Almaden nears feasibility at Ixtaca in Mexico
In 2010, Almaden Minerals (TSX: AMM; NYSE: AAU) drilled the discovery hole at its Ixtaca gold-silver project in Puebla State, Mexico. It was a brand new discovery, on claims company president and CEO Morgan Poliquin staked with his father, company chairman Duane Poliquin, in 2001.
Today, Morgan Poliquin says the project is about a year away from a production decision; a decision that can be traced back more than two decades.
Poliquin has worked as a geologist in Mexico since the early 1990s. In 1995, he theorized that Vera Cruz, Puebla’s neighbor to the east, had potential for gold-silver mineralization. He and his father, both geological engineers, drove around taking samples. One came from the discovery outcrop that became Candelaria Mining’s (TSXV: CAND; US-OTC: CDELF) Caballo Blanco gold project.
“That spurred us to do a regional program,” Poliquin explains. “So I compiled all the geological data for Texas through to Guatemala and I spent a lot of time for more than a decade landing on every outcrop.”
The two developed a project generator model. Prior to 2008’s financial crash, their company had roughly 15 joint ventures. It lost most of them after the crash, but remained in good financial shape. It decided to drill some of its projects itself.
Almaden’s Ixtaca project features a low sulphidation epithermal vein system hosted in limestone. The mineralization is not oxidized, and contains the silver-gold alloy electrum.
“It’s not a vein,” Poliquin explains. “It’s hundreds of veins that define the vein zone.”
The vein zone is hosted in very pure limestone, devoid of lead and zinc. The veins branch and reconnect. They form irregular blobs of limestone that dilute the overall grade.
Still, at a US$1,250 per oz. gold price and a US$18 per oz. silver price, the project contains 65.1 million proven and probable tonnes at a diluted grade of 0.62 gram gold per tonne and 37.7 grams silver per tonne for 1.29 million oz. gold and 78.82 million oz. silver.