South America-focused explorer NGEx Resources (TSX: NGQ) has updated resources at two of its copper-gold pophyry projects along the Chile/Argentina border in the past two weeks, based on drilling completed earlier this year.
At Josemaria, in Argentina’s San Juan province, the company’s drill program of 8,240 meres in 18 holes resulted in a 20% increase in tonnage in the indicated resource category, with contained copper getting a 17% boost to 6.1 billion lbs. and contained gold rising by 18% to 6.6 million oz.
At a cutoff grade of 0.3% copper-equivalent, Josemaria now holds an indicated sulphide resource of 789 million tonnes grading 0.35% copper, 0.24 gram gold per tonne and 1.08 gram silver (or 0.53% copper-equivalent) for 6.1 billion contained lbs. copper, 6.1 million oz. gold and 27.4 million oz. silver.
Inferred resources come to 315 million tonnes grading 0.28% copper, 0.17 gram gold and 0.92 gram silver (0.41% copper-equivalent) for 1.9 billion lbs. copper, 1.7 million oz. gold and 9.3 million oz. silver.
In addition, the deposit hosts a near-surface oxide resource of 45 million indicated tonnes grading 0.14% copper, 0.32 gram gold and 1.19 grams silver for 463,000 oz. gold and 1.7 million oz. silver at a cutoff grade of 0.2 gram gold per tonne. In a release, NGEx president and CEO Wojtek Wodzicki noted that preliminary metallurgical work suggests the oxide gold will be amenable to recovery through heap leaching.
He also noted the Josemaria deposit has a high-grade core of 450 million tonnes grading 0.63% copper-equivalent, which is near surface.
“With the Josemaria mineralization outcropping along a ridge, the deposit is an ideal configuration for open-pit mining,” Wodzicki said.
NGEx also released an updated resource for its Los Helados project in Chile’s Region III, only 12 km northwest of Josemaria, on Sept. 19.
The resource, which increased contained copper by 48% and contained gold by 34% in the indicated category, incorporated 32,200 metres of drilling completed in 32 holes this year.
Los Helados now contains 1.7 billion indicated tonnes grading 0.4% copper, 0.16 gram gold per tonne and 1.43 grams silver (or 0.52% copper-equivalent) for 15.26 billion lbs. copper, 8.9 million oz. gold and 79.5 million oz. silver.
Inferred resources add another 681 million tonnes grading 0.32% copper, 0.11 gram gold and 1.33 grams silver (0.41% copper-equivalent) for 4.8 billion lbs. copper, 2.4 million oz. gold and 29.1 million oz. silver. The estimate also used a cutoff grade of 0.3% copper-equivalent.
Next up, in a program that will begin later this year and extend into 2014, the company plans to test potential extensions of a high-grade zone which occurs at the north end of the Josemaria deposit, and work on delivering a maiden resource for the Filo del Sol deposit in San Juan, 15 km west of Josemaria.
Part of NGEx’s larger Vicuna land package, Josemaria, Los Helados and Filo del Sol are all 60% owned by NGEx, with joint-venture partner Pan Pacific Copper holding 40% of Los Helados and Filo del Sol, and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) holding 40% of Josemaria.
The Lundin Group company has been identified as a potential takeover target and was recently highlighted by U.S. Global Investors’ mining analyst Ralph Aldis as a top stock pick.
At the end of June, NGEx had $20.8 million in working capital. The company last raised funds in January, with a $34 million private placement completed at $3.40 per share.
On Oct. 1, with 168.7 million shares outstanding, NGEx traded at $1.76. The stock has traded between $1.62 and $3.52 in the past 52 weeks.