Our successes to date in developing the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador have been recognised with the company winning two gongs at the prestigious Mines and Money Americas’ annual achievement awards.
Just as importantly, Ecuador itself has been acknowledged for its measures to further its mining industry, winning the Latin America Country Award for 2017.
According to Anthony Vaccaro, group publisher of the Northern Miner Group, Ecuador generated significant “buzz and investor interest” during the year.
Our CEO Nicholas Mather left the gala dinner -- held in Toronto and attended by 300 mining industry representatives - brandishing the coveted CEO of the Year (Latin America) award.
And SolGold itself won the Latin America exploration award.
The 3 wins cap off an exciting period for the company, which also this month was promoted from the AIM exchange to the London Stock Exchange main board (under the ticker SOLG).
The awards are apt recognition for our progress at Cascabel, our 85%-owned flagship copper-gold porphyry project in northern Ecuador, 180km from the capital Quito.
The board believes the advanced exploration project - described in some circles as one of the world’s top five undeveloped copper deposits - has significant potential to host an economic resource.
More work needs to be done before the resource can be validated and we are leaving no stone unturned with a 122,550 metre drilling program due to be completed by the end of the year.
A recent 30-hole program on the key target, the Alpala mineralisation, produced 10 holes with consistent grades of more than 1% copper. In an update on 6 October, the company reported assay results from two further holes grading up to 1.37% copper equivalent.
Ahead of the LSE promotion, the board told shareholders that 91% of SolGold’s current cash balance of $US65 million would be spent directly on the project. The number of active rigs on the project has also been increased from 10 to 12.
Having a promising project in the right geography – in this case the famed Andean copper belt -- is one thing. Being in a supportive jurisdiction is another. Ecuador’s recently elected government under president Lenin Moreno is pulling out all stops to develop the country’s mining industry, which for historical reasons is at an immature stage relative to other neighbouring countries such as Chile and Peru.
The reforms come on top of moves already undertaken by the previous government, including overhauling the mining tax regime and removing a prohibitive windfall tax on foreign investment.
In a bid to attract $US4.6 billion of foreign investment over the next four years, the government has also embarked on wider economic reforms including more flexible labour laws and investment in new infrastructure, including ports, hydro projects and roads.
Accepting Ecuador’s Mines and Money award, Ecuador’s Minister of Mining Javier Felipe Cordova said the accolade was proof the country was on the right track with its partnering approach to foreign investment in the industry. Indeed, the reforms are based on 139 proposals received from a group of local businesspeople.
“I take a lot of pride in our teamwork,” he said. “We did this together and I have to thank the companies that have trusted in Ecuador.”
Sharing the podium, Mr Mather praised Ecuador’s ongoing efforts in encouraging foreign investment.
Simply put, the company believes Ecuador is currently the best place in the world to develop a mine. Having been in the country since 2012, we believe we have a first-mover advantage over other foreign entrants.