One of the largest mineral resource discoveries of the last two years is in Bolivia, in the prolific mining region of Potosi. Potosi is famous for hosting some of the highest grade silver deposits in history, including the world’s largest silver deposit Cerro Rico De Potosi. After 500 years of metal extraction, Cerro Rico De Potosi still contains a world class silver and tin reserve totaling more than 500 million tonnes at grades of roughly 100 g/t silver and .2% tin.
A 2019 polymetallic discovery by Eloro Resources (TSX-V:ELO, OTC: ELRRF) called Iska Iska is also located in the Eastern Cordillera of SW Bolivia, near some of the world’s largest polymetallic deposits:
It is still early days in the Iska Iska story, but all indications point to this being a special mineral deposit that hosts copious amounts of silver, tin, gold,lead, zinc, and copper. The scale of what Eloro has already drilled out to date at Iska Iska (roughly 40,000 meters of diamond drilling so far) is breathtaking. And the best part is multiple high priority target areas (Central Breccia Pipe, El Porco, and a large mag anomaly to the south that could represent a buried porphyry) have not received anywhere close to an adequate amount of drilling.
There is a saying in the mining business that the best deposits keep getting better the more you work them. This appears to be the case with Iska Iska. Since Eloro announced a new breccia pipe discovery at Iska Iska in November 2020, the company has continued to expand the grade and scale of the mineralized zones at Iska Iska. Eloro’s ~40,000 meters of drilling to date has confirmed that the Iska Iska mineral system extends for over 2.5 kilometers from north to south.
Eloro has identified three major breccia pipes at Iska Iska: Central, Santa Barbara, and El Porco. In just the Santa Barbara Target area, Eloro is continuing to drill out a mineralized area (Santa Barbara Breccia Pipe and surrounding mineral envelope) along 1,400 meters of strike length, 500 meters in width, and extends to a depth of at least 600 meters.
A back-of-the-envelope calculation using the 1,400m x 500m x 600m resource dimensions at the Santa Barbara Breccia Pipe (SBBP) and a 2.8 specific gravity gives us a total mineralized area totalling more than 1 billion tonnes. However, I expect that Eloro will use a 35 g/t silver-equivalent cut-off grade resulting in a smaller resource area, 300-400 million tonnes is probably more realistic. The holes reported at the SBBP to date range from roughly 50 g/t silver-equivalent to 250 g/t silver-equivalent, with most of them falling in the 70-120 g/t silver-equivalent range. If we use a conservative grade estimate of 85 g/t silver-equivalent and the 300 million tonnes resource number then we get just under one billion silver-equivalent ounces.
Yes, that’s right! One billion ounces!
And that’s just in the maiden resource estimate using only the first pass drilling. Simply put, it’s difficult to overstate just how big the scale is at Iska Iska. The potential exists for Iska Iska to host hundreds of millions of ounces of silver, billions of pounds of lead and zinc, and a very healthy gold, tin, and copper bonus.
Eloro is currently drilling with three diamond core drill rigs at the Santa Barbara Breccia Pipe Area (two drills on surface and one underground at the Santa Barbara area) with the aim of delivering a maiden mineral resource estimate in March/April of 2022. Nearly one billion silver-equivalent ounces is a nice starting point for a resource, however, this maiden resource is likely to be just scratching the surface at Iska Iska. There is significant potential to expand the mineralized zones at the SBBP, El Porco, and the Central Breccia Pipe.
In particular, the northwest extension to the SBBP, El Porco, and the large silver/tin porphyry target to the southwest of El Porco are high priorities for extensive drilling in 2022.
The southern part of the Iska Iska system shows great potential for further discovery. A large magnetic susceptibility anomaly to the south of El Porco is likely to be a reflection of proximity to the underlying source porphyry believed to be situated along the southern margin of the caldera complex.
El Porco also represents a high priority drill target due to the size and intensity of the magnetic inversion anomaly, and channel sampling results from a historic adit at El Porco that graded 521 g/t silver-equivalent over a stunning 103 meters!
One of five radial drill holes drilled from surface at El Porco, hole DPC-01, clipped the edge of a major magnetic susceptibility anomaly and intersected 110.3 g/t silver-equivalent over 3.0 meters in the target area. The five radial drill holes were drilled before Eloro had access to the magnetic susceptibility data.
The recently acquired magnetic susceptibility data at El Porco supports the theory that mineralization at the Porco adit is sourced from a large underlying porphyry system. This underlying porphyry system is likely to be to the southwest of El Porco and also demonstrates a very strong and extensive magnetic susceptibility anomaly.
The higher-grade mineralized zones at Iska Iska tend to be magnetic, hence the areas with high magnetic response such as El Porco and the large porphyry target (‘tin/silver porphyry target’) to the southwest are high priority drill targets for early 2022.
Eloro’s Senior Technical Advisor Quinton Hennigh recently emphasized the potential of these targets:
“Metal endowments display notable zonation along this corridor from Ag-Zn-Pb-rich in the north to Ag-Sn-rich in the middle to Ag-Sn-Cu-Au-rich in the south. This is likely a reflection of proximity to the underlying source porphyry believed to be situated along the southern margin of the caldera complex as evidenced by recently collected magnetic data. The southern part of the Iska Iska system shows great potential for further discovery. It will be exciting to see drilling resume in this area.”
In the first half of 2022, there are a series of catalysts lined up for Eloro that stand to generate a significant upward rerating of ELO shares:
- Additional drill results from Santa Barbara
- First drilling at large mag porphyry target to the south of El Porco
- Metallurgy testing results (Q1 2022)
- Maiden resource estimate for Santa Barbara Area (March/April)
Eloro is finishing up drilling for the year this week, and will resume in mid-January with three drill rigs. Early in 2022, Eloro will also target extending the 1400 meters strike length at the Santa Barbara Breccia Pipe and surrounding mineralized envelope.
To summarize, after a near vertical ascent from the end of 2020 into early 2020, Eloro shares have spent most of 2021 consolidating in a wide range between $3.25 and $5.80 per share. This pattern of a powerful advance followed by an extended consolidation is normal in the junior mining sector; a new discovery is made and investors bid up shares and speculate on the scale of the discovery, then hard time consuming work on the ground takes place before the next big news catalysts are press released to the market.
After a 10+ month oscillation, the stage is set for a similar scenario to last December/January when Eloro shares rocketed higher on drilling success that helped to illuminate the scale potential at Iska Iska. Eloro is well funded with C$16 million in its treasury and multiple catalysts lined up in the first several months of 2022 that could deliver a powerful upward rerating for Eloro.
Disclosure: Author owns ELO.V shares at the time of publishing and may choose to buy or sell at any time without notice. The author of this article has been compensated for marketing services by Eloro Resources Ltd.
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