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    Australian company intends to exploit gold mine in Ciego de Ávila

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    Compañía australiana pretende explotar mina de oro en Ciego de Ávila

    What we affirmed in a previous note, related to the non-exploitation of the gold deposit known as Gaspar-El Pilar, regarding illegal mining to the East of Ciego de Ávila, could be modified in just a few months, and if the prospecting project materializes, led by the Australian company Antilles Gold Ltd.

    A note from the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) dated 1st. March, reported that Antilles Gold Ltd. presented the Los Llanos project, through the formalization of an International Economic Association (AEI) with the Cuban mercantile company document.

    Through the global exploration agreement, the Australian company intends to “carry out preliminary exploration and studies of gold and copper/gold deposits previously explored in Cuba, which are included in the AEI, before recommending which mining concessions should be transferred to the joint mining company, Minera La Victoria SA, for further exploration and potential development”.

    In this way, Los Llanos would act as a sort of incubator for mining projects that could follow the short-term development of the La Demajagua gold/silver mine, located on Isla de la Juventud.

    To date, Antilles Gold Ltd. has recommended three properties for inclusion in the AEI: three prospective porphyry copper/gold deposits (Ciego de Ávila); a large VMS copper/gold deposit at Golden Hills (Las Tunas), and gold sulphide deposits at Florencia and Maclama (Camagüey-Las Tunas).

    Ciego de Ávila gold: promising

    According to a press release from Dr. Chris Grainger, a geologist and director of exploration for the company, the surface outcrops of the El Pilar, San Nicolás and Gaspar group of deposits are promising. "The porphyry copper/gold ore bodies indicate this is a very large open pit prospect, and an excellent exploration opportunity."

    The foreign party said that the report with these prospective results was presented to GeoMinera S.A, together with the proposed work program and budget until the end of 2023.

    If the potential “for a major open-pit mine” is ultimately confirmed, the 212-square-kilometre mining concession housing the porphyry system will be transferred to the existing mining joint venture, Minera La Victoria SA, for further exploration and possible development.

    The news has spread in international media, however the company Geominera S.A. It has not made a statement or updated its website with the participation in a new AEI. No references were found on the official page of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (MINCEX).

    However, the press release from Antilles Gold Ltd. refers to the presentation of detailed work programs and budgets for the activities to be carried out under the Los Llanos Project, until December 2023.

    At this time, according to the document, the steps to follow are being determined bilaterally, but it is anticipated that "it will include the reinterpretation of existing data, geological mapping, and geophysical studies, including terrestrial magnetism, induced polarization programs, and a drilling on those properties that indicate potential development.

    As we mentioned in a previous note, in 2017 Sociedad Mercantil GeoMinera S.A. issued a document that proposed 13 areas of interest for mining in its portfolio of opportunities. The first on the list is El Pilar.

    The text referred that “data on mineralization point to the existence of 10 mineral bodies of irregular morphology, with an equally irregular distribution of Au; also pyrite, chalcopyrite, chalcocite, coveline, enargite, native gold, aurocuprite, some malachite, azurite and rare bornite, limonite, goethite and hematite”.

    The following year, in May, GeoMinera S.A. it already had the recognition permit for the gold and copper minerals in the area.

    Through Resolution 156 of 2017, of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, authorization was granted, valid for one year, to “carry out reconnaissance studies, collect, integrate, and evaluate existing information; as well as carry out verification drilling, metallurgical tests and laboratory analysis, with the purpose of selecting areas for prospecting-exploration”.

    The area in question covers a larger area: almost 18,000 hectares between the municipalities of Baraguá, Primero de Enero and Ciro Redondo. In 2019, the term to extend the validity of the authorization expired, but a document dated June from the National Office of Mineral Resources includes it as valid.

    In fact, MINCEX's portfolio of opportunities includes 18 projects in Ciego de Ávila and one of them is geological reconnaissance and exploration for precious metals in the area called Venegas (for which an investment of five million dollars is proposed).

    The mining sector is the fifth with the most business opportunities in Cuba (52 projects), according to the MINCEX portfolio.

    Why so much enthusiasm?

    The document released by Antilles Gold Ltd. reflects enthusiasm underpinned by on-site investigations indicating the presence of in-situ copper-gold sulphide mineralization, suggesting that the porphyry core (a type of igneous rock) is immediately below the surface and has not been verified with deeper drilling.

    Research conducted by Dr. Grainger so far indicates that copper-gold potassium porphyry cores could extend down vertically more than 1,000 meters and previous explorations only reached 75 meters. “Given the size of the phyllous alteration zones on the surface, both at El Pilar and San Nicolás, the porphyry deposits could easily exceed 500 meters, indicating that it is a large porphyry target and an excellent opportunity. of exploration”, indicates the text.

    This is not the first time that the gold potential of eastern Ciego de Ávila has generated headlines and expectations, after the second half of the last century. The first to search were the Canadians, in the mid-1990s, but the gold rush had died down before 2,000, although stones continued to be mined furtively in the area.

    Antilles Gold Ltd. has in its favor that it is already operating in Cuba, since March 2020, although the tender to exploit La Demajagua deposit dates back to 2015. At that time, the company was called Pan Terra Gold Ltd.

    In October 2021, the Australian mining company had obtained positive results on la Isla de la Juventud.

    We will have to wait to find out if there are many bits of gold left in Ciego de Ávila.