in the database have since been filled by fieldwork. To date Golden Arrow field crews have completed mapping and sampling throughout more than 18,000 hectares of property, including detailed mapping completed over the more advanced targets.
As a result, a new understanding of the geology and the structural controls has come to light. The recent resurgence in commodity prices combined with significant interest in the cobalt market has refocused some exploration to areas that the previous owner may not have prioritized.
And there is even more work to be done because the San Pietro project is huge – it encompasses a contiguous land package totaling 185 square kilometres in size.
The project has enviable access as it is approximately 100 kilometres north of Copiapo, a small city that is steeped in mining history that dates back to the discovery of the Chañarcillo silver mine in 1832. It is located within the southern sector of the regional-scale Atacama Fault System, which includes numerous historic mining districts with countless Fe, Fe-Cu-Au, Au and Mn deposits that make up part of the Cretaceous iron belt. The Cretaceous iron belt, or the Chilean iron belt, is a 600 kilometre long zone that contains all the major iron-oxide copper-gold deposits in Chile. It is Elephant Country.
The extensive mineralization present at San Pietro is classified as that belonging to the suite of iron oxide–copper–gold (or “IOCG”) deposits. IOCG deposits typically contain high amounts of copper, iron, and gold and are considered to be of great economic importance due to their high metal content and relatively low production costs. A key example is the Candelaria mine in Chile, which is one of the largest copper mines in the world and also contains significant amounts of gold and silver.
There is excellent mining infrastructure surrounding the San Pietro project area as it is situated adjacent to Capstone Copper’s Mantoverde IOCG mine property, which treats oxide ore to produce 45,000 to 50,000 tonnes of copper cathodes per year. The project is also neighbouring the Santo Domingo IOCG mine development project, also owned by Capstone Copper. Santo Domingo’s 2020 proven and probable mineral reserves totalled 392.3 million tonnes grading 0.30 % copper, 0.04 g/t gold, and 28.2 % iron with measured and indicated resources totalled 537 million tonnes grading 0.30 % copper, 0.039 g/t gold, 25.7 % iron and 229 ppm cobalt. In November 2022, Capstone announced the Mantoverde-Santo Domingo District Integration Plan targeting over 200,000 tonnes per year of low-cost copper production with the potential to also become one of the largest and lowest cost battery grade cobalt producers in the world outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The recognition of cobalt is relatively recent in the district and has shone a new light on the value of deposits in the region. The potential economic effects of cobalt may not have been fully realized by previous owners of San Pietro who had spent nearly US$ 15 million on the project. This work included over 34,000 metres of drilling, over 1,000 surface samples and multiple geophysical surveys. Extensive hydrothermal alteration and mineralization was identified, and four main targets delineated: Rincones, Radiss Norte, Colla and Rodeo. Of those, the Rincones and Colla targets have been the primary focus of the historic work, with multiple drill holes returning assays with significant copper, gold and cobalt values, including:
- RADDH-02 – 34 metres grading 1.20 % copper, 579 ppm cobalt and 0.21 g/t gold
- RA12DH-003 – 28 metres grading 1.14 % copper, 335 ppm cobalt and 0.12 g/t gold
- CO-11-DH-001 – 10 metres grading 626 ppm cobalt including 1,250 ppm cobalt over 1 metre
- CO-11-DH-002 – 32 metres grading 414 ppm cobalt including 1,040 ppm cobalt over 1 metre
The company is completing a final induced polarization resistivity geophysical survey in order to finalize their drill-targeting work prior to the commencement of the Company’s first diamond drilling program in February. A drill contractor has been secured and the initial program will include approximately 2,500 metres of diamond drilling.
Brian McEwen, VP Exploration and Development for Golden Arrow, commented, “… the team is ready to make big strides at the project in 2023. The first drilling campaign will test several targets, but it will be just the tip of the iceberg for this year’s full drill program. Concurrent with this phase of drilling we will be continuing the field evaluation and refinement of additional targets throughout the large property area.”
With success in the first drill holes, the company is budgeting for a total of up to 20,000 metres at San Pietro in 2023. This planned work is fully funded due to Golden Arrow’s past success of having monetized its Chinchillas silver discovery in Argentina into a significant holding in precious metals producer SSR Mining Inc. As a result, the company is well financed with over $7M in cash and assets.
With Chinchillas, they picked up a property that had seen multiple drill campaigns and had been passed over by numerous competitors. But after diligent compilation, detailed mapping and a reinterpretation of the geology they knew that they were onto something significant. After only 5 short years they sold the project to SSR Mining and have been well funded ever since.
Will history repeat itself with San Pietro? Well, the diligent compilation, detailed mapping and geological interpretations have been done. Now they will be drill testing their concepts – is there a better time for an exploration company?