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Antilles Gold spots “lots of copper” in core at El Pilar

Antilles Gold’s massive sulphide and quartz veinlets and disseminated fine pyrite. Credit: File

Australian explorer Antilles Gold says three diamond cores taken from its Gaspar copper-gold prospect at its El Pilar project in central Cuba show porphyry and breccia-style copper mineralisation up to 190m thick.

The company says core from its easternmost hole at Gaspar shows a 190m pyritic porphyry halo with mineralisation in veining and minor brecciation. It says it is particularly encouraging as it suggests mineralisation is open to the east, in the direction of its Camillo prospect where a large geophysical anomaly is present.

Antilles says it expects to receive the first assay in a flow from the holes in about six weeks and has added another three holes to the program, bringing the total to nine.

We are quite excited about what we have seen at Gaspar, identifying lots of copper particularly in Hole GDH-003, and interpreted high temperature early porphyry, and are confident we will locate the larger parts of the mineralized system with additional drilling. Antilles Gold exploration director Dr Christian Grainger

Gaspar is one of three porphyry intrusives that make up the company’s El Pilar project, in addition to Camilo and the El Pilar deposit. It believes the mineralisation across the prospects exists as a shallow gold-dominated zone down to between 50m and 70m, underlain by copper-rich, near-vertical intrusive bodies.

Antilles has previously said it expects copper mineralisation to project into underlying porphyry sulphides, possibly up to 1000m, and it will await further assays to firm up its geological model.

Earlier this month, management revealed that its metallurgical testwork on the shallow gold-dominated ore from El Pilar produced a 54.8 grams per tonne gold concentrate from a head grade of 2.2g/t, with an 84 per cent recovery.

The company says it has started discussions with a major commodity trader to procure about $31.2 million for its proposed Nueva Sabana open-cut mine at the deposit through advances on gold concentrate purchases. Testwork on cores from the underlying copper domain is continuing in a bid to establish recoveries and the copper concentrate grade.

Following the mineral resource estimate for El Pilar, which Antilles says will be complete by the end of the year, it then expects to finalise a prefeasibility study for Nueva Sabana.

The mine is being planned as a copper-focussed project, but will benefit from high-grade gold in the shallow domain during initial operations, in addition to a low strip ratio.

Nueva Sabana is planned as a joint venture (JV) between Antilles and the Cuban Government’s mining company, GeoMinera SA. Antilles says there will now be a pause in exploration activities while a new JV with GeoMinera SA is formalised to encompass the two vast El Pilar concessions and it will transfer them from the existing exploration agreement to the new JV.

Management says the JV intends to fast-track the Nueva Sabana mine’s development via a 10-month construction phase starting in next year’s second quarter. It says the operation will produce about 500,000 tonnes per annum, with first product sales expected in early 2025.

Management believes the project could produce significant returns from first sales on a total outlay of just $6.2 million. It expects the outstanding 50 per cent of costs for its planned construction to be met this year.

The market will no doubt now be awaiting the assays to validate the Gaspar core observations, as the company positions itself to monetise its Cuban assets. With copper pinned to the United States Department of Energy’s list of critical raw materials this month, the depth extent of the metal in Cuba may represent a new feather in Antilles’ cap.

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