THE CONFERENCE CALLER: ASX-listed Western Australian junior Eagle Mountain Mining (ASX: EM2) could well be on the way to making its mark on the American copper sector. By Mark Fraser
The Perth-based company has just started a 2,000 metres diamond drilling program at its 80 per cent-owned Oracle Ridge project just north of Tucson in the US state of Arizona, where it is initially looking to substantially grow an historic close-to-surface underground skarn-hosted polymetallic deposit which hasn’t received much attention since mining of the ore body ceased during the 1990s.
This field program has been funded via a $3 million capital raising conducted on the ASX earlier this year.
As it stands Oracle Ridge has an NI43-101-compliant measured, indicated and inferred resource estimate of 11.76 million tonnes of ore grading 1.57 per cent copper, 17.47 grams per tonne silver and 0.18g/t gold for a contained 409 million pounds of copper, 6.8 million pounds of silver and 68,000 gold ounces.
While one of the key aims of the current field program is to boost this resource two-to-three fold, past drilling in the area has also indicated there is further mineralisation outside of the resource’s footprint – with results like:
7.7 metres at 5.11 per cent copper, 0.72g/t gold and 55.8g/t silver, and
7.6m at 4.63 per cent copper, 0.74 per cent gold and 43.06g/t silver, catching the company’s eye.
In addition, the exploration house is trying to determine if there is a copper porphyry located beneath Oracle Ridge – a proposition not out of the question given the geological profile of the other major copper deposits found along the Arizonan section of the Laramide Arc.
Speaking before his presentation at the RIU Resurgence Conference, Eagle Mountain chief executive Tim Mason told Resources Roadhouse that many of the high-grade skarn-based mines found around Oracle Ridge had porphyries sitting beneath them.
“In our case the porphyry has never been found – and the reason for this is there is an intrusion just below the deposit, which would effectively have masked any geophysics conducted in the area,” Mason noted.
“This alone presents us with some really big exploration potential.”
Also working in Oracle Ridge’s favour is the fact the project already has underground mining infrastructure in place, it is located in an established and vibrant mining jurisdiction and its current ore reserve is actually close-to-surface, being located near the side of a hill.
“Because it is a stacked zone, it lends itself to being opened up to multiple production fronts … (which means) we can achieve higher production rates,” Mason later said during his RIU Resurgence Conference presentation.
“It is amenable to a lower cost mining operation compared to, say, a deeper ore body when you have to get the ore up from depth.
“So higher production rates and lower costs certainly bode well for our mining studies going forward.”
Eagle Mountain’s second Arizona project is the greenfields Silver Mountain, which sits north west of Phoenix and where previous drilling has identified highly anomalous assay values as well as the presence of porphyry indicator minerals – including molybdenum and bismuth.
Mason said while the company was focused on advancing Oracle Ridge over the next 12 months, it would not lose sight of Silver Mountain as this project obviously had plenty of potential.
“We’ve just finished off a geophysics program there,” he added.
“Eagle Mountain has also been doing a raft of mapping, it’s been following up on old targets and we’ve had crews out there in the last few weeks. But we have yet to start drilling it.”