Following a busy week at the Mines and Money conference in London, we have taken time to reflect on the key themes and how SolGold has combined innovation with exploration to achieve outstanding results, and shareholder value. From our mascot, Solly (the dinosaur on the front of our presentation) to drilling nearly 2000m with a man-portable rig, SolGold has always sought to do things a little differently. We believe it is this innovative approach, which is often criticised by those wanting to follow the norm that is starting to pay dividends now. Starting with our willingness to take on Ecuador back in 2012, we now have first-mover advantage and the largest tenement holding, in one of the world’s hottest mining jurisdictions. In addition to being recognised amongst its Latin American peers at the Mines and Money awards in Toronto, Ecuador was triumphant on the international stage, at the London awards, fighting off competition from Armenia, Colombia, Ontario and Queensland to win Most Innovative Country or Region. SolGold’s innovation in our exploration strategy has resulted in 10 of the best 40 porphyry copper-gold intersections in history at the Cascabel project and exciting initial results from La Hueca project in Southern Ecuador, was also recognised. Working with an Ecuadorian drilling contractor, HP Hubbard Perforaciones SA, SolGold has pushed the limits of using a man-portable drilling rig, reaching depths of 1,970m. To save 3 weeks and US$350,000 per hole we have also introduced deviated drilling. Unlike with traditional core drilling, deviated drilling creates multiple branch holes from a mother hole, enabling much more geological information from the one hole and obviates the need to move the drill rig and then waste more time drilling through the same overburden. Our innovative approach extends to our development plans to Cascabel. While most would head straight for an open-pit mine SolGold is planning a block cave. In essence, block caving involves carefully undermining an ore body at its base, allowing it to crumble and collapse under its own weight. The ore is then removed via specially designed chutes and bought to the surface for processing. While block caving entails longer mine preparation and therefore higher up-front expenses, ongoing operating costs are lower because fewer explosives have to be used and less labour is required. As a result block caving is more environmentally friendly, and on first estimates SolGold believes it can half the capex of a 40 million tonne per annum mine using block caving. As a result of our desire to do things differently both SolGold and our CEO were recognised on an international stage, and for the second time in as many months, by winning the Exploration Award and CEO of the Year – Exploration in London at the Mines and Money Annual Awards dinner.
Mr Keith Marshall is based in the UK and has over 40 years’ experience in the mining sector and has worked on significant underground mines around the world. During the last fifteen years with Rio Tinto, Keith held senior mine leadership roles (General Manager and above). Keith’s last two operational roles with Rio Tinto were as Managing Director of the Palabora Mining Company in South Africa (during its successful transition to block caving) and three years as president of the Oyu Tolgoi Project in Mongolia.
Keith’s underground block cave mining experiences will provide SolGold with extensive knowledge and guidance for the development of the Alpala Project. Keith’s diverse technical and executive level operational leadership experiences broadens the Company’s skill base, and will play a key role in advising on strategic development decisions.