Raymond Jannas, President & CEO,
Craig Nelsen, Chairman,
“Although the HSE gold deposit is an interesting resource, we decided the real value in the property is the copper porphyry at depth.”
What attracted you to establish ATEX Resources and acquire the Valeriano copper gold project?
RJ: The Valeriano property was drilled during the late 1980s and early 1990s for near-surface gold and copper mineralization. In 2010, when I was VP of geology and exploration at Hochschild, the company optioned the property as we were interested in the high sulphidation epithermal (HSE) gold system and believed that there could be a porphyry at depth. During two drilling campaigns, Hochschild encountered HSE mineralization and made the copper-gold porphyry discovery, but had other priorities at the time.
In 2019, ATEX was formed and immediately acquired Valeriano and, in 2020, staked several HS-Generative projects in Northern Chile. The company divested of all but two of its HS-Gen assets in 2021 to focus attention on our flagship Valeriano property. From historic results, our exploration work and complete relogging of all the drill holes, we believe that Valeriano has many similarities to Filo Mining’s Filo del Sol project. Both have high sulphidation copper mineralization progressing in depth into hypogene porphyry mineralization hosted in Permo-Triassic rhyolites as the host rock.
How have you advanced the Valeriano property through exploration?
RJ: After acquiring the project in 2019, we started working on putting out inferred resource estimates for both the near-surface HSE gold oxide deposit and the copper-gold porphyry deposit. The results outlined an HSE deposit containing 585,000 oz gold and 2.65 million oz silver in the inferred category, totaling 622,00 gold equivalent (Au eq.) oz at an Au eq. grade of 0.561 g/t. The copper-gold porphyry deposit contains an estimated 1.77 million t of copper, 1.84 million oz Au and 8.62 million oz Ag in the inferred category, for a combined 2.30 million t of Cu eq.
We proceeded to raise approximately C$3 million in late 2020 and, in early 2021, commenced with a drilling program focused on expanding the size of the HSE gold oxide deposit as well as converting inferred resources to the measured and indicated categories. Although the HSE gold deposit is an interesting resource, we decided the real value in the property is the copper porphyry at depth and built a conceptual model of what the porphyry system could look like, followed by a C$8.5 million financing round to further drill the deposit. This Phase II campaign commenced in January 2022 looking for porphyry extensions of the known high-grade zones, drilling two holes, one 200 m northeast and the other 200 m southwest of our best intersections.
ATEX raised C$8.5 million through a private placement in December 2021. What led to the company’s share price appreciation before this financing and where will these funds be focused in 2022?
CN: During and after the financing, ATEX’s share price increase almost five times, going from C$0.10 in October 2021 to C$0.48 in December. Getting Pierre Lassonde on board as a lead investor in a private placement attracted significant attention.
RJ: All the funds raised went into the advancement of the Valeriano project. Phase II drilling focused on extensions of the known high-grade mineralization zone defined by drill hole VALDD-14 (1,194 m with 0.52% Cu, 0.24 g/t Au, 1.0 g/t Ag & 36.4 ppm Mo for a 0.73% Cu-equivalent). ATXD-17, located 200 m southwest of VALDD-14 is the first hole drilled by ATEX to test copper gold porphyry mineralization which returned 1,160 metres grading 0.78% copper equivalent (0.53% Cu, 0.28 g/t Au and 70 ppm Mo) including 550 m of 1.03% CuEq (0.69% Cu, 0.39 g/t Au and 70 ppm Mo). ATXD-19, located 200 m northeast of VALDD-14, was lost short of its target, however, returned 647 m of 0.65% CuEq (0.50% Cu, 0.15 g/t Au & 60 ppm Mo) ending in strong porphyry mineralization. The drill results represent a major expansion of the porphyry mineralization outlining an 850 by 800 m envelope of copper gold mineralization with a +0.4% CuEq vertical extent of over 1 km indicated by multiple drill holes, which remains open. However, we will need another 50 to 70 drill holes to come out with an adequate indicated resource.
Where would you like to see the company by 2023?
CN: We feel that we have successfully hit on our exploration holes and have started to demonstrate the makings of a significant deposit. As a result, we would like to see all outstanding warrants exercised and go to market to raise approximately C$25 to 50 million to further advance the project. Concurrently, we will continue expanding our team to set us on the path of doing everything right, focusing on the community, government relations and environmental aspects of developing the project.