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Antilles testwork proves up saleable Cuban gold concentrate

Antilles Gold has improved gold grades at El Pilar. Credit: File

Australian explorer Antilles Gold says metallurgical testwork on ore from its El Pilar deposit in Cuba produced a 54.8 grams per tonne gold concentrate from a head grade of 2.2g/t, with 84 per cent recovery.

The company has started discussions with a major commodity trader to procure about $31.2 million for its proposed low cap-ex Nueva Sabana open-cut mine at the deposit, through advances on gold concentrate purchases.

Testwork on core from the shallow gold domain at El Pilar was conducted by Blue Coast Research in Canada, under the supervision of its experienced technical director, Dr Jinxing Ji. Antilles says the testing was based on a flotation circuit consisting of a rougher stage and an optional cleaner stage.

Management says results show elemental analysis consistent with a saleable, clean product, with minimal quantities of the contaminants antimony, arsenic and mercury.

Testwork on cores from the underlying copper domain is continuing in a bid to establish recoveries and the copper concentrate grade.

Antilles says the shallow, outcropping gold-mineralised domain at El Pilar is now well defined and on the back of recent drilling, the geological model suggests it may extend to a depth of about 50m and that the underlying copper domain may extend for a further 70m.

The company 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.

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

Previous metallurgical testwork supported an early cash return from the shallow gold ore, indicating a recovery of 85 per cent through the simple rougher flotation method and producing a concentrate grade of 53.1g/t gold from a 2.11g/t input.

With the latest batch of metallurgical tests providing significant grade improvements, the market will no doubt be waiting for the mineral resource grade to be revealed so as to assess El Pilar’s value.

The Nueva Sabana mine is planned as a joint venture (JV) between Antilles and the Cuban Government’s mining company, GeoMinera SA.

Antilles says the JV intends to fast-track the mine’s development via a 10-month construction phase starting in next year’s second quarter. It says Nueva Sabana 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 tits planned construction to be met this year.

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