Antilles Gold looks set to continue its golden plunder across the legendary Caribbean. The aspiring ASX-listed mineral developer has laid claim to the historical Delita gold and silver mine in southern Cuba and has wasted no time since securing its tenure on the Isla de la Juventud.
The company is now knee-deep in a 25,000-metre resource drill out across the overlooked deposit as it rushes to breathe new life into the multi-million-ounce project.
Earlier this month Antilles kicked off its drilling campaign across the Cuban deposit with a single rig jumping into a 200-drill hole development program designed to test the resurgent deposit to a depth of more than 200 metres below surface.
The company is stalking a significant near-surface resource of gold and silver-rich mineralisation where it has laid down an ambitious exploration target of between a massive 16m and 20m tonnes at a very respectable 2.3 g/t and up to potentially 2.7g/t gold and between 17g/t and 23 g/t silver.
A second rig will hit the ground in the coming days and the company may up the ante further with a third rig in the coming weeks.
However, what may surprise the market in the months ahead is the speed at which Antilles could advance the project. Delita has a rich history of both mining and exploration dating back to 1920s and the company is now set to build on nearly a century of knowledge to fast-track the operation into production.
Delita was previously mined on a modest scale, with artisanal operations and smaller mining groups having extracted high-grade gold ores via underground operations between 1947 and 1950 and again between 1980 and 1985.
Following its closure in the 1980s, a pageant of Canadian miners built an enviable dataset for the project comprising of no less than 50,000m of drilling in addition to a wealth of metallurgical and feasibility test work. Antilles is currently casting a critical eye over that considerable body of work and has already utilised it to formulate a preliminary economic assessment for the staged development of the deposit.
Stage One of development at Delita will include open pit mining and the construction of a milling and concentrate circuit, in addition to an onsite power plant. The estimated cost for the Stage One development program weighs in at around US$73 million which includes allowances for feasibility, management, construction and working capital.
The initial production phase will be fed via an 800,000 tonne per year open pit mining operation with a projected six-year minimum mine life and is aimed at producing around 60,000 tonnes of high-grade gold-silver sulphide concentrate per annum.
Metallurgical test work, undertaken as part of previous feasibility studies, indicates that the Delita ores can produce a concentrate grading as high as 50 g/t gold and 400 g/t silver, which could deliver more than 95,000 ounces of gold and 770,000 ounces of silver sales to Antilles per annum.
The company is already examining marketing options for the Delita gold-silver concentrate which may include sale into the emerging Sino-Russian market for the sulphide product, potentially providing Antilles with a rapid pathway into positive cash-flow.
Antilles La Demajagua gold project lies around 170km to the south of Havana, across the Gulf of Batabano, on the Island of Youth. The island covers an area of more than 2,200 square kilometres and is the seventh-largest island in the West Indies. Antilles tenure is located on the western side of the island and covers around 900 hectares, 40 km south-west of the port city of Nueva Gerona. The project has outstanding access to infrastructure, including paved roads, water, power and fibre optic communications.
Whilst some pundits may question Antilles’ move into Cuba, the Caribbean nation has a long history of oil, gas and mineral production. Historically, Canadian miners have dominated the exploration and mining scene on the island nation.
They were typically attracted by the allure of world-class mineral deposits and a supportive fiscal regime, which includes a corporate tax rate of just 15 per cent.
Interestingly, Cuba holds the title of being the fifth largest producer of nickel in the world, pushing out around 50,000 tonnes of nickel per annum.
It also churns out significant quantities of accessory minerals, associated with its nickel deposits, including cobalt, manganese and chrome, all of which are of increasing interest to the burgeoning battery metals markets.
In fact, Cuba is clearly more than a one trick pony. It also hosts significant deposits of gold, silver and base metals, including the Delita mine in the south of the country – enter Antilles Gold.
The company originally began negotiations to acquire La Demajagua in late 2018 and finalised the transaction in August 2020. It has formed a joint venture vehicle, Minera La Victoria, with the state-owned GeoMinera to explore and develop the dormant operation.
Minera La Victoria will be 49 per cent owned by Antilles once the company has completed its initial earn-in, which will be a US$13 million spend on exploration and development across the project, which Antilles expects to complete in the first two to three-years of development.
It is worth noting this is not Antilles first rodeo in the Caribbean. Between 2012 and 2019, Antilles reprocessed more than 5 million tonnes of metallurgically complex tailings from the Las Lagunas gold mine in the nearby Dominican Republic. It pioneered the use of Glencore’s Albion-CIL technology to extract a wealth of precious metals from the metallurgical soup, with production averaging more than 40,000 ounces per annum of gold with silver credits thrown in for good measure.
Antilles pivot into Cuba is likely to continue to showcase its expertise in the West Indies and with its unique experience in the mining and processing of gold-silver sulphides ores in the region, don’t be surprised if it all of a sudden pops up with a stock of gold-silver bars for sale.
With a pair rigs drilling peppering Delita and a multi-million-ounce resource up grabs, Antilles looks set to creep onto a few radars in the coming months.
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