What the Papers say
Mineweb : 18-March-2005
Uranium on top of gold/silver
LONDON (Mineweb.com) -- VANE Minerals, an exploration and development company initially working on precious-metals properties in Mexico, is making encouraging headway in these properties, and is now also looking to diversify into uranium, the element that has been attracting so much attention recently.
VANE was incorporated in 2002 as a minerals and exploration company primarily working on defining and developing projects generated from the review of the databank that was itself developed by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, as two of VANE?s directors were formerly senior employees at Freeport and have negotiated exclusive access to the mineral databank that Freeport had developed over a number of years. The company is listed on AIM with a market capitalisation of £22.8 million ($43.9 million) and is developing three properties in Mexico, namely Diablito, Guadalcazar and Mina Charay.
All projects are on schedule and VANE has recently announced that full production is expected at Diablito three months ahead of schedule. Diablito is a high-grade gold-silver deposit and VANE subsidiary Minerals Vane SA de CV has signed an agreement with a Mexican mining contractor committing to working on the property by March 19. The machinery is in place and ore production is expected within three weeks of the work?s commencement. In addition, the development plan has been upgraded to allow production at full capacity (50tpd) more or less immediately; previously this had been planned for a three month ramp-up period.
VANE expects that at this target rate, Diablito should throw off a pre-tax profit of $3 million with a mine life of seven years, based on the current resource calculation. The vein is open at depth and an infill drilling programme is planned in order to extend the life of the resource. This enhanced programme has prompted the company?s Chairman, Michael Spriggs, to state that the company is well on its way to becoming a self-funding exploration company.
VANE has also commenced drilling at Guadalcazar on March 8. This is being carried out on a bi-daily shift seven days per week. Two drill holes have already been completed and a third is underway. The company has identified eight targets as a result of geophysical and geochemical sampling and the results of the first drilling programme are expected within the next six to eight weeks, keeping the company ahead of schedule and under budget. Guadalcazar is a hydrothermal system, that had previously been thought to be alluvial and clearly therefore has higher resource potential than recognised by the earlier exploration programmes.
Initial assay results at the third property, Mina Charay, are suggesting strong mineralisation. Assays from the seven drill holes recently completed indicate a high-grade mineralised vein with some very high grades of up to 36.82g/t of gold and 706.2g/t of silver. Results to date suggest that there is bulk grade mineralisation as gold values have been obtained in shallow pits. This is early stage, but the company is following up with further geophysical sampling and intends to continue with the drilling programme and as a consequence the company has negotiated new terms with the property owner, allowing deferment of the January $75,000 option payment until July 2005. Between now and June there are $40,000 of option payments to be made and the company retains the right to withdraw from the property with no further financial obligation.
Meanwhile, VANE has also been looking at diversifying its current project portfolio by looking at uranium, a metal that has been attracting considerable interest of late, not least with the oil price seemingly headed towards $60/bbl even if OPEC manages to increase its production by one million barrels per day, something that some analysts have suggested will be a difficult target to achieve. VANE has successfully claimed seven uranium targets and has identified a further 28 properties, all in the same area.
The portfolio should be established by the end of the first quarter of this year; all seven targets are either at or near resource stage or are targets that exhibit similar surface features to miens with past production, but that have not yet been evaluated for uranium content. Intersections to date have thrown off grades of 0.34 up to 1.78% U3O8. The company has incorporated a 100% owned subsidiary to hold the uranium properties and has recruited an experienced uranium geologist on to the team. Adding a little spice to the programme, the company has said that the properties are all within a uranium district with significant past production as well as significant resources. It goes on to say that owing to prevailing conditions in the uranium market, it prefers not to identify the location until it has completed its property position. Watch this space...