Solaris Resources [SLS-TSX; SLSSF-OTCQB] recently reported another significant copper porphyry discovery at its 100%-owned flagship Warintza Project in south-eastern Ecuador. The recent discovery of Warintza West follows an earlier copper porphyry discovery at Warintza Central and further demonstrates the potential of this extensive, but largely un-tested porphyry system.
The company has a portfolio of six mineral projects in the Americas assembled by the late legendary geologist, David Lowell. Solaris was spun out of Equinox Gold in 2018 and partnered with the Augusta Group to develop the value of its exploration assets. The Augusta Group was founded by mining magnate, Richard Warke, and has an unrivaled track record of value creation in the mining sector that includes over C$4.5 billion in exit transactions over the last decade.
Warintza was discovered by David Lowell in 2000. A small, shallow drilling campaign around the discovery outcrop was the basis for an in-pit inferred resource estimate for Warintza Central totalling 124Mt grading 0.70% CuEq (0.56% Cu, 0.03% Mo and 0.1 g/t Au). The resource is open laterally and at depth and is set within a 5km x 5km cluster of copper porphyries.
At the time, Ecuador was a frontier jurisdiction with no commercial mining industry. Things began to change in 2014 when the government shifted its policy in the wake of the collapse of the oil sector to encourage mineral development. The change was fuelled by Lundin Gold acquiring the Fruta del Norte project, 45 km south of Warintza, and developing it in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. This improved sentiment toward mining development and created conditions for Solaris to successfully restart a dialogue with the communities surrounding its Warintza Project in 2018.
With support of local communities, Solaris resumed exploration at Warintza in early 2020 and has been conducting a 40,000-metre drill program at Warintza Central designed to pick up where David Lowell left off.
This is the first drill program completed in over 20 years with recent drilling significantly extending mineralization beyond the 200-metre average depth-extent of historical drilling that the Warintza Central resource estimate is based upon.
On February 16, 2021, the company announced the discovery of a second significant copper porphyry deposit at Warintza West, as well as results of the first detailed geophysical survey covering the property which revealed a much more extensive porphyry system than previously understood. Drill hole SLSW-01 returned 798 metres of 0.31% CuEq, including 260 metres of 0.42% CuEq from 32-metre depth.
Importantly, geophysics revealed this interval lies adjacent to a high-conductivity anomaly described as a continuous high-conductivity anomaly encompassing Warintza Central, East and West, with approximate dimensions of 3.5km long x 1km wide x 1km deep – a volume that encompasses 10 billion tons of rock.
In addition, there is a separate, large-scale high-conductivity anomaly at Warintza South dwarfing geochemical expression, with approximate dimensions of 2.3km x 1.1km x 0.7km, another 5 billion ton volume.
A previously unknown, large-scale high-conductivity anomaly was also identified, referred as Yawi, with approximate dimensions of 2.8km x 0.7km x 0.5km.
Daniel Earle, President and CEO, stated that there is the potential to develop one of the largest, highest grade open pit copper projects held by an independent company. The Company doubled its exploration program from 6 to 12 rigs to meet the increased scope of resource and discovery drilling.
It is expected that Warintza Central and Warintza West are just the beginning of a series of discoveries within the Warintza cluster of porphyries. Further drilling is expected to produce additional discoveries within the Warintza cluster at Warintza East and South, and possibly the new Yawi anomaly, all which have never been drilled. About 14km of drilling was completed last year at Warintza Central with another 26km of drilling to be completed. The objective of the 40-km drill program is to drill test some 1.35 billion tonnes of the anomaly at Warintza Central alone. Results from the current 12 drill rigs will form the basis of an updated resource estimate expected to be completed in Q3.
The 268km² Warintza property has access to excellent infrastructure including abundant inexpensive hydroelectric power, ample fresh water, and road access connecting to a main highway. With recent drilling demonstrating robust grades at least 1,000 metres deep and open laterally for kilometres, the Warintza Project is clearly an outstanding porphyry project on its way to economic status.
The rise in the Solaris share price from C$1.50 to C$6.60 has been an ongoing realization that a large, high-grade copper porphyry system has been discovered.
The company also has a portfolio of other Latin America projects in Chile, Peru and Mexico.
The company has over C$90 million in its treasury and 105 million shares outstanding.